All right, here’s what we’re going to do this morning. We’re going to do something a little bit different today. We had a lot of questions come in from literally around the world, and they were printed out and handed to me. For those of you who are watching us Livestream, I want you to know your questions that you sent in to us are very important to us, so I’m gonna spend this session answering these questions. I don’t know how fast, how slow we’ll get through it, and so if you have questions you wanna send in to us today, you can do so. There’s a number on the screen. For you guys here in the room, you can just do it live. You don’t have to text me.
You’re an insider on this. The number is 469-701-0422
These questions are important to us, and it’ll be a good just break for us in the Bible study to chase some of these rabbits. The questions really arise as you teach passages of scripture. You suddenly have 10 questions. Well, what about this? What about this? What about that? And we want to answer those questions as best we can. We obviously can’t answer all the questions, but it – I think it’s helpful to periodically just stop and address certain issues that come up. Any thinking person is going to have these questions arise. You’re still going to need your Bible and you’re still going to need to track with me.
Here is the first question. It comes in from a man named Doug. He says, “I know God forgets our sins once we have saving faith, but I know too we will be held accountable for our sins at the judgment. Could you please explain this?” Let’s first nail down the first part of this, that God does forget our sins. Now, turn with me back to the Book of Isaiah, Isaiah 38:17. As you’re turning to it, let me make a couple of comments. God does forget our sins in a judicial sense, but we must always understand any one doctrine in light of all the other doctrines in the Bible, and especially what we call theology proper, which is the doctrine of God. Now, God is omniscient and God knows everything, and God knows the end from the beginning, and there is a sense of which God never forgets anything. Otherwise, we would know more than God knows. Otherwise, the Devil would know more than God knows if God just completely forgets everything and there’s gaps now in God’s knowledge. That would be destructive to the doctrine of God.
No, God knows everything immediately, eternally, comprehensively. God never grows in his knowledge of anything. God has never learned anything. God knows everything from eternity past eternally, comprehensively, and immediately, and we could add irrevocably. There is never a loss of knowledge on God’s part, so how do we square this with verses that say he will remember our sins no more? I can still remember being in class and hearing R.C. Sproul say theologians make great distinctions. There comes a time when theologians have to slice things very precisely and thinly and not just allow everything to remain in one large lump. As we come to answer this, we know that God forgets our sins. Let us remember that there is a sense in which God never forgets, because God eternally knows everything.
God forgets our sins in a judicial sense in that he no longer holds our sins against us. But let’s look at a few of these verses, Isaiah 38:17. At the end of that verse, we find recorded, “You have cast all my sins behind your back.” That is the idea. God no longer sees our sin. God no longer is holding them against us in a judicial sense. Romans 8:1 says, “There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And in Colossians too it says that all of our sins were nailed to the cross and Jesus bore our sins, and as our scapegoat he has taken them far, far away, Leviticus 16. So all of our sins are placed behind His back. Let me tell you, that’s more than good news –
Because each one of us individually have a Mount Everest of sins that are stacked up in the presence of the eyes of an all-seeing holy god. Now, let’s look at a couple more. Isaiah 43:25, this is a great verse. This is a verse – if you’re gonna memorize a verse, this would be on your list. “I – even I” – and the emphasis at the beginning of this verse is as if to say, okay, it’s one thing for another person to no longer hold your sins against you, but for God to say this, I, “even I am the one who wipes out your transgressions” – and please note why he does this. There’s a higher reason than for our sake. It’s for His sake. There’s a higher reason than even to deliver us from Hell, and it is that God would be glorified by the demonstration of the mercy and grace of His forgiveness. God is glorified as His attributes are put on display. He says, “I am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake.” For God to wipe them out, the idea is to cancel out the punishment that would come to us for our sins. Those have been absorbed by Christ himself upon the cross.
Christ bore our sins upon the tree. It became a curse for us, Galatians 3:13. Now, the end of verse 25, “And I will not remember your sins,” that’s the glory of the gospel right there, that God in a condemnation sense, God in a damnation sense will not remember our sins. He will not hold them against us. Come to Micah 7:19. Let me begin reading in verse 18. I’ll give you a moment to find Micah.
Micah 7:18, “Who is a god like you?” What distinguishes God as God? What makes God like every other so-called god, small G, that would be conjured up in the imagination of men’s minds? “Who is a god like you?” and the answer will now be that God is unlike the vain imaginations of any idolater who would imagine in his mind what God is like as he would create a god out of wood or stone and bow before it. This is what sets God apart. Now, there are other aspects of God that sets Him apart, but this is one of those aspects that God like no other god. “Who is a god like you who pardons inequity?” Every other religion, you’re gonna have to pay for it and you’re going to have to pay for it big time, and you may not even be able to pay for it in this entire lifetime. After you die, your loved ones may have to buy some indulgences to finally pay off all of your sin.
But our God pardons inequity, and the word pardon means to cancel out something – to just cancel out the condemnation upon us because of our sins. God just cleans the books and passes over the rebellious acts of the remnant of His possession. And to pass over means God does not visit with judgment. He just keeps passing over. He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. Now, verse 19, “He will again have compassion on us. He will tread our inequities under foot,” and that is an image of they are no longer before Him, and they are no longer directly in His view, and they are no longer crying out to Him for His vengeance. Now, he tramples them under His foot, meaning he defeats them. He tramples them under His feet. They no longer have in a sense condemning power against us. Yes, you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Now, in this day and time, if you were on a ship out in the middle of the Mediterranean or in a ship out in the Atlantic, and you’re on a ship and you had a silver coin, and somehow you were juggling it and lost control, and it went overboard, you’re never going to see that coin again. It’s going to go down to the very depths of the sea, and there is no way by which we can retrieve it. Now, today with modern technology obviously we went down to the Titanic and unearthed treasure, but back in this day and time when Micah recorded this, when something is cast into the depths of the see, it’s lost forever. It’s gone forever. It’s in no-man’s land. We’ll never see it. We’ll never hear from it. That’s what God has done with our sins in the gospel. He has just thrown them overboard and they have plunged down into the depths of the sea. We can’t see them. They will never be resurrected. They will never arise to cry out for our blood. That’s how full and complete is the forgiveness of God, and we’ve been talking about this with justification. Right? Justification by faith alone in Christ alone.
All of this is just another way of saying that God will not impute our sins against us. He has imputed them to Christ and he imputes the righteousness of God to us. We’re clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ. Now, with this question, this brother says – well, let me give you just a couple more verses. I used to do it at our church, and literally was a Q and an A. There would be one question and I would talk the rest of the time.
Hebrews 8:12, just for you to see this in the New Testament – and I know someone – there’s always someone trying to do an Enron deal on a hyper-dispensational thing. Well, that was the Old Testament, as if God is not the same God in the Old Testament as he is in the New Testament. Well, Hebrews 8:12, just so that we can see this, here again is a citation from the very same Micah passage. It still has shelf life. It’s still in effect in the New Testament. “For I will be merciful to their inequities and I will remember their sins no more.” It is crystal clear. Then in Chapter 10 – Hebrews 10:17 he quotes from Jeremiah 31:34, but the very same thing, “And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
It’s abundantly clear. The case is made. It’s irrefutable. There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. All sins past, present – someone will say, “Well, what about my future sins?” The answer to that is they were all future when Jesus died on the cross. They were – he died 2,000 years ago. I mean the whole thing of your life was future at that point. The rest of this question is, “But I know too we will be held accountable for our sins at the judgment.” The answer to that is only in a sense, and we wanna slice this very carefully. Turn to 2 Corinthians 5:10 and this passage on the judgment seat of Christ. Now, here’s what we need to understand, that every one of us as Christians will stand at the judgment. We will stand at the judgment seat of Christ and that is very clear, 2 Corinthians 5:10. There’s no hyper-grace going on here, that you can just live however you want to live and the slate is clean, and you’ll never have to give an account for anything.
Well, you’re living in a fantasy world. 2 Corinthians 5:10, we need to understand that there will be a final day of accountability for each and every one of us as we will individually, not collectively – individually stand before the Lord and render account for how we have invested our life in the service of Jesus Christ. What will be under review is not our sin, but our service. We will give an account to the Lord as a servant will answer to his master – not as a sinner will answer to a judge, but as a servant will answer to his master. The imagery here is of a large household and there is an owner of the house, a master of the house, and he has servants in the house, and he has given responsibilities to the different servants in the house. You’re responsible for this room, and you’re responsible for this room, and you’re responsible for the backyard, and there will be on the last day a review by the master of his servants.
How faithful were you to carry out the task that I assigned to you to do? And if you were just sitting around, sitting on a couch watching television, it’s going to be not the most pleasant experience when you answer to the Lord on the last day. And if you just spend all day every day playing golf and all day every day sitting at the beach, and all day every day – and you just thought, “I’m just trying to get out of as much work and even as much service to the Lord as I possibly can. I’ve done my part down at the church. It’s time for those young people to get involved now,” no, you’re gonna give an account on the last day for the investment of your time, your talent, and your treasure.
2 Corinthians 5:10 really brings this home. “For we” – now, just stop right there. Who’s the ‘we’? We must all. The context clearly indicates we’re talking to believers – about believers. The ‘we’ are the – is the same as the ‘us’ in verse five, the ‘we’ in verse seven, the ‘we’ in verse eight, the ‘we’ in verse nine. Context, context, context; location, location, location in Bible study. “Us who have received the Holy Spirit as a pledge; we who walk by faith and not by sight; we, who when we’re absent from the body, will be present with the Lord” – this same ‘we’ in verse 10 – “For we must” – note the necessity of it, the must – all, not just preachers, not just missionaries, not just elders. Every single believer who has received the deposit of the Holy Spirit and is walking by faith, we must all appear. And the idea here is more than just show up. It means to be unmasked and to be unveiled where there is total transparency and total vulnerability. The idea is really to appear naked, where everything is seen.
We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and the Greek word for judgment seat here is Bema, which was the center platform in the middle of the Olympic stadium, and after the race every participant would come and stand in front of the judges’ seat. Now, the one who came in last, they didn’t shoot them. They just simply didn’t receive an award – a medal or a crown. They were passed over. The one who ran the race according to the rules, and the one who gave – the one who buffeted his body and made it his slave, the one who exerted himself in this race – and when he appears before the Bema, he will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and he will be rewarded, and the stephanos, the crown will be placed upon his head.
Now, the good news is in this race of faith, none of us are competing against one another. It’s not just that there’s only one of us in this room who’s gonna win. The good news is we can all win in this race and none of us has to be passed over. In fact, I run my race better when you’re running your race better, and it makes me widen my stride and pick up my pace when I see you excelling in your Christian life. And when you’re just shuffling along, sometimes that can be a stumbling block to me and cause me to be tripped up. Or when you’re lukewarm, or when you’re just kind of preoccupied with things that are going on in the world, that has a tendency to suck me into that vacuum as well. But when you’re running with your eyes fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ with singular focus, that has an impact upon me and an influence upon me, and that’s why you need to be hanging out at a Bible study like this where you are with other red-hot believers, because it’s contagious.
Iron sharpens iron, and so one man another. And we spend time with others, but we’re trying to influence them. We don’t want them influencing us. We want – they’re the mission field, not us. We wanna influence them, but when we come together like this, there needs to be a cross-pollination. There needs to be an inner influence going on here that we encourage one another. And so the point I’m making is we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, just like at the end of the race at the Isthmian Games or the Olympic Games, and we’ll stand before the judge and give an account to him for how we ran the race.
Did you stay on track? Did you run the race I gave you to run? Or were you trying to run someone else’s race? Were you trying to be someone else and be like someone else? Each one of us in a sense has a very unique calling and a very unique race to run, and we have been placed strategically by God in a certain family, in a certain neighborhood, in a certain vocation, and we have to run the race that God has called us to run. And on the last day, this says we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. That day is looming on the horizon, and that day may be sooner than any of us realize, ’cause it will take place after the return of the Lord. After we’re caught up to meet the Lord in the air, there will be this great gathering of the judgment – at the judgment seat of Christ of believers. He now gives the reason in the middle of verse 10. Here’s why: so that – so this introduced the purpose – each one – and again, the emphasis upon each and every believer. This has got your name written on it – “so that each one may be recompensed – that means paid back according to what is due you – “for his deeds in the body.”
This has long gotten my attention that I just can’t kick back in the backseat of the Christian life and just be an automatic pilot and I just cruise the rest of the way. I’m gonna have to answer for the opportunities, for what God expected of me – and let’s face it: it’s even different in this room as well as those who are watching. Some have been given more – more opportunity, more training, more teaching, more giftedness, more IQ, more influence, more of a Christian home in being brought up than others. And unto whom much is given, the same shall be required. There is a certain accountability just even in being at this Bible study, of being entrusted with truth to be gassing your tank to run the Christian life.
He says, “So that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body,” and deeds here represent the choices you make, the steps you take, the path you follow, the words you speak, the shoulder you put to the plow, the ministry that you carry out. Note, “According to what he has done.” We are saved by grace. We’re judged by works. Saved by grace. Judged by works. And our works will be judged on the last day – not our sin, but our works. You and I are gonna wanna have some good works on the last day. In Ephesians 2:10, you know that text, says that God has foreordained good works for us to walk in, and He’s given us a proper amount of time to carry out those good works.
I you waste your time, you now have less time to do the works that God intended for you to do, so we have no time to waste. That does not mean there’s no place for recreation. That does not mean that you can’t sit and rest with your family and have down time, but it does mean that all that down time is for a purpose. It’s – recreation is to recreate you so that you’re back in the game with a fully-charged battery to run the race. The purpose of your life is not recreation. The purpose of recreation is to replenish and restore you to run the race that God has called you to run.
Please note at the end of verse 10, according to what he has done. So I’m going to have to give an account on what I’ve done. You’re going to give an account for what you’ve done. Now, the end of verse 10, “whether” – and he now makes a distinction, and there’s going to be a sorting-out on the last day of all of our works, and God’s going to – or Jesus is going to sort them out into one of two piles. “Whether good or” – it says bad. Now, the word bad here, it’s important that we understand this. The word bad often means worthless, not necessarily evil, because our sins have been taken away. But now that we’re in the race, what’s gonna be up for review? What of all of our works is good? And good refers to that which is eternal, spiritual, for the Kingdom of God, and let’s remember even loving your children and your wife is eternal and good and for the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t have to take place within the walls of the church, passing out bulletins. It’s whatever it is God calls you to do, and in your vocation to be honest and to be a man of integrity. That’s all a part of eternal and spiritual, and under the Lord. We’re to do our work as under the Lord, Colossians 3 and Ephesians 6.
Then there’s also this other pile, and I’ve got a lot of stuff in that pile, and it’s just worthless. It’s not evil. It just didn’t amount to anything. I mean it’s just cardboard. And Paul makes this distinction – if you’ll come back to 1 Corinthians 3- in verse 13, referring to this same judgment seat of Christ where we will stand, he said, “Each man’s work” – please note the word work. “Each man’s work will become evident” – it’ll be out in the open. The books will be opened – “for the day will show it.” And in this context, we’re talking about believers, and really specifically in this particular context, it is referring to those who preach the gospel, but the principles all apply to all believers – “for the day will show it,” and the day is the day. We know what the day is. It’s the day you stand before the Lord. It’s the day of the judgment seat of Christ – “because the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work;” not the quantity, the quality. Not how much, but what kind – “will test the quality of each man’s work.”
Please note again the emphasis upon ‘work’, your work for the Lord. Verse 14, “If any man’s work, which he has built on it,” and the ‘it’ refers to the foundation of Christ, verse 11 and verse 10, “you will receive a reward.” If, then he will receive a reward. In verse 15, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved.” So it’s not a loss of salvation. It’s a loss of reward through fire. What’s the distinction here between that which will not burn and that which does burn? Well, it’s the distinction between that which is good and that which is worthless. Go back up to verse 12 and we’ll see the distinction. Now, if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, all right, that’s one category. And let me tell you, gold, silver, and precious stones are not combustible objects. When they’re put into the fire, it actually refines them, and purifies them, and makes it even more pure, but it doesn’t melt it away. Then the second category – wood, hay, straw – that lines up with worthless. I mean when it’s put in the fire and just consumed. There’s nothing to show for it.
When we stand before the Lord on the last day, we have been saved by grace, but that does not negate the fact that we’ll be judged by works – not a judgment of whether we get into heaven or not – that’s already been settled – but a judgment of what were our works for the Lord. And grace doesn’t lull us to sleep. Grace is high-octane gas in our tank that fuels our service for the Lord. It motivates us to move out to witness to people, to talk to people, to do acts of grace, and love, and service for others. Carry the word of God to others. If you’re just sitting back, you don’t know grace. I wonder if you even have grace if you’re just sitting back and doing nothing, because faith without works is dead. That’s a zero with the edges trimmed off. No faith.
This question that Doug is asking that has kind of preoccupied me a bit, only because I know it’s preoccupying you, is – our sins have been forgiven. He’s cast them into the depths of the sea. He’s placed them behind His back. He remembers them no more. They’re covered in the blood of Christ. Hallelujah. What a Savior. But now that we’re in the game, don’t think that there won’t be a final accountability. There will be a final accountability, not as a sinner before a judge, but as a servant before his master. Did you carry out the chores I gave you to pick up your room, to work in the backyard, this and that? We will give an account to the Lord on the last day, so you’re going to want to invest what God has entrusted to you in the work and in the ministry of the Lord. And let me also say just going to work vocationally is a part of this. I don’t want to leave the impression that you have to leave your work, and go to seminary, and then go to Africa and be a missionary in order to run this race.
No. That would be the worst thing that could happen to your life if you’re not called by God to do this. I tell you many times what’s harder is to stay here and live it out with all the pressures, and temptations, and snares that are all around us to keep your eye on the prize and to keep pressing on to the upward call of God that is in Christ Jesus. But this truth that we’re talking about here, the judgment seat of Christ on the last day, this is a part of the Lord keeping the line tight with us to prevent us from being lulled to sleep a little bit with just the fact that our sins are forgiven. Yes, they are forgiven. Hear that loud and clear, but that simply now puts us into the race. And now that you’re in the race, you need to go for broke, whatever that looks like for your life, and it looks – it’s played out differently for each one of us. And for those of you who have little kids that are still at home, it look one way for you; and for those of you, your kids have already grown up and they’ve left home, it looks a little bit different for you. Those of you who are single, guys in this room that are not yet married, it looks a little bit different for you. Those of you who just got married last year, it looks a little bit different for you. Those of you who got married this year, it looks a little bit different.
We’re at different places in the race, but for God’s sake, go for broke and win the race, and capture the moment, and invest your life well. Now, your sins, which are eternally forgiven, does have some effect on how you run the race. Don’t ever have the impression that it really doesn’t matter – grace, it just is all forgiven and my sin won’t have any effect upon my endurance, the clarity of making decisions, my joy, my spiritual stamina, my strength. No. Sin does have an effect upon how we run the race. It doesn’t put us out of the race and it’s not held against us, but it does have an effect. I would never want to leave the impression with you men that my sin, though it is forgiven, just has no effect upon how I live my Christian life. Of course it has an effect upon your Christian life. I mean it can take the wind out of your sails.
You want to look at David? Just take David. Just take Moses. And what effect did their sin have upon their running the race that the Lord had set before them? You want to talk about Sapphira – Ananias and Sapphira? You wanna talk about some of the Corinthians who just didn’t show up to the Lord’s supper, because they’re now in heaven because they weren’t really running the race as they should’ve been running? I think we’ve made the point, and I’ve got a stack of questions here and I’ve only gotten through the first one, but I think it’s worth driving this stake into the ground. Now, let me just open it up for comment from you men, just even on what we’ve talked about, not – don’t take us to another playing field, but what we’ve just talked about here. Let me just open it up for your thoughts, feedback, questions, a comment.
Audience: I think part of that gets to the root of what Paul talks about later in Romans, that shall we sin that grace may abound. And his point is absolutely not, and that’s the unbelievers’ thought is that, well, if I become Christian, then I can just sin with impunity, because everything past, present, and future’s been resolved. That’s a complete strawman. That’s like saying I could treat my wife with contempt, because she’s always gonna love me. No one would ever think that. That’s a – anyway, no normal husband would ever think that. And so –
And no true Christian’s going to think that.
Audience: Yeah, so you’re getting to the root of the issue, that though we’re forgiven past, present, and future justified positionally, we still are now in the game practically living out a life that God’s called us to.
Audience: I think you nailed it. We have a responsibility to use our time, talents, and treasures for His glory. And I love the way you put it: we’re not running against each other; we’re encouraging each other and our stride is increased by looking to our brothers who are also – and sisters who are also running the race. And the fact that we can cause others to stumble not just in our family, but our friends and those in the body – I think it was well said.
Yeah, no. Amen. Thank you. And you know there are so many today who just wanna
look back at their justification.
Audience: Who are stuck in justification.
Who are just stuck in justification. They can’t get out of justification. It’s as if there’s no Romans 6, 7, and 8. I mean they just are stuck in Romans 3, 4 and 5 and can’t get past that. And the entirety of my Christian life is just always looking back over my shoulder and checking to make sure that the justification – yeah, no, it’s there. It’s irrevocable, and it is a continual cause for us to worship God and give praise to God, but it too – there’s more to it than that. You’re just one-dimensional in your Christian thinking. There’s too many more layers that need to be added of depth to your Christian living and motivation. Anyone else, ’cause I’ve got a cross-reference here if no one else has got something?
Audience: I think that –
Audience: You were talking about this the other day. When you read about the Pharisees – someone is teaching about the Pharisees, you’re like, “Man, those guys, and they’re wrong.” So we agree that there are people that are stuck in their ways and they’re not doing anything, so I guess that for us here what is relevant is what am I doing in my family, with my kids, and my circle of influence? How am I using my talents? Because I agree, everybody else has problems, but the road is going to ask me about my issue. So that’s what I’ve been thinking all this time is it’s an encouragement to go out and do. Am I doing it enough? It is, and it’s – I think this should be a self-reflection for each and every one of us.
Audience: What am I doing for the Lord? What if He took me home today? What would He say? So it’s very convicting. It has to be very convicting. And if it’s not, you have a problem.
Yeah, yeah. We need to feel this conviction and really challenge to our own hearts and motivation. Absolutely. And when we show up on the last day, we’re not going to say, “Well, Lord, what about him?
Audience: Yeah, exactly.
“Look at those Pharisees over there. What about them?” No, no, no, it’s gonna be one-on-one, Jesus and me and my life. And how have I captured the opportunities and the moments in front of me? How have I said no to certain things so that I can say yes to the right things? And also it’s a matter of good, better, and best. I mean have I really sold out for what’s best? Or have I just settled for what’s good? And it’s been said before: sometimes the greatest enemy of the best is the good. Am I really going for the best in my life? Gold, silver, and previous stones: there is almost the idea of a grading here. Gold, the best; silver, good – good, better – or better; and then previous stones, best. So yeah, no, that’s spot on, Allen. Someone else?
Audience: See, I like what you said about – it may not be our calling to move to Africa or go to Samaria and we elevate some of these – what is very visible. I think it was Michael Horton that talked about really what is your heart when you’re watching the dishes?
Audience: It’s just that that’s practical stuff.
Audience: It’s the practical stuff. It’s like how you go to work today and how you do it in the – how you live your life with Christ in the mundane.
Audience: Not always the visible. It’s so much of the inward and your heart.
No, thank you for reemphasizing that.
Audience: And I would encourage you to wash the dishes.
Audience: [Inaudible comment]. Not for your wife.
Audience: As a young believer, when the Lord uses men in our lives, we want to emulate those men.
Yeah, yeah, sure.
Audience: We want to be – but you said we’re each accountable for – the church is one body made up of a foot, an ear, a nose, an eye. We each have a different responsibility.
Audience: And that’s why the race is individual.
Audience: That’s why we’re not measured against somebody else, because the Lord has given us a specific talent and a role to fulfill.
Audience: And I think as a young believer, it takes a while to figure that out, because we wanna be like somebody else.
Audience: But the Lord hasn’t called us to be anything but what He’s called us to. You cited Ephesians 2:10, loving the doctrines of sovereign rights, knowing that we’re saved by race alone, not of works, we often get stuck in Ephesians 2:8 and 2:9, and we stop before – and you made the statement, getting into the game.
Audience: We stop before we get to 2:10, whereas workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that He’s prepared beforehand that we would walk in them, that we would fulfill them.
Audience: And that’s a microcosm of the Christian life.
Amen. Totally true. Mark, thank you for reestablishing that in our thinking here. Someone else?
Audience: You had a question from the –
Does it relate to this?
Audience: Yes, it does.
Okay. All right. Sure.
Audience: Caleb Cunningham asks, “What will happen if our works are worthless, but we are still saved by grace?”
Yeah, you’ll suffer loss of reward. And it’s 2 John – it could be 3 John talks about losing a reward. Like you start the race well in your 20s, but somehow you left the focus and the mission in your 30s. I mean it’s possible to have been positioned to win, to gain a reward, but then to lose it as well, because you don’t finish strong. You don’t finish well. So that’s just a loss of reward. And I think the silence will be deafening in that day, longing to hear the approbation of Christ. So –
Audience: There was a related question. Somebody _____ – they didn’t send their name, but they asked, “What is your opinion on what is the reward and what is the loss?”
Okay. That’s a great question. The reward would be in various aspects. One is just the mere recognition. I mean can you imagine anything greater than that, than just for Christ to call your name out and to hand you the reward? I mean He could hand me a tin cup and you would think it was a Tiffany’s trophy. But it’s the giver of the reward, not so much the reward itself. It’s the mere fact that it comes from Christ’s nail-pierced hand on the last day and the recognition that you have maximized what was entrusted to you. Second, it’s not only the recognition, but there will be responsibilities in heaven. None of us are going to just be laying back on a cloud and angels just dropping grapes in our mouth from now throughout, that doesn’t sound like heaven to me. A part of being made in the image of God is a proper sense of doing something for God, or working for God. That’s a part of being made in the image of God, and the pleasure that is derived from doing a job well. There is an inner sense of satisfaction, rightly so, that we derive from being given an assignment from the Lord and I do a turnkey job and I carry it out with faithfulness.
You remember in Chariots of Fire that great line, “When I run, I feel His pleasure when I do what God has entrusted me to do, whatever the arena.” So many times there is a sense of pleasure that I derive from that, and I think that in heaven there will be responsibilities given to us to serve the Lord, to glorify God. What that is and how that works out, I do not know, but the veil has just been temporarily pulled back enough to have little glimpses. And we’re not going to be just sitting around. There will be tasks to carry out that we will derive multiplied pleasure, intensified pleasure, exponential pleasure from serving the Lord. And the greater your faithfulness in this life, you will be given greater responsibility in the life to come. Right now does matter forever, and those who are unfaithful here will be given less responsibility there. You’re going to want to widen your stride and push to the finish, and pump your arms, and pick up your knees, and lean forward, because it does have an effect.
And I see on the clock that there’s a few minutes. Turn to Luke 19 just real quick. Luke 19 and I can wrap this up I think with this last cross-reference. I’m gonna go ahead while you’re looking for it. Luke 19:12, “So he said: ‘A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself and then return.'” Well, this nobleman is the nobleman. It is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The Lord Jesus Christ went to a distant country. This refers to His ascension back to the right hand of God the Father to receive the Kingdom. All authority in heaven and Earth has been given unto me and then return. Well, that return is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, so we get it. “And he called 10 of his slaves and gave them 10 minas,” and a mina is like a measure of coinage. It’s equal to about 100 days’ wages. “And he said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.'” Don’t sit on it. Invest it. Put it out there. Get a rate of return. Do business with this capital that I have put into your hand. But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us.”
It refers to the nation of Israel rising up and putting him to death and crucifying him. When he returned, verse 15, after receiving the Kingdom, he ordered that these slaves to whom he had given the money be called to him so that he might know what business had they done. They first appeared saying, ‘Master, your mina has made 10 minas more.'” It was shrewdly, carefully invested. We could just say it represents time, talent, treasure. “And he said to them, ‘Well done, good slave. Because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be an authority over 10 cities,'” and this is after the return of the king. What that looks like for us? I have no idea. This is a parable, but the idea is if you’re faithful here with a little, you will be given much responsibility in the kingdom to come. Verse 18, “The second came saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.'” It was invested, just not as strategically, just not as judicially – judiciously, not as shrewdly, not as wisely, maybe not as sacrificially. “And he said to him also, ‘So you’re to be over five cities.'” Not as much responsibility, not as much recognition, not as much reward. “
Another came saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief.'” In other words, I didn’t invest it. I didn’t do business with it. I was passive. I was inactive. I was just a spectator of everyone else doing business. You gave me 10 minas and I literally hid it in the ground, did nothing with it. There’s no rate of return. There’s no ROI, return on investment, because I didn’t do any business. There was no activity. Verse 21, “For I was afraid of you.” This is an initial indication that this slave never knew the Lord. This was just someone in the church, just someone who’s a spectator of the Christian life, someone who never got in the game, because you’re an exacting man. You take up, but you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow. I mean there is almost – there’s a condemning tone to his voice. I mean who are you to talk to the nobleman like this? I don’t think you know the nobleman. I don’t think you know how gracious and good he’s been to you, and how kind and forgiving he’s been to you. You speak as a man who doesn’t know him.
Verse 22, “He said to him, ‘By your own words, I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you not know that I am an exacting man taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank? You could have at least gotten two percent return. And having come, I would have collected it with interest.’ Then he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has 10 minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Master, he has 10 minas already.’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given. But to the one who does not have, even what he does have will be taken away from him.'” Whoa. Verse 27, “‘But these'” – watch this – “‘enemies of mine'” – see, this is an unsaved man. You’re in church, but you’re just a bump on the log, quite frankly. But these enemies of mine – and you know what? You know the vocabulary. You sing the hymns. You sound so good. And sometimes you even throw your weight around in the church. You don’t know the Lord.
“‘These enemies of mine who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence,'” period, close quote, damnation. That’s an incredible parable, and we’ll end with this parable. So the nobleman has gone off to receive a kingdom, and I want you to know he’s coming back, and he’s coming back than any one of us have a clue. When he comes back, we’re going to stand before him. And for those of us who are true believers, it’s gonna be a day of an accounting, a day of accountability. And some of us in this room will get 10 minas, and some of us in this room will be – I mean be given 10 cities, and some of us in this room will be given five cities. Some of us in this room will be given three, or two, or one. And it may be the total reverse of what we might think, and it really may be a precious widow lady who never stands in the pulpit to preach and who’s sitting on the eighth row, but she’s the prayer warrior in the church, and she’s not a gossip, and she is about doing good deed, and she’s serving the Lord, and she’s such a godly influence on her grandchildren. She may be the one who gets the 10 cities, because she maxed out with what the Lord entrusted to her, and there’s gonna be some big-shot preachers who are gonna be given a quarter of a city, because they just were kind of going through the motions of Mr. Big Talk. But there’s also gonna be some people – passive spectators sitting on it, not in the game, not doing anything to serve the Lord, just picking apart other people – on that last day it’ll come out you were enemies of mine, and I want them slayed before my very eyes.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. How are you investing your life? How are you running this race? Because to be justified by the Lord in Christ alone ought to be like a rocket shot to propel us into living the Christian life and serving the Lord, and in no way would that ever create any passivity within us. Well, I wanna say thank you for those who are watching around the world and wherever you are. Send us your questions. I know I only answered one of them, but that’s just kind of the way it goes. All right. We’ll address some of these other questions. I’ve got some great other questions, but next time we’ll be back in the book of Romans, so let me just close in a word of prayer.
Father, thank you for this opportunity to be together. A stewardship is entrusted to us as these truths have been made known to us, and I pray for me, I pray for all of the men here and everyone watching on this Livestream. Lord, fuel our faith. Enlarge our heart that we might run the race you have set before us. Thank you for the forgiveness of our sins, but now fuel our faith to move forward. In Christ’s name, amen.
© 2019 Steven J. Lawson