Judgment and Rewards, 23 October 2016

Judgment and Rewards
What Happens to You When You Die?
Revelation 22:12-16

Series Overview

Heaven is for real and the Bible says more about it than we might recognize.

Big Idea

One day we will all stand before a holy God and give an account for our lives. Are you ready?


For the past several weeks we’ve been studying heaven. Heaven is where God is, plain and simple. There is no sickness, death, or sin in heaven. It is truly paradise, Eden before the Fall, and so much more. Heaven is for real.

Unfortunately for many, hell is for real, too. The Bible is full of references to it, and Jesus himself had much to say on the subject. Hell is where God is absent.

You’re not ready to live until you’re ready to die.

The purpose of this series could be summed in two verses from the book of Colossians:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1-2)

God commands us to set our hearts—and minds—on Heaven.”

This does not mean we should be so heavenly minded we become no earthly good. In fact,
C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.”

The scriptures make it clear that heaven is for real and hell is for real. Heaven is where God is present. Hell is where God is absent.

Your name. It’s important. It allows you to talk with the customer service agent on the phone (so long as you also know those special digits, the last four of your Social Security number!). Perhaps you heard your name when the teacher distributed the graded papers. Your name is used when you sign a contract for a house or purchase a car. Your name identifies you on Facebook, unique from the billion or so other users. Your name—at least your last name—connects you to parents and children of different generations. It has been said the most important words to your ear are your name.

Often names are placed on lists. For years my wife has posted cast lists after theatrical auditions, causing great excitement among students eager for a part in the school musical. In seventh grade I was heartbroken to see my name absent from the basketball team roster only to have the experience repeated in eighth grade following tryouts.

In one of my favorite chapters of the Bible, Luke 10, Jesus sends out seventy-two people to health the sick and announce the kingdom of God is near. When they return to him, they are told

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:19-20)

This passage in Luke is one of many which describes a list of names, a book of names…the book of life. Is your name in it? Speaking of heaven…

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27)

Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

Follow Jesus now…and forever in heaven.
Reject Jesus now…and he will honor your choice for eternity.

As C.S. Lewis famously said,
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”

Judgment Day

One day we will all stand before Almighty God and have to give an account of our lives. If you’ve ever wanted to see someone get justice, that will be the day. Jesus said,

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 22:12-13)

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14-15)

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16)

One day, God will judge you and me—according to what we have done. He will declare us guilty of sin. Someone has to pay. It will be us…unless we’ve received the gift of Jesus who died on the cross for us. Jesus died to save us from eternal damnation, separation from God. The image of baptism is so appropriate—a water grave where we die to ourselves, our agenda, our way and become new creations, resurrected in Jesus.


The final three chapters in the Bible, Revelation 20-22 contain so many beautiful images of heaven—and dreadful images of hell. It is said of God,

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

I don’t know about you, but if we could spend eternity here on earth without death, mourning, crying, or pain that would be amazing! But there’s so much more.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5)

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. (Revelation 21:6-7)

The greatest thing about heaven is God! Eternity with God.

The passage continues by presenting the horrifying alternative, eternity without God.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

I know it’s not politically correct to say this, but everything I understand about the Bible states our destiny as heaven or hell.

I desperately want all of you to spend eternity with Jesus in paradise, but it begins now. It begins with surrendering your heart, soul, mind and strength to him in this life.

Jesus didn’t die to make bad people good.
Jesus died to make dead people come to life.

He wants to be with you now…and forever. If you haven’t done so I urge you to simply confess your sins to God, turn from selfish living, and make Jesus the LORD of your life. There’s nothing greater you can ever do in this life…and the rewards are eternal.

Jonathan Edwards said when saints enter Heaven, “They shall see in God everything that gratifies love…They shall see in him all that love desires. Love desires the love of the beloved. So the saints in glory shall see God’s transcendent love to them; God will make ineffable manifestations of his love to them… They shall see as much love in God towards them as they desire; they neither will nor can crave any more.”

Heaven will be amazing, but the greatest reward of all is Jesus!


Some ideas from
The Heaven Promise by Scot McKnight and Heaven by Randy Alcorn.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Develop A Rule Of Life, 19 February 2012


    “Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
    Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzero’s book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

    The 7 Pathways

    1. Know Yourself that You May Know God
    2. Going Back in Order to Go Forward
    3. Journey Through the Wall
    4. Enlarge Your Soul Through Grief and Loss
    5. Discover the Rhythms of the Daily Office and Sabbath
    6. Grow into an Emotionally Mature Adult
    7. Take the Next Step to Develop a “Rule of Life.”

    Most people live off of the spirituality of others. We use prayer to get God to serve us.

    Os Guinness – The American Hour (adapted)

    We are a part of the most powerful civilization that the world has ever known. We are about

    - Information (not formation)
    - Convenience
    - Options
    - Time maximization (people overloaded/anxious)
    - Comfort
    - Feeling good
    - Happiness
    - Independence
    - Entertainment
    - Instant gratification
    - Skepticism
    - Image, Style – (Beauty)
    - Control

    Summary: Narcissistic; it’s all about me!

    From community to individualism
    From authority to preference
    From Jesus’ claims to all religions considered

    The western Church is declining as there are few differences between how Christians and non-Christians live their lives.

    There are pockets of radical followers of Jesus that are on a mission to transform the culture rather than be transformed by it.

    Three anchors that can help us get centered on God are the Daily Office, Sabbath, and a Rule of Life.

    The goal of disciplines is not the disciplines. That’s legalism. The goal is to develop your relationship with God in order to love God and love others.

    “RULE” of LIFE

    from the Greek word “trellis”

    - a tool to help you grow upward and outward

    - a framework or structure to help enable us continually pay attention to God and keep Him the center of our lives

    Throughout history, people gathered together in communities around a rule of life. Some were as large as 5000 people in the Egyptian desert. A group of people known as the Desert Fathers were among the God-seekers.

    Acts 2:42-3:1

    This is the trellis or framework for the early church.

    They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

    One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer — at three in the afternoon. (Acts 3:1)

    “Devoted” to

    1. Apostle’s Teaching

    We’re a school of the LORD’s service. We are under the Scriptures.

    2. Fellowship (Greek: “sharing”)

    A new family/community is formed. Following Jesus is not an individual experience.

    3. Breaking of Bread

    They did it corporately and at home.

    4. Prayer

    a. Talking to God
    b. Listening to God
    c. Being with God


    The early church was intentional. It has difficult. It required sacrifice. Many became martyrs. Their entire lives were God. They were breaking away from the world, the flesh, and the devil.

    Growth does not occur automatically. The one thing that occurs naturally in nature is weeds. The one thing that occurs naturally within us is sin.

    This is about resetting your entire life.

    One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

    A Sample Rule of Life:

    a. Scripture (through the Bible in a year;
    lectio divina, memorization)
    b. Silence and Solitude

    c. Daily Office (the Divine Hours, Psalms, Book of Common Prayer)
    d. Study (reading, learning, exploring)

    e. Sabbath
    f. Simplicity
    g. Play and Recreation (fun!)

    h. Service and Mission
    i. Care for the Physical Body

    j. Emotional Health
    k. Family
    l. Community (Companions for your journey)

    What is your next step?

    It must be a heart thing, not a to-do list.

    “Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way. The love of Christ must come before all else.” -Benedict

    Luke 18:9-14

    To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ (Luke 18:9-12)

    “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ (Luke 18:13)

    “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

    Are you growing in your love for your enemies?

    The goal of a rule of life is a heart transformation, not self-righteous behavior. It’s a journey, not a destination.

    What is your trellis? What is your plan to follow Jesus? What are your next steps?

    God, not my will, but Yours!

    You can listen to the podcast here.

    Note: many ideas derived from Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituailty.