Seven Big Events on God’s Calendar for Earth: #2 The Judgment of Believers The Bema Seat
March 26, 2012
By: John Barnett
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What will matter when you stand alone right in front of Jesus? What do you wish to have in your hands to give to the One who loved you and gave Himself for you? What ever that is – that is what we need to live for TODAY!
Tonight will you come with me to that Throne? Will you let the Holy Scriptures transport you out of this world and into God’s?
Remember What Heaven Will Be Like?
First, ANGELS capture our attention.
These countless white robed angels standing like living walls of pure white robes rising in circular rings reflecting the light of God. They rise and fall to the sounds of the four creatures crisscrossing the expanse on the four corners of the Throne. They move as one – falling down on their faces as they speak the wonders of God’s Glory.
Revelation 5:11 "Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne,"
Next, the FLOOR if it can be called that, is an ocean of completely clear and reflective glass.
In this crystal sea we can see all the colors, lights and objects are reflected and amplified.
Revelation 4:5 "And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal."
Then we see, central to Heaven is the THRONE OF GOD.
Daniel 7:9-10 “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. . . ”
Then the BURNING ONES, that is what seraphim means, capture our focus. These Four Living Creatures always face the Throne of God:
Revelation 4:6-8 "Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
Then we see a CIRCLE just beyond the burning pillars of fire, and the four living creatures that surround God’s Throne--made up of 24 SMALL THRONES seated with white robed celestial men.
Revelation 4:4: “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.”
Are you ready this evening to appear before Christ's Throne? The Throne we will appear before was described by the Apostle Paul in several places, none is clearer than 2nd Corinthians 5:10. Turn there with me as we begin this evening.
When we take pilgrims to Greece, the most moving spot of all is in the city of Ancient Corinth. I have seen travelers who were just tourists the whole trip until they reached that spot. And there beneath the raised stone platform called in Greek the bema suddenly the awesomeness of the moment overtakes them and they see themselves at a future day standing at Christ's Throne. Often tears, often deep silence – and always reverence fills each one as the scene unfolds before their eyes.
Are you ready?
What will matter when you stand alone right in front of Jesus?
What do you wish to have in your hands to give to the One who loved you and gave Himself for you?
How do we measure what counts in Heaven and what doesn’t?
One sobering warning about Heaven is from Pastor Jan David Hettinga in his 1996 book entitled Follow Me. There he lists three terrible dangers that can rob anyone of finishing well and earning Christ's well done. These three areas should concern all of us who seek Christ's full rewards in Heaven. He says:
1. Beware of the sins of old age: lust for comfort and convenience, greed for recognition and covetousness for security. The sins of old age can erase Christ's well done. Remember Solomon.
2. Beware of the problem of exceptionism: it makes me think my life is an exception to God’s Word. Thus I can excuse myself from doing anything for Heaven because of my past, or my pain, or my poverty, or my poor self-image. The problem of exceptionism can erase Christ's well done. Remember Ananias and Saphira.
3. Beware of the unmortified pockets of pride: allowing these pockets to grow and not be dealt with. It can make me proud of my intellect, or proud of my achievements, or proud of my giftedness, or even proud of my goodness. Pockets of pride in my life can erase Christ's well done. Remember Lot.
To avoid these dangers and to help us get ready for Christ's well done in Heaven, listen carefully with me to Jesus. He maps out a life that will win His well done.
These lessons have to do with what you want to hear one second after you die. Have you started to dream about winning the ultimate prize, which is hearing Christ's words "Well done good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of your Master’s Home!”
Lets start our study as we turn to Matthew 25:14-30. We will focus on verses 21, 23. Jesus asks us to DREAM ABOUT WINNING THE ULTIMATE PRIZE!
JESUS SAYS WELL DONE WHEN HE SEES US DREAM ABOUT WINNING CHRIST’S WELL DONE GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT AS THE ULTIMATE PRIZE OF ALL OF LIFE.
Matthew 25:21-23" His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 23 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’"
JESUS SAYS WELL DONE WHEN HE SEES US SEEK TO BE THE GREATEST CHRISTLIKE SERVANT. Matthew 20:20-28
Matthew 20:20-28 "Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. 21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” 22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” 23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Cecil Northcott in Famous Life Decisions tells that when the great Japanese saint Toyohiko Kagawa first came into contact with Christianity, he felt its fascination, until one day the cry burst from him: “O God, make me like Christ.”
To be like Christ he went to live in the slums, even though he himself was suffering from tuberculosis. It seemed the last place on earth to which a man in his condition should have gone. He went to live in a six foot by six hut in a Tokyo slum.
On his first night he was asked to share his bed with a man suffering from contagious itch. That was a test of his faith. Would he go back on his point of no return? No. He welcomed his bed-fellow. Then a beggar asked for his shirt and got it. Next day he was back for Kagawa’s coat and trousers, and got them too. Kagawa was left standing in a ragged old kimono.
The slum dwellers of Tokyo laughed at him, but they came to respect him. He stood in the driving rain to preach, coughing all the time. 'God is love,’ he shouted. ‘God is love. Where love is, there is God.’ He often fell down exhausted, and the rough men of the slums carried him gently back to his hut.”
Kagawa himself wrote: “God dwells among the lowliest of men. He sits on the dust heap among the prison convicts. He stands with the juvenile delinquents. He is there with the beggars. He is among the sick, he stands with the unemployed. Therefore let him who would meet God visit the prison cell before going to the temple. Before he goes to Church let him visit the hospital. Before he reads his Bible let him help the beggar.”
Therein is greatness. The world may assess a man’s greatness by the number of people whom he controls and who are at his beck and call; or by his intellectual standing and his academic eminence; or by the number of committees of which he is a member; or by the size of his bank balance and the material possessions which he has amassed; but in the assessment of Jesus Christ these things are irrelevant. His assessment is quite simply—how many people has he helped?
JESUS SAYS WELL DONE WHEN HE SEES US Loving TO Sacrifice FOR HIM through OUR Financial Generosity
Luke 21:1-4 "And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
This is what Christ's words in Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
The key is NOW. Don’t wait, be sure while you have something you can sacrifice, you sacrifice it! May I remind you we live in uncertain times? Let me quote from history and warn you that a day may lie ahead when OUR DOLLARS DIE:
“Germany lay in ruins. Millions of refugees wandered the streets in German cities amid the rubble of bombed-out buildings and disheveled streets. Years would be necessary to rebuild. The memory of Adolph Hitler would never be forgotten.
Willard Cantelon, in his book The Day the Dollar Dies, recounts the story of a little German mother who wanted to assist the building of a Bible school on the outskirts of the destroyed city of Frankfurt. She held her money with pride and tenderness, as though it was a part of her very life. She had earned this money with hard work and had constantly guarded it in the war's destructive years. Now "she was investing it in a worthy cause and beamed with pride as she offered her contribution”. “
“Cantelon continues, "How could I tell her she had held this money too long? Why did it fall my lot to shock this sensitive soul with the news that her money was virtually worthless? Why had she not read the morning paper, or heard the announcement that the new government in Bonn had cancelled this currency?" That Sunday in June of 1948, a staggering number of Germans committed suicide. Millions lost their savings because the mark had been canceled by their government. If only they had exchanged their money for something that would survive the economic collapse! If this dear lady-bless her-had brought her money sooner, those marks could have helped pay for the renovation of the facilities or the tuition of students. Too bad that she had to hear those disappointing words, "Madam, I'm awfully sorry , but I cannot accept your money. "
Someday, every dollar, every piece of gold, and every jewel will be devalued, wiped out forever. Peter wrote: "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).
“So much for Wall Street. Good-bye to stocks, bonds, property, and gold. Good-bye to houses, condos, and cars. The wise investor will put his money in a place that will bring the greatest dividends for the longest time. We cannot take dollars and Krugerrands with us unless we transmute them into something that will bridge the gap between earth and heaven. On a wall in a New York rescue mission there are these lines:
Angels from their realms on High
Look down on us with wondrous eye
That where we are but passing guests
We build such strong and solid nests
But where we hope to dwell for aye
We scarce take heed one stone to lay.”
JESUS SAYS WELL DONE WHEN HE SEES US Loving Trials AS WE JoyfulLY Accept Injustice
Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
1 Peter 2:19 "For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully."
JESUS SAYS WELL DONE WHEN HE SEES US Loving Strangers through OUR PRACTICE OF Biblical Hospitality
Matthew 10:40-41 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward."
Matthew 18:5 "Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me."
Matthew 25:40-45 "And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ 44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’"
Remember the insight from an outsider looking at the early church by the name of Aristides? This is his note to the Emperor Hadrian in AD 155: Now the Christians, O King… if there is among them a man that is poor and needy, and they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food. For Christ’s sake they are ready to lay down their lives.
JESUS SAYS WELL DONE WHEN HE SEES US Loving to restrain our flesh by seeking the Spiritual Disciplines. We are rewarded by the person whose praise we seek; prayer, fasting, scripture memory and so on.
Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. "
We have reared a generation of strong-willed, belligerent, independent young men and women. Surrender is not a word in their vocabulary. Too bad, since it is the key that unlocks the vault of God’s best and deepest treasures. He patiently waits for us to yield, to quit fighting Him, to allow His plan to run its course, to turn to Him for our security and significance. As He witnesses our doing that, he begins to reveal Himself and His will in greater depth.
JESUS SAYS WELL DONE WHEN HE SEES US Loving our lot in life through Faithfulness in Our Vocation. Put yourself in a time machine and go back two thousand years and imagine that you are one of the millions of slaves in the Roman Empire. You have no rights, no chance for a promotion, no court of appeals. To such, Paul wrote that they should serve their masters and they would serve Christ.
Colossians 3:22-24 "Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
"Philippians 2:8-9 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
1 Peter 5:6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. "