Sunday, June 7, 2009

June 7th - Eternal Rewards I

Prayer Requests
George Tillers Family’s and Church’s Salvation
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Camp --> Especially Bethany's friend and cousin
Freedom Explosion (June 10th)
Channing’s continued ministry
Rick's brother passed
Daniel's Grandfather
Sarah and Tyler going to China

Text – Various: Revelation 2-3, 20:11-15, Romans 14:7-12, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

First of all, Dr. George Tiller was killed last week. He was one of the wickedest men in America with more blood on his hands than most warlords with an estimated 60,000 murders. What made him so bad was that he was an abortionist without a conscience; he had no problem performing late-term abortions, which is when the baby is undoubtedly a baby, it looks like a baby, it has its own heartbeat, if it was born it would survive, and he had no problem killing it, he even killed babies who were born accidentally instead of killed in the womb. Most abortionists won’t perform an abortion after 12 weeks, this is still undoubtedly murder, but at the very least it shows some sort of sanctity towards human life. After 20 weeks the baby has a fairly decent chance of surviving if it is born prematurely.

Ezekiel 33:11 As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

God finds no pleasure in the death of a wicked person, albeit this verse does demonstrate that he does have pleasure when wickedness ceases. His preferred method of this is repentance, but if repentance doesn’t occur, he has no problem squishing a person into eternity. Not us doing it, but vengeance belongs to God.

Genesis 38:7 Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD put him to death.

Not every death is God putting to death the wicked, such as when Stephen was stoned, or when Paul was beheaded. But sometimes with especially wicked people you can see God’s hand in it.

To make it even worse, Tiller would baptize the babies afterwards so in his weird understanding of Christianity they would go to Heaven. Why would he need to baptize them if they weren't people with souls?

Do all babies go to Heaven? Absolutely.

Matthew 18:10 See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Should we pray for sinners to repent? Yes, we could look at all sorts of verses to that effect, 1 Timothy 2:1-4, 24-26, 2 Peter 3:9, Matthew 28:19-20, and many others. But what is the other way that we should be praying for God to cease their transgressions? Through imprecations, asking him to give them what they deserve.

Revelation 6:10 They cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"

In Heaven the babies that Tiller had murdered asked how long until their blood would be avenged. God answered them last Sunday at 10am. Many have prayed for God to stop Tiller, and God finally answered; his patience ran out.

This leads to judgment.

Revelation 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

The wicked, those who have not had their sins atoned for, will be cast into Hell for eternity. Baby killers will certainly have their place here, but the Bible says if you’ve broken one, you’re guilty of all, and it says that not only will murders have their place in the lake of fire, but also revilers, people who hate others without cause, and it culminates in saying that even all liars will be punished for eternity as well. The smoke of torment of those in Hell will waft before the Throne of God for eternity as a reminder of his perfect justice.

Where is atonement, reconciliation, and forgiveness found? The Lamb of God who took our sins on himself and bore our reproach, dying in our place, so that our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life represent our citizenship in Heaven, our purchasing, our redemption. So we stand before the Great White Throne, our names are found in the Book of Life; what happens next?

Romans 14:7-12 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Now we have to give an account to God, not of our sins, which have been washed away, for while we were stained in our sins, red as crimson, we have been washed as white as snow. So we’re not going to see if we get to go to Heaven, we go to see if we get rewards for our works in Christ. The word in verse 10 for Judgment Seat is Bema, it references an Olympic judge.

1 Corinthians 9:25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

Revelation 22:12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

First of all, what do we all get?

2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

We all get a crown of righteousness, this is a gift from Christ to us, it signifies our salvation. Similarly, we all get a robe of righteousness. In other words, we’re dressed as the King, which is how his Father sees us, as perfect, coinheritors of Heaven with Christ. Job saw this 3700 years ago,

Job 29:14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.

What’s a diadem? A crown, especially one with a lot of symbolic jewels. Zechariah calls each saint a jewel on Christ’s crown. (Zechariah 9:16)

This crown of righteousness is also called the crown of life, and the crown of glory. Pastors get their crown bejeweled with their flock, that’s 1 Peter 5:1-5, we’re cruising through this because there is a lot to cover. Evangelists get jewels for those they share the gospel with.

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

Funny story, I was in Tampa preaching with some friends and we got hungry. We’re looking for a restaurant and nobody can choose, and I saw a Spanish restaurant and said, “Lets eat there!” The food wasn’t that good, but my friend Rick witnessed to the waitress Sarah and hopefully she’ll get saved. Afterwards I told Rick, “You know, since I picked the restaurant, I think I get that jewel.” I don’t think that’s how it works, but it’s a funny story.

After the crown of righteousness that we all get, there is something we all desperately want to hear.

Matthew 25:21 Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.

I don’t just want to hear this once, I want to hear it once for me, then as I stand to the side I want to hear it said for Adam, I want to hear it said for Hannah, I want to hear it said for Matthew, I want to hear it said for Jessica, Abbie, Jamie, Bethany, Kari, Summit’s whole student ministry, and so many more.

Now everybody flip over to Revelation 2; most believers will get most of these things, but some are special.

Revelation 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

First, real quick point, who spoke these letters? Christ. Who wrote them down? John. Who does Christ tell us says these things to the churches? The Spirit. Once again, John is pretty much just the secretary, God the Son and God the Spirit are making these promises, when God makes a promise, it is binding.

First promise, he who conquers will be allowed in Heaven, and will be allowed to eat of the Tree of Life; the same tree that Adam and Eve were banned from.

Revelation 2:11 The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.

So the believer is welcomed into Heaven and protected from Hell.

Revelation 2:17 To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.

After an athlete won a race in the Olympics, one of his prizes was a feast with the other champions. In order to get into this party, you needed a ticket, the ticket was a white stone with your name written on it. After we’re in Heaven, we’re invited to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, when Christ will wed the church.

Revelation 2:26-28 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam was given dominion over the earth. After he sinned, he lost it. Here Christ is returning that dominion to his saints. This may refer to the final judgment of Earth when Christ returns with his saints following after him, but that’s hard to say.

I will give him the Morning Star once again refers to the Wedding Feast, when the church and the Son of God will be wed together for eternity.

Revelation 3:5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

Here is our robe of righteousness, and our eternal guarantee of Heaven. Our name will never be erased because we will never die. Not only so, but Christ himself knows our name and confesses it boldly to his Father and the angels.

Revelation 3:12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

We will be Trophies of Grace, to declare the excellencies of him who called us out of the darkness into his glorious light. We will never depart nor grow weary of singing his praises. If you wonder how you can praise God for eternity, I suspect once we get there, there will be no doubt at all.

Revelation 3:21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Imagine this, a person with no possible reason to be allowed to be king is invited by the King to sit with him in his royal court. This is us, we don’t deserve it one bit, and yet the Son of God who bought us on the cross will grant us to sit with him as we wear our robe of righteousness and crown of life.

What will our crowns be adorned with? Not everyone is going to have the same quality or quantity of decoration.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Our works will be tested in the consuming fire of God to determine the motives they were done in. Imagine I send you each out with $1000 and tell you to bring me something back. For $1000 you could fill this room with firewood, or this whole trailer with straw, or you could bring back a couple pounds of silver, or a pound of gold, or a bunch of beautiful little diamonds. Now we throw these each on a fire, what do we have left? Of the firewood and straw we’ve got a handful of ashes. Of the silver we have the same lump we started with, the same with the gold, and the diamonds still glitter. So will be our works, works done for Christ’s sake with his glory as the goal will withstand the fire. Those that were done out of self-elevation or other wrong motives will do no more than provide a spectacular bonfire in Heaven.

So, our works have been tested, our crowns have been handed out, the jewels are affixed, what do we do now?

Revelation 4:10 The twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."

We give the crowns back, as was an ancient custom. The lesser king or prince kneels and would take his crown off before the superior king. As a sign of peace, the superior king would restore the crown to the lesser kings head. This is probably what we should expect in Heaven, but ultimately Christ's glory should be our utmost reward.


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, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

And a song...this version is terrible, but the story is awesome: