“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.”Psalm 122:1. King David was glad to go to the house of the LORD, but today that gladness seems to be a thing of the past. You know the feeling. It’s Sunday morning and you’re putting in your 60 minutes of worship. The song service has been quick because only one or two verses are sung. That should ensure that the service will be over by noon. Maybe even earlier. Prayer requests? Well, the pastor didn’t ask, so no wasted time there.
Now the sermon, which is short and shallow. Nothing to think about…nothing to convict anyone of sin. Finally, it’s time for the last song. Bummer. The song is “I Surrender All” and it has five verses. Good, nobody went to the altar, two verses are sung, and we’re headed home! Let me ask this question…have you surrendered all? Are you glad to worship the Lord, or does this scenario sound familiar? Unfortunately this is all too common. We find it hard to surrender a few minutes extra to sing all the verses of hymns, but have all the time necessary to play golf or go fishing.
Christians need to live their faith 24/7 and not grudgingly give an hour on Sunday and call it good. If you can’t choose to surrender an extra five minutes in a worship service, have you truly surrendered your eternity to Him? Is it any wonder that we’re living in the Laodicean era?
What do I mean by the “Laodicean era”? The book of Revelation contains letters which Jesus dictated to the Apostle John. These letters outline “eras” of the Christian ekklēsia (the “church”) which were future to John but from our perspective we’re living in the last era…the letter which was written to the Laodocians. This last era is filled with lukewarm worship where Jesus isn’t welcome inside. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.” Revelation 3:15.
These people go through the motions and practice “religion” but don’t really care. Christianity isn’t something you “do” but is who you are. It’s not religious works, but faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. That faith should bring joy to every part of your life. Today if Sunday morning service isn’t short, sweet, and shallow, most people don’t want any part of it. If a person is convicted of sin they might feel uncomfortable and stop attending, so the congregation is fed milk because the meat of God’s word is too hard to digest. Zeal for the Gospel has become lukewarm and it’s more important to keep people in the pews than to keep Jesus in their hearts. “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”Revelation 3:16. Don’t take Christ for granted. Eternity for the Christian will be filled with serving Him. Start enjoying it now.
If you can’t be happy for more than an hour a week in worshipping God then maybe eternity just doesn’t fit into your schedule. Will you be happy in His presence and serving Him forever? When you stand before His throne will you be looking at your watch hoping not to miss the first pitch of the baseball game? Or maybe you’ll want to rush to the restaurant before the crowd gets there. When you accepted Christ there should have been a change in you and in your priorities. Sitting in a pew on Sunday morning doesn’t mean you’re a Christian, but a Christian needs to put Christ first. We need to associate with fellow believers and dig deep into God’s word. Can you worship Him while sitting by a stream fishing? Yes, but you probably don’t. Is that the example we’re given in Scripture? “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.” Philippians1:21-22. We make a habit of choosing to live in the flesh and we forget that we’re asked to take up our cross to follow Christ. That means we put aside our own desires in order to serve Jesus, even if that means staying at the worship service a bit longer than an hour. For the Christian, eternity will be spent serving Christ so take joy in that now.
God’s word gives a few clues about eternity. If you love the Lord and love being around fellow Christians then you have much to look forward to. Our human minds cannot grasp the concept of pure love, but that’s what will surround us: the pure love of God. Jesus said He was preparing a place for us. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2.Our imaginations can run wild about what this means, but since Jesus is preparing the place it’s beyond our earthly understanding. We can also read about the New Jerusalem in Revelation chapter 21. It will come down out of Heaven and is huge. The description gives a beautiful picture, but John only had human words to describe it. The gates are made of pearl, the foundations are of precious stones, and there will be no need for the sun or moon because Jesus Himself is the Light. “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” Revelation 21:22-23. My mind can’t fully grasp this but that’s where I want to spend eternity. “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:27. There’s only one way to have your name written in the Lamb’s book of life, and that’s through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.
Whether you’ve accepted Christ for salvation or not, life doesn’t just stop at death. When a person dies their soul continues to live. Recently the Pope made headlines by stating that Hell doesn’t exist. He needs to study his Bible. Hell does exist and it’s a place of separation from God…a place of eternal torment. Jesus talked about Hell and we can believe Him above all others. He told of a rich man who had died and because of his own choices in life he was in the place of torment awaiting judgement (Luke 16:19-31). Jesus also told of a future judgement of sheep (righteous people) and goats (the unrighteous). The sheep will be invited into the kingdom which has been prepared by God from the foundation of the world, but the goats will have a different place in eternity. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” Matthew 25:41. We make our eternal choice today. God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, but each person makes their own choice. To avoid eternal damnation you must accept the shed blood of Jesus as the once for all sacrifice to take away sin. By choosing Christ you choose eternal life. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”John 14:6. You can’t be good enough to gain eternal life by your own merit, nor can you be bad enough that the blood of Christ won’t wash your sins away. If you’ve sincerely accepted Him then you can look forward to eternal life with Him. If you reject Him, then you’re facing the eternal lake of fire.
Everyone will be judged, but there will be a different judgement for Christians than for those who reject Christ. When you sincerely accept Christ for salvation, you’re immediately saved. Every sin you’ve committed or ever will commit have been forgiven. So what will be judged? Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and our works will be judged. The good works we do cannot bring salvation, but they do earn 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. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon he shall receive a reward.” 1 Corinthians 3:13-14. When you accept Christ a change should take place in your heart. You should desire to serve Him and honor Him with your works. That’s what will be judged. The things you do to glorify Christ will stand the test of fire and bring rewards, but all else will be burned. “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved: yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:15.If you have no desire to serve Christ after you accept His sacrifice, will you want to serve Him for eternity? Think about that question. If you have no desire to serve Him, then ask yourself if you’ve truly accepted Him.
Those who have died and are waiting in torment for their final judgement will be judged after the Millennium. If you choose to reject the free gift of salvation that Jesus offers, keep in mind that separation from Christ is also separation from everyone you love. Don’t think that you’ll spend eternity with friends and have a good time in Hell. In the account of the rich man who went to torments, Jesus makes it clear that he remembered his family and didn’t want them to join him there. He’s still waiting today for his final judgement which will take place after the Millennium. The judgement faced at the Great White Throne will be based completely on your own merit and perfection.
Nobody can be good enough on their own merit to have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life.
”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. 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. 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. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15.
This is eternal death. If you choose to reject Jesus Christ for salvation, this is where you will spend eternity.
Understanding what Jesus’ death on the cross truly did for you should change your attitude. Worship should be a joy and being with fellow Christians a pleasure. You should feel the urgency to share the Gospel with others because only faith in Jesus will save a person from that eternal lake of fire. The choice you make today matters for eternity.