Sunday, July 08, 2007

How Should We Live in Light of the Coming End (Part 5 of 5)

The Christian’s Goal
Having explained to us what our perspective should be and what our duty is in light of Christ’s imminent return, Peter reminds his readers (and us) of our Christian goal. The second half of verse eleven reads: “So that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

We needn’t spend much time on this. If you’ve been listening, we’ve been talking about this throughout our time in God’s Word this morning. Why should we have a right perspective in light of Christ’s imminent return and the end of all things? Why should we perform our Christian duty in light of Christ’s imminent return and the end of all things? Why? The reason is so that God will be glorified in every aspect of our lives, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The apostle Paul wrote: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). The Christian’s goal is not a simpler, easier, happier life. The Christian’s goal is not experiencing their best life now. The Christian’s goal is not discovering their purpose in this life. God has already given us our purpose in His Word. Our purpose, our reason for existence, is to bring God glory. John Piper rightly said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Whether it is eating, drinking, speaking, or serving, our goal must be to bring God glory. In everything we do, in everything we say, in everything we think, our goal must be to bring God glory. If this standard sounds too rigid to you; if this standard sounds unpalatable to you; if this standard sounds oppressive to you; if this standards sounds, well, less than fun to you, then I must lovingly tell you that you should examine yourself to see if you are even in the faith. If the goal in any area of your life is anything less than to bring God glory, then you must repent, confess your sin to Him, seek His forgiveness, and ask for Him to bring correction and direction in that area of your life.

So, to sum up, in your perspective about the coming end, glorify God. In your sound judgment, glorify God. In your sober spirit, glorify God. In your prayer life, glorify God. In your fervent love for others, glorify God. In your hospitality toward others, glorify God. In the exercise of your spiritual gifts, whether they are gifts of speech or gifts of service, glorify God. All glory and dominion belongs to God. All glory and dominion belongs to Jesus Christ, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Therefore, in every part of your being, in every aspect of your life, glorify God.

The Gospel
Earlier in the message (for some of you it might seem like a long time ago), I gave you a glimpse of what it is like to execute a search warrant. I asked you to consider what your reaction would be if you were inside the house and you saw me and a few of my closest friends, fully clad in entry gear, approaching the front door of the house. Would you look forward to our entry into the house as if you were an innocent person looking forward to leaving the house? Or would you tremble with fear because you know that this is not a social call, and you are going to jail for a very long time?

The Bible says, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy” (James 4:12a). Jesus likewise said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

The question I have for maybe some of you here today is this. Which person in the house are you? Are you looking forward to the imminent return of Christ, or, like the criminal who sees a group of determined and hungry deputy sheriffs rushing toward the door, do you fear that incredible moment in time? Even worse, are you like the criminal we so often encountered during an early morning search warrant—sound asleep, having no idea that we were about to break down your door. (You know, there’s nothing quite like the look on the face of a bad guy suddenly awakened from a sound sleep. But I digress.)

If you are not sure, then let me help you to come to terms with the implications of these eternally important questions.

The Bible says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Heb. 9:27-28). The Bible also says, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man [Jesus] whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

God is going to judge every person according to His Law, the Ten Commandments. How will you do on that great and terrible day—a day that is coming sooner than you think—a day that is coming at a time you do not know. Let’s take a look at just a few of His commandments and see how you will do on that day.

Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen something (the value of the item matters not)? Have you ever taken God’s name in vain—meaning you used the name of the God who gave you life as either a cuss word, or the punch line of a joke, or used His holy name in a casual way instead of giving His name the reverence it deserves? If you answered yes to these questions, then, like me, you are a lying, thieving, blasphemer at heart.

And when you die and stand before Almighty God (And you will die, because 10 out of 10 people die), this is how He will see you. He will not see you according to how you judge yourself, or according to how you rate yourself in comparison to those you think less worthy than you. He will see you in the unapproachable light of His perfect, holy, and righteous standard. He will see you as someone who has broken His Law and sinned against Him. And He will judge you accordingly.

The Bible rightly says, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 3:23a).

The Bible rightly says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

The Bible rightly says, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

Jesus Christ’s return is imminent. And, before this day draws to an end, your life here on earth may unexpectedly draw to an end. You are not promised tomorrow. This is why the Bible says, “Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation’” (2 Cor. 6:2).

If, when you stand before Almighty God, all He sees in you is someone who is guilty of breaking His Law, He will sentence you accordingly and justly; and you will spend eternity in hell. But there is good news.

God is good. He is so good that He will judge sin with His own perfect righteousness. Yes, God is good. So good that not only will He judge rightly, but He has also provided the only escape from His just wrath to come. And what He chose to provide was Himself. Only God can satisfy the requirement of God’s Law. And His Law requires the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins. So, God came down in the person of Jesus Christ, fully God and fully Man, without sin. He died a horrible, bloody death on the cross, taking upon Himself the just punishment each of us deserve for breaking His Law. And three days later, He victoriously rose from the dead, forever defeating death.

So, what is required of you? Your only hope is to repent. Turn from your sins and, by faith, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Cry out to God. Ask Him to forgive you for the countless times you have fallen short of His glory and sinned against Him. Tell Him that, with His help, you want to turn away from doing that which is displeasing to Him. Ask Him to save you from the just penalty for your sins and to give you a new heart with new desires. Ask Him to be your Lord and Savior.

The promise is that if you do this (And you can only do this if you are being drawn to the Father by the Holy Spirit; because we are saved by grace, through faith, entirely apart from our works or our own perceived goodness.), when you die and stand before Him, instead of receiving what you deserve for breaking His Law (eternity in hell), you will receive what you do not deserve (which is His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and the free gift of eternal life).

Conclusion
My hope and prayer is that every person gathered here this morning would leave here ready—ready for the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that each of us will leave this place of worship with the right perspective, a right understanding of our Christian duty, and with our eyes fixed on the right goal—to bring honor and glory to God.

2 comments:

Ron and Ginny said...

Tony,

Thanks for the wake-up call. I just wanted to let you know that I have linked to this post on my blog.

http://randvfarmstead.blogspot.com

In Christ,

Ginny

Anonymous said...

Oh, Lawman, you rock--glory to God for you! If you are ever in Minnesota, please let me know and come speak at my church. We just had Todd speak, and really riled some people up, praise God! justine@tott-events.net