Living with the End in Mind/Part 3
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©2001|
|Is it possible for any of us as Christians to expect to do well at the Judgment Seat of Christ? Does God’s Word give us any encouragement along this line? The answer, according to Dr. Ankerberg, is “Yes!”|
Living with the End in Mind—Part 3
One night Diane Sawyer was interviewing Billy Graham on ABC News. She asked the question, “Billy, when you die, how do you want people to remember you?” Billy said, “I don’t know what people will think of me, but what I’d really like is to hear the Lord say to me when I get to Heaven, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”’ Then he paused and looked at her and said, “But I don’t think that He will.”
My friend, Erwin Lutzer was listening to that interview. When he heard Mr. Graham say that, he thought, “Billy, I think you’re being a little more humble than you need to be. I mean after all you’ve preached the Gospel to more people than anyone who has ever lived.”
Then he thought, “Well, if the Lord doesn’t say ‘Well done’ to Billy Graham, what hope is there for the rest of us? If rewards are based on results, Billy has got to be at the head of the line, doesn’t he?”
But as Erwin kept on thinking, he realized a third thing. Billy Graham was right. The Judgment Seat of Christ will not be based primarily on the results of our life, the number of souls saved, the number of sermons preached, the number of books written.
No, what Billy Graham, you and I, and every Christian who has ever lived will be judged on will be our loyalty to Christ. How did we serve Him with the time, talents and treasures that were at our disposal? The Judgment Seat of Christ will reveal the real nature of our relationship to Christ. It will reveal the quality of your loyalty and dedication, which brings us to the main topic we want to examine today: What will Jesus be looking for when you stand before Him at His Judgment Seat?
Is it possible for any of us as Christians to expect to do well at the Judgment Seat of Christ? Does God’s Word give us any encouragement along this line? The answer is, “Yes.” The Apostle Paul was one of the worst sinners before he was saved. He blasphemed Christ and tried to capture and execute Christians. But after he was saved, he said he looked forward to receiving his reward from Christ.
First, a person believes in Jesus Christ and gains salvation, forgiveness of sins, and heaven. After you have believed in Christ and become a Christian, as a result, you discover that God promises to reward us for any service we do as Christians. The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:24 advises believers to, “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” In this verse he compares the Christian life to running a race and says run the race to win. As we’ve seen, Christians can gain rewards and forfeit rewards by faithful or unfaithful service to Christ. Christians who faithfully serve Christ can gain the special privilege of ruling and reigning with Christ in His Kingdom.
They can also receive honor from the Father. Jesus said, “My Father will honor the one who serves me” (John 12:26). And they can receive special crowns which symbolize privileges that continue on into eternity.
What we want to look at now is, what kind of behavior does God promise to reward? Well, first, the Bible says God will reward those who are willing to die to self and live for Him. Look at Romans 12:1: “Therefore I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” Paul says, Christian, present yourself as a living sacrifice. What does that mean?
Well, in the Old Testament, you remember, a person was to bring a lamb to the altar where it would be slain and become a sacrifice. Paul uses that background to illustrate that Christians are to come before God and say, “I now present myself to you as dead to my way of doing things (like a sacrifice), but alive to Your way of doing things. I die to self, and I will live for You. I present my body to You to become a living sacrifice.”
Then, Paul says, “Present yourselves HOLY”—a word which means “to separate oneself apart for God and His service.” We are to deliberately, voluntarily set ourselves apart for God to use. Notice, when you do this, the Apostle said, “It’s pleasing to God.” So, if you want to be pleasing to God, if you want to do well at the Judgment Seat of Christ, tell the Lord, “Here’s my body. I present it to you. I will live in obedience to you. Use me as you will.”
Then Paul gives some practical advice as to how we can know what God wants us to do: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.” What does that mean?
Well, you know our world has its own way, its own pattern of doing things. There are certain ideas and actions that are politically correct and socially acceptable. But the world’s ways and God’s ways are many times at odds with each other. The goals we have, our motivation for actions, what we believe and how we act—regarding sex, money, how we treat friends and family members—in all of these, God’s overall scheme or pattern for living is different than the world’s pattern and scheme. The Bible says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world [that is, the world’s way of thinking and doing things] but [rather] be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The word transformed is the Greek word metamorphoo, from which we get the word “metamorphosis.” Paul wants Christians to experience a complete change of mind, of thinking. He says, to do so, to be transformed in your thinking, you must read God’s Word. You must study the Bible. Why? Because in the Bible God has revealed His way of thinking, how He operates in our lives, how He wants us to live our life so that He can bless us. Our mind, our thinking will be transformed, that is, completely changed and renewed as we read and follow God’s Word.
The Apostle Peter wrote, “God has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these [referring to God’s divine power and the knowledge He has given us] He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” In other words, what we need for life and godliness comes through our knowing God’s promises in the Bible. We are to use them to participate in the divine nature. This doesn’t mean Christians become divine themselves, or become little gods; rather, this participation refers to our being indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live for Christ and escape the corruption caused by evil desires.
Do you know what it is to find you have desires in your own heart to do evil? We all do. Some of us are overpowered by desires for drugs, alcohol, sex, money, prestige. And they are overpowering. Christ loves us, died to save us, and when we come to Him, He gives us the Holy Spirit to live inside of us and empower us to break our evil desires. Part of the process the Holy Spirit uses is God’s Word. In fact, Peter says, “Desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).
So, what will Jesus be looking for in your life when you stand before Him? He will look to see whether or not you presented your body to Him as a living sacrifice. Was there a time when you deliberately stopped following the patterns and ideas of the world and allowed God to transform your thinking and to renew your mind by the study of His Word. If you haven’t done that yet, start now. Remember, the Bible says this is pleasing to God.