Allen Jackson - Appearing Before The Judge - Part 1
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It's an honor to be with you again. We're living in a season of tremendous turmoil and confusion, propaganda, censorship. I mean the list goes on and on. But in the midst of that, we can flourish. We can have a foundation of faith that will enable us to be stable, with a clear future and the promise of God's provision and protection, and that's important. Well, in this series we're working on establishing just that kind of a foundation for our lives. In this session, we're going to explore eternal judgment. It's one of the foundation principles of the New Testament, that all of us will give an account for our lives before God. It's an important thing, though it doesn't have to be frightening. You can be prepared for it and be rewarded for honoring God in your days under the sun. Grab your Bible and a notepad. But most of all, keep an open heart.
We're working through this series. I really started in the notion of the trouble ahead and how do we flourish in the middle of that? And then the biblical answer to that is have the strongest possible foundation. That's the short biblical answer. And the beginning of that foundation is the cornerstone, and that's a person. His name is Jesus. But then upon that cornerstone the Bible talks to us about some foundational doctrines, which is a fancy word of saying fundamental teachings, things that you need to understand. And there are six identified in the first 3 verses of Hebrews chapter 6. And we've been walking through those six fundamental teachings. And in the past couple of sessions, we looked at the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment, and we did it rather hurriedly, and I wanted to come back in this session and take a little more time around that, the topic of judgment.
So, don't let the fact that it's a bit of detail. The truth is you really need your brain to get to know the Lord. You won't outthink him. He's smarter than us. He created us. But the idea that you can check your brain in the parking lot when you come to church is really a mistake, and it isn't helpful. So, we're gonna look at some different points of judgment. We started this in a previous session, so I want to come back and add a little more to some, and then we'll look at some that's new. We looked at the judgment seat of Christ in an earlier session. We said it wasn't judgment for the believers, that it was not a judgment of condemnation, and we looked at several verses that talked about it.
Romans 12 says, "In Christ there is therefore now no condemnation". So, to appear before the judgment seat of Christ is not a judgment of destiny, heaven or hell. Look in 2 Corinthians 5 and verse 10. "We must all appear," and the Greek word literally means "Be made manifest". I like that better. When you appear before the judgment seat of Christ, nothing will be hidden. No motive, no thought, no attitude. You won't be able to explain it away. You will appear with complete transparency before the Lord.
See, we live with this mistaken notion that we can kind of hustle God. I understand why, because we're kind of used to conning the people we go to church with, so we surely, we can con God. You know, the idea is if we can just show up and hold it together for 60 minutes or so, then we can get back to who we really are. I know, come on, some of you didn't want to put a "Jesus Is Lord" sticker on the back of your car because of the way you drive. It has impacted my driving habits. And I'm thinking, you know, if you can't take a magnet on the back of your car, you've got some work to do before you stand before the boss. Everything will be made manifest, not a threat, it's a promise, think of it in those terms. The motives that you had that were good motives, that were misunderstood, misinterpreted, that were not reciprocated to, he will know them. They're to your credit.
Think of that. Don't think of it as a threat. Think of it as a promise. When you meant something good and it wasn't taken for good, the Lord knows your intent. Hallelujah. The sacrifices you made that were gobbled up or overlooked or taken for granted, the Lord took note of them. Hallelujah. I'm telling you, this is really good news, of the six foundational doctrines, two of them specifically deal in total with eternity. The others are all preparation for the ones that deal with eternity. The counsel for a foundation that will enable you to thrive in the midst of turmoil is to understand that your journey through time is brief. I don't mean your life is short, but compared to your eternity, it says we're just aliens and strangers here.
"We're all going to be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad". There's a reward. I was in a Bible study some time back, and they'd invited me. It's not a Bible study that I was a routine part of, and they invited me to come, because they were having a debate, and they were kind of evenly divided. Some said there was rewards for how we lived our lives, and somebody said, "No, we're not. Everybody's getting the same". And they really were not open to scripture. They had galvanized around their opinions. Do you know how easy that is to do? This is what I think. I don't know what the Bible says, but let me tell you what I think.
Well, the counsel of scripture is pretty clear. How you choose to live will impact who you are and what you do in eternity. And we've looked at some of that already, but the point of the judgment seat of Christ is not to determine your eternity, heaven or hell. It's an evaluation of how you've lived your life. Now, I'm going to read two parables to you, and I wrestled with this a little bit. They're a bit long, but they speak to the topic, and they speak to it, although they're similar, there are some differences that I believe are worth considering for a moment. So, if you'll bear with me, the first is...and they're both parables that deal with judgment. Jesus is teaching.
The first is in Luke 19, beginning in verse 11. It says, "While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once". That's an interesting statement to me. It could be easily read past. The people thought the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. A lot of energy these days that we're at the end of the age, and we very well could be. I don't want to diminish that. I think there's a correlation between your holiness in your life and your imagination that we're approaching a terminal point. I think every generation should live with the imagination that the Lord is near. But Luke tells us right here in the plainest of language that the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. And so Jesus starts to talk to them about the kingdom of God. It's worth our attention.
He said, "A man of noble birth went into a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So, he called ten of his servants, and he gave them ten minas. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.' But his subjects hated him, and they sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.' He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he'd given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' 'Well done, my good servant,' the master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.' The second came in and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned five more.' And his master answered, 'You take charge of five cities.' And another servant came and said, 'Sir, here's your mina. I've kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you. You're a hard man. You take out of what you didn't put in, and you reap what you didn't sow.' His master replied, 'I'll judge you by your own words, you wicked servant. You knew, did you, that I'm a hard man, taking what I didn't put in and reaping what I didn't sow. Why then didn't you put my money on deposit so that when I came back, I could've collected it with interest?' Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten.' 'Sir,' they said, 'he already has ten.' And he replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who didn't want me to be king over them, bring them here and kill them in front of me.'"
That's Jesus. Now, a couple of things, just big rock things. I think it's worth it. Two of three people that are given to us for representation receive a positive benefit. So, the good news is 66% of the story. So, don't get focused on the third that had trouble. There's a teaching point there, but the better news is far more broadly stated.
Now, there's some simple lessons, and I'm going to stay with those 'cause there's some other things I'd like to do, but faithfulness in this life will determine our opportunities in eternity. There's a correlation between you faithfulness in time and the opportunities you will have in eternity. I know that's uncomfortable. It's awkward, particularly if your heart is divided. James says a double minded man is unstable in all of his ways. That person shouldn't think they will receive anything from the Lord. One of the things you want to root out of your heart is doublemindedness. So, your faithfulness in time is going to determine your opportunity in eternity. I could give you multiple examples. Jesus said to his disciples, "Those of you that have been faithful to me here, you're going to help me rule in eternity".
You see, we're not going, we're not stepping out of time to go sit on a cloud and spend the rest of our existence listening to an endless chain of sermons. I promise. No wonder we're not excited. God created the earth and everything that was in it for humanity. He gave Adam authority over all of creation. He said, "It's for you, enjoy it, the beauty, the wonder, the splendor, the magnificence of all of creation was for our benefit". He said, "I give you authority. You've got to rule over it, take dominion over it. Take care of it". Now, we rebelled, and we forfeited that assignment. But there is a new heaven and a new earth coming, and a new assignment coming, and it will be more spectacular. I gladly will give my time and energy to serve the Lord in this season if it means I diminish some opportunities now, because I am confident he will multiply the opportunities for me later. Life's no brief candle to me. It's a wonderful opportunity.
So, begin to build that into your heart. You'll have to talk to yourself. We'll have to live differently than our friends who don't know the Lord. We're not chasing the same things. We're not trying to accumulate the same experiences. Because I believe the Lord will give us better experiences. I really think the simplest example I could think of is Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, powerful man, man of some means, some influence, some political clout, some authority, significant resources, soldiers around him that will do his bidding, and Jesus of Nazareth, an itinerant rabbi, whose only friends deserted him when there was pressure. And although he was Jewish, the power structure in Jerusalem would have nothing to do with him. They were threatened by the influence he had on the crowd.
By every standard of evaluation in time, Pilate was a success and had a brilliant future, and Jesus was an abject failure. The last time we see him on the stage of human history in a visible way is he's being tortured to death on a Roman cross with common thieves. And yet if you have a heart for spiritual things, you know the rest of the story, that because of Jesus's willingness to honor God in that way, God exalted him, he said, to the highest place, it's Philippians 2, and gave him the name that's above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow in heaven and earth and under the earth. In fact, he entrusted all judgment over all creation to Jesus, because of his faithfulness.
What Jesus did in time, that's a pattern and type for you and me. You can choose. Would you rather try to be Pilate? Or would you rather serve God? Think of the difference in Pilate's life. He knew Jesus was innocent. He knew it in his heart. His wife came to him and affirmed it. She said, "I had a dream. Don't do anything to this man". Pilate acts it out. He washes his hands in this little bowl of water and said, "I'm innocent of this man's blood". Don't you wish? Don't you wish? Think of the difference if he had knelt in front of Jesus. Think of the difference. It might've cost him his position. Might have cost him his head. He might've ended up on a cross. But think of the difference.
Do you understand the degree to which the messaging that cascades over us tries to influence us to act like the world? I know we live in the world. I'm not saying we're separate from it. I'm not suggesting a horse and buggy. It's not wrong to have things or to have a nice meal, or to try... I'm not suggesting that. But you and I both understand the horrific weight of the messaging that cascades over us, to invest ourselves in this present world order, right? And the counsel of scripture is, listen, the most important thing is not right now. There's another big rock idea, I think, in this parable, and it's in verse 27. And it does not fit the typical narrative we have of our Lord. It said, "Those of enemies of mine who didn't want me to be king over them, bring them here. Kill them in front of me".
That's Jesus as judge. It's a frightening thing to stand in opposition to the King. Read the end of the book of Revelation. We're gonna look at some verses in just a moment. And people say, you know, in the New Testament it's just about love. No. You're reading your selected passages again. God is just as much a just God in the New Testament as he is in the old. And the third observation I would make from that is whatever gift you have, you can utilize it and gain more or you can ignore it and forfeit a great deal. In this parable, everybody starts with the same thing. Everybody was given, it was an equal distribution. The outcomes were different, and the rewards were proportional to the outcome. There was no criticism between the one who gained five and the one who gained ten.
There's a bit of a difference in the rewarding that took place, because the one mina was given to the one with ten, not to the one with five, trying to make up the difference. You can utilize what you've been given and oftentimes we're not given the same thing. We'll see that again in the next parable. And the challenge isn't to be angry at somebody who has different gifts than you. You know, professional athletes have some gifts that most of us didn't get. I know they talk about their training, and their diligence. And that's true, they have to do all of those things. But, folks, I could have trained 24/7, 365, and they were not gonna want me in the NBA. Just didn't get that gift. I got some others, but I didn't get that one. And, you know, it's easy to be mad about that. Well, I wanted this, or I wanted that, or it's not fair that they got that. Okay, duly noted.
Now let's go do what we can with what we have. Look at Matthew 25. Same topic. "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey". You should want to know what it is. It's a series of parables, a series of lessons Jesus is teaching about the kingdom of God. So, the it here is Jesus's commentary on the kingdom of God, much as it was in the previous parable.
"It will be like a man going on a journey who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who'd received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So, also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who'd received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time, the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who'd received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. I gained five more.' 'Well done good and faithful servant. You've been faithful with a few things. I'll put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master's happiness.' The man with two talents, 'Master, you entrusted me with two talents. I've gained two more.' 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You've been faithful with a few things. I'll put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness.'"
Identical responses, different outcomes, but identical responses. "Then the man who'd received the one talent came. 'Master, I know you're a hard man. You harvest where you haven't sown, and you gather where you haven't scattered seed. I was afraid. I went out and hid your talent in the ground. Here's what belongs to you.' 'You wicked, lazy servant. You knew that I harvest where I haven't sown, and you gather where I haven't scattered seed. You should've put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. Everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. And whoever doesn't have, even what he has will be taken from him, and throw the worthless servant outside into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"
It's a sober passage. Again, two-thirds of the story is about good things. So don't read it frightened. It's really overwhelmingly good news. God distributes talents according to our abilities. That's really good. It's not a comparative judgment. I don't have to compare myself to Billy Graham. I didn't get Billy Graham gifts. I got Bubba Allen from the barn, Pastor Jackson gifts. I'm good with that 'cause that's what I'm accountable for. Yeah, thank you. You've been to the barn. And you need to live with that. Now, don't underestimate what God has given you. He said you're fearfully and wonderfully made. You see, we wrongly think of humility as saying there's nothing valuable in me, nothing significant in me.
Folks, God didn't make anything that's insignificant. He sent his Son to die for you. That's the value attached to you. What's the price for your life in his kingdom? The cost was the life of his Son. When you say, "There's nothing significant in me," you dishonor Jesus's sacrifice. Please do not do that. You see, when you do that, you're comparing yourself to somebody else. I can't sing like they do, or I can't do what they do, or I can't...that's not the challenge. The challenge is to take the gifts God has given you and offer them back to him with the totality of your person. The outcome is in his hands The outcome is in his hands.
If you're the two-talent person, all I've gotta do is be faithful with my two talents. Thank God there's some five-talent people around. Thirdly, not to use your talent is to lose it. If you're given something, and you don't utilize it...see, all you have to do to be rejected is nothing. It's a physical principle. The most destructive thing you can do to your body is nothing. Almost any movement is better than no movement. And spiritually, the only thing you have to do to forfeit your opportunity is nothing.
Too often, we talk about judgment. I think we imagine it in frightening terms, fearful terms. It doesn't need to be. It's something we can prepare for. We want to live our lives in such a way so that we step out of time into eternity, the Lord says, "Well done". That's my prayer for you. It's my prayer for me today, that we will serve the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul, and body. Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, help us to honor you with our lives, so when our days are spent and our strength is gone, you are pleased with us. Deliver us from evil and help us to be pleasing in your sight. In Jesus's name, amen.