“The day will come when Eternity will become reality. What areas in your life are you not yielding to God? Judgement Day will come and we will stand accountable for how we lived our lives for Him. His goal for us is to have the attitude that, “Apart from God, we are nothing.”
April 6, 2023
Speaker: Greg Sanders
Passage: Romans 14:10-12
Well, we taught on the judgment seat of Christ and you came back. We’ll see if you come back next week. If you have your Bibles, I’d love it if you would get those out. We’re going to work through quite a few different passages of Scripture today. So I think it’s important to be able to track that.
Let me give you a few so you can start planning for them. We’re going to look at 1 Corinthians chapter 3, 2 Corinthians chapter 5, Revelations chapter 20, and Matthew chapter 25. I’ll repeat them when we get there.
So we began teaching last week on the judgment seat of Christ. In Romans in chapter 14, Paul makes a statement. He says, “So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on one another? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures, say, ‘As surely as I live,’ says, The Lord, ‘every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.’ Yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God.”
There are multiple passages throughout the Scriptures that will reiterate and confirm this idea of a judgment seat. There’s a passage in Galatians that I want to use as a lens in this. It’s in chapter two, verse 20. And maybe you’re familiar with it, but let me read it just in case.
“I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless.”
This is from the same writer, Paul. And Paul will use a shift in language in Galatians chapter two that’s incredibly important. Where he says, “I am crucified with Christ, yet I live,” he uses a word for “I” that means “ego.” And it is the proprietary sense of self. I am crucified with Christ.
When he goes on to say, “yet I live,” he uses a different word. The linguistic thing he did with the Greek is really interesting. The ego dies at the cross. He never again in that verse will use the same word “ego” in Greek for “I.” Everything else is a familial tense to be placed into something.
What it says in Greek is, I have been crucified with Christ, yet Christ is mine. Like He now is my life. Why is that important? As we step into this idea of the judgment seat of God, the judgment seat of Christ, I think it’s incredibly important that we begin with the conversation framed correctly.
The moment we came into the Kingdom, the moment that we gave our lives to the Lord, the moment that we accepted the work of the cross, the moment that we said, “We are believers,” what we said yes to was death to us.
I think there’s an epidemic. Let’s just call it the American church. Let’s not deal with the global church. There’s an epidemic in the American church. We love the fact that we’ve been forgiven. We love grace. We have a really hard time with the requirements of the Kingdom. We have a really hard time with the discipleship of Christ. We have a really hard time being crucified.
You said, “No, I don’t.” Okay. Here’s what I mean.
We have a hard time laying down what we want, even though what Paul says is I am crucified with Christ yet I’m alive. My life now, I don’t live according to the flesh. But I live it according to the Word of God.
So the moment I came into the Kingdom, I made an absolute decision that the way I want to do things, the way that seems right to me, the way that brings me the most satisfaction and happiness, stops. And at that moment, I’ve adopted His life, His way, His methodology, His model, His belief system, because I’m back there. Because what I figured out on my own was that I was dead in my sin and I was going to do nothing but cause self-destruction. Is there anybody like me who has realized in your strength, you’re not very good?
And some of us, maybe are more broken than others. Great. I definitely am in the misfit toy category. Without Jesus, it’s a really bad life for everybody around me. I think some of you think I’m joking when I say Greg Sanders without Jesus is a bad human being. I’m not joking. It’s the total honest truth.
I am so grateful for what He did. But what He did came with the consequence of me losing out on what I wanted. Somebody asked me, do you love pastoring? I’m like, no. It’s just what the Lord asked me to do. I hate teaching. I can’t stand it. You remember in Transformers, there’s a scene where Witwicky’s teacher says, “Pop quiz tomorrow, sleep in fear.” That’s how I teach. Saturdays are miserable. I wake up in the middle of the night just thinking about what I’m going to say. I don’t do this because I’m like, “Oh, this is so awesome.” I do because it’s what He’s asked me to do.
I don’t say that to complain and ask the Lord to take this from me — it’s fine. I had a friend named Eric and we were sitting in a church in Oregon. We’re sitting before worship, praying together. And he just prayed this really simple prayer that caught me. He’s like, you know, Lord, there’s really nothing you could ask from us that’s too big a deal because it’s not like you’re asking us to go to the cross.
And it just caught me. I was like, man, don’t we get so up in our heads of the things the Lord’s asked us to do that we don’t think are fair? But the truth is, last time I checked, He gave His life for us, so He has the right to ask anything He wants of us.
Okay, preamble. You and I are crucified with Christ. If you’re here, and you’re willing to say, “I am not going to live my life subject to Him,” you’re not a believer. It is that simple.
I know that that’s a tough statement. Jesus does it a couple of different times where He’ll stand with the disciples and go, hey, here’s the line. You’re in or you’re out. When Paul talks about the judgment seat of Christ, it causes an in-or-out moment for us. He said you and I will each give a personal account to God.
So I want to take a look at the different places that talk about the judgment seat so we have a good theological understanding of what the Scriptures teach. So let’s take a look at 1 Corinthians 3 real quick.
Chapter three, verse nine. I’ll make it fair, so I’ll turn there instead of using my notes. I had somebody come from the first gathering and go, “Hey, would you just take longer between statements? I can’t keep up.” So if I say stuff too fast, just raise your hand and go, “Hey, timeout. I don’t know what you just said, say it again.”
For me, this is imperative that we get this. I have a goal. My goal for this teaching is to establish the reality of the judgment seat of Christ and invite us to live with that eternal perspective engraved in our minds. I do believe this is to be something we carry in our hearts. I don’t know how you all grew up, I grew up Pentecostal. So I still have some PTSD from it.
We used to do revivals. What revivals meant when I grew up was we just did church every night for an extended period of time until whoever was the guest speaker ran out of content. There was a guy named Linfield Crowder who was one of my grandfather’s best friends and he was an incredible preacher. I would imagine Linfield has gone to be with the Lord by now because he was old when I was a kid.
He used to say this phrase — he would stand up and teach very quietly — and his phrase was just simply, “Eternity, eternity. Where will you spend eternity and what will you do with Jesus?”
I remember being so gripped by that at eight and nine, realizing that there is coming a day when eternity is a reality for all of us. There’s coming a day when I will stand face to face with the King of Glory. And this is what Paul reiterates here, each of us will stand and give a personal account.
1 Corinthians 3, let’s go. Verses nine. “We work together as partners who belong to God. You are God’s field, God’s building, not ours. Because of God’s special favor to me, I’ve laid a foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any other foundation than the one we already have, Jesus Christ. Now, anyone who builds on that foundation may use gold, silver jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But there is going to come a time of testing at the judgment day to see what kind of work each builder has done. Everyone’s work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value. If the work survives the fire, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer a great loss. The builders themselves will be saved like someone escaping through a wall of flames.”
Let’s go to 2 Corinthians chapter five. Just look at verse 10 with me. “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies.”
Please understand this. The good or evil we’ve done in our bodies deals with our life. Our daily lives in this world. It deals with everyday occurrences. It deals with this idea of good or evil, and every single aspect of our life will be weighed on that day.
Let’s go to Revelations 20. I’m doing this for a reason. I think it’s always best to let the scriptures define the Scriptures. My opinion on this is of way less value than what the Scriptures teach.
Verse 11 talks about the final judgment. It says, “I saw a great white throne. And I saw the one who was sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from His presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead both great and small standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to the things written in the books according to what they had done. The sea gave up the dead in it, and death and the grave gave up the dead in them. And they were all judged according to their deeds. And death in the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Let’s go to Matthew 25. We’ll be in verse 31. “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in His presence and He will separate them as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep but His right hand and the goats on His left. And then the King will say to those on the right, ‘Come, you are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world. For I was hungry and you fed Me. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. I was a stranger and you invited Me into your home. I was naked and you gave Me clothing. I was sick and you cared for Me. I was in prison and you visited Me.’ And then the righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you when you did it to one of the least of these, My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me. And then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones. Into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry and you didn’t feed Me. I was thirsty and you didn’t give Me anything to drink. I was a stranger and you didn’t invite Me into your home. I was naked and you gave Me no clothing. I was sick and in prison and you didn’t visit Me.”
Let’s go to Matthew chapter seven, verse 21. “Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to Me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey My Father in Heaven. And on Judgement Day, many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in Your name, we cast out demons in Your name, we performed many miracles in Your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you, go away. The things you did were unauthorized.’
We looked at Matthew 18 last week with the parable of the unforgiving debtor. I think the fundamental takeaway from that passage was that the man who was forgiven a great sum, a great debt — we talked about this debt — somewhere in the realm of $35 billion in debt. It’s more than most of us have. He left and refused to forgive a person who owed him about $121. The principle in that parable is that the one forgiven refused to adopt the nature of the one who forgave. And that seems to have carried very difficult consequences in Matthew 18. And I want us to hold that as a lens as we take a look at this.
Now, there are a lot of different conversations around this judgment. There’s a one-judgment conversation, there’s a two-judgment conversation. Depending on how you grew up, and maybe what stream you were raised in, you were taught the Bema Seat judgment and the great white throne, and that they’re both different judgments and one’s a judgment for humanity and one is just for believers.
The answer is maybe. The scriptures are fairly unclear about that because there are a lot of crossovers. So it could be one judgment, it could be two, I actually don’t think it matters. Here’s what we know, if we just consider what the Scriptures teach, there is a judgment coming at the end of an appointed time.
You and I will face judgment. That is clear in the Scriptures. All humanity will be judged. Whether it’s in a separate judgment for believers, I don’t know. I don’t think it matters. Heaven and Hell are given in Scripture as part of that judgment. We know that at least in some measure, Heaven and Hell are being administrated in that judgment because Scripture is very clear.
Reward and loss are a part of that judgment because we know the Scriptures teach that very clearly. And we know who’s doing the judging. It’s Jesus. I don’t think it matters if we face one or two. It matters that we know we’re facing judgment.
Now, for a lot of us, that just stirs up a great deal of anxiety. For a lot of us, it stirs up this sense of, “How dare you step on grace.” Church, I’m not talking against grace. I’m not espousing that grace doesn’t change everything. I’m saying I believe it is grace that empowers us even to be able to live the standard that He calls us to.
But grace does not take the standard of God away. I understand that’s an incredibly popular idea. Because who doesn’t want to live without a standard? If you could eat Reese’s peanut butter cups all day and never gain weight, would you not eat Reese’s peanut butter cups all day? And if you have an ectopic metabolism, and you could do that, don’t talk to me.
We do know this for sure. For the unbeliever, for sure, eternity is in the balance of this judgment. Depending on the schools of thought, some schools of thought believe that eternity is in the balance for all people at this judgment. That’s probably not where I land personally. But I would tell you this, you’d have a hard time making a case against it. I believe there’s a better answer: Why test it?
So let’s say for the believer, salvation is not the issue. Here’s what we know, the reward is for sure communicated as an issue. And we will live through eternity with whatever that reward or loss of reward was.
How many have ever experienced regret once or twice? I have a friend who used to say, “You will either experience the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. You cannot avoid pain.”
A lot of times, in our human lethargy, we would rather experience regret. Why? Because we don’t know how to put a value on that. We don’t know what regret’s going to feel like until we feel it, but we know what discipline feels like. And we know that we don’t want to feel that.
How many have ever woken up two or three days post-leg day feeling the pain of discipline?
I remember when I was learning to play the guitar, I couldn’t use my fingers most of the time because they hurt so bad. And I just had to keep telling myself that sooner or later, I’ll develop calluses. And I’ll be able to do this without hurting all the time. It was a pain of discipline.
The other thing that we know here is that how we live has a direct impact on this judgment. So any attempt to grace it away is incredibly dangerous and doesn’t fit the framework of scriptures.
The scriptures teach something very, very clear. The way we live each day matters. I’m not trying to scare you. We’ve come upon a part of Romans where Paul is being very clear to a young church. You will stand and give an account of how you live. Paul’s not doing that to be a fearmonger.
Paul’s doing that because he wants them to understand. I think if I could put it in Paul’s language, he’d say this: I don’t want you getting to the judgment seat going, “Why didn’t you tell us?”
See, the problem with the judgment seat for most of us is it offends our sense of self. It offends our ability to choose what we want to do. Because it calls us to a standard that’s not our own. It’s His. I’m going to remind you all the way through this, according to what Paul teaches in Galatians chapter two, the moment you gave your life to Christ, you let go of your standards and you adopted His.
I’m not sure how I feel about that. I know, I get it. But to be a believer and to be a disciple is to be a learner under the discipline of Christ under the tutelage of Christ. There is no middle ground. We can’t take part of Him and keep part of us.
I was at the Winds of Worship Eight conference in Langley, British Columbia right before John Wimber passed away. John Wimber wasn’t the founder, but he was the main motivation for the Vineyard movement. Incredible man and a great teacher. When he was in his latter days, he had cancer and his salivary glands. And so they had to remove those. So he had to mist his mouth to be able to speak. It was interesting to have a man kind of dying in front of you. Everybody knew it was inoperable at this point.
And he had a different stance. He’s like, “Huys, I’m really settled. I can’t wait to see my King.” I remember him sitting on a stool, spraying his mouth. The place was packed full of people. And he said, “You know, the last time I checked, the deal is this. He gets all of me and I get all of him. And there is no middle ground.”
As Paul says, each of us will give a personal account to God. I love the phrase right before that. “For the Scriptures say, ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow to Me and every tongue will confess allegiance to God. I want to take a couple of minutes and just talk about that.
This phrase, “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess allegiance” to God. I don’t think Paul is saying this just to posture. I don’t think he threw it in there so it sounds cool. He uses a term that a lot of us understand — it’s a little antiquated now — but it comes out of a time and a season when kings would come in and conquer the land and they would require that you bow the knee. How many know what bow the knee means? It means I’m going to come under your authority. All of you are pretending like you’ve never seen Game of Thrones.
But when you bow the knee, what you’re saying is, I yield myself to your leadership. I’ll follow you. And to not bow the knee is a term of war. It means I will not be governed by you. In this passage, it is God making the statement. That’s what I think we should catch.
There’s going to come a time when every person in humanity’s existence will bow the knee. Why? Because He’s a whole lot bigger than Optimus Prime. He’s a lot more magnanimous. What Paul’s teaching here is there’s going to come a moment when humanity, when faced with the reality of who He is, will instantly hit the deck. They’ll say, “I cannot fight you, you are so much greater than I expected.”
Jesus is not a belief system. Jesus is a reality. You’re talking about the King of Glory, the creator of the universe, we’re not talking about a system of thought or a belief set. You’re going to face Him whether you follow Him or not. And Paul’s declaration is, come on choose Him now.
So Paul’s statement is there’s coming a moment when we have to give an account. If we look at the Matthew seven passage and the Matthew 18 passage from last week, there are two things I think jump out. Number one is Jesus says, “Depart from me I never knew you.” He uses a word in Matthew seven, “genosco” is the word. The word “genesco” means to have experiential knowledge. It’s a word that is synonymous with intercourse. It means intimacy, it is the idea of being vulnerable and exposed to someone.
And Jesus makes a statement to all these people who said I did all this awesome stuff in Your name. I think the power that’s in His name works whether you’re intimate with Him or not. Because that’s what the Scriptures would teach.
But His statement is, you can actually use My name and My authority and not know Me. But on that day, whether or not you know Me is the issue.
I cannot stress enough, this isn’t a belief system. This is to be a relationship where you’ve sworn your allegiance and you’ve learned to hear His voice. And so that everything you do comes out of intimacy. It takes so much time. But not as much time standing in front of Him being ashamed.
Last week, when we looked at Matthew 18, we saw that there was an aspect of this servant who was forgiven and had that removed. There was an aspect of him that, when we come down to it, the only way to say it is he was unwilling to yield his own forgiveness of the other man. Unwilling to adopt the nature and character of the king because of what he was feeling.
My question for us is, do we not see in the Scriptures how clear it is? Any area in our lives that we are not willing to yield to Him is a problem. It leaves a door open that’s dangerous.
I think that’s what’s driving Paul when he says, yes, each of us is going to have to give a personal account to God.
It’s almost like he restates this, saying, guys, come on, please get this. You will have to give a personal account to God. The word phrase he uses here is “hatao logos.” Two words make up this personal account idea. “Hatao” means simply, it’s understood as “it’s yours.” But in this context, it means “you’re word about your life.” It’s not perspective. It’s actually your response. What will you say? Here’s my response to how I lived. This is how I lived.
Because that’s what we’re going to have to give to Him. Aren’t we great at perspectives? Aren’t we great at justifying our stupidity? Instead of just going, you know what? I did this because it was a sin and I wanted to. I’ve got to repent because it was wrong.
We come up with all these great reasons for why we did it, why it helped our emotional state. It just was not in a place where I felt like being obedient and… “Hatao” means your word about yourself.
Logos. Now we know this word because it comes up in John, that the word was created flesh and dwelt among us. The word “logos” is what John uses in his first opening lines in the book of John. But it’s an interesting word because it isn’t a word that John created. It’s a word that John borrowed. He borrowed it from the Stoics.
Now, the Stoics were this little group that followed the philosopher Zeno in early Rome. They were pantheistic in their point of view, which means they believed in lots of different gods, lots of different paths lead to God, and it doesn’t matter, everything’s a god just worship something. That was kind of their mindset. Now, they the term “logos” or “logos” — potato, potato, however, you want to say it — this was their term that they used to describe the great rationale or great reasoning of the universe.
And then what they would espouse from this belief set was just to avail your passions and your emotions to the great logos, and it’ll all work out, he’ll make it work out. Sounds an awful lot like “to thine own self be true,” or “you only live once.” You know, you got to go get what’s yours because nobody’s going to get it to you. This whole human mindset of not having a government on self.
So John will take this word “logos” and say “the logos became flesh and dwelt among us.” He says, basically, this universal rationale or reasoning that you’ve been looking for, His name is Jesus. And so he grabs a secular term and pulls it into theology.
Here’s why I think that’s important. What Paul declares here is that we will give our rationale or our reasoning on that final day. We’re going to give a logos. We’re going to say, “This is how we lived. This is our rationale. This is our reason.”
And I would submit that on that judgment day, we’re going to give an account for whether or not we spent our lives living our nature or choosing His nature. As in, I was my logos, or He was my logos.
In essence, what Paul’s saying is you will choose to have your life measured by the nature of Jesus. Please choose that now. Let me restate that. You and I are going to be measured by the nature and character of Christ. That is inevitable. Our choice is to choose now to put on the nature of Christ. To lay aside our old nature.
That’s why Paul makes such a strong case in Romans about putting away, taking off your old nature, and clothing yourself in Christ. And when we clothe ourselves in Christ, what we’re saying is that we’re aligning with Him as the great rationale, with the great reasoning.
Church, this can’t just be a concept. It has to become life. This means every place that my nature interferes with His nature, I choose His nature. Every place my belief set interferes with the Scriptures, I choose the Scriptures. Every place that my behavioral patterns lead me to a place that’s stray from Him, I arrest it and stop it and go, nope, I’m just putting on Your image, putting on Your nature. I’m going to reveal You. I’m not going to let myself go there.
That seems like so much work. For I am crucified with Christ, yet I live. But this life I live I do not live according to the flesh. I live it according to every word that comes from His mouth.
In Matthew seven, I think there are a lot of people that get really freaked out about the statement, “I never knew you.” And rightfully so. It’s a pretty tough line. I don’t see it as a line of demarcation where Jesus is looking to disqualify people. I see it as an invitation. What He’s saying is, I hope that you want to know Me, because I want to know you.
I hope you’ve decided that “Apart from Him I can’t live so I won’t live apart from Him.” I hope that we put away the childishness of approaching this life as if it was a belief and we begin to approach it for what it is, which is a relationship with the King of Glory. A personal encounter with the King.
At the judgment seat, what He’s going to require is that we were people that knew Him and carried His nature. His nature is going to be the great rationale, the judgment seat. This is why Paul will fight in Romans with them. Please put away this stuff, put on Christ. Let go of self and put on Christ. Because there’s coming a day when every knee will bow.
I see it as simple. We get to bow now. Hey Lord, I just give you all of me. Here’s what I love about grace. Jesus is awesome when we repent. So what’s repentance? It means you’ve come honest before the Lord to say, hey, this stuff I’ve been doing is contrary to you and is wrong. Will you forgive me, please? I’m choosing to lay that down and walk in a different direction.
It deals with your finances, it deals with your sexuality, it deals with the way you handle people, and it deals with every aspect of your life. There’s not a single portion of your life that He doesn’t have something to say about. And if you’re believing that you can add church to a list of things and call yourself a believer, that is not belief. Belief is following the man Jesus Christ with everything you have. And the beauty is we get all of Him when He gets all of us.
Would you stand with me, please? I hope that the reality of eternity is burned into our hearts. If you’re here and you’re dealing with sin, you’re like, I’m stuck in sin patterns, I’m going to invite the prayer teams up. I would love to challenge you, please don’t leave without repenting and confessing it.
Paul will teach in Corinthians to confess your faults one to another and be healed from them. There’s a supernatural authority we have when we can lay hands on each other and just confess and pray.
If you’re here and you’re like, I’m not sure I’m a believer. I don’t know if I want to give my life to that. I will leave you with that question. Because if you would say, “I want Jesus but I’m not going to give Him everything,” then you don’t want Jesus. And those are His words: “If anyone wants to follow me, let him take up his cross and deny himself.”
We live in a day and in a time where I think the gospel has become anemic because it’s not being lived the way it was taught. He gets everything. I don’t want any of us to stand before Him someday ashamed, saying, “Lord I didn’t give you everything. I gave you part of it.” Please don’t do that.
If your home’s in chaos because you’re not living the Kingdom, confess it to somebody and let him pray over you. If you’ve been a lousy spouse, repent. If you’ve been a bad kid, repent. Let’s align with Him now. Let’s start on that day.
Jesus, we love You and we honor You. Lord, there’s no way to look at these scriptures without the weight and the teeth of them coming through. Holy Spirit, I love your ability to bring conviction. Jesus, I’m so grateful for the cross. But it’s You who, every time we take the bread and cup, asks us to examine ourselves. Are we giving You everything? So Lord we just put a line in the sand for ourselves today and say hey, today’s the day where I’m going to assess, “Is He getting all of me?” We love You and we honor You. In Jesus’ name, amen. Amen.
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