Robert Morris - Where and How
We're in a series called, Eternity: Your Choice, and I want to emphasize to you that it is your choice where you spend eternity. God gave you a free will. We talked about that last weekend. He's not gonna override your will before you get saved, or by the way, after you get saved. Even after you come to Christ, you have a choice as to whether you're going live for Christ or not, or continue down the wrong lifestyle. So, the other thing I want you to know is as I say it is your choice, and we talked about that last weekend, Whosoever Will, this weekend I want to talk about Where and How. In other words, where you spend eternity is your choice, and how you spend eternity is your choice.
Now, we're saved by grace and grace alone, but there are a whole bunch of Scriptures on being judged for our works in the Bible. So, how do you marry the two? Many believers think, Well, once you get saved, then your works aren't judged anymore. But, please hear me, your works are still judged, but you're not saved by your works, you're saved by grace. So, I'm gonna show you today how to marry those two things. In order to understand this, you have to understand two words, and those words are point number one.
Point number one, you have to understand: "Belief and Behavior," belief and behavior. Your belief determines where you spend eternity. Your behavior determines how you spend eternity, and I'm gonna show you there are degrees of punishment in hell for unbelievers, because God is a just God, so He's going to judge righteously, and there are degrees or levels of responsibility in heaven for believers. If you remember, Jesus said to one, He's going to say, You'll be ruler over five cities. To another, He said, You'll be ruler over ten cities. So, there are levels of responsibility in heaven, dependent upon how you live. How much responsibility you take on earth will be dependent upon the responsibility you have in heaven.
So, but I want to establish, this is the whole thing of grace and works. Works, our behavior, matters. Whether you're lost or saved, every person, unbelievers and believers, will be judged by their works, but your salvation is by grace alone. Your belief determines where you spend eternity. Let me just remind you of this Scripture, Ephesians 2:8-9. "For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves..." Not of yourselves. You responded to God's faith, but it's grace. It is the gift, and a gift is free because it's already been paid for. I mean, someone paid for the gift, but to you, it's free. That it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
I love the phrase, lest anyone should boast. No one in heaven is going to be saying, I got myself here. Everyone is going to realize, this is grace that I got here. This is the grace of God. I was lost, had no intention of coming to Christ, was going my own way, and God, by His grace, intervened, and I responded in faith and accepted His free gift. You follow me? So, but there are all of these Scriptures. So, we're saved by grace, but there are all these Scriptures on works and being judged by works. Let me show you just a few.
We'll get to 1 Corinthians 3 in a little while. Ecclesiastes 12:14, "For God will bring every work...", you know, I don't do this often, but would you mind just saying the word, every? Okay, how many is every? Okay, let's keep going. 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 delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged each..." would you mind saying the word, each? Each one according to his works. Now you might say, Well, that's talking about unbelievers. Well, let me show you one that's talking about believers. 1 Peter 1:17, "And if you call on the Father..."
Okay, let me just see by hands, how many of you call on the Father? Can I see your hands? Okay, so this is to you. 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, in awe, in reverence of God. Here's Jesus' own words, 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", would you mind saying each again? "According to his works". Revelation 22:12, this is also Jesus speaking, if it's Him the Book of Revelation. It's Him speaking to John on the island of Patmos. This is in red in your Bible. This is in the last chapter of the Bible. "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to give to every one according to his work".
Okay, are you an every? Are you an each? And He said, "according to his work". What I'm telling you is it matters how you live. Now, let me say it again. Your belief determines where you spend eternity. Your behavior determines how you spend eternity. Now, all of us don't have perfect behavior. I mean, we all still make mistakes on this earth, so don't get too hung up on perfect behavior, because you'll never get there. But, let me say something. Your belief, though, determines your behavior.
So, there are people who say they believe in Jesus, but they've never lived for Him. Please hear me. I don't think you really believe. I really don't. Because when you believe, the Bible says God gives you a new heart and you have a desire to turn from sin and to turn to God. You have a desire to follow God. You don't want to do those things. I'm not saying that you never fall, but you don't want to. You want to go a different way. If you still want to go do those things, there's something wrong and your heart hasn't been changed. Your belief determines your behavior.
This guy said to me one time, Pastor, I believe in tithing, I just don't do it. So, I decided I would just kind of respond in kind. I said, I understand. I believe in bathing, I just don't do it. Now, I do bathe, okay, but I was just joking with him, because it's ridiculous! If you believe something, you do it! So, if you really believe that if you tithe, God opens the windows of heaven over your family and rebukes the devourer for your sake, then you do it! You just do it. But if you don't do it, it's because you don't believe what the Bible says. That's clear.
So, our belief determines our behaviors, okay? So, now I want to show you the believer's judgment and the unbeliever's judgment. And many people don't realize why there are two judgments if it's already determined whether you're going to heaven or hell by your belief, because, at the believer's judgment, everybody's a believer. At the unbeliever's judgment, everybody's an unbeliever. So you say, Well, why is there a judgment? Because your works are being judged, at each judgment. So, point number two is: The Judgment Seat of Christ. The Judgement Seat of Christ. This is the believer's judgment.
Let me show you some Scriptures. 2 Corinthians 5:10: "For we must all...", would you mind saying the word all? We must all, this is written to believers now. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each, I'm not gonna ask you to say it, just say it in your mind. That each one may receive the things done in the body, in other words, when you were on this earth, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Now, let me clarify something. We're not judged for our sins, because Jesus already took our judgment. But we are judged for our works, and we will, according to the Bible, either receive a reward or lose a reward, because of how we did it. Okay?
So, we'll talk about that in a moment. 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. 1 Corinthians 3, I told you to turn there if you wanted to, Verse 10. We're gonna read five verses. According to the grace of God, which was given to me, this is Paul speaking, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. Now, he's actually referring to you, or to the Corinthian Church here that he wrote to, or to believers. But let each one, each believer, take heed how he builds on it, cause these are people who have gotten saved now, accepted Christ. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
So, the foundation is Jesus. People have accepted Jesus. But, watch that you can build with two different types, categories, of materials: temporal or eternal. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, those would go through the fire, but watch these three, wood, hay, straw. Those would be burned up, temporal. Each one's work will become clear, for the Day, it's capitalized because it's referring to the Judgment Day or the second coming, either way, will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. Receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss. He loses the reward. Watch. But he himself, this is grace, will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Okay, let me give you a little bit of information about this passage, all right? He's addressing some things because they're beginning to say, Well, you know, I got saved by Apollos, so my foundation's Apollos, and your foundation is Paul. And he says, Nope, the foundation is Jesus. It doesn't matter who led you to Christ, the foundation is Jesus. But, now you have a choice. That's my whole burden in this series, is you have a choice. You have a choice whether to accept Christ and you have a choice whether you're gonna live for Christ or not. So, you have a choice. He says now I'm telling you, you have a choice, because even though you have Jesus Christ as your foundation, you can do some things that are gonna last for all eternity and you'll be rewarded, and you can do some things in your life that'll be burned up, yet by grace you'll be saved, but you won't have any rewards in heaven. You won't have anything to show for your life here on this earth.
Okay, so here's Jesus now, saying the exact same thing almost. Matthew 6, this is in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:1, Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, watch, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward, if that's your motive, 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. In other words, it's a temporary reward. It's only on this earth. 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, "your Father, who sees in secret will Himself..."
I love the Himselfs in the New Testament. Just read the Himselfs' when it talks about the Father, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. Will Himself reward you openly. Okay, let me tell you what you just read that you might have missed. You are going to get to meet the Father one day, personally. The Father Himself will reward you openly in front of everyone else. What motivation to live a godly life and to serve our Lord on this earth, cause we're gonna receive rewards. Let me show you a Scripture that puzzles some, unless you understand about that our works matter, okay? 1 John 2:28, And now, little children, this is written to believers, abide in Him. Obviously, unbelievers could not abide in Him. Abide in Him that when He appears, we may have confidence, watch this now, believers, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. That's pretty strong!
Okay, how would a believer be ashamed? I can tell you how a believer would be ashamed, because he's not living for Jesus. He's not laying his life down. He might realize, I wasted my life. I could have helped other people. I could have lived for Jesus, but I lived for myself. Even though I did believe that Jesus was the Son of God and I walked with God's Son, I never really fully gave Him everything. And they would be ashamed at his coming. So it matters how you live. So you need to understand, belief and behavior, the judgment seat of Christ, and here's the third point: The Great White Throne Judgment. The Great White Throne Judgement is for all unbelievers.
Now I want to show you, theologically, why we call this the great white throne judgment, all right? Revelation 20:11, Then I saw a great white throne. See, there's this great white throne, so we call it the great white throne judgment. I'm not making fun of the Bible, I just, you know, that's just all theologians could come up with, "Let's call it the great white throne," Okay. "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. Watch the tense, tenses of these two words, and books, plural, so more than one, "books were opened. And another book", singular, "was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged," watch this, according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
That tells you right there what was written in the books, works. 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. Okay, so it's real clear to see it's the book is the Book of Life. And the book, if you want to know what the book has in it, it has names. And if your name is written in the Book of Life, you go to heaven. If it's not, you don't go to heaven, and all of us would say, Well, I want my name written in the Book of Life. It's great. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior... "Whosoever will". You can accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and your name is written in the Book of Life. But then there are books, plural, because there's more than just names, it's works, and you're judged at the great white throne judgment by the works, by what's written in the books. It's very important to understand this.
So, am I saying then that there are degrees of punishment in hell? Yes, I am, in the same way that there are levels of responsibility in heaven. Well, let me ask you a question, because God's a righteous judge. Will a man, a believer, let's talk about a believer. Will a believer who is saved, but doesn't tithe, doesn't witness, doesn't serve, doesn't really do anything to build the kingdom on this earth - will he receive the same rewards as the believer who tithes, loves, serves, wins people to Christ? Will he receive the same rewards? No, of course not. Then we wouldn't have a righteous God. See? He gives to each according to his works. Are you all following this? It's really easy. He gives to each according to his works. That's God. But, we're saved by grace.
Okay, so I asked you about believers. Let's talk about unbelievers a minute. Will an unbeliever, an unbelieving man, let's say, who he's a good guy - I mean, he doesn't do all of these big, huge sinful things, but he just obstinately and defiantly says, I'm not going to give my life to Jesus Christ. I don't believe in religion. I'm an atheist or an agnostic And people share with him, he says No, I'm a self-made man, religion's a crutch, I don't need Jesus. Okay, so he goes to hell. He's gonna go to hell without Christ. But, will he receive the same punishment as Adolf Hitler? No. Adolf Hitler killed six million Jews, and God's a just God, and Adolf Hitler will be recompensed, repaid, for the deeds he did. That's a just God.
Now you might say, Well, you mean the believer just gets off scot free? How's that just? Well, it's simple. Because God repaid Jesus Christ for all of your sins. Jesus took your sins on the cross. If you believe, cause if you're sitting there thinkin', Well, that's not fair - it is fair, cause you can accept Jesus. It's completely just. You can accept Jesus Christ. So, let me show you degrees of judgment, degrees of torment for those who don't accept Christ, all right? Romans 2:5, But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart, this means not repentant, you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous. It's a righteous judgment of God. In other words, I'm gonna judge righteously, but He said, Let me tell you what you're doing. You are treasuring up for yourself wrath.
By the way, do you remember what He told believers? Treasure up, store up for yourself treasure, for yourself. In other words, He's saying you're gonna need it in heaven. We don't need it cause our asphalt is gold. We don't need your treasure, but when you get to heaven, you're gonna need your treasure. Do you realize some of you aren't gonna have any money when you get to heaven, because you put more in your IRA than your E-R-A, your Eternal Retirement Account? You don't carry any of what you have on this earth to heaven, but you can send it on ahead. And Jesus actually said you better send it on ahead, cause you're gonna need it when you get there. Cause there are cities - we're gonna do business in heaven. It's pretty amazing. But in the same way that believers can store up treasure, unbelievers can store up wrath, because God comes to them over, and over, and over again, and they refuse Jesus Christ.
So, this is all through Scripture. By the way, this is a tough Scripture. Will some believers... will some believers, I don't know if you ever thought about this, but will some believers receive a stricter judgment? Yes, and let me tell you one that you know that will receive a stricter judgment. I will. And I think about this all the time, not for my salvation, but for what I teach. James 3:1, My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a, what? A stricter judgment. Hopefully none of you were thinking, You know, I was thinking about volunteering to be a teacher, but.
So, when I was a kid, I hung out at the skating rink. Yeah. Hey, y'all are laughing, but how many of you hung out at the skating rink? See, look at all the old people! Okay. So, my father took me to the skating rink. I was 13 years old or something, you know, 12, 13, 14, I don't know. That was about when I started kind of going astray. He knew that I was starting to hang out with the wrong crowd, so he drops me off, then he circles back around, sneaks into that dark skating rink, and sits in the corner and watches me all night. So when he picks me up, he says to me, Did you smoke any cigarettes tonight? I said, No, sir. I said, I was around people that smoked, so you probably smell it on me, but I didn't smoke. So he said, Well, I drove around, snuck in and watched you, and I saw you smoke a cigarette. I said, I remember now! I remember.
I tried one, but I didn't like it, Dad. I didn't like it. He said, I watched you smoke two cigarettes. Yep, I remember it now. It's jogging my memory. I remember another time they kind of dared me. You know how you've told me to, you know, not run away from a fight, stand up and you know? And so, they were calling me a coward and all, and so that was the only reason though that I smoked two tonight. He said, I watched you smoke seven. And then he punished me for every cigarette I smoked, and for lying. If I had known... That the Father was watching me... Are you hearing me? According to the Bible, the Father is watching, and He's going to reward and He's going to punish. But now, listen to me - two judgments. Here's the great news. You get to choose which judgment you attend.
Where you spend eternity is completely up to you. Where you spend eternity is based on your belief. How you spend eternity is based on your behavior. We are not saved by works, we are saved by grace, and here's the amazing thing, it's a free gift. It's a free gift from God, so why wouldn't you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Accept Him today. You're watching today because God is drawing your heart, and maybe God is speaking to you about some behavior in your life that's self-destructive, but the only way to overcome that is by the power of God, by giving Jesus control of your life. So, I want to ask you to do that right now. Just give Him control of your life, and then let us know. We'd love to help you any way that we can. You can call the number, you can go on the website. However you want to get in touch with us, we want to help you in your new life with the Lord.