THE END OF THE WORLD
Time for the Gavel
November 15-16, 2009
Wow, I want to welcome all of our campuses here. All of our campuses – those in Miami, Downtown Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano and over at Allaso Ranch.
Well, I appreciate you clapping. Today, though, is a pretty unpopular subject. What I’m going to talk about today does not draw a lot of people to church. It doesn’t make people say “Amen” or “Hallelujah!” It doesn’t sell a lot of books. It’s highly, highly controversial. People don’t really get into it. You don’t hear it talked about very much at all anymore, yet this subject is painted some 600 times on the canvas of Scripture. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the judgment of God. The judgment of God.
We’ve sort of lifted this character trait out of the character of God. We don’t like to think about it, we don’t like to discuss it. But in reality, the judgment of God looms large in all of our lives.
I think if we were honest with ourselves, we would say, “You know, I have this judgment chip in my spirit. I have this thing about me that wants accountability. I want the injustices that I see to be made right. I want all the crazy stuff and all of the wrongs to be a-ok.” So we have this thing in our lives that I believe is placed there by God. Because the Scriptures tell us that God has placed eternity in our hearts. He’s placed this desire for forever in all of our lives. And I think we know, we have this intuitive sense that the judgment of God looms large. That’s why so many people say, “Hey, don’t judge.” You ever heard that before? “Hey, don’t judge me. Who are you to judge?”
Well, the Bible never tells us that we’re the ultimate judge. The Bible never says that we are to judge people. The Scriptures do tell us though that we’re to point out when someone is living away from God’s best. The Scriptures say that we’re not to be shy about saying, “Ok, that’s committing cosmic treason. That’s a sin before a holy God.”
So, I think so often we use that whole ‘don’t judge me’ thing because we don’t like people up in our grill, or in our chili or in our chicken fried steak, do we? That’s the reason.
Don’t confuse judgment with punishment. Many of you here are believers.
Many of you are followers of Christ. And I think it’s very easy, it’s very tempting for us to think about judgment, and all of a sudden we think about punishment. Those of us who’ve been wrecked by grace will not get any sort of punishment. We’re going to get judgment… What? That’s right.
I know we don’t talk about it very much. All believers will be judged but, all believers will not receive punishment, only those who have rejected Jesus. I’m quoting Scripture, now, only those who’ve said, “You know what, I’m going to do life my way,” will receive both judgment and punishment. But once again, those of us who’ve been ambushed by the grace of God will live forever and ever in a place called heaven.
Have you ever just stopped and thought about your life and how much you enjoy getting rewards? I think it’s safe to say that all of us like getting trophies and rewards and things of that nature.
Illus: I’ll never forget the first time I received a trophy, it was really embarrassing. I played for the Brookwood Forest Bulldogs, a little pee-wee football team. I was a horrendous player. And during our big banquet, the coach gave every guy on the team a trophy. A little cheap, you know, little thing that looked like it was gold, and it wasn’t gold. Looked like it was wood, it wasn’t really wood. And I remember he called me up, “Ed Young.” and he tried to say something nice about every single player. And he said, “Ed Young. He showed up every day for practice, and we really liked having him on the Brookwood Forest Bulldogs.”
So when I walked up, I was so focused on that trophy, I was so into it, I just grabbed it with both hands out of my coach’s grasp. And all the parents laughed, “Ha-ha-ha-ha. Oh Ed. Oh,” and everybody laughed. And I didn’t really know why they were laughing. I was just happy to have a trophy, you know. My first trophy ever from the Brookwood Forest Bulldogs.
You probably remember your first trophy or your first reward. We think about trophies and rewards often, don’t we? The Heisman, the Outland, we think about Grammy’s and Emmy’s and all the other trophies. This desire for rewards has been given to us by God.
Let me talk just for a second to those here who are believers, you are a follower of Christ. I want to talk to you about the judgment, that’s right, the judgment that’s looming large in your life and mine. I’m not talking about punishment. All those who have bowed the knee to Christ, will spend eternity with Jesus in heaven. It is signed, sealed and delivered. I do though want to talk to you about the judgment for believers. J-u-d-g… huh-ha, man, I’m a horrible speller. The Judgment. And you might… Is that right? Whoa, I get nervous every time I begin to print. You know what, I thought there was an ‘e’ there and I checked it once, and checked it twice, I wanted to see who’d been naughty or nice, and there was no ‘e’ there. Unless I’m totally wrong. Whoa. Whoo. Because it looks wrong. You know, sometimes you look at things and think, “That looks wrong, I know it’s wrong. I know it’s misspelled.” Check it. And then think, “Oh, um,” but in this instance, I think I’m right, which is a miracle.
Judgment. Or you might want to call this, and sometimes, it’s used in the Bible, known as the Bema seat. Bema. And what’s so big about this? We will all, again, I’m talking to Christians here, if you’re not a Christian, you can just kind of think, “Whew, I don’t have to mess with this right now.” Now, pay attention because I believe you’ll become one, because it’s better to be a believer than a non-believer. We’re going to see that today. But if you’re a believer, all right, the Bema seat is something that you’re going to face. Think about it. Every conversation you’ve ever had. Every thought that’s ever ran though your mind, every interchange, every exchange, every outburst of anger, every lustful thought, every moment of greed. Everything, everything you’ve ever done wrong, or thought wrong or committed wrong. Everything I’ve ever done wrong or thought wrong or committed wrong, is going to be laid bare, it’s going to be visible during this judgment. Whoo. The Bema seat.
The picture behind this would be the Greek games. The judge had the best seat in the house. The judge had an unencumbered view of the games. And as they ran the race, he would judge the people. Who’s going to be the judge? Jesus. Jesus is going to judge you and me. I’m not talking about whether or not we go to heaven. We’re going to heaven. I’m talking about–what did we do with what the Lord has bestowed upon you and upon me. How did we develop the gifts and abilities, the talents and the opportunities to the best of our abilities? Because the Bible says there’s going to be levels of heaven. So if we take these gifts, talents, and abilities and use them and develop them as an act of worship, when we get to heaven, what are we going to be doing? Worshiping 24/7.
Does that mean we’re in some kind of ginormous praise band or praise team or we’re singing with this choir? It doesn’t mean that. It means that we’ll be living our life and doing things and leveraging our gifts and talents and ability for the glory of God. And those here who’ve leveraged their talents, who’ve really used their resources, will have greater responsibilities in heaven. That’s what the Scripture says.
So this Bema seat is when Jesus looks into your life and into my life. And read here–motives. Motives. The real motivation of what we did with what Jesus has given us will come out. It’s going to be laid bare. It’s going to be visible.
“Well, Ed, prove it to me scripturally.” Ok, 2 Corinthians 5:10. And this is written of course, the book of Corinthians, to what? Believers. “For we must all,” not some, “we must all,” talking about believers, “appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” In other words, we have a date with deity. Say it with me, “We got a date with deity.” We can’t put it off. We can’t say, “Let me think about it.” No, no. we got a date with deity. It says, “Each one may receive what is due to him,” or her, “for the things done while in the body whether good or bad.”
Now let’s look at 1 Corinthians 4:5. And you might be, jot these Scriptures down very, very quickly, cause I gotta fly through as we do a fly over of God’s Word. All right. 1 Corinthians 4:5. “The Lord will bring to light what is hidden in darkness. And will expose the motives of men’s hearts.” In other words, a guy, a Christian, that we would say, “Oh, man, this guy was blessed. This guy had a lot of money. This guy was very generous to the church.” Well, we’re going to find out on judgment day, that this guy’s generosity was really like pocket change stuff. On this day, we’ll see someone who had this incredible talent, for example, to communicate or to sing, or to lead or to serve. And we’re going to see that they kind of held the church at bay. They kind of did the Heisman, still talking about the trophy, to the body of Christ, and they’re not going to really get what they should have deserved. So I believe there’s going to be tears and there is going to be heads dropped when the judgment of Jesus drops. Well, let’s keep on going.
“What kind of crown are you talking about? What kind of trophies are you talking ‘bout? Ed, surely you’re talking about better than the Brookwood Forest Bulldogs handed out.” No doubt about it. Here’s some quick trophies that are going to be handled out, some quick awards that’ll be handed out. And I’m going to write these down and give you the Scripture reference and you can look them up later. All right.
The first one is called the Crown of Glory. Ok. 1 Peter 5:4, “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you’ll receive the Crown of Glory that will never fade.” This reward is given to those who teach the good news, who teach Scripture.
Here’s another award. The Crown of Righteousness. The Crown of Righteousness. 2 Timothy 4:8. That’s for those who kept one eye on the matter, one eye on the world and the other eye on eternity. That’s the people I’ve been describing who looked into the eyes of Jesus and the things of the earth grew strangely dim. That’s those in the house who understand that everything has an, a backdrop of the eternity. We’re waiting for the return of Jesus.
Here’s the third one. The Crown of Rejoicing. Rejoicing. The Crown of Rejoicing. 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and 20. “For what is our hope, our joy? Or the crown in which we’ll glorify in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” The crown of rejoicing would be those who shared their faith with others.
One of the take-homes in this entire teaching called The End of the World, should be this. This should amp me up to really articulate my faith. That reward is waiting for you.
The fourth reward. The fourth reward is the Crown of Incorruption. That’s those who lived a disciplined life. The spiritual disciplines: solitude. The spiritual disciplines. It can be journaling. The spiritual disciplines, It could be prayer. It could be memorization of Scripture. For us to go to the next level in our walk with Jesus, we’ve got to live a disciplined life. We do those hard things first. We put the most offensive energy into the stuff that sometimes is the most difficult. It’s not always easy for me to pray. It’s not always easy for me to read the Scripture. But those who have lived a disciplined life will receive this reward.
But there’s another one. I’m almost running out of space here. This is a Crown of Incorruption. I’m sorry, the Crown of Life. And this is for those who endured trials and tribulations. Do you know someone who has gone through the fire? Do you know someone who has gone through a sickness? Do you know someone who’s had tragedy strike them time and time again but they take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’? You know people like that? I do. They’re going to get this ginormous reward.
Illus: I think about Pastor Tracy Barnes and Debbie, what they’ve gone through. If you don’t know what they’ve gone through, what they’ve lived through, just pick up one of his teaching tapes in The Source bookstore. Having two kids with Duchene’s Muscular Dystrorphy, losing one recently and knowing the inevitability of the other one passing in the near future. Tracy and Debbie and the family will get that reward, there’s no doubt about it.
So what kind of rewards are you going to get? Uh-um seriously now, what are you doing with what God has given you? What are you doing with his church? What are you doing with people in your life who are far away from God? What are you doing with the resources that God has given you? What are you doing? What are you doing with the abilities and talents? Wasting it on yourself? Glorifying you? Moving from buzz to buzz, from high to high? Or, leveraging it for the kingdom of God?
Well let’s keep going. The plot clots. 1 Corinthians 3:13 & 15. “His work,” I’m still talking here now, “will be shown for what it is. Because the day will bring to light, it will be revealed with fire. And a fire will test the quality of each man’s work.” Some stuff’s going to be burnt up. A lot of us have worked a long, long time for stuff that’s going to go vwoom! Gone. If what he’s built survives, he will receive his reward. If it’s burned up, he’ll suffer loss. He himself will be saved but only as one escaping through the flames. In other words, [sniffing] some here will still smell like smoke. They’re saved, but barely. All right, believers, the judgment is coming down. A date with deity. You see the rewards. There’s five of them that I listed. The glory and righteousness and the discipline and the endurance and the rejoicing. You can see all those, all those. How are you doing?
T.S. Now, let me change gears for a second and talk about yet another judgment. And I’ll use a white marker. I want to talk to you about the judgment of non-believers. Non-believers. And every time I talk about this people say, “Well, how can a good God hurl people to hell?”
Answer: God doesn’t hurl anybody to hell. People send themselves to hell. If you go to hell, and some here are on their way to hell right now. If you go to hell, you’re going to a place that was not designed for you. I repeat, it was not designed for you. Hell was designed for the devil and the demons. It’s not designed for humans. However, I know a lot of egomaniacs who are prancing their way to hell. Shaking their puny fist in the face of God, going to hell. So God does not hurl anybody to hell, it’s your choice, and it’s mine. And this judgment is called the White Throne. The White Throne Judgment.
I believe those of us who are believers, personal opinion, will see the unbelievers who are judged at the White Throne. And if I had time I could prove it to you scripturally. But it’s not like an essential of the faith. I just believe it. Well, let’s unpack a little bit in the book of Revelation. It’s not Revelation-S, it’s Revelation. Turn to your neighbor and say, “it’s Revelation, not Revelations.” You know, people have put ‘s’s on everything. Let’s go to Walmart’s. Anyway. So many of those I was just thinking about two or three dozen other names we use and put ‘s’s on.
Ok, who was the judge? Revelation 20:11-14. “Then I saw a great White Throne. And him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.” Who is the judge? The judge is Jesus.
“Well my God is not a God of judgment. My God is not a God of condemnation. My God is a God of love and a God of grace and a God of forgiveness and a God of a second chance. My God’s a God of a mulligan.” And you know what? All those things I said are true. You can’t talk about four or five character qualities of God without talking about the other four or five character qualities of God. Because, God is holy. Say it with me, “God is holy.” God, being holy, has to judge things that are unholy. If he stopped judging things that are unholy, he wouldn’t be holy.
And let me address what I talked about earlier. For someone to say, “Don’t judge me.” They are judging you by the statement of judging that you made. Does that make sense? Yeah, some say, “Are you sure judgment doesn’t have an ‘e’?” anyway.
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.” Who was the judge? Jesus. “Earth and sky fled from his presence, there was no place for them.” Look at verse 12. Who will be judged? “And I saw the dead great and small.” That’s the popular dead people. Adolf Hitler, people like that, you know, the great and small, people that you’ve never heard of, who rejected Jesus, standing before the throne. And the books were opened. Another book was opened which is the book of life.
Now, what does the Bible say? The Bible says that when someone receives Christ, when they’re ambushed by grace and wrecked by mercy, what happens? Their name is recorded in the Lamb’s book of life. The lamb being the Lamb of God, Jesus, right? So the books will be open. Accounts are going to be settled right here on the White Throne. It’s before all to see. And I truly believe those of us after our time of judgment, I believe those of us will be looking and watching this come down. And I believe there will be a lot of tears. Not in heaven, not in heaven. I’m talking about tears right here on the judgment seat, because we’ll see a lot of people who have chosen to go to hell that we could have shared with, that we could have engaged, that we could have done something to get them over here instead of over there. Because everybody we’ve ever seen is facing a forever in one of two places. There’s no purgatory, there’s no holding cell. When someone dies, their soul goes to either heaven or hell.
This though, is when everyone comes together for the judgment. “Another book was opened which is in the Book of Life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead and any that were in it. And death and Haites gave up the dead that were in them. And each person was judged according to what he had done.” Verse 14. “Then death and Haites were thrown into the Lake of Fire.” The Lake of Fire is the second death. You’re born once, you die twice. You’re born twice, you die once. Have you been born again? It’s offered up to you right now.
Have you been born again? Because you’re facing an eternity. You’re facing a forever in one of two places. You can secure that. Now, I believe many people, when the evidence is brought down here, many people will try to defend themselves. it’s kind of a court room scene, right? Jesus being the judge. And a lot of people will try and defend themselves saying, “Well, I need mercy! I need mercy in this court.” And you know what Jesus is going to say? “There’s no mercy.” Yeah, there was mercy on the other side of the grave, and there’s mercy tonight. There’s forgiveness available to you. There’s grace available to you. There’s reconciliation available to you. But once you get here, no more mercy.
Some will say, “Well, I know what, Jesus, I need justice.” You don’t need justice. Because the wages of sin is death. Eternal separation from God. You need mercy. I need mercy. And I’ve been wrecked by grace. Ambushed by mercy. I’m in a Lamb’s Book of Life, and so are you, if you’re a Christ follower. But some here, some here aren’t. Why are you waiting? Why are you hesitating? Why are you putting it off? Jesus wants you right now if you’ll just call out to him. But you’ve got to be born twice to die once. If not, you’ll be born once and die twice.
Let’s keep going. Revelation 21:4-8. “He’ll wipe away every tear from their eyes,” right here as we watch people that we’re close to, people on that team, people in that neighborhood, people back in the college dorm, will be thrown into the lake of fire. Verse 5, “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I’m making everything new.’ Then he said, ‘write this down for those words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It’s done, I’m the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. To him who is thirsty, I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.’” Verse 7, “ ‘He who overcomes will inherit all of this, and I’ll be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, and the liars—their place will be in the fiery lake.’” The lake that’s not made for humans, it’s made for the devil, but they will choose to live in the fiery lake, a burning sulfur, this is the second death.
So you see, if you don’t meet Jesus as Savior, you are going to meet him as judge. Do you want to roll those kind of dice? Do you know where you’re going? Have you made this decision?
Philippians 2:9-11, “Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place, and gave him the name that’s above every name. At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” You talking about in hell? Just wait a second, “and every tongue confess, that he is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” You know what this is saying? Here’s Ed Young translation, Ed Young paraphrase: bow now, or bow later. Bow now, or bow later. Because it says every single person who has ever been born on planet earth, and I have a hard time getting my little brain around this, but every single person will bow the knee to Jesus, and every tongue will confess, Jesus is Lord. So the forever feeling, the forever sight, the forever experience that all of these people will have will be Jesus on the throne. And they’ll bow the knee to him, and they’ll confess him as Lord. The Bible says, “Hell is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“Well I wanna go to hell, because my friends are there, man, we can party in hell!” Sounds great, makes good rock-n-roll songs. Comics love to throw that out and get the little laugh in bars where people are wasted, but that’s not what the Bible says. Even if your friends are there, you won’t even know it, it’s a place of utter isolation. It’s a place of: you can do anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to do, alone. And you choose it. God doesn’t hurl you there. It’s your choice. It’s your option. This book, though, the B-I-B-L-E, Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, that’s what it is. It tells us how to live. It’s the owner’s manual. And once we open our lives up to Jesus, once he comes in, once we see what’s there for us, [shew], we really know what life is all about.
Whenever you talk about the end of the world as I have said repeatedly, it’s easy to talk about the what, and the how and the why, and to miss the who and the you and what in the heck we’re supposed to do. I mean this has been a lot of stuff. I’ve given you a lot of Scripture. I could spend three years on this easy, easy. But what’s the main thing? The main thing is four things – four things. Four things that you need to become in Christ because of this study.
First, you need to become a man or woman of justice. Did you hear that? Justice. So many of us have been hurt, so many of us have been betrayed, so many of us have been stabbed in the back, so many of us have had rumors spread about us. We can think back to our high school days, our college, or even now.
But we have confidence. Because the Bible says we need to leave room for the wrath of God. God’s going to be fair, he’s totally fair. He’s going to be just, he is going to take care of the people. He is going to take care of all of those people who messed you around, and who messed me around. We just gotta let God be God. He’s going to take care of it. Might not be here, but I promise you, it’s going to be there, or maybe even there. Justice.
This should also, secondly, make me a person of forgiveness. Are you a person who lives out forgiveness? Seriously, just think about it, before God. Because all we have to do as believers is just look at the cross and it should motivate us to ask for forgiveness. Just today I was talking to someone on the phone, and I knew in my heart of hearts I had wronged this person. And you know what I told this guy? “I’m wrong. I messed up. Will you forgive me?” I didn’t give him some kind of fake stuff sayibg, “I’m sorry if I hurt you. I apologize if you took it the wrong way.” Are you kidding me? That is the weakest bunch of crap you can ever say. When you say that, what are you doing? You’re putting it on them. “It’s your deal. You’re hyper-sensitive. It’s your deal, you’re weird. It’s your deal, you’re crazy. I’m not, you know.” As believers, we should live lives of reconciliation because of what’s been done for us on the cross. We should rush to seek forgiveness and receive it. But the Bible says, in light of eternity, in light of this, we have to do what we have the power to do. Are you a person of forgiveness? Because whenever you say the words and receive it, you’re modeling the person of Christ.
Number three. Become a person, a man or woman, of righteousness. Righteousness. Um, again, I’m really concentrating right now on believers. Righteousness. Are you living a pure life? A holy life? You know it hurts the heart of God, I’ll just say it, for people to live together. It hurts the heart of God for people to be engaged in premarital sex. It hurts the heart of God for people to view porn. It hurts the heart of God for people to exaggerate and to lie and to say, “the check’s in the mail.” It hurts the heart of God to say one thing and do the other. It hurts him. And one day when it’s all laid bare, it’s going to be out there. Now, however, the good news is, all of our junk and funk has been paid for by Jesus. I mean that’s the good news. But I’m telling you, it’s going to be out there. Every conversation, every thought, every motive. God is holy. He’s inside of our lives, we should reflect his holiness. Are you living a pure and holy life?
Number four. You need to become an evangelist. I’m not talking about white shoes and a white suit. “Be healed!” I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about someone who understands influence. Someone who understands the power of a life lived for Christ. Someone who not only walks it, but actually talks it and engages people. Because one of the most powerful questions you can ask someone is simply this, “How are you doing?” That opens up the door to conversations. It opens up the door so often to salvation. Because most of us are about 3 or 4 questions away from becoming evangelists! Don’t stop! Don’t stop! Don’t stop! Take the lead. Step out. Who has God placed in your life? Who needs that word? That’s for Christians.
Now, for the non-Christians here. Where are you going to spend eternity? Again, it’s your move. The good news is, Jesus has paid for all of your sins, all of your shortcomings, all of your pure motives and impure motives, on the cross. He died for it. Something that no one in this place deserves. I’m not any different than you. I’m a man, you’re a man too. But I’ve done one thing. I’ve invited Christ to come into my life. I’ve received him. So I’m different than you because I’m a child of God. I’ve been born. March 16th, 1961. It’s my first birthday. I’m 48.
Some of you are asking, “How old is he? I he looks 55, I don’t know. Too much time in the sun, maybe.”
But when I was a little guy, about ten or eleven or so. I had my second birthday. And because of that, oh, I’m going to die. Oh, I’ll die. Everybody dies. The stats on death still hover around 100%. But I’ll spend an eternity with Jesus, and many here will do the same. But we have some, I’m telling you, if you were to die right now, you would face a Christ less eternity. And we can change that. You can cry out for mercy now. You can cry out for forgiveness now. You can cry out for salvation now. Won’t you do it?