(Audio link below)
This is the “I get it” moment when I realize my sin required the sacrifice of the life of the Son of God for me to be forgiven and reconciled to God. This includes the sobering fact that nothing I do can change my standing with God.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3;4-5).
I must have an Advocate with the Father, “Jesus Christ the righteous one” (I John 2:1-2). I need a “merciful and faithful high priest” (Hebrews 2:17), one who is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15), and “able to save completely those who come to God through him” (Hebrews 7:25).
“O God of grace, I have no robe to bring to cover my sins, no loom to weave my own righteousness; I am always standing clothed in filthy garments, and by grace am always receiving change of clothing, for You always justify the ungodly; I am always going into the far country, and always returning home as a prodigal, always saying, Father, forgive me, and You are always bringing forth the best robe.” (Puritan prayer)
“You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16). But salt must retain its saltiness and not become contaminated. Light must be allowed to shine. As salt, we serve a restraining function – deterring social and moral deterioration. As light, we dispel the darkness of sin and unbelief — reaching out to those who sit in the darkness. When we stay on mission we’re more likely to keep the main thing the main thing. We’re less likely to attach our hearts to issues unrelated to the kingdom and eternity.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:9-10). As servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must give an account of our service. This meeting before His judgment seat is closer with each passing day. Focus on this appointment should cause us to “make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it” (II Corinthians 5:9).
- The evaluation of each believer will be a time of personal accountability when our works will be evaluated by the Lord (II Corinthians 5:9-10; Rom. 14:10-12; Heb. 13:17).
- The result will either be reward or loss (I Cor. 3:11-15; cf. Phil. 3:5-8; Rev. 3:11; II Cor. 5:10) and possibly even shame (I Jn. 2:28).
- Judgment is not about destiny. Our eternal destiny is settled in this life. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36).
- Judgment is focused on our service — the things done while in the body.
- Evaluation of service for God is based on the motives of the heart behind the service (I Corinthians 4:5).
- Our motives have some relationship with the quality and enduring significance of our service (I Cor. 3:11-15; II Cor. 5:10).
Jesus gave the best explanation of concern for motives. He warned about doing “works of righteousness” (like giving, praying and fasting) with the motive of being seen by man (Matthew 6:1-21). If gaining recognition and human honor is my motivation, in Jesus’ words, “you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). There will be no enduring fruit and reward for such service.
Our deeds will be “good or bad” in relation to their enduring quality. Service for the Lord endures (like “gold, silver and costly stones,” I Corinthians 3:12-13) when done “in secret” for God’s glory. Jesus said, “…your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:4,6,18).
Service that does not endure is without reward (burned up like “wood, hay or straw”). This is the kind of service that is done for attention and praise from man. When praying, giving or fasting, Jesus warned against prostituting what is sacred to promote yourself.
The apostle taught that each person’s work “will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light” (I Corinthians 3:13). When the Lord comes, “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God” (I Corinthians 4:5).
Stay focused on…
1. Your Moment (past salvation)
- John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:1-7
- II Corinthians 5:17-21
2. Your Mission (present calling)
- Matthew 5:13-16
- Matthew 28:18-20
3. Your Master (future meeting)
- II Corinthians 5:9-10
- I Corinthians 3:11-15; 4:5; Matthew 6:1
Audio version here