BY PASTOR MIKE TAYLOR – http://pastormiketaylor.blogspot.com.au/
11 “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1st Corinthians 3:11-13)
How is Christianity different from all other man-made religions? Being a Christian is the only hope for the believer that after we die, we gain what we can only imagine in this life. It’s not like the Muslim who fears a non-existent god whose only call is for them to die a martyr for “allah”. Or the Buddhist who believes in a long dead philosopher that is only good for this life and attempt to live morally.
For the Christian, to die is to gain….everything.
9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1st Corinthians 2:9)
As one who has put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, by grace through faith, I have sat and meditated on what it will be like when Jesus comes for His church and we are forever with the Lord. You know what? I can’t even imagine what it will be like. I can only feel in my spirit that it will be thousands of times greater than whatever we can achieve in this life. This life is but a warm up for the next one (the one that counts).
Everyone of us want to go to heaven, as this earth is nothing but sin and misery. Oh, God gives us the things that are necessary to endure the years we have on this earth, so we can work for Him, and He knows what we need to endure this life. But we are but pilgrims in a land that is not our home. We search for a home not built with hands, but is waiting for us, as Jesus will bring us to His Father’s House and where our mansions are being made right now.
But the rub of the point is we will cling to this life with both hands until the very last second, as we pray for long life even if we acknowledge the joy that we want to go home. It is bred into our DNA that is called the sympathetic nervous system, or “fight or flight” to preserve life. Even though we know the next life is by far better than the one we now live, we fight to live a long life. God gave us a commandment that our days would be long on this earth:
“Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:2-3)
With what has been said, it appears quite contradictory. The promise is that we will live a long life upon the earth by honoring our father and mother in this life. Knowing our doctrine of to “die is gain” it would seem illogical to reward believers with a long life on this earth.
As the old saying goes, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” Atheists are quick to point out the seeming inconsistency to that position as ‘evidence’ that our faith, no matter how staunchly we might defend it, is really just a sham, like whistling past the graveyard.
I have a brother in law that is a self proclaimed atheist, that believes that this life is all there is, and that the whole heaven and hell thing is nothing but a fairy tale, because as he says, “everybody dies”, which Karl Marx called the “opiate of the masses” to give some type of meaning for the inevitable of a person dying. Or so my brother in law points out.
The contradiction is in my brother in laws mind, if heaven was real, wouldn’t all of us be standing at the cliff waiting for our chance to jump? Of course, his argument is deliberately misleading, as the argument forgets the obvious of what we mentioned what is ingrained into our DNA…but the Christian doesn’t fear death, but the getting there is what nobody wants to speak of. I have no FEAR of being dead, because I know of whom I have believed.
“I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
But being dead is far different that getting dead. The fear anyone has is getting there, than it is of BEING there.
So the promise given by God that “my days be long upon the earth” is attractive to the mortal flesh, because none of us are eager or looking forward to the jumping off point, even though we long to be clothed with immortality.
“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.” (2nd Corinthians 5:1-3)
No one wants to die prematurely, that is before the fullness of days for one’s chances to do what is right will have all been used up. Someday, I will stand before my Lord Jesus Christ and be rewarded for what I have accomplished in this life, for HIM, not for myself. None of us know how much time we have left, so we should not waste a moment, as I know within myself of what I have wasted already, so I can’t afford to spare another second for anything but the glory of God.
WE ARE GIVEN TALENTS.
While a Christian in this life expects to go to heaven when they die, speaking for myself, I would hate to show up at the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ alone, with no fruit to show for my existence.
Jesus spoke of this very thing of three servants to bring the point home for the disciples and those who were listening to His sermon that day.
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.” (Matthew 25:15-16)
There is an eternal truth that is often overlooked in this parable that Jesus spoke of. In the ancient times, a talent was a measure of gold. It is not in reference to “talents” like singing or playing a musical instrument, although they are worthy to be given to the Glory of God in church services, but what is the most precious item that God imparts to His children that is worth much gold in His eyes? To me, the one thing that is most precious to God our Father, is His Word. It is what God is about. His Word will not come back to Him void.
10 “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Each of us are given a portion of God’s Word to share with the world. The parable of the nobleman, which is synonymous with God our Father, “gives each of us” talents of His Word that He gives us to understand, discern and expects each of us to share it with the lost of this world. Those abilities to witness, to preach, to minister, and to tend to the widow and the orphans of this world are given as God sees fit to allow service within this earth and bring us to the Kingdom of God as Kings and Priest to God. That is not only for your local pastor, but for each individual that looks to Jesus for Salvation.
“Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.” (Matthew 25:17)
Note that the servant that was given the most produced the most. But then we turn our attention to the end of the parable where the unprofitable servant hid His Master’s talents in the ground.
“But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.” (Matthew 25:18)
The parable shows that two of the Lord’s servants invested their Lord’s money (His talent, His Word) so that when the Lord returns He receives what is His with interest. What interest? The sharing of the Word of God to bring lost souls to repentance. We may only be planting seeds, and another waters, but the Holy Spirit gives the increase. Note the first two servants are rewarded handsomely and were commended on their service:
20 “And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”(Matthew 25:21-23)
But what of the unprofitable servant? The reward is much different than for the first two servants.
24 “Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”(Matthew 25:24-30)
The Lord orders that the unprofitable servant be stripped of what what he has and give it to the servant who produced the most, and to be cast into outer darkness, “ where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”.
These verses are often used to ‘prove’ a believer can lose his salvation, but it only works by taking the verses out of context.
In context, Jesus is teaching concerning the fate of the “nations”on the last day, not that of individual believers, as the next verses make clear.
32 “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” (Matthew 25:32-34)
As you read further into the chapter, those things that have been done to the least of their brethren, so has it been done to Jesus Christ. This is in direct reference of those who have ministered to His people, (the Jewish brethren) during the Tribulation and have protected them in peril even for their own life. But those who treated them harshly or gave them up to the coming beast power will be sorely punished, as they have not really had the Spirit of our Lord within them, but only professed an empty religiousity of empty rituals that most likely could refer to the One World Religion and those who will be led astray by the coming False Prophet.
But, while the unprofitable servant story is ultimately referring to the separation into the ‘sheep’ and ‘goat’ nations in the last day, it also gives some insight into what the Lord expects us to do with the “talents” He gave each of us right now, in our time before the coming HARPAZO or the forceful removal of the Church, we know as the rapture.
The Bema Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ
As spoken of, we are given certain “talents” from the Lord and He expects us to give Him “His own with usary”—That is to say that our Lord expects us to show up at the judgment seat of Christ with more than just ourselves. Note this is not a judgment as the coming “White Throne Judgment” at the end of the Age of Mankind, but this is a “reward” banquet to give each of those who have accepted Jesus as Personal Savior, rewards and benefits that is given to those who have used their abilities to win souls for Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul likens a believer to a building set on the foundation of Jesus Christ and says that it is, from then on, up to us to build upon it.
10 “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1st Corinthians 3:10-11)
Each of us will be given rewards for what is built upon this foundation, which is Christ the Lord. We are free to build whatever on this foundation with building materials of our own choosing, or eternal security is based upon this foundation, not our subsequent construction efforts.
12 “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1st Corinthians 3:12-13)
Each work we perform that is built upon the Foundation of Jesus Christ will be tested to see what sort of work it is….those that have used silver, gold or precious stones will receive a reward, as they will last. But not those of wood, hay, or stubble as each will be tested with the Fire of God.
This is the believer’s judgment and you can loose rewards for lazy service much like the unprofitable servant, but you cannot loose you salvation, or that has been guaranteed from the foundation of the world as an earnest deposit of our future glorification.
When the apostle Paul wrote this epistle, the judge of the Olympic games would sit at the finish line and his job was to determine the position of each runner when they finished the race. He would decide who was first, second, third and so on, for the purpose of rewarding medals according to placement, just as we do in our modern Olympics.
This conveys a singularly important truth. EVERYBODY that makes it past the Bema Seat FINISHED the race. The Bema Seat is where the Judge awards the medals based on performance. And as Paul told us in verse 13 above, our work will be tested by fire. But each person will be saved, “as through the fire”. Because each one standing belong to Christ, their reward will be based on service to God, but even the lazy Christian with God’s Holy Spirit residing, will come through the fire with salvation intact, excluding rewards.
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”
You can’t get to the Bema Seat of Christ on intellectual “head knowledge” of Jesus, as even Satan and the demons believe and they are not saints. Believing is not enough.
19” Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:19-20)
Head knowledge must become heart knowledge, that those who by faith have repented of their sinful condition, changed their mind about God, and do a total 180 degree turn around and follow Jesus Christ in His footsteps and have accepted the Free Pardon secured for them at the Cross at Calvary.
And, as we’ve seen, repentance ALWAYS results in a changed life, but a changed life isn’t the same thing as a life of sinless perfection.
Individuals are redeemed or condemned according to the single criteria of either accepting or rejecting Christ.
I don’t know about you, but speaking for myself only, I only want to hear those words by my Lord Jesus when I stand before Him, and hear Him say, “well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of they Lord”…Anything else the Lord gives me will be icing on the cake, whether a crown of righteousness, or being a King and a Priest and ruling many cities, or being a teacher of righteousness to point others to salvation, it all comes down to doing the will of God and being praised for a “job well done”. I pray that my Lord is pleased with me.
GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT
We have been speaking of a coming judgment at the Bema Judgment seat of Christ that is a reward for service for those who have followed our Lord in faith believing on Him as our Savior, and doing what each of us are able to do while in our mortal state by following His commands and doing His will.
But there is coming another judgment of those who have not accepted Jesus as Personal Savior of their lives. This will come when the element of time is abolished and the rule of mankind is over and just before eternity begins that all nations left will be gathered together to stand before the Judge of all the earth to be condemned.
11 “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” (Revelation 20:11-13)
The books that will be opened are the books of your Bible, that saves or condemns each man or woman. Each of these are given immortal bodies, just as the Church was given to receive a glorious future of immortality and live eternally in God’s presence. But those who stand before God, Jesus Christ our Lord, who has been given the right to judge the nations by God our Father, will examine each person and run His finger down the ledger of the Book of Life to look for YOUR name. There is only one way that your NAME will be found and that is sometime in the past you were offered the the grace and mercy of God through the finished work of Christ dying on the Cross at Calvary and shed His blood for all mankind.
Every person ever born that has rejected the Free Gift of eternal life through accepting Jesus as Lord of their life, now stands before the Supreme Judge of all mankind to have the formality of being found still in their sins and not forgiven in the life they lived while on earth. Their own righteousness was not enough. Their own good deeds and doing their own will is not good enough, because in the final analysis, our righteousness are worthless before God.
5” Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.
6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
7 And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” (Isaiah 64:5-7)
Those that God saved were clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, but here those that stand here are clothed in their own righteousness, as the interpretation of ours being as filthy rags, is equated to a woman’s used menstrual cloth.
God will not allow sin to be in His presence and the only way to stand before God Almighty is through the sacrifice of His Son. No one standing here will be able to make an excuse, given a second chance, or be allowed into Heaven’s glory, but will receive the ultimate punishment for their rejection of the only payment for their sins, Jesus Christ, Him crucified and resurrected who is now YOUR Judge.
13 “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:13-15)
WHERE ARE YOU IN THIS LIFE?
The aforementioned long life, is for the Christian a chance to do more for God and bear fruit worthy of repentance. Every morning is a second chance to do the right thing in the eyes of God and to invest the “talents” we have been given so that we may return to God what is His plus interest, or lost souls reached for God.
One day, you and I will stand before the Judge of all the earth. Some will stand before the Bema Judgment Seat to receive rewards for service of a well lived life found in Jesus Christ that bore fruit for our King Jesus. Others will stand before the Great White Throne where they will be judged according to their own works done in their own behalf and to receive the “ultimate reward” or penalty for their own self righteousness.
Where one stands in those days of judgment depends on a simple act of repentance receiving the grace and mercy through God our Father, based on the sacrifice of His only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ. Will you use your talents that God has given you for your own selfish interest, or will you use the talents that God gives you to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God? Will you humble yourself and cry out to God for mercy and to ask Him to save you?
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)
Then because of God’s grace and love reach out to others and witness to them of the love you have found in God building rewards that will given to those who bring the love of God to others. The Bema Judgment Seat will be coming for those who have found the truth of the above verses and proclaim that Truth to all who enter your life.
8 “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:8-11)
The alternative is beyond anyone’s comprehension of what will come to those who reject God’s Love and are not found with their name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. No one would want to endure what those who are thrown away from God’s presence in outer darkness where the fire is not quenched, the worm dieth not, and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Choose you this day where your eternal destiny lies. A hope of life of glory, or a life in eternity filled with torment and suffering.
21 “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 1:21-25)
This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying for your salvation and being standing with me there at the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ and avoiding the Great White Throne condemnation. I pray for my brother in law. If you need prayer, counseling, or just a listening ear, email me [email protected], or visit me online at www.pastormiketaylor.blogspot.com, for more biblical message from the Word of God. God bless you all,
TILL WE MEET AT JESUS FEET