I highly recommend going through Art Azurdia’s sermon series on the Book of Revelation. You can find it here.
Towards the end of the sermon series (which is an incredible 82 sermons long), Art drives home the point over several of the last sermons that in 100% of the references in scripture regarding the final judgement (which we will all face one day, including Christians), is based upon one’s works or deeds. Art reminds his congregation that the final judgement is not based on whether one has accepted Jesus into their heart or not. It’s based upon their works. It’s incredibly thought provoking. Art’s basic point is this (paraphrasing)…
We (Christians) are saved by Christ’s works… but we are judged by our works.
This point has taken over much of my thinking life as of late. It has humbled me considerably. It has caused me to seriously reconsider or re-evaluate my walk with Christ. Such is a good thing. Paul reminds us…
2 Corinthians 13:5 (NASB)
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”
So, how do we test ourselves?
The same way that God will one day test everyone who has ever lived at the final judgement… by what we have done. Jesus Christ, the standard, is whom our works will be evaluated by…
Revelation 22:12-13 (NASB)
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Jesus Christ is qualified “to render to every man according to what he has done,” because He is God, “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” He is “The Merism.” (Click here to see what I mean by this description.)
Now, you may be thinking, “I’m in Christ, therefore I will avoid final judgement.” If by “judgement” you mean condemnation, then yes, you are correct…
Romans 8:1 (NASB)
“…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
But, judgement is not the same as condemnation. Judgement refers to evaluation. It refers to the evaluation process. It’s the ability to make considered decisions or to come to sensible conclusions. God is perfect at this. God is a righteous evaluator…
Psalms 9:7-8 (NASB)
“But the Lord abides forever;
He has established His throne for judgment,
And He will judge the world in righteousness;
He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.”
What is interesting is that Paul differentiates judgement from condemnation in his letter to the Romans…
Romans 5:15-17 (NASB)
“But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”
Condemnation is the result of the judgement (evaluation) of the transgression (works). It’s not the judgement itself.
So, when Art Azurdia warns his congregation about the impending future judgement, it is done in order to wake them up to the reality of what that final evaluation will be based upon… their works or deeds. Even though condemnation is not reserved for the Christian and the Christian is saved from condemnation due to Christ’s work on the cross, the Christian will become fully aware of what they should have been condemned for, at that moment of judgement, and then fully grasp the value of the “free gift” that they have been given through Christ (as Paul described in his letter to the Romans above).
It is why James, in his epistle, emphasized the importance of our works. His intention was not to promote the notion that our works save us, but that our works reflect the nature of our faith…
James 2:18 (NASB)
“But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.'”
“As was common in Hellenistic rhetoric, James introduces a hypothetical respondent into his discussion of faith and works, continuing his argument against those who think that faith can save without works.” – (According to the ESV Study Bible notes regarding James 2:18)
In other words, a faith devoid of works is a “dead faith” which cannot save.
Look at the preceding verses…
James 2:14-17 (NASB)
“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
Art, in his sermon on Revelation 22:12-16, offers his congregation a great analogy when talking about how our works expose the type of faith that we have…
“If a person walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, flies like a duck… it’s not a Christian… IT’S A DUCK!!
…And, if a person lives like an unbeliever, and talks like an unbeliever, and thinks like an unbeliever, then he’s not a Christian… I don’t care what he says!”
It’s quite sobering.
The question we must ask ourselves is…
“Am I a Christian, or am I a duck?”
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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