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Description: What will it be like to meet Jesus? What will he see in us? Will he see the way we have judged one another? Will he see a reflection of himself in us?
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
There’ll come a day for each us here in this room, when we will meet God face-to-face. Really, it doesn’t matter what age you are at the moment or what age I am. It will all go very, very fast. You look back and see how quickly the years have gone and youíll know that the rest of the years will go very fast.
There’ll come a day when each one of us here in this room will stand before our Maker. And though we may stand in the midst of a great crowd yet, we, ourselves, will be enclosed in a little cocoon of quietness and clear air. Itís a place where even our dear husband or our dear wife will not be beside us. We will stand alone with our God. You remember that God has told us that it won’t even be a mighty judge with flaming eyes of wrath that we will face. Because the Bible says “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment unto the Son. And has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man.” [John 5:22, 27]
So it will be Jesus, our own Savior, that will interview us on that day. That’s what God’s word said, ìhe has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.î [Acts 17:31] So it is Jesus that each of us will face. That’s what this verse in the Romans study states and it just cannot be coincidence the way God has arranged these days.
It’s Romans 14:12 and those of you have followed with this for 16 or 17 years know that no one could plan the verses to fall as they have done these Sundays. We need to bow before God and thank him for that.
Romans 14:12, “So each of us shall give account of himself to God.” That’s it. Each of us will give account of himself to God. First of all, about the way we’ve treated each other. Because that’s what God has been talking about to us in these verses. First, about the way we’ve treated each other.
We’ll give account of ourselves to God in regard to that. You remember what God was talking to us specifically about in Romans 14:1, “As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions.” God has been telling us that there are in the body of Christ, new people and old people. People who are here for years, people who are just new, people who are young in faith and people who are old in faith, people who even though they’ve been long on the road, are weak in faith and others are strong in faith. God has been saying to us that those who are weak in faith often have a tendency to try to identify likeness to God with believing the right things or doing the right things and they get judgmental about those things.
You remember, God has been saying to us that in Rome some people were like that. Some of those who were weak in faith were saying, “Now listen, how can you be a Christian and still observe the Jewish Sabbath?” So they specialized in being judgmental upon what they thought a Christian should be or do. Or, they said, “Now how can you eat meat and still believe in Jesus?” And God said, “Now, those people who are weak in faith and tend to pick the others, now they have a certain weakness that needs to be strengthened. The strong ones, the ones who are strong in faith, identify the children of God as those who have the Spirit of Christ, a spirit of love, a spirit of kindliness and gentleness, a spirit of encouragement and up-building.”
God has been saying to us, “Now which way do you behave to one another?” You remember he says in Romans 14:2, “One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand. One man esteems one day as better than another while another man esteems all days alike. Let everyone be fully convinced in his own mind.”
On the final day, Jesus will ask us to render account of ourselves in regard to our attitudes to one another. So he will ask that question in Romans 14:10, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother?”, and he’d say to you and me, “Now why have you been judgmental? Why do you pass judgment on other people? Render to me an account of your behavior towards the brethren.” So that’s the first thing we’ll have to render account for.
Then, loved ones, we’ll have to render account for our lives, for our whole lives. We will. We’ll have to give account to God for our whole lives. Now you may say, “No, brother, now those of us who are saved or those of us who know Jesus as our Savior, no, we won’t have to render account for our lives. We will give the password ìfaithî and we will go on into heaven. That’s the way it works. You got it wrong. The people who will render account for their lives, they are the unsafe people; they are those miserable sinners, those wretched people that don’t know Jesus. But we won’t, no. That’s half a reason I am a Christian because I won’t have to render account for my life. I’ll just walk in and say, ìLord, I have faith in you and now show me the place in heaven!” And, loved ones, it’s not so. Let’s look at it in the Bible in Matthew 12:36.
Matthew 12:36, “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified and by your words, you will be condemned.” In other words, it’s not just by your words you will be condemned. But it’s by your words you will be justified.
God says, “I will ask you to give account to me for every careless word you have ever uttered. I’ll want you to give account to me for the life that you’ve lived here on earth.” Now some of us may get a little confused and say, “But then how does faith fit into that? I mean, if we are going to be judged by our works and by our words then what has faith got to do with this?”
Well, the Bible explains it in detail in James 2:13, and obviously, people in New Testament times put the same question to the apostles and said, “Now, if we’re going to have to render account for our words and our works, then what’s all this talk about faith.” James explained it like this in James 2:13-24, “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment. What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ëGo in peace, be warmed and filled,í without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, ëYou have faith and I have works.í Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe — and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father, justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, ëAbraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousnessí; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.î
How does faith fit in? Faith that God has changed you in Jesus is the only way to become like Jesus. That’s it. Faith that God has taken every one of us, put us into his Son Jesus, has destroyed us and remade us completely, is the only way that we can live like God. That’s why faith is so vital. Faith that God has changed you in Jesus is the only way in which you can ever be changed and the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The proof of the change is in the life that has ìfaith worksî flowing from it.
In other words, if you’ve been changed in Jesus, you’ll have the love that is patient and kind. You’ll have the love that is not arrogant or rude. You’ll find coming from within yourself a spirit that it is not irritable or resentful, that is not jealous or boastful. [I Corinthians 13:4-5] You’ll find within yourself the Spirit of Jesus so that when you meet Jesus face-to-face, he’ll look in a mirror and see himself. So, instead of you feeling separated from him, you’ll come together and the oneness of Spirit that he has with you will draw you immediately together. He will say, “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the throne prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
So, when you have faith that God has changed you in Jesus, that he has destroyed you in him and remade you in him, then the Holy Spirit blessedly and graciously comes into your life and begins to beget that life miraculously in you. Now if you tackle it the other way, loved ones, and you say, “Oh, we’re going to be justified by works, then I better get my life cleaned up. I’d better go to it and I have to overcome my bad temper and I’ll have to overcome my jealousy and I’ll have to overcome my critical spirit,” then you will fall into salvation by works. You’ll try and try and try again to become like God and you’ll fail because it’s by your own sinful effort.
But if the Holy Spirit even this morning, points out in you some things that you know you will have to render account to God for, and you go to him this morning and you say, “Father, there is no way in which I can get rid of this on my own but I do believe what has been said repeatedly to me through the Bible, that you took me and you put me into Jesus and you destroyed me in him in his death. I believe you raised me up with him and made me new. Father, I believe that and I am going to go on believing that and go on submitting to your Spirit to make that real in me until I meet you face-to-face.”
Then if you have that attitude, that’s an attitude of faith that will, without doubt, begin to beget ìfaith worksî in you. So loved ones, you will be saved by grace. Because it’s sheer grace that God gives us another chance. That he takes us as we are and destroys us in his Son and makes us new again. Itís sheer grace and it will be through our faith, through our faith that that has happened to us, and then God begets those words and works in us.
So when you and I are called to give account of ourselves to God in the person of his son Jesus, first, will pass before him and before our eyes, all the sins from which you and I have ceased, all the things that we know are wrong that we have stopped doing, all the things that we have repented of and we have been forgiven for. God will pass all those things by us on that final day as things that are repented, forsaken and forgiven.
Then will pass before us all the sins that we’ve committed, that we didn’t know we committed. All the unconscious sins, all the things that we have disobeyed God in, that we didn’t realize we were disobeying him in, but yet they have had their consequences in other people’s lives and have had their bad effects on other people’s lives. Those will pass before us also.
They are forgiven again by God because of the unconditional atonement of Jesusí blood, that blood that cleanses us from all sins, from both the known and the unknown as well. Those unknown, unconscious sins will pass before us as forgiven and covered by his blood.
Then will pass before our eyes and the eyes of our Savior Jesus the sins that he bore on Calvary. The sins that caused him unbearable pain that you and I are still struggling with. That’s why the verse says, “Each of us will give account of himself.” Because the Savior will look into the center of your heart in regard to those things. His judgment will not be the same as ours.
Our judgment is often harsh with each other. Our judgment is often self-righteous and pharisaical. Our judgment takes no note of how the person has lived or what are the circumstances that they have borne. But Jesusí judgment is true and fair and he will look into your heart and he will look to see if there is a penitent heart there in regard to those things or if there is a hardened heart.
A heart that has decided, “Well, these things I can’t get rid of out of my life. I have tried and I have tried again and again. I am just going to stop regarding when I sin. I can’t overcome them. That’s it. I am just going to accept them and I am going to believe that they’re covered by the blood of Jesus. I can’t do anything about them. I’ll just leave them there.”
The Savior is able to see if your heart is like that. Thank God only he can. I can’t, another person can’t. You, by the light of the Holy Spirit, can. The Holy Spirit can show you what your attitude is to those sins that you have not yet overcome in your life. The Holy Spirit is able to show you, have you a hardened, callous heart there that has begun to regard them as part and parcel of your life that cannot be changed.
If you have, loved ones, then you are not the bearer of a broken and a contrite heart. You are the bearer of a conscience that has become seared and a heart that has become hardened. That merely talks about faith in Christ but does not have that cleaving to Christ, that desperate desire to let him see of the travail of a soul and be satisfied. That brings victory over every known sin in your life.
If you say to me, “Brother, do you mean that there’ll never be a sin that I am struggling with, that I can’t overcome?” Oh, who knows when you or I will die, who knows the moment? Who knows what sin we’ll have or we’ll not have at that moment? Who can say that? But there is no doubt of this: that there is no sin that Jesus has died to save you from that needs to continue in your life year after year bringing you into continual defeat and depression.
Who can say what you’ll have at that moment of death, but one can certainly say that Jesus has died to save us from every known sin. It may take us a while to get saved from it. It may take you years of struggling with it. It may take you years of New Year resolutions. It may take you years of repenting again and again.
It may take you years of having that experience. As the old saint said if you remember, “A saint is not one who never falls but one who gets up every time he falls.” [Proverbs 24:16] It may take years of that but if you persist and if you hate sin with all your heart and you fight it with all your being and you go back continually to the fact that you were crucified with Christ and you rest in that and you say, “Father, I know you destroyed whatever causes this is in me. I know you destroyed it in Jesus. I know it. I’ve been delivered from it. Lord, I believe that. I believe even against my own experience. I believe that I’ve been changed in Jesus. Lord, therefore I am walking in that confidence again.” Then the Holy Spirit will deliver you from that sin.
So, yes, God will pass before you those sins that you’re still struggling with, and he will then look into your heart to see if there is a penitent soft heart that truly believes that ìI can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.î [Philippians 4:13] And that Jesus was called Jesus because ìhe will save his people from their sins,î [Matthew 1:21] He doesnít save them IN their sins.
So, the Lord Jesus knows you and knows me in a way that nobody here in this room knows us, and he is the one that will ask us to give account of ourselves to him for our whole lives. We will all do that. Some of us will do it to him purely as judge and some of us will do it to him as a Savior who recognizes his own Spirit in our hearts and welcomes him in. Welcomes him to what? Oh it’s a great place.
Sometimes the Bible talks about it as a huge feast, a great party. Sometimes the Bible talks about it as a great garden. Or, sometimes as a great city with lots of people rejoicing together. Maybe the greatest thing that the Bible says about it is, “We shall always be with the Lord.” [I Thessalonians 4:17] And there is no night there at all because there is continual light of God’s presence among us.
Then, you remember the Bible says, “We shall see him as he is and we shall share his glory and reflect his glory.” [I John 3:2] So it is a beautiful place where there is peace and love. A place where there is wholeness and there is perfect understanding. That’s what God has made us for and he has not made us, loved ones, for that place of hell where we would burn in our own selfishness or our own spirit of antagonism. He has not made us for that place.
Every one of us that goes there, in some way, brings pain and a failure to the heart of our Savior. It is not God’s will that any of us should perish but that all of us should join him in that holy city, the new Jerusalem. You remember it’s just beautiful and this is a good time for me to read it.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” [Revelations 21:1-4]
We should get ready for that day. I would say we should pray and if you feel you should come to the altar and settle anything with God, then you should do that and then go back to your seat. And if you just feel you should sit there and do it, you should do it. Be real with anything in your life that you believe God will ask you to give account for on that day. Let us pray.