The End of the Road
By Phil Winfield
Bible Text: Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-22
Preached on: Sunday, May 23, 2004
Grace Church of Des Moines, IA
4200 E. 25th Street
Des Moines, IA 50317
Online Sermons: http://gracehome.sermonaudio.com
Take your Bibles if you would, please, and turn to the book of Hebrews chapter nine. We are going to read this brief verse of Scripture, Hebrews chapter nine and verse number 27. It says:
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Key in on that verse 27. “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” The King James Version says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
We are going to talk about that tonight, the end of the road.
Now how many of you remember your first days at school when you were a kid, you remember something about it? If I were to come to you, you could tell me some details of your first days at school. Just raise them up there.
Boy, I can’t. I didn’t go to school till the first grade. No kindergarten for me. I was too interested in bugs and mosquitoes and frogs and jumping off car bumpers. I just… I don’t think my mother could have gotten me to school when I was five or now I guess they go when they are as young as four or even younger than that sometimes. But I went in the first grade.
It was quite an amiable situation. I enjoyed it way back in September of 1963 was my incursion into the world of education. That’s when I got started. My mother took me to school for the first day. That was the last time she took me to school.
It was curious that she also showed me that this is the walking path home. And that’s how you get there and here is how you get home. Use those two legs and you will be walking.
I used to think it was so far that I walked to school. I thought I would never get home. I thought I would never get there every day.
I went back not long ago with my family to show them where I lived and how far I had to walk to school. It as two tenths of a mile. I thought it was around the world when I was a little kid, but anyway I remember going to school. And it was something. I don’t know how my mother knew everything and everyone, but she introduced me to Lurlene Martin who was the… She was the principal of the little West Haven Elementary School where I went to school and then she went right in and introduced me to Mrs. Lane.
I knew things were going… I was going to have problems when she knew everybody there. She knew all the teachers, everybody. I knew there was going to be a problem.
So, but anyway, when she introduced me to Mrs. Lane I fell in love. That was the first time I ever fell in love outside my own family in my life. This woman was just something. She was so beautiful and so pretty and so nice. She had two feet of hair piled up on top of her head. You remember those hairdos, I mean one of the beehive deals. It was way… I thought that was the greatest thing. And she was so nice.
I went to school that day. I had three fat pencils. How many of you remember the fat pencils? Three fat pencils, crayons, jumbo pad and a pair of blunt study scissors, you know, the little blunt nosed scissors? I had those. I was ready.
Things were great. Lunch was great. Recess was great. Using all my new school stuff was great and I was ready for a great experience at West Haven Elementary School in Whitehaven, Tennessee.
What a dirty trick it was for my teacher, Mrs. Lane, to actually start taking notes on everything that I did. Apparently she was doing that with everybody in the class because one day she gave us a big tan envelope and told us to go home and give it to our mothers. I didn’t know the problems and pain in the posterior that that little envelope was going to cause for me and literally did cause for me.
You know when I got back to school after taking that little envelope home I never looked at Mrs. Lane again. In fact, I didn’t even like her big tall hairdo anymore. I couldn’t stand that lady. She was in cahoots with my parents and they were working together on getting me to sit still in class and to actually learn all those little squigglies that she was putting up on the chalkboard.
Do you remember chalk boards? I mean we actually used to have those things. And she was keeping a systematic record of all of my doings at West Haven School from 7:30 AM to 2:30 PM. That was when we went to school when I was going to school, 7:30 to… Did anybody go to school early like that besides me? I mean 7:30 to 2:30, that’s when you went to school and five days a week and little Philip Winfield (that was me) could rack up lots of offenses in a short time and it was amazing the swift justice that took place at home once my mother would converse… Whenever… Somehow she found out. The phone would ring and somebody would talk and the next thing you know I had been caught misbehaving again and my mom would talk to my dad and the next thing you know I was getting the board of education applied to the seat of learning. No diplomacy, no excuses, no recourse. And, boy, it worked. They got my attention and all of the sudden I understood that those report cards were very important and whatever was on them I really needed to work hard to make whatever was on them make my mother happy so that I wouldn’t get those problems when I got home.
Somebody would say, “Well, how cruel.”
Well, I want you to know it was a wonderful day in our nation when teachers and parents were honorable and both had the interest of child at heart. That was a wonderful day. And it can be a wonderful day today and I don’t mean to throw light against teachers today because there are many wonderful teachers. We have many in our church here that are doing everything within their power to instill character and good morals into the children that they teach. But we have a system that has become rotten at the roots.
And I learned to respect those little report cards. They can be a tremendous source of blessing or cursing, especially on that one little line that was at the bottom of that report card every year, every six weeks. We had six week reporting periods. Every six weeks a little line at the bottom, a word that I didn’t know until I got to first grade. It was that little word “conduct.” That was only thing on there important to me. As long as my conduct… My mother would look there first. She didn’t care about anything else. She said, “You may not be a genius, but you can behave.” And she would look right down at the bottom of that thing and she said, “You can sit still in class. You can do what that teacher says. And if nothing else you can behave.”
And, boy, I learned to appreciate that word “conduct, behavior, deportment.” I looked up synonyms. Man, I knew all kinds of words. I got to get this right.
Well, I want you to know that many people are living their lives today as if there was no one to answer to, there were no God and that they are just going to go out of existence when they come to the end of their life and they are never going to have to be held accountable. I want you to know, you and I, all of us, everyone, all mankind is on a road to the end of history of human life and human habitation of this world. When we get to that point we will—now you listen to me—we will stand before God. There is a person who is God. He has a Son. His name is Jesus. His Spirit lives in the lives of those people who have given themselves to him. You know it. I know it. The world knows it, but they are willingly ignorant of the facts.
One of the greatest motivations for fit free living, unbridled personal freedom in the world is this idea—or at least hope or aspiration—that there is no judgment, no one to answer to, no accountability.
And, by the way, I want to just throw this in because I am not going to be able to include it in the sermon that I get to on evolution, but I want to mention this. That is the reason that so many push so hard to affirm a now defunct, unscientific idea called evolution.
You say, “Why is that, pastor? Why is it so appealing to so many people?”
Because if I am the product of chance then I have no judgment to fear.
But I want to tell you that we are not the product of chance. We are the product of a person that said, “Let there be life and there was life,” and light and everything else.
Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment.”
I have been talking to you for several weeks about the road ahead, sharing what the Bible predicts about the future. If you are just checking in on some of these sermons—they are available on CD and on cassette also—I can actually give you print outs of the entire sermon if you would like them to study. You can certainly do that.
But I have been talking about this and we have looked at the sign posts along the road to the end. We have talked about the millions that will vanish from the road at the rapture. We have talked about the king of the road or the antichrist or the beast, if you will, that will be around during that seven year period of trouble and trial in this world called the tribulation. We spent time talking about what life will be like on the road living under the rule of the antichrist and later that reincarnated antichrist when his deadly wound to his head kills him. And I believe that he will be in a mock resurrection and have it that a dead man inhabited by Satan himself. And we talked about that.
Last week we talked about peace on the road, the millennium and what it is going to be like when Jesus rules in this world.
And now we come to the fact of all human history, that all of human history has been pointing to, toward a day of reckoning, a day of judgment of all men.
And someone will no doubt is going to say here tonight—and if you are our guest and if someone invited you to come—you maybe say, “Well, you know what, pastor? I don’t like the idea of a God of judgment.”
Well, I want you to know, then, that there can be no God of love then. If you do not like the God that judges evil there cannot be a God of love who loves what is good. You can’t love life if you don’t loathe death. You can’t love flowers if you don’t despise the weeds. And you can’t love health if you don’t look at disease as an enemy.
There is an up and there is a down. There is an in and there is an out. There is a forward, there is a backward. There is a right and there is a wrong. Opposites prove. Opposites tell us in common sense that God is going to judge and that he is a God of judgment as a God of love, not to mention how many hundreds of times in the Scriptures he has declared that he is going to judge this world and judge all of its inhabitants.
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”
The Hindus and many of its spin off eastern cults will say that judgment is continual. Yes, there is judgment, but it is called reincarnation. And we need many lives to get it right. In fact, many are living lives and are suffering so much in the life that they are living because of a previous life and they just couldn’t get it right. Why, these poor children that are on the streets there of Calcutta and other places of the world that the rich and the upper class and the caste system can walk by, are only carrying out their karma. They are only carrying out what they should carry out because of what they did in the past lives. They are being punished. They may have been an animal, an elephant. They may have been a crocodile, a flea. They may have been who knows what? And because of that this judgment is continual.
They think we need many lives to get it right. We live a while as a man, then an animal, then a flea, then a woman. Let me just stop and say one other thought. As I studied for these sermons that are coming up in the month of June I am not going to use this either, but I will throw it in here tonight. Reincarnation handles homosexuality in a very unique and interesting way. Lesbianism, homosexuality, you know how reincarnation answers that?
Well, that’s easy to understand. In your past life if you are a woman, if you are a woman in your past life you were probably a man and the transition between the two, you are having hauntings from your past life and you can’t really decide what you are and how you should function. If you are a man in some life in the past you were probably a woman and as a woman and a man transitioning between the two, the hauntings and the echo of what your life was before is causing you trouble and you just can’t come to grips with what you are today. It is a punishment, they say, and you are going through it. Interesting.
Then we go around again as an eagle and so on. We keep suffering for past mistakes until we finally get it right or at the end we end up being in the upper caste system in India and finally go to go on to what is called nirvana or, really, divine nothingness as they are absorbed into the great it, the great existence, the great source. And you just are absorbed and you cease to be. There is a great goal in life, just to really go toward nothingness. They believe this.
It makes a nice fairy tale, has nothing to do with the truth. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, once to die…” There is your answer to reincarnation. What does the Bible say? [?] how many times to die? Once to die and after this the judgment.
Mankind is inextricably headed toward two things in that verse, death. It is an appointment that we all keep. Judgment, all will be judged.
Now, lest you fear, those of you that known Jesus, there will be a judgment of believers and later a judgment of unbelievers. Believers to be judged about how they will be rewarded or how they will suffer loss for lives wasted, but not according to their position in the family of God or whether they are going to go to heaven. But unbelievers, not to see whether they are going to heaven or hell, but to understand and find out what their punishment will be like.
Turn in your Bibles if you would to Revelation chapter 20. I am going to read one of the most awesome and most unbelievable and the most earth shaking passages of Scripture in the entire Bible as it describes the end of the road, Revelation chapter 20 and verse number 11. We read from chapter 20 down through verse number 10 last week and we talked about the thousand years. And this week we are going to talk about something else beginning at verse number 11. We are going to talk about the road ahead.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades [or hell] were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
If you would like to underline that in your Bible it is very important.
The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Jump to chapter 21, if you would, and verse number 27. “[No] impure [thing] will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
These are some of the most awesome verses in the entire Bible. The Lord Jesus Christ is going to come and we have covered this. He is going to come for his children according to the Bible in the rapture. There will be a period of time on earth known as the great tribulation. The Lord Jesus will return once again to this earth with his own. There will be a great battle followed by a time of peace like the world has never seen, 1000 years.
At the end of those 1000 years Satan is released for a short time. There is a, once again, the revelation of the evil heart of man as we talked about last week, men who have lived 1000 years under the righteous rule of Christ with hardly any disease, any sickness, no rationing, no lack of food, no lack of water, no lack of righteousness, no need for policemen in the streets, no need. I mean it is 1000 years of the most unbelievable peace that the world could ever imagine. But at the end of that time there will be those who during that time have decided they don’t like this strict ruler down in Jerusalem. They don’t like the way he handles things. Their freedom of expression has been totally curtailed. They can’t say what they think, do what they think. They have to just follow in line, follow after this righteous ruler. He is ruling with a rod of iron, you know. And so we have to do what he says.
And at that time there will be one last battle. Because of the evil heart of man a usurper comes back up out of the abyss and says, “Hey, I know you don’t want to be told what to do. Follow me.” And great hordes of people, once again, turn to Satan. And then they gather for a quick and final battle where they are destroyed by the brightness of his coming. The sword goes out of his mouth.
Then we find something else here. We find the end of the road. We find a judgment. We find this in Revelation chapter 20 verses 11 to 15.
The first thing I want you to see tonight is I want to talk about these people that are going to be there as rejecters. Just write that word down. The rejecters’ reunion. I want you to see the rejecters’ reunion, the get together. Who are these rejecters?
In Revelation chapter 20 there I am struck as I look at the verses and I see the repetition of death. Underline the words “dead” and “death” as we read.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead [underline that], great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death [underline that] and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
No less than seven times: dead, dead, dead, death, dead, death and death. It sounds kind of morbid. It sounds kind of terminal. It is.
Who are these rejecters? Who are these? Well, these are the dead. They are all the dead.
“Now, be careful, pastor,” I am sure somebody is saying, “You know that you church people, you believers in all of this stuff, you die as well.”
Well, yes we do die, but the death march of the believer is totally different than the death march of an unbeliever. We are all marching toward death. We were born on the road to death. Now we experience life. We get stronger. We look like we are going to make a stand, but as time goes by each and every one of us gets old because of sin that started in garden and we begin this death march. We all head toward death.
But the death of a believer, the death of one that knows the Lord, the death of one that has Jesus Christ in his own heart as his personal Savior is totally different.
Let me give you a few instances of why we know it is different. First of all his death is like sleep. Now you are not going to be able to keep up with me by turning in your Bibles, but you can write the references down. 1 Thessalonians chapter four and verse 13.
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
“Pastor Phil, do you believe in soul sleep?”
No. I just believe that death is like sleep to when a believer goes off into the Lord’s presence. It is not some tragic… it is not some horror.
I had a Christian not long ago said they just didn’t know what they were going to do and they didn’t know that they were going to handle it that God had been so cruel to them in taking their mother.
“How old was your mother?”
Well, we are all headed toward death. And I want everybody to get it straight. God is not punishing anyone by allowing all of the natural things of life to happen and death is an appointment that we will keep, some younger, some older, but we will keep that appointment. But for a Christian, for those that truly know the Lord death is like sleep.
His death, as well, is precious to God. The Bible says, write this passage, Psalm 116:15. It says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”
God looks down on the death of those saints as precious. He thinks of their life. He thinks of their pain. He thinks of what suffering their family might be going through. You remember what Jesus did. Jesus couldn’t even attend a funeral. You couldn’t have a funeral with Jesus present. If Jesus attended a funeral they had to break the thing up because he would just raise the dead person. He didn’t like death and he eliminates.
And so death is that way. Death is just like a shuttle bus to go to glory for a believer.
You see, Lazarus was taken by the angels to heaven and the shuttle bus drivers were angels. That’s the way it is.
A believer never really dies, in fact. Listen to John 11:25. Write the reference down. “Jesus said too her,” speaking to Martha when her brother Lazarus had died. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”
Get that. You are going to live even though you die.
Now I want to say something to you tonight. Those of you that you feel the aches and pains of life. Things are getting more difficult. You are getting older. You know that you are nearer the gate than you were a few years ago. You have gone over the hump. You know that you have less time before you than you have behind you. I want to say something to you. “He that believes in me,” Jesus said, “will live even if he dies.”
You are facing life. You are not facing death. You are facing eternity with him. You are not facing eternity without him. These are the great hopes of the faith. This is what we believe. This is what God’s Word says “And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.” 1 John 2:25. This is our hope is that as we near death, death is but a doorway. It is a shuttle bus to heaven and it is different for the believer and the believer never really dies. “And whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
He asked her. “Do you believe this?” You see that was the key. Martha, do you believe? Not: Martha, are you strong? Not: Martha, are you faithful? Not: Martha, do you attend church? Not: Martha, have you been baptized? Not: Martha, have you given to the church? Not: Martha, have you helped old people across the street?
No, no, no. He said, “Martha, do you believe?”
And I want to tell you tonight that the most important thing, the most important message that I could tell you or you could tell anyone. You should tell them that you must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. You must put your faith and trust in him. You must not come with works. You must not come with human efforts. You must not come with your own deeds. You come to the Lord and say, “Just as I am, worthless as I am. I believe that you died for me and that you are going to raise me from the dead because I put my faith in you. I believe.”
And whoever believes on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. It is so clear. Luke 16:22. When Lazarus died he was carried by angels into Abraham’s side. Jesus said when he was contending with the Sadducees that he was not the God of the dead, but of the living. He is a living God of living people. He talked about Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. He said, “I am not a God over a grave yard. I am a God over living people.” And Jesus said, “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, those who have gone on centuries before. They are alive.”
And I want you to know that that is what death is like for a believer. So belief in Jesus is a key to a life that never runs out. How precious.
But the dead, oh, these are the ones standing here in this place. These are the dead. So the death march for the believer can indeed be a blessing, but the horrible experience of a person who dies outside the Lord Jesus, oh it cannot be described with words.
I read the story of Voltaire who declared in his lifetime that he would stamp out the use of the Bible in Europe and he was going to start it in France. Today they print Bibles in the house where he lived. Voltaire, the infidel when he came to die, he died with such shrieks and blasphemies that the nurses who attended him ran in horror from his room and he died screeching and screaming. He went out into eternity. That doesn’t sound like falling on sleep. It doesn’t sound like taking the shuttle bus to heaven. This is what happened when Voltaire… And I could go on with so many stories. The dead.
These are the dead. They end up here. These are the dead, small and great.
You say, “What does that mean, pastor? I see that in the verse.”
We know from other verses in the Bible that this will be the unsaved dead. There is going to be a resurrection of unsaved people. All of the unsaved people are going to be resurrected. Naked bodies will be reunited with naked souls. The unsaved small are going to be, the hard hearted, the world pleasers. When it says the small and great I don’t know exactly what that means, but I have many, many things that I could share. The hard hearted people, those whose hearts were hard and they didn’t want to receive the Word of God, the world pleasers, those that were more interested in pleasing the crowd than listening to the Lord. The materialists, those more in love with the things around them than the things that are above, those that were just going on about their business of living on the road of life as if it would go on forever.
Who are these small people? 2 Peter talks about them. It says that there is a group that said, “Where is the promise of his coming? Everything continues as it always has.” They said a bird in the hand is much better than two in the bush. They said they thought they had had their pie here on the ground while they are still around and not wait for the pie in the sky for when they die. They just said, “We’ll just take it now.” And these are the people who were living in the world.
They may not be mean people. They may not be hateful people. They may not be murderous people or thieves or God haters. They are just unconcerned and they are hooked by this world. They are the small.
Then there are the unsaved great. Who are these people? These are those who sinned in horrible, grotesque ways. These are those that made a profession of it and led others to do so like Ahab who led Israel for the first time into Baal worship, like Jeroboam I who caused Israel to sin and he set up calves to represent God and he got their hearts away from the true and living God, like Manasseh who led all of Israel there outside of Jerusalem especially in the valley of Hinnom there as he led them to set up a great god called Molech, the despicable god of Ammon that this great molten God that was a great round figure and sat on hinges and they would heat him up to an unbelievable temperature and bring their little children and throw their children. And the drums would beat and their screams would go up and they would throw their children and pray back that great god Molech and they would fall down into the fire. These are the great sinners like Hitler that killed 50 million people, like Stalin who did away with half of an entire nation, the men of his nation, like 1000 rock stars that sell their souls to the devil to get rich in return for leading a parade of young people to hell, like the world wide affliction of drug producers and dealers and rat slingers that glorify the whole drug culture.
You say, “Pastor, you are coming down.”
I am telling you that the sinners small and great are going to be there and the books are going to be opened. It is going to happen like that. The great will be there. They will always be there. There will be no blasphemy in that day. There is not going to be any unbelief. They will all know who Jesus is. There will be no doubters. Everyone will be a believer that day. There won’t be any bragging about the fact that there is no God. You won’t hear any of them say that there is not going to be any judgment. You are not going to hear any one of them say that there is no hell. You are not going to hear any of them sing and imagine if there is no heaven, imagine if there is no hell. No, they are not going to be singing that at that time.
And all through the millennium the heavenly Father has been holding back his wrath and now he is holding forth his mercy even in the moment that we are living, living in a day of grace where he extends forth his mercy. But the day of wrath and judgment will come and this is that day.
“So where is this judgment, pastor?”
Well, it is before a great white throne. Verse 11. What a chilling scene. Let me read it to you. “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.” What a chilling scene.
A great white throne. It is great because it is world wide in scope. It envelopes all sinners. It is called because it represents the awesome purity and holiness of the one that sits there and of the judgment that is going to go forth. And it is a place of judgment.
And somebody is going to ask, “Well, pastor, is that God the Father that is sitting on the throne that is meting out judgment?”
Absolutely not. It is Jesus Christ.
“You mean Jesus the kind, the lowly, the meek, the one who is the friend of sinners, the one who for sinners was slain? You mean he is going to judge? Why I thought Jesus was so full of love.”
You know he came meek like a lamb the first time. He is coming powerful like a lion the second time. Make sure that you understand that he is the lion of the tribe of Judah and he is going to come back in power and great splendor. Praise God that Jesus is the one that is going to be judged.
You say, “Pastor, how do you know that?”
Listen to John five and verse 21. Listen of you would.
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no-one.
Listen to God’s Word. “The Father judges no-one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.”
You see, the one that took the whippings, the one that took the nailings, the one that took all of the mockery and blasphemy, the one that took all of the hatred of mankind, the one who became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God. He is the one that is going to judge. He is the one. Jesus will judge the world.
One of the great passages of Scripture that you may have never thought of that talks about this Acts 17 and verse 30. It says:
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
And who is this man he has appointed? He who he has appointed is Jesus Christ his own Son and the assurance of justice, the assurance of judgment in this world is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You can’t have a dead judge sitting on the throne. No. He is alive. God raised his Son Jesus from the dead and Jesus himself, the Bible says, will judge this world in righteousness. And those who stand at the great white throne judgment will recognize him immediately.
In fact, when Jesus comes back at the end of the tribulation period, before they begin the millennium, when he comes back with the clouds with great splendor, the Bible says every eye is going to see him right then. It says that everyone is going to see him and they are going to know who he is. They are going to recognize him whom they have pierced.
Well, it is going to even be more obvious at this great white throne as they stand before him. They will recognize him. They will immediately know that he is the Lord Jesus. What a wonderful sight for believers to see the face of the Lord. How glorious it will be when you and I look at him.
How many of you saw the passion? I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to bow before his face and thank him. I can’t wait to kiss those feet that were driven with the nails. I can’t wait to touch his side. I cant’ wait to tell him I love him. I can’t wait to look in those eyes of mercy.
But I want you to know that is not the face that you are going to see. What a glorious thing to look in the face of Jesus for a believer. But it is going to be an altogether different thing on this day when the unsaved stand before him. They will be terrified by that face. They will stand there and see the face, the awesome face of Jesus Christ with eyes like flames of fire. His entire being is burning as a fire inapproacble and they are going stand before him.
The wicked dead will know Jesus because of the Calvary cuts on his body. I think they will think about all the times they blasphemed his name. Maybe they will think about those times that they laughed and scorned and mocked the name of Jesus by using his name as a byword or to emphasize a thought.
Have you ever seen a time when they took Jesus Christ as a byword or a curse word like they do today? They use his name as if it were some sort of curse word.
They are going to think about those things. They will no doubt remember every gospel tract that they ignored. They will remember every witness that they scorned and they will think about every Christian that they belittled and they will think about every opportunity to come to Christ that they spurned.
Look at that passage of Scripture in verse 11. It says the earth and sky fled from his presence, no place for them to turn, no place for them to hide, nothing to get behind.
Take your Bibles and turn back to Revelation chapter six if you would, Revelation chapter six verse 15. We read this last week. This is at his coming. This is when he is coming to judge this world and this world’s system. It says, “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave…”
You say, “Wait a minute. How many judgments are there?”
Well, this is a judgment on the entire world itself, the cosmos, the way things are, the way things work, the way people are, the way this system of hate and rape. This is the judgment on this world.
“And every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.”
Man may not have come out of a cave, but he is going back to a cave and everybody is going to become religious. They wouldn’t worship Jesus, but they will worship and pray to the rocks to fall on them.
They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
Well, they will be standing in Revelation chapter 20 verse 11. Oh, yes. They are going to be suspended there some kind of way between who knows what out in the middle of nowhere where God sets his judgment. There is nowhere to hide. There is no sky. There is no cloud to get behind. There is no bush. There is no cave. There is not anywhere to hide, nothing but to stand before this awesome sight of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords sitting on the throne and sitting in justice, sitting in judgment.
There, face to face with the Lord what a day that will be.
Who are these rejecters? Who are these people? 2 Thessalonians chapter two and verse 10 says they perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved. They just simply reject it, the truth.
Now I want you to look at something else in here. I want you to look at the rejecter’s record. What is his record? You remember I started by talking about how they were keeping records on me when I was in the first grade. Well, I want you to know God is keeping records and he has been keeping records all the way through time. There is this idea of books that we see here. The passage says the books were opened. Later it says the dead were judged out of the books. God is keeping books.
You say, “Pastor, what kind of books is God keeping?”
Well, for everyone he is keeping the book of your life. Psalm 139 verse 15 and 16:
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Why there is the book of your life. God knows all about you. He has been writing all the time. Proverbs says the hand of the Lord writeth all the time. Proverbs 15:3 says, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro in the whole earth.” God is everywhere. He sees everything we do.
There is the book of your life and then there is the book of remembrance. Oh, Christian. Believer here tonight, I want you to know that those hours of difficulty and hardship and heartache that you have had, when you have gone through long nights at hospitals, where you have stood by graves, God is watching.
A book of remembrance, Malachi chapter three and verse 16. “Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard.” Oh, listen. You want to get a smile. You want to get God’s attention? Have a small group in your home and talk with each other about the Lord. He loves that. You want to get God’s attention? Then go to work and when it is break time find yourself a table. Get out a New Testament and read it and talk about God’s Word and share your love for the Lord with one another because God loves it when his people talk about him. He loves that.
Look at what it says.
Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honoured his name. “They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.
His precious possession. God loves it and he writes a book of remembrance about you. Psalm 56:8 says, “Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll— are they not in your record?”
And all of the tears and all of the heartache and all of the difficulty and all of the problems and everything you have been through have not been gone through alone in the first place and, second, they have not gone through without notice. They have not gone through without God watching. Whatever trial, whatever temptation, whatever struggle, he has written it down in his book.
In another translation it says, “Are not all of your tears in a bottle or [?]” which is a flask. It was a flask for perfume. A [?] was a perfume flask. And so all of his tears that fell out, he captured them in a bottle and he thought they were your… He… For him they were perfume.
Whenever you were weeping, whenever you were calling out to him your prayers are that way. The Bible says in Revelation that your prayers are like incense when you call out to him in anguish of heart. And the Bible says he is near to that person who is contrite. He is near to that person who is of a broken heart.
And so when we weep and when we cry and we go through the gristmill of life he is there. He writes it down. There is a book of remembrance.
Then there is something else. And, oh, this is so heavy. There is a book of your works. For the Christian Romans 14:12 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 tell us that every one of us will give an account of himself to God for the deeds done in the body whether good or evil. That is going to happen for the Christian.
But then it goes on. We will have to understand that in the passage here in verse 12 it is no longer talking about Christians. “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.” Drop down. “The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”
Every idle word and every idle thought and every idle deed. And here we are told that that day books are going to be open and everyone is going to be judged according to their works. Salvation is according to faith, but judgment is according to works. You understand that. No one in this auditorium tonight that claims the name of Jesus, that has put their faith and trust in Jesus, none of you are going to be judged according to your works for salvation. But these people are going to be judged according to their works for punishment.
Judgment will be according to works. Everything a person has ever done will come up on the day of judgment. Memories will come alive in those days. Long forgotten sins you will remember in that day. Things you did in school will come up in memory in that day. Things you did on the job that were wrong will come up in that day. Things you did at home, things you did that no one knew, all the secret things are going to come up.
Ecclesiastes 12 says, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
The Bible says in Romans 2:16 that, “This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ,” Paul speaking, “as my gospel declares.”
Think about it. Things that went on in the back seat of cars, things that went on at drive ins. They are going to be revealed at that day.
You say, “Nobody saw me do that.”
Oh, you have got to be kidding. God saw everything. And he recorded it in his books, things you did on a business trip your wife never knew about it. It is going to be revealed on that day. The Bible says all things are naked and open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do. It will all come out in those days. God is keeping a record. It is all in the books. And you know how much can be stored on one little three and a half inch floppy disk, the amount of information, how many one liners of your life can be stored there.
You say, “Has God got some big computer?”
Yes, it is called your brain. And God is going to push the buttons on your brain and on your life and on your memory that you never even knew that you had and all the sudden every single thought, every idle word, every deed is going to play before you as if you were seeing it on a DVD large screen down at some theater.
Imagine when God taps your mind for the memories.
You say, “Oh, pastor. Is that going to happen to me?”
Are you a believer in Jesus Christ? Isn’t it a wonderful thing to know that if you put your faith and trust in Jesus he just turn that part of the mechanism off. He is never going to bring that up for accusation for you. He is never going to say to those things that you have confessed and he has forgiven, for those of us that know the Lord Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are not even going to be standing here in this judgment, much less be up to have the whole world see all those things that we have done.
Oh praise God for his forgiveness.
And then there is another book. Well, this book is called the book of life. This is the one. This is the big book, the book of life. It says in verse 15, “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
“Pastor, do you believe in a literal hell?”
Yes. I do.
You say, “Pastor, why do you believe in a literal hell?”
Because I believe in a literal heaven and I believe in literal water and literal sand and literal earth and literal food and literal words. And I believe in literal life and literal everlasting life. I believe when God speaks in common sense we ought not to seek any other sense. Anything else is nonsense and God says there is a lake that is made of fire.
“Well, that just doesn’t enter into our 21st century thinking.”
It doesn’t matter. God was along before the centuries… was here before the centuries began and what he says is true and all of what science says, falsely so called, is going to fall like so much ash on a windy day whenever God sets the record straight.
The Bible says they are going to be thrown into the lake of fire.
21:27. This book is called the Lamb’s book of life. It is the record of every person who has received the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior. If you have received the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior then your name is in this book. That is why we know that at the great white throne judgment there will be no saved people there because no one who is at the great white throne judgment has their name in the book. It will be all lost people.
It says their name is not going to be written in that book until all the evidence is in, every work that they have ever done to determine what degree or how horrible the punishment, but I want to tell you that I wouldn’t make reservations in any portion of hell. I wouldn’t make reservations in any portion of the desert. And I certainly would make no reservations in any portion of hell.
The evidence is in.
You say, “Pastor, how do you get your name in this Lamb’s book of life? And how can you get rid of all that evidence against you?”
The Bible says in 1 John 1:7, very simple that the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.
You say, “You guys preach about death. You preach about hell or about heaven and love. You preach about a bloody gospel. You preach about blood and about crucifixion and about all the… and about how somebody had to die for my sin. Well, I just don’t like that bloody gospel. We need something that is just a little more palatable for the 21st century mind.”
What the 21st century mind needs is a bended knee and a humble heart to fall down before the Lord and recognize that we are sinners and nothing but the blood of Jesus washes away our sins. Jesus can wash our sins away.
Then I want you to see, finally, the rejection of these rejecters. Jews and Gentiles made sport of rejecting Christ while he was here on earth and now 20 centuries of rejecters have lived and died. It is sentence time. It is time for a verdict to come in. It is time for the day of judgment to come to its climax.
What is the verdict going to be? The dead of the past and the present, they have resurrected.
You say, “Pastor, you mean all of those that have already died and gone off into suffering are actually going to be brought…?”
Oh, yes. How horrible will that be? They have been in this place of suffering who knows how long. Some for centuries, some for decades, some for moments. But they are drawn right back up out and put in some sort of a body, stood before the Lord there to hear him say, “Your name is not in the book. That was just a taste of what is to come. Depart from me. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
The dead of the past, present, the recent dead are present. They appear to hear the sentence. And the Bible says that the Lord Jesus says in that day, “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity into fire prepared for devil and his angels.”
You know, we are living in a day of grace today. The great word of our day, this word of grace is wrapped up in these little words where Jesus says, “Come to me.”
But in that day the three little words are going to be, “Depart from me.”
Now he is saying, “Come to me.” But people get so excited about the world we are living in and thinking, “If I come to Jesus I may lose out. I may lose a little popularity in this world. If I come to him I may not be able to climb the corporate ladder as quickly because I will have to be honest and upright in all of my dealings. If I come to him and I am going to be just as Joe religious, I will be down at that church all the time. If I come to him they are going to want some of my money.”
And we start thinking about what it is going to cost us, but we are missing the whole point.
If we don’t come to him now we are going to hear him say, “Depart from me,” then. “Come to me,” or “Depart from me.” Those are the only two options that there are. Right now he is not saying, “Depart from me,” to anyone. He is saying, “Come.”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
“All that the Father has given to me will come to me and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” I won’t put them away.
“Verily, verily, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, will have everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation.”
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
He says, “Come.” He wraps up the Bible saying, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’” and “And whosoever will, let him come and drink of the water of life freely.”
You see, this I the day of, “Come.” But when we get to the end of the road it is going to be the day of, “Depart.” Come or depart. It makes you want to wonder whether you have been playing church, doesn’t it? It makes you wonder whether this whole church experience is about a refuge from the storm for you. It is a nice place for you to rear your children. It is a good place to get away from all those evil people out there. But coming to Jesus? I mean giving him total care and control of your life and saying, “Lord, here am I. Save me, Use me, fill me, make me… Oh, I don’t want that kind of salvation.”
It makes you wonder, doesn’t it.
How about your Christian—quote, unquote—experience? How about it? Are you going to stand before him and here him say, “His name is written or his name is not written”? Are you going to hear him say, “Depart”?
Everyone that is at this place is going to depart.
Now there is going to be some people absent on that day.
“Pastor, will all the murderers be there at the great white throne?”
Oh, no. They won’t all be there. The apostle Paul was a murderer. He murdered and he consented to the death of Stephen, this great deacon.
You say, “Pastor, why won’t Paul be there since he was a murderer?”
He settled his case out of court. Think about it.
“Pastor, will all the adulterers be there, the whoremongers and the prostitutes? Will all the pornographers be there? Will all the liars be there? Will all the people who have lived their despicable lives, are they going to be there?”
Oh, no. No. They are not all going to be there. Remember the woman that was taken in adultery and Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned thee?”
And she said, “No man, Lord.”
And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.”
She settled her case out of court.
You see, that is what we have here in Revelation chapter 20 verse 11 to 15. You have got the final court with the final judge and the final judgment coming now. You have got people standing. Nobody sits. Stand there.
Do you think people are going to answer back, make excuses? Oh, no. The Bible says they will be without excuse. It will not open. In fact, they are going to agree with the verdict and say, “Your verdict is right. Your verdict is just.”
In their heart they will know that they have received justice and will say, “Amen,” to the verdict.
There are going to be people left.
You know, I really deserve, personally, to go to the great white throne judgment and to hear him say, “Depart.” But I am not going to be there.”
You say, “Why, pastor?”
Because I settled my case out of court when I was 12 years old. I came to the Lord Jesus and I said, “Jesus, I am a sinner. Oh, I am a good little sinner. I am a church going sinner. I am a memory verse winning sinner. I am a Bible toting sinner. I am a church member sinner, but I am a proud sinner and I am on my road to hell and I know that I don’t deserve the minimal part of your grace and your mercy. Save me.”
I was just 12. And he saved me.
Do you know what I did? I settled my case out of court.
Who settled it for me? Jesus. That old account was settled long ago on a cross called Calvary. Jesus died for me.
You know, the Bible says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation, no judgment, to them that are in Christ Jesus.” And I want to say to you tonight that I do not want a fair trial. What I want is what I got, a free pardon. If you are here tonight and you don’t want a fair trial before God in heaven because a fair trial is going to send you to that lake of fire, that eternal place of judgment where you will never get out, what you want is a free pardon.
You say, “How do I get it?”
Come. Jesus says, “Come to me. Come to me and I will never turn you away.”
Today he says come. But, my friend, if you wait, he will say, “Depart.”
What are you going to say if you stand before God at the great white throne? Nothing. The Bible says every mouth will be stopped and all the world will be guilty before God. You will say, “Amen” to your own condemnation. You will have to say that God is just. God is right and that I deserve everything I am given.
I have heard this in my life. Some who boast and think that it is just not all true say, “Heaven is for climbing and hell is for company.” Some might say that, but think about the company that will be there.
In chapter 20 and verse 10 the Bible says, “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” There is some of the compadres. There’s some of the fellow sufferers: the devil, the beast, the false prophet.
Look at chapter 21 and verse number eight if you would, please, to find out about the company in hell. The Bible says there in chapter 21 and verse eight, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.”
But tonight and the message you can carry to anyone that will listen is you can receive 100% free pardon from the Lord Jesus Christ if you come to him, a sinner in humility and say, “I am a sinner. I don’t deserve any of your forgiveness or grace, but I come on the basis of your invitation to come, I come and I receive you as my personal Lord and Savior.”
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
Acts 16:31. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
You say, “Pastor, what are you trying to do tonight? Who are you? What is this all about?”
I want to personalize this verse, 2 Corinthians chapter five and verse 20. And I want to say, “I am therefore Christ’s ambassador as though God were making his appeal through me. I implore you on Christ’s behalf. Be reconciled to God. God made him, Jesus, who had no sin to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”
Would you bow your heads and close your eyes?
I want to make two appeals tonight. There are two appeals that I want to make. I want to appeal to you to search your heart and examine yourself to see if you be in the faith, to examine your own heart and find out whether this is churchianity or whether you know Christ, whether it is a game you have played or whether you have put your faith and trust in him. And honestly said, “I am coming to you Jesus, complete, lock, stock and barrel.”
Are you here tonight and if your life were to be snuffed out by a tornado, a car wreck, some ailment, heart failure and you were to go off into eternity to only await this day of judgment, are you positive that your name is in the book of life?
If it is not in the book of life you are going to hear three dreadful words. “Depart from me.” And angels will carry you bound and throw you into a lake of fire that burns forever.
You say, “Pastor, are you trying to scare me into salvation?”
If I thought I could, I would. But I implore you. I beg you. I come up to you now and I plead with you as an ambassador for Christ carrying the message of hope to tell you tonight, “Put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior because there is judgment at the end of the road.”
If you are here and you are like that tonight and you say, “Pastor, I need just what you said, I am going to put pride aside, I am going to put all of that stuff aside. I am going to put pride of face, race, place or grace, I am going to put all that aside and I am going to say right now, I need to have Jesus save me and give me eternal life and forgiveness of sins. Pastor, pray for me that I would have the courage to do that now.” If you are here and like that, just raise your hand up. Are you here and like that? “I need to be saved.”
I am not going to embarrass you. I am not going to come back to you. All right. You need to pray this prayer. And here is the prayer you pray.
Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. I come to you. You have invited me to come and I have come. I believe I am condemned for my sins. I ask you to forgive me for my sin and come into my heart. Wash my sins away. Make me part of your family. Take me to heaven when I die. I believe you died and that you were buried and that you rose again. Today I give you total care and control of my life. Amen.
With your heads bowed and eyes closed if you prayed that prayer I want to encourage you to not dare leave this place until you go by where pastor Dan is going to be standing by a table back there that says, “Getting Started with God.” Pick up a package. Leave your name there so that we can rejoice with you and pray with you.
Now there is another group I want to address. You are a Christian. And no matter how interesting and exciting all of this study is about things to come, I want to say to you as a Christian these things… We may not see the rapture in our lifetime. I believe we will. We may not see all of these other things. But I will tell you one thing that is absolutely certain for every person in this room. We are going to give an account of ourselves to God for the deeds done in our body good and evil. We are going to give an account of our time, talent, treasure. We are going to give an account of the way we expended what God put in us in time, talent and treasure. He made us witnesses of his grace because he saved us.
My question for you is: Is it important to you that your friends, your coworkers, your neighbors and family, is it important to you that they miss this lake of eternal burning? Is it important to you?
You know, we get lulled to sleep, my fellow Christians, we get lulled into cars and houses and lands and golf courses and ball games and ballet recitals and church work. We just get lulled to sleep.
But you were made for a mission. Are you listening? You and I were made for a mission. Part of that mission with tears in our eyes and compassion in our heart is to share with those we know.
You say, “Well, I am not a missionary. I don’t live in Africa.”
No, but he is certainly watching where you do live and the people that you do know. I am going to pray for holy boldness from God in your heart. I am going to pray now that God would give you holy boldness, encouraging boldness so that you would without shame of face would begin even more—many of you do—but even more to share the good news of the gospel to those that are around us.
The time is short. John said that when the book was written. Time is short.
Are you a Christian? You know in your heart, you know in your heart that you begin to living at ease in Zion, living at ease in this nation of plenty while our friends and neighbors, our loved ones, coworkers and schoolmates are headed on the broad road of destruction. Will you share with them? Will you tell them? We can preach the truth to them. Will you give a witness? Stand and say to them, “Here is what Jesus is to me.”
Will you do it?
You say, “Pastor, are you church building right now?”
No. I’m kingdom building right now. I am talking to you about getting the good news of the gospel out so that your friend, loved one does not have to go to hell.
If you are here tonight and you say, “Pastor, oh, you are preaching to me tonight. It hits me home. It hits home with me. You threw the stone and I am yelping because I know that I need to use my opportunities better. Pastor, pray for me. Pray for me tonight.”
Would you raise your hand? Just raise it. Pray for me. Pray tonight.
Oh Father, help us to be faithful. Help us to be faithful in giving out your Word.
Jesus, we look forward so much to seeing your face, to kissing your hands and feet, to hearing you tell of how you purchased salvation for all of men, for all of time, for those that believe.
Father, thank you for sending your Son. Thank you for loving us in spite of our unloveliness. Bless us now tonight and let us go forth from this place like an entire army to spread the good news of the gospel.
With heads bowed and eyes closed before we go if you said, “Pastor, I prayed that earlier prayer, I asked Jesus into my heart and I am so happy that I did that. I just want you to pray for me that I will begin to know him better, to grow. Pastor, pray for me,” just put your hand up. I won’t embarrass you or come to you. Just put your hand up. Is there one? Is there one?
Our Father, thank you for this time together. Bless us as we go out now like an entire army of believers. Oh, what 300 or 400 people can do in the city of Des Moines if we went out with our hearts on fire with the truth of the gospel, full of your love and full of the truth. Help us, now. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Hebrews 9:27 (KJV)
See Hebrews 9:27
See Hebrews 9:27
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
See John 11:25
1 John 2:25
See John 11:25
See 2 Peter 3:4
See Proverbs 15:3
See 1 John 1:7
See Matthew 7:23
See John 6:37
See John 5:24
1 John 5:11-12
See Revelation 22:17
See John 8:10
See John 8:11
See Romans 8:1
See 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
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