Last week I talked to you about what Jesus says here in these verses; we talked about the “last day” when the Lord will return and the final resurrection and judgment will take place and there will be a resurrection to life; and a resurrection to judgment (condemnation).
- Once again, those are the only two possibilities: heaven or hell.
- There is no indication from the scriptures that there is nothing beyond the grave.
- There is no indication that there is an in-between or an intermediate place of a final purification of the soul; no Purgatory as some teach today.
- There are no alternatives, only a resurrection to life or a resurrection to judgment.
- And once the final judgment takes place there will be no changing from one to the other.
So, we talked about those things last week but there are some other things that we need to learn or be reminded of when it comes to the final judgment and the two resurrections.
- There are several passages of scripture that speak of the final judgment and resurrection and so it seems that our Lord wants us to know about the coming final judgment so that we might be ready when it comes.
- So, for salvation’s sake let’s learn some more truths about the final judgment and resurrection.
So, if you would look with me at Matthew 25 starting in vs. 31. In this passage Jesus gives a dramatic, symbolic description of the final judgment. Look at what He says:
“When…not “if” but “when.” We can count on this happening!
- In fact the apostle Paul says in Acts 17:31 that “God has fixed a day in which He will judge the world…
- A lot of people will still be alive when He comes!
In 1 Cor. 15 starting in vs. 35 the apostle Paul says that when the Lord comes again that “those who have died will be raised with an imperishable body…and we don’t know for sure what that will be like; 1 John 3:2…
- But then He says in vs. 50: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
- People will still be alive when the Lord comes again but they will be changed.
So, back to Acts 17: 31: God has fixed a day (it is set) in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
- The proof that on the last day there will be a resurrection to life and a resurrection to judgment is the empty tomb of Jesus.
- So, this “when” in Matthew 25:31 is not an “if”; it is an assured thing!
So in Matthew 25:31 Jesus says “When?”
- That is the question that everyone wants to know. “When” is this final judgment going to happen?
- Everyone wants to know “when” because if I know when it is going to happen I’ll make sure I am ready.
- “I will live an immoral, sensual, materialistic, lifestyle, a lifestyle that everyone says is so much fun; that the world says you must live if you want to be famous or powerful or rich; a lifestyle that consists of wild parties, drunkenness, and carousing and greed, and strife; I will live that kind of lifestyle and then just a few hours before the Lord comes in judgment I will repent and be baptized and squeeze through before it is too late!”
- So, that is what everyone wants to know: “When?”
But, look at what Jesus says in Matthew 24 starting in vs. 42: Therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43 “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44 “For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
- If you look at vs. 36 Jesus says that “no one knows the day or hour when the Lord will come again, not even the angels, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”
- But what people do is they think “I have plenty of time to get ready” or like in 2 Peter 3:3 people think “He is not coming at all” simply because He hasn’t come back yet.
- Well, listen, “yet” does not mean “never” and those who have that kind of thinking are going to be very disappointed “when” He does come.
Now, vs. 45: “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 “Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 “But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and shall begin to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 51 and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth.
- I think it is interesting that the “master” in this story assigns “the evil slave a place with the hypocrites” but isn’t that what an individual is who wants to live an ungodly lifestyle and then try to squeeze through at the last minute.
- A faithful Christian lives a faithful life all the time.
Look at what the apostle Paul says in 1 Thess. 5: 2-3 “the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night (you don’t know when He is coming). 3 While they are saying “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”
- When I was a kid my parents would go somewhere and they would say, “We will be back in a little while. While we are gone you kids wash the dishes and clean the kitchen.”
- Do you know what we did? We went in and cleaned the kitchen because we didn’t know whether they were going to be gone 15 minutes or two hours.
- What we did know is we better have the kitchen clean when they got home.
So, no one knows when the Lord will come back again. And there is something else that no one knows. Look at James 4:13 says “no one knows what their life will be like tomorrow. We are like a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
- No one has a guarantee of tomorrow and if you or I are thinking that we will wait to the last minute to get ready for the judgment, we may not live that long; the judgment for us may come sooner than we expect.
- Every cemetery in the country reminds us of that.
So, everyone wants to know “when.” But no one knows “when” the judgment will take place except for God.
- And we can speculate.
- Just in the last 23 years there have been 30 predictions by notable scholars and religious leaders saying the world is coming to an end and yet we are still here.
- I have had people tell me that we must be near the end because people are so bad and immoral.
Well, we are nearer to the end than we were yesterday.
- And as far as people being so bad, listen things were pretty bad when our Lord walked on this earth. (Jesus said there were wars and rumors of wars.)
- And less than a hundred years ago things were pretty bad when the whole world was at war; and still the Lord didn’t come.
- The thing is, we can speculate but only the Lord knows when He will return and we must be ready when He does.
So, back to Matthew 25:31 and Jesus’ symbolic description of the final judgment:
When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 “And all the nations (all people) will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Now, look at vs. 41: “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
And now vs. 46: And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
- So, again, there are only two possibilities: eternal punishment or eternal life.
- And once the judgment takes place there will be no changing it.
- And no one will be able to say, “Hold on. Give me just a few minutes to get ready.”
So, how do we or anyone make sure they are ready for the final judgment? How do we assure ourselves of being resurrected to life? Well, because God desires that all men would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 4:4) you can find the answer to that question in every book of the New Testament.
- But let me give you just a few verses that sum up what we must do in order to be assured of a resurrection to life.
John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears (this is not just a general hearing. This is an effectual hearing; a hearing that causes a change in you; a transformation; it speaks of hearing and obeying His word: obeying whatever He commands) My word, and believes Him who sent Me,
- Notice Jesus doesn’t say “Believes in Him who sent ” Instead He says, “Believes Him who sent Me.” What is it they were to believe?
- Well, let me ask, “Why did God send Jesus?”
- He sent Jesus because of sin; sin has condemned us and caused us to be dead and we cannot save ourselves; we need a Savior!
- And the individual who “hears” Jesus’s word, and obeys that word, and believes that they are condemned by their sin and that only Jesus can save them; what does the rest of the verse say?
- That person has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
His word, the Bible, is not just intended to tell you how to be a good person. It does that for sure.
- But this book is primarily intended to tell you and I how to be resurrected to life!
- To deny it, to ignore it, to refuse it is to condemn oneself to a resurrection of condemnation.
Now, look at vs. 28-29: Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, 29 and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
- Do not get the idea from this verse that you can simply do “good deeds” and be resurrected to life.
- Romans 3 and Romans 5 and Galatians 3 and Eph. 2: 8-9 tells us that no one is justified by their works.
- You cannot do enough “good deeds” to save yourself.
But, once you have been saved by your faith and obedience to Christ, if you or I don’t do those things that are “good” in the eyes of God; if we continue to do that which is “evil” there will be no resurrection to life.
So, a day of judgment is coming, we don’t know when. But when it comes there are only two possibilities: a resurrection to life or a resurrection to judgment or condemnation.
- You and I can “pass out of death into life” if we will “hear and obey the words of Jesus”; believe that sin has condemned us and that only in Christ and through Christ can we find salvation; and once we have been washed clean by His blood at baptism we do that which is “good”in His sight.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2024