2nd Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 20
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|Conquering the Fear of Death – Part 3. We must see how life on this earth has direct results as to when we see Him one day. Paul understood it and again I’m going to say it over and over again, Paul understood this very well. He was unafraid of death and as a result he lived life on this earth by faith and with hope and with confidence.|
Courage In the Face of Life and Death
Would you turn with me to 2 Corinthians 5, and we’re going to be looking at verses 6-10 today as we talk about conquering the fear of death and this is part 3; “Conquering the Fear of Death – Part 3.” What we’ll talk about today is “Courage in the Face of Life and Death.” Now, let me get you into it. If you’re visiting today and have not been with us, we’re studying through 2 Corinthians and we’ve been talking about death and how we can see that fear of death conquered in our life.
When a believer begins to understand this, that death is no longer an enemy to him, when he finally begins to live in the eternal and stops living just for the temporary, when he sees the difference between the momentary pain and the eternal weight of glory that is being produced in his life, when he focuses on the unseen instead of the seen, when he realizes that the purpose of dying is to be instantly in the presence of God Himself, when he sees that the prize of his departure here, when he leaves this body, is going to be a heavenly body that is recognizable that knows no pain, and when he sees that he has been totally prepared for the moment of death and has been given the promise of life after death by the Holy Spirit’s coming to live in him, then suddenly—we’ve just reviewed everything we’ve studied to this point—suddenly living by faith while still on this earth takes on a brand new significance to the believer.
Life on this earth which brings with it pain, hostility, ridicule, embarrassment, heartache, you name it, is worth it all when one realizes that the One who conquered death lives in him to enable him in life. It’s incredible when the two are put together. It’s interesting to me how sometimes we get so nonchalant about living now, living here on this earth right now, and the responsibility that we have as believers in it. We almost have this idea that we can live any way we want to live down here, but everything will be fine when we see Jesus one day, and it’ll all be gone and erased and everything will be wonderful. But what we don’t understand is there is a connection to the way we live here and the way we’ll enjoy Him when we see him one day.
Overcoming the fear of death is one thing, but coming to grips with life is another thing and we’re going to see today hopefully the importance of living this life, while we’re here, this temporary time in this earthen vessel, how important it is to what is coming one day. We’re going to see in our text that Paul didn’t overlook that responsibility. Yes, he wanted to have that resurrection body, he wanted to be in heaven with Jesus and he says it several times even in our text today, but God had a purpose for Paul and Paul understood that. Paul understood that every day he got up that his purpose was to live by faith, to walk by faith, to let Jesus be Jesus in and through his life. While he lived in this earthly tent he recognized how important it was to have integrity in his walk and to walk by faith.
And that purpose that God has is directly tied into life after death. We must see how life on this earth has direct results as to when we see Him one day. Paul understood it and again I’m going to say it over and over again, Paul understood this very well. He was unafraid of death and as a result he lived life on this earth by faith and with hope and with confidence. Now let’s look at what gave Paul the courage to face life and to face death. There are three things that I want you to see in our text today and hopefully it will be a challenge but also an encouragement to your life.
The perception that identified Paul
First of all I want you to see the perception that identified Paul, in other words, the knowing that identified Paul. There was a certain knowing. Paul had a grasp on this. God had revealed it to his heart and that knowing identified him in his walk. He walked a certain way because he knew something and that was what drove him. In verses 6-7 he says, “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight..”
Now in verse 6 he starts off and says, “Therefore.” Here we go again. Anytime you see a “therefore,” always ask what it’s there for. That’s one thing we’ll all remember. The “therefore” is based on everything he has just said. I’ve reviewed some of it, but let me just go over a little bit again. Because he understands that death is a departure of his spirit and he’ll be immediately in the presence of the Lord; because he understands that at death he will have a heavenly body recognizable; because he understands that he’s totally prepared for that moment and the Holy Spirit is that assurance that lives within him; then, “therefore” he says, he is always of good courage.
You see, that knowing here affected the way he lived while on this earth. The word “courage” is the word tharrheo, which means he’s always full of hope and confidence. Paul says he’s “always of good courage.” Why? Because he knows something. He’s always full of hope and confidence. Paul’s understanding of how death is just from here to there, that’s all death is. Jesus only shed one little tear on his face when He confronted Lazarus’ death. Because he knows that he’s going to conquer death. Physical death is nothing to the believer.
And because Paul knew that God had already prepared him for it, caused him to live with a divine confidence in this life, full of hope and full of confidence. No matter what circumstance came his way, no matter how painful it might be, he was always full of hope and confidence. Always. “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Now that word “knowing” there is eidotis. There are several words for knowledge in Greek, and we only have one. That’s why it’s so difficult to understand sometimes. This word has more of an intuitive knowledge. It’s something you don’t have to be taught. If you’re walking by faith you already have this, it’s built it. It’s a divine perception of something. It comes from the word eido, which means to perceive something very clearly. It’s in the perfect tense and Paul says, “I have come to know, I’m in the state of knowing something.”
And what does he know? Now we know he knows a lot of things. But very specifically to the context he says, “and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.” Now, what is he saying here? First of all, he knew that believers are in one of two places, you can write it down, there is no other place, there is no other choice. There is no “soul sleep” as some people choose to believe. There is no purgatory as some people envision. A believer is either in heaven in the visible presence of the Lord or on earth, absent from His visible presence, but indwelt by His Holy Spirit, His Spiritual presence.
And the two, whether it be absent from the body and present with the Lord, or present in the body and absent from the Lord, they are eternally connected. Now, folks, we’ve got to get a grasp on this. They are eternally connected. Living by faith is what links them together. Paul knew that being at home in the body was only a temporary condition. He was living in an earthly tent destined to die one day and then forever to be in the presence of the Lord. They are connected together and he knew that “soon and very soon” he was going to see the King.
How many of you know that old song? “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King, soon and very soon we are going to see the King. Soon and very soon we are going to see the King, hallelujah, hallelujah, we’re going to see the King.” I love that old song; haven’t heard it in a long time. It came to me when I was studying this. Then is goes, the next verse: “No more crying there.” And then the next verse says, “No more dying there.” Paul understood that. And that was what motivated him, that’s what identified his life while he was here on this earth. He knew that soon and very soon he would see the King. Therefore he lived with integrity while he was here still present on this earth.
That was the knowing, that was the knowing that identified his life of faith. This truth from God’s Word was the basis upon which he lived by faith, not sight. And this living by faith identified his lifestyle all of his life as a believer. He wrote to the Romans of how their faith encouraged him and how he knew that his faith was encouraging theirs. He says in Romans 1:11-12, “For I long to see you in order that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
When you see a believer walk by faith you understand that he believes in his heart “soon and very soon.” He has a purpose in his life. He has a destination in his life. He told the Galatians in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith.” That’s the way he lived. Knowing what he knew about death and knowing what he knew about his eternal purpose of ruling and reigning with Christ forever kept him living faith while he was here.
Faith was believing God was the means by which Christ was released in Paul. Paul understood that. Paul knew what he couldn’t do for God, but he understood what Christ could do through him; and that faith released Christ in his life. It was no longer Paul but Christ living in him. One does not walk by faith if he believes that life on this earth is all there is. You don’t see anybody walking by faith if they don’t understand what is next. Faith is something that jumpstarts the whole process and understanding the afterlife.
The author of Hebrews writes in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for”—what are you hoping for today? Do you understand where Paul is in this context? —“the conviction of things not seen.” That’s why it can be called faith. It doesn’t have to see it, it knows it’s coming. We have a wonderful picture of how faith operates and how one who is anticipating what is to come, that he is spiritually seeing, but not yet seeing the way he wants to see it, Hebrews 11:13. Hebrews 11 is the great Hall of Faith I call it, “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” They were just here for a short time.
In Paul’s last days, when anticipating that which he had believed all of his life, when he was anticipating that moment of dying, that moment of departure to be with the Lord Jesus, he says in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” And look what he’s looking forward to, the two pulling itself together. It says, “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
You see, you have got to understand that trusting God in death, like Paul, causes us to trust God in life and to live by faith. There’s a connection between the two. His divine perception of death had fanned the flame in his attitude towards life which caused him to live the way he lived. He said, “I’m always of good courage, I’m always full of hope and confidence because I know what’s coming and I know the One who has conquered death has conquered life and He lives within me and enables me to be what I need to be.” So he was motivated to live by faith in anticipation of what faith saw in the life to come.
Again, “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight.” So there was a divine perception and this knowing that identified the lifestyle of Paul. He knew; because of what he knew, he lived by faith.
It’s the saddest thing in the world to be at a funeral of somebody who doesn’t have that hope. I did a funeral for a guy one time that was so angry at God, his wife died three months before. And he told me, “Preacher, she was a believer. That’s fine. Whatever she wanted. Don’t you dare do anything at my funeral except put me beside her. I don’t want any hope; I don’t want all that stuff.” And when he died, he died with his fist at God. That’s the way he lived, you see, he lived that way, bitter, bitter, bitter. And when he died, he died that way. An angry look on his face. The funeral guy told me that he had been there for four or five days and nobody had checked on him. He was so unlovable, who would check on him? And when they found him they couldn’t get that fist undone, and he was in the casket with that fist like that. And the family had the casket open. That’s a lot of hope, isn’t it?
I want to tell you something, folks, if you don’t know Christ today, you have no hope and death is a fearsome thing and it is an enemy to you. It’s going to cast you right into eternal damnation if you do not know Jesus Christ. But for a believer to be afraid of death, oh my friend, God has already conquered that for us. There is no penalty of eternal separation for us. Jesus took that upon himself. He was separated from His Father on the cross; He took our sin upon Himself; He paid a debt He didn’t owe when we owed a debt we could not pay. He’s given us a life and what we have on this earth is so temporary, it’s so miniscule compared to what He’s given to us and when we start seeing what’s coming, it causes us to live differently while we’re here on this earth.
So this knowing has a definite connection; there as a divine perception and it causes us to walk by faith. What is it that keeps people walking by faith? They know that they’re going to see Him one day.
The preference that captivated Paul
Secondly, the preference that captivated Paul. I started to put verse 8 with verses 6 and 7 because it’s a flow of a thought there, but I separated it because I want you to see this. Paul is totally honest with his heart’s desire. In verse 8 he lived in the unseen instead of the seen. He lived for that day when Christ came. He lived in the eternal instead of the temporary. He so believed in heaven and being with Christ forever, that he had gotten to the point that he just longed for that day to come. He longed to be with Him. He says, “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
Paul repeats what he says in verse 6 here in verse 8: “We are of good courage.” He wants to make sure people understand that while still present on this earth, in this earthly body, this earthly tent, in the face of hostility, in the face of uncertainty, Paul was able to still say, “I’m full of good courage, I’m full of hope, I’m full of confidence.” But he so longed to one day be with Christ in his heavenly body and says, “and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
He understood this. He understood his temporary existence in an earthly tent. He understood being filled with the treasure who is Christ. He understood that. And he was daily full of hope because of that with confidence in the Lord who had conquered death and life, but he was so anxious, so anxious to be with Christ and to have his heavenly body.
You know, it’s a sweet thing to be around believers who live this way. Listen, when you start living that way it shapes everything of how you live while you are down here. He was daily full of hope and confidence in Christ, but so anxious to be with the Lord and looking forward to that event that would cause that to happen.
Faith embraces the unseen that God has promised. Paul knows that that same faith would lead him one day to the seen. In other words, one is going to initiate the other. You see, for faith to be real, the unseen must come about or it cheapens faith. If it doesn’t happen then there can be no faith. It’s like the person who lives believing he has a million dollars but one day finds out he doesn’t have a million dollars but he owes a million dollars and he can’t pay it. And his faith in what he thought he believed that he had was cheapened in the fact that it didn’t exist.
It’s so clear why Paul is of good courage. Man, why not be of good courage? Wake up every morning, today, is it today, Lord? You know, there’s a lot of music out about the coming of the Lord Jesus and “We shall see Him, we shall see the King,” “The King is coming, the King is coming,” and people love prophecy conferences. People love prophecy, but, you know, some people love to hear about it, but they don’t live as if they believe it. Are you ready for Him to come today? Are you ready?
Lord, right now, come on, Lord, come Lord Jesus. There are a lot of people who say, “yes, yes, yes.” You know why? Because the suffering of your life has driven you to a trusting and dependence upon Him and you’ve experienced Him in a way that you could not have experienced Him and you’re living in such a close relationship with Him. Oh, that’s a wonderful sound. But there are other believer’s who have not even given it the time of day. They don’t let the Word of God renew their minds. They don’t live everyday as if He might come that day. And so therefore there’s no walk of faith. Why? Because there’s no real grasp of what is to come.
So the apostle Paul has the divine perception of knowing that determines the way he lives and he has a preference and he’s very honest about it. He’d like to just go on. Just, come Lord Jesus.
The pursuit that motivated Paul
But the final thing I want you to see is going to take me the longest time is the pursuit that motivated Paul. He’s pursuing something because he knows what’s going to be on the other side and it causes him to live in such a way now as if he’s in a pursuit of something. Verses 9-10, “Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
What’s he saying there? By understanding death and therefore having the courage to face life, Paul was driven by that desire to one day stand before Christ. Not just to have a heavenly body. That was part of it, yes, that was a large part of it. But also to receive rewards on that day that would point back to God and not to Paul. He wanted to make sure his life was lived in such a way that the glory, the recognition for what was done in his life would never come to him. It would go instead to the Lord. “Therefore” he says, “also we have as our ambition.”
Now what’s that word “ambition’? The word “ambition” is the word philotimeomai. It comes from two words. The first word means to love or cherish something: philos. It comes from that word to cherish something. And the other word means honor. To cherish, honor, something that is honorable. To have a desired goal that is worthy of pursuit to be ambitious to see it come about. Paul adds “whether at home or absent.” And he means this goal is going to carry him right on in to the very presence of God.
It absolutely motivates everything that he does. That walk of faith that he has. That willingness to stay on earth until his time comes even though he preferred to be there. It motivated him every day. And every word that came out of his mouth, the way he treated people, everything in his life was motivated by the fact that one day when he stood before Christ, he wanted to make sure that the works that remain in his life pointed to Jesus and not to Paul.
You say, “Wayne, it says here he wanted to be pleasing to Him.” And the word “pleasing,” euarestos, it means to be “well pleasing to God.” You say, “I thought we were already well pleasing to God because we’re in Christ. We wear the garment of righteousness. He’s already made that exchange. He lives in us.” And you’re exactly right. Paul is not talking about him as an individual. Paul is talking about his works, his deeds. It’s something different here.
What he’s talking about should be the most looked-for thing in our life. But it scares most people half to death. It’s not something that is frightening; it’s something that is good. He says in verse 10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Paul is talking about the works that are done in our life. This is why we’ve been preaching living grace. My heart is to help you understand. If you’re not going to walk in that message, let Jesus be Jesus in you, then there’s going to be a moment when you stand before God one day and your works are going to be tested by fire.
You see, I’m just trying to help. Paul points to that event. I believe that event is the rapture of the church. I realize in this church right here we have every idea of eschatology, I understand that. I promise you that I understand that. And I love you anyway. You have a right to be wrong. No, whatever. You know, the most common word in heaven is going to be “oh.” I believe it’s the rapture of the church. I believe Jesus is coming for His church. I’ve said this so many times it’s like a broken record. You stay here, that’s fine; send me a postcard. I’m going with the first bunch.
But whatever your view is, whatever it is that you land on, we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. You cannot eliminate that one. That is absolute. The word “judgment seat of Christ” is the Greek word bema. The word bema is the word referring to an elevated place that can only be accessed by steps. This is where they would put the magistrates. This is where the judges would sit: up in an elevated place, and they would cast judgment when the people would bring their cases to them.
I’ve been to Philippi and I’ve stood on the bema. I had a lot of fun looking down on my group. But that’s where the judgment took place. Now, there’s going to be a judgment seat, the bema seat, of Christ. “Oh, I’m scared to death. Can I lose my salvation?” Again, he’s not talking about that. You’re secure in Jesus forever. It’s different; He wants to reward you for walking by faith, living in the unseen and not in the seen, living in the eternal and not in the temporary.
Now what is going to be judged? Now before we go any further I need to go back to a verse and explain a word that I did not explain when we went through it. Go back to 2 Corinthians 5:1. I want to show you a word here that is very important to understand. He says, “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God.” Now, I didn’t explain that word to you. Let me explain it to you. “Oikodome” is the word; yes it’s a house, but listen to this, it’s very specifically used. It’s a house that is being constructed. While we’re down here, we’re constructing something over there.
Now Dr. Spiros Zodhiates jumps right in on that, both feet. He believes that this recognition of our garment, of our body, the word means to “put on” has the idea of putting a garment on top of a garment. In other words we already have the robe of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, but this identifies us a little more clearly as to who we are in our life on earth. And he believes that the building, the tent, the heavenly covering that we’re going to get when we stand before God is being built right now and it will look like how we live by faith down here. He believes that Paul is showing us that we are developing right now, and I believe this, our capacity to enjoy this moment one day when we stand before Christ.
Well, whether that’s true or not, one thing we know for sure and that is there will be a direct tie to our reward in heaven to the way we lived down here as a believer on earth. Verse 10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body.” Now the word “recompensed” is the word komizo. It means to receive something. It’s like that old adage of what goes around comes around because he says, “for his deeds in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” It’s going to go right around and come back to him when he stands before Christ one day.
Now the context has told us what is good and what is bad. We know from Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him,” so we know what’s good. Paul lived by faith, not by sight. And so anything that is done on faith; what is faith? Obeying God, trusting God, letting Jesus be Jesus in you. That’s going to produce eternal results. That’s going into whatever this building is that we’re building down here.
Paul lived by faith because he realized this truth. He realized that when he stood before God one day that he wanted all that he had done to reflect the glory of God and certainly not be diminished by the fire that will test it one day. In fact, turn to 1 Corinthians 3:10-13. Now, Paul had already discussed this with the Corinthian believers. You’ve got to go back to this because this is what he’s talking about. Some people believed that all of the judgments will happen at the same time. I’m sorry; you cannot find a lost person in this judgment: this takes place at a different time. Not the great white throne judgment; that is the ultimate judgment of sinners, and that’s when hell comes into existence and the devil and his angels are cast into hell. That’s not what he’s talking about. This is talking about the believers at a specific time of what will happen to them and how they’ll be rewarded.
Verses 10-13, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.” Every one of us is a builder here today. The moment you become a Christian, you become a builder. “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones [and then he gives another set of materials], wood, hay or straw, each man’s work will become evident;” this is what he’s talking about, “for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.”
Now he begins here by showing that every man is a builder. Now Paul warns each man must be careful how he builds upon the foundation. Now, the foundation is Christ. You say, “How do you know that?” Verse 11, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ is salvation, Jesus Christ and sanctification. Be careful how you build upon it. Make sure that it’s of the right materials because you don’t want it to end up diminishing when you stand before Christ.
Each of us has the same set of materials with which to build, in which to build upon this foundation that Christ has initiated in our life. Verse 12, “Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones,” then there’s a definite mark right there, “wood, hay, and straw.” Now these are the materials. The wood, hay and the straw are the fleshly materials that will burn because it will be tested by fire. But the things that are done by faith, Paul says, “I live by faith trusting God to do through me what I understand I cannot do myself,” they are going to remain.
And in verse 13 the finished product will be tested by fire. Now fire burns wood, hay, and stubble. But what does it do to the precious stones? It just simply refines them and makes them more precious. Again, verse 13, “each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.” Paul is just basically telling the Corinthians that walking by faith while on this earth is so important. Remember, 1 Corinthians he had to really admonish them because they wouldn’t walk by faith.
“Each man’s work will become evident.” In this statement we see that it is not us that will be judged but our work; and it’s singular. Some people look at it like it is a garment; some people look at it as some type of a building, something that is going to represent everything that was done by faith in our life here on this earth. He points to a day, he says, “The day will show it.” What day? I think that’s the period of time, a day can either be a 24-hour day or a period of time, and to me that day, that period of time, is that seven years while we’re in heaven while on this earth is the day of the Lord. And while we’re in heaven we’re being rewarded; it’s a time of celebration.
Verse 13, “each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.” All that we do on this earth is summed up again in that word “work.” It’s in the figurative house, whatever it is, that we built. That’s the work. It’s built upon the foundation of Christ. And it will be revealed by fire. Now when you take wood, hay, and stubble and you strike a match and throw it over into it, it’s just going to go straight up. “The fire itself will test,” he says, “the quality.” The word “quality” means “what sort of” each man’s work whether it’s of the flesh or whether it’s of the spirit.
How many of you, before I go any further, how many of you, this just scares you half to death? I grew up afraid of it. I thought He’s out to get me. “He’s going to nail me because I’m a rascal.” Some people still think I’m a hellfire, and brimstone preacher. That just tickles me to death. I want to get a bus and take you and let you hear one. You’re going to thank God every day that you’ve got me instead of them. You don’t know what a hellfire, and brimstone preacher is. I grew up under it. “Boy, you better get your life right or God’s going to put your deeds up on a screen one day and everybody’s going to see it. He’s going to shame you, boy. He’s out to get you, boy; you better get your life right boy.”
I grew up that way. I believed that one day I was going to stand before God and everything I’d ever done wrong was going to show up on the big screen. I’m thinking, “Oh, please, don’t put that up there.” And then I read 1 Corinthians 3:13, and it says it’s going to burn up. Now how are you going to put it on the screen if it’s already burned up? Folks, He’s not out to get us. Verse 15 says if there’s anything that remains, you will receive a reward. It’s not to get you, it’s to reward you. What an awesome salvation! God comes to live in me knowing how stupid I am and knowing what I cannot do and He wants to do through me what I cannot do myself, and when I finally stop being hard-headed and let Him do it, He turns around and rewards me for it.
This is good stuff. The only people that are afraid of it right now are people that are so invested into this world they can’t stand the thought of death, and they cannot stand the thought of the life to come. Because if you’re living for the temporal, you’re not living for the eternal. That’s the only people that get afraid of this. That’s what John had to say in 1 John: don’t be among those who shrink back at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Who in the world would ever do that? People that are living for this world and this world alone. And they’re much to be pitied.
Life on this earth is a serious thing. We’re developing our capacity right now to enjoy the moment when we see Jesus and those rewards are given out. We’re developing it right now. There is integrity to Christianity, folks. It just not one of the lackadaisical religions that you can do anything you want to do. It’s a relationship. And one day we will stand before Him. We’re creating—I’m serious, listen to me again—we’re creating our capacity to enjoy standing before Him one day right now by the way we choose to live. By faith, or “I’m going to do it my way and God, don’t You call me, I’ll call You.”
So the perception that identified Paul, there was a knowing, and that knowing was what was coming one day and that caused him to live by faith while he was here and it identified his whole life. The preference was always there. I want to hurry up and get there, because that’s what happens to you when you start walking this way, but Paul was willing to fulfill his responsibility in the assignment God had given, but the pursuit that motivated Paul, he wanted his works one day to be that which would reflect Christ. He wanted to hear those beautiful words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” He wanted to hear that.
Let me ask you, I’m not on anybody’s case. If I ever sound mean I’m just trying to get somebody’s attention before Jesus comes back. This got my attention several years ago and it still rattles my cage. Out of about 20,000 sermons, Dr. Zodhiates told me he studied, he said he found four on the judgment seat of Christ. You know why? Because people don’t want to talk about it and people definitely don’t want to hear it, but it’s the very thing we need to hear. It’s a celebration day and it can be a wonderful day if we’ll choose to walk by faith.
You say, “Well, what if I fail?” If it will comfort you, when something happens in the flesh and you come back before God and you confess that and you repent of that by changing allegiance, those are righteous works because that’s what He tells us to do and that goes right back into the house that you’re building for Him. It’s an awesome thing, folks. It is absolutely awesome. It’s win-win if we’ll just say yes to Christ in every area of our life. Do you realize that affects everything that we do? The way we treat each other, the way you talk about people, the way that we handle life, everything is going into this work. That’s why we have to be very, very careful to live by faith.
Life on this earth is a serious matter to a believer. He’s living by faith because he hasn’t seen what’s coming, but he so believes in what’s coming, he lives by faith. So are you living in the unseen, the eternal, by faith today? And today we probably have a lot of people that are living that way because we’ve had enough failure and we’ve had enough pain to drive us to the feet of Jesus. And hearing the message of grace is not as difficult as it is sometimes for younger people who still think they can do it. But at the same time, how are you living today?
If Jesus came today, if all this took place tomorrow, I don’t know when it’s going to take place, we don’t even know all the ins and outs of it, and we stood before our Lord Jesus Christ, and there’s that work, whatever that is, if it’s a garment that causes us recognition, if it’s a house, whatever it is, what will your work look like? Will it have been diminished by fire the moment you see Him, and it’s gone?
When I stand before Jesus it’s not going to be, “Oh, this is out, oh this is out.” No, and what’s left is that which was done by faith. And that’s the way I’ll stand before Him one day. And my rewards will have everything to do with that. Whatever those are, however that works, I don’t know. I haven’t been there yet.
How are you living? When are we going to get across to this new generation that Christianity is a relationship and full of integrity and there is accountability? We will stand before Him one day. That ought to determine how we live while we’re down here. Talking the fear of death is one thing. Coming to grips with living a life on earth is another. That’s why it’s courage to face life and to face death.
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