JUDGMENT AND REWARDS
Copyright 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The resurrection, the awakening of the physical body, is not eternal life. All persons are resurrected. It is the recompense, the experience that follows the resurrection, that may prove to be eternal life. The awakening itself is neither eternal life nor condemnation. The issue is what we have done, what we have practiced. If we, having received the Lord Jesus, live a godly life, we will be raised to eternal life. If we practice evil we will be raised to wrath and punishment. In the Kingdom of God, judgment and rewards are directly related to what we have done in the body.
Table of Contents
To eat of the tree of life that is in the midst of the Paradise of God (Revelation 2:7).
To be given crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
To not be hurt of the second death (Revelation 2:11).
To eat of the hidden manna (Revelation 2:17).
To be given a white stone in that is inscribed a new name (Revelation 2:17).
To be given power over the nations (Revelation 2:26,27).
To be given the morning star (Revelation 2:28).
To walk with Christ in white (Revelation 3:4).
To be clothed in white raiment (Revelation 3:5).
To not have one’s name blotted out of the Book of Life (Revelation 3:5).
To have one’s name confessed before the Father and His angels (Revelation 3:5).
To be kept from the hour of temptation (Revelation 3:10).
To become a pillar in the Temple of God (Revelation 3:12).
To have inscribed on one’s self the name of God; the name of the city of God; the new name of Christ
To sit with Christ in His throne (Revelation 3:21).
To inherit all things (Revelation 21:7).
To have God be one’s God, and to be God’s Son (Revelation 21:7)
What happens to a person after he dies?
His physical body “sleeps” in the ground, while his soul and spirit pass into that part of the spirit realm to which the Lord appoints him.
At some later point his physical body is “awakened” by the voice of Christ. This is the resurrection from the dead.
He stands before Christ and is judged for what he has practiced in his body. He is recompensed based on the judgment of his deeds.
The resurrection, the awakening of the physical body, is not eternal life. All persons are resurrected. It is the recompense, the experience that follows the resurrection, that may or may not prove to be eternal life.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28,29)
The awakening itself is neither eternal life nor condemnation. The awakening may be to life or to punishment.
The issue is what we have done, what we have practiced. If we do well we will be raised to eternal life. If we practice evil we will be raised to wrath and punishment.
The bodies of all persons who have ever lived will be awakened by the voice of Christ. Enoch and Elijah may be exceptions.
All of us will be awakened—we have that in common. The difference will be in the diversity of our eternal destinies.
Many Christians believe once we accept Christ we pass from death to life and never again can come under condemnation no matter how we behave. They may ask, Why should we discuss the possibility of Christians being judged and punished for their behavior in the world?
If it were true that as soon as we accept Christ as our Savior we have nothing more to do with judgment, a large portion of the writings of the Apostles in the New Testament would be meaningless (Romans 8:13; Galatians 6:8; for example).
However, it is not true that the behavior of Christians is not judged. The Apostles inform us repeatedly that our sufferings in the world are a Divine judgment on us so we will not be condemned with the world but will prove to be worthy of the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 11:31,32; II Thessalonians 1:5; I Peter 4:16,17).
Some of the confusion over the relationship of Divine judgment to the Christian arises from our perception of what it means to receive Christ and to be in Christ. There is confusion over the definition of the terms eternal life, grace, and faith.
The following verse, if read from the standpoint of our traditions, appears to suggest every individual who makes a profession of Christ can forget about being judged. (Many other writings in the New Testament show that such is not the case—Ephesians 5:5,6; Galatians 5:19-21.)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)
We misunderstand this verse because:
- We perceive “heareth my word” to mean someone has explained to us theological facts concerning Christ’s atoning death and bodily resurrection.
- We perceive “believeth on him that sent me” to mean we believe there is a God.
- We perceive “everlasting life” to mean we go to Heaven when we die.
- We perceive “shall not come unto condemnation” to mean God will ignore our behavior because He sees us only as clothed with Christ’s righteousness.
- We perceive “is passed from death to life” to mean once we give mental assent and make a correct theological statement concerning Christ we have from that point been “saved to go to Heaven when we die.”
We assume the Lord Jesus is giving us a formula to which we can subscribe. It seems to follow that no matter how we live we will go to Heaven when we die. We view the “life” of which He is speaking as meaning that when we die we will go to live in Paradise in joy and peace forever. We will escape all trouble and go to live in Heaven by making a profession of belief in Christ.
But Christ is not giving us a theological formula in John 5:24 nor is the life He is presenting that of going to Paradise to live in joy and peace forever.
Christ is not giving us information that we can believe and have Divine judgment waived as a result. We are not free to do as we will, being certain we will meet with God’s approval when we die. We are not dealing here with a profession of belief in doctrinal truth.
Jesus Himself is the Resurrection. Jesus Himself is the Life.
Jesus has come to a spiritually dead mankind in order to bring the incorruptible Divine Life that Christ, the Tree of Life, actually is.
What Jesus is saying is:
“I am eternal, incorruptible, resurrection Life, the Life from God that casts out sin and death, healing that which has been destroyed by the devil.
“I am presenting to you the power that God has provided to free you from the bondage of corruption. If you can `hear’ the Word of Life in your spiritual being, and will place your trust in the Father, you now have passed from death to life. You will not be judged guilty. Your sentence is freedom from sin and death because you have believed on Him whom God has sent.”
This does not mean because we have accepted what Christ has said as being true we will go to Paradise when we die.
It means right now if we can “hear” the Word of eternal life and believe in God we will receive into our personality the life substance and force of the Tree of Life. It always is now. Salvation is not an assent to truth that we gave at some point in past time. The life Substance is Christ. It never shall be found guilty of breaking the moral law of God. The Divine Life keeps the law of God by its nature. No condemnation rests on the individual who is walking in the Spirit of life. When we are walking in the Holy Spirit we do not fulfill the lusts of our flesh (Galatians 5:16).
Whoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (I John 3:9)
Christ is not speaking here of some kind of magic formula or incantation. There is no doctrine to which we can adhere and be excluded from the Kingdom laws of sowing and reaping, of judgment and recompense.
Rather, Christ is stating if we will come to Him He shall breathe into us the Life of God so we will not be abiding in death but in life.
Can you understand what Christ is saying? He is not speaking of dying and going to Paradise. He is referring to the Divine transformation of what we are and what we do now. His atoning blood keeps us without condemnation while that Kingdom transformation, the “new creation,” is taking place.
Another important factor is that the initial gift of eternal life is not a once-for-all-time happening that never can be altered. As we stated previously, salvation is always now, always dynamic, always growing and developing. One cannot hear Jesus’ Word and believe in God yesterday and have eternal life today. Hearing Jesus’ Word and believing in God is always now, and the moment we cease hearing Jesus’ Word and believing in God we come under judgment, and the forces of death begin to make headway against the Life of God that is abiding in us.
Let us take another look at John 5:24:
“Heareth my word” means hearing the voice of Jesus through the Holy Spirit at all times.
“Believeth on him that sent me” means placing all of our trust and hope in God in every aspect of daily living.
“Everlasting life” means the incorruptible Life of Jesus is beginning to replace our soulish bodily life. We are coming to experience the power of His resurrection. In this power and fellowship with God we shall live from now through eternity.
“Shall not come unto condemnation” means we ourselves, our spirit and soul, shall not abide under the wrath of God. It does not signify we will not be judged and chastened concerning every element of our body, soul, and spirit that is not perfectly in God’s will and pleasing to Him. As many as Jesus loves He rebukes and chastens. We Christians, along with everyone else, will be given the fruit of our behavior when the Lord returns. To deny this fact is to lead ourselves and our followers to destruction. Numerous believers are being lead astray in our time.
“Is passed from death to life” indicates that at one time we were separate from the Life and Presence of God but through receiving Jesus we now have been restored to the Life and Presence of God, no longer being cut off from Him.
Eternal life is not perpetual existence in the spirit realm. The demons exist perpetually in the spirit realm. But no demon can inherit the eternal Life that is in God and is God.
Eternal life is the substance and force of Christ in us. The Divine Life of Christ transforms what we are.
Our flesh and blood striving cannot create that which God has ordained we will become. As we receive Christ each day, He enters us. He, in us, overcomes the power of sin and death. Little by little, life replaces the death that is in us.
We are being judged now (I Peter 4:17) if we are going through the process of life replacing death. It is entirely possible to be set completely free from sin and death by the filling of our personality with the Life of Christ. This is the spiritual dimension of the first resurrection from the dead—Paul’s “mark.”
The Christian who is willing to follow Christ all the way through the process of judgment and life can attain a hundredfold experience. If he does he will receive the crown of life in the Day of the Lord. Christ has come to him and has enabled him to go through judgment and preparation for reward (and some of the reward itself) in this life. Thus, Paul was seeking to arrive at the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:11).
To “know Christ” is to share His righteousness, His resurrection power, and His sufferings.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (John 5:25)
Christ calls to our spirit, and if we “hear” Him we will live.
This takes place when first we are “saved.”
But it takes place also every day of our pilgrimage. We struggle so hard with stubborn areas of death in our personality! Christ beholds our determination to please Him, and also the confusion, rebellion, and pain we are experiencing concerning some part of our body, soul, or spirit He has not touched as yet.
Then He speaks! The voice of the Lord calls to the deep of our personality just as it called to Lazarus after four days in the tomb. We respond to the voice of Christ. The troublesome area is healed. We now possess more “life” in our personality. Has that ever happened to you? Has Christ ever “touched” you like that?
Each of us Christians is dragging around a “body of death.” Christ notices our determination to walk in white with Him in spite of the claims of our body, which is dead because of its sinful tendencies.
When Christ returns, our dead body will hear the voice of the Son of God. Our whole body will awaken. Then, if Christ decrees so, our spirit, soul, and body will be filled completely with eternal life. Our whole personality will have the greatest desire to perform the will of God.
For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; (John 5:26)
Christ is filled with the Life of God. He issues a portion of Divine Life to whomever He will. When eternal Life enters us we are able to overcome sin, the world, the lusts of our flesh, sickness, Satan, and our own pride and self-will. Eternal Life is more powerful than all.
It appears in many instances, “saved” people possess little of the eternal Life that Christ is. The portion of resurrection life they do have is constantly in danger of being choked out by the cares of the world.
The eternal life they possess cannot come under condemnation, because it is the substance and life force of the Lord Jesus, Christ.
The remainder of their untransformed personality still is subject to Divine judgment. It is “covered” because of the work of redemption that has been begun in them. However, it is only the part of them that has “heard” Christ that has passed from death to life and therefore is no longer subject to judgment. It is the new creation that enters the Kingdom of God and is the Kingdom of God.
To believe on Christ means infinitely more than to profess faith in His atonement and resurrection, and then to wait to die and go to Heaven. To believe on Christ, in the redeeming sense, is to count one’s self as dead and to live in and by Christ.
The individual who is crucified with Christ and in whom Christ is living is being judged now. He will suffer in the world so he may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God. If he runs the race according to the rules he finally will attain the first resurrection from among the dead.
The believer who arrives at the “mark” has been made perfect in love. He shall have boldness in the Day of Judgment. He has been baptized in the Divine Fire. He has been judged and purified. He has passed from death to life before his sleeping body is awakened in the Day of the Lord.
This is what Jesus meant when He spoke of those who believe on Him. He was not and is not referring to the average “Christian” of today who is walking in the corruption and death of the flesh and is waiting to be removed from the dealings of the Lord by means of a “rapture.” Christ is referring to the spiritual man or woman who is walking in the Spirit of God.
Sometimes the true saints are few in number—just a remnant of Israel.
Christ gave the laws of the Kingdom of God to us. All of the Apostles repeated them in their epistles. These laws are to be kept. Christ by His virtue enables us to keep the laws of the Kingdom, and forgives us when we confess our sins and repent of them. We keep on walking in the light of God’s Presence. We are strictly obedient to Christ.
The concept of walking in Christ is totally different from the current understanding that Divine grace is the overlooking of our sins in the world—a viewpoint that has succeeded in destroying the testimony of the Church of Christ in our time.
If Christ is dwelling in us we are abiding in eternal life. If eternal life is abiding in us the results can be witnessed by the unsaved and by the saved.
The “believer” who is practicing the sins of the flesh is not abiding in eternal life nor is eternal life abiding in him. He is abiding in eternal death, in the life of Hell. He is living close to the fire of God’s wrath.
He is not being forgiven because he is not confessing and forsaking his sins. Walking in the lusts of the flesh is not the true Christian life, neither is it the way of eternal life. Any person who claims to be abiding in Christ and is continuing in sin is a liar.
The truth of Christ is not in him.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:4)
Such an individual is dwelling in eternal death while he or she yet is alive physically on the earth professing to be a saint of God.
But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. (I Timothy 5:6)
The true saint acts, speaks, and thinks in a godly, holy manner. He or she is making progress in godliness every day.
Any teaching that is contrary to this is delusion and death. The churches of God, as has been true throughout the Christian Era, are in rebellion against God and are trusting in the teaching and preaching of false apostles. We have made the Word of God of none effect by our traditions.
The day of reckoning is here for the Christian churches.
What is the relationship of our “accepting” Christ to the judgment and recompense that follow the awakening of our physical body from its sleep in the dust of the ground?
Does our assent to the truth of the atonement and resurrection affect the judgment and the recompense to such an extent that they no longer are to be regarded as significant determinants of our destiny? The hastiest review of the writings of the Apostles will reveal they hardly taught that!
Well then, what relationship does the atoning blood of Christ have to the judging and recompensing of the believer in Christ?
He who places his trust in the atoning blood of Christ comes under the protection of the God of Heaven. He is pardoned by the Father. His sins are cast behind God’s back.
He will continue to be protected and pardoned throughout his lifetime on the earth provided he chooses each day to walk prayerfully in God’s will. He cannot go forth sinning willfully and continue to be protected and pardoned by the Lord.
It is at this point that the author departs from the current tradition. The current tradition holds that the individual who professes belief in Christ will continue to be protected and pardoned whether or not he chooses to walk in God’s will each day. This is how “grace” is being defined by many. We are teaching that this is incorrect.
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
Of whom is the above passage speaking? It is speaking of those who at one time had been sanctified through the blood of Christ and who since that time have continued to sin willfully.
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29)
All the Apostles of Christ agree with this point of view.
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. (II Peter 2:20)
The human being who rejects Christ initially, who will not receive the benefits of Calvary, will face an angry God in the Day of Judgment.
There is no question whatever about that.
The misunderstanding arises concerning those persons who have joyfully received the Divine pardon. Do their actions in the world after they have received Christ seriously affect their eternal destinies?
“No,” responds the fundamentalist of today. “The Christian shall not reap what he sows because Christ has borne his judgment on the cross.”
“Yes,” thunder Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, the writer of Hebrews, James, and Jude.
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach that human beings are judged and recompensed according to their deeds. The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary does not alter the fundamental Kingdom law of sowing and reaping, except that God will forgive our sins when we confess them and truly repent of them in Christ’ name. This concept is altogether different from the current belief that if we profess faith in Christ we will not reap what we sow.
To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (Romans 2:7)
The difference between those who have heard the Gospel of Christ and those who have not is that those who have heard will be judged with greater strictness.
If people hear the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and do not obey its freely given pardon and also its requirements of discipleship under Christ, they will be judged more severely than those who never heard and yet practice iniquity (Luke 12:47,48).
Greater opportunity (the Gospel of God always is an opportunity) brings greater responsibility. To whom much has been given in the way of Gospel light, much shall be required.
The Christian salvation does not release us from the common obligation on mankind to please God by our conduct. Rather, the Christian salvation forgives us and then sends us on our way rejoicing, now possessing the wisdom and power to overcome the evil in the world.
Every human being, Christian and non-Christian:
- Will die physically (unless he still is alive physically when Jesus returns and at that time is a victorious saint with “oil in his lamp”).
- Will be “awakened” when he hears the voice of Christ.
- Will stand before Christ and be made manifest as to his behavior in the world.
- Will be recompensed by Christ according to that which the light of Divine judgment reveals concerning his actions while alive on the earth.
Let us consider the recompenses that result from the judgment of the human being, particularly the judgment of the Christian.
At the top of the scale are the hundredfold Christians, relatively few in number. They are the Lord’s “firstfruits.” They will be raised to a state of glory incomprehensible to us on earth.
At the bottom of the scale are the lost. This is a fate as dreadful as the recompense of the hundredfold is glorious.
We shall not discuss the question concerning the possibility that a person who has received Christ can ever be lost. Such a discussion is a fruitless theological debate. It appears those who enter it know they are not going to make an effort to overcome sin, and are attempting to assure themselves that they never can be lost.
The overcomer is not attempting to find how close to Hell he can walk and still not topple into the flames. He is seeking God continually to determine how he better can serve Christ.
Those who argue that all Christians will be saved, even if it is only as by fire and with no reward, should consider what it means to be saved as by fire with no reward, no fruit. They are assuming that there is little difference in eternal destiny between the hundredfold overcomer and the believer who has to be plucked from the flames.
The teachers who assure the backsliders that all will be saved if they once have professed Christ should explain to their students the difference in the consequences that flow from the victorious Christian life as distinguished from those that flow from the defeated, weak, indecisive “Christian” life.
It is the difference between the fruit of Abraham and the fruit of Lot. There is a truly awesome difference between the outcome of the victorious, conquering life in Christ and the outcome of a careless, lazy, disobedient life “in Christ” (if we can call it that—Matthew 25:30).
Someone who is trusting that he will be saved regardless of how he behaves might walk so close to Hell that he falls in—as Lot’s wife did, so to speak. Then his teachers will explain to him, as they stand around the edge of the flames and look down at him (being careful not to get too close), “You never were saved in the first place.” Those words will be little comfort.
To be lost is to lose hope for eternity. The Creator never again will agree to hear our voice or see our face. He has banished us forever from His holy Presence. He considers us to be unworthy of any further attempts to restore us. He will not deliver or heal us. We are doomed. We are lost!
Our torment never will cease. A billion years from now we still will be abiding in the flames that give no light. Our fellowship will be with Satan, the fallen angels, the demons, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the utterly depraved, horribly wicked, hideous people of all ages, such as Nero and Hitler. They will be our companions in the Lake of Fire.
Such will be tormented in the flames for eternity.
Among the hundredfold are Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Peter, Paul.
Among the lost are beings of such wickedness that we scarcely can believe any of them actually are human. They are “natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed” (I Peter 2:12). They are “wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 13).
Perhaps there are relatively few individuals who are hundredfold conquerors (although all persons are welcome to the ranks of the overcomers), and relatively few individuals who are lost—doomed for eternity.
It may be true that most people will be assigned a destiny somewhere between these two extremes.
Traditional Gospel preaching holds out the choice of supreme rulership or eternal torment; the hundredfold or the lost; Abraham or Nero.
Seen in this light, all of the saved receive approximately the same reward. Paul’s “halo” may shine a trifle more brightly than those of the careless “Christians” who live worldly lives. But there is nothing to be concerned about because Paul and the worldly believers are judged and recompensed only on the basis of their doctrinal position.
Do you believe this to be true—that we all will receive approximately the same reward regardless of our consecration to Christ?
Does the Scripture teach that all will receive approximately the same reward in the Kingdom of God?
How much of a difference was there between the salvation of Abraham and the salvation of Lot? Was there any significant difference in their inheritance?—their fruitfulness?
- The Scriptures speak of those who will shine as the stars forever.
- There are hundredfold, sixtyfold, thirtyfold.
- There are some who have no reward but are saved as by fire. What does it mean to be saved “as by fire” (I Corinthians 3:15)? Is that the same thing as being delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (I Corinthians 5:5)?
- There are those who will hear, Well done, good and faithful servant! There are others of the Lord’s servants who will hear, Depart from me, you wicked and lazy slave! You wasted my goods!
- There are those who are greatest in the Kingdom of God. There are some who are least in the Kingdom of God.
- Some persons will be beaten with many lashes; others will be beaten with few lashes.
- The Father has designated at least two persons to stand on either side of Christ in His Kingdom.
- The work of assisting the immature “sisters of the Bride” is described in the last chapter of the Song of Solomon.
- There are the Lord’s “firstfruits,” of the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
- There were David’s “mighty men,” and then the remainder of Israel.
- Paul, toward the close of his life, was pressing toward a “mark.”
- Then we have the Book of Revelation’s marvelous rewards of life and authority that are the consequences of the life of victory in Christ (Chapters Two and Three).
God does not break the “bruised reed” or quench the “smoking flax.” Rather, He sends judgment and grace until the weak are led forth in victory.
No kingdom is made up solely of kings. How can there be kings if there are no subjects? The Kingdom of God is an actual kingdom.
Perhaps you will agree with us that the Divine redemption is not limited to producing only the kings and the tormented. There are regions of life between the high thrones and the depths of the Lake of Fire. The Scriptures do not teach that there is but one level of attainment in the Kingdom of God.
One day you and I will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. We will be rewarded according to what we have done in our bodies, according to the good and evil we have practiced. Jesus is coming soon. His reward is with Him to give to every person the wages he has earned.
What is your choice? Thirtyfold? Sixtyfold? A Hundredfold?
Will Jesus address you as a friend and faithful servant, or will you be met with a frown and expressions of disappointment or even anger in that Day?
Is your conduct leading you toward praise and blessings or is it bringing you to rebuke and punishment?
Are you in danger of being led away into outer darkness?
The Holy Spirit seems to be speaking to us that the issues we are presenting in this Foreword are far more serious than we have realized. A spirit of lightness and unwarranted optimism have pervaded the Christian churches.
The spirit of lightness and assurance concerning the things of the Kingdom of God is not in line with such apostolic expressions as “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”; “the righteous scarcely be saved”; “how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?”; “knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”
If we are correct in our understanding, the churches of Christ around the world are facing a severe chastening. Much blood will be spilled. Christian people will become aware Gospel preaching over the past several years has not been acceptable to God as to the witness that has been borne. The call to repentance is too weak. The goodness of God is being emphasized but the severity of God is being concealed.
The believers will not be “raptured” out of this chastening, because the chastening is for their salvation. Were Christ to return now, it seems likely that a mere handful of believers would be prepared to dwell in the fire of His Presence.
The churches are not ready for Christ’s return. The world is not ready for Christ’s return.
First must come unprecedented glory and unprecedented tribulation. Much will be accomplished by the glory and also by the suffering. Best of all, the Bride of the Lamb will be separated from the worldly churches and will be purified, thus being made ready for Her Lord.
The Scriptures are true.
It is time now for all persons everywhere to repent, especially the Christian people, because Jesus is coming soon. In fact, the Judge now is at the door of our hearts. If we will allow Him entrance into our heart He will purify us so we can offer an offering in the righteousness, love, and holiness that the Lord requires.
Christ will be made the Center of every creature and every thing in the universe. He must become central in His Church. God will ensure that Christ is made the Center of attention in His Church. It will require the flames of Divine judgment to bring this about. Man is at the center of the churches of today.
You and I can walk with God in the present hour. We can overcome the world. We can, through Christ, become a hundredfold conqueror. Let’s do it.
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matthew 16:27)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)
If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (I Corinthians 3:14,15)
JUDGMENT AND REWARDS
The Scriptures teach that saved people are rewarded according to their works.
We leave the world and enter the family of God by believing in Christ and being baptized in water. By faith in the atonement made on the cross of Calvary we receive forgiveness of our sins. But we are rewarded in the Kingdom of God according to our behavior in the present world.
It is one matter to have our sins forgiven. It is another matter to lay hold on the eternal life that is in Christ and to enter the fullness of the Kingdom of God—now, and when the Lord appears.
When addressing believers who had experienced the forgiveness of their sins the Apostle warns them concerning the relationship between their behavior and their entering the Kingdom of God.
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9,10)
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (Ephesians 5:5).
Paul is speaking to saved, Christian people—the saints in Corinth and Ephesus. He is informing them that a person, Christian or not, who behaves in a sinful manner cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
It is difficult for us to understand the above passages because we have been taught that the Lord Jesus “did it all” and our main task now is to wait to die and go to Heaven.
But there is a difference between having our sins forgiven, on the one hand, and becoming a new creation through Christ, on the other. The Kingdom of God comprises victorious saints who live in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The believer who continues in worldliness, in the lusts of his flesh, and in his own self-will, is not living in the Kingdom of God. He is walking in darkness.
Since each individual must settle his own account with Christ we cannot describe the ultimate destiny of any particular believer. But the text of the New Testament certainly does not support the assured, light, presumptuous attitude that prevails in Christian circles. The churches are blind and naked and need to seek the Lord.
Receiving Jesus and believing in His name gives us the right, the authority, to be a child of God. We then are to stand on that authority and press into the Kingdom of God.
One area of ignorance has to do with the concept of “going to Heaven.” We are not saved to “go to Heaven.” Salvation has to do with deliverance from the person and works of Satan, being created in the image of God, and coming into union with God through Christ. When we make going to Heaven our goal, and perceive the blood of Jesus as our ticket to Heaven, we cannot understand the Christian redemption.
Heaven is a place. The Kingdom of God is Christ. Paul was not striving to gain Heaven, He was striving to gain Christ.
For example, the covetous individual may escape Hell when he dies, if Christ is willing to forgive him and save him from the Divine wrath. But his covetous character will prevent him from entering the joy of his Lord. The covetous individual cannot possibly enter the Kingdom of God because there is no covetousness in the Kingdom of God. His covetousness must be removed at some point because covetousness will never enter the Kingdom of God, never enter that which is of the Lord Jesus.
The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven; and covetousness is not God’s will, either in Heaven or on the earth.
Paul was saved from wrath by the blood of Christ, by the gift of God’s grace. Yet we find throughout Paul’s writings an intense striving, the running of a race for which Paul prepared himself like an Olympic contender seeking a gold medal.
Toward what was Paul pressing? To gain entrance into Heaven? To acquire a mansion in Heaven? Did Paul, or Peter, or John, ever once state they were striving to make Heaven their eternal home?
Is Heaven a real place? Absolutely. Will we escape Hell when we die? Yes, if we receive and love the Lord Jesus Christ and walk according to His will. But in the attaining of the Kingdom of God there is much diversity. Each believer attains a different destiny according to his diligence in laying hold on that to which he has been called by the Lord.
The Gospel of Christ is not the gospel of going to Heaven but the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven. We need to orient ourselves toward the Kingdom of God. We are born into the Kingdom of God, as well as into heavenly citizenship, when we are “born again.” But now we are to grow to maturity in the Kingdom of God.
We can think of the Kingdom of God in terms of the rewards that are named in the New Testament. The concept of judgment is related to rewards because we will be rewarded in terms of God’s evaluation of our behavior.
“… that every one may receive the things done in his body, …” (II Corinthians 5:10)
“… to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Revelation 22:12)
Also, the concept of the resurrection from the dead is involved, because what we have attained of the Kingdom of God during our life on earth will be given to us at the time of the resurrection from the dead.
Many rewards for serving Christ faithfully are mentioned in the New Testament. One set of rewards is found in the Book of Revelation. They are the rewards that are attained to, or arrived at, by the overcomer.
The rewards given to the overcomer, as we understand them, are increments of resurrection life until we attain the fullness of life; the fullness of reconciliation to God through Christ; the fullness of freedom from Satan; the fullness of boldness in the Day of Judgment; the fullness of the spiritual counterpart of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34), that is, to be filled with all the fullness of God.
To attain resurrection life fully is to arrive at the first resurrection from among the dead, the resurrection in which all judgment has been accomplished and the perfection of the Divine Life and Glory can be revealed in us. It is the fullness of the indwelling of the Father in Christ in us through the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The first resurrection of the dead will take place at the coming of the Lord from Heaven.
The following list includes some of the rewards to the overcomer that are promised in the Book of Revelation:
- To eat of the tree of life that is in the midst of the Paradise of God (2:7).
- To be given crown of life (2:10).
- To not be hurt of the second death (2:11).
- To eat of the hidden manna (2:17).
- To be given a white stone in that is inscribed a new name (2:17).
- To be given power over the nations (2:26,27).
- To be given the morning star (2:28).
- To walk with Christ in white (3:4).
- To be clothed in white raiment (3:5).
- To not have one’s name blotted out of the Book of Life (3:5).
- To have one’s name confessed before the Father and His angels (3:5).
- To be kept from the hour of temptation (3:10).
- To become a pillar in the Temple of God (3:12).
- To have inscribed on one’s self the name of God; the name of the city of God; the new name of Christ (3:12).
- To sit with Christ in His throne (3:21).
- To inherit all things (21:7).
- To have God be one’s God, and to be God’s son (21:7).
Going to Heaven when one dies is not listed as a reward to the overcomer, although the Book of Revelation does present the blood-washed as being in Heaven (Revelation 7:14). Yet, it is evident that the emphasis is not on “making Heaven our eternal home.”
A beautiful home in Heaven is not mentioned as being a reward to the conqueror. Rather, the rewards have to do with the attaining of eternal life and power in the Presence of Christ and the Father.
All of us desire to go to Paradise when we die. The present world is a valley of pain and dread. According to the visions of the saints, Paradise is a garden of delight and peace.
But to lose our body and pass into the spirit realm certainly is not an attainment of life or authority. Eternal life is not perpetual consciousness in the spirit realm. Eternal life is a kind, a quality of life. Demons possess no eternal life but they are perpetually conscious in the spirit realm.
Satan is a spiritual creature, a cherub. He introduced sin into the spirit realm. Eternal death resulted. Eternal death is a spiritual condition, not a physical condition. To go to Heaven, to pass into the realm of spirits, is not to attain eternal life. It is Christ who is eternal Life, who is the Tree of Life.
When we are full of Christ we are full of eternal Life whether we are on the earth or in Heaven.
It is important that we understand what it means to overcome, because the inference in the items listed above is that if we are not pursuing the life of victory in Christ we are not inheriting these rewards or any of the other rewards mentioned by the Lord Jesus and His Apostles.
The writer has preached the overcoming life for many years. Sometimes people ask, “What will happen to Christians who do not lead an overcoming life? Will they be raised from the dead and ascend to meet the Lord in triumph when He appears? Will they be Divine kings and priests, crowned with glory and honor, even though they did not live as saints in this present world?”
The basic question is: Just how important is it that we pursue the life of victory in Christ? Will there actually be a great difference in destiny between the Christian who devotes his whole attention to pleasing the Lord and the Christian who trusts in his or her affirmation of the truth that Jesus is Savior and Lord and proceeds to live in the flesh?
Is it worth the supreme effort necessary for achieve victory over fleshly lusts and to lay aside our life and follow Christ wherever He goes?
This is an extraordinarily important question. It is not merely academic or an issue to be debated by mystical saints. The answer to this question has to do with our status at the coming of Christ; with the quality of our resurrection; with our destiny throughout eternity.
How important is it that we, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, develop the spiritual strength necessary to conquer Satan, the enticements of the world, the lusts of our flesh, and our self-seeking and self-will?
Will we all inherit approximately the same glory? Or is it true that the rewards of the saints will range from an exaltation so sublime that it is beyond our comprehension, to a resurrection that is barren of glory, such as in the case of the righteous Lot being yanked out of Sodom?
Will some be “great” in the Kingdom of God, while others are “least”?
Would you enjoy being least in the Kingdom of God, least in the approval of God, Christ, the elect angels, and the saints?
Is it true that each of us indeed will receive both the “good” we have practiced in our flesh and also the “evil” we have practiced in our flesh? Is that taking place in our life even now?
What does it mean to receive the good we have done and the evil we have done (II Corinthians 5:10)?
What kind of “gold, silver, precious stones” can be built on the foundation of Christ? What will it mean to be saved “yet so as by fire” (I Corinthians 3:12-15)?
To His faithful servants, Christ will exclaim, “Well done! Well done!”
Will Christ say to the “believer” who has led a sinful, disobedient, self-seeking, self-centered life, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?
Will the careless, spiritually lazy Christian be rebuked for his sin, his disobedience, and his self-seeking? If so, just how much of a sting will there be in that rebuke?
We ought to settle such questions now and not wait until it is too late to adjust our life to the scriptural answers.
The Scriptures state all men will die and then will be raised again. Each person will be raised to stand before Christ and be judged in terms of what he has done in this life; how he has conducted himself. Then he will be rewarded or punished according to the judgment of Christ.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:2,3)
It is our flesh and bones that “sleep in the dust of the earth.” The resurrection from the dead is the awakening of our mortal body from its sleep in the dust of the earth.
To be resurrected is to be faced with the prospect either of everlasting life or else shame and everlasting contempt. What we will experience depends on our behavior during our days on earth. This is what Christ, Paul, and the others have taught us.
Being “saved” does not mean we will not be rewarded according to our behavior. If it did, Paul would not have warned the saints in Corinth, Galatia, and Ephesus that the unclean and covetous cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9,10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5,6).
One individual had a dream in which he witnessed the saints being handed radiantly beautiful white robes but he was given a diaper.
Some of us will receive a glorious inheritance. Others of us will be saved as by fire. We are determining our reward, or punishment, by our behavior today.
The Christian believer will be clothed with his own conduct. We shall reap what we have sown. We shall be rewarded in terms of our works (Revelation 2:23; 22:12).
To attain the first resurrection from the dead is to attain the throne of Christ. It is to become, through Christ the firstfruits of the image of God, the firstfruits of eternal man.
We think the “out-resurrection” (first resurrection) to which the Apostle Paul was addressing himself (Philippians 3:11) is the state in which the believer arrives at a full maturing in resurrection life now (although not in the body). He follows the Spirit of God into total victory over sin and self-will now. The result is that at the last trumpet he will be raised to the side of Christ, there to work with the Lord in establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Such a “crown of life” is well worth fighting for.
Christ has held out to us rewards for pursuing the overcoming Christian life. These are the development of the life and authority that will be revealed to us in full weight and glory at the coming of the Lord from Heaven.
The rewards to the overcomer are not prizes that will be handed to every believer on the basis of grace or God’s mercy. Rather they are areas of spiritual authority, power, and responsibility that belong by inheritance to redeemed man. They accrue to us as we obey the Holy Spirit. Some are given to us now and others will be assigned to us at the coming of the Lord. Our task in the world is to mature to the level where we can receive them.
The rewards to the overcomer are not given to us because we keep on believing Jesus is Christ. They are the product of specific training; the consequence of specific behavior; the effect of specific cause.
The training period is now. If we apply ourselves each day to the challenges and blessings of the Spirit of God we will be able to enter the authorities, powers, responsibilities, and opportunities for service that belong by inheritance to those who have been conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus.
If we do not apply ourselves each day to the challenges and blessings of the Spirit of God, choosing rather to occupy ourselves with the challenges and blessings of life in this present world, then it is possible we will attain privileges in the world. However, at the coming of the Lord we will not be prepared for a position of leadership in the Kingdom of God. Only those who have been made new creatures in Christ are qualified to rule in the Kingdom of God.
Let us consider the rewards to the overcomer set forth in the Book of Revelation. We will view them as present opportunities for growth in resurrection life, and present opportunities for attaining full union with the Father through Christ.
To eat of the tree of life that is in the midst of the Paradise of God (Revelation 2:7).
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Tree of Life. He has spoken to us and we have passed from death to life. Now we are learning to live by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.
Each Christian either is living the ordinary flesh-and-blood, day-to-day life of the animal, deriving his strength solely from the eating of plants and animals; or else he is walking in Christ and learning to lay hold on eternal life, as Paul urged Timothy. He is living to himself in his flesh and soul, or he is feeding on the Life of Christ, and Christ in him is being built up and strengthened.
But many foes are contesting with us each day, attempting to prevent us from giving our attention to the Life that is in Christ. Satan, the spirit of the world, people, our own fleshly lusts, self-centeredness, self-seeking, and our desire for self-aggrandizement—all are pushing against us as we seek the Life of Christ.
If we overcome, that is, if through the Spirit of God we are successful in conquering the enemies that are determined to turn us away from cross-carrying obedience to Christ, we gain access to the tree of life. It is daily warfare, as every saint knows well.
If we do not overcome, if we do not successfully resist the forces of corruption and death, then we do not grow in Christ’s eternal Life. Rather, eternal death is making inroads into our body, our soul, and our spirit.
When we are not walking and living in the Spirit of God we become increasingly feeble. Soon we are not living in Christ at all. The absence of Divine Life may be accompanied by bodily weakness, or even sickness and premature death (I Corinthians 11:30). (This is not to imply that all Christians who are sickly are walking in the flesh.)
All true believers pass from death to life at the moment of receiving Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. But some do not continue to eat of the tree of life. They live according to the dictates of their flesh and carnal minds. They do not put to death the deeds of their body. They are overcome by the lusts of their flesh and the enticements of the world.
They are sowing to the flesh. They will reap corruption, not eternal life, in the Day of the Lord.
The last view of Paradise enjoyed by Adam and Eve was that of the tree of life. The first view of Paradise that we enjoy, as we commence the program of restoration, is that of the tree of life. As we determine to repossess, through the grace of Christ, all that was lost in Eden, we come first to the tree of life.
The body and blood of Christ are our true life. But if we are not walking in victory we are not partaking each day of the Life of Christ. If we live in the Spirit of God, walking in victorious faith in Christ, eternal life is being built up in us. It is that eternal life that will be the “oil in our lamp” in the Day of Christ.
It is only the victorious, dedicated saint who is feeding continually on the eternal Life that Christ Is, passing from grace to grace and from glory to glory until he stands complete in all the will of God.
God never will permit any individual to partake of the tree of life until that person is gaining victory over sin and rebellion through means of the eternal life that already has been given to him.
Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden in the hope one day they would be redeemed. Had they partaken of immortality while still in sin they would have been hurled down to Tartarus where the fallen angels are. God in His everlasting mercy has placed us in mortal bodies in the hope one day all of the sin and rebellion will be cast from us. Then we can be given immortality in the body. Then we can eat of the tree of life without measure. We do not want immortality while we still are in rebellion against God’s perfect will, for then we never could be redeemed.
As we follow the Lord diligently, taking up our cross, presenting our body a living sacrifice, the Holy Spirit teaches us how to gain victory over the sin and self-seeking that are in us. God brings judgment on the sin in us and casts it from us. Deliverance from sin is our reward for faithfully following the Lord. The glory and authority described in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation accrue to us naturally as, through the Lord Jesus, we are cleansed from the image of Satan and begin to take on the image of God.
We are not required to conquer sin and self-will in our own strength. Our task is to do, through the Holy Spirit, the things that the Apostles have written in the Scriptures. God’s task (and delight) is to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, to conform us to His image, and to bring us into total union with Himself through Christ.
Feeding on the tree of life leads to the crown of life. The crown of life brings us to final victory over Satan and over the authority of the second death.
To be given a crown of life (Revelation 2:10).
We are to begin walking in victory today, as the Lord leads. The power by which we rule is the “crown of life.” It is the authority and power of resurrection life that enable us to live and overcome the evil that is in our environment. Paul was seeking such power (Philippians 3:10).
Each victory in Christ makes possible new victories and gives us added strength in all areas of the struggle. Jesus leads His army from conquest to conquest until the saints gain the upper hand in this life. They who learn to rule now will be given the authority and power to govern all things in the ages to come.
The crown of life is that incorruptible, indestructible, eternal life in which Christ lives and rules. It is being created in the believer in whom Christ is being formed.
Those who will be issued the crown of life are the believers who are being trained in humility. They are becoming obedient to the Father, even when such obedience costs dearly and requires great patience—to the limits of our endurance (James 1:12).
Gaining the crown of life in every part of our personality brings to us an authority that is higher than the authority of the Lake of Fire.
To not be hurt of the second death (Revelation 2:11).
The second death is the Lake of Fire. The saints who are living in victory in Christ have been given the assurance in writing that they cannot be hurt by the second death. The inference is that the believer who allows himself to be overcome by Satan and the world continues to be in danger of being harmed by the Lake of Fire.
The Christian who is gaining the crown of life is acquiring authority over the authority of the second death. The maturing of the life of victory in Christ such that the first resurrection is attained, brings complete dominion over the power of the second death.
… on such the second death hath no power [authority], … (Revelation 20:6).
The Lake of Fire is the area of spiritual torment into which will be cast Satan, his angels, sin, pride, and rebellion against the Father’s will.
As long as the Christian has in him any part of Satan’s personality or works there is a segment of his personality over which the second death possesses Divine authority and power (Revelation 21:8).
The crown of life provides us with authority and power mightier than the power of Satan. Through the power of resurrection life we can overcome the areas of our personality that still reflect the person and works of Satan (I John 3:8).
Abiding faithfully in the prison in which we are bound results in the destruction of our adamic nature. The destruction of our adamic nature enables God to release us from the various bondages that enslave us, because the bondages of sin and rebellion find lodging in our adamic nature. As soon as the natural man is crucified it becomes possible to destroy the sinful nature (Romans 6:6).
Little by little the attitudes and actions that yet are subject to the wrath of God, that can be harmed by God’s fire, are driven from our personality. It is possible to gain total victory over all such areas of our life as the Holy Spirit gives us the necessary wisdom and power.
When the Spirit of God testifies that the sin has been judged and removed from us, the second death cannot harm us. It no longer possesses authority over us. If we were placed in it we would emerge unharmed as did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar.
If there is nothing in us that is subject to Divine condemnation, how, then, can the Divine fire hurt us?
To be saved “as by fire” means God has burned up that part of our personality and behavior that is displeasing to Himself. The remainder of us, especially our spirit, is saved in the Day of Christ (I Corinthians 3:15; 5:5).
Lot is our scriptural example of what it means to be saved as by fire.
Lot was wealthy (Genesis 13:5,6). He had a wife, two daughters, and two sons-in-law.
Lot’s life and possessions were not consecrated to God. Unlike his uncle Abraham, Lot was not ruling with God. Lot chose to dwell in Sodom, in the midst of fleshly lust, in the city of material abundance and luxury. He was abiding in death, in the suburbs of Hell.
Then the “eternal fire” of God fell on the works of Satan in Sodom (Jude 7). Lot was pulled to safety by the prayers of Abraham. But Lot’s sheep were destroyed; his goats were destroyed; his camels were destroyed; his sons-in-law were destroyed; his wife was destroyed.
Lot was left with his two daughters. Instead of waiting for the opportunity to acquire husbands from the tribes that surrounded them, these two girls (whom the Scripture does not name) coerced their father to drink wine and then committed incest with him. No doubt incest was practiced commonly in Sodom and Gomorrah. The result of the incest was Moab and Ammon.
The Scripture terms Lot a “righteous” man. Yet, the fire left him only two daughters—girls who had learned in Sodom how to make their father drunk and then commit incest with him. The result was the people of Moab and Ammon who “met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them” (Nehemiah 13:2).
Lot and his daughters were saved as by fire. But God burned up their home, their possessions, their fruitfulness. God portrayed His displeasure with the children of Lot by rejecting them. The Egyptian and the Edomite could become a part of Israel after the third generation, but not the children of Lot.
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter the congregation of the Lord for ever: (Deuteronomy 23:3)
Ruth, the Moabitess, was a divinely blessed exception.
What can we say about the prospect of being saved “as by fire”?
It is not the most desirable destiny. And Lot was a righteous man! If Lot was saved with difficulty, what, then, of the end of the ungodly?
So it is with us. Christ desires that we press forward until there is nothing remaining in our personality that can be harmed by the fire of God. The crown of life will clothe us with an authority greater than the authority of the second death.
Otherwise, we will face an uncertain future when we are raised from the dead.
But that [speaking of neglectful Christians] which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8)
The believers to whom the Book of Hebrews was written were not babes in Christ. They were experienced Christians who had accepted joyfully the confiscation of their properties by the Roman government because of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:32-34).
The Book of Hebrews was a solemn warning to them (and us) that if they should neglect their salvation, not pressing into the rest of God, not bearing the fruit of the Spirit, they would be in danger of Divine fire.
What did Jesus say to the Christian whose sin consisted of not using the gift that God had entrusted to him? “You wicked and lazy slave. Why did you waste my money? Depart from me and go into outer darkness!”
According to the Scripture, this can happen to the careless Christian.
The parable of the talents is found in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew. This judgment will take place when “the son of man cometh.” It has to do with the Lord’s “own servants.”
It seems reasonable, as we study the parable of the talents, that the “outer darkness” may be the same as the “lashes” that will be given to those who did not do the Lord’s will.
And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many lashes. (Luke 12:47)
When the trumpet of the Lord sounds there will be those who do not possess enough “oil,” enough resurrection life. Notice that the parable of the talents follows in context with the parable of the ten virgins. There will be believers who, although they are working in the same field with another Christian, or sleeping in the same bed, will not be taken to meet the Lord when He appears. They will be left on the earth.
When the Lord returns with His saints, these careless servants will stand before Him. The wicked, lazy believers will be sent away into outer darkness.
These parables are not speaking of the peoples of the world. They are speaking of “virgins,” of the Lord’s servants.
Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:28-30)
Paul warned us that we shall receive that which we have practiced in our flesh. The wicked and lazy servant did in fact receive that which he had done. He was lazy and overcautious. He buried the Lord’s money. He did not devote his time and efforts to the building of the Kingdom. He was thrust out of the Kingdom of God because he did not find the Kingdom to be of sufficient worth to compel his attention and diligence.
It is taught commonly that all who profess Christ will be raised from the dead and ascend to meet the Lord, and will spend eternity in Paradise with the Lord. But Christ and His Apostles did not teach this.
The writer’s opinion is that the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians and the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians are speaking only of those persons whom Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude would judge to be true and faithful disciples of Jesus. It is our point of view that being “in Christ” means vastly more than the token acceptance of Christ that is today’s standard of salvation.
The true saints are entering life now. They are being judged now. They already have been received of Christ. When the Lord returns they will be caught up to meet Him and immediately will be filled with exceedingly great glory. Their judgment has been accomplished, their iniquity has been pardoned.
If Christ were to return now, and the careless believers were to be raised from the dead and caught up to meet Him in the air, they would find themselves in a furnace of Divine fire and judgment. They would be unimaginably worse off than they are now. Our God is a consuming Fire.
The dead will be summoned from their graves by the voice of the Lord Jesus. Then each of us will receive that which he has practiced while alive in the flesh.
The resurrection from the dead will include people from all ages of history. Some of these have been in Paradise with Jesus for thousands of years. But in the hour when Jesus comes and their dead bodies come forth from the grave, they will be rewarded according to how they conducted themselves when alive on the earth.
The concept of Christian people being raised from the dead and then judged, and that judgment actually having far-reaching effects including vastly different rewards and severe penalties, is not always presented clearly.
When the writer was a young Christian he was taught that the Judgment Seat of Christ will prove to be, for the believers, some kind of sports banquet in which a few heroes receive trophies and everyone else receives a certificate for participating.
There is nothing to worry about, no “terror of the Lord” to cause us to tremble (II Corinthians 5:11). No believer will be rebuked sternly at the Judgment Seat of Christ, much less be carried into outer darkness. All believers will receive approximately the same reward.
The concept of the Judgment Seat of Christ being an awards ceremony is totally unscriptural. No passage of Scripture presents the Day of Judgment as an awards ceremony. In addition, the Greek term beema, that is translated judgment seat, is used consistently in the New Testament to mean a court where accused criminals are brought for judgment. There is no basis for regarding the Judgment Seat of Christ as an awards ceremony.
It is true that Paul spoke of running a race. It is true that those who run well will receive a crown. The eternal Word of God cannot be changed: every person will receive from the Lord’s hand what he has practiced in the flesh, whether his behavior has been good or whether it has been wicked.
The tribulation that is at hand will cause a division in the Christian camp. The majority of believers will become part of Babylon, of the great whore. A remnant will stay with the Lord and will be forced to flee for their lives. To them God will restore the truth of the Scriptures.
The concept of the Judgment Seat of Christ being an awards ceremony in which no believer faces punishment is held by numerous Christians. As a result, the fear of God is missing from the Christian churches. The Christians lie, steal, behave treacherously, practice immorality, and pursue their self-centered, self-willed ways in the world.
Do the Gospels and the writings of the Apostles teach us we have no need to fear the Judgment Seat of Christ? Is it actually true that no matter how we behave we will not be punished provided we have made a profession of belief in Jesus? Is this what the Scriptures teach concerning judgment and rewards?
Indeed it is not, and this monstrous deception has destroyed the moral character of the Christian churches. It is time for us to repent.
The current concept of the Christian redemption is that of the grand Divine pardon. The emphasis on the grand pardon has given rise to the belief that the Judgment Seat of Christ must be a presentation of rewards, followed by some sort of mild reproof directed toward those “believers” who have lived a worldly, self-serving life—a mild reproof followed by the drying of all tears and repeated assurances that all is forgiven.
This is incorrect but it is believed widely in our day.
It is true and scriptural that the Christian redemption is a grand pardon. Christ is crucified and Barabbas, the criminal, representing each of us, is set free.
The grand pardon concept of salvation has held out the hope of eternal life to many dying sinners. The pardon is available today, just as it has been since Christ died for our sins and rose again as proof we have been justified in the sight of God the Father.
However, there is another basic concept set forth in the New Testament writings. It is the concept of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth and our entrance into that Kingdom. The Gospel of the Kingdom includes the great Divine pardon—the unconditional pardon of the repentant sinner, but also the idea of freeing the sinner from the person and works of Satan and bringing him into eternal union with God through Christ.
In the Scriptures we have both the Divine pardon through Jesus’ blood and also the running of the race, the fighting of the conflict of the ages, the overcoming of every power that would prevent our gaining complete union with Jesus. Our present booklet on judgment and rewards is emphasizing the running of the race for the prize, while not minimizing the marvelous glory of the grand Divine pardon.
The true concept of redemption is that we are pardoned in order to run the Christian race. We are forgiven that we may fight the good fight of faith, that we may gain total victory over sin.
It is not God’s intention that we continue as forgiven sinners. He has “created [us] in Christ unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
Believing Jesus of Nazareth is Christ, Christ, is not all there is to being a Christian. Receiving Christ gives us the authority to be a child of God. Now we must turn our attention to maturing into a son of God.
The belief that the Judgment Seat of Christ includes nothing but glory and praise for the Christian has arisen because the Divine pardon has been emphasized to the exclusion of running the race. Cross-carrying obedience to the Master often is viewed as a desirable but not critically important act; at least not critically important in the sense of seriously affecting the welfare of the believer when he or she stands before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Do the Scriptures support such lighthearted confidence? Have we paid attention to the Scripture that emphasizes the unconditional Divine pardon and then ignored the numerous passages that emphasize the running of the race, the stern, totally demanding requirements of Christian discipleship?
The Scriptures stand eternally as written. It is the victorious saint, the conqueror in Christ, who will not be hurt by the second death, which is the Lake of Fire. Christians who allow themselves to be overcome by Satan, by the world, or by their own lusts and self-will, are carrying about in their personalities various works and attitudes that will not be able to survive the Presence of the Lord.
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; (Isaiah 33:14,15)
Such passages as the above have been removed from Christian thinking, as though faith in the Lord Jesus somehow supersedes them. This is a terribly destructive error. To change such Old Testament passages would be to alter what God Is—and that never shall happen!
Christian grace never changes the fundamental law of behavior and consequences, of sowing and reaping. Rather, Christian grace changes how we behave, what we sow. Until Christian people come to understand grace alters what we sow, not what we reap, the churches will continue in immorality, covetousness, and drunkenness.
It is true that God suspends the consequences of our sins while Jesus is transforming us. Jesus died in order to make such suspension possible. But to pervert the Divine waiver into an abrogation of the basic Kingdom law of sowing and reaping is to turn the grace of God into an excuse for sin and rebellion.
It always has been true, in all of the Divine covenants, that when a sinner turned from his wicked ways and began practicing righteousness, his wickedness was not mentioned to him (Ezekiel 18:22). That is the way God behaves toward people. Divine mercy is not limited to the new covenant.
The unique aspect of the new covenant is that God’s Spirit writes the law of God in our minds and hearts so we do God’s will by nature. If we continue in the work of destroying Satan from our personality, the blood of Jesus keeps on forgiving us. It is an eternal redemption. God will cast our sins away from us, washing us whiter than the snow.
But to pervert transforming grace into an eternal amnesty in which God no longer judges the conduct of human beings, forgiving them on the basis of a profession of belief in Jesus, is to entirely miss God’s intention.
The Jews missed God’s intention by emphasizing the tithing of herbs and neglecting judgment, mercy, and faith. The Christians are missing God’s intention by emphasizing the gift of God’s grace and ignoring judgment, mercy and faith. Both the Jews and the Christians miss God because their hearts are far from God. Such will continue in deception unless God in His mercy opens their eyes to the truth.
Our God is a consuming Fire. No person can dwell in the Divine Presence when there is unrighteousness in his personality. The grace of God in Christ does not enable an individual who has sin in his heart to dwell with God. But it does give the sinner access to God in prayer, and suspends his judgment until the Lord Jesus has had an opportunity to lead him in paths of righteousness.
God’s holy fire is a blessing to the upright. But to those who have darkness in them it is an eternal torment, whether or not they name the name of the Lord Jesus.
The saint who is conquering and driving out the works and attitudes that cannot exist in the Divine fire is strengthened by food that is given only to those who are doing the Lord’s will.
To eat of the hidden manna (Revelation 2:17).
The hidden manna is the supernatural strength given to God’s warriors who are performing His will. When we are at the end of our strength, the strength of the Lord takes over. Our food is to do His will, to finish the tasks He has given to us.
Those who have not set themselves to do their Lord’s will do not experience that hidden strength. They know only the wisdom and strength of flesh and blood.
They have received the Divine pardon but they are not pressing forward in Christ. They are not sharing in the heavenly resources that make it possible for us to attain the first resurrection from among the dead. Their efforts are limited to that which is possible for human beings to accomplish, even though through Christ they have been given the authority to be children of God.
The daily manna from Heaven is given to the Lord’s warriors.
To be given a white stone in which is inscribed a new name (Revelation 2:17).
Our understanding is that the white stone is a voting pebble. It signifies the believer has passed from the ranks of those who have been called to those who have been chosen.
Multitudes are “called” to enter the Kingdom of God. But only a “few” respond to that call by forsaking all to follow Christ. Only those few are given confirmation by the Lord that they will receive the fullness of the inheritance.
It may be difficult for us to understand God works His greatest works with a minority, not a majority of people. This is contrary to the way of the world.
The rights of people are being emphasized today. Governments respond to pressure from the masses. World approval is sought. Revolution is in order. Antichrist has persuaded humans that “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”
But it is not at all true that the voice of the people is the voice of God. That often is the opposite of the truth.
The will of God is revealed and performed through individuals, not through masses of people. Noah, Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Paul, Martin Luther, stood nearly alone when their messages were brought forth.
The Scriptures are a record of a handful of people, a remnant, bearing the true witness of God before a hostile, rebellious church and world. The reaction of Israel and the world is to reject and slay the prophets of the Lord. It is the same today in the Christian churches.
Today, perhaps as never before, the peoples of the earth are under great pressure to conform to public opinion. In a wicked age, the pressure to conform to group opinion works to Satan’s advantage. The television adds to this emphasis on the will, the opinion, of the masses of people.
God seeks men and women whose hearts are perfect toward Him; who will stand resolutely in His Presence and speak His Word—not only the written Word of the Scriptures but also the Word that is issuing now from the mouth of God. Every true saint of Christ is called to stand in the Divine fire and announce the present will of the God of Heaven.
How many people do you know who live in the Divine fire and announce the present will of God? Who know the mind and will of God? Who know God? Are they many or few?
So it is true that multitudes are called to inherit the Kingdom of God, but only a few walk in the ranks of the conquerors.
How small God’s remnant actually is will no doubt come as a surprise in the hour of the Lord’s appearing. The true saints appear to be relatively few in number.
What, then, of the multitudes of the saved; of those who call themselves by the name of Christ? God loves them. No doubt He will bring them into green pastures and lead them beside the still waters.
But the conquerors, those who inherit the fullness of the first resurrection, may prove to be a small remnant of believers.
Being chosen brings us to authority over the nations of the earth.
To be given power over the nations (Revelation 2:26,27).
We are gaining the wisdom and power to rule with Christ in the present world so we may be able to rule with Christ throughout the ages to come.
Notice in the following passage that forsaking all this life has to offer, thus becoming a member of the Lord’s chosen few, leads to authority over people.
Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye that have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:27,28)
When we behold the Apostles of Christ in the Day of the Lord—Peter, James, Andrew, John, Philip, Bartholomew and so forth—they will be arrayed in royal robes. They will be seated in exalted majesty on the thrones of glory, administrating the affairs of the nation of Israel.
It is interesting that one of those exalted thrones was reserved for each of the twelve disciples, including Judas Iscariot. But Judas (who was one of the chosen—John 6:70) sold his divinely appointed monarchy for thirty pieces of silver. How many today are selling their fabulous inheritance for a few dollars?
We can imagine what it will be like to judge the nation of Israel, or to govern any other nation. To sit as a king and judge is a dreadful responsibility.
But not all believers will be rulers of nations.
Among the multitude of believers there is a handful of saints who are being trained each moment of each day to rule in Christ. There is so much to learn! Obviously (and scripturally) it will be those whom God has carefully trained in obedience who will rule the nations of the earth.
It is neither scriptural nor reasonable to suppose we will rule nations on the basis of being pardoned by the Lord. If we would be princes of the realm we must submit ourselves to the King of the realm.
Also, we must be called and chosen for our rulership.
And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. (Matthew 20:23)
“For whom it is prepared of my Father”!
Ranks in the Kingdom of God represent differing levels of authority and power, just as in any other kingdom, and are by Divine appointment. Not everyone is given the same number of talents or the same kind of talents. We can conquer only that which is set before us to conquer as an individual. We are exhorted to grasp that for which we as an individual have been grasped.
It is God’s part to organize the Kingdom of God. It is our part to be obedient and faithful to the calling of God that is on our own life. We are to work out our own salvation.
We have been stressing that the rewards to the overcomer are not gifts that are given to us because we believe in the Lord Jesus. The rewards that we receive are, rather, the natural consequence of the work of redemption that has been wrought in us as we have carefully and diligently observed to do that which we have been commanded by the Lord and His Apostles.
Nowhere is this more true than in the case of ruling the nations of the earth. The rod of iron with which we shall rule is created in us as we choose to keep on doing the Lord’s will under trying circumstances. No person is capable of ruling in God until the will to do God’s will is as iron in him.
In addition, the love of Christ must be in us. We must be able to love people with the love of God. Such love is unknown to our adamic nature. It is wrought in us as Christ (the Morning Star) is formed in us.
He who would be a royal priest, working among human beings until they have Christ formed in them and are coming to know the Lord, must have an iron will and a broken heart. While the Kingdom of God shall enter the earth with Divine force, smashing all resistance to the will of Christ, the Lord will, as quickly as possible, begin to draw the peoples of the earth with cords of love. He will do this through us, for we shall inherit the nations along with Him and by Him.
As the Father loves the Lord Jesus, so Jesus loves us. As we come to maturity in Jesus we begin to feel the need to express that love to other people. Of the increase of the love of God in Jesus in us in other people there will be no end (Isaiah 9:7). The Kingdom of God exists when God in Christ rules in the human personality, and this is the manner in which the saints will govern the nations of the earth.
It can be seen readily that the believer who has not had an iron obedience created in him, nor the love of Christ created in him, is not qualified to serve the Lord Jesus as a member of the royal priesthood.
We understand the rewards that Jesus will bring with Him are directly related to what we have become by means of the Divine redemption. What we become by means of the Divine redemption depends on the diligence with which we give ourselves to doing the Lord’s will in the present world.
It also can be seen that the present emphasis on “faith” and “grace” is a perversion of Paul’s doctrine, a perversion of the Divine intention in that it implies that the rewards described in the Scriptures will be given to people who have not undergone the transforming work of redemption.
The concept that the work of transforming our inward nature will take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump” is to ignore the context of the Scripture. I Corinthians, Chapter 15:52 is speaking only of the body. The concept that God’s people will be changed in moral personality at the Lord’s coming is unscriptural. It is unreasonable. It will not happen, and those who teach such a “magical” approach to the new creation are leading themselves and their hearers to destruction.
It is time for the Lord’s people to wake up. The Christian churches are walking in deception.
Authority over the nations is associated with the morning star.
To be given the morning star (Revelation 2:28).
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the bright and morning Star. He is the Day Star who arises in the heart of the conqueror, announcing the great Day of the Lord—the day when Christ takes dominion over all the kingdoms of the world.
God loves the peoples of the earth. The love of God for people is in the Lord Jesus Christ. When Christ is formed and dwells in us, His exceedingly great love for people is born in us.
No man will be allowed to rule in the Kingdom of God in his own strength and self-will. Only God in Christ in us will rule the nations of the earth. Only Divine love can be trusted to wield the irresistible rod of iron, the iron of God’s strength that is developed in us as we choose to do God’s will.
As long as we are ruled by self we are unfit to rule the nations of the earth. It is only as our first personality, our self-will and pride, is brought down to the death of the cross, that Christ—the Day Star—can arise in our heart.
When Christ takes over the rulership of our heart, a love for the peoples of the earth is given to us. Then, and only then, are we brought to the place where we can govern people in the love in which God desires to have them governed.
No one will be permitted to rule the nations with a rod of iron until the Morning Star, Christ, has been formed in him and is abiding in him. Christ and the Father will come to abide only in the individual who guards carefully and observes to practice that which Christ has spoken.
As we press forward in the rewards to the overcomer we can see the difference between the Divine pardon of the sinner, and the spiritual development of the saint.
The believer who is walking in the flesh is not having Christ formed and abiding with himself. He is not being given the morning star. How, then, could he rule the nations of the earth?
Each believer in Christ will be raised from the dead. Then he will receive what he has practiced while living in the world.
When the Lord comes, each of us will enter a unique destiny. Great diversity will result. Some will shine as the stars forever. Others will be beaten with many lashes because of the evil they have practiced. In between these extremes will be found a variety of rewards and punishments, praises and rebukes. This is true of all whose names are in the Book of Life.
Those whose names are not found in the Book of Life will suffer the maximum sentence of the judgment bar of Christ: eternal banishment from the face of their Creator.
Those who would rule with Christ must walk in righteousness because the scepter of Christ’s Kingdom is the scepter of righteousness.
To walk with Christ in white (Revelation 3:4).
We are learning to walk in white now. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are keeping ourselves unspotted from the world. We are purifying our actions, our words, our motives and imaginations. We are coming out from the world and cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
As Christ is, so are we in the world. We are walking as He walked in the grace of His resurrection life.
The blood of Jesus has pardoned us from the guilt of our sin. Now the authority of the blood and the power of the Spirit are enabling us little by little to escape from the corruption that is in the world through lust. Meanwhile we are without condemnation because we are doing the Lord’s will as He is revealing it to us.
It is not possible to have fellowship with Christ and continue to walk in unrighteousness, in uncleanness, in disobedience to the Father. Christ did not pardon us so we can continue in our sins. Christ pardoned us so we can learn to please God by our conduct.
Is there any greater error in Christianity than the teaching that the Divine redemption is the everlasting pardon for our sins, but that as long as we live on the earth we must continue to sin?
Christ always walks in white—in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to the Father. Are we worthy to walk in white with Him (Revelation 3:4)? Are we conquering the world, Satan, and our lusts and self-will?
Christ is our elder Brother. He has the wisdom, the power, and the virtue to enable us to overcome the filth of the world. If we will ask Him he will guide us into righteous behavior. If we would have fellowship with the God of Heaven we must walk in the light of His will.
Walking virtuously in the world is extraordinarily difficult at times. Apart from Christ, walking virtuously is not only difficult, it is impossible.
But the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is dwelling in the believer. There is enough power in the Spirit of God to enable us to conquer the world, Satan, and our flesh.
We can overcome. We can walk in white with Christ. Through Him it is possible.
Through the grace of Christ we can act, speak, and think in a righteous manner, even though we are dragging around our physical body that is dead in sin. The reward of our diligent efforts is the impartation of the Life that is in Christ. We receive that incorruptible Life now—in the world. When the Lord comes we will receive the gift of a Life-filled body that itself is righteous in nature. Then this present struggle will have been concluded.
To be clothed in white raiment (Revelation 3:5).
The saint will be clothed in the Day of Christ by that which he has practiced in this life. Here is the perfect justice of God.
In the world, a hideous, self-centered, filthy personality can be concealed in a charming male or female body.
But at the Judgment Seat of Christ, what we have become during our days on the earth will be revealed completely. Nothing will remain hidden. The righteous will be seen to be righteous. The wicked will be seen to be wicked. The lukewarm will be seen to be lukewarm. The hypocrites will be seen to be hypocrites. It is the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
As our body is offered to God in the service of Christ it is brought down each day to the death of the cross. But the Life of Jesus lifts us up and flows out to God’s elect. We are dying, but behold!—we are living in Christ.
The act of dying in Christ and being raised in Christ creates a counterpart before the Throne of God in Heaven. That which is sown in earth is raised in Heaven. That which is being raised is a house, a garment, an eternal weight of glory. It is our house in Heaven.
In the Day of Christ, our house will descend from Heaven and clothe our flesh-and-bone body that has been raised from the dead (II Corinthians 4:7-5:10).
We will be clothed with the white raiment that is the result and expression of walking with Christ in white during our life on the earth.
But what of the nonovercomer? What of the believer who has received the Divine pardon but who then has continued to live in sin and half-hearted obedience to God? With what will he be clothed in the Day of Christ?
He will be found naked, fruitless, barren, in the Day of Christ. He will reap corruption. If the Lord Jesus chooses to save him, he will be rebuked. He may suffer many lashes. If he is saved it will be as by fire. His is not an enviable state.
The neglectful, careless, worldly “Christian” will not escape the judgment of the Lord.
We can see that the judgment that follows the resurrection from the dead will produce diversity among the members of the Kingdom of God. In any kingdom there can be found various offices, many different occupations, several types of dwelling places. So it is in the Kingdom of God.
Each of us has been chosen for a specific place in the Kingdom. God knows us thoroughly as an individual and will provide every talent and resource necessary for our complete success and attainment. But whether we finally arrive at our predetermined destiny depends on the diligence with which we run the race; the faith with which we fight the battle.
God is righteous in all of His decisions. Also, He is compassionate and merciful. He will place us where we will fit best, where we can grow and be fruitful for eternity.
God calls His elect to the high ranks of the overcomers. There are thrones to be gained. God cheers us on; but we must conduct ourselves with courage and faith. It is not easy. Attaining the Kingdom of God requires the utmost patience (Revelation 1:9).
We can overcome if that is what we desire above all else. Through Christ we can ascend to the throne of glory.
God has called us to Christ’s throne. Let us press forward and grasp that for that we have been grasped by the Lord of glory.
Those who are walking with Christ in white today will be clothed in their own conduct in the Day of the Lord. God never will blot out from the pages of the Book of Life those who are walking in white with Jesus.
To not have one’s name blotted out of the Book of Life (Revelation 3:5).
To be blotted out of the Book of Life is to be lost. It signifies the individual will be cast into the Lake of Fire. This is a fearful sentence.
Christ promises the victorious saint that his name will not be blotted out of the Book of Life. The conquering Christian has boldness in the Day of Judgment. He knows that he never will be banished from the Presence of His Creator. The fact that he is walking in the light of Christ’s Presence is his guarantee that he always will be with the Lord.
But what of the overconfident Christian of today? He has been taught that as long as he has made a profession of Christ he has no need to fear God. He is spiritually proud, self-assured, self-confident. He will tell God what to do and God is required to do it.
He does not believe in working out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He believes that he cannot be lost, and that he will suffer no serious inconvenience in the Day of Christ. He will be “raptured” out of the world’s problems before too long whether or not he is living a godly life.
There is no genuine fear of God in him. He cannot comprehend that the righteous are saved with difficulty (I Peter 4:18). To him, salvation is a free ride to Heaven; it has little or nothing to do with his conduct on the earth. Because he has stated that he receives Christ as his Savior he no longer will be held to account for the kind of person he is.
This is the current understanding of what it means to be a Christian, at least among many believers.
But this is not what the Scriptures teach. This is not the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, of the Kingdom of God. This is the word of the “False Prophet.”
The current attitude toward salvation is far removed from the truth. Those “believers” who are living careless lives will be visited with Divine fire in the near future.
The Scriptures, which never can be altered, state Christ will not erase the name of the victorious saint from the Book of Life. It is implied those who are being overcome by the evil of the world are in danger of having their names erased from the Book of Life. Revelation 3:5 is addressed to Christians.
It is this scripturally taught danger that caused the Apostles to tremble in remembrance of the terror of the Lord. Our God is a consuming Fire. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31) is addressed to Christians.
The terror of the Lord Jesus and the need for repentance must be proclaimed to the Church of Christ in the present hour. The saints are asleep because of false teaching.
The trumpet of the Lord is sounding in order to wake us up. Let us arise and go to meet the Lord. He has a special work to perform in our day. Let us not be counted among the multitudes of professing Christians who are not taking up their cross and following Christ.
Either we will wake up and judge ourselves now or else the Lord will awaken us and judge us later. It is not a delightful experience to have God destroy our flesh in order to save our spirit.
It is a risky business indeed to gamble on being saved as by fire. Let us instead come to the Lord for cleansing today, even though our fellow “Christians” may scorn our concern over our soul’s welfare.
Part of having our name established firmly in the Book of Life is the open confession of our name in the Presence of God the Father and in the Presence of His holy angels.
To have one’s name confessed before the Father and His angels (Revelation 3:5).
The victorious saint is not ashamed of the Lord Jesus but confesses Him in the world by his behavior and his speech. Jesus is his Savior, present Lord, and soon-coming King.
The conqueror walks with Jesus. Jesus is central in his life, in his speech, in his thoughts. He looks, acts, and talks like a Christian, like a man or woman of God. The saint is a constant reminder to the people of the world that Divine judgment truly is coming and that God has commanded us to place our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ; for He will judge all men (Acts 17:31).
Heaven is proud of such a saint. Jesus, with the greatest pride and joy, calls out his name before the Father and before the holy angels. God, and the angels who obey God, are conscious of each overcomer. He is guarded carefully and his prayers are heard.
The lukewarm believer is ashamed of the Lord Jesus. When he is in the midst of the people of the world and of other lukewarm believers he is anxious to gain their acceptance and approval. If it becomes necessary or desirable he will conceal his relationship to the Lord. The opinion of people is important to him—more important than the opinion of God.
Heaven is ashamed of such a “believer.” Jesus is the pride and joy of the Father, the holy angels, and the saints in Heaven. That anyone ever would be ashamed of Jesus is unthinkable to the inhabitants of Heaven. Why be ashamed of the glorious Lord and Savior of mankind?
Jesus will not call out, in the Presence of the Father and the holy angels, the name of the lukewarm believer. He is ashamed of Jesus and Jesus is ashamed of him. Also, Jesus will be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father to set up His Kingdom on the earth.
God gives His mighty, holy angels charge over each Christian who bears the testimony of His beloved Son. Jesus Himself guards the saint who is representing Christ in the midst of the darkness of this evil world.
To be kept from the hour of temptation (Revelation 3:10).
Because thou hast kept [guarded] the word of my patience, I also will keep [guard] thee from the hour of temptation, that will come on all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
The latter-rain revival already has commenced in the earth. It will not reach its climax until every man, woman, boy, and girl on the earth has seen the power of God and has heard the Kingdom Word of repentance to life in Jesus’ name.
After the testimony has been given, Antichrist, through deception, will be able to overcome the testimony. God will allow this to happen in order to purify the Wife of the Lamb.
Antichrist will employ many strategies and tactics to overcome the saints, including violence and fear and the closing off of the opportunity of the victorious saints to buy and sell. In order to buy and sell the Christian will be required to compromise his testimony of Jesus (Revelation 19:10).
But the most effective weapon of Antichrist will be the filling of the earth with sin and material prosperity. The believers will be so loaded down with material comforts and sin will be so prevalent that the majority of them will trim their Christian zeal enough to gain access to the security, pleasures, and acceptance offered by the world.
This is an extremely effective deception. The devil overcomes the witnessing saint by giving him the illusion that the world is his friend; that he ought to be prominent and successful in the world; that he deserves to have the best the world can offer because he is a son of God.
This particular strategy will, if possible, conquer God’s elect. It may be peculiar to the twentieth century (but see Luke 4:5-7). Many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of God’s people already have been overcome and their power to testify destroyed because of their adultery with the world.
The Lord’s sheep have been deluded into believing God desires they be wealthy and prominent in the world and that they should use their faith to gain wealth and worldly success. This tactic of the enemy has been extremely effective in destroying the spiritual life of Christians who otherwise might have stood successfully in the hour of persecution that is at hand.
Antichrist has joined the Christian assemblings and is teaching in them.
After the latter-rain revival has borne witness to the entire earth of the soon coming of the Lord Jesus, prosperity and sin will fill the world. The newly baptized believers will be caught off guard. God will allow the power of the Spirit of God to subside so the “tares” can come to maturity.
The result of the sin and prosperity of the earth following the latter-rain revival will be the backsliding and coldness of most of the Christians living on the earth.
During the post-revival era Christ will require great patience of His people. It will be easy to join the worldly Christian churches. Antichrist will support those churches with money and approval. Governmental approval of the churches will prove to be a heady experience for those who are accustomed to persecution from the government. This approval and acceptance will catch the saints off guard and beguile them away from the Spirit of Christ.
It will be extremely difficult to fight against all of society (including Christian society). All but the strongest and most determined of the saints will become weary of the unceasing struggle to stand against the whole world, now that the revival glory and power have abated.
But those who overcome the Antichrist spirit, who guard carefully the Word of Christ’s patience, will be guarded carefully by Christ. The Spirit of God will make clear to them all of the lies of the enemy. They will not be deceived into serving Antichrist.
But the majority of the believers shall be deceived. Their love will grow cold. Deception through material abundance already is taking place.
The Christian person who is deceived into yielding to the worldly spirit will suffer terribly in the Day of Christ.
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:9-11)
Now, consider carefully the following concept:
“Here is the patience of the saints” (Revelation 14:12).
This refers back to Revelation 3:10, “hast kept the word of my patience.”
“Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).
In order to escape the deceptions of Antichrist we must (1) exercise patience while in our “prison”; (2) keep the commandments of God; and (3) keep the faith of Jesus.
Some are teaching today that this is not referring to Christians because Christians are not obligated to keep the commandments of God. This is a departure from God’s holy Word.
And hereby we do know we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:3,4)
By this we know all who are teaching that Christians are not obligated to keep God’s commandments given through Christ are liars.
The same John who wrote Revelation 14:12 wrote also I John 2:3,4. There is great deception among the Christian people today: deception concerning the nature of the Judgment Seat of Christ; deception concerning the way in which grace operates in the Christian redemption; deception concerning what the Scriptures teach concerning judgment and rewards; deception concerning the coming of Christ, the Day of the Lord. The resurrection to eternal life is not being preached as being the goal of our efforts.
We can escape from deception if we will turn to Jesus, repent of our sins, and take up our cross and follow Him.
But if we choose instead to continue in the delusion that all of us will be raptured out of trouble no matter how we behave ourselves, and that we all will be rewarded in the Day of Christ, receiving the good we have done but not the evil (although this is in violation of the written Word), we will be deceived continually until we have been raised from the dead and face a frowning Christ instead of a crowning Christ.
What will it be for you, a crown or a frown?
It can be a crown. But you will have to turn to Christ immediately and ask His help in escaping from the watered-down, lukewarm, pleasure-loving, sinful, rebellious behavior that characterizes so many of the “Christian believers” of our day.
Truly, there is no fear of God before their eyes. Truly, they are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; they are lovers of their own selves. Truly, they are haters of their parents. Truly, they heap to themselves false prophets who will tickle their ears.
There is a godly remnant today who have turned to Christ with their whole heart, having escaped the teachings of Jezebel that are filling the Christian churches.
“Nicholas” is teaching us that if we believe in Jesus it does not matter how we behave. We have been saved by an unconditional grace that is unrelated to what we say and do.
“Balaam” is teaching us how to make money from the Gospel; how to employ Kingdom principles in order to become prosperous and successful in the world.
“Jezebel” is instructing the Lord’s people to commit fornication with the demon gods of lust, violence, covetousness, witchcraft, and partying.
If we follow these “teachers,” whom the Lord rebukes in the second chapter of the Book of Revelation, Christ will fight against us with the sword of His mouth. He will kill us with spiritual death, even though at one time we had been part of the Lampstand of God.
How can we escape from the strong delusions that have entered the minds of Christian people? If we will guard the Word of Christ’s patience, that is, if we will take up our cross and do His will, trusting Him completely and waiting patiently for Him to bring to pass all that we desire, making Him our security, our pleasure, our achievement, then He will guard us from all of the deluding temptations that are spewing from the heart and mouth of Antichrist.
Thus far in our study we have been eating of the tree of life; we have been ruling our circumstances by the authority and power of resurrection life; we have gained spiritual authority greater than the authority of the second death; we have been eating Divine food that is hidden from those who are walking in the flesh and seeking their own will.
We have been voted into the ranks of the chosen; we have been assigned authority and power over the nations of the earth; Christ has been formed in us and is abiding in us; we have been walking with Christ in righteousness; our name has been inscribed eternally in the Lamb’s Book of Life; our name has been made known to the Father and to the holy, elect angels; and we have been kept each day from the deceptions of the devil.
If all of this is true of us, God will create us as a pillar of His eternal Temple.
To become a pillar in the Temple of God (Revelation 3:12).
There are few promises in the Scriptures as lofty as this.
God the Father is building a house, a temple, for Himself. The Lord Jesus Christ is the chief Cornerstone and also the Capstone of the eternal House of God.
God is a Spirit. Now He desires to reveal Himself throughout His universe in a visible, tangible form. Christ is the beginning of the manifestation of Almighty God.
We who are members of the Body of Christ are being created the fullness of the manifestation of God. God dwells eternally in Christ. Christ is being formed in us and is abiding in us to an increasingly greater extent as we press forward in resurrection life.
In the Tabernacle of the Congregation and the Temple of Solomon, which were former houses of God, the pillars were of the greatest significance. They upheld the structure. Their placement, appearance, and number were an integral part of the whole.
So it is in the eternal Temple of God. The pillars are very important. Once they are built into place they cannot be changed in any manner whatever without destroying the entire temple.
To be created a pillar in the House of God is to be placed forever as an integral part of the manifestation of the God of Heaven. When this happens to any saint, his destiny has been established for eternity. The saint’s faithfulness in pressing through to victory has created him an eternal part of God.
The nonovercomer is not created a pillar in the Temple of God. He is not suitable as a part of the manifestation of Almighty God because he is sinful and self-willed.
How could a self-centered person be a pillar in the eternal Temple of God? Would the Glory of the Lord abide in the Tabernacle of the Congregation if it were filled with self-seeking Israelites who had not bothered to wash their hands and feet in the bronze Laver? Is this the way of God?
There are vast rewards for the individual who will press forward in Christ. There are eternal losses incurred by the believer who neglects his great salvation in Christ.
To be created a pillar in the Temple of God is to be identified with God throughout the universe forever.
To have inscribed on one’s self the name of God; the name of the city of God; and the new name of Christ (3:12).
The Lord Jesus Christ wrote the Ten Commandments on tables of stone.
Christ wrote to the King of Babylon that he was weighed in the balances and found wanting, and that his kingdom was finished.
Christ wrote on the ground when a woman taken in adultery was brought before Him. Twice He wrote on the ground, no doubt showing us that He who wrote on the tables of stone will write again, but this time on tables of the human heart.
Christ writes on him who is created a pillar in the Temple of God. Christ writes the Father’s name because the victorious saint is the son of the Father and is identified eternally with the Father (Revelation 21:7).
Christ writes “Jerusalem” on the conqueror because he is an eternal part of the Wife of the Lamb. Christ writes His own new name on the faithful Christian because he has become the Bride of Christ. He has been made an integral part of the new creation of God, the Kingdom of God, the making visible of the invisible God. The conqueror belongs eternally to Christ and forever is a part of Christ.
It is one matter to be pardoned. It is another matter to be created a part of the revelation of God to the universe.
All believers are invited to the ranks of the conquerors. What incomprehensible loss we suffer if we sell our inheritance as sons of God for the miserable “treasures” of the present age!
The conqueror, now having been sealed into God Himself for eternity, is established forever with Christ on the throne that rules the creation, the throne that possesses total dominion over all of the works of God’s hands.
To sit with Christ in His throne (Revelation 3:21).
This is the first resurrection from the dead, the complete and perfect fulfillment of the old Testament feast of Tabernacles.
Notice the statements of the following passage:
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and that had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:4,5)
What is the first resurrection from the dead? It is the resurrection of the royal priesthood—that which will take place when the Lord returns from Heaven. The first resurrection is for the victorious saints. It is not the general resurrection of salvation.
To participate in the first resurrection from the dead is to live and reign with Christ.
The Scriptures teach that the order is as follows: death, resurrection, judgment, and then sentencing to eternal life or to punishment. Much of this program can take place in a spiritual sense while we are alive on the earth, if we will count ourselves as dead and follow the Lord Jesus diligently.
The raising of our body from the ground is not necessarily the attainment to eternal life. All bodies will be raised from the ground so the individual can be judged before the throne of Christ.
Every person will be judged.
After he has been judged, each individual will be assigned to his or her own reward. His reward may be to receive the authorities and powers we have described on the preceding passages. His reward may be to be carried forward naked and barren of spiritual fruit to the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
His sentence may be eternal banishment from the Presence of Christ into a place of everlasting torment.
But all shall be raised and all shall be judged.
We attain eternal life only as we are judged worthy of life.
To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (Romans 2:7)
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, that the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12)
It is as we are tested and prove to be faithful in the testing that we are issued the power of eternal life.
Those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God, who had not worshiped the Beast or the image of the beast, who had refused to receive the Beast’s mark on their foreheads or in their hands, will live and reign with Christ. This is the first resurrection.
The concept of the first resurrection is not limited to first in the sense of order; it is first also in the sense of the quality of the resurrection.
It is not only that the bodies of the conquerors are awakened before the bodies of other people, the important aspect is that they will live and reign with Christ. This is the essence of the first resurrection.
We have just finished reviewing many of the rewards that are designated for “him who overcomes.” Would you agree with us that if we were to group these rewards they could be summed up as, living and reigning with Christ?
The victorious saint is attaining to the first resurrection because he is learning to live and to rule with Christ.
What, then, is true of the believer who is not overcoming the world but rather is being overcome by the world, by Satan, and by his own bodily appetites and self-will?
Will the defeated, lukewarm believer in Christ be raised from the dead when the last trumpet sounds? This question has been asked several times as the overcoming message has been preached and taught. We have sought the Lord concerning this question.
In the prior edition of this booklet, Judgment and Rewards, we stated our belief that the nonovercoming believer would be raised when the Lord comes but would not enter life and reign with Christ at that time.
We went again to the Lord Jesus and asked for a word from the Scriptures. What seemed to be given to us was the parable of the ten virgins. The simplicity and clarity of the answer convinced us that only those who are prepared will go to meet the Lord when he comes. The remainder of the Christian believers will be raised at the end of the thousand-year period and will be rewarded according to their works, being either saved or lost according to their conduct.
There is no question that the ten virgins, all having lamps (the testimony of Jesus) and oil (the Holy Spirit) represent Christians. They all were “virgins.” Yet, five were taken and five remained. The Lord’s meaning seems to be clear.
There is another important concept, one that is of interest to the victorious saint. It is that if we are living and reigning with Christ now, in this life, then it is true also that we are passing through Divine judgment now (I Peter 4:5,17).
Every saint, every diligent disciple, knows how the Lord Jesus deals with each detail of our conduct. As we confess our sins and achieve victory over the flesh and soulish pride, the Lord removes our sin and self-will from us by several Divine means. This is the operation of eternal judgment, and it will be administered to us now if we will cooperate with the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:2).
We believe it is possible to pass completely through death, spiritual resurrection, and eternal judgment now—in the world. We can enter life and rulership now. In this manner we arrive at the spiritual dimension of the first resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:11).
We believe further that only those who pass through judgment and spiritual resurrection now will participate in the first resurrection from among the dead, will rise from the dead and ascend to meet the Lord when He comes.
How could it be otherwise? It is not possible that we can be raised from the dead, rise to meet the Lord in the air, be ever with the Lord, and then be judged. The only way in which this could be possible would be if our judgment is a sort of gala awards ceremony in which every believer receives a blessing and is not punished to any significant extent.
If we believe Christ bore all of our punishment on the cross, and by believing in His name we escape punishment, then is plausible that every believer will be raised from the dead, ascend to meet the Lord, be ever with the Lord, and rejoice throughout the administration of the Judgment Seat of Christ, realizing that no punishment of a serious nature ever will be administered to him. Also, we can sit in the balconies of Heaven in air-conditioned comfort and eat candy while we watch the Jews without the Holy Spirit preach the Gospel in the face of Antichrist. How the Jewish evangelists learned the Gospel without the Holy Spirit is not always made clear.
This error is believed by numerous Gentile Christians and perhaps by some Jewish Christians as well. It is true that the victorious saints will have boldness in the Day of Judgment. It is not true that the lukewarm, indifferent (to spiritual matters) “believer” of today has a scriptural basis for any such assurance. The prevailing carefree attitude is not supported by II Corinthians 5:10,11 or the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew. Neither is it in harmony with the fourth chapter of I Peter, Jude, or the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation.
In fact, the concept that a correct doctrinal position concerning Christ delivers us from reaping what we sow is contrary to the entire Scriptures, especially and emphatically the New Testament—particularly Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
It simply is not true.
If it is not true we can see immediately the danger facing the Christians and their teachers.
It is not possible that a believer can be raised from the dead, ascend to meet the Lord at His coming, be ever with the Lord, be glorified together with Him, and then be judged. It will not happen. We must be judged in advance of the first resurrection. Revelation 20:4-6, the passage that describes the first resurrection, does not mention the books of judgment.
Peter informs us that judgment already has begun in the house of God (I Peter 4:17).
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished… (Revelation 20:5)
What does this mean?
From our point of view it means those who do not attain life and rulership now, in the world, will not live and rule with Christ on earth during the thousand-year period. In no manner are they kings and priests of God.
If it is true that no matter how he lives every believer will receive the same reward as every other believer, then it is true that the Divine pardon and the prize for Paul’s running the race have the same end result.
It follows that it is not truly important, at least in terms of our reward and eternal destiny, whether or not we take up our cross and follow Christ.
It follows also that the rewards to the overcomer, of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, are interesting perhaps, but have no vital relationship to the behavior or faith of the Christian.
If such is the case, then the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, the author of Jude, are not accurate. Their exhortations and warnings are made of no effect by virtue of the Divine pardon that is pronounced when we recite the four steps of salvation and assent to them.
The Book of Acts does not portray the Apostles of the Lamb preaching any such gospel. The Apostles of Christ never preached or contemplated the Christian beliefs of today. We have overemphasized the doctrine of grace. We have not balanced grace with the need for godly living; and godly living is by far the major theme of the Gospel accounts, the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation.
“I will give unto every one of you according to your works,” Jesus warned the angel of the church of Thyatira.
“I have not found thy works perfect before God,” Jesus advised the “dead” church in Sardis.
Every word of the Scriptures is eternally binding on the conduct of all men, especially the members of the elect The Scriptures will be standing intact long after the universe as we know it has disappeared from the memory of God’s creatures.
Those who live the life of victory in Christ—and only those—will live and reign with Christ throughout the thousand years. Of that we are certain. The nonovercomers, those who do not “win the race,” will be raised at the end of the thousand-year period. They will be judged on the basis of the things that were written in the books, according to their works (Revelation 20:12). Their destinies will be according to the findings of the final judgment.
We will reap that which we have sown while we have pursued the Christian life. The lukewarm believers will be vomited out of the mouth of Christ.
If we are ruling in Christ now we will be assigned to the throne of glory in the Day of the Lord. If we have been found faithful in small tasks we will be given greater responsibilities.
If we have not been found faithful in the small tasks that have been entrusted to us we will be raised to face a stern rebuke (or possibly much worse!) from the Lord Jesus. If this is not true, then the Book of Matthew is not a part of the Word of God.
By not pursuing the life of victory in Christ we lose most of the benefits we associate traditionally with being saved, with being a Christian. The rewards that ordinarily are associated with being a Christian are not the recompense that results from having our sins forgiven, they are the prizes for running the race of diligent discipleship; they are the results of conquering.
How can we be sure that we indeed will lose the crown of glory if we do not press forward in Christ? It is because the rewards to the overcomer are not some kind of gifts that will be handed out to us as we stand in line in the Day of the Lord. Rather, they are the natural result of our growth in Christ.
The ability to swim is not a gift that is handed out to us as we stand in line. The ability to swim is a skill that we gain after we have been taught, have attempted to put into practice that which we were taught, and have made many mistakes and have overcome our fear of the water.
The Divine pardon is a legal act that is based on our acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Calvary.
The Christian race is a struggle to arrive at life and rulership in and with the Lord Jesus.
The moment we become a Christian by believing on Christ and being baptized in water a door is opened to us. That door leads to the fullness of the possession of God Himself.
Redemption always is an opportunity.
If someone gives us a grand piano he gives us the opportunity to learn to play the music of Bach. He does not give us the ability to play Bach; he provides us with the opportunity to learn to play Bach.
So it is with Christ. When God gives Christ to us He does not give us the full stature of a son of God, an heir of the Kingdom of God. Rather, He provides us with the authority, the opportunity to become a son of God. Also, He gives us the grace to enable us to become His son.
We are pardoned by God the Father when we believe in Christ. Now what do we do? Do we wait until we die so we can escape from the pain of this life and go to live eternally in Heaven? Or do we set out to gain the Kingdom of God, to attain the first resurrection from the dead?
Is our goal to die and go to Paradise? Or is our goal to live in the fullness of the resurrection power of Christ?
If the rewards described in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation actually are the fruit, the result of the behavior we are practicing today, and are not unrelated “gifts” that will be handed out to all who profess belief in Christ whether or not they learn to live as saints, then it is important that every believer understand what it means to overcome—to conquer according to the guidelines of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation.
The term overcome refers to a struggle. It is a fight between two or more personalities, two opposing forces, two wills. The one that overcomes is the force that manages to impose its will on its adversary.
Basically, two wills are involved in the Christian warfare—God’s will and Satan’s will. God’s will is being performed in Heaven. To a certain extent, and always with Christ’s permission, Satan’s will is being performed in the earth. The Kingdom of God is the performing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven.
The believer chooses whether to agree with God’s will or with Satan’s will (Romans 6:16).
A person believes in Christ, is baptized in water, and thus becomes a Christian. His sins are pardoned. God hears his prayers. If he should die he will be saved from the claims of Satan and his demons.
Let us assume the individual was saved at the age of twenty and lives to be seventy-five years of age. He acts, speaks, and thinks on the earth for fifty-five years after receiving Christ as his Savior.
How important is it that he act, speak, and think in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God? Is he limited, in the Christian redemption, to being pardoned while the spirit of the world compels him against his will to act, speak, and think in unrighteousness, uncleanness, and disobedience to the God of Heaven?
Does the Lord Jesus Christ save us from our sins or in our sins?
The question is, is it possible through Christ to overcome the world, or are we doomed to failure? Does the New Testament teach that we can conquer sin and disobedience to God, or does it teach that as long as we are in the world sin will have dominion over us?
The New Testament teaches us that the Christian redemption includes pardon from the guilt of sin and also the ability to overcome the power of sin. It warns that if we do not lay hold on the freely given grace of Christ until we conquer our sinning we stand in jeopardy of serious loss in the Kingdom of God.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. (Romans 6:14,15)
Therefore, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:12,13)
Notice how verses twelve and thirteen (above) are in the context of, and have a direct bearing on, the resurrection from the dead (Romans 8:11).
Two forces are resisting each other in our lives. The Holy Spirit and Christ in us are striving to perform the will of the Father. Satan, the world, and our flesh and self-love are striving to perform the will of Satan. This is true in our actions, our words, and our motives and imaginations.
Which force will win, in our case? Which force will overcome, will conquer? Which force will maintain control of our behavior and be displayed in the earth? This is the challenge of the Christian discipleship.
It is not a question of who possesses the greater power. Christ possesses infinitely greater authority and power than is true of Satan.
The question has to do with our faith and truth. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
If we desire to perform God’s will while we are on the earth, and if we believe Christ can and will enable us to perform God’s will, then we gradually will learn how to conquer our lusts and self-will. Little by little we will gain the upper hand. Through Christ we actually will conquer the sin and death that reside in our flesh and in the world.
The sin and pride in our actions are burned and driven out. The sin and pride in our speech are burned and driven out. The sin and pride in our motives and imaginations are burned and driven out.
We do not conquer sin and self by our own striving, although God expects us to use the strength that we have in choosing to perform His will. But the true and eternal victory comes as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the total destruction of sin and self-seeking from our personality.
The Lord Jesus through the Spirit of God is leading us to victory upon victory. Lust is fleeing before the army of the Lord. Lying is being destroyed. The gossiping tongues are being stopped. Fornication is being speared through by the Word of God.
Self-seeking is being crucified. Satan’s personality and works are being crushed, cut in pieces, speared through, denounced and mutilated in every conceivable manner as Christ comes to us in the power of the latter rain.
Through Christ’s grace we are conquering. We have chosen to conquer. The written Word states that we can conquer. God is giving us the faith to conquer. We will not cease until all sin of action, all sin of speech, and all sin of thought have been driven out of the earth.
We are looking and hoping for new heavens and a new earth in which dwells righteousness of conduct. Is this what you desire? Then have faith in God. God has determined to destroy the works of the devil, through Christ, not only in the heavens but also on the earth.
Is this what you truly desire? Would you care to live in a world in which there is no sin of any kind? Not even one tiny sin? Not even your tiny sin and disobedience to the Father?
If an uncompromising Yes! roars from the depths of your personality, then join the ranks of God’s conquerors. He has placed His Spirit of Holiness eternally in you. Let your faith be strong. You are moving toward complete and perfect victory in the Lord Jesus Christ.
If, however, a timid and fearful Maybe proceeds from your heart, then you need to ask God for faith. The timid and fearful cannot possibly enter the new Jerusalem.
You are the one who will decide. Satan has no power to overcome you if you choose to serve the Lord. In order to conquer a Christian, Satan must persuade him to believe a lie. Satan must successfully deceive him in one way or another.
In order to overcome a saint, Satan must enlist the saint’s cooperation, either by lust, or pride, or an incorrect understanding of the written Word, or in some other manner that prevents the believer from choosing to conquer in Jesus’ name.
People can be healed from sickness in Jesus’ name if they will put their trust in Christ and obey Him. People can be healed from sin in Jesus’ name if they will put their trust in Christ and obey Him.
Both sickness and sin are works of the devil, although sometimes God uses sickness in order to accomplish His purposes in us. It is not a sin to be sick.
We can conquer sin if we will follow Christ. We can be established in righteousness if we will read what God has written to us and then mix faith with that holy Word.
We can gain the upper hand over the works of the devil.
We can conquer.
The purpose of this booklet is to explain the judgment and rewards that result from our behavior after we are saved.
We know from the Scriptures that some believers will reap Christ a hundredfold; others, sixtyfold; others, thirtyfold.
Since we know of no Scripture to the contrary, it seems likely that physical death does not change what we are. When we awaken to the spirit realm, after physical death, we essentially are the same personality.
Since God does not like mixtures (Leviticus 19:19), it no doubt is true that the holy will be with the holy; the filthy will be with the filthy; the lukewarm will be with the lukewarm.
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (Revelation 22:11)
It may prove to be true that the Lord’s “mighty men” are with others of their rank. How equitable this would be. How glorious for the saints! But how dreadfully threatening to the family member who always has relied on the saint of the family to yank him from the flames.
Are you content to be joined eternally with those who behave as you do? Are you content to be clothed in the Day of Christ with the garments you have woven by your conduct in this life?
Some visionaries have suggested that there are various levels of Hell and various levels of Paradise. There may be depths of Hell where the vicious, hardened souls are kept, consigned like chained animals to the flames that give no light; and perhaps there are realms of darkness that are not as severe in their environment.
In like manner, the visionary saints inform us that there are many levels in Heaven, and that souls of like spiritual attainment are grouped together in families. Those who would temporarily visit a higher level of Heaven must shield their eyes, and those who would descend must partially cover their glory.
Perhaps this is true, because even on earth we enjoy associating with those of like spiritual development. But do we desire to be with our chosen companions for eternity? That is the question we must ask ourselves.
One of the governing principles of the Kingdom of God is that we reap what we sow. If we sow wheat we reap wheat. If we sow tares we reap tares. If we sow to the Spirit of life we reap life. If we sow to our corrupt flesh we reap corruption.
God is perfectly righteous and cannot be mocked: we will reap what we sowing.
Christian grace is not pointed toward changing what we reap but what we sow.
God’s net brings in such extremes! There was Enoch whose faith pleased God to such an extent God took him. And then there was the man who came to the wedding without being dressed properly. (How did he enter in among the guests?) The King commanded that he be bound and cast into outer darkness (Matthew 22:13).
Is this man a type of the Christian who does not practice righteous conduct? If not, of whom, then, is he a portrayal?
The prevailing concept of judgment and rewards is incomplete at best, dangerously misleading at worst. No doubt our own concept of judgment and rewards proceeds from our perception of what the Christian salvation is.
Is the Christian salvation a blanket pardon of our sinful state so when we die physically we will be permitted to make Heaven, the spirit Paradise, our eternal home? Is that what our salvation means?
Or does the Christian salvation include the redemption of the material creation (Romans 8:21)?
The outward form of the Kingdom of God is the material creation with which we are familiar. The inward life of the Kingdom of God is the eternal, incorruptible Spirit of Holiness—the Spirit of God.
What is true today? The material creation is dead—cut off from the Life of God in Christ. The outward material form of the Kingdom of God is being governed and driven by wicked spirits who are in rebellion against God.
What happens when we receive Christ as our personal Lord and Savior? Our sins are forgiven. Our spirit is joined to the Holy Spirit. Christ, the King of the Kingdom of God, is born in us.
But our physical body, that which is of the outward material creation, remains dead, cut off from God, because of the sin that still resides in it.
Salvation already has begun in our inward spiritual nature. But we stated that the outward form of the Kingdom of God is the material creation while the inward life of the Kingdom of God is the Spirit of Holiness, the eternal Spirit of God.
If Christ is in us our spiritual nature is alive because it has been joined to the Holy Spirit of God through the atoning authority of the blood of Christ. The Kingdom of God now is in us and we are citizens of that Kingdom.
But the outward form of the Kingdom of God, which is our body and the material environment of our body, still is dead because of the sin that is in it. It is cut off from the Presence and Life of God.
To enter the Kingdom of God is to begin to bring the rule of the Holy Spirit, which has been formed in our inward nature, into our physical body, and then into the spiritual and material environment of our body, that is, into the peoples of the earth and the earth itself. “Thy will be done in earth.” It is as straightforward as that.
If we adopt the attitude that the Christian salvation is a blanket pardon of our sinful state so when we die physically we will be permitted to make Heaven our eternal home, we will not make the effort to enter the Kingdom of God. We will not work with Jesus and the saints in bringing the rule of God into the earth.
We will miss the Glory of God if we take that attitude. The sinning, disobedient, unclean Christian is not entering the Kingdom of God and has no part in the Kingdom of God. He does not possess a righteous inward nature that he can bring into his physical body. He is wasting the opportunity that God has given to him to bring the rule of God into the earth.
When we understand the redemption of the material creation is one of the principal goals of the Christian salvation, our outlook and behavior will be transformed. Each day of our pilgrimage will become a new opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God.
Through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we will lay aside the demands of the world and our flesh and begin to seek the power of God so we can govern our behavior. Then we will be able to bring the will of God into our immediate surroundings.
Our part is to pray, use the faith that God gives us, and act, speak, and think in the will of God. Christ’s part is to send from Heaven all the wisdom and power we need to overthrow the rule of darkness and to install the rule of God in the material realm.
God loves all people because He is their Creator. God loves the members of His Church.
But God’s eye especially is on His sons who, through the grace of Christ, are beginning to bring the rule of God into the material creation.
God blesses diligence, faith, and courage. Those who are performing His will are greatly blessed and helped by the Lord. He is with them to reward them and to guide them into ever greater victories.
The conquerors will be rewarded to an incomprehensible extent for they are performing the Lord’s will. They are moving the creation toward righteousness.
But the weak believers, who often are overcome by the pressures and problems of the world, may not be entering God’s program.
Some of those who appear to be defeated are strong saints who are passing through fiery trials. They will emerge stronger than ever. God will bring them forth when they have been formed to His satisfaction. Others who are being overcome may be physically, mentally, or emotionally handicapped in some manner. They are to be assisted by the stronger believers. This is pleasing to the Lord.
Still others who are faltering are lukewarm, deluded Christians. They are trusting and hoping God will save them in the Day of Wrath for Jesus’ sake, and also that they suddenly will be transformed into divinely ordained kings and priests and will inherit the fullness of the inheritance of the sons of God.
Of this group, many are dangerously close to the fire. If we as a “Christian” continue to love the ways of Satan we will be cast into Hell. We may disobey God until we are lost to the Presence of our Creator for eternity. Consider the life and fate of Judas Iscariot, who was chosen to be one of the twelve disciples of the Lord!
God knows those who are weak but who love Him sincerely. He will send help to them so they may become stronger in the Lord. But every individual who hopes to be a part of Christ in that Day must seek the Lord with all of his heart. Christ is strict with us concerning the use of the talents given to us.
The weak, wavering believers are not as yet part of the solution to the problem of causing God’s will to be done in the earth as it is in Heaven. The weak still are part of the problem. As was true of Lot, they are in one predicament after another. The stronger saints must help them at every turn (II Timothy 2:25; Jude 23).
God may save many of the weak in the Day of Christ. But they may be punished severely for their laziness and disobedience; they may be stripped of every reward.
How often the Kingdom of God would have made great advances in the earth, only to be slowed to a halt by the slothfulness and unbelief of the “believers” in Christ. God is fully aware of the details of each such incidents. All will be brought forth; all will be made manifest in the Day of the Lord.
Jesus wept concerning what could have been true had Jerusalem been willing and obedient. The Jews missed the day of their visitation. Let us make sure that we as an individual do not miss the day of our visitation!
The Kingdom of God is at hand. The lovers of God are pressing into it. The crowns of glory are at stake.
Multitudes of “Christians” are determined to enjoy the present world, believing they will go to Paradise when they die if they make a profession of belief in Jesus. They do not understand the program or purpose of the Gospel.
Among the multitudes of Christian believers there is a handful of saints who are pressing into the Kingdom of God. They are gaining eternal life and authority under God. They are being fed by the Lord because they are doing His will and completing the tasks they have been assigned. They have been chosen, therefore, to be close to Him throughout eternity.
They will rule the nations of the earth because the Father and the Son are ruling them from the core of their personality. They behave righteously and will be empowered further to live righteously throughout the ages to come.
They will not be deceived by Antichrist because they are being kept by the indwelling power of Christ. They have guarded carefully the Word of Christ; now the Word of Christ is guarding them carefully.
They are being created an integral part of the Divine Godhead (John 17:21) and the name of God is being inscribed on them.
They reign over all things from the throne of Christ, which is in Heaven and in them at the same time.
To inherit all things (Revelation 21:7).
Those who, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, overcome the world, Satan, and their own bodily lusts and soulish self-will, shall inherit all that God is, all that God has done and will do. Theirs is an inconceivable, incomprehensible, unimaginable inheritance that stretches far, far beyond our mind’s ability to grasp. The life we are living now on the earth is our one opportunity to attain exceedingly great glory.
Those who do not choose to make the effort to overcome the world will not attain the glorious inheritance of the conquerors. The New Testament writings say little about the nonovercomers, except that they are in danger of suffering eternal loss.
Our relationship to God Almighty is the most important part of our inheritance as sons of God.
To have God be one’s God, and to be God’s son (Revelation 21:7).
God is the God of the conqueror. He is delighted to be the God of the conqueror.
God is not the God of the covetous Christian. His money is his god.
God is not the God of the lusting Christian. His flesh is his god.
God is not the God of the lying Christian. Satan is his god.
God is not the God of the self-seeking Christian. He himself is his own god.
God is the God of the overcomer.
A number of years ago, during World War II, a young man serving in the armed forces of his country was seeking the meaning of life. He had been raised in a home in which the parents did not know the Lord, although they were good to him and did what they could for him.
While in the military service he met some men who had been taught the way of salvation. They explained the Gospel of Christ to him. The Holy Spirit was working, and the seeker found himself one night in a church service being held on the base.
The chaplain was teaching: “And ye will dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:28).
At this point the Holy Spirit came on the young man. The love of God filled him. It sounded to him as though God were saying, “I greatly desire to be your God, if you are willing to be My people.”
He exclaimed half aloud, “Did God say that?”
It seemed to him this was the reverse of what it should be. We humans should be the ones asking God if He would consent to be our God, not God asking us if we would be His people. The love being expressed by His Creator touched him deeply.
After the service he walked from the Quonset hut. The stars shone more brightly than ever before. The night air was alive with a new Spirit. He had been born again by the Word of God.
Two or three weeks later, feeling a need to hear directly from this God who expressed such love, he tried something that he does not advocate today because it could lead to a superstitious approach to the study of the Scriptures.
- He asked, “O God, speak to me.”
- Then he flipped open the Bible at random and put his finger down blindly.
- Under his finger were the words:
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them on the table of thine heart: so shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. (Proverbs 3:1-4)
The truth burned into him as though God were talking directly to him: “My son, forget not My law; but let thine heart keep my commandments.”
Obedience to His Word is all that God requires of any of us. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us His Kingdom. If we will obey Him He will be our God.
How wonderful that God should be our God! How wonderful that we should become a son of God, that God should become our Father!
How could a person, in the face of such love and glory, accept the grand Divine pardon and then live unto himself, trusting that God in His mercy will overlook his continued insincerity and disobedience?
Should we not lay aside all else and press forward in Christ so we might grasp that for that Christ has grasped us?
Many times people ask us, “Will I be saved anyway even though I fail God?”
We can understand an individual would seek the assurance that even though he is weak, God will deal with his shortcomings and save him from his sin and rebellion. The Scripture teaches us that God will work tirelessly to strengthen the bruised reed and renew the smoking flax. The Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in His wings.
God will deliver those who seek Him diligently.
But another type of individual is asking if we will be saved whether or not he chooses to serve God in the world, or if it is possible for a person having once been a Christian to end up being lost to the Kingdom of God.
This inquirer is seeking to make a deal with God. He is attempting to determine if he can love the world and still not be cast into Hell. He wants to live like the world but not suffer the fate of the world. He wants to have fellowship with Satan, to worship Satan, to do the works of Satan, but not suffer Satan’s punishment.
He does not love God. There is little of the love of God in him. He loves the world and the things of the world. He is an enemy of God.
He has been taught that if he will acknowledge (as the demons acknowledge) that Christ has been raised from the dead, he will be saved and cannot be lost in the Day of the Lord. He makes the Word of God of none effect by his traditions.
Neither he nor the demons will be saved in the Day of Christ.
He does not love God, Heaven, or the saints. He loves and practices sin. He loves the ways of Satan. He is a child of Hell, not a child of Heaven.
He desires to know if he will go to Heaven when he dies, even though he lives his life on earth according to the ways of Hell.
If the truth be known, he does not really care what God’s attitude is toward him, if he is pleasing God or is not pleasing God. His only concern is that he will not be punished.
There are many preachers and teachers who will assure him he is saved by his “faith” in Christ and can never be lost.
We are lifting up our voice in warning: This individual and the multitude of professing Christians whom he represents are lost. They are not saved. They love the things of Hell and are filled with the spirit of Hell. Will their profession of “faith” save them?
The preaching of today is that the Lord Jesus came to deliver us from Hell. There is not one passage of Scripture to support this preaching.
The Lord Jesus did not come to deliver us from Hell. He came to deliver us from sin. If we will seek victory over sin through the Lord Jesus we do not have to worry about Hell. But if we persist in our sinning we will inherit Hell, whether or not we are a Christian, because Hell is God’s prison where He incarcerates the wicked. We have not borne the fruit of righteousness and so we shall be cut out of the Vine, out of Christ.
In many instances people of today are not seeking to be delivered from sin but from the consequences of sin.
The demons cried out that Jesus is the Holy One of God. Does their “faith” save them?
The “damsel possessed with a spirit of divination” proclaimed, “These men are the servants of the most high God, that shew unto us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17). Did her “faith” save her?
If we are a child of Hell it is manifest, whether or not we profess to be saved by Christ.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day lived by the Law of Moses, the man of God. But it was Satan, not Moses, who was their father. It is our actions, not our beliefs, that reveal truly the kingdom to which we belong.
“But,” some will question, “Isn’t it a fact that when we receive Christ we pass from death to life? Isn’t it scriptural that there is no condemnation on those who are in Christ?”
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)
Let us consider once again what Jesus means by this statement, for it is used as a cornerstone of Christian theology.
Christ Himself Is the Resurrection and the eternal Life.
When any human being “hears” in his spirit the Word of Christ, he comes to life, just as happened to the young man in the Quonset hut. Christ forgives all of his sins. He has passed from spiritual death to spiritual life. There is no condemnation resting on him.
At this point he makes a choice.
Either he begins to walk in this new resurrection life that has been given to him, or else he continues to live as he always has, trusting that when he dies he will go to a place of joy rather than to a place of grief.
If he keeps on walking “in the Lord,” being taught each day by the Holy Spirit, feeding on Christ, obeying the elders, reading the Scriptures, obeying the Father, he will pass from death to life; death to life; death to life; until finally there is nothing left in his personality that is not of God. He has become a new creation. Old things have passed away. All things have become new and all things are of God.
He has attained the first resurrection from the dead. When Jesus comes, there is no need for him to be reviewed and evaluated. He has been continuously reviewed and evaluated throughout his lifetime on the earth. He is ready now to be invested with Divine authority and power. The crown of life is his.
But if the individual makes a profession of Christ and is baptized in water, and then turns again to the world, he will be worse off than if he had never started in the way of righteousness. He is as a dog returning to its vomit (II Peter 2:22). He is not abiding in Christ, in eternal life. He is walking in eternal death. The Divine condemnation rests on him as well as on all who are practicing sin, whether or not they make a profession of faith in Christ (Romans 2:6-11).
What would have happened to the young man of the Quonset hut and the flipped-open Bible if he had promptly proceeded to forget God’s law; to despise God’s commandments; to allow mercy and truth to forsake him? Would the Lord have continued to bless him and then have received him into glory? Not if the Apostle Paul has written the truth of God!
God will chasten the sinning Christian and work with him. Trouble will come on him. If he repents, Christ will lead him toward growth in the Spirit. But if he rebels against the Spirit of God, choosing instead to pursue the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life, he will be cut out of the vine (John 15:2).
Most Christian people appear to be somewhere in between the two extremes. They are not living as hundredfold overcomers; neither are they walking totally in the flesh and disobeying God in every area of their lives. They are lukewarm and will receive the reward of lukewarmness.
What the majority of believers must understand is that we will be judged according to our conduct in the world. The reality of judgment and rewards should cause us to think seriously of the quality of our Christian walk.
The wrath of God hovers over the nations of the earth in the present hour. The righteous scarcely will be saved in the days to come. All of us need to repent, confess our sins, and turn again to the Lord.
God’s grace in Christ is not primarily a ticket to Heaven, although it may function that way in the case of a last-minute, deathbed repentance and confession of faith.
Rather, God’s grace in Christ is our opportunity to escape the authority and power of sin and to choose to serve righteousness; to press vigorously into the Kingdom of God, into the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. Being a saint requires all of our strength and attention, not just a token service while the main interests and efforts of our life are elsewhere.
Receiving the Gospel of Christ does not diminish God’s demands on us, it increases God’s demands on us. The new covenant does not make fewer demands on us than was true of the old, the new covenant makes far, far greater demands on the worshiper than has been true of any other covenant or relationship of God with people. Never before has it been true that God has required that we set aside our life and follow Him with a perfect heart. Yet this always has been true of those rare individuals, such as Abraham, who somehow gained a true perspective of man’s relationship to God.
To whom much is given, of him shall much be required.
The heathen sinner will be beaten with few lashes.
The born-again, Spirit-filled believer who does not take up his or her cross and follow Christ with a pure heart will be beaten with many lashes.
Beaten when, where, with what kind of lashes?
We cannot say at this time. But we know the whipping will take place sometime, somewhere, and it will be painful!
We cannot state for certain the sun will rise in the morning, or if it does, that we will be alive to witness its rising.
But there is one thing we do know.
There is a time coming in the life of every individual when he or she will hear the voice of the Son of God. He will awaken from the dead, and then he will stand before Christ (for the Father has committed all judgment to the Son).
What will it be like when we stand before Christ?
Can you imagine the joy that will flood the face of Christ when He awakens Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Peter, John, Paul, John Wesley?
“Well done!” The bells of Heaven will echo the triumphant cry of praise and congratulations.
But other “believers” will face a wrathful Christ.
“You disobeyed me constantly. Many, many times I urged you to go into the harvest and labor for me. But you found one excuse after another.
“Do you see that multitude of souls waiting over there? They were to be your inheritance. Now I must deal with them in terms of their ignorance. Were it not for your disobedience, there would have come forth fine fruit for my table from among those people—precious souls who would have grown in faith and in the knowledge and love of God.
“You wicked servant! You are not worthy of the Kingdom of God. You took care of yourself on the earth, holding back the wages due to those who labored in your employ. You lived in luxury while others about you perished in spiritual and material poverty. But now many of them are rejoicing in the Kingdom of their Father while your inheritance will be misery and darkness.
“Take him away! Cast him into outer darkness. He will not be allowed to share in My glory.”
If you do not tremble at the thought you probably are walking in deception. Your teachers may comfort you with the idea that you are in a dispensation of grace and no harm can come to you. They are deceived—blind leading the blind.
Dear reader, when you are awakened from your sleep in the dust of the earth, what will be your recompense when you are judged?
Not once in the Gospel accounts, that we are aware, does the Lord Jesus permit or deny entrance into the Kingdom of God to any person on the basis of a theological statement of faith in Christ. The issue always is our conduct in the world.
When Christ exhorts the churches, as described in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, He states repeatedly: “I know thy works.”
According to the Gospel accounts and the Book of Revelation, Christ will not refer to anyone’s position concerning the virgin birth, anyone’s stance regarding a premillennial or postmillennial coming, or anyone’s view of the holy Trinity. The great issue of the Kingdom of God is not theological understanding, nor will our understanding or lack of it carry much weight in the Kingdom.
The concern of the Day of the Lord is our behavior. Were we a good, kind, generous person, serving the Lord Jesus faithfully; or were we an evil, treacherous, grasping, selfish individual, walking in self-will and pride? God’s requirements for His fellowship with people remain unchanged from the time of Adam and Eve.
The greatest single error in Christian understanding is the belief that the people of today have been exempted from God’s standard of behavior because they have professed faith in Christ; that God will accept an assent to the facts of Christ’s death and resurrection in place of righteous, holy, and obedient behavior (Ezekiel 18:1-32).
This may prove to be the greatest heresy of all. Is it possible that the churches can understand, before the Day of the Lord, that they are teaching and living that which God never will accept?
To what type of destiny is your behavior leading you? What are you sowing in this life?
If you have never come to Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, you must do so at once. The individual who rejects the salvation of the cross of Calvary will certainly come face to face with an angry Creator.
If you have been a Christian for a while, ask God today to give you a “report card.” Ask Him to let you know in some manner how well you are pleasing Him. Ask the Father to enable you to prepare yourself to enter His royal Presence. Ask Christ to show you what to expect at His judgment seat. He will enable you to make corrections in your behavior now.
It will be too late to make corrections when you are standing before Him in the Day of the Lord.
Let us pray with David:
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23,24)
God desires to be your God. Would you like to become His son?
You can. You can become a true son of God, an heir of all of the works of God’s hands.
You can, if that is what you desire above all else.
(“Judgment and Rewards”, 3677-1)