Your Works are Not Good Enough

Your Works are not Good Enough

“And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.

(Re 20:13)

A time is coming when all will stand before the throne of Jesus. Judgment will occur. Those who are found wanting will be thrown into the lake of fire. Not a hopeful picture for us because judgment is based on our own actions. Yes, everything you have ever done will be judged. Every thought and action will testify against you at the judgment. 

You might be thinking, “That is ok. I have done more good than bad. I should be ok” While you might have lived a good life, your good works mean nothing to God. God is holy and we are not. Every action we undertake, no matter how good it is, does not earn us favor with a holy, perfect God. In reality, even our best works are not good enough. They are counted as filthy rags before the throne of God.

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

(Is 64:6)

The only way we can hope to escape the judgment seat of Christ is if our name has been written in the book of life.

“And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

(Re 20:15)

The only one’s who have their names written in the book of life are those who have turned to Jesus, who have repented of their unbelief and have exercised faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. Only those who have turned from living in rebellion to God to admit and live as if He is King of all creation, will find entrance into the heavenly kingdom. 

Do you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Or are you hoping your good works will gain you entrance into heaven? My prayer for you is that you believe in former and not the latter. 

We serve an amazing God who will bring His purposes about!

And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.

(Rev 17:16-17)

There is a vivid and scary scene near the end of the book of Revelation. In chapter 17, John sees a vision of a prostitute arrayed in purple and scarlet with gold and jewels and pearls. She has a golden cup in her hand and she is drunk on the blood of martyred Jesus followers. She is Babylon’s the great. She is riding on a scarlet beast with seven heads and 10 horns who has come from the bottomless pit (Rev 17:1-13). The beast with seven heads and horns represents nations and kings who have power. Who wage ware against Jesus and His followers (Rev 17:14).

The interesting part of John’s vision is not so much the vivid imagery but what happens to the prostitute. She is destroyed by the beast and the kings who are represented by the ten horns (Rev 17:16). But why? Why do they war against one another? Verse 17 reveals the answer:

for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.”

(Rev 17:17)

Her destruction occurs due God’s providence. God works His will even in the hearts of evil men who completely and utterly oppose Him. God is that great! He is absolutely sovereign, turning even the hearts of wicked men to accomplish His purposes. As one commentator puts it:

“You cannot overcome such a God! They are his enemies, and he puts it into their hearts to carry out his purposes by doing their wicked deeds. God is holy, righteous, and good. He is not evil. He is not tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone to it. He never does evil. But no evil is outside God’s control.”

(James Hamilton, Revelation, 331)

We serve an amazing God who will bring His purposes about!

The Lord is just in all He does

And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!” 

(Rev 16:7)

Judgement is coming. It is unavoidable. God has providentially purposed to judge all those who do not submit to His reign and rule. In this section of Revelation, we see God pouring out judgment on those who have taken the mark of the beast — those who have chosen to follow the satanic world order, rejecting the Lord and His right to rule over them. Judgment is poured out in a number of ways in this section. 

What is interesting is that as judgment is poured out the people do not repent and turn to the Lord, pleading for Him to exercise grace and mercy on them. No, they curse the name of the Lord (Rev 16:9). They gnaw at their tongues for the pain and curse the God of heaven (Rev 16:10-11). Even as hailstones a hundred pounds each fell on them, they continued to curse God for the plague (Rev 16:21). 

Man, apart from God’s intervention will continue to run from the Lord even as great and powerful plagues are being poured out on them. Man hates the Lord because He is a threat to their reign and rule. Ever since the garden we have desired to reign and rule in God’s place. Instead of submit to God, we rage against Him (Ps 2). We desire to call the shots, to be the big “K” king. 

While these plagues are horrendous, the Lord is just in His judgment. He does not act unfairly. He is absolutely justified in pouring out His wrath on mankind for their continue and unceasing rebellion against Him. 

We must recognize our proper place in this world. It is not to reign and rule. Rather it is to bring the Lord glory as we submit to His reign and rule, recognizing His wisdom is greater than our own. 

Christian, you can, must, and will endure!

If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.” 

(Rev 13:10)

No one is promised an easy life. Especially those who live contrary to the world system. 

In the middle section of the book of the Revelation John sees a vision of two beasts. The first beast was allowed by God to make war on the saints and to conquer them (Rev 13:7). Not only is the beast able to conquer the saints but all who dwell on the earth end up worshipping the beast. Everyone except the saints “whose names [have] been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Reve 13:8). 

True Christians cannot and will not be conquered. 

Their allegiance to King Jesus cannot be changed. They have and will continue to follow Him, even as two beast are terrorizing the world. 

A Christians assurance of eternal life with King Jesus is guaranteed but a comfortable life and escaping death in Jesus’ name is not. Those who have been destined for captivity and death will face captivity and death (Rev. 13:10)

Where is the comfort? 

The comfort comes in knowing our names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world. The comfort comes in knowing God is not only a sovereign God but a providential God. In other words, His sovereignty is purposeful and His purposes are not and cannot be hindered. Though we might be taken captive or slain, we continue to trust in the providence of God. In His purposes and will along with His ability to bring His purpose to pass. 

Knowing who our God is, what He capable of doing, and what we could possibly face, we are called to endure (Rev 13:10b). To remain steadfast in the face of whatever may come our way in the future. That is not an easy proposition because the future is unknown to us. But it is what we are called to do by the Lord God. 

We can endure! We must endure! We will endure!

Revelation, a mystery and a certainty

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation  11:15)

Revelation is a mysterious book. At times, well most of the time, it is hard to understand. I like to refer to it as the final exam of the Bible because it pulls in imagery from all the books before. In order to understand Revelation, you need a good handle on the rest of the Bible. Reading Revelation in and of itself will be difficult if you have not read and do not have a good grasp on the meta narrative of Scripture. The overarching story of God’s Word that follows a trajectory from Creation to Restoration.

While Revelation may be difficult to understand, there are parts that are clear. Today’s text is one of those texts. We learn that Jesus’ kingdom will reign forever and ever. It will never cease. It will always be. We can count on it because the Creator of the universe promises it. The Creator of the universe we read about in Scripture. The One who has fulfilled countless promises throughout redemptive history.

Do you believe and trust that God will establish His eternal kingdom one day on this earth? Are you convinced that everything will be restored? That sin will be wiped away and we will live in the world in which we all hope? The book of Revelation is difficult in many ways, but it is clear that Jesus will return, His future kingdom will be established, and we will live in the world for which mankind longs, if you are a follower of Jesus.

Why do we need others to live the Christian life?

Growing up I attended a small private school in Savannah, GA. When I was in fifth grade, we were given the option of taking choir. I say we were given the option of taking this class because you had to miss recess in order to attend. Since recess is kind of a big deal for a fifth-grader, they gave you the option. At first, I wasn’t going to take the class. Recess was way more important to me than singing in the choir. But all my friends were signing up. Recess is only fun if your friends are there, so I decided to sign up as well.

My stint in the choir didn’t last all that long. I wasn’t doing well in one of my other subjects, I can’t remember which one it was, but I wasn’t doing well, so I had to go to tutoring. To this day I distinctly remember the comment the choir director made when he heard I wouldn’t be coming back. He said, “Oh, that’s fine. It’s probably for the best anyways.” While hearing him say that hurt my ego a little, it was true. It was for the best because I was always out of step with the rest of the class. I’m tone-deaf. I can’t carry a tune to save my life.

While it hurt my ego to hear that from my choir teacher, I’m glad I learned early that I was out of step when it came to music, or else I might have ended up on American Idol or something like that as one of the blooper reels. I’m glad someone was honest with me.

We need people who are willing to be honest with us.

Not just when it comes to singing but when it comes to how we are living life. We all need others who are willing to come alongside us and speak the truth in love. If we don’t, we will end up going through life thinking we are great at everything. That is not only dangerous when it comes to our talents, but also the Christian life.

We must have others to whom we are accountable.

We must have others who are willing to speak the truth of God’s Word into our life. If we don’t, we won’t grow. Even worse, we might end up following a false teacher or living contrary to the gospel.

When we live contrary to the gospel and God’s Word, we not only hurt ourselves, but we hurt others as well.

It might not be our first instinct to believe our actions harm the community in which we run because we are conditioned by our culture to think of ourselves and ourselves alone. We are very individualistic in our outlook. While that is how our culture has conditioned us to think, that is not reality. Our actions affect the community in which we live, work, and play. That not only applies to other church members, but it also applies to those we are attempting to reach with the gospel.

If we are living out of step with the gospel, and we don’t have anyone who is willing to tell us we are out of step with the gospel, we are in trouble.