In this episode of The Disciple-Making Parent podcast, we delve into how a biblical understanding of heaven can profoundly impact family dynamics and relationships. We’ll explore themes of heaven, holiness, and their relevance to daily life, emphasizing the importance of actions that please God rather than seeking human approval.
The episode highlights the anticipation of heaven as a motivation for Christians to live holy lives, especially in family contexts. We also discuss the reality of judgment and grace, offering practical advice for believers to apply in their daily lives and relationships.
Resources From This Podcast
Topics Covered In This Week’s Podcast
00:11 Podcast introduction
03:14 Sermon introduction: Is heaven even real? What if it’s a distraction?
Heaven motivates our holiness because:
12:06 a) We’ll experience glory with a new mind and body
22:51 b) You and I will experience great joy and great rewards in heaven
33:03 c) You and I will face a searching review
I’m Chap Bettis, and you’re listening to The Disciple-Making Parent, where we seek to equip parents and churches to pass the gospel to their children. What if I told you that your understanding of heaven can affect how you treat your spouse or children? Would you believe me? In your mind, are there any things more different than thinking about what the Bible has to say about heaven and what the Bible has to say about living in the home?
Hi, my name is Chap Bettis, and I’m the author of The Disciple-Making Parent. And it seems like this month the theme is heaven. In our last podcast, I interviewed Dr. Andy Davis about his new book, The Glory Now Revealed. In it, he argues that part of what heaven will be is a reliving and looking again at God’s redemptive grace in history. And that will mean looking back at our lives and the lives of others. So, you will definitely want to listen to that podcast, podcast number 92, to hear him clearly articulate this understanding.
Well, that idea so affected me that when I was asked to preach at my home church, I chose a text that reflected on those themes. But of course, once I got into the text, the text needed to guide my thinking. So this sermon, this teaching, is not a repeat of the interview with Dr. Davis. In it, we’ll think about the coming eternal state and the fact that we as Christians will face a searching review. And that motivates us to please the Lord in everything we do, even how we love our spouse and how we love our children.
See, we want to act in secret to please the Lord, not necessarily others. So I hope you’ll find this recent teaching both applicable for your life as you relate to those who are not believers or those in the church. But especially, I hope you’ll think about how heaven motivates your holiness in the home. We live for an audience of one. We cannot control the other person, but we are responsible and will be rewarded for our actions and our reactions. So take a listen and let me know if you enjoyed it.
But before we start, I want to let you know that I send out a family discipleship email every Saturday during the school year. Are you on that list? It’s my way of helping parents, grandparents, and pastors equip the next generation. I’m regularly amazed at how many of my podcast listeners don’t know about the weekly newsletter. I promise not to spam you. I think you will find it very, very helpful. Once a week, I give you some help to pass the gospel to your children or grandchildren. So head on over to thedisciplemakingparent.com today, and sign up for the weekly newsletter. But for now, let’s think about how heaven motivates our holiness.
What comes to mind when you think of heaven? The Bible promises an eternity. In heaven if you know Christ, or an eternity in hell apart from him. But is heaven actually attractive to you? Does it pull you forward? And as I get older and realize that I too must face death, thinking about heaven has become a much more important priority.
But if I’m honest and I go to the warehouse of my brain and I look under H and I pull out the box marked heaven, I don’t find a lot in there. There’s not a lot of knowledge that pulls me forward. I have no doubt. Worship, we know, is one of the highest and noblest activities of men and women when we combine the truth of redemption with the emotions of singing to our savior. We need to do this more and more. But if I’m honest, an eternal worship service, where all I do is singing, starts to sound a little boring. Is that heresy? Maybe a thousand years, but after that?
So do I need to get used to the idea of singing for eternity in an eternal worship service, or is there more? Is there something in my understanding and your understanding that might be deficient?
This morning, we’re going to think about heaven, but it’s not just an intellectual exercise. It’s thinking about heaven to fuel our holiness. We’re going to specifically focus on how heaven helps us fight sin.
But before we start, I want to acknowledge that maybe you’re not so sure about where you are with Jesus and you’re here to think about these things. And I want to let you know, we’re glad you’re here, happy you’re here, want you to keep coming and find a safe place to learn and to think about these things. But when it comes to thinking about heaven, whether an inquirer or a Christian, sometimes I think we can be worried that this is just wishful thinking. It pulls Christians away from the real problems in this world.
And so in, just in the introduction, I want to address that concern that sometimes makes us think, “Is this real? Does it pull us away?” Well, let me just start. If you think Christianity and heaven is pie in the sky thinking, I understand that. It is fantastical in some ways. What we’re going to be talking about this morning is fantastical, but if you think that this is just given to people that I want to say respectfully, no matter your ethnicity, your privilege is showing.
Christianity is exploding around the world, helping untold millions in gut-wrenching poverty by giving them hope. The hope that there’s a God who sees them, who cares about them, and he’s prepared a future life for them. It’s my peace, your peace, and prosperity that actually makes us doubt these things. Someone in Sudan, or Venezuela, or the lowest caste in India, or in the grinding poverty in the slums of Brazil or Sierra Leone- they know this world is broken. The question is, does Jesus give them real hope? Hope that the future is bright based on the promises of God? Or is it, as Marx said, just an opiate? Religion is the opiate of the masses. Helps them feel better. Dulls the senses.
What we’re going to talk about, it is fantastical! But it doesn’t make it untrue. Just because a four- or five- or six-year-old cannot conceive of what Disney World is like and has not seen Disney World, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If she or he hears it from a trusted source, like her father or mother, then they can come to believe there is a Magic Kingdom somewhere.
I think another reason that we can be dismissive is we believe that thinking about heaven will remove our interest in the world. But CS Lewis helps us because he said, “If you read history, you find that the Christians who did the most for this present world were precisely those who thought the most about the next.” Thinking about heaven, I hope, will fuel our faith and our influence in the world.
And finally, I want to suggest that learning about heaven may actually give new eyes to interpret your own feelings. I resonate with this quote. CS Lewis has observed, “There have been times when I think I don’t desire heaven. We don’t desire heaven. But more often I find myself wondering in our heart of hearts, if we have ever desired anything else.”
The reason we grieve the war in Ukraine and Gaza is because there’s something in us that wants peace and harmony and love and wholeness. But thousands of years of world history tell us that it’s not permanently possible. Temporarily maybe, but permanently not, until the Prince of Peace comes bringing peace.
So with those thoughts in mind, let’s look at a passage that talks about heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:1-11. And as you’re turning there, I want to make something very clear. You know, many times a preacher or a pastor will quote ideas not their own. And so as to not to break the flow, they won’t footnote them. But when there are major ideas, then it’s appropriate that they quote where they came from and give them credit. So let me do that now. I’m not going to stop and give footnotes.
Let’s just say most of the sermon comes from this book, The Glory Now Revealed, by Andy Davis. I want to encourage you. It’s what motivated me when Kevin asked me to preach, and I said, “I’d love to preach on this topic.” And I want to encourage you on. Monday, Tuesday, go out and get it from Morningstar or order it online so that you can read a fuller presentation about heaven. My interview with him will actually be up on my podcast on Wednesday. So just to let you know, get the book.
Let’s read together. God’s holy inspired word. 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 1, going to verse 11. “For we know that if our earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands. Indeed, we groan in this tent, desiring to put on our heavenly dwelling, since when we’re clothed, we will not be found naked. Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed. So that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the spirit as a down payment. But we are always confident and know that while we’re at home in the body, we’re away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. In fact, we’re confident and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him, for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each one may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people. What we are is plain to God. And I hope it’s also plain to your conscience.”
Heaven motivates our holiness. That’s the big idea. If you’re a note taker, heaven motivates our holiness. The reality and truth of heaven will motivate us in you to become more like Jesus.
I want to look at several different points that come out of the text. First, you need to realize that you’re going to experience glory in heaven with a glorified body and a glorified mind. Paul makes this one argument really in verses one to five. Our body for the new heavens and the new earth will be much, much better than our body on the earth.
In these verses, he goes back and forth, really, between three states. One is our current earthly state. The other is our final eternal state. And then he mentions briefly the in-between time. Look in verse 1: “For we know that if our earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens not made with hands.” Paul’s written this letter to the Corinthian church. After he had planted the church, some self-promoting “apostles” had come in and begun criticizing him and questioning his authority.
But the letter of 2 Corinthians is a defense of his authority. The Corinthians were living with an over-realized eschatology, meaning the idea that since the kingdom has come, that we live with power that overcomes all the time. And one of Paul’s themes in this letter is that in this life we do suffer and we are weak. And in this paragraph, what Paul does is contrast our current body, which he compares to an earthly tent, flimsy, some cloth and poles it wears out quickly. It’s going to be destroyed.
It’s not clear what prompted this analogy. Perhaps it was his trade as a tent maker. Acts 18:3 says that he made tents. So as he’s making tents, he’s looking at the opulent marble structures in Corinth, or perhaps he had in mind the contrast between the tabernacle and the Old Testament where the glory of the Lord dwelt and the beautiful temple in Jerusalem.
Either way, what he’s saying is our current body to our resurrection body is a tent to an eternal, solid, weighty home. You can look again, he continues on for several sentences. Verse 2, “We groan in this tent desiring to put on the heavenly dwelling.” Those of us as you get older, you can identify more with that verse, right? Indeed. “We groan while we’re in this tent,” verse 4, “burdened as we are because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed.” There is a reference to the intermediate state between earth and the new heaven and the new earth. The summary statement is found in verse 4, “so that mortality that is death in decay may be swallowed up by life.”
Life is going to kill death. We will have life forever. God has prepared us for this very thing. So in contrast to a flimsy tent, you and I have a building from God, made by God, that is eternal in the heavens. If you’re familiar with your Bible, you know that in 1 Corinthians 15, he also talked about this same theme.
Let me just read some of that contrast there: “So it is with the resurrection of the dead, sown” that is, buried, “sown in corruption, raised in incorruption, sown in dishonor, raised in glory, sown in weakness, raised in power, sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. If there’s a natural body, there’s a spiritual body. The spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible. And we’ll be changed for this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility. This mortal body must be clothed with immortality.”
Jesus is going to give us eternal resurrection, resurrected bodies like the resurrected body of Jesus. But if you look, there’s another important point here that there’s an immediate continuation and connection with our earthly existence. Three years ago, Sharon and I moved for the first time in 27 years. It was painful. I totally underestimated how much work it would take. To those who helped, thank you. Please forgive me, but thank you. But we were moving to a better place.
And that is one part of Paul’s analogy here, but there’s another. After we had moved, we were the same people. We had just changed locations. We had changed dwellings. In a similar way for the Christian, death is a change of locations. We’re still the same person, just as Lucy who stepped into the wardrobe in England and stepped out of the woods in Narnia, there was a connection and a continuity to our earthly existence.
You can see this in verse 9. It’s very interesting where he talks about pleasing the Lord. He says, “We make it our aim to please the Lord, whether we’re at home in the body-“ Okay, yes, I get that, “or away from it.” You’re saying afterwards, I’m going to desire to please the Lord. Verse 9. Why is that important to understand?
Well, it’s because it helps us to start to fill in some of the understanding of what the new heavens and the new earth will be like, will have glorified bodies in the presence of God. God’s presence is glory glorious. We need glory. What is glory? The radiant display of God’s attributes. Heaven will be a world of glory, a world of love, as Jonathan Edwards said, a world of holiness. But the glorified body and the glorified mind will continue this existence. The disciples recognized Jesus’ body with scars. I’m not sure how it all fits together, but back to the introduction, it will not just be a continual worship service.
We sang about it this morning. We will eat together in some way. We will reign. Scripture says we will reign. We’ll manage different areas on earth. It is a glorified continuation of this existence, but, but what else do we do on earth? And this is where Andy Davis’s book was really helpful. We learn, we’re learning, we’re learning.
Now we continue to learn. He wrote this: “Glorified people will grow and develop. I once thought of glorification as immediate completion in every aspect of humanity, including knowledge. It would be impossible for a glorified person to learn anything at all, as if in glorification, we receive an instant, infinite download of all possible information, and then it remains static for all eternity. But we will never be God, even in glory. So we will never be omniscient or all-knowing. There will always be something to learn. Much of what makes life interesting,” he goes on to say, “is learning, discovering, growing, and changing. Curiosity and growth give us some of the deepest pleasures. Every day God is preparing his people to be glory and to see glory.”
You are going to have new thoughts in heaven. You see why that was just such a paradigm-shifting thought for me? We’re going to continue to learn. And what will we continue to learn about? The glory of God. We’ll continue to, to unravel more and more the wounds, the works, the worth of Christ, just like we do on Sunday. But how else will we continue to learn about the glory of God? Here Andy Davis argues convincingly that one of the subjects we’ll learn about is the past glory of God in redemption. Think about it. Most of God’s attributes cannot be seen without creation or God acting in wisdom. And so we’re going to study earthly history in heaven to the praise of God.
Can you imagine seeing and rejoicing in the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt or the feeding of the 5,000 but not just biblical history, but all of redemptive history. In his Gospel, John 21, he ends it with, “There are many other things that Jesus did, which if every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the world itself would contain the books that would be written.” We’re going to get to study those.
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 111:2, “The Lord’s works are great, studied by all who delight in them.” That is a characteristic of righteousness, that we like studying the Lord’s works. Colossians 1 tells us one way we please God is by growing in knowledge. We’ll be doing that for all eternity.
But is it just biblical history? Has not God worked through all history? Has God not worked in my life and your life? Is not part of God’s glory seen in how he saved you, provided for you, strengthened you, forgave you, rescued you? We get to learn each other’s stories. And since we’ll love each other perfectly, we’ll be delighted to learn all the ins and outs. We won’t get bored! So I’ll be able to say, Hey, Sam, I’ve got about a thousand years. Tell me your story with all the ins and outs. We’re going to learn how God has worked in redemption.
All of our lives will be on display to show off God’s amazing love. And that’s the first point. Heaven motivates our holiness because we’re going to experience glory in heaven with a glorified body and a glorified mind. That brings us to the second main point of this passage. Another reason that heaven motivates our holiness is you and I will experience great joy and great rewards. Look at verse 6: “So we are always confident and know that while we’re at home in the body, we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. In fact, we’re confident and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we’re at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him, for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each one may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
Paul continues on with his home or housing analogy. Verse 6, “to be at home with the body is to be away. We prefer to be away from the body at home with the Lord.” So here we have these this tent or eternal building metaphor. But if you look at the whole passage, Paul’s tone is the joy of being pulled towards heaven in the process, though. He makes a parenthetical statement. Let me just focus on that.
In verse 9 he says, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” That’s almost like just a parenthetical statement to what the point he’s making, but let’s not rush past that. This is a fundamental disposition of a Christian. If you’re not willing to walk by faith, you can’t please God. We’re not materialists. There are realities that we cannot see with our eyes. I mean, that’s true even in science, right? There are certain types of light, like radio waves, infrared, x rays. All of those exist. They just can’t be seen with the naked eye.
Similarly, there are spiritual realities that are only accessed by faith. So he just says, this is the Christian life. The Christian life is walking, living, that’s the living by faith, not by sight. And what’s one conclusion of walking by faith, verse 9, “whether we’re at home in the body or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him.” Have you thought of the fact that if you’re a believer in Christ, united to him, the one who the Father says, “This is my son with whom I am well pleased,” you are in Christ, you are well pleasing to God, your father, you’re adopted in Christ, and you and I can please him? Scripture declares I’m adopted as a child of God. And as his child, my actions can please or grieve him. Paul said he was seeking- Galatians 1:10- to please God, the father, not men. Ephesians 5, he says, “Scripture commands us to find out what pleases the Lord. Do this more and more.”
So our understanding of God is deficient if we think of him as an immovable judge. He’s satisfied, but unfeeling. Instead, our lives can bring pleasure to our heavenly father. Charles Spurgeon said it this way: “The greatest joy of a Christian-“ listen carefully- “The greatest joy of a Christian is giving joy to Christ, actively pleasing Christ. That moves the Christian life from a list of do’s and don’ts to a dynamic daily relationship with God.” And that’s directly related to this idea of rewards. If you look at scripture, what you find is that rewards are all throughout the New Testament.
Does that make us uncomfortable? If I’m really spiritual, shouldn’t all I want be to see Jesus? Well, he’s the one who tells us- commands us- to be motivated by rewards. C. S. Lewis said, “The man who marries for money is a mercenary, but the man who marries for love, that’s the natural reward.” And so it is not wrong to be motivated by rewards that Christ is telling us because it comes from him. Let me give you three ways. We don’t have time really to go into rewards. Andy Davis sums it up this way: crowns, commendations, and capacity.
Crowns. What is a crown? It’s an emblem of honor. Our country gives the medal of honor, an emblem that bestows honor in and of itself. If it was melted down, the medal itself isn’t worth a lot of money, but as an emblem, it is very, very valuable. It tells a story of bravery. Not only that, they don’t just throw these medals of honor out. They give it with a huge ceremony where the recipient is hearing the commendation. We are applauding a soldier’s bravery. The story. Doesn’t that sound like our savior saying, Well done, good and faithful servant? See, a crown, that is why we’re going after the rewards.
It’s not just for the emblem that we’ll throw at his feet. It’s also the commendation, Well done good and faithful servant. Finally, Andy Davis argues, and I agree, part of the reward is capacity. You and I know that we don’t all have the same capacity for God now. And as we put sin to death, now our capacity for God increases. And if we don’t, if we indulge in sin, then our capacity for God decreases.
Well, in heaven, there are different number of scriptures that talk about their different levels of rewards. Someone has said it this way: All saints will have as much of God as they desire. We will all be fully happy, but not equally happy. So just as a thimble, a bathtub and a super tanker all submerged in the ocean are full, but they are not equally full. So that’s motivation for us to say right now, Oh God, give me more of yourself. Increase my heart, enlarge my heart several times. As prayed in the New Testament, increase my heart that I might have more of you now. I want to lay up treasures in heaven so that I’m pulled towards a new heaven and a new earth. Oh, Lord, enlarge my heart. I’d just encourage you, especially if you’re an older Christian, pray that prayer: Lord, enlarge my heart for you.
And what will we be rewarded for? I don’t have time to cover all that. You could do a word study under rewards, but big categories: service, suffering and seeking. Are we faithful under the natural sufferings for living in a fallen world? Or do we suffer for standing up for Christ against a world that opposes him? Or just fighting temptation? God sees and rewards it. And then, and then seeking, are we seeking to know him better? That increases that capacity. And finally, as we serve others.
Don’t take as an application from this, “Oh, I should quit my job and go try and do more and more and more religious work to seek rewards.” Because if you look at what scripture says, often it is pleasing the Lord right where you are. One way we please the Lord and earn rewards, scripture said, is being faithful at work. Children, obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Yes, there are things like giving a cup of cold water in His name, resisting the pressures of temptation, when we loving our enemies. But it’s also things like working hard to Him at our jobs when no one else is looking. Giving financially. So if you combine that.
What’s interesting, at least what was paradigm-shifting for me as I got to hear him speak, is that actually we will have memories of our earthly life in heaven. We will not have a mind wipe. We will not have an omniscient download and we will not have a mind wipe because, think about it. With a reward, with a crown, there’s a story that goes with it. So if you’re saying, What’d you get that crown for? I really can’t remember. No, we will have memories. A reward makes no sense without the stories, and Davis argues convincingly that will include- this might make us uncomfortable- remembering our own sin. The shame and the pain will be taken away, but we’ll remember. And that, my friend, is a motivation for holiness right now. Right now counts forever. It does.
So sin motivates my holiness because first, you and I will experience great glory. Second, we’re going to have great joy and rewards. But rewards implies a review and accounting. Every parable Jesus told about entrusting his servants with treasures, ended with a return and an accounting. And that brings us to a third reason that heaven motivates our holiness, and that is that you and I will face a searching review.
You and I will face a searching review. Looking verses 9,10 and 11. “Therefore, whether we are at home in the body or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to him, for-“ connecting to the previous thought. Why is my goal to please him?- “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore-“ again linked to the previous thought- “since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it’s also plain to your consciences.”
Why do we make it our aim to please him? Why don’t we just rely on our imputed righteousness and say, Hey, I’m all set for heaven. Jesus has paid for my sin. The reason is because you and I will face a searching review and I want to stop and be very clear. The judgment or the bema of seat of Christ is taught in scripture as a reality. The bema seat was a race seat in city of Corinth where judgments were rendered. I had the privilege of seeing that with my own eyes, the place. You and you and you and you and I will stand and appear before the judgment seat of Christ. That, my friend, is a very sobering thought. It’s not made up to scare people. It comes from the lips of Christ himself.
How do we know that it’s a coming reality? Again, it’s fair. I know it’s fantastical, but how do we know? Fantastic things do happen. If you had said the whole world is going to be shut down for a year, we would have said you’re crazy. We just experienced that. How do we know that Jesus will appear? Well, one way scripture says is God has set a day when he’s going to judge the world and righteousness by the man he’s appointed. He’s provided proof. Of this to everyone by raising him for the debt from the debt. The resurrection is our great hope
All right, we’re going to be like him. We’re going to be with him. He is ruling and reigning in heaven right now. And there’s also going to be a judgment, but not only is there proof this way, we actually want it because we want it internally because on earth, there is a bare semblance of justice time and time again, we hear of new injustices.
And sometimes they’re pointed out like, see how that person’s guilty, and not in self-righteousness. But we only have to watch the news to realize that injustice is in the heart of every man and every woman. You’ve got whites killing whites in Ukraine. We’ve got the Middle East conflict. 1994, Africans killing Africans with the Rwandan genocide. In just three months, 500 to 800,000 people were killed. There’s unresolved justice, and when we’re the victims of injustice, we want justice, right? But when we commit the injustice, we don’t want justice. We want mercy. We want justice for thee, but not justice for me. But justice is justice. If God is just, he must be perfectly just Before we enter an eternal age, all these injustices have to be made right. There’s an accounting.
There’s going to be a great revelation and a great reckoning. And what’s the criteria? It’s the law of God where God tells us this is how you love me, the one who made you. And this is how you love other people. It’s not a question of whether the good outweighs the bad. The German prison guard at Auschwitz went home, loved his wife, had dinner with his wife, loved his kids. So, so not a matter of the good outweighing the bad. The question is whether we’ve broken God’s law at all. And that brings us really to two different types of judgments. 1 Peter 4:17 says this: “For the time has come for the judgment to begin with God’s household.” And if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who disobey the gospel of God? In this passage, what Peter says is that those in God’s household will face a searching review. But if God’s own children face a searching review, what will it be for those who disobey the gospel of God?
Friend, listen, there are two people that will face Jesus on that final day. There will be those who are part of his family and those who, in God’s own word here, have disobeyed the gospel of God. You see, the gospel is an offer, but it’s an offer with a command to repent and believe. It comes from a King. You don’t refuse the request of the King. Scripture tells us that God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever would believe in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.
If that is true, can there be any greater insult than to refuse that gift and ignore it? There can’t for justice to be served on the final day. Someone has to pay for your sins. It can be Jesus or it can be you. Jesus went to the cross to pay for people like you and me. He cried out, tetelestai. It is finished, paid in full. It’s your choice. Come to Jesus today. Some of you teenagers, you’ve heard the gospel. You need to come to Christ today. It doesn’t come by osmosis. Run to him saying, Lord Jesus, I don’t want your justice. I want your mercy. I want to stand before God with my sins fully paid for by you.
Think about it. What mercy and grace! God is just and he’s the justifier. He’s the justifier making us right. So come, say yes, I repent from running my own life. I turn it over to you. If you do that sincerely in your own heart, God will forgive you. Apply the payment of Christ. The Holy Spirit will come in and change you from the inside out. Justice has been offered, but you must receive it. It’s our choice at the judgment day, his payment and his mercy, your payment and his justice.
But it’s easy, I think, is Christians to think Jesus paid for my sin. I’m all set. What scripture says is you and I will face a searching review, not a punishment for sins, but for rewards. Our rewards in heaven are solely by grace, only because Jesus died on the cross. Do we escape the eternal torments of hell? Every good work we do is by the grace of God. We’re going to throw the crowns at Jesus’ feet and go, you did it through me. But we will have that time.
Numerous scriptures. I’m only going to list a couple here. Romans 14:10. Paul’s writing to the Roman Christians. We will all stand before the judgment seat of God for it is written as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me and every time will give praise to God. So then each will give an account of himself to God. A section in Paul’s earlier letter to the Corinthians helps us see this a little clearer. In 1 Corinthians 3:12, he says, if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stone, wood, hay, or straw, each one’s works will become obvious for the judgment day will disclose it because it will be revealed by fire. The fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he’ll receive reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will experience loss, but he himself will be saved, but only is through the fire.
But just a few sentences later in 1 Corinthians 4, Paul writes this. Don’t judge anything prematurely before the Lord comes, who will bring growth to light, what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the heart. And then praise will come to each from God.
I just want to speak to those of you who are of tender conscience or overactive conscience, and you are constantly bowed down by, I am not doing enough for Jesus. Scripture focuses on the rewards. So yes, there is a searching review. But if you are united to Christ, you are already well pleasing to Him. And now out of that joy, what can you do? But these passages are emphasizing reward and praise. Yes, sloppy ministry is going to be burned up, but the emphasis is on reward.
The application verse 11. I mean, the obvious thing about facing a great day of things coming out, therefore, since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try and persuade people, what we are is plain to God. I hope it’s plain to your conscience. So we soak in the love of God, but we also know that we’re going to take face a searching review.
I texted a friend this week about this message, and essentially it was this heaven’s going to be great. A world of love, new bodies, but there’s going to be a review. It’s good to have both thoughts in our head and I can’t wait to get there, but yikes, I’d better be serious about my holiness. I can’t wait to get there, but I need to be sober about my holiness and my service. Heaven motivates our holiness with Christ forevermore.
Let me just draw some couple applications. The first is this: come to Christ. Come to Christ. Can there be any greater insult if God gave his own son than to say, I don’t need that? Come to repent today, trust Christ, move forward in your relationship with him. It’s never too early in life, teenagers, children. It’s never too late in life. Come to Christ.
The second application is the one Paul makes. I’m going to make the same one he makes: Because we’re convinced of the love of Christ for us– the power of the blood, this coming world of love- we are of good courage. You see that repeated several times: we carry on, we endure. Twice Paul repeats, We’re confident. We’re of good courage. In the previous chapter, which I didn’t have time to go into, but it’s the one who sets up this chapter, Paul says this: “Therefore, we don’t lose heart. Though outwardly we’re wasting away, inwardly we’re being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is what is seen, but what is unseen.” Seeing is temporary. What is unseen is eternal. We’re not going to lose hope in trials. In 100 years, no one will know who Taylor Swift or Travis Kelsey are.
“All men are like grass. Their glory is like the flowers of the fields. The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” We have a strong and sure hope the future is bright because of the promises of God. We don’t lose heart. I don’t know what’s going to happen to America, but I know what’s going to happen to God’s church. Justin Martyr said it this way: They can kill us, but they can’t hurt us. We as Christians should be the most joyful, happy people because of the promises of God. Filled with hope because of the promises of God. We are of good courage, Paul repeats several times.
And not only that, the second application here for your follower of Christ is we make it our aim to please Him.
We want to be, and we are, pleasing where we’re united to Christ. We are, this is my son, whom I’m well pleased. We are united. Kevin has taken us through that in John at the in the upper room. We are pleasing, we are united and we want to please Christ. An everyday possibility. A moment-by-moment possibility as we walk by the spirit. We want to please the Lord, not other people. We want to please the Lord, not my boss. We want to please the Lord, not my spouse. We want to please the Lord, not the pastors. In the privacy of my heart, in my home, my aim is to walk with a clear conscience and please the Lord. And that means I have private integrity, and I love, and I’m fighting sin because I know my deeds will come out.
So my goal is to please Him when I go to work on Tuesday. My goal, no matter what anybody else does, it’s to please him as I fight temptation. No matter what anybody else says, my aim is to please him in our marriage, no matter what she does or he does. It’s to please the Lord, obey my parents, even if they’re wrong at times. We make it our aim to please him, knowing it’s worth the internal battle. Because we’re going to stand before him and all will be known. Therefore I’m resolved to fight sin all the more. Having his motivation for my personal holiness and my personal integrity, the new heaven and new earth.
It’s not some Buddhist nirvana where we lose our self-identity and become a drop of water in an endless sea. It’s a world of glory. It’s a world of love and it’s a world of holiness where you and I get to study and worship our savior and all his redemptive works. You may be groaning in that tattered tent right now, but keep pressing on to your eternal and glorious building.
Let’s pray together.
Lord Jesus, It is a searching thought to know we will stand before you. I pray Lord for those for whom that thought perhaps strikes fear. And yet we see your love in the cross. I pray that they would love run to the cross, run to the cross. Tetelestai, paid in full.
No one who comes to you will you drive away. May this be the day of salvation for a number of people. And Lord, for those of us who have professed your name, Lord, may you enlarge our hearts to know you more and more and more. Pray for those who are discouraged today. May we enter the new year full of good hope, full of courage, full of joy, and also walk to please you, knowing, we are pleasing to you, and yet our desire is to give joy to you. Would you show us specific ways to do that? We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.
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