Tony Evans - The Rewards of Judgement
Christ has different kind of Christians. He has casual Christians. Those who've accepted Christ at some point in their lives will reference him. They will say their grace. They will do a bedtime prayer. They will make sure they don't miss out on special events at church or otherwise. They will give a blessing in God's name. God bless you. And they will do the minimum necessary for you to know that there is a faith somewhere to be located. These casual fans really aren't committed to the team. They fluctuate back and forth because they are impressed by the world.
But then there are the committed Christians. These are the faithful churchgoers who want to know what God says. They bring their Bibles. They want to understand. They will ask questions. They have regular devotions. They talk to God and they seek to include God strategically in major elements of their lives because they're taking their faith a lot more serious than the casual Christian. They understand that Jesus is real, and he really ought to have some play in their lives. They give of their tithes, and they have a basic dependability they will serve in a ministry. So they have a level of commitment.
So there are casual Christians, there are committed Christians, and then there are fanatical Christians. These are people who are crazy about Jesus. These are people who make you hear about Jesus when you don't want to hear about him. These are people who are not ashamed to be publicly identified with Christ and who will witness to non-believers about their faith, and they will help correct Christians who are deviant with their faith. These are Christians who are willing to suffer the negative repercussions of their identification with Christ because they're not casual about it nor are they merely committed to it. They are overwhelmed by their love for him, and it shows up all over the place. Sometimes these Christians can get on your nerves because they've been intoxicated with Christ.
So there are different kinds of Christians, and God recognizes that all who belong to him are not equally committed to him. And so God has developed a reward system, a system of recognizing which level of Christian he's dealing with at the time of the examination called the judgment seat of Christ. To repeat, the judgment seat of Christ is not about salvation because that judgment is only for Christians. Only Christians participate in the judgment seat of Christ. The judgment for non-Christians is called the White Throne Judgment. But at the judgment seat of Christ, it will be revealed whether you were casual, committed, or fanatical and the reward will be given accordingly.
Paul is writing to the Colossians, and he says work heartily for the Lord in order to receive the reward of your inheritance. There are two motivations for growing from causality, to commitment, to appropriate fanaticism. One is a growing love for the Lord. The more you fall in love with him and the price he paid to give you the free gift of salvation, the more you will want to serve him. The less you fall in love with him, the less likely you are to appreciate him and the less likely you are to heartily serve him.
So your love for the Lord and hopefully growing love for him should incentivize service to him. Because when it comes to that, God wants to know how much did you value the price he paid to give you the free gift of salvation that you possess. We live in a day when in many factors you're not getting what you pay for, and what God wants to know is he getting what he paid for 'cause we've been bought with a price and that is the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But the second reason that God wants us to heartily with some fire live for him and serve him is the motivation of reward; that he on that day is going to reward the level of commitment, service, obedience that we gave our lives for for him. And so all through the New Testament are this incentive to go for the reward.
Matthew 6, verse 19 and 21, it tells us to store up treasures in heaven. In other words, live for your reward. He says, "I want to motivate you to live your life with a future orientation for the reward," and here is the phrase, "of inheritance". It is my hope that every head of household here has a will. The reason you want a will is you want to control what you have accumulated and where it goes when you are no longer here. Because if you don't decide that, somebody else will decide it for you or some system will decide it for you.
So you want to control that. So every responsible head of household has an inheritance... or has a will where they have decided what goes where. That's inheritance. We talk about what our children or offspring will inherit. My will, the first thing that's in there is what I will leave to Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship because the Lord's work comes first. Then what I leave to other ministries will be in there second, and then what I leave to my children come next, and then after that what I leave to others because there is a inheritance where you are future-oriented when you are not here. Paul calls God having an inheritance. He calls it the reward of inheritance, and he wants to incentivize you and me to get all that is in his will for you. Every believer is in God's will, and he wants to incentivize us to get the maximum reward that he has willed for every believer. He wants to incentivize that.
So God wants us to love him, yes, because of the price paid, but he also wants us to pursue reward. Salvation is free. Rewards must be earned. Salvation is a gift, but reward comes from work. And so he speaks to Christians about pursuing their inheritance, pursuing the reward. Revelation 22, verse 12 Jesus says, "I'm coming back, and I am bringing my reward with me to reward every man according to what he has done". Ecclesiastes chapter 12, verse 13 says, "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is fear God, keep his commandments because this applies to every person, for God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil".
So what God is wanting you and me and us to do is to live in light of the future, not only in light of the now but to live now in light of the future. Once you decide you want maximum reward and glory, it's going to affect choices in time. But if you don't have a great love and a high incentive for reward, then you'll be satisfied to be a casual Christian. To be a ne'er-do-well Christian, you're going to just be satisfied to get to heaven but not get the benefits of heaven.
So what are some of these rewards? What is God going to give you? By way of reward if in fact you decide you want to be not casual, not even committed, but you want to be a radical saint, appropriately radical. One of the things he's going to give you is public recognition. You're going to be a celebrity. Those Christians who rise to the high level of commitment who gave God their all not perfectly because none of us is perfect but consistently wanted to serve Christ, love Christ, follow Christ. And even when they fell short, they bounced back to get in sync back with Christ. These will be the celebrities of heaven. These will be the ones you recognize...
In John chapter 12, verse 26, Jesus says these words. He says in John 12, verse 26, "If anyone serves me, he must follow me. And where I am, there my servant will be also. If anyone serves me, my father will honor him". So your service to Christ will bring honor from God. This is not something every believer gets, this is something some believers get because of their service for Christ. Don't you want Jesus to call your name? The Bible says (we'll see it next week), He says, "Well done, my good and faithful servant". This is public recognition, public honor, becoming one of the celebrities of glory. He will give honor. He will also give different levels of responsibility.
In 2 Timothy chapter 2; chapter 2, verse 11 Paul says, "It is a trustworthy statement, for if we died with him we will also live with him". That means you got saved, you'll live with him. Verse 12, "If we endure," hang in there, "we will also reign with him". That is rule with him. Rule, reign. "If we deny him," don't want to be associated with him, "he will deny us. If we are faithless he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself". So you don't lose your salvation, but you can be denied privileges. He will deny us privileges. In the Book of Revelation chapter 2 and 3, at the end of each of the church he says and the one who overcomes. I'll talk about overcoming in a moment, but he says, "To the one who overcomes, I'm going to give special privileges".
One of those privileges is what he says ruling or reigning with him. Reigning with him means to be given a position of significance. Heaven will be a very busy place because not only will heaven manage what's happening on earth where we will be given responsibilities but whatever else God decides to do throughout the universe, which is huge. And so he's going to ferret out those job descriptions based on the level of reward we have earned through our commitment, our obedience, through our service, through our work. So he will deny those privileges who had little time for him, little interest in him, little concern about him; but he will exalt those who loved him and who followed him.
One of the places talked about a white stone. It may not mean anything to you, but in biblical days you would call it a ticket, a ticket to an event. In heaven there will be many special events for invitation only. This will not be for all believers who go to heaven. It will be for special believers who've earned the right to be invited because of their love for the Lord and service to the Lord and commitment to the Lord. They will get the white stone. They will get the special invitation because there will be all kinds of activities and all kinds of special things that will literally blow your mind. So there will be the celebrity status. There will be special opportunities. There will be unique positioning.
When Paul was about to go home, he says, "And they're going to give me the crown of righteousness. I'm going to be crowned. I'm going to be substantive, significant. They're going to crown me because of my commitment to the Lord during my earthly life". Oh, here's one. It's an interesting reward. In Mark chapter 10, verses 28 to 31 Peter asked a question. Peter began to say to him, Jesus, "Behold, we have left everything and followed you. We are all in. We have left everything and made you numero uno. We have left everything and we have sacrificed everything to be fanatically committed to you". In other words, is it worth it? He's asking a question. "Is this overkill here? We have left everything".
Jesus said, verse 29, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms for my sake and the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much in the present age houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life". He concludes with, "Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first". Peter is already a Christian. Peter is already saved. Peter is already on his way to heaven. So Peter already has eternal life.
So how can you give him eternal life if he's already saved and has eternal life? 'Cause eternal life you're talking about is what he's getting for following you, not what he's getting for accepting you. So what is he offering Peter more than what he already has since he's already a believer? That raises the question, exactly what is eternal life? Well, in John chapter 17, let's go all the way back, Jesus said these things. Lifting up his eyes to heaven he said, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your son, that your son may glorify you". We glorify each other. "Even as you gave him authority over all flesh that to all whom you have given him, that he may give eternal life. This is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent".
So Jesus says eternal life is the knowledge of God. Okay? So watch this now. Eternal life is more than having life. It has to do with information and experience. He says eternal life is the knowledge of God. In heaven God is going to acquaint us with different levels of information, and the information that he acquaints us with he calls eternal life; eternal life, the knowledge of God, he says. So there will be a group of Christians who have followed him who will get more information than the general public.
Let me give you an example. Moses prayed a prayer, and his prayer was, "Show me your glory. I want you to display yourself to me. I want to see your face. I want to look at you. I know you're there, I know you're real, but I want to eyeball you. Show me your glory". God said to Moses, "I cannot let you see my face because you will disintegrate. Nobody can look at me and live. But I'm going to let you see my back. In order to handle my back, I'm going to put you in the cleft of a rock 'cause even my back is going to be too much for you. So I got to cover you up for you to handle my back". It says when he put him in the cleft of the rock, the glory of the Lord came through and he saw God's hinder parts.
What happened when Moses saw the hinder parts of God? Let me tell you what happened. He picked up a pen, picked up paper, and wrote, "In the beginning God created the heavens and earth. The earth was without form and void. Darkness was upon the face of the deep". He writes Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. God showed him some information about himself that was not available to everybody else that we benefit from. But we benefit from it not because we saw it, we benefit from it 'cause he saw it. In heaven God's going to give you the opportunity to see it for yourself 'cause I don't want somebody else telling me what you saw. I want you to look for it for yourself.
Eternal life is God exposing more of himself at the level that you've earned to receive it. 1 John chapter 5, 1 John chapter 5 we read these words. Verse 3, "For this is the love of God; that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. Whoever is born of God overcomes," nikao, "the world, and this is the victory that," nikao, "overcomes the world, our faith". Verse 5, "Who is the one who," nikao, "overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the son of God".
God is inviting you to become a Nike Christian because the word nikao means to be victorious or to prevail. Now, you can't be an overcomer unless there's something to overcome, and he says in 1 John it means you're overcoming the world. You're overcoming the system that wants to make you look like it, think like it, walk like it, talk like it, act like it. You overcoming that. You're not going to let that stop you. You're not going to let that trip you up. You're not going to let that keep you from coming out a winner.
"Satan, you're trying to stop me; flesh, you're trying to destroy me, but I got on my nikao. I'm an overcomer and I'm going to keep coming at you until when this thing is over. I'm going to come out more than a conqueror". He's calling you and me to be a Nike Christian. Every morning when you and I get up, Jesus is saying, "What can I expect from you today? Today, are you going to love me? Today, are you going to follow me? Today", because you're all in.
So I just want you to know even though nobody knows your name, even though you may be serving in the background, you may be a custodial help, you may be just somebody serving the underserved; nobody may know who you are 'cause you may seem small and insignificant, but there's coming a day when Jesus Christ is going to make everybody call your name and everybody's going to know who you are. You may never get to come up here, but because of who you are and who you serve Jesus is going to make sure you rise on the platform and everybody is going to know your name because you knew his name and were not ashamed to be identified with Jesus Christ. Go get your reward beginning today.
You know, we do a lot in our daily lives for rewards. We try to reward ourselves for things we've done, efforts we've made, and accomplishments we've achieved, whether it's a good meal or for a vacation or even being able to appreciate ourselves by buying us something that makes us feel better. But when we are at the judgment seat of Christ, he will make it clear that nothing we did in time on earth will compare to what he has in store for us in glory because we faithfully loved and served him and impacted the lives of others in his name. So keep serving the Lord. It will be well worth it when he rewards us at the judgment seat.