We want to welcome all of you to our first night service of the new church. And especially we want to welcome Philip Raw and Leslie Felix who are with us tonight, our second and third visitors in the new building. We had one visitor this morning and now this evening we have two more visitors. So they are our second and third visitors for the new building.
You be in prayer as we try to speak to you tonight that God will use His Word to stir our hearts here today and cause us to realize the importance of the subject that we have chosen to speak about tonight. Our theme for tonight is "Judgment Day Surprises."
You know, there are going to be a lot of surprises when judgment day comes. And as I was studying one time, I thought of this theme and prepared a message on it. And I want to bring this message to you tonight. The Lord has put it on my heart to bring it to you here tonight, "Judgment Day Surprises."
We want to read first in Revelation chapter 20. Revelation chapter 20. We'll see as we go through this message together tonight, there are certainly going to be a great many surprises in the judgment day. And we want to think about just a few of those surprises together tonight. Revelation chapter 20, reading from verse 11, reading from verse 11, down through the end of the chapter, which means only a few verses because the chapter is a very short one.
Beginning with verse 11, "And I saw a great white throne, and him that 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, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Now as we begin to think about this, we have read to you, of course, here in the passage in Revelation about one of the judgments. There will be more than one judgment. The Scripture very clearly teaches that this judgment here in Revelation that I just read to you about is referring only to the unsaved and only the lost people, those who have not been born again will come before this Great White Throne judgment. There will, however, be another judgment which we'll be including in our surprises tonight, though we didn't read it in with our text Scriptures.
This one, remember, is for the unsaved only, the one we read about now. But there is another judgment in the end times which will be for the saved only. And it won't be to determine whether they are saved or not, but it will be to determine their reward. This judgment here, the Great White Throne judgment is not to decide whether men are saved or lost; it is not for that purpose at all. There is not a single place anywhere in the Bible that teaches that there will ever be a time when all the saved and all the lost will stand before a single judgment together to be separated.
"Oh," you say, "what about that judgment of the sheep and the goat nations?" Well, that's a completely different thing; we're not even talking about that. But a general judgment, separating the lost from the saved, is not taught anywhere in the Scripture. I know a lot of religious groups teach that and a lot of people believe it, but God's Word doesn't say it. And unless His Word says it, then we don't need to worry about it, do we? What His Word says is the truth. And what we need to know about all matters relative to God and to judgment, to salvation, to heaven and to hell, to life and to death, all the things that we need to know about that are right here in this book, aren't they? And if they are not here, we don't need to know them, else He would have put them here for us.
So as we begin to think about this together tonight, remembering that there are two end time judgments, this Great White Throne judgment at which only the unsaved will appear, not to find out if they are saved but to find out how severe their punishment in hell will be. And even the lightest punishment in hell will be terrible. But others in hell will be in worse position even than some others. And remembering also that the other judgment that we will be speaking of is before the Judgment Seat of Christ or the Mercy Seat of Christ, we often refer to it and the Scripture does so refer to it as well. The Christians will stand before the Mercy Seat of Christ, the Bema Judgment it is called. And this one here that we just read to you about is only for the unsaved, the lost.
But as we begin to think about this from the idea of surprises, you know, in this judgment day surprises, we're going to find that some will be surprised to find the judgment a reality. You know, there are people all over the world, many right here in South Africa, many right here in Pomona, in Johannesburg, and Pretoria area who believe that the judgment is not really a reality at all. It is just something that men have made up to scare people into doing what they ought to do or to scare people into doing what these men want them to do. And, of course, that's not it at all. The judgment is a reality. And a lot of people are going to be surprised when they stand in the judgment to find out that it really is true, it really is a reality. It is genuine. It is not something that has just been dreamed up, it's not just a wild idea, a figment of someone's imagination, but it is a reality.
Luke chapter 17, verses 26 and 27 gives us a good reference to look at at this point. Remember we're thinking about the fact that some will be surprised to find the judgment a reality. Now I'm sure that all of you here if I asked you the question right now, just quickly and suddenly asked you the question, if you believe the words of Jesus are true, I'm sure that everyone in the building tonight would tell me that they do believe that the words of Jesus are true. Well, now what I'm fixing to read to you here from Luke 17 is a direct quotation of some of the words of Jesus about this question of the judgment, the reality of the judgment, showing that He Himself taught the reality of the judgment.
It says, "And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all."
Then if you go on and read further, He talks about the reality of the judgment by giving them an example of Lot, how in the days of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah. They carried on, thinking nothing was going to happen, thinking that no judgment was coming, and then the same day that Lot left the city under pressure from the angels that it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Then He goes on verse 30 and says, "Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed." And Jesus is using both of these examples here as a clear indication of the reality of the judgment, the fact that judgment is coming.
And another lesson that we get from these passages or from this passage here in Luke is that it not only is a reality but that it is coming at a time when men are ignoring the coming of the judgment. That is one of the signs that He gives here if you read this whole passage. We don't have time to read all of it tonight, but you'll find that He is giving this as a sign of the end times, when men began to ignore this idea of judgment. And there has never been a time in the history of the world when so many people ignored the idea of judgment and made fun of it and pretended that it is not real, that it is not coming as right now. You just think back in your own life, even you young folks who are—well, of course, a young person gets older, the older you get, you know. The age that you call them young gets older, the older you get.
I had a birthday yesterday. I usually tell people I'm thirty-nine, but I was fifty-two yesterday. And, of course, now at the age of fifty-two, a young person is anyone under fifty-two. Back when I was thirty, then it had to be someone under thirty to be a young person, you know. But that is beside the point. But even you young people can understand if you just think back to your childhood days, and remember what was the attitude of the general public then to this idea of judgment? Then remember or consider the attitude of the general public to this idea of judgment now. There has been a big change in the past twenty or thirty years! A lot less belief in the reality of the judgment than there used to be, even in the past twenty or thirty years.
And Jesus here is teaching this as an example of the time when He is coming back to bring judgment on men. And He is coming. He is coming. He is coming. And I don't think it'll be long. But even if it's a long time by man's standard, He is certainly coming. And all men are going to face this real judgment, because all the way through the Scripture God teaches that judgment day is coming both for the saved and for the unsaved. It will be two different judgment days but it is coming for both of us, both the saved and the unsaved. And it is coming at a time when men are just like they were in the days of Noah and like they were in the days of Lot, laughing at the idea of judgment, not believing that it is coming and yet it is coming.
Mark chapter 13, verse 31 says, "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away." Now His Word tells us that there is coming a real judgment and that it is going to be a real thing to real people with a real judge and real punishment in a real hell. "The Bible teaches us that," as the old fellow says, "from cover to cover, from front to back." or as another old fellow said one time, "from Genesis to Revolution." The Bible teaches it all the way through that there is coming a day of judgment and it's real.
Now some not only will be surprised to find that judgment is reality but there are going to be others that will be surprised at the time of Christ's coming. There are going to be a lot of people shocked at the time of Christ's coming. This also fits in with what we read to you here from Luke about the signs of His coming, when men are scoffing at the idea of His coming, when men are scoffing at the idea of judgment. That is just another sign that His coming is drawing near, isn't it? The Scripture teaches that in many places.
In 2 Peter we have a good reference to read. Second Peter chapter 3, or Two Peter has some of you call it here. Two Peter, chapter 3, and we'll read only three verses there, verses 3 and 4, and then we'll skip down and read verse 10 as well to complete the thought. Second Peter chapter 3, verses 3 and 4, and then we'll jump down and read verse 10. It goes like this: "Knowing this first," now it's talking about the time of the coming of the Lord. "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers," now what is he talking about here? The last days, talking about the time when it is drawing near to the coming of Christ, isn't it?
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. But the day of the Lord," verse 10, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."
Now he has covered an awful lot of territory here in these few verses that we read to you. But let's take just a quick look at these verses together. He brings it clearly to mind that in the last days there are going to be scoffers. And he tells them some of the things that they are going to say. They are going to say, "Where is the promise of His coming, because since the fathers fell asleep, things are still the same as they've always been? Nothing has changed." Well, of course, to say nothing has changed is a lie to start with, isn't it? But even if that were true, that nothing has changed and God has promised that Jesus is coming back, and there have been nearly two thousand years since that promise was made, to say that that is proof that He is not coming is stupidity, isn't it?
That is just that much more proof that we are getting close to it, the fact that so much time has passed since the promise was made. We're that much closer to it, aren't we? Almost two thousand years closer to it than we were before.
But then he goes on to say that the day of the coming of the Lord is going to be as a thief in the night. Now how does a thief come? Does he go out and put up a big sound system and advertise to everybody in the whole area that he is coming in tonight to rob them, and then put sandwich-board men walking up and down the streets for two weeks ahead, advertising the fact that he is coming on whatever tonight is, the thirteenth of September, 1981, and that he is going to rob the Pomona area on that night? Is that the way a thief operates? No, that's not the way a thief operates, is it? What does it mean when he says He's coming as a thief in the night? It means He is coming unexpectedly, unbeknownst to people, unknown to the general public. He is coming suddenly without warning. That is the way a thief comes, isn't it? A thief in the night.
And then he goes ahead and says that in that time the heavens shall pass away. Now the Second Coming of the Lord is coming in two phases we call it, two divisions of the Second Coming of the Lord. He is coming back first in the air. The Scripture clearly teaches in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, if you read the last three or four verses of the chapter, you'll see that He clearly teaches that He is coming back in the air to call up all the saved. Both living and dead will be resurrected and the living saved will be changed and go up to meet the Lord in the air and be taken away with Him.
And there will be a seven-year celebration period for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, as it is called. And also during that seven-year period, we'll have our judgment, the saved will. That is, we'll receive our rewards, the judgment of rewards for the saved; not to find out if they are saved or not, only the saved will be taken up at that time. No one else will go at that time. We usually refer to that as the Rapture, the time when He comes in the air and calls all the saved of all the ages, living and dead, to meet Him in the air and to go up to heaven with Him.
Then there is the second part, or the second phase of His Second Coming. It is at the end of this seven-year period. And during this seven years when we are in heaven, celebrating and having the great marriage feast and rejoicing with the Lord, during that seven years on earth there will be a time of terrible trouble, the Tribulation Period it is called. And we don't have time to go read the Scriptures but it is very clearly taught in the Scripture that this occurs at the same time. After the saved have been taken away, there will be seven years on earth that will be hell on earth, really terrible, when the man of sin or the antichrist will reign and in that period of time he will come to universal power over the earth, during that seven-year period.
There will be a lot of trouble, a lot of tribulation, millions of people will die from famine, from war, from pestilence, from all kinds of problems that they are going to have. And these are taught both in the Book of Daniel and in the Book of Revelation, as well as in other places in the Scripture.
But at the end of that seven-year period the Lord is coming back -- all the way down to the earth that time, and touch the earth. He is coming that time, as the Bible teaches, in power and great glory. He is coming with all of His saints with Him and with the armies of heaven following Him. And He will destroy the armies of the antichrist, He will rescue the remnant of the Jews. While we are back in heaven with Him, after He has rescued the remnant of the Jews who have been converted at the end or during this Tribulation Period, while we are away with Him, the earth will be renovated by fire. And that is what Peter is talking about when he says, "The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." Now Peter speaks of that also in other places as well, but we don't have time to read those tonight.
So people are going to be surprised not only to find the judgment a reality, but they are going to be surprised at the time of Christ's coming. Another thing that is going to be a big shock to many people, and that is, they are going to be surprised at the standard by which men shall be judged. They are going to be surprised at that. Many people believe, "Well, this fellow over here who lived a reasonably moral life, this fellow over here who didn't murder anyone, he didn't commit adultery, he didn't steal or at least not very much, and he didn't lie or at least not very much," a lot of people believe that that fellow and that his standard will be okay and he is going to make it. But that is not the standard by which men are going to be judged. The standard by which men are going to be judged is given to us in the Scripture.
In John chapter 12, He tells us the exact standard by which men are going to be judged. This is the way it is going to be; it doesn't make any difference whether we like it or not. When God says it, all we've got to do about it is believe it and that settles it, doesn't it? And when He says it and we refuse to believe it, it's still settled! Whether we believe it or not it is still that way and it is still going to be that way!
John 12:48 tells us the standard by which men shall be judged. I have two or three references here I want to give you that will show the standard by which men are going to be judged. This first one, John 12:48 says, "He that rejecteth me," now this is Jesus Himself again speaking. "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."
Now are you willing to be judged "by this Word?" It doesn't make any difference whether you are or not; you will be judged, all of us will be judged by this Word. But are you willing in your present condition to be judged by this Word? If you are, then that must mean you have accepted Christ, that you are living for the Lord, that you are serving Him the way you should, that you have been born again and that you know you have, otherwise you couldn't possibly be willing to be judged by this Word, could you -- if you were not in that position? But that is the standard by which men will be judged. He tells us, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."
Some think, "Well, because I'm a pretty good fellow or because I'm such a handsome fellow or because I've given a lot to the poor or because I have done this or that or something else that's good." And many times the things they think and say are good deeds, but good deeds do not save us. Good deeds do not even help to save us. The only thing that saves us is the blood of Christ.
Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23. Every man on earth, every woman on earth, every child on earth, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
This is the standard by which we are going to be judged. What did He say is going to be the standard? "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him." That's what He said, isn't it? That is the standard of judgment. That is the yardstick, the measuring post, or whatever you want to call it; the weight, the weigh scale, it is the means by which men are going to be judged, the Word. And His Word says in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
In Romans 6:23, it says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life," through what? "through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Then if we turn on to Romans 10 and read verses 9 and 10, read it there for yourself in the Bible. I don't bother to preach anything that is not in the book. It is a waste of time to preach anything that is not in the book. That's the only thing that matters -- what's in the Word. It's the only thing that touches hearts and leads people to come to Christ. And it is also this same Word that touches hearts and leads people to Christ which is going to be the standard by which these same people will be judged on judgment day. The same Word that we preach to them is going to be the standard by which they will be judged.
Read over there with me in Romans chapter 10, verses 9 and 10. This is one of the most clear-cut examples in the Scripture. There are many others but this is one of the best, showing plainly and simply in everyday language how a man can be saved, how a woman can be saved. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead," what does He say will happen? "Thou shalt be saved." It doesn't say maybe you'll be saved, perhaps you'll be saved, or in the final judgment if your deeds are good enough, you'll be saved. It doesn't say anything like that, does it? Not a word of that kind. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart." It takes really honest-to-goodness, down deep in the heart, sincere repentance and belief, doesn't it? "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Now that is the standard by which men are going to be judged! And a lot of people are going to be surprised in judgment day to find this standard by which men are going to be judged. The standard is this book right here. That's it. What it says, that's what we're going to be judged by. Christians will be judged before the Mercy Seat of Christ, not for determining whether they are saved or not, but to determine how great their reward and position will be in the kingdom. And the unsaved will be judged before the Great White Throne judgment which comes a thousand years later.
The Great White Throne judgment comes a thousand years after the judgment of the saved. And those who stand before the White Throne judgment are not coming there to find out if they are saved or not because only the unsaved will come there, as the Scripture clearly teaches. None but the unsaved will stand before the White Throne judgment. They are just coming there to see how severe, how low their position in hell is going to be.
Some of you may have read Dante's Inferno or translations of it. And if you have, you may remember that he has hell pictured in his mind in a sort of a spiral staircase type of thing. And way down on the bottom it gets a little bit worse than way up there on top of the spiral. That idea does have some Scripture to back it up because there is going to be some sort of differentiation in hell. Even the best place will be terrible, but the worst place will be even worse. And that is what the judgment is for, not to determine if they are saved or not, but to determine the unsaved ones position in hell. Or, at the Mercy Seat Judgment, in the case of the saved, it is to determine their position and rewards in the kingdom.
Thinking still about this idea of how men are going to be surprised, I want to think for just a few minutes now about another angle to this idea. Certain classes of people are going to be surprised. Yes, certain classes of people will be surprised. The first one that I have on my list is the self-righteous. You know, that rascal is really going to be surprised at the judgment day, the self-righteous. Among these classes of people now that we want to think about, the first one is the self-righteous.
Romans 3:23 takes care of that fellow, doesn't it? It says, "For all have sinned." I read or quoted that to you a minute ago. "For all have sinned." There is not any real self-righteousness, is there? There are a lot of people who think they are self-righteous, there are a lot of people who think they are going to save themselves, there are a lot of people who believe they are going to get to heaven by their works.
And I have to stop here and tell a little silly joke that I always remember every time I get to this place on any discussion of this Scripture. When I was in high school in Texas --- I've been working in Africa now nineteen years, just about. But in Texas quite a few years ago when I was in high school, we had a teacher in high school named Caskey. I always think of this silly joke when I come to this Scripture about self-righteousness. Her name was Caskey and they had a little jingle that all the kids around school said --- but of course, they were careful not to let her hear it.
That little High School ditty went something like this: "Can't get to heaven by being nasty; it's done been tried by a gal name Caskey." And I always think of that. It doesn't really have a thing to do with the sermon but I always think of it every time I come to this point in Scripture. And that was thirty odd years ago. "You can't get to heaven by being nasty; it's done been tried by a gal named Caskey." It was only said carefully in the hallways, you know, out of her hearing.
But there is no way a man can justify himself. It just can't be done. You can go somewhere and have five hundred priests and pastors and anybody you want to list to sprinkle water on you, to baptize you, to duck you under the water, to pray over you, to forgive your sins. You can do anything you want about it, and there is just no way except by the blood of Christ that we can be saved. That is the only way. No matter what we do, no matter what we say, this old idea of self-righteousness just won't do it. Man can't make it himself.
Hebrews 9:22, and I quoted this one to you this morning in my message this morning, "Without shedding of blood is no remission," talking about sin, of course, and remission of sin. Without shedding of blood is no remission of sin, (Hebrews 9:22). Without the shedding of the blood of Christ there is not any remission of sin.
So the self-righteous don't have a chance. They are going to be certainly surprised in the day of judgment. Those who are depending on anything except the blood of Christ are going to be surprised in the day of judgment because they won't be saved. They won't make it.
Another thing, another class that is going to be surprised in judgment day is those whose trust is in earthly honor or greatness! There are various examples in Scripture which tell about men not being humble as they should, men depending on their high position.
Another reference that I used this morning in the other message today makes a pretty good illustration at this point. Remember the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. That is a good example illustrating what we are talking about here --- those who trust in earthly honor are greatness are going to be surprised. That Pharisee, he stood up there and prayed and said, "Now, God, I thank You that I'm not like this old fellow over here, this sinner, this publican. I thank You that I do this and I do that and I do something else that is good." And all these things he said were good to do, but the problem was he was depending on that for his salvation, wasn't he?
The Pharisee is the self-righteous one. He is the New Testament example of the self-righteous man today, the Pharisees. But the publican, he realized there wasn't any way he could save himself. He just couldn't be good enough. There wasn't any way he could do enough good works to make it. And he kept his head cast down, as I read to you this morning, and beat himself on the breast and said, "God, be merciful to me a sinner." And that is what it takes for men to be saved, to humble themselves before God, to realize that they can't help themselves but that we have a Savior who can help us. Not only One who can help us, is willing to help us, He is eager to help us, He wants to help us!
But we have to come to the position where we are like the publican, "God, be merciful to me a sinner." At His giving of that parable, at the close of it, Jesus said: "Now which one of these do you think went away justified?" Then He answered the question Himself. Which one? The publican, the one who just confessed that he was a sinner and needed to be saved and needed mercy from God. He is the one who received mercy. And this self-righteous fellow, he didn't get anything, did he? He didn't get a thing.
Another class that is going to be surprised in the judgment is the false professor. It is a sad thing to say, a terrible thing to say, and yet I'm quite sure that it is true; there are millions right here in South Africa who profess to be Christians who don't even understand what being a Christian means. Oh, I know they grew up in a "Christian" country. This is "Christian" country. But growing up in a Christian country doesn't save you. Maybe they even grew up in a Christian family. But growing up in a "Christian" family doesn't save you. Maybe they were sprinkled when they were a baby and they are depending on that to save them. But it won't do it!
False professors, there are millions of them in the world today. And some of them are truly deceived into believing that they are saved. They honestly, sincerely believe they are saved. But the reason they do is because they don't listen to God's Word when it tells us how to be saved! (It tells us of the need to be saved, and the means of salvation). Because if they did, they would come to realize they are not truly saved, but rather they are false professors.
Matthew chapter 7, verse 22 and 23. Here is Jesus speaking about the last days, speaking about the judgment day in fact. "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?" Now one who prophesied in the name of Jesus would certainly be a religious man, wouldn't he? "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils," even. They had a certain amount of power of some sort, didn't they? They put on a good show.
And then what does He say? "And in thy name done many wonderful works?" They'd done all kinds of great things in the name of Jesus. They had cast out devils in the name of Jesus. They had done wonderful works in His name. They had prophesied in His name. And yet, what does He say? "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you." He doesn't say, "Now, I knew you once and then I cut you loose and threw you back." It doesn't say that at all, does it? He says, "I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
So the self-righteous are going to really be surprised in the judgment day, as well as these false professors that we have been reading about here in Matthew. The self-righteous, those who trust in earthly honor or greatness, and the false professor, they are all going to be shocked and surprised in the judgment day.
Matthew 25, verse 41 gives us another good illustration. "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." A lot of false professors are going to be shocked in the judgment day.
Now there is one group I like to talk about. There is another class of people that are going to be surprised in the judgment day, the humble Christian is going to be surprised too! Did you know that? That humble little old lady, maybe she was a widow the last twenty years of her life, didn't have much money, didn't have anybody to care for her except the Lord and a few friends in the church. She was faithful, she put in her tithes and offerings. She witnessed when she could, she got people to come to church. She led a few to the Lord, and she worshipped the Lord. She served Him faithfully, and if she is really a humble Christian like that, she'll think, "Well, I'll get up there and I won't get much reward. There won't be much reward for me when I get there." Well, she is going to be surprised. The humble Christian is going to be surprised in the judgment day at the greatness of His reward -- greatly surprised!
Matthew 25 gives us a good example of that in the parable of the talents. Or turn over to Matthew 21, let us look at that one together quickly. Matthew 21:33. This is the parable of the householder demanding fruit from his vineyard. And in this place he tells us the story of a husbandman who went into a far country. He left his vineyard in good condition -- well-cared for and well-prepared -- and he had even built a tower (to overlook and protect the crop from predators and thieves) as it tells us. He let it out to husbandmen when he went away to a far country. When the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants in order that they might receive his payment for his share of the crop.
And the husbandmen took the servants and beat one, killed another and stoned another as it tells us in the parable. Then he sent more servants and they did unto them likewise. And then at the last he sent his own son saying that they would reverence his son. But when they saw the son, it says in verse 38, "But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons."
And if we turn on over to Matthew 25:21, we see a good illustration of the fact that the humble Christian will be surprised at the judgment day at the greatness of his reward. This is the word of his lord to the faithful servant, Matthew 25:21, "His lord said unto him, Well done," that will be a great reward, won't it? "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
And there is another place that He teaches that great reward again, in verse 34 of this same chapter. Matthew 25:34 says: "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." The humble Christian is going to be surprised at the greatness of his reward.
Now the last thing we want to present to you in connection with these judgment day surprises is this idea: Some things are going to seem completely different in the light of the judgment! I mean, they are not going to appear the way they do now to unsaved people, or even to unspiritual Christians. But one of the surprises of judgment day is how differently things will look in that day. Some things will seem completely different in the light of the judgment.
One thing that is going to seem terribly different in that day is our excuses for neglecting so great salvation. You know, people today, they've got all kinds of excuses. They say, "Well, I'm young. I'm going to be saved before I die." Well, stop right there. Do you know when you're going to die? Not one of us knows. Not even these children. Not one of us knows when we are going to die.
But these excuses for neglecting so great salvation are going to seem different in the day of judgment. There won't be a single one that will stand up there before the Lord at the Great White Throne judgment and say, "Well, now, Lord, You weren't fair to me. I meant to be saved when I was sixty-five years old but I only lived to be sixty-four." There won't be a one that will stand before Him and try to tell Him that. There won't be one that will stand before Him and say, "Well, Lord, I know I meant to be saved after I sowed my wild oats as a youngster. I meant to get right, repent, trust the Lord, be born again, be saved, and then serve You the rest of my life after I had sowed my wild oats and had my fun while I was young."
There won't be one that will stand before Him and say that either. Because as they stand before Him, I have no doubt at all that they'll see the scars on His precious head, they'll see the scars on His hands, and they'll see the scars on His feet. And by some miraculous means they might even see the scars on His back where He was whipped for us. But they'll look Him in the face and they won't have any excuse, no reason that is worth even talking about when they stand before Him. All of our excuses for neglecting salvation are going to look completely different in the day of judgement.
Hebrews chapter 2 has a good reference on this. We have been studying this in our Bible college classes. Hebrews chapter 2. It says this, the particular verse that I want to call your special attention to, "How shall we escape," verse 3. Hebrews 2:3: "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" There is just not going to be any escape, is there?
There is not going to be any acceptable excuse. We want these people to have excuses now why they can't come to church. These people now that have excuses as to why they don't want to trust the Lord now, today, and be saved but want to wait until some other time; they won't even bother to give those excuses then before the Lord. They'll realize the foolishness of it in that day. But now, I've visited people recently in this day and age in which we live who could give you a list of fifteen reasons why they didn't want to be saved now or were not ready to be saved now but plan to be saved later.
They won't give a single one of those to the Lord, not one. Because these excuses will seem completely different in the judgment. They won't even look like good excuses then. Today they may look like pretty good excuses when they're talking to me, but when they are standing before Him, the One who died for sinners, they won't even sound like good excuses to the ones who give the excuses. The unsaved will realize, in other words, how foolish and ridiculous are their excuses.
The neglected opportunities of Christians are going to look completely different in that day too! Oh, I know we can fool each other and we can say, "Well, I was pretty busy yesterday and I just didn't have time to do what I should have done for the Lord." Well, now that sounds all right to us, doesn't it? Sounds pretty good, in fact, when we're talking to each other, doesn't it? "I just couldn't make that yesterday." But we won't even bother to give that kind of silly excuse to the Lord, will we, for not doing His will, for not doing everything we could to win the lost and build a church for His glory? Yes, sadly, the neglected opportunities of Christians are going to look different in the day of judgment.
Another thing that is going to look different then, and I'm glad! Our trials and disappointments are going to seem completely different then. Some of these things that we think of as trials and disappointments, in that day we'll look back and say, "Well, Lord, I know you used that to teach me a lesson that I needed to know. I know you used that to win that fellow over there that I never could have won any other way. I know, Lord, that you let that happen because it brought glory to you." Our trials and disappointments are going to seem completely different in the day of judgment. They won't seem at all like they do now.
There is a song in one of our books that fits this very well. I want to read you the poem in closing. It goes like this:
"Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We're tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His bride away,
All tears forever over, in God's eternal day.
Sometimes the sky looks dark with not a ray of light,
We're tossed and driven on, no human help in sight;
But there is one in heav'n who knows our deepest care,
Let Jesus solve your problem — just go to Him in pray'r.
Life's day will soon be o'er" and there's never been a truer word written than that.
"Life's day will soon be o'er, all storms forever passed,
We'll cross the great divide to glory, safe at last;
We'll share the joys of heav'n — a harp, a home, a crown,
The tempter will be banished, we'll lay our burden down."
And then the chorus goes,
"It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ."
End – Invitation and/or Prayer