Getting Ready for Eternal Judgment
There is coming a day soon when I will give an account of my life to Jesus Christ. This day is coming for you also. Paul, writing to believers in Rome, said,
"So then each of us shall give account of himself to God". (Romans 14:12)
Unbelievers, the fearful, liars, sexually immoral people and many others will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)
Perhaps all people, apart from small children, have been in one or more of these categories somewhere in their lifetime. The thing is for believers in Jesus Christ to repent of all these things, and be washed clean by God. God will wash us clean if we turn from it, and believe. He will wash us many times while we are learning to overcome sin. But if we basically want to keep the sin, and don't repent, there is every chance that we could come under this horrifying condemnation at the end of our mortal days. God is not mocked.
For believers who HAVE repented of these things, there is still an evaluation of our works and life. This will not result in our eternal destruction, but it WILL result in LOSS for many. All our life work not done in obedience to God will be burned up. We won't have a reward for the things done out of mere human initiative, independent of God. And we will have a terrible regret and shame for that waste.
"If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire". (1 Corinthians 3:15)
This is why it is important for us to value everything NOW according to the way it will look THEN, before the Lord Jesus Christ at the judgment. A wise person lives his or her life in the light of eternity, and especially of this Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ.
The difficulty here is that MANY are not evaluating their lives according to God's standards, but rather, according to what other Christians seem to be doing. Perhaps we think that there is safety in numbers. Many Christians are occupied with the standards of this world and neglect the things God says are important. For example, we do our best to dress sharply when coming to church, but we do not take time – through prayer and meditation – to clothe ourselves with the presence of God before entering the assembly of God's people. We try to conform to a standard of outward appearance, but tolerate the presence of all kinds of ugly attitudes, selfishness and prayerlessness on the inside where GOD is looking.
It is a fact that many will esteem and applaud you if you do well financially. Money is power in this world, and those who have it can buy influence and honor. Honor? Yes, you can buy honor in this world by making some philanthropic donations to your children's school, or maybe by setting up your own school for destitute children. You can buy a house in the best neighbourhood, and join clubs with the right kind of people. There are so many ways to gain the esteem of man if you have money. But Jesus said you cannot serve God and Money.
"Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, 'You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God." (Luke 16:14,15)
Amongst the people of God also, money can definitely take you places. Amongst pastors, the greatest honor generally goes to the ones with the largest church buildings, which, as we know, cost money – and plenty of it. Large church buildings enable one man to speak to more people at once, and collect more offering money at once. They put YOU on the map. And many are happy to vicariously enjoy a sense of achievement through their "man of God". While MEN may regard you as successful and ESTEEM you if you have a lot of money or real estate, it DOES NOT imply that GOD regards you highly at all. And the danger in pursuing these things is that in doing so we may neglect things that God values much more, if we do not place all the more emphasis on the commandments and teachings of Jesus. If we heard as much about the teachings of Jesus as building funds in many churches, we would be doing well.
Thus says the LORD, "Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build for ME? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist," says the LORD. But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)
God is impressed by people who fear Him and tremble at His Word. God highly esteems those who fear Him and hate evil. God is not impressed with prayerless people who play fast and loose with His commandments – no matter how big their church building is or how many houses they have in which neighbourhood.
Ultimately, we will be judged by the standard of God's Word. We may have called Jesus Lord, but did we even seek to keep His Word? Did we deny ourselves daily so we could truly love God and others? Did we place communion with God in prayer as a higher priority than the morning newspaper? Did we endeavour to fulfil the Great Commission, of making disciples in all nations? Did we even endeavour to BE a disciple of the Lord Jesus ourselves? Did we care for widows and orphans, the poor, the hungry and those in prison? On the day of Judgement, THESE are the things which will matter most. May God help us to honor His standards, even if in doing so we cannot always conform to the expectations and measures of human success.
Who are we Looking To?
"But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise". (2 Corinthians 10:12)
If you listen to Christians talking about success in the things of God, you will hear talk of certain popular "ministry brands" that have come up over the last 20 or 30 years. If we are always thinking about being "bigger than Hillsong" or "more anointed than Benny Hinn", then we are measuring ourselves by ourselves. A standard of success is put up for Christians and Christian leaders to follow – with the implication that if you could somehow attain to that standard you would be "on the map" – you would have "MADE IT". Now there may be many excellent things to say about the above named ministry brands, but God is calling us to say excellent things firstly about Jesus Christ and to seek to be like Him. And that should not be a mere religious cliche, but something we really think about intelligently.
How many of us are seeking to be as disciplined as Jesus, as self-controlled, as passionate for the honor of the Father? How many of us are willing to be despised by men, to look foolish and weak, as Jesus did many times, in order to fulfil the perfect plan of God? Are we willing to endure setbacks to a worldly career in order to follow hard after the perfect will of God? Or are we merely having regard to what impresses the sons of this age – things like glamour, glitz, wealth and show?
If the external casing is so important to God, why was Jesus born in an animal's feeding trough? Why did Jesus enter Jerusalem on a donkey and not a white stallion? Why did God choose the tiny nation of Israel rather than the impressive nation say, of the Babylonians, to reveal Himself to the world? It seems that God almost goes out of his way to hide Himself from worldly-minded people. He seems to despise the things WE would naturally choose as vehicles for the revelation of His glory.
The true image of God is found in the records of the Scriptures concerning Jesus Christ. He is our standard, he is our model. But if you would say today, "I can see I have adopted others as my standard and model, and their expectations as the guiding principles of my life", then here is an opportunity to repent. You can take Jesus as your standard and model, and let HIS expectations be the guiding principles for your life. And you will find that the Spirit of God will help you to do this. It may not be easy to flow at cross currents to the general flow of things in the Church at large, but by the grace of God, you can and you will do it.
God bless you.