Robert Morris - Judgment
We're in a series called "Good News", and we've talked about how the gospel, the word gospel means good news, and how, because Jesus came, he take words that were bad news before and changes them to good news. For instance, the word condemnation, we talked about that the first week, which means a death sentence, there is now no death sentence for believers. Last week we talked about repentance, and how people see that as a bad word, that Jesus came, saying, you know, repent, started with that word, so did John the Baptist, and sometimes we think that means, you know, you dirty, rotten sinners, stop living the way you are and start living the right way, and it didn't mean that at all. He said, "Repent, for heaven is at hand". What he was saying is, there's a way to get to heaven that's not through works, but it's through grace. That's good news.
So I'm going to do the very same thing this week, take a word that seems to be a bad news word and show you how it actually becomes good news when you put your faith in Christ, alright? And so the word is judgment. And probably when you think of it, you think, okay, you got your hands full this week, Pastor Robert, and you know, no clue how you're going to change judgment into a good word, and even with a verse like this, Hebrews 9:27, "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment". That just didn't sound that good to me, you know? Just want you to know, you're all going to die, and then after you die, the judgment, you're going to go to the judgment, you know.
So again, it doesn't seem the way it, it kind of reminds me, when my mother used to say to me, "Just wait 'til your father gets home". You know, judgment is coming, and it's going to begin at the house of the Lord, you know, it's coming. And so of course, I would go in and just pray that he had had a good day at work that day, and would come home and just say, "You know, because God's been so good to me, I just give you grace, and mercy," and, didn't happen very often, but anyway, that was my prayer. So, alright, so, here are my three things about judgment, and we'll get around to good news, alright?
Number one, the first point is, Each and Every One, Each and Every One. Now, let me say one more thing about my ruptured hamstring, stop thinking about it. So if it, if you, if I move a little, and you think, "Oh, he's in pain," forget that, alright? Because God wants to say something to us. Is that a deal? That's more important to me than, than thinking about anything else, so let's stay on topic, alright? Alright, each and every one, here's what I mean by that, each and every person is going to go through the judgment. There's no way out of it. It is appointed for men to die and then after that, it is appointed that everyone's going to stand before God in judgment. So, it's going to start out, the message, like bad news, but we'll get it to good news, alright? Let me show you a few verses.
Ecclesiastes 12:14, "For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil". Isn't that good news? I told you, it doesn't start that good, it doesn't sound, judgment doesn't sound good, and yet Christ changed it. Revelation 20:13, "The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works". 1 Peter 1:17, "And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear". It almost sounds like, just wait 'til your father gets home, you know, it just, these, they're just not that pleasant sounding, you know?
Matthew 16:27, "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works". Revelation 22:12, "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one, according to his work". This is why I named the point, "Each and Every One". And my question for you is, are you included in the word each? And are you included in the word every? Each and every one is going to be judged by his works. Each and every. This is such a bad news message so far. Each and every one. And this doesn't say, "But not believers". Because I promise you, I'm going to show you, how this turns into good news, but we're reading verses that each one will be judged according to his works. Each and every one will be judged according to his works.
Now, when we talk about eternity, where we spend eternity is based upon our belief. But how we spend eternity is based upon our behavior. So it is important how you live. Every person is going to be judged according to his or her works, every person. And your belief determines your behavior. One of the strangest things that anyone ever said to me, to this day I remember it, he said, "I believe in tithing, I just don't do it". And it hit me so strong, that I just had to stop and say, "That's just not a true statement. That's not a true statement". And he said, "No, no," he said, "I really do believe in tithing. I just don't do it". I said, "It's not true". I said, "Do you believe in bathing"? Because I hope you do it. Because, if you really believe in it, you do it. Do you believe in being faithful to your spouse? Because it's just like you standing here and telling me, "I believe in being faithful to my spouse, I just don't do it".
You don't believe it. You don't believe. You can't say you believe in tithing if you don't do it. You don't believe in it. You don't believe, just take, I'll just take one passage. You don't believe that God will remove a curse off of your life if you tithe, that he will rebuke the devourer from your life, and that he will open the windows of heaven and bless you. If you believed it, you'd do it. So, I'm not trying to argue for or against, I'm really not. I'm just simply telling you, if you don't do it, you don't believe it. That's all there is to it. So belief determines behavior, because we're going to talk about unbelievers and believers, and that's how it makes a difference then how we're judged for our works. So, we've talked about Each and Every One will be judged.
So, point number two is, The Bad News, and I know what you're thinking, "It can't get worse". It can, and it does. Revelation 20:11, "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books", plural, please notice plural, "books were opened. And another book", singular, "was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books", plural, "The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works".
Now, you need to understand there are two judgments. There's a great white throne judgment, and there's the judgment seat. And whether you believe in Jesus will determine which judgment you attend. Every person at the great white throne judgment is an unbeliever, every person. And every person at the judgment seat of Christ is a believer. So your eternal destiny is based solely upon your belief, whether you believe in Jesus or not. But how you spend separation from God, if you're an unbeliever, or how you spend eternity in heaven, as a believer, is determined upon your behavior. So we'll get to that in just a moment. Notice the books and the book. Okay, the books are works. The books were opened, and each were judged according to his work. But notice that this judgment, the Book of Life, is not open, that's the book. We know that it's the Book of Life, because it tells us it's the Book of Life, and Revelation, just go down just a few verses, verse 15 says, "And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire".
So you want your name in that book. But it's actually very easy to get your name in that book. And that's simply change your mind about who Jesus is, that he is the Son of God, that he did live and die for you, and that He rose again for you on the third day. That's how easy it is to get your name in that book. So, when you do that, you then are going to show up at the judgment seat of Christ, and you're still going to be judged, but I'm going to show you, 'cause point three's going to be the good news, when we get there. But the bad news gets badder, because unbelievers are judged according to their works, and they're punished according to their works. There are degrees of punishment. And this is not a message for actually for me to go into all of that, but I'll show you enough so that you'll see, but let me just ask you a question.
Now, you know we don't base theology on, on logical questions, although logic, the word logic comes from the word logos, which means the word of God, so true logic is based on the word of God. But we base theology on the Word. So I'll show you the Word, but let me just ask you a logical question. Let's, when I say there are degrees of punishment, would a man, who lives his life, and, has a family, goes to work, doesn't kill people, doesn't commit adultery, doesn't do things like that, yet he refuses to give his life to Jesus Christ. Well, he's an unbeliever, he'll be separated from God, but will he receive the same punishment, or degree of punishment, that Hitler will receive? No, he won't. He'll still be separated from God for all eternity, but you got to remember, God's a just God.
And so, I'll show you just a few scriptures to help you understand that, everyone's going to be judged by their works, and unbelievers are going to be punished to the degree of their sin. Let me show you a scripture, Matthew 11:21, "Woe to you", this is Jesus speaking, "Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon," and I'll explain to you about these two cities in a moment, "they would have". Now, let's just try to bring in a little bit from last week, changed their minds. And by the way, this is Jesus talking. He's not saying, "I think they would have," He has all knowledge. He says, "They would have repented". They would have. "If they had seen what you've seen, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable", in the Greek this means more lenient, more lenient for them, "for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment", there's the word again, judgment, "than for you. And you, Capernaum who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades", that's the Greek word for hell, "for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom".
Everyone remember Sodom and Gomorrah, Sodom. Here's one of the most amazing verses in the Bible, and it's Jesus speaking, "if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day". Let me read this next verse and then come back to that statement. "But I say to you it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you". And he's talking to Capernaum, a city in Israel, okay? Here's what so amazing about that statement. He said, "If those mighty works had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day". Okay, this is Jesus talking, so he can't lie. Here's what he's saying, "My Father and I wouldn't have destroyed Sodom. If Sodom had seen what you've seen, they would've repented. But you've seen what they haven't seen, and you haven't repented".
So let me tell you a little about Tyre and Sidon, 'cause you know about Sodom and Gomorrah. Tyre and Sidon were two, cities north of Israel, they were port cities, they were Phoenician cities, part of the Phoenician cities, they were sea merchants, that's what they did. Their, four main sins are listed for Tyre and Sidon in Ezekiel, Amos, and Joel, and I'm going to read the one in Joel because I believe Joel lists the most grievous sin that they were involved in. And it's amazing how we just read over this, because Jesus says if what had been done in Tyre in Sidon that's been done in you, Chorazin and Bethsaida had been done there, they would've repented. So, the most grievous sin that they were involved in was child trafficking.
Let me read you the scripture, Joel 3:3. "They have cast lots for My people", in other words, they were involved in enslavement, "have given a boy as payment for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink". They're selling children for sex, sex and alcohol. So, there was grievous sin in Tyre and Sidon. And then, of course, we know about Sodom, and Ezekiel, and even the New Testament lists the sins of Sodom, so I'm not going to go into all that, but he says, "Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum; you three cities are going to be judged more harshly than Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom". Why? Well, I started in verse 21 a moment ago. It used to be we all had our Bibles in church because (and obviously I'm not saying we don't have our Bibles now), but because we didn't have digital back then. Some of you have digital. You've got, you got your Bible there? Isn't that wonderful?
So we've got our Bibles everywhere we go, and I think that's fantastic, but it used to be we would turn to a passage, so then I would say, "Look at the verse right before," and you could see, so I just want to say to you, I started in verse 21, but I want to read to you verse 20 so you understand, 'cause in verse 21 he said, "Woe to you Chorazin and Bethsaida," okay? And then he says, "Woe to you Capernaum". 'Kay, here's why, verse 20, right before, Matthew 11:20, "Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not [change their minds] they did not repent".
So, we know, studying the life of Jesus and his travels, most of his mighty works were done in these three cities. That's why he's saying, if the mighty works, which had been done in you, had been done in three of the most wicked cities, ever, they would've repented and even remained until this day. It's pretty amazing. Matter of fact, these three cities, in theological circles, are known as the Evangelical Triangle. You can look at it on a map, it's an obtuse triangle, but you can just draw a line from these three. It's a short line and then two longer lines like this, but it's a triangle, so it's known as the Evangelical Triangle.
Now, you've probably heard of the Bermuda Triangle. The Bermuda Triangle is a place where it's easy to get lost, in essence. The Evangelical Triangle was a place where it was easy to get saved. Because that's where Jesus did most of His mighty works. Are you all following me? So that's why he's saying this, but the reason I'm showing you this, I had to give you the background so you understand, but the reason I'm showing you this is to let you know that Jesus said It's going to be more lenient for these cities, even the ones that were involved in enslaving people and child trafficking than it will be for you. And what I'm trying to show you is that there are degrees of judgment because God's a just God.
Romans 2:5, "But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart", that would be, unrepentant would be another word there, a stubborn or hard heart, that you won't change your mind about things, "you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God". Okay, Jesus said to people who give to the kingdom, You are treasuring up for yourselves in the kingdom. You're laying up treasure, store up treasure for yourself. He's now speaking to people who have not repented, and he's saying, saying this again through the Apostle Paul to the Church at Rome, but He's saying to them, "You are treasuring up wrath". This is why, I'm only trying to prove to you that there are degrees of judgment for the unbeliever. Degrees of punishments is another way to say it.
One time, again, my father is here, and so, and of course a very righteous, a very Godly father, but, just to tell you a story about how you can, degrees of punishment, and I had several degrees of punishment, and I deserved 'em all. But, when I was in junior high, the place to hang out was the skating rink. So some of you have no clue what that is, and you're thinking of a skateboard park, it was nothing, it was just, so this was right after the dinosaurs had gone extinct, and the wheel had just been invented, okay? And so, we went to the skating rink every Friday night. Your parents would take you and drop you off. We were in junior high, and that would be our hangout place. And I had started smoking cigarettes because I thought it made me tough and cool. And so my parents were saying, "Are you smoking"? "You smell like smoke". "No, I have friends that smoke, but no, I'm not, I've not done that".
And, so I think what bothered my dad most was the deception and the lying, you know, so. And so, he drops me off one time, on a Friday night, picks me up then, three hours later, whatever it was, and then he said to me, "Uh, you smell like smoke". I said, "Well, you know, a lot of people smoked," and you know. He said, "Did you smoke"? I said, "No, I, I did not smoke". He said, "Are you sure about that"? I said, "I'm, I'm sure". Well, he had worked out a little deal, which was a little deceptive, you know, with the manager of the skating rink that he could come in and sit back in the back and look out and watch me that night.
And again, it wasn't fair, I was completely set up, but, the bottom line is, he said to me, "Well, I came, and I sat back in the back, and I watched you, and I saw you smoke a cigarette". And I said, "I remember now". I said, "My friends dared me to take a puff off a cigarette. And you know how Dad how you tell me always stand up to bullies and all, and so". And I didn't say this. I wish I'd known, I didn't know, I didn't say, "I didn't inhale". That was not, that was not a, again, I'm not mocking the person who said it, but the statement itself is pretty ridiculous defense. But anyway, I said, "They challenged me, they were making fun of me, and I took one puff off one cigarette". And he said, "I watched you smoke the whole cigarette". I said, "I remember now. They didn't just challenge me to take one puff. They challenged me to smoke the whole cigarette, but that's the only, only one that I had". He said, "I watched you smoke seven cigarettes".
There was no remembering now. There was nothing to do to get out of it. I don't remember exactly what the punishment was, but he punished me for each cigarette I smoked, a grounding or something so much per cigarette, but then he doubled my sentence for lying. Here's what I'm trying to tell you. The Father is watching. You may not think he is, and your unbelieving friends may not think he is, but he's a just God, and there is a judgment coming. And people will be punished according to their sin if they don't accept Christ. Now long about now, you're probably thinking, "We wish Josh would've preached". "We think it would've been more good news". And so, alright, so we get to the good news.
Here's point number three, The Good News. As I told you, there are two judgments. So now we're talking about the judgment seat of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all appear", he's writing to believers, "before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad". Each one may receive this. Romans 14:10, "Why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ". Now, 1 Corinthians 3, he's going to go into a little more about how believers are going to be judged, how our works are going to be judged.
1 Corinthians 3:10, "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I've laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one". Remember, you're an each one. If you've accepted Christ, you've got the foundation of Christ, and now you're building on that foundation. "Let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation". Remember, this foundation is Jesus. And then he's going to name three nouns that are eternal and three that are temporary, that are temporal, okay.
"If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones", and what I mean by eternal is they'll last through a fire, which is a judgment. And then the three that are temporal, "wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work", so this is for every person that's accepted Christ, "of what sort it is". We're going to define what that means, "what sort it is". "If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss", he would suffer any reward he would've received, even though it was a good work, because of what he did that made it temporal, not eternal, "but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire".
Again, it is showing that we're saved through the blood of Christ, not through our works. But we're still judged by our works, okay? So, how do you know whether what you're doing is an eternal work or a temporal work? Matthew 6:1 says, "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men", now this is very important, the next three words, "to be seen by them".
Now, let me, I'll come back in just a moment and read the rest of this passage, but here's how you know, because, every charitable deed you do you can't do it in secret. I mean, in other words, if you volunteer at a homeless shelter, or you pick someone up to bring someone to church that doesn't have a ride, or you do something like that, you can't do everything in secret. But you can do it with a motive to be seen, or you can do it with a motive to actually help the person. When you do it to actually help the person, that receives an eternal reward. When you do it to be seen, it's burned up. it's not going to. All right, so he says, "to be seen by them". Don't do it. "Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men".
Again, notice their motivation is to have glory from people. "Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father", I told you, the Father's always watching, "who sees in secret will Himself", we're going to come back to that, "reward you openly".
Now, that's one of the greatest verses in the Bible, that the Father himself, himself is going to reward you one day. See, I told you it's going to get, this is getting to be pretty good news. See, it's not going to be that the Father just walks out on the stage one day, with like billions of people there, and says, "Y'all done good," and then you're going to be way in the back somewhere, and you're going to say, "What, what did he say? I think they said they need more wood". You know, it's not going to be anything like that. You're actually going to get to meet the Father personally one day, because he's going to reward you personally. So, you want me to bring it all together? I mean, I can bring this all together.
Here's the way judgment is a bad news word for people who don't put their faith in Christ, and it's a good news word for people who put their faith in Christ. Alright, you ready? If you don't give your life to Christ, at the judgment, you're going to be punished for your bad works. If you give your life to Christ, at the judgment, you're going to be rewarded for your good works. Totally changed. Totally different. Completely, totally different. Every person, it's appointed to die, after that the judgment. But, if you don't give your life to Christ, you'll be punished for every evil work you've done. If you give your life to Christ, He took your punishment for you, and you're actually going to be rewarded for every good work you've done. Even the word judgment becomes a good news word because of what Jesus did.
I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes. I want you to just take a moment, like we always do, and just say, "Holy Spirit, what are you saying to me through this message"? I would say the majority of the people that listen to me every weekend are believers. But I want to speak just a moment for those of you that might be good people, you just haven't given control of your life to Jesus. I'm not trying to scare you. I had some doctors look at me this week and tell me, "These are the facts of the injury that you sustained". They weren't trying to be bearers of bad news. They were just telling me the truth. I'm just trying to tell you the truth. There's a judgment coming.
And if you don't give your life to Christ, you're going to be separated from God for all eternity. But if you'll give your life to Christ, He takes all of your punishment. And then, for all the believers who are listening, let me just tell you this. Every cup of water that you've given, every prisoner that you've visited, every penny that you've given, to missions, and the crisis relief, and tithing, and all of that, every time you've witnessed or shared your faith, this is so amazing, you're going to be rewarded. So judgment's not a bad news event for us. It's good news. Because Christ took our punishment, and now he's going to reward us for all the things that we did, and that we've done, and that we're doing, that sometimes hardly anybody knows or hardly anybody sees.
Lord, I just pray you'd take this message, and I pray you would encourage us. I pray, Holy Spirit, you'll let the truth of this message sink in, that everything changed when you came 2000 years ago, that there was nothing but bad news until the messenger with good news entered the world, and that good news even takes the words that sometimes create fear and anxiety and worry in many of us, and it changes it to peace and love and security. Thank you, Lord, for bringing the good news to us, in Jesus' name, amen.