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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Tony Evans » Tony Evans - The Losses of Judgement

Tony Evans - The Losses of Judgement

Tony Evans - The Losses of Judgement
TOPICS: Judgment

Last week we looked at the fact that there will be rewards given at the judgment seat of Christ for those Christians who lived for the glory of God and served the kingdom of God. And those rewards are going to be blow-your-mind kind of awards and rewards. But today I want to talk about the flip-side of that coin, the losses at the judgment seat of Christ. Because there will not only be winners, but there will be losers at the judgment seat of Christ.

Now, to make sure we understand what the issue is, the judgment seat of Christ is only for believers. It's only for people who have accepted Christ. When you accept Christ, a legal transaction occurs (the biblical word is justification) where God transfers the righteousness of Christ to your account so that you're declared innocent in God's courtroom because of the shed blood of Christ, which gives you access to heaven and gives you the granting of eternal life by faith alone in Christ alone. That establishes your eternal destiny. But the issue of the judgment seat of Christ is how did you serve the Christ who saved you? It's not about entrance, it's about reward.

There is the examination of the time when you became a Christian to the time of your transition to eternity. How was God glorified, and how was his kingdom advanced by your life as a believer? That becomes the issue, and the Bible says that there will be rewards and there will be losses of rewards for believers. Second John chapter 1 verse 8 says, "Watch yourselves that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward". The concern is that you don't lose reward. There will be at the judgment seat of Christ disinheriting for believers who have wasted their salvation, who have not valued the eternal life, which can never be taken away. That's the security of the believer. But the rewards which are tied to work, service, commitment, can be lost.

In 1 Corinthians 3, verse 15, it says, "The believer's works can be burnt up, yet they will be saved just as so by fire". It's putting wood in the fireplace and watching the wood burn to ashes. It's taking the Christian life and putting it under the fire of God's discerning judgment and watching your life burn before his eyes, because there was little of eternal value associated with your life as a follower of Jesus Christ. Has nothing to do with your eternal destiny, has everything to do with your reward. First John 2:28 says, "Many will be ashamed of him at his coming". Because when he comes they will be ashamed that they have little to show for their salvation, for their eternal life, and for appreciation for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

So it says many will be ashamed at his coming. This thing about your inheritance, that is your reward, is a big deal. I want to walk you through just a few of Paul's statements about this. First Corinthians chapter 6, verse 9 through 11, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators nor idolaters or adulterers or effeminate or homosexuals or thieves, nor the covetous, drunkards, revilers, swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God".

Galatians chapter 5 verse 19 says this, "Now, the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God". Ephesians chapter 5 verse 7. He says, "Therefore, do not be partakers with them, for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light". He says do not be partakers with them, because he's concerned that we do not lose our reward. He says in verse 5, "For you know with certainty that no immoral or impure person or covetous man who is an idolater has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God".

The inheritance is not the entrance. The inheritance is the reward. You enter through faith in Christ, but you inherit it through the following of Christ, the serving of Christ, the usefulness by Christ, the pleasing of Christ. It is this desire to live for and serve the Lord. Now, he talks about those who practice such things. So he's talking about an unrepentant lifestyle. So what God wants to do is to motivate us to merit, to earn rewards. Can't earn salvation, but you can earn rewards. And he wants us to so value the life that is to come and the price it took to pay for it through the death of Christ that we are motivated to earn rewards and not take our salvation for granted. Because on that day he says we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account. We're going to be asked about our lives post-salvation up to glorification.

I want you to look with me at Matthew 22. We're told in Matthew 22 that the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, that this party is called the Millennial Kingdom. The Millennial Kingdom is a 1,000-year-long party. It's what it is, it's a 1,000-year party that God is giving to Christ. The story goes on to say guests were invited to this party who turned down the invitation. So these are non-Christians who reject. But then we're introduced to another group. The slave went out (in verse 10) into the streets and gathered together people and brought them to the wedding hall and filled it with dinner guests.

So, now folks accept the invitation. And he said in verse 11, "But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes". So we got the group that rejects the invitation, then we've got the group who accepts the invitation, and they are there at the party, the wedding feast. The king comes over, and he sees a guy who's not dressed for the party. He's not wearing clothes appropriate to the occasion. He says to him, "Friend", 'cause he's a guest of the party, "How did you come in here without wedding clothes"?

How you gonna come here looking like that? And the man was speechless. In other words, he didn't have an excuse for why he was dressed like this at this fancy invitation to this fancy party that the king was giving for his son. Then the king, verse 13, said to the servant, "Bind him hand and foot, throw him into the outer darkness in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called but few are chosen". Stay with me here. At first thought it feels like they're placed in eternal judgment, separation from God, because he's kicked out into darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is at this point I want to craft for you a theological framing.

So, what systematic theology does is it scans the entire Bible, organizes it, pulls it together, so if you want to know something about one subject, it's all there laid out in one place, taken from all over the Bible. So you don't have to go all over the Bible to find every part, because it's been organized, it's been systematized. We call that systematic theology. Biblical theology is different. Biblical theology is concerned with a particular author writing to a particular people in a particular book at a particular time who are dealing with particular things located in a particular location. In other words, Biblical theology is narrow. It's focused in on a particular situation, book, passage, author, time, and audience.

Biblical theology precedes systematic theology. In other words, you start with what the Bible teaches in a place, then you collect it to get your system. So you always start with biblical theology before you wind up with systematic theology. So we want to take you through a little bit of a biblical theology exercise for a moment for you to understand what is going on at this party when the man is kicked out in the outer darkness, and he finds himself in a place where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth, what that means in the Bible, and what that means for you and me.

Let's look, since we're in Matthew, to Matthew chapter 8 verse 12. Because in Matthew 8 verse 12 (same author, same book, same audience, same time) this is what we read. He says, "But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness in the place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth". Okay, so we got outer darkness, we got weeping and gnashing of teeth, but we have one thing we don't have in Matthew 22. The ones kicked to outer darkness and the weeping and gnashing of teeth are called the sons of the kingdom. So, now we got a little bit more information about the group that's kicked out and has weeping and gnashing of teeth.

See if we can find something else. Matthew chapter 13 (same book, same author, same time, same group) verse 37 says, "The one who sows the good seed is the son of man, and the field is the world. And as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom, and the tares are the sons of the evil one". Ooh. Let's go back. The man at the party is kicked into outer darkness where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth. We find out that people who are kicked to outer darkness where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth are sons of the kingdom. But we find out in Matthew chapter 13 verse 38 that the sons of the kingdom are the good seed, not the evil seed.

So the sons of the kingdom are believers. Believers can be cast into outer darkness and the weeping and gnashing of teeth, or as Matthew 22 says, be kicked out of the party, 'cause he was bound, and he was kicked out of the party. So the issue is not sinners being kicked out, 'cause the man was in the party. He had accepted the invitation. He was there, and he was even called a friend. But this is referring to the judgment of Christians who are not clothed properly when it's time for the party. It is talking about the King's response to Christians who will have no excuse, 'cause the man was silent. "At the judgment seat of Christ I saved you, I gave you the Holy Spirit, I gave you a church to teach you, I gave you correction, and you have nothing to show. Look at how raggedy you are at my party. I'm giving a party for my son, and you are raggedy up in here. Kick him out of my party. How you gonna be dressed like this at my party"?

Jesus said in John 14, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come and receive you to myself that where I am, you will be also". That's the rapture. That's where he comes and gathers his bride, rapture, to take them to his house, okay? So, then comes the party, okay? The millennial kingdom is the party. It's a 1,000-year jam, okay? A 1,000-year wedding feast. Those believers who lose reward will be excused from participating at this party. They have been invited, and they have responded, so it's not that they're not in the kingdom, they're just not participants of the kingdom. Weeping and gnashing of teeth means profound regret. I shoulda, coulda, woulda, but I didn't.

I went year after year after year after year after year, offering God little or nothing, and I have hardly anything to show for my life as a Christian that brought God glory and that advanced his kingdom. Little of my time, little of my treasure, little of my talent for the kingdom. I wanted him to bless me, but I didn't give much back to him. It means profound regret. Now, I know you must be raising the question, but I'm in heaven. How can I be in heaven and have profound regret?

In Genesis Chapter 6, when God destroys the world, it says he was grieved at the world. Now, wait a minute, God is a perfect God. A perfect God is sad? A perfect God is unhappy because of how wicked the world had become? So watch this. If a perfect God can be sad, what do you think we can go through when we have disappointed a perfect God who can get sad? The point is you have a lot to say about how much of heaven you get to experience. Not whether you go there, not if you've trusted Christ, but your experience there is not the same, based on the kind of Christian you were. That's what the judgment seat is all about. So the question on the floor now is, okay, what do I do about this? How do I correct this?

Repentance is the master key of getting back on track with God and reclaiming what you lost. It is God's way of repairing the broken relationship with him. It's that word. So let me define it. Repentance is the internal resolve to turn from sin back to pleasing God. It starts with an internal decision, I no longer want to keep going down this road. I do not want to continue going down this road of sin, uselessness, of marginalizing my faith. I have decided I am going in another direction. Repentance is changing the mind because you want to reverse the direction.

There are three words to understand repentance that will help us. First of all, you must recognize and admit where you have failed. If a person confesses their sins, homologia, the Greek word for confess, means to say the same thing, means to agree with God. You must agree with God and what he says about it in spite of what you think about it or feel about it or want about it. So there's the recognition of guilt. Then there is the remorse. That is, the Bible says, godly sorrow brings you to repentance. Not sorry I got caught, sorry I've offended God. It is the pain of the failure. Calls it godly sorrow. I'm sorry because I've hurt God. One of our problems is that our view of God is so small that we don't feel it when we hurt him.

So there is the recognition, there is the remorse, and then there is the return. The return, the reverse. James 4:1 to 10 says to reverse your direction, submit to God, it says, the way Isaiah chapter 30 verse 15 says if you repent and return, then he will deliver. Acts 3:19 says, "Repent and return so that the day of refreshing may come upon you".

Let me tell you how important repentance is. Repentance is really supposed to be a lifestyle, not an event. It repairs the relationship, but let me tell you another thing repentance might do. What repentance might do is it gives God the prerogative to prevent, terminate, reverse, or limit judgment and consequences. 'Cause the bad thing about leaving God is you run into consequences. You run into the repercussions of the decisions, okay? And they're like consequences all in this building. No, things that are the result of our walking away from God. But God in his grace has the option, it's his choice, but at least you've created the option of him adjusting consequences. He determines that. But the point is, that is how important repentance is to continuing our road with God and getting back on our road to rewards.

In Matthew chapter 3 verse 8, John the Baptist says, "And bring forth the fruit of repentance". Ah. Let's say you got this internal resolve, I'm gonna turn, I'm gonna turn away from this, away from my apathy, away from my sin, I'm gonna get back on track with God. There's no such thing as invisible fruit. Fruit is always visible, and fruit will always tell you what's happening at the root. You may not be able to see the root downside, but you can see the fruit up front. And if the fruit is there, that means that the root is producing that fruit.

So if you have a question about your own sincerity, your own doubts, or other people question does he really mean it? Does she really mean it this time? Check the fruit. Don't just hear discussion about the root. He says bring forth the fruit of repentance, why? So that we get back on the track of rewards, because he has in his will a plan for you. God saying to his children, "You don't care what I gave you for free". I gave you eternal life, and you can't serve me, you can't try to follow me, you can't give to me, you can't witness to me, you can't do any of that, and you got here free? 'Cause I picked up the tab at the cross? Doesn't I deserve better than that at my party? "One, two, three, four".

We're told not to lose our reward. Now, you can't lose something you don't have. So Jesus has already planned for you to get a bountiful reward for how you loved him and served him on earth. But he says those rewards can be lost because we defect from the faith, we defect from the truth, we defect from faithful service, we defect from loving him and showing that love to others. So we don't want to be Benedict Arnolds to the faith so that we don't lose our position, we don't lose our prizes, we don't lose all of the things that God has already set aside for us as we follow him. So since he's already given it to us, let's not lose it. Let's make sure to keep our rewards.
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