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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Tony Evans » Tony Evans - The Completion of the Journey

Tony Evans - The Completion of the Journey

Tony Evans - The Completion of the Journey
Tony Evans - The Completion of the Journey
TOPICS: The Triumphant Trip to Glory

Once you become a Christian, you are to grab heaven and draw it down to earth. When you live from a heavenly perspective, even though you have to live it out in a hellish location, you become useful and fruitful to God and then you await, verse 11 says, "an abundant entrance into heaven". And so, the principle I'm trying to get all of us to grab is God wants us to live our lives in time from the viewpoint of eternity. And if we live in time from the viewpoint of eternity, God will be able to make use of us, and we will have, our verse for the day, "an abundant entrance into heaven". Why does that matter? For three reasons. Reason number one, because all believers will not enter heaven the same way.

In 1 John chapter 2, verse 28, that there will be those who will be ashamed at his Coming. That is, when you meet the Lord, either through death or through the Rapture, you're going to shrink away in shame. You will be embarrassed at your first meeting of the risen Christ, because you lived a useless life, a fruitless life. And even though you were a Christian, you were of no benefit to God or his kingdom. And so, on that day when you meet him, you will not have an abundant entrance. You will have a disappointing entrance because you disappointed the one who loved you and gave his life for you because he could not use you during your pilgrimage on earth.

Peter says, "I want you to have an abundant entrance into heaven. I want you, when you go to glory, to go in with a victory parade". Will there be a band playing when you enter eternity because God could use you during history? Or will Jesus go, "Mm mm mm," at that first meeting because you were useless, I was useless, we were fruitless. Even though we had accepted Christ because he's writing to Christians and are on our way to heaven, we were of little good to him while on earth. That's why he says to the believers in Corinth, a passage misunderstood, but we cannot ignore it.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 6, where he says these words in verse 8: "On the contrary, you yourselves were wrong and defrauding. You do this even to your brothers, your fellow Christians, you steal from each other. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate," "no homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revelers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God". He says, if that is your lifestyle, you will not inherit the kingdom of God. Don't misunderstand. He didn't say you won't enter it. He said you won't inherit it. They wanted to be blessed. They didn't care a whole lot about being a blessing.

God wants you when you enter heaven, either through death or the Rapture, to enter heaven with a party. He wants there to be a glorious entrance into heaven, that when you transition from time to eternity, he wants it to be a spectacular event. In other words, he wants you to be able to say, "I'm ready to go". He wants you to be able to say, like Paul, "I kept the faith. I finished my course and now my departure is near, but it don't matter because I'm ready because I'm finished. I did what I was left here to do". So there is this glorious entrance. The Bible has illustrations of glorious entrances into heaven. For example, the Bible says, "Enoch walked with God and was not because God took him".

So here he is, walking with God. Walking with God means they had a close relationship. He lived to please the Lord and he was doing it during the time of Noah, which was a decadent, evil time where the world had rejected God, but he did not acquiesce to the culture. Elijah. Elijah was taken to heaven on a chariot of fire. He's walking one day with Elisha. Next thing he knows there's this chariot that swoops down from heaven and God picks him up and takes him to glory. Stephen. Stephen is being stoned to death in the book of Acts. He's being stoned for his faith and he would not recant. The Bible says, "While they were stoning him, Stephen looked up to heaven," and he says, "and he saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God," a standing ovation, "as he made the transition from time till eternity".

Will Jesus be standing when it's time for your transition and mine, clapping, talking about, "Come on home. It's time for your celebration," even though you're leaving here in a violent situation. He was being stoned to death. You see, this rich welcome is making that transition from earth to heaven and seeing more of heaven than earth. The issue on the table is how do you want to enter heaven? Do you want to enter heaven excitedly, abundantly, with an applause? Or do you wanna hear, "Boo. I gave you this year and that year, and this opportunity, and that opportunity, and you disregarded me after I gave you free salvation"?

So the first thing is that everybody doesn't enter heaven alike. Many are ashamed. But 1 John 2:28 says: "Many will enter with confidence". Let me ask you a question. If the Rapture was going to occur today, Christ is gonna take us up or he was gonna bring you home today, would there be an ovation because you were useful and fruitful for him? Secondly, not only all believers will not enter heaven the same way, all believers will not experience heaven to the same degree. Heaven is not an equal opportunity experience. There will be different levels of experience based on your life on earth, whether you were useful and fruitful and whether you sought to live a life that pleased and honored the Lord.

And so, he says that it is absolutely critical that when Jesus Christ judges you at the judgment seat of Christ... So, you get to heaven and then there is the judgment of Christians where he will judge your works. 2 Corinthians 5, verse 10 says, "We must all appear". You will have your day in court. "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ," this is Christians, "to be rewarded for our service to him on earth, whether good or bad". So here's how this will work. God will call your name, which means it's time for your number because we must all appear. There are no exceptions. You do not get a substitute to stand in for you. You must all appear. So, he calls my name, he calls your name, and he says, "It's time for our review".

What is he gonna be looking for? He's gonna be looking for your character, your conduct, and your contribution. What kind of person were you? What kind of conduct did you have? And what kind of contribution did you make to my kingdom? That's what he's looking for because that's a keeper. He'll be looking for your declarations, what you said. He'll be looking for your deeds, what you did, and your desires, your motivations. And the rewards vary. It's not one reward for everybody. It's reward based on usefulness, as we've seen, and fruitfulness. And so, he says that we will be rewarded based on our works.

Jesus tells the story in Matthew 25, verses 14 to 30, of a man who goes on a journey. He goes on this long journey, and he's got three servants and he gives them some money. He gives them a different amount of money. Each one had a different amount of money. "After a long time," it says, "he comes back. When he comes back," it says, "He goes to the first guy he gave ten talents to and he said, 'Now, what did you do with my money?' 'Oh,' he says, 'I took your ten and I made ten more.' 'Oh,' he says, 'I'm gonna put you over a whole bunch of cities.'" Because, in case you didn't know it, there will be a lot of appointments made in heaven. There will be governors and mayors, there will be presidents of countries, there will be, all of that's taking place in heaven.

So get this idea of floating on a cloud out of your mind. There are all these appointments. There will be janitors in heaven. Okay, you got that? That can be an appointment to you in heaven, but you're cleaning up, all right? In other words, they're appointment's based on what you did and they graduate. So, the second guy, he gave five talents to. The guy he gave five talents to, he says, "I've taken your five, I've gotten five more". He says, "Great job, great job. Here is your reward". Ah, but this third guy, number three, he only got one talent and here's what you need to know. Jesus didn't expect from the guy who had one to do the same with the guy who had five. He only expected you to do with what he gave you. He says, "What did you do with my talent"? The guy says, "Oh, I buried it. I dug a hole and I buried it".

So let me tell you about guy number three. Let me tell you his thinking. Guy number three is playing the end against the middle. "If my master doesn't come back, I got the money. If he does come back, then I still got his money. If he doesn't come back, I can keep it. If I hear he went off and died or something, he doesn't come back. I got the money. But if he does come back, I can at least show him I didn't lose it". Guess what Jesus says to him? "You wicked, lazy slave". Notice, he's a servant. He's not a stranger. He belongs to the master, but he calls him, "You wicked and you lazy... The least you could have done is put my money in the bank. It wouldn't have given me much. You weren't even willing to put it in the bank to get me a little interest".

Why wasn't he willing to put it in the bank? Simple, banks keep records. He didn't want a record of what he was doing. But the master came back and he said, "You are wicked and lazy". And then he throws a ringer about a person in heaven because this is a servant. He says, "Cast him into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth". Now, most people attribute that to hell. That's not hell. That's an assignment in heaven. Let me explain. The Bible described heaven as a party and one of the references is a party. The kingdom of God is like a party. And in biblical days, parties were at night just like a lot of ours. Like our gala the other day, it's at night, and it's light, it's festive, it's exciting. And Jesus tells a story in the scripture of this party and all these people were invited to the party and a man came who wasn't properly dressed.

And Jesus said, "That man, cast him out into outer darkness". In other words, exclude him. That's what casting out in outer darkness means: exclusion. Weeping and gnashing of teeth means profound regret. You say, "but wait a minute. I'm in heaven, how can I have a regret"? That's a natural question. If I'm in heaven, you won't know what regret feels like until you get to heaven. Why? Because you will have a glorified body that can feel it for real. See, right now, you're in a sinful body. So, the sinful body feels regret, but you feel it as a sinner. Now, you'll feel it as a saint. Even God feels it and he's perfect. The Bible talks about how God is hurt by sin.

Well, if a perfect God can be hurt by sin, how do you think we're gonna feel in front of a perfect God when he has to say, "I'm sorry, you can't come to the party," and you're in a glorified body. Because now you can feel profound regret that I lived 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, I became a Christian as a child, but I did very little that was useful and fruitful to the Savior. And he says, "You can see the party, you can't participate". Heaven is free, rewards cost. And that's the difference between salvation and discipleship. Salvation comes free for faith in the finished work of Christ. But discipleship has to do with me being willing to follow Christ. That's why the Bible says, "If you deny me, I will deny you". If you don't wanna be associated with me, then I can't have you in close fellowship with me.

So, what I'm trying to tell us that Peter is saying is, this is serious business. This is not being... being a serious Christian is serious business. It's not casual stuff, it's not going to church. It's following Christ as a full-time servant, not a part-time saint. That you might have, he says, an abundant entrance because as Ecclesiastes, chapter 12, verses 13 and 14 says, it says, "The conclusion of the matter is to fear God". And then it says, "For God will bring every work into judgment, whether good or evil". In other words, it's scary, but you're on tape, you're on tape. We are all on tape. And at the judgment seat of Christ, there is a tape review. You and I will stand there to be reviewed by our Savior for the kind of Christian we were. It's real quiet in here right now.

So let's go to point three. All believers have equal opportunity for an abundant entrance. All Christians have an equal opportunity. Notice, Peter is talking to everybody, "For in this way, the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be granted and supplied to you," and he's writing to the whole church, okay? First of all, to have an abundant entrance, you must prioritize your spiritual growth. Spiritual growth, growing in your relationship with him, and your usefulness to him, must become a priority.

If you're trying to find time to do it, the devil will make sure you don't have any. So you're gonna have to make time, make time to spend time in his presence, make time to get to know him, and most importantly, make time to obey him. To find out what he wants and to begin the process of doing it, you must prioritize spiritual growth, and spiritual growth happens with the application of truth not just the knowledge of it. Doesn't happen because you heard a sermon. It happens because you did something with it. So, you must prioritize spiritual growth. You must seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Secondly, you must make the eternal more important than the temporal.

Let me say that again. Heaven must become more important than earth. Now, wait a minute. Earth is important. You live on earth, you gotta work on earth, you gotta raise families on earth. But he wants you to do earth from the perspective of eternity. In other words, he wants you to answer this question: Is what I'm doing now on earth gonna benefit me in eternity? He wants you to ask that question as a way of life. None of us hits it perfectly, but that should be the mindset. I'm thinking eternity, while I'm living in history. I'm grabbing heaven while I'm walking on earth. I'm thinking forever while I'm living in here and now. Because if you adopt the eternal perspective and apply it to the everyday living, guess what? You get an abundant entry then and you get more of him now. See, you get more of him now because he is part of everything you're doing because you're thinking him although you're operating now.

So, he now has a vested entrance in your life and in your world. He's vested now because he's not just somebody you're waiting to meet in the sweet by and by. It's somebody you're dealing with in the nasty here and now. Peter. Peter asked a question in Mark chapter 10, verses 28 to 30. Peter said, "Now, look. Look, Jesus, if we go all as committed, you're asking for. If we, like, go to this extent you're talking about, what's in it for us? What's in it? What's the quid pro quo? What's in it for us? If we become this radical follower of yours, what's in it"? Jesus said, "Good question". He said, "If you become my disciple, my visible, verbal, unapologetic follower of me, conforming your life to my will, making yourself useful and fruitful for my kingdom," he says, "you will experience my presence in this life and I will multiply it immensely in the life to come. I will give you a multiplied experience that will blow your mind, and I will show up in your experience on your way to heaven".

That's why Peter, after he had the biggest catch of fish in his life. Remember Jesus told him, "Cast your net on the other side," he cast the net on the other side, he had the biggest catch of fish in his life when he obeyed Jesus. He could have bought a condo on the Galilean Sea. I mean, he caught so much fish. But guess what he did? He put down his net. He said, "I'm gonna put down my net. This is my career, my history, my background, this is how I make my money, how I make my living. I'm part of the Zebedee Fishing Corporation, but right now I'm following you". That's why some people give up their careers and go to the mission field because they believe in this life to come, it's gonna be highly rewarded.

Now, that's not what everybody is supposed to do. God wants to use your calling wherever he has you, and he has us in different places. But the point is that's why people have been willing to make adjustments in their lives because they believe in the life to come, and they want more of his presence in the life that is. So, this is a big deal, but it is the deal that lets you experience him in time and more of him in eternity. And that's why when Paul was ready to leave here, he said, "I fought a good fight. I kept the faith. Even when I was tempted to quit, I kept the faith and I finished my course. And now there is laid up for me, a crown of righteousness but not for me only but for all those who love his appearing". In other words, everybody who's gonna be excited when Jesus comes for them or raptures them. Because they're excited, they're getting ready to get this abundant entrance. Why? Because they walked with God on earth.

Now, this leads to a final thought. At the judgment seat of Christ, all of us, to varying degrees, are going to need mercy. It's found in James chapter 2, verse 13. The Lord says he will show mercy to the one who has shown mercy, for mercy will override judgment. So, the judgment seat of Christ is judgment. He says he will look at your extra credit. How much mercy did you show to other folk who didn't deserve what you offered, but you gave mercy anyway and you met a need for which you expected no return, for that's business then not mercy. You met a need in a person's life who couldn't repay you, who you didn't demand to repay you.

But because you knew one day you were gonna need mercy, you granted mercy. God says when it comes time to judge you, I will look in your mercy account because you reached out to other people and you ministered to them in my name, for my glory, that advanced my kingdom, that brought benefit to them, and I will credit that. In fact, I will credit it to such a degree, it'll override justice. It'll override judgment. I will give extra credit.

So, if you have lived your Christian life to this point and you know years are gonna be taken off of your tape because of your lifestyle or because of your inertia or because Jesus just wasn't a priority in your life, and if you met the Lord today, your grade would be disappointing, your reward would be nil. You will just get to heaven, but there will be no applause, no recognition. There will be no reward. You will just be there because you were born again, but not because you were useful and fruitful, God says, "Create a mercy account. And I will credit that on your grade as you now begin to live for me". You've got a God to glorify, a reward to receive, and a grand entrance to make. It's time to go all the way for Jesus Christ.
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