Revelation 20:11- 21:8 March 1, 2015
“THE RETURN OF CHRIST THE KING!”
The message of the New Testament has always been abundantly clear that Jesus is coming back. You will remember that last week we talked about the Holy Spirit and that Jesus had told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Then in Acts 1:9-11, “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee”, they said, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.””
The longer the delay in the coming of Christ has led some to doubt that Christ is going to return. Some think that it will not matter what they do, in regard to committing sin, as all will be forgiven. I have also overheard other Christians who are poor students of the Word declare that all sin is the same. Satan loves Christians to be confused and ignorant of the Word of God. Satan is then able to lead Christians into more grievous sins and an ever increasing hardness of heart. Today I want to focus on exactly what is going to occur when Jesus returns and the judgments rendered and then why we need to know these things.
Jesus spoke often of the coming judgment by the Son of Man. John 5:21-23, “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Jesus spoke of how he was going to judge in the gospel of Matthew. Matthew 25:31-34, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”
How will Jesus judge each individual? Revelation 20:12-13, 15; “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. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books…If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” We should be encouraged because all sin is judged fairly and must be judged. Many non-believers (and even some who profess to be Christians) think that God is so loving that he would not punish anyone and send them to hell. R.C. Sproul said it best. “A judge who never punishes the wicked is not a good judge. And God is the perfect judge, whose judgment is good.” (Truths We Confess, Volume 3 page 191” It is clear from Scripture that a righteous God judges all people according to the same standard. Those who profess Christ and live for him will find eternal life and those who have not believed will go to everlasting judgment. This is fair!
Paul spoke of the coming judgment in 2 Corinthians 5:10; “For 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.”There is some confusion among some Christians because they put all sin into the same category. All sin deserves death, but not all sins are the same. Whenever our sins involve hurting others that sin is worse than a sin that only affects the individual. Some sins are more harmful. When Jesus was being judged before Pilate, Jesus made a distinction in the sin of the religious leaders, which was greater than the sin of Pilate. John 19:11, “Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” Even non-Christians should not do as much evil as they can because Jesus indicated that the consequences can be more severe.
The Christian should not be content with just barely making it through the gates of heaven. David was concerned that his life should be honoring unto God. Listen to his prayer in Psalm 19. Psalm 19:12-13, “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.” Christians who seek to be more faithful in their obedience will also be rewarded for their faithfulness.
Paul spoke of how our actions would be judged according to what we have done: good or bad. Paul spoke of our foundation being in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” We do not earn our way into heaven. But every Christian should have the same goal of hearing Christ say to each of us: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Understanding how Jesus will judge should affect every Christian. If we are honest with ourselves we will admit there are many times when we want to be lazy and kick back. We should also be encouraged that God is a God of Justice and will bring judgment on all those who mistreat and harm others. When I think of those who are torturing and killing Christians and others then I am able to leave revenge in the hands of God. Romans 12:19; “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the LORD.”
Jonathan Edwards is well known for his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. The Great Awakening was begun in New England by his preaching of the Word. Yet in his church in Northampton, Massachusetts, he was accused by a church member who had spread false rumors about his character. The elders called on him to defend himself against the accusations. H refused saying that he would trust in God to defend him. Jonathan Edwards was removed from his church and he went on to be a missionary to the Indians. Ten years later the man who had falsely accused him confessed publicly that he had lied. Jonathan Edwards was restored to his church in Northampton. In his last sermon to the congregation he expressed no bitterness but said that they would all meet again one day when Christ returned.
Are we ready for Christ to return? Even the theologian Augustine in the fourth century once was quoted praying, “Lord, change me, but not yet.” Are we truly ready for Christ to return? In the last section in the Westminster Confession of Faith in the chapter on the Last Judgment it talks about how we should think. “Christ wants us to be completely convinced that there is going to be a day of judgment, as a deterrent to sin for everyone and as an added consolation for the godly in their suffering. He has also made sure that no one knows when that day will be, so that we may never rest secure in our worldly surroundings, but, not knowing what hour the Lord will come, we must always be alert and may always be ready to say, “Come Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.” Judgment Day is coming!
Come, Lord Jesus, Come quickly!
Let us pray.