Second Corinthians 5.11
1. Turn in your Bible to Second Corinthians 5.9-11, please. When youíve found that portion of Godís Word please stand as we read Scripture together. You read silently while I read aloud: "9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences."
2. Let me set the stage for my sermon by explaining a few things to you from these three verses, things that provide for us a clear understanding of the apostle Paulís ministry and those who served with him, what drove them to serve Christ as they did, what compelled them to seek the salvation of the lost as they did.
3. Iíd like for us to deal with the thrust of one verse at a time.
1A. VERSE 9: "Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him."
1B. The Apostle Paul Was A Man Who Looked To The Future. And He Knew That This Physical Life Wouldnít Last Forever. Someday He Would Enter Eternity. Because He Had An Eye On Eternity At All Times, He Wrote This About Himself And His Co-Laborers: "Wherefore we labor."
1C. Albert Barnes writes, "The word here used (filotimoumeqa, from filow and timh, loving honour) means, properly, to love honour; to be ambitious. This is its usual classical signification. In the New Testament, it means to be ambitious to do anything; to exert one's self; to strive, as if from a love or sense of honour."
2C. A. T. Robertson indicates that Paul and his companions in ministry are here indicating that they are acting from a love of honor and are ambitious in a good sense.
3C. In other words, Paul and the others are compelled by high and noble purpose to accomplish something, whether they are in Christís immediate physical presence or not.
2B. And What Was Their Ambition, Whether Present With Christ Or Absent From Him?
1C. "that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him." That is, they wanted to be well-pleasing to Christ, to be approved by Him.
2C. Folks, this doesnít weaken the doctrine of justification by faith in any way. To be sure, Paul understood that God made him accepted in the Beloved, Ephesians 1.6. But being made accepted in the Beloved, he now wants to so serve Christ that, by His grace, he will be found acceptable to the Beloved.
3C. This should be the heartís desire and ambition of every child of God, every blood bought Christian; to be found acceptable to Christ.
4C. And notice, before we move on, that in this verse Paul acknowledges that he is absent from Christ in a physical sense, and will not actually be in Christís presence until he dies or until the resurrection, whichever comes first. This is something those who claim a sinner can ask Jesus into their hearts fail to properly acknowledge.
2A. VERSE 10: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
1B. Whereas, The "We" Of Verse 9 Refers To Paul And Those In His Party Who Traveled About And Planted Churches Under Paulís Apostolic Direction And Authority, The "We" Of This Verse Is Expanded To Include All Christians.
2B. Every Single Christian Will Someday Appear Before The Judgment Seat Of Christ. And When That Day Comes, And It Will Come, Everyone Who Is A Christian Will Be Judged "According To That He Hath Done, Whether It Be Good Or Bad."
3B. Several Things About This Judgment Seat Of Christ Need To Be Properly Observed:
1C. First, the judgment seat of Christ is not the Great White Throne judgment. The judgment seat of Christ is the judgment of Christians, while the Great White Throne is the judgment of unbelievers.
2C. Second, the judgment seat of Christ does not occur at the same time as the Great White Throne judgment. The judgment seat of Christ occurs just after the Rapture, while the Great White Throne judgment take place after the tribulation and after the millennium, 1007 years later.
3C. Third, the judgment seat of Christ takes place in heaven, while the Great White Throne judgment does not. So, Christians are already in heaven when they are judged by Christ.
4C. Finally, the judgment seat of Christ does not occur to determine whether or not a person goes to heaven, since people who will already by then be in heaven are judged. Rather, it is a judgment of a Christianís life and ministry to determine rewards for Christian life and service.
3A. VERSE 11: "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences."
1B. "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord" Paul Is Now Referring Exclusively To Himself And To His Co-Laborers Again, For Not All Seem To Know The Terror Of The Lord. And What Is The Terror Of The Lord That Paul And His Men Knew? The Greek Word Is fobos, Meaning Fear, And The Word From Which We Have Derived Our Word Phobia. Paul Knew A Judgment Was Coming, A Judgment Of Christians . . . And He Was Frightened Of The Thought Of Coming Up Short.
2B. "We persuade men" This Is What Paul And His Men Did, What They Engaged In, What They Were Prompted By Their Fear Of Christís Judgment To Do. And What, Precisely, Does The Word "Persuade" Mean? Let Me Read To You A Comment On This Phrase By Albert Barnes:
"Observe here the peculiarity of the statement. It is not, we drive men; or we endeavour to alarm men; or we frighten men; or we appeal merely to their fears; but it is, we PERSUADE men--we endeavour to induce them, by all the arts of persuasion and argument, to flee from the wrath to come. The future judgment, and the scenes of future woe, are not proper topics for mere declamation. To declaim constantly on hell-fire and perdition--to appeal merely to the fears of men--is not the way in which Paul and the Saviour preached the gospel. The knowledge that there would be a judgment, and that the wicked would be sent to hell, was a powerful motive for Paul to endeavour to "persuade" men to escape from wrath; and was a motive for the Saviour to weep over Jerusalem, and to lament its folly and its doom, Lu 19:41. But they who fill their sermons with the denunciations of wrath; who dwell on the words hell and damnation for the purpose of rhetoric or declamation, to round a period, or merely to excite alarm; and who "deal damnation around the land" as if they rejoiced that men were to be condemned, and in a tone and manner as if they would be pleased to execute it, have yet to learn the true nature of the way to win men to God, and the proper effect of those awful truths on the mind. The true effect is to produce tenderness, deep feeling, and love; to prompt to the language of persuasion and of tender entreaty; to lead men to weep over dying sinners rather than to denounce them; to pray to God to have mercy on them rather than to use the language of severity, or to assume tones as if they would be pleased to execute the awful wrath of God."
3B. Our Text Closes With The Words, "but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences." There Were Some Who Were Suspicious Of Paulís Motives, And Those Of His Men. But Paul Is Here Confident That God Clearly Sees What Makes Him Tick, What Moves Him, What Compels Him. As Well, He Knows That Though Some Would Question His Motives, The Corinthians Did Not.
1. If we examine these three verses carefully, it becomes quite obvious that Paul was wise. And his co-laborers were also wise, wise enough to fear God, and wise enough to know the terror of the Lord.
2. And how Paul must have feared the Savior he loved so. Remember, Paul had seen Christ in all His glory on the Damascus road, and the memory of that encounter would forever be etched on his eternal and undying soul.
3. Having, therefore, a real and palpable fear of Christ, what was Paul moved, driven, compelled to do? To persuade men.
4. And I submit for your consideration this thought: If a man is not motivated by the terror of the Lord, is not moved by a holy and healthy and honorable fear of Christ, can it not be questioned whether such a manís persuasions will be the same as the persuasions of the man who is moved by holy fear?
5. I think the question is a fair one. I think the consideration is a proper one. And I think it likely that the man who does not know the terror of the Lord is also the man who will not persuade men, or will not persuade them in the same way or toward the same end as the man who does fear the Lord.
6. Now, before this morningís sermon, brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a hymn. Letís stand as brother Isenberger comes.
1. This last week a number of our schoolís teens flew with me to Kansas City, Missouri and then drove to Columbia, Missouri, to take part in the Accelerated Christian School international student convention. There were 4001 students there from about two dozen countries, as far south as Paraguay, and as far away as South Africa, Australia and the Philippines.
2. While in Columbia, our students were exposed to a sickening display of confusion that served to dishearten me and challenge me at the same time.
3. I was first disheartened by the Church service we attended, which featured a very nice pastorís wife who presided over the service, a very nice pastor who delivered something called a sermon, which he titled "Hakuna Matata," and some very nice and hospitable Church members.
4. Then I was disheartened by the preaching at the rallies each night of the convention, in which some wonderful and sincere men preached their hearts out, and tried their hardest to serve God. But when they stood up at the plate and took their cuts they struck out.
5. Whether at the Church or at the convention rallies, I was convinced that the preachers didnít know who they were preaching to, how to preach to them, or what they wanted to accomplish.
6. The pastor of the Church assumed that everyone in the auditorium he was speaking to was already converted, and that they only needed to be encouraged to not sweat the details of life, because Hakuna Matata, it will all work out.
7. The preachers at the rallies seemed to me uncertain as to how to preach to the kids. One fellow preached to them like they were saved kids, then like they were lost bikers. Another preached to them for a while, and then grabbed a basketball and served to the kids a warmed over comedy routine, closing out the service by thinking that some kid would be benefited by having a basketball that he signed. The last preacher seemed to presume every kid there to be converted and was seeking to elicit from each kid a surrender to serve God in some capacity.
8. Only the first preacher preached against sin, only him. And he preached, strangely enough, against the sin of gossip, which is hardly the most serious sin teens are guilty of. I left that rally with the impression that he was not preaching to the teens, but to the staff, and to the school administrators, and to the sponsors.
9. Imagine my frustration, then, at seeing 4001 teens assembled night after night after night, with not one single preacher preaching the Gospel, with no one exhibiting any semblance of the terror of the Lord at the prospect of someday standing before Christ at His judgment seat and giving an account of their ministries.
10. But as I said, I was not disheartened only. I was also challenged by this spectacle. The convention, you see, was wonderful. It was marvelous. It had only one thing wrong with it. There was no Gospel preaching. There was no real effort on the part of the preachers to "persuade men."
11. Do not think, then, that with those frustrating experiences behind me, and with that challenge behind me, that I am not going to spend the rest of our time together persuading you, and in the future doing my best persuading men to persuade men.
12. In the time left to me I have two questions for your consideration:
1A. First, WHAT SHOULD YOU BE PERSUADED TO DO?
1B. You Are Not To Be Persuaded That God Is. He Is To Simply Be Declared.
1C. He could have sought to persuade men that He is, when He inspired Scripture. But He did not. He simply wrote at the beginning of the Bible, "In the beginning God . . . ."
2C. Neither did God charge His preachers with the task of persuading sinners that He is. No, He left that to His creation. "The heavenís declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork."
3C. So, if you are so foolish as to deny the existence of God, and if a look up into the night sky or a glance at a blossoming flower doesnít convince you, then I wonít be able to convince you.
2B. You Are Not To Be Persuaded That You Are Sinful. It Is Simply To Be Declared.
1C. "For by the law is the knowledge of sin," Romans 3.20. God is the Lawgiver. And though there are good and valid reasons why Godís Law is right and proper and good, none of those things is especially convincing to the sinner.
2C. My job is to declare Godís Law to sinners, not persuade you that you are sinful. It is actually the Holy Spiritís responsibility to convince you of sin, John 16.8.
3C. So, when I have preached to you that lying is a sin, that fornication is wickedness, that refusing to obey the Gospel is a heinous crime punishable by eternal damnation, then I must in a sense step aside for the Holy Spirit to drive the truth home and impress your soul with it.
3B. You Are Not To Be Persuaded That Jesus Saves. He Is Simply To Be Preached.
1C. How can a sinner be persuaded that Jesus saves? In what way can I convince you that Jesus saves? There is no way I can persuade you, or convince you, that Jesus saves.
2C. The task before me is to declare the fact to you, to preach it to you again and again. Then, should the Holy Spirit reprove you of sin and create a sense of desperation in your soul, then He will hold up Christ as your only hope, as the only Savior of sinful menís souls.
3C. And when, under the preaching of the Gospel, God mercifully gives you faith, then you will be saved, you will be converted, you will be justified by faith in Christ.
4B. Though There Are A Number Of Truths That I Must Necessarily Declare To You, I Am Charged With Persuading You To Do Only One Thing. I Am Charged With Persuading You To Close With Christ, To Come To Him, To Trust Him, To Believe On Him, To Flee To Him From The Wrath To Come.
1C. I urge you to obey the call to come to Christ today, to come to Him now, to obey the Gospel this morning.
2C. Listen to the things that must be declared to you; the holiness of God, your transgression of His Law, the certainty of your punishment, the utter damnation of your soul, the willingness and capacity of Jesus to save.
3C. But be persuaded by the preacherís urgings. Be moved by the pastorís pleadings. Be prompted by the cajoling that you hear from this pulpit, having considered these truths which have been declared, and with the Holy Spirit bearing witness in your heart to the truth of them, to then seek safety for your soul in that safe haven which is Jesus Christ.
2A. Second, HOW YOU ARE TO BE PERSUADED TO DO IT?
1B. You Are Not To Be Manipulated With Emotional Devices
1C. One boyís mother died while he was at the convention. He was then brought to the platform and put on display for 4000 students to feel pity for and to feel sorry for.
2C. Whether the preacher was aware of what he was doing or not, he was using sentiment to evoke a reaction from the rest of the students.
3C. But that boy should have been on a plane home at that hour. He should not have been put on display for people to feel sorry for. And he should not have been used for manipulative purposes to evoke tears from kids in the hopes that it would move them to Christ.
4C. My friend, you are not to be persuaded to come to Christ with manipulative devices. I will never bring before you an evangelist in a wheelchair who shows his stubs to you to get you converted. Neither will I have the evangelist with the afflicted wife, or the evangelist with the afflicted child, who uses those loved ones to evoke sympathy for them in an effort to move you to Christ.
5C. Excuse me, but itís the truth which should move you to Christ. Itís consideration for the salvation of your own soul that should move you to Christ. Itís a desire to escape the wrath of God that should move you to Christ, not sentimental feelings toward folks who are afflicted, who are suffering, or who are grieving.
2B. You Are Not To Be Manipulated With Scare Tactics
1C. Look, Hell is a scary place. And the lake of fire is even more frightening. But I have not and I will not use the frightfulness of those places of damnation and eternal torment to try to scare you into coming to Christ.
2C. Hell and the lake of fire are real places, and every soul needs to be informed and to be challenged with the fate that awaits you if you do not find safety in Christ. But the construction of a fright house results in no conversions. And the construction of a fright sermon doesnít either.
3C. Those who are overcome with holy fear and the terror of the Lord are those whose souls are set upon by the precious Holy Spirit of God, Who makes reality real to the sinner, who removes the veil so that the lost can see whatís really so.
4C. So, for fear to play a real part in the salvation of your soul it will have to be a fear that comes from the Holy Spirit dealing with you, convicting you, reproving you, so that you will seek safety for your soul in the cleft of the rock, which is Christ.
3B. You Are Not To Be Manipulated With False Promises
1C. There is no Scriptural authorization to promise you long life and wealth if you become a Christian. Neither is there any guarantee found in the Bible that you will be healed of all your physical problems and maladies if you get converted.
2C. As a matter of fact, Jobís physical afflictions came upon him precisely because he was godly. And Paul informed Timothy that all those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, Second Timothy 3.12. As well, fiery trials are not strange and unusual occurrences for the child of God, but are normal and frequent occurrences, First Peter 4.12, are opportunities.
3C. The only promise that is to be extended to the sinner in need of Christ is this: If you will come to Jesus He will save you from your sins. Any other promise is bogus. Any other offer is unauthorized. Any other hint or suggestion is a fabrication. Jesus is the Savior of sinful menís souls. Come to Him and He will cleanse your in His blood and save your wretched soul.
4B. You Are Not To Be Manipulated To Submit To The Preacherís Will
1C. It is a tactic employed since Finney came on the scene to portray conversion as if it was the result of doing what the preacher tells you to do, as if itís the result of submitting to the preacher, as though I have any right to place demands upon you.
2C. Understand, I must give direction and guidance to sinners. And itís unlikely that a sinner will ever come to Christ who refuses to be guided to Christ by a competent pastor.
3C. But that said, it is obedience to the Gospel that gets sinners saved, not obedience to the preacher. Therefore, it is necessary for the preacher to keep before the people what Jesus says to do to get saved, not what I say to do, or what some other man says to do to get saved.
4C. Paul said "Believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." John wrote "But as many as received Him . . . ." Jesus said "Come unto me." So, whether it be Christ, Himself, or His choice servants and spokesmen, the apostles, they and they alone tell us how sinners get saved. Not me. Not you doing your own thing. Not some television preacher.
5B. You Are Not To Be Manipulated To Employ Devices Or Methods
1C. Where in the Bible are sinners urged to come forward to trust Christ? Where in the Bible are sinners urged to bow their heads and raise their hands as a prelude to trusting Christ? Where in the Bible are sinners urged to pray a certain prayer, to repeat certain words after the preacher, in order to get saved?
2C. I submit to you that urging sinners to do something as a means of coming to Christ is actually urging sinners to do something that interferes with them coming to Christ. And I base this on years of carefully and cautiously interviewing those who claim and who think they got saved by doing those various things.
3C. But I have found that a sinner who thinks he got saved through the means of praying a prayer will invariably think he got saved by praying a prayer, and will think that the prayer saves him. As well, those who are urged to come forward will tend to think that coming forward played a part in their conversion.
4C. My friend, practical necessity requires that you and I sit down and discuss matters related to sin and salvation, matters related to conviction and conversion. But there is nothing about sitting down with me that results in you or anyone else getting converted, just as there is nothing about raising your hand, or bowing your head, or closing your eyes, which in any way helps or increases the likelihood of your conversion.
5C. All of these manipulative devices and methods are seen to be intermediate steps for the sinner to take toward Christ. But, my friend, there are no intermediate steps between the sinner and the Savior. Christ is not so far away that conversion is a two-step process. Christ is immediately accessible by faith and conversion is a single, simple, act of faith.
6B. Therefore, You Are To Be Urged, Pleaded With, Begged, To Come To Christ By Faith
1C. Donít do anything besides that. Donít consider anything other than that. And donít listen to anyone who suggests anything other than that. Christ is all you need. Christ is all you need. Christ is all you need.
2C. He has made it possible, though He sits at the right hand of God on high, for you to come to Him by faith in simple fashion and to do so immediately. Anything, and I mean anything, short of that will result in you remaining lost, unconverted, undone, and in your sins.
3C. So, my friends, there are two things the preacher must do, and which every preacher who understands his call and his commission will do: I must declare certain things, then I must plead one thing. Declare and plead, declare and plead.
4C. I must tell you what things are so, then I must urge you to move in response to those truths. I must lay before you the reality concerning eternal things and illustrate them to your situation as best I can. Then I must urge you, beg you, plead with you, cajole you, to lay hold of my Savior so that He will become your Savior.
1. You say you are converted. Itís unlikely. Why so? Because what happened to those 4001 kids at the ACE convention is what happens everywhere these days.
2. People are persuaded, all right. But they are persuaded to come forward, they are persuaded to bow their heads, they are persuaded to dedicate their lives, they are persuaded to join the Church, they are persuaded to submit to the preacher, they are persuaded to surrender to full-time Christian service, they are persuaded to raise their hands, they are persuaded to repeat prayers.
3. What they are not persuaded to do, and what I am seeking to persuade you to do today, for the salvation of your own eternal soul and for no other reason, implied or otherwise, is to come to Christ.
4. Wonít you come to Christ today? Wonít you flee Godís wrath and come to safety of the Savior today? Wonít you seek Him Who is the Savior of sinful menís souls and find Him today?