Summary: A look at our how our judgment is partially dependent on how much we knew, whether we're a Christian or non-Christian.
MORE THAN HEARING: How much we’ve heard impacts how much God expects of us.
- Verse 13 brings out an interesting phrase: “because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.”
- Paul there acknowledges that part of God’s great mercy to him was prefaced on his lack of a true understanding of what Jesus was offering and who Jesus was.
- God showed mercy to Paul in part because of his ignorance.
- In this message, I want to talk about that principle of how what we know impacts what God expects of us.
FOR THE UNSAVED: How much they’ve heard of the gospel impacts the severity of their judgment.
- To have heard the gospel and understood what was being offered from God puts you in a worse judgment than the one who had a vague notion of God but never heard the specifics of the Good News.
- In John 15:22, that truth is shared.
FOR THE HYPOCRITICAL CHRISTIAN: Claiming they know God will increase the severity of their judgment.
- Not everyone who goes to church is a Christian. Not everyone who claims to love God is a Christian.
- Jesus condemned the Pharisees (who were extremely religious) as being far from God.
- Today there are so many people who claim a vague love of God. Sadly, it’s not usually reflected in any change in their lives. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, many will hear Jesus say that He doesn’t know them.
- Those claiming to know God will be judged more severely than those claiming no faith.
- In John 9:41, Jesus shares this truth.
- Reading Mark recently, a phrase in 12:40 jumped out to me: “greater condemnation.”
- There are degrees of punishment, whatever specifically that looks like in hell. These who had claimed to be God’s representatives and then failed to live out His truth will receive a greater punishment.
- This makes a point that is remarkable and worthy of quiet pondering. There are those who have spent their whole adult lives in church who will not only not be in heaven, but who will receive a greater than average condemnation and punishment from God. Wow. What shock in that moment. What a turn of events.
- It should make us attentive to our motives and to the truth to make sure we don’t just have an outward image of a life of faith, but that we are truly living out a path of following Jesus. The consequence of getting that wrong is not just a slightly smaller reward – it’s a total reversal of what you think is coming.
FOR THE TRULY SAVED: The more we’ve been given, the more is expected of us.
- to whom much is given much is expected.
- Not all Christians down through history will be judged equally. God will take into consideration not only inherent things like our intelligence and our family background, but also the larger scope of the things that were given to us.
- When we’ve been given much, we need to appreciate that more will be expected of us.
- An example:
- I had the chance to go to college. I grew up in a solid two-parent household. I don’t have any major sicknesses that I’m struggling with right now.
- Compare that to the person who grew up in a dysfunctional home and struggles with a dead-end job while also enduring ongoing pain from rheumatoid arthritis.
- Does God expect more fruitfulness out of me? Yes. . . and He should. I have been given more so more should be expected of me.
- This is a statement that could be easily misunderstood, but in this limited sense is true: this “more-is-expected” truth reveals a way that God judges on a scale.
- What I mean by that is that in considering rewards that we’ll receive, He factors in what was entrusted to us and how much we were given.
- There may be a poor widow who is extraordinarily faithful, loving, and fruitful with the small amount that she was entrusted who will be rewarded more greatly at Final Judgment than the gifted pastor who is faithful and sees 1,500 saved in the course of his forty-year ministry. If she was more faithful with the little she had, she should be rewarded more.
- This is one reason we should not judge. We can’t fully see how much each has been given to work with. There are many hidden scars and a lot of hidden abilities and resources.
- Scars: we don’t know what debilitating hurts people are carrying with them that make it harder for them to live fruitfully for God. (Examples: depression; sexual abuse.)