Robert Morris — A Tough Day
We're in a series called, "The End... What Happens Next"? And we've talked about heaven, and hell, and remember, the first week, we talked about a tough question, and we talked about some easy questions then about heaven. Last week, we talked about a tough message. And this week, I'm going to share with you on, "A Tough Day".
Now, we're gonna get to 1 Corinthians 3, okay, but it's a little bit later. I want to read you some verses before we get there, all right? And we'll put all of these verses on the screen.
2 Peter 2:9 says, "The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment".
2 Peter 3:7 says, "But the heavens and the earth, which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition", which means eternal judgment, "of ungodly men".
Matthew 12:36, "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment".
And Hebrews 9:27 says, "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this, the judgment". So, is there a judgment day coming? Absolutely. Will everyone be judged? Yes. Will believers be judged? Yes. Will unbelievers be judged? Yes. But, will we be judged by grace or works? Listen to me carefully. Yes. Now, listen. I am not saying that salvation is grace and works, but there is a believer's judgment and there is an unbeliever's judgment. But at both judgments, works are judged. Let me show you a few other Scriptures, all right?
Ecclesiastes 12:14, "For God will bring every work". Would you mind saying the word, "every"? "Every work into judgment, including every", would you say it again? "Every secret thing, whether good or evil". You can groan now. Okay, you didn't groan! I guess you're okay with it, all right? 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", say the word, "each", "according to his works".
Revelation 22:12, "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every", would you say the word, "every"? "Every one according to his work". Okay. I am an each. You are an each. We are every. God is going to reward each and every one, and judge each and every person, according to his works. But, are we saved by works? Not at all.
Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God," would you say these three words with me? "Not of works". Can you say it one more time? "Not of works, lest anyone should boast".
Okay, so how do we explain this? How do we explain that we're saved by grace, but judged by works, according to our works? I'm going to give you the most simple way to understand this huge theological, doctrinal issue. I'm gonna give you a very simple way. It's two words. We have to learn to determine and distinguish between our, are you ready? Here are the two words, belief and behavior. Belief and behavior. Our belief determines, and you may want to write this statement down. Our belief determines where we spend eternity. Our behavior determines how we spend eternity. Let me say it again. Our belief alone determines where we spend eternity, and our behavior determines how we spend eternity, whether heaven or hell.
In heaven, we're going to be rewarded for our works, and in hell, people are going to be punished for their works. But, depending on where you go is completely dependent upon whether you believe in Jesus Christ or not, and the Bible is so clear about this. There are two judgments, and I'm going to talk about each of these two judgments today. There are two judgments, the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, every person there is a believer. Every person is a believer. At the Great White Throne Judgment, every person is an unbeliever. Every person at that judgment is an unbeliever. This is why people don't understand.
Well, why are you even gonna have a judgment if every person there at the Great White Throne is an unbeliever and is going to go to hell, and why would you have a judgment if every person at the Judgment Seat of Christ is a believer and is gonna go to heaven? The reason is because this judgment is not to determine your belief. Your belief has already determined which judgment you're going to attend. But at that judgment, at each judgment, your behavior will be judged. Here's what I'm trying to tell you. It matters how you live. It matters what you do on this earth. And according to Scripture, if you believe, it will alter your behavior. God's grace, God's unmerited favor, gives us the desire and the power to want to serve God.
So, let's talk about these two judgments, all right? We are not saved by works, but works do matter. By the way, let me say this. This is why people who understand grace get upset when people talk in the wrong way about works, and this is why people who understand that our behavior matters get upset when people talk about grace sometimes and don't talk about behavior. This is why. But the two can marry. They are married in Scripture and it's easy to understand when you separate belief and behavior, when you understand what each of them are for.
All right, so here's the first judgment, the Judgment Seat of Christ. Number one, the Judgment Seat of Christ. Now, are you in 1 Corinthians 3? It says, "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". He's referring to Apollos here. "But let each one", and I'm not gonna ask you to repeat it, but I want you to think about it every time I say it. "Let each one take heed how he builds on it". In other words, how he builds on the foundation of Jesus. "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone", anyone, that includes us, "builds on this foundation", Jesus, these are believers, "with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear for the Day", capitalized, Judgement Day, "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". You're gonna be rewarded for your works. Verse 15, watch. "If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss". He's gonna lose his reward. "But he himself will be saved". These are all believers. "Yet so as through fire".
Okay, I want you to notice a couple of things about this. You can be a believer and be building with wood, hay, and straw. You can be a believer and build with gold, silver, and precious stones. In other words, you can be a believer and be doing works that will last forever, and that will be eternal, and that you will be rewarded for. But, you can also be a believer and be doing temporal things that you will not receive a reward for. Or, you could actually do something that's eternal, and because of the way you do it, you could lose your reward for it. Now, we're not talking about going to heaven or hell, okay? Remember that. Let me just show you how Jesus Himself said you could lose a reward for a good work. You've read this before, maybe you've never tied it in.
Matthew 6:1, "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. 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 for men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward on 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, who sees in secret, will", watch this word, "Himself reward you openly".
Now, I want you to notice, first of all, you can do something good and actually lose the reward for it because of the way you do it. But, notice this. The Father Himself, Himself, will reward you! Did you know the Father is going to give rewards to you personally? Personally! It's not gonna be, like a billion people, you know, there's gonna be like a billion people out there, and the Father's gonna walk out and say, "Y'all done good"! And of course, someone in the back's gonna say, "What'd He say"? And I'll say, "They said they need more wood"! That's not gonna be that way!
Let me show you another Scripture. 1 John 2:28 says, "And now, little children, abide in Him", abide in Him, "that when He appears, we may have confidence", watch this, "and not be ashamed before Him at His coming". Now, this is talking to believers! Why would you be ashamed? Let me tell you why some believers will be ashamed at the second coming, because they wasted their life. They believed in Jesus, but they didn't serve Him, they didn't love Him, they didn't walk with Him. They didn't give their lives for the kingdom of God, and now it's over, and they're not gonna receive many rewards.
Did you know that, do you realize, heaven's gonna be cities? Heaven's gonna be cities. And in Luke 19, Jesus says, "To the good steward", He's gonna say to one of 'em, "you be ruler over ten cities". In other words, we're gonna have a responsibility in heaven. Jesus told us to store up treasure. Listen to this. He said, "Store up treasure for yourselves", for yourselves, "in heaven". In other words, you're gonna need some money to do business with in heaven. Heaven is not just going to be floating on clouds! We talked about this a few weeks ago. Heaven is going to be a perfect earth, and a perfect heaven with no sin, no sorrow, but we're going to be living our lives.
When I was young, I went to a baseball camp one summer and I goofed off the whole camp. I mean, I just goofed off, and I played pranks on people, and I just didn't really apply myself. And the last day, when we got together, there were these tables and there were trophies on these tables. And I remember thinking, wait a minute! You didn't tell me that you were giving out awards! If I had known you were giving awards, I wouldn't have goofed off this whole week! And of course, I didn't get one, 'cause I'd goofed off the whole week. I wonder how many believers are going to get to heaven, but not have many rewards, and not have much responsibility, because there are degrees of heaven and there are degrees of hell.
Let me ask you something. Will the person who is a believer, but he really doesn't give generously, he doesn't tithe, he doesn't serve, he doesn't witness, he doesn't really give himself to the kingdom, will he receive the same reward for the person who gives sacrificially, spends many hours helping the poor, wins many people to Jesus? Will each receive the same reward? No. Remember, God's a just God. God is going to recompense every person, believers and unbelievers, according to our works. And this person who gives his or her life to the kingdom, and sows, and serves, and loves, and ministers, is going to receive rewards.
So, that's the Judgment Seat of Christ. What about the Great White Throne Judgment? Here's number two, the Great White Throne Judgment. Turn over to Revelation 20. Revelation 20, "The Great White Throne Judgment", and I'm gonna show you why we call it the Great White Throne Judgment, all right? Revelation 20:11, "Then I saw a great white throne". That was all we theologians could come up with. All right. "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened".
Please notice, "books" here is plural. The word "books" is plural. "Books were opened. And another book", singular, "was opened, which is the Book of Life". Listen, this is a great example of belief and behavior. If you believe, your name is in the book. But in the books, all of our works are there, whether you're believers or unbelievers. See, the books are books of works, deeds that we did. The book is whether you believe. Okay? Watch. "And that book 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", remember Hades is the Greek word for hell, "delivered up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one according to his works".
Now, I asked you a question a moment ago. Will a believer who really doesn't give, or love, or serve, get the same reward as the believer who sacrifices, gives generously, tithes, witnesses, serves? Will they get the same reward? Obviously, if you think about it, no, they won't get the same reward. We're going to be rewarded for our good works, the Bible says. Okay. Will an unbeliever, will an unbeliever who does not give his life to Jesus, but he's a good man, he just obstinately says, "No, I don't believe in God, I don't believe in Jesus Christ, I will not give my life to Jesus", but he goes to work, and he has a family, and he just kind of has a normal life, but he obstinately refuses to give his life to Jesus, will he receive the same punishment as a murderer and a rapist? No. It's different.
There are degrees of punishment, and I'm gonna show it to you in the Bible. Think about this. Here's the guy who's a good guy, but he doesn't give his life to Jesus. He's gonna go to hell. And, here's Hitler, who murdered six million Jews. God's a just God. Hitler will be recompensed for his works. He will receive punishment for his works. Let me show you Jesus' own words. Matthew 11:21, "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. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable". This in the Greek, by the way, means less suffering or more lenient. "It will be more tolerable" how could it be more or less if it's both the same?
"For Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum", and notice again in the day of judgment. "And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades", or hell, "for if the mighty works which were done in you", now, watch. This is an amazing statement Jesus is about to make. "If the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day". In other words, Sodom would have repented. "But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom", Sodom and Gomorrah, "in the day of judgment than for you".
This is amazing! This is amazing. And you know what was done in Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida? The works, the mighty works that were done? Jesus! Jesus Himself was in those cities doing miracles, healing people, and preaching the gospel, and they rejected Him. You know what He said? If I had gone to Sodom, they would have repented. And God knows peoples' hearts. This is Jesus talking! We can't argue with it. This is Jesus! Jesus said Sodom would have remained until this day. We would not have destroyed Sodom with fire. They would have repented. And I'm tellin' you, it's gonna be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment than it will for you.
Let me read you this verse out of Romans 2:5. "But in accordance", in accordance, or to the degree, "with your hardness and your impenitent heart, you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God". He's talkin' to unbelievers here. He said, you know what you're doin'? You're storing up too, but you're storing up wrath. You have to go back to the attributes of God. Yes, God is love, God is mercy, God is grace, God is omniscient, God is omnipotent, but God is just. And a just God is going to judge each and every person one day, and believers will be rewarded and unbelievers will be punished for their works on this earth.
Now, I said this a few weeks ago, but I really need to say it again. I know this is heavy. I know what I'm telling you is heavy. Listen to me, though. I feel like the doctor that is saying to you, you have a disease and if you don't treat it, you will die, but there is a cure. There is a cure. So, I'm not saying these things to scare you! I'm simply telling you the truth from God's word. There is a judgment day coming! And every person will stand before the judgment seat of God, every person, whether it's the Judgment Seat of Christ or the Great White Throne Judgment, every person. I'm not trying to scare you, I'm simply telling you, there's a cure. There's a cure, and it is to give your life to Jesus, and to sell out to Him, and to serve Him completely.
Remember I told you about if I had known that the camp was giving awards I wouldn't have goofed off so much? I did a lot of things growing up not thinking of consequences, unfortunately. And I remember I used to hang out, now, this is going to date me. I understand that. But, the hangout when I was growing up was the skating rink. How many of you used to hang out at the skating rink? Okay. See, these are the older people in the crowd. Okay? All right. And my father dropped me off. I didn't have a driver's license at this time. Dropped me off at a skating rink, but knew that I was up to no good. Now, I was beginning to hang out with the wrong crowd, so after he dropped me off, he kind of circled the block and came back. And then, he watched from a hiding place, which I don't think was fair, by the way.
I was reminded when I was preparing this message, it says, "The Father, who sees in secret". Okay, I had that father! He watched from a hiding place, and I started, because I thought it was tough and cool, and I had such a severe rejection problem. I wanted to be accepted. I'd started smoking cigarettes. He knew where that would lead, which it did. It led then to drinking and drugs. That's where I went from there, because it was rebellion. It wasn't the cigarettes, it was rebellion. That was the problem. And so, he knew that, and so he watched that night, the whole night I was there, until he picked me up at the designated time. He drove around the block again and he was very sneaky, very sneaky! And, picked me up and then we got home, and he asked about the cigarettes. I lied, of course.
Finally, he produced the evidence, and here's what he did though. He punished me according to the number of cigarettes I smoked. In other words, he punished, if you smoked this many. If you'd have just smoked two, it would have been this long, but you smoked, you know, whatever it was. And so, again, here's the thought that came to me. If I had known! It was the same thought that I had at camp! If I had known they were giving awards, I would have acted differently! If I had known that my punishment would be in proportion to my sin, are you listening? Now, let me say one other thing. Everyone at the Judgment Seat's a believer. Everyone at the Great White Throne Judgment is an unbeliever. But, listen to me carefully. It's your choice which judgment you attend. It's your choice.
Remember, our belief determines where we spend eternity, and our behavior determines how we spend eternity. So, I first want to encourage those of you who are believers to live your lives in such a way that God will reward you for your good works. That's what the Bible says. I also want to encourage those of you who've never given your lives to Jesus Christ that you are not watching today by accident. I believe that the Holy Spirit led you to watch today's program so you could learn that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for your sins and for my sins, and that eternal life is a free gift of God that we can never earn, but we can receive it. And I want to encourage you to receive Jesus today.