Sunday Sermon: ‘The End of Time’

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People often speculate what will happen at the end of time. Will the nations of the world destroy themselves with a nuclear war? Will the sun run out of energy and become a gigantic rock? Will a meteorite fall from the sky and strike the earth, thus causing the extinction of life as we know it? Will robots take over and rule the world? Will we climb on spaceships and travel to distant galaxies and start all over again? What will happen in the end? Consider what the Bible tells about the end of time.

Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

As horrific as this passage of scripture may seem to be, it is extremely important because it reveals to us three very important truths about the end of time:

1. In the end, God will have the final word

2. In the end, mankind will be held accountable

3. In the end, knowing Jesus will be all that matters

I. In the End, God Will Have the Final Word

A. Question All Authority

We live in a day when many resist any type of authority. No doubt much of our problem began during the hippy movement of the 60’s when we were taught to question everything. ‘Down With the Establishment’ seems like such a simple phrase, yet it developed within mankind the mindset that we have the right to question every form of authority. The result is a growing sense of anarchy. What is anarchy? Anarchy is a society filled with chaos and confusion due to a lack of authority and leadership.

This is not the first time the world has been in this state. The Bible says – “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25 ESV) In other words, everyone believed that they had the right to do as they pleased. No one had the authority to tell anyone else how to live. Everyone had the freedom to choose what they thought was best.

What was the result of this mindset? We read from the book of Proverbs – “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Pr 14:12; 16:25) Disobedience to God always brings disaster and judgment.

B. God’s Ultimate Authority

I suppose that we have to say that events such as Watergate, and all the other situations where there was an ‘abuse of authority’, helped to produce much of the rebellion of the 60’s and 70’s. If these events didn’t cause the rebellion, they sure threw fuel on the fire.

Yet the Bible tells us of a time when there will be one final display of authority that no one will be able to resist or question.

1. In the End It Will Be God’s Throne Alone

Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

The Bible says that at the end of time there will come a moment when there is only God seated upon His throne and mankind standing before Him. John says that he saw – a GREAT WHITE THRONE. ‘Great’ speaks of its supremacy over every other throne that has ever existed. ‘White’ speaks of its purity. And the fact that even heaven and earth will flee from God’s face reveals how terrible and awesome this moment will be.

2. In the End It Will Be God’s Authority Alone

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God…

The Bible says that the day will come when every knee shall bow before Christ and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord. In the end God will have the final word.

II. In the End, Mankind Will Be Held Accountable

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

A. The Dead Will Stand Before God

Who are the ones who will stand before God at the end of time? Will it be everyone? Christian and non-Christian alike? We should note that four times in this passage this group is referred to as ‘the dead.’ Who are ‘the dead?’

1. Everyone Who Has Experienced Physical Death?

Actually those standing there will not be physically dead, but rather they will be alive.

The book of Daniel says: “…those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, and some to shame and eternal contempt.” (Daniel 12:2 HCSB) The Bible tells us that there is a resurrection of ‘the just’ and ‘the unjust.’ (see Acts 24:15) Jesus said that there are some who will have a ‘resurrection to life, and others who will have a resurrection to judgment.’ (see John 5:29)

The Bible refers to these two resurrections as: the ‘first’ and ‘second.’ The first resurrection is a resurrection unto eternal life. It began with Christ and it includes all of God’s saints.

1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. ESV

Jesus is the beginning of this resurrection unto eternal life. Then comes the resurrection of the believers who have died during the church age. Following is the resurrection of the saints who will be martyred during the Tribulation and finally the Old Testament saints. Everyone who has ever come to God for salvation will be a part of the first resurrection unto eternal life and together we will live and reign with Christ during His Millennial Kingdom.

The second resurrection will not occur until after the Millennial Kingdom. (see Revelation 20:5) After Christ has judged Satan and cast him into the lake of fire, He is going to bring the souls of the sinful which are now being tormented in Hades and reunite them with their bodies, which He is going to bring from the grave, and together, as both body and soul, judge them with a righteous judgment and cast them into the lake of fire to be tormented forever along with Satan and his demons.

This is so horrific that I struggle with preaching it. Yet I would not be faithful to Christ or to those who have never received Christ, if I did not teach it.

2. Everyone Who Has Experienced Spiritual Death

If these individuals at the Great White Throne Judgment are living, why then are they called ‘the dead?’ The Bible teaches us that there are two types of death that a person can experience:

– Physical Death

– Spiritual Death

God told Adam that in the day he disobeyed God, he would surely die. As we all know, Adam did disobey God; however, he did not die physically till hundreds of years later. Adam actually lived to be 930 years old. He lived almost a thousand years after he sinned against God. Why then did God say that he would die ‘in the day’ that he disobeyed God? Was God mistaken?

Though Adam lived physically for hundreds of years after his sin, he died spiritually the moment he ate of the forbidden fruit. Adam died ‘eventually’ a physical death, but he died ‘immediately’ a spiritual death. The moment Adam brought sin into his life, the spiritual part of him died.

Is there such a thing as spiritual death? Concerning spiritual death the Apostle Paul wrote –

Ephesians 2:5 … even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life… NLT

‘The dead’ spoken of in Revelation 20 are alive physically because of the 2nd resurrection, but dead spiritually because of their sin.

B. The Dead Will Be Held Accountable by God

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

How will God hold the dead accountable? There are two ways:

1. God Will Hold Them Accountable For What They Have Done

The Bible says that they will be judged every man according to his or her works. This judgment will not to determine whether or not they deserve to go to heaven. We read from Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

One sin in a person’s life defiles their holiness and therefore disqualifies them from spending eternity in heaven.

Why then will God judge them? Many believe that God will do so in order to determine the degree of their eternal punishment. Jesus said – “But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” (Luke 12:48 NLT) Does this mean that hell will not be that bad for some people? Hell in its best state will still be hell. We read from Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. I don’t know how you can make spending eternity in a lake of fire seem to be anything less than unbelievably painful. Yet at the same time the Bible seems to indicate that God will somehow take into consideration what a person does or doesn’t know about Him and salvation before they die and punish them accordingly.

Does this mean that someone who has never heard the gospel will perhaps go to heaven? No. The book of Romans teaches us that God has done two things through which He will hold every individual accountable:

a. God Has Revealed Majesty to Them Through His Creation (Romans 1:18-20)

b. God Has Revealed His Morality to Them Through Their Conscience   (Romans 2:14-15)

The Bible says that they are ‘without excuse.’ (see Romans 1:20) Those who have never heard the Bible or the story of God’s salvation will still be held accountable for disobeying what they instinctively knew to be the moral law of their Creator. They will be beaten with few stripes.

But what about those who will be beaten with many stripes? Who are they? They are the ones who have heard the gospel, but who have willfully rejected it.Paul wrote –

Romans 2:12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 

Those who know God’s truth but reject it are those whom scripture says – trample underfoot the blood of Christ. They are the ones who do insult to the Spirit of grace. (see Hebrews 10:29) They are the ones who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and therefore commit the unpardonable sin. (see Matthew 12:31-32)

2. God Will Hold Them Accountable For What They Have Not Done

What have the dead not done? They have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

In the end, God will hold them accountable for the sins they committed; but even more so, He will hold them accountable for not receiving His gracious gift of salvation.

III. In the End, Knowing Jesus Will Be All That Matters

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

It’s all about our decision as to whether or not we will humble ourselves before God and cry out in the name of Jesus for mercy and forgiveness. Why Jesus? Why not some other religion?

We should note that often this Book of Life is called the ‘Lamb’s Book of Life.’ One day John the Baptist saw Jesus approaching and John exclaimed – “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Many religions teach that there is a supreme being such as God. Many religions teach that there is good and evil. Many religions teach that in order to enter into a place of eternal peace and rest, something must be done that will do away with the evil and produce goodness. But here is where the religions of the world and Christianity separate. Many religions teach that man must do something on his own that will make him worthy of eternal life. Only Christianity teaches that God did for us what we could never do for ourselves.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. NIV

Jesus is God’s sacrificial lamb that was slain for our sins. The Bible says – “He was wounded for our disobedience, he was crushed for our sins. He was whipped so we could be healed. He was beaten so we could be made whole. All we, like sheep, have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6 author’s translation)

It is called the Lamb’s Book of Life because it records the names of all those who have put their faith and trust in the fact that Jesus is God’s sacrificial lamb. Because they have believed upon Jesus, the record of their sins has been taken away. Jesus bore the punishment for their sins two thousand years ago when He died upon the cross. And now they have eternal life.

Very early this morning I was reading the Bible, trying to prepare myself spiritually to stand before you today. The devotional I read centered around this verse of scripture – “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7) I wrote in my prayer journal – “O Lord, what a great promise. What a wonderful truth. What glorious grace! Thank you oh God. Thank you!”

Years ago a great song was written which says –

Just As I Am
(words by Charlotte Elliott)

Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 Just as I am, and waiting not,
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 Just as I am, though tossed about,
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

 Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
because thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

O Lamb of God, I come, I come. Will you come to God’s Lamb today? If you need help with your relationship with God, please contact me at: pastorterry@twinoaksbapt.org

 

 

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