1 John 4:17: Confidence in the day of judgment

August 25, 2017

 

 

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness (confidence) in the day of judgment…”

This is written to believers (“dear children, beloved”), so this verse refers to the “Judgment seat of Christ” which is specific to individual believers standing before God in the last day to receive their reward.

The “judgment seat of Christ” does not determine our salvation; that was determined by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf and our faith in Him. All of our sins are forgiven, (past, present, future) and we will never be condemned for them. “There is therefore now no condemnation (judgment) to those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1). We should not look at the judgment seat of Christ as God judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us for our lives. As the Bible says, we will have to give an account of ourselves. Part of this is surely answering for the sins we committed. However, that is not going to be the primary focus of the judgment seat of Christ. –Adapted from, gotquestions.org

Romans 14:10-12, “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”

What John is saying is,

“Not to be concerned about loving the brethren, not to be concerned as to whether I am dwelling in love or not, is to misunderstand the whole purpose of my salvation, and therefore it is to flout God’s love. If this is not the greatest concern of my life, then I am a mere beginner in the Christian life.” –Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“The saint who in the future Rapture of the Church will approach the Judgment Seat of Christ with boldness (parrhesia–freedom of speech). [This] is the saint who in his earthly life has had the love that God is in His nature brought to its full capacity of operation by the Holy Spirit in his life. That fullness of love results in a life devoted entirely to the Lord Jesus.” –Wuest

I’m going away from our usual verse by verse exposition of the book of First John to talk to you about how to avoid the day of the final judgment, the judgment of unbelievers, those without Christ…this is your future:

Matthew 24:31-34,41, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels…”

Revelation 20:11-15, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.  Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

There is one fear common to all of humankind, which is greater than all other fears. It is a fear which haunts people all of their lives…the fear of death. The Psalmist addresses this fear,

Psalm 55:4,5 NLT, “My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking”

The writer to the Hebrews speaks of that fear in these words: “Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by His death. By embracing death, taking it into Himself, He destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death” (Hebrews 2:14,15 MSG).

Job describes death as “the king of terrors” (Job 18:14).

“Death anxiety is the morbid, abnormal, or persistent fear of one's own mortality. One source defines death anxiety as a ‘feeling of dread, apprehension or solicitude (anxiety) when one thinks of the process of dying, or ceasing to be’. It is also referred to as thanatophobia (fear of death)…” –From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The fear of dying can develop into deep-rooted thoughts about the process of dying and the fact that we will be no more. It is a not necessarily a bad thing to have a natural fear of dying, it is self-preservation and keeps us from doing things that would endanger our lives. 

“To fear death, gentlemen, is no other than to think oneself wise when one is not, to think one knows what one does not know. No one knows whether death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man, yet men fear it as if they knew that it is the greatest of evils.” –Socrates

“For to fear death, my friends, is only to think ourselves wise without really being wise, for it is to think that we know what we do not know. For no one knows whether death may not be the greatest good that can happen to man.” Plato

“How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life.” –James T. Kirk, Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan

On a late-night television show a popular playwright was asked if making lots of money concerned him. The studio audience went dead silent when he answered, “No...what does concern me is the fear of dying.”

Comedian Woody Allen said, “I'm not afraid of dying; I just don't want to be there when it happens." When someone said to comedian Jack Benny, “You can’t take it with you,” he replied, “Then I’m not going.” (But he went!)

One thing is certain, I'm going to die! At the funeral for one of my brothers, another of my brothers said, “I will never go to another funeral, to which another replied, “you will damn sure go to one more!” I don't know where or when, but I do know, unless Jesus returns to take me to be with Him at the rapture of the church, (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) it will happen, I will die! One day I won't be here anymore, none of us will.

Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”

1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” Ecclesiastes 3:1,2, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die…”

Even the most secure, devout believer will have occasions when he fears death. It is part of human nature to do everything to avoid death. After all, Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea though I walk through valley and a shadow of death…” (BTW: you can’t have a shadow without light and Jesus is that Light!) Death was not an original part of God’s plan for His creation. We were made to be whole and holy, living in paradise (the Garden of Eden) in communion with Him. The introduction of death was a necessary response to sin coming into the world.

Many fear death because they have not really lived! And here is a truth, no one dies until all the lives he has touched are gone and all the influence he had is no more.  Mark Twain said, “Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

Death happens to everyone! No matter how great the sinner or the saint; no matter how mighty the king or how weak the child, death is no respecter of persons. It doesn’t care who you are or who you think you are or how smart you are or how smart you think you are in your attempt to defeat and defy it, death doesn’t fear you at all.

Romans 2:11, “God does not show favoritism” (NLT). And in

Ecclesiastes 9:2,4,12, “All things come alike to all: one event happens to the righteous and the wicked; to  the good, the clean, and the unclean; to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice…For the living know that they will die…For man also does not know his time.”

Death is the unconquerable foe that can come regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or status. Even famous people die and many die young: Joan of Arc (19), Anne Frank (15), John Keats (26), Emily Bronte (30), Alexander the Great (33), Eva Peron (33), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (35) Jimi Hendrix (27), Jim Morrison (28), James Dean (24), Marilyn Monroe (36), John Lennon (40), Elvis Presley (42), Martin Luther King, Jr. (39), Diana, Princess of Wales (36), John F. Kennedy, Jr. (38).

I love life! I love living! I love people! I love my family! I love kids! I love eating good food (obviously)! I love nature! I love listening to good music (I prefer classical, but mainly I listen to Gospel music). I love church! I love cool spring days and warm summer nights! I love rain! I love nice things! I love fancy cars! I love to preach! I love good, clean movies and television (especially comedies and westerns)! In short I love life!

So the thought of death is not pleasant for me, and probably not for you. It seems the older we get the more we think about death. I’m 82 at the time of this writing, and believe me I know that life is short. Just yesterday I was young! I was a genius then! The painting of my future pictured no stop signs! I had an unconquerable spirit then! I was ready to charge hell with a squirt gun then! There were no obstacles that could possibly deter me from achieving greatness then! The world was mine then! Like the man who said, “I used to have great biceps, enviable abs, muscles out to here…but that’s all behind me (literally) now!”

Yesterday when I was young

The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue.

I teased at life as if it were a foolish game,

The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame.

The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned,

I always built alas on weak and shifting sand.

I lived by night and shunned the naked light of the day

And only now I see how the years ran away.

There are so many songs in me that won't be sung,

I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue.

The time has come for me to pay for

Yesterday when I was young...

–Roy Clark–

The finality of death, coupled with the uncertainty of an afterlife, results in fear for many. We see it all around us as we try so hard to stop the aging process. We hope that the next pill, the next surgery, or the next genetic discovery will be the key to extending our lives. It seems that many are searching for the illusive “fountain of youth.”

Nobody wants to grow old! We tax our ingenuity to keep that from happening, knowing full well that we can’t change it. We are constantly bombarded with the cult of youth. The only commercials we see that are directed at old people are about life insurance and incontinence supplies. We think we can buy springtime at the drugstore, and I will be the first to admit that every old barn needs a little paint every once in a while. God pity the old body that has no better safeguard against the coming of old age than can be found in paint, powder, facelifts, collagen treatments or a new wardrobe. One woman said, “I have the body of a 21 year old.” Someone replied, “You’d better give it back you’re getting it all wrinkled.”

The orator’s tongue loses its eloquence. The writer’s pen loses its skill. The athlete’s body loses its prowess. The quick mind is just a little slower. The creative juices flow a little slower. Personally, I quit having original thoughts several years ago. One famous author said in his old age, “My God what a genius I was then.” The light of the brain dims with age, so, young person, fill your mind with good things now, so you will have great memories later.

I don’t want to die, as someone has aptly said, “I’m lookin’ for the uppertaker not the undertaker!” A friend who was ill once said to me, “I just want to die and go to be with Jesus!” My response was, “If I live to be 110 years old, I’ll go out kicking and shouting, ‘I’m not finished yet, I have not accomplished all I wanted to accomplish.’” Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m ready to die, but today?? Like the little boy said when he was asked if he wanted to go to heaven said “no!” “You mean you don’t want to go to heaven when you die?” “Oh, yea, I want to go when I die but I thought you were getting’ up a load for today!”

Where will you spend eternity, heaven or hell? Much of the world makes fun of this question. But seriously, do you know where you will go when you die? It’s natural for people to want things to turn out well in the end, both in life and afterwards. 72% of Americans say they believe in heaven, that they define as a place “where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded.” But at the same time, 58% of U.S. adults also believe in hell, a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.” –Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study. These polls show that around 60 percent of Americans believe in hell, but only 4 percent think there’s a good chance that they will go there!

The Bible tells us that God sent His Son to take the punishment for our sins, so that we won’t spend eternity in hell separated from Him.  “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He willingly took our place, then he rose from the dead three days later.

 

I personally settled thewhere will you spend eternity?question when I accepted God's gift of eternal life. If we reject God's gift, we are condemned to spiritual death, which is eternal separation from God. If we do accept then eternal life is ours. While this eternal life does not mean we will escape physical death, we can face death a lot easier knowing for certain that it leads to eternal life in heaven.

John 10:28-30, [Jesus said] “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are one.”

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1 John 5:13,14, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…”

 

Many people fear death! And the fact is that one day you and I will die. We can live in fear of the unknown or we can take a moment to consider what the Bible says about eternity…it may be the most important moment of your life. Let me ask you a simple question: “If you died today, where will you spend eternity?” Most people, when asked that question, say something like…“I’ve led a pretty good life, I hope I’ll go to Heaven.” But they’re not really sure. Why are they willing to risk their future on wishful thinking when the Bible tells how they can know for sure where they will go after death? A guarantee of Heaven is not based on what we have done, but what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

John 4:14, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Romans 5:21, “So that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 John 2:17, “He who does the will of God abides forever.”

Our eternal salvation is the most important thing in this life. It doesn’t matter what we have accomplished in life, if we lose our souls in Hell; we lose it all.  Jesus says in Matthew 16:26, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” There is nothing in this world that is worth losing our soul. Our soul is worth more than the whole world and everything in it. Our soul is the part of us that is going to live on forever and ever throughout all eternity.  Jesus says concerning eternity, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Matthew 25:46). 

Then how can you know for sure that I will go to heaven when you die?

If God should ask you, “Why should I let you into My Heaven?”
What will your answer be? “I was baptized when I was a baby.” “I was a church member.” “I tried to keep the Ten Commandments.” “I always tried to be good to everyone.” “I never did anything real bad.” “I always tried to help people.” “I did many good deeds in my lie.”

Listen to what God says to you! For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

I suppose the best way to tell you how to get to heaven is to share what happened to me and millions of others, just like me.

The late Pastor Jim Combs talked with me many years ago…It was on a Thursday in October,1958 in our home in Downey, California. He asked me a series of questions: First,  “Are you a Christian?” My response, “I don’t even know if there is a God, and if there is, He doesn’t like me very much!” Second, “Do you think you will go to heaven when you die?” I said, “I don’t know.” Third, “Would you like to know?” ”Yes I would!” Then he asked, “Do you believe you are a sinner?” (The first question I knew I could answer easily!) “Yes!” He said, “The Bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’” (Romans 3:23). Dr. Combs explained that Jesus Christ, God’s Son died just for me. He quoted, John 3:16, “For God so loved John Sparks (you can put your name here), that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever (put your name here) believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Then Dr. Combs said, “If you want to accept Christ, just take my hand.” I reached out and clasped his hand. Then he helped me to ask God for forgiveness, so I prayed:  “Dear God, I know I have sinned, and I know ‘The wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). And I know I am can’t save myself, so I ask You to forgive my sins and come into my life. I believe that your Son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was raised from the dead, He is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”

I got up from my knees, “a new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). It’s that simple!

Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

1 John 5:11-13, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Now listen to what God has to say about the future for every believer:

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

**NOTE: Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English  bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB).**

Marlena and I support this ministry with our Social Security plus donations from a few of our friends. We need more friends! Will you be a friend to us and Everlasting Arms? Your financial support of this ministry is much appreciated. You may give on-line to John & Marlena’s Ministry. Mailing address: 25413 Alpha Street-Moreno Valley, CA 92557. Thank you and God bless you!

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