Summary: A look at three things the Bible says will impact the severity with which God judges a person.
A TRUTH FOR EVERYONE: Let’s begin by establishing that everyone gets judged by God.
- Those who have accepted Christ will be judged for rewards; those who have not accepted Christ will be judged for their sin. But everyone faces a moment of standing before God.
- That’s a gigantic truth because it’s a future appointment for all of us. It is a certainty that we will face this.
- Given that reality, we want to understand as much as we can about it. And so this morning I want to talk about one part of being ready for the judgment.
A BIG QUESTION: What has God said will make the judgment harder or easier?
- Let me say up front what this sermon is not about: that we are saved by grace through faith. We receive the sacrifice of Christ on the cross through His grace that comes to us by our faith in Him. That is obviously the most important thing in general when it comes to final judgment. We want to be saved, not lost! That’s a crucial subject worthy of our attention, but that is not our subject for today.
- Instead, what I want to do is talk about, within each of those judgments, what makes the judgment of God harder or easier? There are passages that give us some indications, so let’s look at them.
1. Seeing evidence of God’s power.
- We read in Matthew 10:14-15 a moment ago the words about it being more bearable for Sodom in that Day of Judgment. That, of course, means that it will be a harsher judgment. As you look back at v. 8, you see that the disciples were being sent out to, among other things, do miracles. I’m going to say that in a broader way: they were showing evidence of God’s power.
- We see something similar in Matthew 11:21, 23 when it speaks of the miracles. Verses 22, 24 speak of it being more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, another mention of a harsher judgment.
- Why is that true?
- I think it’s because seeing evidence of God’s power makes us aware that there is a power greater than us.
a. When we see a miracle.
b. When we see an incredible coincidence.
c. When we see a changed life.
2. How clearly you understand God’s message.
- In Matthew 10:7, we see that the disciples were to preach the gospel. They were letting people know that the Kingdom of Heaven was near.
- The more that we know about who God is and what His revelation is, the more responsibility we bear. It’s a privilege to know God’s message, but it’s also a responsibility.
- The good news of Jesus is much greater than we could have hoped for. It is a great gift to hear how great God’s love for us is.
3. Taking on spiritual authority.
- John 9:35-41 speaks to taking on spiritual authority and then not living it out. There is a stricter judgment for those who claimed to be religious experts.
- In James 3:1, the writer speaks of a stricter judgment for those who are teachers. In that case, those who are in spiritual leadership within a church need to understand that taking that on not only provides a chance for greater reward, but also brings a stricter judgment. Why? Because people are looking to you as a spiritual leader and when you fail in that it will hurt even more people.
A QUESTION FOR THE CHRISTIAN: How would it change your life if you understood that you are a steward?
- Look at Matthew 25:14-15 as an example. And this is the “well done, good and faithful servant” parable.
- A steward is someone who manages something that belongs to someone else. As Christians, that’s the situation that we are in. Everything that we have ultimately belongs to Jesus and we are responsible to Him for it. We’ve not been given our time, talents, or money to just go do whatever we want with them. We were “bought at a price” and are expected to serve Christ.
- The big stewardship idea to understand is this: you are responsible for what’s been entrusted to you.
- How do the three earlier points play into that?
a. When you’ve seen God’s power, you’re responsible to use that to increase your faith and the results that God can bring through someone of great faith.