Now Counts Forever (2 cor 5:9-11) Part 1

Have you ever thought about how long eternity is? 

-       Think about the number infinite. 

100 years is barely a blip on the eternal radar. 

“When we’ve been there 10,000 years bright shining like the sun, we’ll have no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’ve first begun.” – Amazing Grace

This life is like a vapor in comparison to the Kingdom of Heaven. 

But what we do in this life affects eternity. 

Ok, I’m going to say a few quotes and you tell me who said them, or where they are from? 

 

“Brothers, what we do in life, echoes in eternity.” 

Maximus – Maximus Decimus Meridius (Gladiator) …His full name is just too epic to not say.

 (opening scene…of the movie Gladiator…)

 

“Hold the line, stay with me, if you find yourself riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled for you are in Elysium and you’re already dead! (and all these roman soldiers are like…hahaha…horses snorting in the background) then he says… Brothers, what we do in life, echoes in eternity.”(they all cheer and wave their swords in the air…)

 

Great movie. But is that true? 

-       Now we know it’s true that at least one thing we do in this life echoes in eternity…that’s receiving Christ as Lord and Savior…that not only echoes in eternity that determines where you spend eternity!

 

-       But is that it? Does everything else just wash away? 

 

-       This morning I want to show you that yes, what we do in this life does matter. Way more than any of us can really comprehend…

 

-        The Bible has a lot to say about Heavenly Rewards. In fact Jesus himself references heavenly rewards more than 50 times!

 

o  Eternal rewards for the things you do in this life are a massive part of the Kingdom of Heaven!

 

We are in a series called The Kingdom: Seeking and Savoring the Rule and Reign of Jesus Christ in everyday life…

 

And this morning I want to show you that Seeking and savoring Christ’s rule and reign in this world, comes with eternal rewards in the age to come! 

 

This is what I want to talk about this morning…

 

Eternal Rewards.

 

Risen Church, you need to get this deep down in your soul…There is more to this life and the next than just escaping the fires of hell. 

 

Jesus didn’t just come to set you free from your sin and liberate you from eternal condemnation, HE came to bring you eternal life! To Redeem, and to restore, and to invite you into an eternally significant purpose!

 

Hear this:

-       Salvation is not a result of works. It is the free gift of Christ.

-       It’s the fundamental foundation of life in Christ, but it is just the beginning! It’s ground zero! It’s the foundation of a life designed for the Kingdom of Heaven!

 

-        There is so much more to the Kingdom of heaven than just being saved from Hell!

 

-       I’ve titled this morning’s sermon: “Now Counts Forever” – Sam Storms

 

Here’s what I want you to get…so write this down..

 

 

Faith in what Jesus did for you at the cross determines WHERE you spend eternity. But how you spend your life here and now determines HOW you will spend eternity. (say  X 2)

 

Now counts forever. 

 

Go with me to 2 Corinthians 5:9-11

9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (Speaking to Christians who want to please God.)10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.

 

We will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…

 

Revelation 20:11-15(gives us a vivid picture of this)

11 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. 12 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 judgedby what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 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. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

 

The word Judgement is the Greek Crema… “decision made as the result of an investigation”

-       So we will all stand before the throne of God….a

-       Our hearts exposed…

-       Everything done in secret revealed… 1 cor. 4:5

 

There will be no hiding, or convincing, or talking it out or being misunderstood. No, he will see all. 

 

Jesus’ eyes in revelation are described as being flames of fire. And when he looks at you on this day with fire in his eyes, hes gonna penetrate and he’s gonna know. 

 

-       But he’s also gonna know. He understands. 

 

Two kinds of evaluations/or judgments will take place…

 

The first is the one most of us are very aware of. Judgement of our eternal destination….This is the part of judgment day that most of us think of.

 

-       This is what we just sang about. 

 

Before the throne of God above

I have a strong, a perfect plea

A great high Priest whose Name is Love

Who ever lives and pleads for me

My name is graven on His hands

My name is written on His heart

I know that while in heaven He stands

No tongue can bid me thence depart

No tongue can bid me thence depart

 

Remember the one on the throne is the one who died for you! 

-       The one judging you is the one who saved you!

 

-       ….and it’s at this point that God Almighty will look at you …sinner though you are! Every deed both good and bad written in that book exposed! On display! 

-       And The Righteous Judge of eternity will look at me, sinner though I am, and speak from that great white throne…with fire in his eyes and say…NOT GUILTY!!!

-       That’s the beauty of the cross. And it won’t be an unrighteous thing. In fact it would be unrighteous for him to look at those in Christ and declare them unrighteous. That’s the power of the cross!

 

John Allen…Sinful man, not good enough by any standard on my own…declared Not Guilty by the righteous verdict of The King of Glory!!!

 

Oh

When Satan tempts me to despair

And tells me of the guilt within

Upward I look and see Him there

Who made an end to all my sin

Because the sinless Savior died

My sinful soul is counted free

For God the just is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me

To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there the risen Lamb

My perfect spotless righteousness

The great unchangeable I am

The King of glory and of grace

One with Himself I cannot die

My soul is purchased by His blood

My life is hid with Christ on high

With Christ my Savior and my God!

With Christ my Savior and my God!

 

-       Not somebody else’s savior, not somebody elses’ God. My Savior, My God! Hidden in him, Risen in Christ for eternity! 

 

-       This is the power of the resurrection, this is the foundation of all we do!!

 

If that doesn’t stir your heart you need to fast and pray some more!!

 

So the first judgment is about salvation. And all of us will be judged according to what we have done (vs. 12)…

 

Romans 2:6

6 He will render to each one accordingto his works

 

That doesn’t mean that you are judged by your works though… 

 

Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it very clear…

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast..

 

-       Salvation is a free Gift! You can’t earn it, you can’t buy it. No amount of obedience or good deeds can save you. Only faith in Christ can save us from the eternal damnation we all deserve. 

 

So salvation is not a result of works! 

 

-       While unfortunately most people are very confused about this in our world…they think if their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds that’s what gets them into Heaven. 

 

-       That’s totally wrong. Nobody will ever be good enough…that’s why we all need Jesus!

 

This is basic Christianity 101. 

 

Salvation by Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. 

-        

-       But that doesn’t mean that what you do doesn’t matter. In fact this phrase Judged according to your works…means that your works will be used as corroborating evidence for true saving faith on that day of judgment. 

 

-       In other words…Faith without works is dead. …as Jesus’ brother put it in James…

 

James 2:18

Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

 

(a little snarky …but it’s ok…it would have been tough to have jesus as your older brother…like why can’t you be like your older brother James…everybody wants to be like Him…I don’t know mom, maybe cuz he’s the son of God..)

-       Inevitably somebody is thinking…well we’re still all called to be like Jesus…(calm down…it’s just a joke)

 

This confusion by the way is one of the reasons why people don’t teach on eternal rewards!

 

-       They are afraid people will fall into works righteousness..

 

So lets make it clear.

 

Again…

Faith in what Jesus did for you at the cross determines WHERE you spend eternity. 

 

And that’s the first portion of this judgement. If your life is hidden in Christ as your lord and savior, then this appointment is something you should be looking forward to!!! Which is what I’m going to get into next…but first I want to make sure I point out that if your life is covered by the righteous blood of Christ. 

-       If you have not placed your faith in him as your lord and savior, and your life has not been transformed by his love…

-       Then your name will not be written in that book of life.

 

And just like there are different levels of Heavenly reward, the same holds true for Hell. 

Not only will you be condemned to the lake of fire…but we know that Even that lake of fire which represents eternal punishment will have levels that are a custom fit….(I don’t have time to get into this…but lets just say the Righteous judge will visit his wrath in very equal measure….) …one reference I’ll throw out there is what Jesus had to say about people who would harm little children…. He said with all the wrath and fury of Eternity behind him…. It is better for them to have a 2 ton millstone tied around their neck and drowned in the ocean, than for them to harm one of these little ones.…When God says, Vengeance is mine…He means it. 

 

-       We can trust that he will enact justice on our behalf in a way that we can’t even fathom. That’s why we can pray for our enemies. 

 

So that’s the first portion of this judgement…has to do with salvation: 

 

Faith in what Jesus did for you at the cross determines WHERE you spend eternity. 

 

But is that it? 

 

Look at vs 10 of 2 Corinthians 5…

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

 

For those in Christ, condemnation is totally off the table…For those who are in Christ…you may approach the throne boldly!! In love!! The one who sits upon it is your savior! His name is love! 

 

-       This is not aboutcondemnation, now it is about commendation!!

 

-       And this is what I want you to really get in your heart!!

 

Faith in what Jesus did for you at the cross determines WHERE you spend eternity. 

 

But how you spend your life here and now determines HOW you will spend eternity. (say  X 2)

 

Jesus made reference to heavenly rewards more than 50 times… yet I think we tend to be a bit hesitant to say they are a major motivator in our lives…Even though it’s clear that Jesus presents them that way…

 

Like you might say well…I don’t do it for any other reward than Christ himself! 

-       Shouldn’t he be the only reward I need? 

-       Isn’t Christ enough? 

 

Like the psalmist who says, “Whom have I in heaven but you, and there is nothing on earth that I desire but you!”

 

Or Paul, who declared, “I count everything as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my lord!”

 

John Piper put it like this:

“Christ is revealed more fully, when he’s revealed not only immediately to the eyes of the heart by the Holy Spirit because of his moral and spiritual excellencies, but also when he is revealed mediately through things he has made and done in creation. Physical creation. Things which we experience in our own created physical bodies, not only in our created spiritual souls. That’s why God created a material universe and he created the earth and he created us with physical bodies and capacities to experience good through the created material existence. So the bible says we are to eat and drink and do everything in our physical bodies to the glory of god. which must mean that the pleasures of God that he has built into the taste of food are not designed primarily as competitors with God’s beauty but as means of it’s communication. He’s communicating something of himself with the good creation he has made. So the creation becomes one of the ways that we taste and see that the Lord is good. This is not only true now, but it will also be true in the resurrection! (Even more so!) That’s why there is a resurrection of the body and not just an immortality of the soul. 

 

The whole creation will be adapted to be a perfect dwelling for the children of God so that it functions perfectly to reveal Christ and to be the means by which we will most fully enjoy Christ!

 

“Christ indeed is our reward and everything else, morally and spiritually and physically inside us and outside us in the universe, crowns, stars, cities, health, friends, family, great saints etc…everything else with him that will maximize the communication of his glory and our happiness in Him through it. 

 

If God thought that Christ could be known most completely and enjoyed most fully by being the solitary object of our awareness with no created reality as means I don’t think God would have created a material universe in the first place, but only immaterial souls. He didn’t do it that way, and he’s not going to do it that way in the future. So Christ is our reward, and everything else is our reward that more fully reveals him and enables us to enjoy him.”

 

-       When God gives us good things on the earth, they are given to us so we can experience the fullness of His glory better!

 

So are heavenly rewards the right motive? For doing good things on earth? 

-       You might say, well my only motive is the love of Jesus. I just want to please him. YES. That is what these rewards represent. His pleasure expressed for eternity!

 

Heavenly Rewards represent the pleasure of Jesus being expressed upon you for eternity! 

 

C.s. lewis 

“if you read history, you will find that it was the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world they have become so ineffective in this one.”

 

The way we live now, will determine the way we live in eternity! 

 

So if these Rewards are eternal expressions of God’s love…

 

How do we get them?

-       Every sacrifice you make for His Sake, In His Name, for his Kingdom, will come with an eternal reward… 

-       Praying for your enemies, serve others, engaging and embracing people with the love of Christ… putting your flesh to death when that person is annoying you… in that moment at 3:30am when your child woke you up for the 8thtime that night…or when you feel fully justified in shaming, or attacking, or holding onto that bitterness…and you lean into the Spirit of God, repent and forgive quickly, often and completely. 

-       When you exercise the fruit of the spirit, rather than the fruit of your flesh. Especially when your circumstances make you feel entitled to act out of your flesh…that anger, or rage, or criticism wells up… and instead you lean into God’s grace…

o  And walk out your faith in love…

-       None of it will go unseen or unrewarded in eternity!

-       Jesus talks about the smallest act of caring for one of His disciples simply because they are His disciples as something that will come with an eternal reward!

-       Even something as simple as giving them a cold cup of water. 

It’s about obedience of the heart….when nobody else sees…

In when I say obedience I’m not talking about that empty religious stuff that does things you don’t want to do because you have to. We just saw that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. But there is commendation. 

True obedience from the heart is faith worked out in love. That’s what will get rewarded!!

Write this down: 

“Only what is done for Christ remains.”

 

In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul talks about how we are building upon the foundations of Christ and compares an individual the life of a believer to a building….

 

1 cor 3:11-15

11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, (referring to the day of Judgement before the throne of God)because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

 

This is a picture of someone’s life on this earth. The foundation is of course Jesus..the cornerstone…and they build on that foundation in 

 

Now remember that Great White throne? Who sits on that throne? …Jesus…The eyes of Jesus are described in Revelation as flaming fire.

 

On that day, jesus is going to look right into your souland he’ll do it with fire in his eyes…and anything you did for yourself, or for attention, or to feed an idol, or for any other purpose than The King and His Kingdom …he’ll see it and it will be burned up. 

 

The only things that are done for Christ are what remains. The rest of it is just wood, hay and straw and it burns up. 

 

But there’s gold to be had for eternity! 

-       We can trade in our ashes for Gold in eternity!

-       That when we deal with all the things we struggle with, all the difficulty and sickness, and despair and death and all the sinfulness and the trials of this life…even in the triumphs!

o  Through trial and triumph we are presented with the opportunity to give God Glory. To operate out of a place of obedience, and that obedience that is faith worked out in love. 

o  Not just that empty dry obedience that’s just religious and trudging through life like “I don’t want to be doing this and this is stupid and I just resent God”. I’m talking about faith in what is to come, and recognizing that I am in love with my savior, I’m not in love with this world, and so I’m gonna operate in my circumstances according to the things that God has said about me, not my circumstances!”

This is not about condemnation, it’s about commendation!

But there will be those who stand before the throne of God, and you’ll be like that little drummer boy, who has no gift to bring. But you won’t even have a drum. 

We all want to hear that “Well done good and faithful servant”. We want to hear that!

-       But I’m telling you, you come in, and all you have is the foundation. You’re saved, but only through fire. I’m telling you’re gonna stand there before Him, and you’re gona be like, ‘I don’t even have a drum’.. 

-       You’re not going to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” I’m sorry, but you’re not. 

-       You’re gonna hear, “Welcome. You’re gonna have a God who loves you, Jesus who will embrace you…

o  He’s going to look at you with fire in His eyes, and all of that straw and all of that wod and all of that hay is just going to burn up!

o  What are you pursuing in this life that will carry over into eternity!

You want to hear: 

‘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.” Matthew 25:23

 

-       What do you believe? 

-       In that time where life is crushing you? Who will you lean in on? Will you shift your mindset, change your attitude? Are you going to allow the lord to move in the hidden places that nobody knows about. when you’ve been abandoned, hurt, or rejected?

-       When you feel so justified to hold onto that bitterness, and Jesus says, forgive. Jesus says, Let it go. Be a peace maker, move toward unity. I want you to operate out of Grace. I want you to turn the other cheek. 

Jesus says, I want you to savor my rule, I want you to seek my reign I want you to operate as a child of the King of the Universe in a world that’s all jacked up and dark, and when you do I will not overlook it for eternity!

Not even a cup of cold water given to a disciple because they are a disciple of Jesus, given in the name of Christ, done for him will not go unrewarded!

-       Even the little things! 

-       In fact it’s the little things which produce the greatest rewards. The consistent everyday, dying to yourself and picking up your cross to follow Him, saying it’s not about my Kingdom it’s about Him. I know I’m frustrated with all these things, but I’m not gonna indulge all that. I’m gonna put my flesh to death and I’m gonna lean into the Spirit. God rewards those things!!

 

What we do in this life echoes in eternity in a glorious way. I pray that you will receive the full reward. 

 

There is so much more to this thing than just ‘stop sinning’. It’s about life and life more abundant! – John 10:10

 

Pray

 

Seeking and Savoring the Rule and Reign of Jesus in Everyday Life.

The Kingdom

Seeking and Savoring the Rule and Reign of Jesus in Everyday Life.

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