Robert Morris — Amazing Works
Turn to two passages of Scripture, 1 Corinthians 3 and then Revelation 20. So, we'll read several passages. All of the Scripture will be on the screen, but we'll read the first one in 1 Corinthians 3, and then we'll get to Revelation 20 later in the message. So, before we get to 1 Corinthians 3, okay, I've got a few Scriptures to go through before then. Let me read you a very well-known passage, but I want us to look at it closely. Ephesians 2:8-10 says, "For by grace you have been saved". There again is the past tense nature of salvation that we looked at a few weeks ago. "You have been saved through faith", your part, "And that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God". Because it's grace, it's a gift.
Now, watch Verse 9 carefully. "Not of works". It's a gift, it's not of works. "Lest anyone should boast". Verse 10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus". I want to come back to that phrase. "Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them". I just want you to notice that there were two prepositions in these. There were more, but two we're going to talk about, by and for. We're saved by grace, for good works. So, we're not saved by works, but we're saved for works, for good works. We're not saved by works, good works, but we're saved for good works. But, we are saved by grace. That has to be nailed down and understood.
And I want to ask you a question, though. Are we judged by grace, or by works? Now, before you answer, let me tell you the answer. It's going to shock you. Are we judged by grace or works? Yes. It's like when they say would you like fries or an apple pie with that? Yes! I'm only kidding. My answer is actually no. Okay, yes! Okay. Now, for your salvation, are you judged by grace and works? No. You're judged by grace. But are your works still judged, whether you're a believer or an unbeliever? Yes. Let me show you some Scripture, okay? We're not to 1 Corinthians 3 yet, okay? Let me show you some Scripture.
Ecclesiastes 12:14, "For God will bring every work". Would you mind saying the word every? "Every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil". Revelation 20:13, "The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades", Hades is the Greek word for hell, "delivered up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one". Would you mind saying the word each? "Each one, according to his works". Now, this is talking about lost people, but this next one's talking about saved people. Look at this one, 1 Peter 1:17. "And if you call on the Father,"...
Okay, hang on just a minute. Let's just take a poll. How many of you call on the Father? All of the campuses, overflow, everyone, can I see? Okay, all right. So, this verse is talking to you? Okay? "And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each..". Could you say each again? "Each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear", or reverence or awe. I like the way it says "your stay here", like we're visiting. We are. Matthew 16:27, "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward," — Would you say it? "Each, according to his works". Revelation 22:12, "And behold, I am coming quickly", this is Jesus speaking, "and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work".
Okay, can I just ask you a question? Are you an each? Are you an every? But every one of these verses I just read, six verses, say we're going to be judged by our works. So, how do we understand that? How do we understand grace and works? Well, let me give you two other words that begin with the same letter, so you can remember these. That's why I do that, that will help you understand this. We have to learn, when we look at the Bible, to distinguish between our belief and our behavior. Our belief and our behavior, and let me tell you the difference, okay? Our belief determines where we will spend eternity, and our behavior determines how we will spend eternity, saved or lost. Our belief determines where we will spend eternity. You go to heaven because you believe in Jesus. You go to hell because you don't believe in Jesus. Our behavior determines how many rewards, and the degrees of responsibility, and the treasure that we will have in heaven, and you need treasure in heaven, because Jesus said, "Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven".
It's not determined after you're judged whether you go to heaven or hell. You determine that on this earth. It's appointed unto man, once to die, after that, the judgment. You get to determine which judgment you attend, but only while you're alive. If you walk out of here and you're killed in a car wreck, and you haven't believed in Jesus, you've determined which judgment you're going to attend. You have a chance right now, while you're on this earth. Once your life is over, you have no other chances. You need to know that.
So, there's the judgment seat of Christ, and the great white throne of judgment, and believers are at one end, and unbelievers are at the other, and at each judgment — Listen, this is going to shock some of you. At each judgment, your works are judged. Your works are judged, and I'm going to show you in Scripture, all right? So, those are the two points that I want to cover. Number one, the judgment seat of Christ. I want to show you what happens at the judgment seat of Christ.
Now, are you in 1 Corinthians 3? Hello? Okay, I'm not there yet. Okay. Let me show you two verses first, okay? These verses are written to believers. They're written to believers. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, "For we must all", all, "appear before the judgment seat of Christ", this is believers now, "that each one may receive the things done in the body". In other words, when you were alive on earth, "according to what he has done", not what he's believed, but what he's done, "whether good or bad". Romans 14:10, "But 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".
Okay, now I'm going to show you where it describes what happens at the judgment seat. That's in 1 Corinthians 3, but I want to give you a little background first, all right? So, one of the things He's talking about in 1 Corinthians 3 is that there had begun to be a division in the church. And there were people saying, "Well, I was led to Christ by Apollos, and he taught us this, and you were led to Christ by Paul, and so, we're different". And here's something that I wish the body of Christ could connect to today, and that is that Paul said, "Oh, listen, you can have differences, but you can't divide. It's carnal when you divide. Don't be divided from other believers, even though you might have differences. That's okay. All right. So, we're coming in on that conversation.
1 Corinthians 3:10, "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it". Now, listen to me for a moment. Some people would think that the other would be Apollos. That's not true. Apollos was laying foundations, too. The other that builds on it is you. I'll show you that. You'll see that in Scripture, but you need to understand that, all right? Now, watch. "And another builds on it, but let each one..". You're an each, remember? We determined that. "Take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, Jesus Christ", so He's talking to believers. They're building on Jesus Christ. "Now if anyone," — that's us today — "builds on this foundation", that's Jesus, so these are believers, "with gold, silver, precious stones", now watch the next three He names, "wood, hay, straw".
Now, let me just make one comment on wood, hay, straw. They're flammable. That's important, because there's a fire coming, even for believers. "Wood, hay, straw", watch Verse 13. "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". I don't need to remind us where each is, right? Okay? "Of 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'll lose his reward. Now, watch this, though. He doesn't lose his salvation, though. It's very clear. "But, he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire", because we're saved by grace, but our works matter.
You can be a believer and do eternal works or temporal works. And the things you do for eternity will last, and the things you don't do for eternity will be burned up. And you will receive a reward for the things you did with eternal value, but you won't receive a reward for the things you did for temporal value. As a matter of fact, there's a real famous passage on being rewarded, and even losing rewards, that many people just don't seem to tie into this whole context that we're talking about here. It's in the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 6:1, Jesus said, "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men", and here's the key, "to be seen by them". It's your motive. In other words, somebody might know that you do it, but you didn't do it to be seen. "Otherwise, you have no reward". 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. 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 who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly".
You'll either get rewards or lose your rewards. It depends on how you do the good deed, okay? But, I do want you to notice this word, Himself. I will never forget the first time — You know, the Holy Spirit will kind of make words in the Bible just jump off the page at you, and give you a revelation. I'll never forget the first time I saw that. I was a new believer, and I was reading through, and I saw Himself, and I remember thinking, I'm going to get to meet the Father, personally! The Father Himself is going to give me rewards, Himself. It's not going to be like, you know, there's like, a billion people out there, you know, and this old guy with white hair comes out and says, "Y'all done good"! And you know, someone in the back, you know, will say, this happens all the time, "What'd he say"? And the guy beside him will say, "I think he said they need more wood". No, the Father Himself will reward you, personally.
1 John 2:28, it says, "And now, little children..". now, he's talking to believers again, "...abide in Him". Now, watch this carefully. This could shock you. "That when He appears we may have confidence," now, watch this, "and not be ashamed before Him at His coming". What? "And not be ashamed", and he's talking to believers? Why would a believer be ashamed when Jesus comes? Well, it's real simple. Because he realizes he's wasted his life.
When I was young, I remember I attended a baseball camp one summer, and I goofed off the whole camp. I know that shocks you, but I was not a believer. But, I goofed off the whole camp and I played pranks on people. Several that were pretty good! But anyway, I did that and so, at the end of camp, the last night, we gathered for dinner. I remember walking in this room where we had the meals, and over on the side there were these tables, and there were trophies. And I remember thinking, you didn't tell me there were going to be awards. I wouldn't have goofed off this whole week! And obviously I didn't get any awards, because I goofed off all week. I was ashamed. But, guess what? I was at the camp because my father paid the full price for me to be there. But, I didn't get any awards.
So, there's the judgment seat of Christ. Here's the second judgment I want to cover, the great white throne judgment. The great white throne judgment. Now, every person at the great white throne judgment's an unbeliever. And I want to show you how we, as pastors, and leaders, and theologians, came up with the name, the great white throne judgment, all right? Revelation 20:11, "Then I saw a great white throne". That was all we could think of, so. "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". Now, watch carefully the grammatical tenses of these next few words, because they're important. "And books", plural, "books were opened. And another book", singular, "was opened, which is the Book of Life".
Listen, right there, you just saw it, belief and behavior. If you believe in Jesus, your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, but there are books that are recording our work, books. "And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works". Okay. Now, I told you a moment ago there are degrees of rewards and there are degrees of punishment. Well, let me show you degrees of judgment.
Watch this. Matthew 11, look at Verse 20. It says, "Then He began to teach the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done". I want you to notice this. This is the Bible. "Most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes". Tyre and Sidon were very, very well-known for tormenting the prophets and for idol worship. Verse 22, "But I say to you, it will be," watch this, this is Jesus talking, "more tolerable". Do you know what those words mean in the Greek? Less suffering. There will be less suffering. It'll be more tolerable. "For Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you", and the guy that's talking here probably knows what He's talking about.
"And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades, for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom", remember Sodom and Gomorrah? Now, watch this. This is one of the most amazing phrases you'll ever read in the Bible, and Jesus makes it. "It would have remained until this day". That's amazing. Do you know what He's saying? They would have repented, and my Father and I would not have destroyed it. Sodom would still be here today if they had seen the mighty works that you saw. "But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you".
That's amazing! Let me just bring that up to modern day, the buckle of the Bible belt. I want you to think about this. Here's what He's saying. You live in the buckle of the Bible belt, and you don't accept Christ. There are people who don't live here. They live in a very dark place. It's going to be more tolerable for them in the day of judgment than it will be for you, because you heard the message. You had good, Bible-believing, Spirit-filled churches on nearly every block. It's more tolerable. I'll show you another one. Watch this carefully. This is written now to unbelievers. Even though it's written to the church in Rome, He begins to talk about unbelievers, okay? Romans 2:5 says, "But in accordance," — in accordance, or to the degree. "In accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart, you are treasuring up", what an amazing term to use, "treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God".
Remember Jesus said you ought to store up treasure, to believers? Okay, unbelievers are treasuring up wrath. You're treasuring up wrath for yourself. So, I'm not trying to scare you. I feel like that doctor who's just giving you the facts and saying, listen, you have a deadly disease. You're going to die from this disease, but we have a cure. And I want you to know, every one of us have a deadly disease. It's called sin. But I want you to know, we have a cure! It's Jesus Christ! It's Jesus Christ and His blood, and His blood alone. We have a cure. But, these are the facts.
Okay, remember I told you a moment ago about the awards at the baseball camp and I said, if I had known? If I had known that I would have received awards, okay? Now we're talking about degrees of punishment. When I was young, I hate to admit this, where I used to hang out, because it's going to reveal my age. But, I used to hang out at the skating rink. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Okay, all right, so. So, one night my dad dropped me off at the skating rink. I couldn't even drive.
I was about 14, probably. I'd started smoking, because I thought it made me tough, and cool, and hanging in with the right crowd, you know? My dad suspected it, and he knew it could lead to other things, because it was the matter of rebellion, you know, in my heart. And so, he drops me off, he pulls out of the parking lot, and then he pulls back around, and he comes back and he hides. He was a very crafty father! And he hides, and he watches me, and he counts how many cigarettes I smoke.
And so, when I get home, he confronts me when he comes to quote, unquote, pick me up, although he's been there the whole night. And he confronts me, and I try to lie and say, you know. He said, "I saw you smoking". I said, "Yeah, I tried one, but you know, I didn't like it, and you know". He said, "I watched you smoke seven". And he grounded me a week for every cigarette I'd smoked. The degree of punishment matched the degree of my offense. And I remember thinking again, if I had known — I had that thought a lot growing up. If I had known he was watching. The Father is watching. He's going to reward and He's going to punish.
You know, the Bible is so clear that every person's works will be judged. Our works will be judged. But the main thing is do we believe in Jesus Christ, because that's the only way we can ever do good works? I want to encourage you, if you've never put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, you can do that right now. And if you have put your faith in the Lord, I want to encourage you also to do good works, because you were saved to good works — not saved by good works, but saved to good works, and Jesus Christ is the one who empowers us to do those good works.