Text: Rev 20: 11-15 (King James Version)
"Father, I am your servant, willing and desiring to be used to bless your people."
The Fields are white and the laborers are
C.H. Spurgeon said, "If God does not save a man by truth he certainly will not save them by lies, and if the old gospel is not competent to work a revival, then we will do without the revival;"
Rev 20:11 -15 I predict one day you will stand before the judgment
Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Revelation 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Father, Open my eyes so I can see Your truth.
Open my ears so I can hear Your voice.
Open my mind so I can understand Your Word.
And open my heart so I may receive all that You want me to receive. AMEN
OPEN: Several years ago, a Charlotte, North Carolina man, purchased a case of rare, very expensive cigars, insured them against ... get this ... fire. Before he had made a single payment on the policy, he smoked every last one of those 24 cigars... and then he filed a claim against the insurance company stating that he had lost the cigars in "a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay citing the obvious reason that the man had consumed the cigars in a normal fashion.
Well the man sued the insurance company. And he won!
The judge ruled that - since the man held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable, and also guaranteed that it would insure the cigars against fire, without defining what it considered to be "unacceptable fire," it was obligated to compensate the insured for his loss.
Rather than endure a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the judge's ruling and paid the man $15,000 for the rare cigars he lost in "the fires."
But after the man cashed his check the insurance company had him arrested.
Can you guess the charge?
Arson! 24 counts of arson!
APPLY: Now, that's poetic justice. This man tried to bilk the insurance company out of 1000s of dollars and he paid the price for his arrogance.
There's something inside of all of us that says that there must be a day of judgment.
There must be a day when the wicked must be made to pay.
The unrighteous must be brought to justice.
Those who are evil must face judgment and punishment.
And the God assures us that - YES - there's going to be a day of judgment.
Hebrews 9:27 tells us "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" KJV
2 Corinthians 5:10 says: "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."
Or as Revelation 20 tells us - everybody - both great and small will stand before judgment seat. And the books will be opened, and "the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books."
Based on these Scriptures (and on a few others) I can confidently predict for you today: One day you will stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Now, just about everybody thinks that's a great idea.
Because just about everybody thinks THEY ARE NOT going to face judgment.
A little over 10 years ago US News and World Report took a survey and found that approximately 87% of those they interviewed believed they were going to heaven.
They didn't think they'd have to face judgment.
Judgment was for all the evil people.
And these folks didn't think they were all that bad.
ILLUS: These folks are like the little boy who was doing poorly in school. One day he gravely approached his teacher's desk and said, "I don't want to scare you, but my daddy says if I don't get better grades.... somebody is going to get a spanking."
Now - WHO did that little boy think was going to get a spanking?
(Not him. The teacher) Why? Because that little boy didn't think he
deserved punishment but he was pretty sure the teacher did.
When it comes to the final judgment.. there are folks who believe they'll get a pass.
* Atheists presume there won't even be a judgment - because they believe judgment is all tied up in this "God-thing" whom they don't believe exists, and so there is no ultimate judge of their behavior
* Some religions in the Far East believe they'll escape judgment because they're all going to be reincarnated. And they'll get to come back again and again and again.. until they get it right.
o And then there's the vast majority of people who believe they haven't been all that bad that they'd have to be condemned. Sure they've done some bad things.. but they're NOT really bad people
Now.. why would they believe that?
What would make them so sure they're such nice folks?
Well, it's because they compare themselves with those around them.
And they figure - hey, I'm better than this person/that person.
And because they generally compare themselves with others they don't like they usually come out looking pretty good.
One person observed: "Rare is the person who can weigh the faults of others without putting his thumb on the scale.
Or as But Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:12 "... When (people) measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise."
Why aren't they wise?
Well, they're not wise, because they're using the wrong set of standards.
When they declare themselves righteous by comparing themselves to someone else they're using a faulty set of scales.
On the last day (when we come into God's presence) we're not going to be able to compare ourselves with somebody else. There will be millions upon millions of people all around/but all you'll see is Him.
His very presence will overwhelm us.
And His very righteousness will overpower us.
ILLUS: When Isaiah was in the temple, he said:
"I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.'
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke."
When Isaiah saw God, his response was immediate:
"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." Isaiah 6:1-5
When Isaiah saw God, he didn't think about comparing himself with his neighbor. He didn't compare himself with his relatives.
compare himself with someone who lived down the street. All Isaiah could see was
the purity and holiness of God. And that purity and holiness frightened him.
Because God was pure but Isaiah wasn't. God was righteous but Isaiah was
Ps 130:3 says "If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?"
That's what it's going to be like at the judgment.
We'll see God in all of us glory and righteousness and purity
And suddenly all the failures and shortcomings and sins of our lives will overwhelm us
God is righteous. God is pure. And we aren't.
And for us to come into His presence depending on our own "self-righteousness" would be pure folly.
ILLUS: Years ago I went to a viewing at a funeral home. I wore a nice shirt and a pair of khaki jeans. But the moment I walked into the funeral parlor I knew something wasn't right. Everybody else was dressed in their finest clothing. The women had on their best Sunday dresses. The men in suits and ties.
Nobody said anything to me at the time.. but I felt ashamed.
I had come to a solemn event and my clothes (which I had THOUGHT were OK) were suddenly inappropriate.. they seemed shabby and out of place.
And on that final day - when I stand before my God - all my righteous deeds will seem even shabbier than the clothes I wore that night.
Isaiah 64:6 says
"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..."
Job 25:4 asks the question:
"How then can a man be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure?"
ILLUS: In the Gospels we read about a young rich man who came to Jesus and asked: "what good things must I do to have eternal life?"
And Jesus responded "Why do you ask me what is good? Only God is good" Matthew 19:16-17
The young rich man came to Jesus believing he could be good enough to be good enough to get into heaven. He lived by the theology that if he did enough good things, that when judgment came he could tip his hat to God and walk right on in.
He believed his own "self-righteousness" would get him in the gate.
But that's not going to happen.
The Bible repeatedly teaches.. all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
ILLUS: And many are feeling the pressure of that judgment even now.
Several years ago I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who was not a believer. We were talking about anger and bitterness and the damage it can do to people. As I often do, I was illustrating my points with Scripture and stories that I remembered. I didn't think too much about the discussion being an argument, I was just teaching the Biblical view of the dangers of bitterness. But all of a sudden my friend got very angry.
"Quit telling me your ‘God-stories'" he said.
Then he made the most bizarre comment: "My mother was a righteous person. My father was a righteous person. And I'm a righteous person!"
But I hadn't said anything about his parents. In fact I hadn't thought I'd said anything about his personal righteousness. In fact, I was a little puzzled that she was upset with my God-stories (I am a preacher after all).
But upon reflection it occurred to me that in the stories and Scriptures I presented to him he sensed a threat to his own belief in her "rightness". The righteousness of God was convicting him and he wasn't comfortable with it.
Revelation 20 tells us that EVERYBODY is going to be there at the judgment.
It says the books will be opened and "the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books." Revelation 20:12b
Now, that's kind of scary!
I'm not sure I want everybody to hear about all the things I've done/thought/said
Now granted, there's a lot of things I've done that I feel good about.
But-by contrast-there's a whole lot I'd just a soon you didn't know about.
And there's a probably a bunch of things in your life you'd just as soon I not know.
So, does Revelation 20 say that all of our past is going to be an open book?
Not for all of us.
Look again at Revelation 20:12
"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life."
Book of life?
What's this book of life?
Well, the "book of life" is mentioned just a few times in Scripture but apparently it's a VERY important book.
In Psalm 69:28 for example, David speaks of wicked men - and says:
"May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous."
Only those God counts as being "righteous" will be listed in this book of life!
Later in Revelation 13:8 we're told
"All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast— all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world."
The book of life belongs to the Lamb that was slain.
Who is this Lamb that was slain? (Jesus)
Who's in this Book of Life?
Paul tells the church at Philippi ".. help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4:3
In other words, everyone who belongs to Jesus is in that book.
If you've believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, repented of your sins, confessed Jesus as your Lord and Master and been buried in the waters of Baptism and risen up from that watery grave to a new life.. then you're name is in that book.
And - if you belong to Jesus - your sins are all covered
Speaking about our blessings in being a Christian, Paul wrote:
"Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him." Romans 4:7-8
If you are listed in the Lamb's book of life, your sins are blotted out. Scripture teaches us that when God forgives our sins they are taken away from as far as the East is from the West and buried in the very depth of the sea.
Our past sins have blotted out. They've been covered.
God WILL NEVER count them against us ever again.
Now others who come before the judgment seat will be ".. judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books." And that will a terrible thing.
But not for us.
Do you remember how I said that - when I'd attended that viewing - that I was ashamed?
That I felt that my garments were shabby and inappropriate.
Well I won't feel that way when I come before the throne of judgment, because I'll have NEW GARMENTS ON.
As Galatians 3:27 says
"..all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
I won't stand before God with those old rags of my past sins.. I'll stand before Him with the white garments of righteousness supplied by Jesus.
CLOSE: One man told of a dream he'd had. He said: The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I tho't was a courthouse. The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defense table.
As I looked around I saw the "prosecutor." He was a villainous looking man who snarled as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen.
I sat down and looked to my left and there sat my lawyer a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed familiar to me.
The corner door flew open and there appeared the judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as he moved across the room. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. As he took his seat behind the bench, he said, "Let us begin. "
The prosecutor rose and said, "My name is Satan and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell." Then he proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole, and of times I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank.
I was so embarrassed that I couldn't look at anyone, even my own lawyer, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about.
As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me I was equally upset at my representative who sat there silently, not offering any form of defense at all. I know I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life. Couldn't that at least equal out part of the harm I've done?
Satan finished with a fury and said, "This man belongs in hell, he is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise."
When it was his turn, my lawyer first asked if he might approach the bench. The judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan and beckoned him to come forward.
As he got up and started walking, I was able to see him in his full splendor and majesty. I suddenly realized why he seemed so familiar. This was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Savior. He stopped at the bench and softly said to the judge, "Hi Dad," and then he turned to address the court.
"Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned, I won't deny any of these allegations. The wages of sin is death, and this man deserves to be punished."
Jesus took a deep breath and turned to his Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, "However, I died on the cross so that this man might have eternal life and he has accepted me as his Savior, so he is mine. His name is written in the book of life and no one can snatch him from me. Satan still does not understand yet. This man is not to be given justice, but rather mercy."
As Jesus sat down, he quietly paused, looked at his Father and replied, "There is nothing else that needs to be done. I've done it all."
The judge lifted his mighty hand and slammed the gavel down. The following words bellowed from his lips:
"This man is free.
The penalty for him has already been paid in full.
As my Lord led me away, I could hear Satan ranting and raving, "I won't give up, I'll win the next one."
I asked Jesus as he gave me my instructions where to go next, "Have you ever lost a case?" Jesus just smiled and said, "Everyone that has come to me and asked me to represent them has received the same verdict as you, Paid in Full."
One person observed: "If men will not understand the meaning of judgment, they will never come to understand the meaning of grace." -