By Tom Sirotnak
There is a judgment day coming – a day when God will judge the thoughts and intentions of men’s hearts. This is the thing that scares so many people. We don’t want to look at death, we don’t want to think about the day we have to die. This is a very terrifying prospect for someone who doesn’t know Christ.
The reality of the matter is that death is just the doorway to eternal life for the Christian. It says that where there is perfect love, where the love of Christ has penetrated our hearts and perfected our hearts in love, there remains no fear. But the one is fearful who hasn’t been perfected in that love or who still has sin in his life.
Each of us has an eternal spirit. If you are alive, there is a spirit inside of you that is eternal and when you die that spirit goes to one of two places. It will eternally with God in heaven or live eternally with the devil in hell. When we depart this earthly shell of a body, what is going to happen to it? It is going to go into the ground and rot. This body is just going to be shed like old skin, but our spirits are eternal.
We look around in the ’90s and see people who think they are too cool for Christianity, they think they are just too cool for subjects like heaven and hell, like it’s a big fictional story. The Bible clearly states in Hebrews 9:27, “In as much as it is appointed for men to die once, then comes the judgment.”
There is no second chance. There is no grace in saying, “Well God, I didn’t know,” or as you hear all the time on campuses, “Well when I die and stand before Him, He will give me a second chance.”
He’s going to say, “I came to you while you were on earth. I came and I preached and shared and said ‘follow Me’ while you were on the earth. You said, ‘Hey God, I don’t have time. Depart from me.’” When you stand before that Judgment Seat of Christ, He will look at you and say, “Now it’s time for you to depart from Me.”
The Judgment Seat of Christ is not only a thing which will bring terror to the sinner, but it will bring much joy to the Christian. Not only are there going to be judgments dealt out of retribution of hell, but there is going to be the judgment seat for the Christian. Each person will be judged by his works, the Bible says.
There is going to be great judgment of reward that God is going to give to those who are diligently serving Him, that aren’t cowering back to fear, peer pressure and man-pleasing. God is going to say, “Hey, you may have lost your life here on this earth, or you may have lost your recognition, but look at all I have given you compared to what you gave. Your rewards are going to be very rich. You are going to wear a crown on your head. I have an eternal weight of glory for you.”
He charges us in the Bible, “What does it profit a man to gain the entire world but lose his soul?” What is all the money and fame in the world going to do for him? When you come to the end of yourself, you realize that your goodness, your deeds or morality is nothing compared to what God can do for you. To be saved, you have to get to the end of your rope. You must call out to God and say, “God, You’ve got to change me.”
In the courts of ancient Greece, there were steps that would lead up to a platform where the accused or the defenders would go up and stand before the assembly of people. The judgment seat denotes a raised place or a platform reached by steps. That was the place where your defense was made. So we all, one day, must stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Either He will appear as an advocate for you before the Father, or he will say, “I never knew you.”
The days of our lives are like stepping stones by which we walk up to the final platform, and stand before the Judge of heaven and earth. We all take daily steps leading up to the final judgment. At that appointed time we will stand before Jesus, and He will look at our deeds, good and bad. God is going to look into the depths of our hearts to find out what is really there.
Most of us can say, “I’m basically good, I’m basically moral and kind.” What you are doing is comparing yourself to other human beings. For example, if you have Jack the Ripper on one end and Mary Poppins on the other, you may say, “I’m not as bad as Jack, but I’m not quite as good as Mary, I’m somewhere over there in that 75% bracket, basically good.” What you have done is compared one level of human righteousness to another, but God has a standard of holiness, perfection and sinlessness.
You may be good and moral, but the Bible says that human righteousness is as filthy rags compared to the high standard of God. It’s like three people standing at the Grand Canyon who are having a contest to see who can jump to the other side. I can take a flying leap with my blazing speed and maybe I might make it 40 yards. The next guy might make 100 yards. And then the world champion record holder makes 220 yards. But the bottom line is that none of use would make it across the Grand Canyon. All three of us would splat like bugs on the canyon floor. So what if one jumped farther? He still fell short! If you have sin in your life, even if it’s just a little sin, you are still short of the kingdom of God and you are going to splat.
The Bible says that the sting of death is sin. Romans 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven and all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth and righteousness.” Men generally know what is right and wrong, they have a conscience, but they suppress that conscience until it is suffocated and doesn’t respond anymore to what is sin.
The consequences of sin is death – spiritual death. God doesn’t delight in sending anybody to hell. God doesn’t delight in our punishment. He wishes that none should perish, but that all would come to eternal life. A sinful man can never come into the presence of a holy God, not even for a single second. If God allowed a sinful person to come into His kingdom, it wouldn’t be a perfect place anymore.
We are not punished for our sins, but by them, just like the little boy who wants to stick his finger in a light socket after his father told him not to. It’s not that his father told him ‘no’ because he hates him; but because as a consequence of his action, he’s going to fry. In the same way, as a consequence of sin, you will die.
There are moral laws that govern the universe. If you break those laws, you are going to die. If you walk off of a cliff you will fall because of the law of gravity. In the same way, if you break God’s moral law, you’re going to fall. Everyone looks at God’s moral laws in one way or another. Some look for divine guidance; others for a moral code; but most people are looking for loopholes, escape clauses. They don’t want to have to face the reality that the consequences of sin is death.
So many times we hear just one side of the coin. We hear, “God is a God of love.” But I can’t always preach a love, love, love message. God is love, but He is also equally just. God cannot override His justice. God is 100% love, but He is equally 100% just. His justice has to prevail. When there is sin, sin demands to be punished. If there is any type of dilemma that God could have, this is it. Being a loving God He wants us to be with Him in heaven. Being a just God, He must punish us if there is sin in our lives. He must judge sin even though He wants all people to be with Him in heaven.
Jesus Christ solved that dilemma. Being a loving God who wants us to be with Him, He came to provide the substitute. God sent His Son to the cross to die and He took whoever believed on Him and saved them from sin. If you believe and ask Jesus to come into your heart, He will be your substitute. Where the wages of sin is death, where each of us should have busted hell wide open, this Jesus served the sentence for us. He paid the consequences for our sin.
“Yes, I am coming quickly.”
- Revelation 22:20
HERE JESUS IS SAYING: “Trust Me, I’ll be back.” But how can we be acquitted from eternal termination? How can we escape the judgment of God? Four Bible verses describe so clearly how to escape the wrath of God.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“By this the love of God is perfected in us that we may have confidence in the day of judgment” (1 John 4:17).
“For there is one God and one mediator also between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5).
“Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now commanding that all men everywhere should repent because He has fixed the day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30,31).
God said there is one mediator between God and man. There is only one man who can bridge that gap between frail, fallible, fallen man and this perfect and holy God: the man Christ Jesus. God sets before you two gates, one narrow, which few are travelling on; the other is wide but its end is destruction. Sin is only pleasurable for a season. The end result is death. Sin is stupid. It is one of the highest forms of insanity.
God says to each one of us, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” You may think that you are on the wide road of success, partying, fun and living for yourself and no constraints, “Oh, I’m on the wide road, this is so much fun!” But the end of it is the sting of death. There is a judgment day coming. Narrow is the road that leads to life and few are finding it.
In Matthew 25, Jesus says that He is coming back one day. On that day He is going to separate the sheep from the goats: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all of the angels with Him then He will sit on His glorious throne and all of the nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate one from another as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. And the King will say to those on the right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the foundation of the world…. Then He will also say to those who are on the left, ‘Depart from Me you cursed ones into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…. And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The lake of fire was not created for you as a human being; it was created for the devil and his angels. You were created to worship God, to serve him, to please Him and to have abundant life in Him. But if you rebel and resist the hand of God; if you are disobedient to His calling; if you want to run your own life and do your own thing; if you say, “God, get out of my face!” – then the only place out of the presence of God is hell. You will choose it and send yourself there because you rejected God. Jesus is saying: “You bid me away from your presence while on earth, and now I bid you from mine. Depart from me you worker of iniquity.”
In hell there is no satisfaction, no memory of good, no grace, no mercy, no peace, no life, no goodness, no hope of acquittal because God won’t be found there. With all these things adding up to what it means to refuse Jesus Christ, what makes you think you are going to stand up? If your life is full of sin, you don’t even have the remotest chance of making it into heaven.
In that moment He is going to look at you and say, “Depart from Me, you worker of iniquity.” In that moment in time, hell is going to begin. You will be fully conscious, you will be suffering the fullness of pain, there will be no relief in sight. You will cry out for mercy, there will be none. You will cry out for death, but death won’t relieve you. Because of the nature of sin – sin taking its natural course – you are going to continue to blaspheme God, taking you on a downward spiral path to greater depths of condemnation. There is no hope of acquittal, only eternal termination.
Jesus Christ came to give life. What it means to receive Christ is that you will have life, joy, peace, and the power of God. You will be changed into the image of Jesus. You will be able to lead a life of victory, no longer enslaved to those demonic spirits and desires any longer. Death, where is your sting? You have a promise of eternal life awaiting you if you will only believe.
If you know that you need to get right with God, if you know that Jesus is not the Lord of your life, that you are living for yourself and doing your own thing – or that you are only serving Him halfheartedly, or even only 90% – then repent and turn to Him. Don’t refuse Jesus Christ! And don’t let His last words to you be: “Hasta la vista … baby!”
If you need to repent, a prayer like this is appropriate: “Dear Lord Jesus, I stand before you today and I repent of my sins, I ask that you would wash me in your blood which will cleanse my conscience, my mind and heart that I may serve you in purity and truth. No longer will I let sin dominate areas of my life because Jesus has given me a spirit of victory to conquer all sin. I am under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, sin shall not be master over me. Thank you Jesus, I am free from the guilt of sin. In the name of Jesus, amen!”