Do you remember from our earlier studies that we saw that when you come to the end, you are going to come to judgment? You are going to be placed on a scale; and unless your sins are forgiven and you are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, unless the Holy Spirit has worked a miraculous change in your heart and your life, you will never have eternal life.
I want to consider the subject of the Judgment. It is a serious subject, much more serious than death. The devil does not want you to study this subject. He wants to give it a bad name. He knows that if you think about it, it might change your whole life and you might get serious about your relationship with the Lord. It is absolutely astounding that in Adventism today people are trying to discredit the whole concept of the Judgment. Theologians begin by saying; “I cannot find the concept of the Investigative Judgment in the Bible.” What in the world are people thinking?
It is Time to Awake
“What shall I say to arouse the remnant people of God? I was shown that dreadful scenes are before us; Satan and his angels are bringing all their powers to bear upon God’s people. He knows if they sleep a little longer, he is sure of them, for their destruction is certain.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 263.
Many of you, at some time in your life, have stood beside a loved one who is dying; and it is a very, very solemn experience. The judgment, however, is a much more serious matter than that. When a person dies, if that person is a Christian, that separation is going to be temporary. But if you come up to the Day of Judgment and you are weighed in the balance and found wanting, it will be an eternal separation.
“I warn all who profess the name of Christ to closely examine themselves and make full and thorough confession of all their wrongs, that they may go beforehand to judgment, and that the recording angel may write pardon opposite their names. My brother, my sister, if these precious moments of mercy are not improved, you are left without excuse. If you will make no special effort to arouse, if you will not manifest zeal in repenting, these golden moments will soon pass, and you will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. Then your agonizing cries will be of no avail. Then will apply the words of the Lord: ‘Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, but they shall not find Me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of My counsel: they despised all My reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto Me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” Ibid., 263, 264.
I am a husband and a father; and someday, when I am called to account, God is going to ask me, “What has happened in your family? What has been the affect of your rulership and your influence in your home?” If I am the pastor of a church, God is going to come to me and ask, “Where is your flock?”
“The church cannot measure herself by the world nor by the opinion of men nor by what she once was. Her faith and her position in the world as they now are must be compared with what they would have been if her course had been continually onward and upward.” Ibid., vol. 5, 83. That is an awesome thought. When each of us is put into the scale, God looks at what we might have been. Friends, there is no way that you can be saved unless the blood of Jesus covers all the sin of omission and poor choices. It is because we do not know when our last day will be that the apostle Paul speaks of the need to be praying always.
Do you believe that Seventh-day Adventists have had greater spiritual privileges than any other group of people in the world? If you believe that, then you believe that Seventh-day Adventists are the most privileged people in the world, as far as spiritual light goes. We are not saying that we are better than anybody else is, but we have received spiritual treasures that many other people do not have. It is according to these privileges and these advantages that we will be judged. Jesus said, “To whom much is given, from him much will be required.” Luke 12:48.
“If her spiritual experience does not correspond to the advantages that Christ, at infinite cost, has bestowed on her, if the blessings conferred have not qualified her to do the work entrusted to her, on her will be pronounced the sentence: ‘Found wanting.’ By the light bestowed, the opportunities given, will she be judged.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 247. Salvation is not something that you just drift into. Jesus said to struggle to enter in through the narrow gate. The Old King James says, “strive” to enter through the straight gate. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13, 14.
“We are exhorted to ‘fight the good fight of faith.’ We are to wrestle with unseen foes, to labor, to watch, to strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many will be content with simple seeking, and will fail of an entrance.” Signs of the Times, July 20, 1888. Heaven and eternal life are something that result from a definite aim and a definite commitment to the Lord of heaven to follow and obey and to take advantage of the light and privileges that He has placed in your pathway.
I want to tell you, friends, there is no unconditional, celestial guarantee that what we call the Seventh-day Adventist Church is just going to go through like we think. As a matter of fact, there is a conditional prophecy that if we do not turn around, we are going to be spewed out of God’s mouth. There must actually be a turning around and a following of what God says to do or we are going to reap the consequences, regardless of what we call ourselves. It has happened once to the Jews; how do we think that it cannot happen again? It is not being critical to face spiritual reality.
“Our health institutions are of value in the Lord’s estimation only when He is allowed to preside in their management. If His plans and devisings are regarded as inferior to plans of men, He looks upon these institutions as of no more value than the institutions established and conducted by worldlings. God cannot endorse any institution, unless it teaches the living principles of His Law and brings its own actions into strict conformity to these precepts. Upon these institutions that are not maintained according to His Law, He pronounces the sentence, ‘Unaccepted. Weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and found wanting.’” Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, 212.
Oh, I can put the name Seventh-day Adventist on the outside of the building. But God says, “If My plans are considered inferior to your plans, then your institution has no more value to Me than an institution that is run by the world, no matter what you call it.”
Position and Judgment
I would rather be a part of the smallest church or smallest ministry in this world and have the Lord say in the Day of Judgment, “You have allowed Me to preside, and I will endorse what you have done,” than to be the biggest and apparently the most successful Christian institution in this world and be found wanting. Have you ever thought about that? When you start thinking through the Day of Judgment, it changes the way everything looks around you.
I remember some years ago when my brother, Marshall, was going through a very difficult experience. In fact, he was fired for conscientious reasons. He had been the pastor of the largest church in the state of Kansas, which is right in the area where Steps to Life is located. There were all kinds of appeals and pressures to try and get him to change his mind. One of the appeals that were made was the consideration of what kind of a position he would have in another ten years. That was of no concern to him. Why? Because he had a view of the Judgment. He was more concerned about what would happen when God put him in the scale than what men would think of him right now. You see, once your mind really grasps this idea; it changes your whole outlook on life.
One of the most amazing things to me is that some people cannot seem to tell the difference between God’s church and the devil’s church. First, let us read something about the devil’s church. At a devotional meeting where Ellen White spoke, she said, “None are too high to fall. Sin originated with Satan who was next to Christ. Lucifer became the destroyer of those whom heaven had committed to his guardianship.” Australasia Union Conference Record, October 1, 1906. Satan was the highest angel, and he became the destroyer of those whom God had committed to his guardianship. She continues, “Satan has a church today. In his church are all the disaffected ones and the disloyal.” Disloyal to what? Disloyal to God and His Commandments. Many people think that all churches belong to the Lord, but she says that the devil has a church.
“Each one in the day of Investigative Judgment will stand in character as he really is; he will render an individual account to God. Every word uttered; every departure from integrity, every action that sullies the soul, will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary. Memory will be true and vivid in condemnation of the guilty one, who in that day is found wanting. The mind will recall all the thoughts and acts of the past; the whole life will come in review like the scenes in a panorama. Thus everyone will be condemned or acquitted out of his own mouth, and the righteousness of God will be vindicated.” Review and Herald, November 4, 1884.
Confession and the Judgment
I have had people come to me worried about whether or not they should confess something because of the trouble that it might get them into. I have had to say to them, “Well, you are either going to confess it now or you are going to confess it later.” It is just that simple.
“From the light which God has given me, I know that the Lord would do far more for us as a people if we would walk in humility before Him. Every one of God’s people will be tested and proved, and we want you to be in a position where you will bear the proving of God, and not be found wanting when your moral worth is weighed in the balances of the sanctuary.” Review and Herald, June 18, 1889. You see, you are going to be put in the balances whether you are saved or lost. The only question is what the result is going to be.
We must come to the point where we say, “Lord, I am choosing to humble myself before You. Please show me what needs to be changed.” As long as we are not going to acknowledge anything, we are in a position where God cannot get us straightened out. Ellen White said, “If there was ever a place where self needed to die, it is here. Let us see the death struggle. Let us hear the dying groans. Self-exaltation never separates the soul from God; no matter in whom it is found, whether in those in responsible positions or in those who are in some less important place. Whatever has been done to attract the attention to self, has detracted from the glory that should have been rendered to God, and has brought leanness to your souls. It is through this avenue of self-esteem and self-sufficiency that Satan will seek to ensnare the people of God.” Review and Herald, June 18, 1889.
How is it that Satan is going to try to trap Seventh-day Adventists so that they will not be ready for the judgment? It is through self-esteem. By the way, is that a popular subject today? Very popular. The Spirit of God impressed Ellen White to write that self-esteem and self-sufficiency would be the very avenue that Satan would seek to trap the people of God.
The End of Mercy
“Mercy’s sweet call is now sounding; but it will soon die away. Probation’s hour will soon be ended. The seven last plagues will fall, and then those who have chosen the pleasures of the world and rebelled against God, will cry for mercy when there will be none to answer their prayers. But a voice will be heard, — “Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.’” Youth’s Instructor, January 1, 1854.
When probation’s hour is ended, it will then be too late to pray for mercy. Was there a time, before Noah entered the ark, when mercy could still be obtained which was no longer available at a later time? Yes, that was the experience in Noah’s day, and is an example, Jesus said, of the way that it will be at the end. Peter says the same thing.
“And as they [the lost] realize that they have no shelter from the dreadful storm of God’s wrath, they will plead for one little hour of probation that they may again hear the sweet voice, inviting ‘every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.’ It will then fall upon the ear, in that dreadful hour. ‘Too late! Too Late!’ ‘Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded. But ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof. I will also laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh.’” Ibid.
Friends, now is the day of salvation. Soon the day of salvation will be over. There is coming a time when you will not be able to offer the gospel invitation to anybody because the plan of salvation will be over. The handwriting is not yet on the wall. Now is the time to make a decision and say, “Lord, I am willing to surrender anything; I am willing to do anything; I am surrendering all. I am willing to humble myself. Show me anything that You want me to do. Please impart to me Your Holy Spirit so that my life can be changed.”