Dear Friends,

“When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts
of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11)
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this
he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) “Then I saw a great white throne
and Him who sat upon it…. And I saw the dead (unbelievers), the great
and the small, standing before the throne…And the dead were judged…according
to their deeds. (There will be degrees of punishment in hell based on deeds).
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was
thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15) “Behold, I
am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man (believers)
according to what he has done.” (Revelation 22:12; Also see 1 Corinthians
3: 10-15 for the judgment of believers. There will be degrees of rewards based
on works done in the Spirit.)

I still remember the impact of a talk given at our Chili’s Bible study
by Greg, a believer, who was dying of cancer. He said that one good thing about
knowing you were going to die soon, is that you quickly repent of all known
sin in your life knowing you are about to face the Lord’s judgment.
His prayer partner later affirmed that Greg’s passion and intimacy with
the Lord was glowing and that he was sharing his faith with practically everyone
he talked to right up to his homegoing.

As it says in Revelation 1: 3 we are blessed if we read, hear and obey the
words of this prophecy. I have been blessed as I have begun to teach through
this book by the realization of God’s final judgment on my life and the
motivation that this knowledge has brought for more faithful obedience and stewardship
of my brief life on this earth. Though it may seem that we are getting away
with our sins, both sins of commission and omission, as it says in Ecclesiastes,
Revelation reminds us that there is a “pay day one day” as one preacher
put it, and we will all reap what we sow. In this age of grace God deals more
indirectly in judging the sins of unbelievers as sin has its own consequences
(Romans 1:24-32) and for believers He disciplines us in love “for our
good that we may share in His holiness.” (Hebrews 12: 7-11)

Yet, unfortunately, many believers do not understand the tremendous loss they
experience now, and even more so eternally, for disobedience. (Not loss of salvation
which is only by grace through faith, not works – 1 Corinthians 3:15, Ephesians
2:8) Their only concern is their salvation – “fire insurance”
as some have put it. Paying the “cost of discipleship” (Luke 14:25-35)
brings a growing intimacy with the Lord and thus growth in the “abundant
life” (John 10:10) and the fruit of the Spirit – “love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”,
(Galatians 5:22-23) something everyone wants. The “cost of non-discipleship”
is simply the forfeit of all these blessings. But an even greater loss will
be the loss of eternal rewards that will bless and benefit us for all eternity
but, more importantly, give us a greater capacity to reveal and radiate the
glory of the triune God throughout all eternity. (Things to Come by
Dwight Pentecost)

Paul was highly motivated by the knowledge of God’s final judgment of
his life. “So we make it our goal (or ambition) to please Him. For we
must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive
what is due him for the things done while in the body (i.e., in this life) whether
good or bad. (Bad here means “worthless” – wood, hay or straw.
All sins are bad but we as believers will not be judged for our sins since Christ
paid for them on the cross but judged for our works.) Since, then, we know what
it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.” (2 Corinthians 5:9-11)
Paul lived each day here on earth in light of That Day and saw all of the “blessings”
of this life as a “responsibility” to steward for the salvation
and spiritual growth of others to the glory of God. “I am under obligation…to
preach the gospel” he says (Romans 1:11) and stewarded his time, talents,
treasures, truth and the relationships God gave him to share the gospel. Below
are some Scriptures and comments on how we too can do the same in light of That

Time: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of
wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) Moses wrote this Psalm and understood the brevity
of life as he watched hundreds of thousands of Israelites die in the wilderness
journey. He preached a lot of funerals as the desert pastor. “Anyone,
then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
(See James 4:13-17) As you study this passage you will see the sin of presuming
on the future to serve the Lord when “I have more time and money, etc.”

Talents: “Let your light shine before men , that they may see your good
deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16; also see Matthew
25:14-30 and Luke 19: 12-27) Whether it’s at work or at home, at church,
on the golf course or tennis courts, we can work and play and serve in such
a way that our Lord is glorified. Our attitude, our enthusiasm, our diligence
to serve well can all be leveraged to witness favorably for the Lord by our
life and lips. Sometimes we can take the Lord’s name in vain by our un-Christlike
attitudes and actions in these arenas. Also see Colossians 3:23-24.

Treasures: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some
people, eager for money have wandered from the faith. Command those who are
rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth,
which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us
with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good
deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up
treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age (heaven), so
that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:10,
17-19 ) Jesus says the deceitfulness of wealth keeps us from being fruitful,
and fruitfulness, not temporal success, is what God rewards us for and what
truly satisfies us. More money is often seen as more “blessings”
but it’s actually more responsibility. The more money we have the more
responsibility and accountability we have to steward these resources for the
Kingdom of God. “To whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke

Truth: “And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We
are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God was making His appeal
through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20) God’s truth, seen in the Scriptures,
is a revelation of God to man and the gospel truth is how man can be reconciled
to God so we can then and only then, live in right relationship with each other.
What a powerful and needed blessing is the Word of God! Yet many Bibles are
rarely opened and God’s truth rarely shared. And we wonder why our country
is so shamefully sinful. We are called to be ambassadors of God’s truth.

Relationships: “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share
with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
(1 Thessalonians 2:8) “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin
against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” (1 Samuel 12:23) The Lord
has given us a network of relationships in our families and extended families,
our friends, our business associates, neighbors and recreational activities.
We are called to pray for them and to intercede for their salvation and spiritual
growth and share God’s love and truth with them as we go about our day
to day lives.

Jesus says, “Do business until I come back” (Luke 19:13) with the
time, talents, treasures, truth and relationships I have given you. And then
He says, “Behold, I am coming quickly. My reward is with Me and I will
give to everyone according to what he has done.” (Revelation 22:12) May
we, like Paul, live each day in light of That Day and steward our lives in the
“fear of the Lord.”

For Christ’s sake,

Len and Kristen

This entry was posted in Monthly Teaching Letter. Bookmark the permalink.