Luke 19:11-13 At the end of time, true believers will be revealed! Last Judgment 11/10/2019
By Pastor Ken Mellon, Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Pleasant Valley Rd., West Bend, WI
Grace and peace are yours from God the Judge because our Lord Jesus took God’s judgment for us!
God’s Word to help us see the serious need for God’s judgment is written in Luke 19:11-13
These are your words, heavenly Father. Use them to warn of your judgment and to save us from it.
Dear Believers in our saving Judge,
Most people like surprises, if they are good: i.e. a bonus at work or an award at school. No one likes surprises with negative results. This Sunday is called the Last Judgment, which pictures that life in this world will end. The Lord will call all people before Him. Many will be surprised because during their lifetime they were certain that God would accept their works and welcome them into heaven. They will suddenly find themselves separated from friends or family who believed in Jesus. They will hear Jesus’ words of final judgment: “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the Devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). One reason that we’re at worship is so that we will not be surprised by Jesus’ words at the end. We trust that Jesus has saved us from judgment, so that:
At the end of time, we true believers will be revealed!
First, we won’t be sure of being saved from looking inside us or depending on works. God isn’t checking off how often we’ve been to church as if that work would let us into heaven. (Although God’s Word can greatly help our faith when we hear it!). Gaining salvation is not about outward acts of kindness. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). He said this to people of His time who wanted an outward kingdom with Jesus physically ruling. Jesus reminded them that His kingdom is about faith in God and not faith in an army or in earthly king.
Since we are to live by faith, does our certainty depend on the feeling of faith in us? No! Faith is not always strong and we have a sinful nature battling within us. The Bible states, “The heart (where faith resides) is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Paul wrote, “The desire to do good is present with me, but I am not able to carry it out. So I fail to do the good I want to do. Instead, the evil I do not want to do, that is what I keep doing” (Romans 7:18-19). Looking only within or for godly actions as a benchmark for faith will not give us certainty that at the last Judgment God will set us free from being condemned to eternal separation from Him.
Jesus told a story of a Pharisee, a very religious man who did many good works in view of people. As the man prayed in the temple he listed off to God how many good things he had done. But God didn’t accept his prayer for he had no true faith in God. He was like the servant in Jesus’ parable who was given money to use, but refused to use it for good. The Minah represents God’s Word. Today, some people have God’s Word, but don’t believe it. They will be shocked to hear Jesus’ word of judgment on the Last Day.
Second, we look to God’s certain promises. When we listen to God’s Word, it is like being the servants who received the Minah (3 months wages) from the king and put it to work. God’s Word promises: Jesus lived a sinless life for us. But, “God made him, who did not know sin, to become sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God (holy) in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Bible assures us that God accepted Jesus’ perfect work: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). The word justification pictures a judge declaring: Not Guilty! Hearing God’s promises gives us a strong faith. The Bible describes it: “This is how we know that we are of the truth and how we will set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:19-20).
Christian lives aren’t perfect. But we won’t make excuses like the unfaithful servant who hid his money and then blamed the king for being too harsh. As true believers whenever we sin we admit our fault and say, “God be merciful to us and forgiven us.” And God freely gives Christ’s forgiveness which becomes ours through faith in Him. Then, just as the good servants lived for their king and were thankful to be entrusted with his money, so, we will respond to God’s Word trusting in God as our heavenly Father and praying to Him. We become like lights in the world of sinners in darkness to teach His truths to others, so that they have faith in Christ without a doubt!
We cannot claim credit for our faith or for our good works any more than the servants with the money. Two servants said, “Your money has earned 10 or 5 times as much” (v. 16, 18). So, God’s Word gives us true faith to love God and to do many good things for Him. We give all the credit to God the Holy Spirit, because: “It is God who is working in [us], both to will and to work, for the sake of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
Third, what happens to believers and unbelievers on the Last Day will be a contrast! In this life, we may not see much difference between Christians and non-Christians. Both go to school, work, have families, get sick and are healed. God, from the time of our baptisms into Christ when we believed, sees a difference between us and those who don’t believe. And at times in history, God has sent judgments against evil people and against the devil to keep them from overcoming those who believe! (Like Noah’s flood or Sodom and Gomorrah) This is also pictured in the king’s judgment of the man who had not used the money in rebellion; and against the people who openly rebelled against the king and were condemned. Jesus, at His return, will call all people before Him. Those who have not taken God’s Word to heart by faith will be judged. Whatever goodness from God unbelievers had enjoyed in life will be taken away on Judgment Day. They tried to live by the law apart from Christ, and they will be punished according the law apart from Christ.
But, Jesus is pictured as a judge who saves those who trust in Him. In the parable, this is when the king praised the servants for using his money wisely. He graciously rewarded them with great positions of authority over 5 or 10 cities. So, we who trust the promises in God’s Word will receive a reward of grace. In other words, we will receive many blessings from God in heaven that we don’t deserve.
We don’t deserve to be in heaven, let alone hear words of praise from Jesus once we are there. But Jesus’ glory will shine on us. We shall see our loving God in all His beauty. We won’t be afraid, because our sins are forgiven and we will finally see ourselves as God sees us in Christ: Holy! We will be blessed with perfect bodies and minds, a perfect love, and a perfect world with our Savior in heaven. How could we be so blessed? It is by God’s grace alone!
So, when it comes to preparing for Judgment Day, we don’t want any surprises. Everything that will happen to believers in Jesus has been promised in His Word for us to know now! God’s Word will prepare us! We don’t need to focus on how we feel inside or compare ourselves to others worse than us to be assured that we’re going to heaven. We simply look to Christ and believe God’s promises to save us. There may be many people in the world who look and sound just as godly as us. But, the Lord knows the people who are His. On Judgment Day, Christ will call our names and He will say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you… ” (Matthew 25:34). Amen.