The Bible is very clear on the fact that each man, woman and child has a case pending at the bar of God. In fact, in II Corinthians 5:10, it says, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” In examining my own life I recognize my need of receiving the mind of Jesus. We live in a generation where minds are so filled with worldliness that the glorious future that we have in Christ is rarely considered or contemplated. Without the mind of Christ we are, in essence, a thoughtless people. With all the uncertainty in the world today we are in desperate need of the mind of Christ, which comes with His peace that surpasses all understanding.
Everyone likes to eat. Many of us have heard it said, “Don’t be late for dinner. Supper will be ready at such and such a time. Don’t be late.” Are you ready for supper? What would be the outcome if you were called to appear right now before the judgment seat? At a time he least expected, Belshazzar was weighed in the balances and found wanting. He wasn’t ready for supper.
The judgment is not some imaginary concept. It is a reality. No matter how much you may try to avoid this fact by your lifestyle, the truth remains the same. We have to give an account of our lives. “Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man [Christ] Whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:31.
This is something to think about. If you were to appear before the judgment seat of Christ at this moment, what would be said of your life? How have you lived your life? How have you spent your time, every precious moment of every day?
“And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil.’ ” Zephaniah 1:12.
It will come as a terrible shock to those who think there is no judgment and are settled in their carnal security and wake up too late when the Lord searches His people with candles to see if there be any faithful among them.
There are three phases of the judgment process. The first phase is an investigation. This procedure is not only in the heavenly courts but also in earthly governments. When someone is charged with a crime, there is first an investigation or search for evidence concerning that crime. Jesus said that when He returns, He is coming back with His reward. Prior to His return He will investigate each case, “search Jerusalem with lamps,” to see if there be any who remain faithful, or if we are found wanting. After the investigation the innocent are set free and the guilty go on to the sentencing phase. Those who receive the guilty sentence move on to the third phase, the execution of the sentence that has been pronounced. We can be sure that whatever sentence has been handed down, it will surely be carried out.
The investigative phase of God’s judgment is already taking place in the heavenly courts. One day soon, no one knows how soon, that investigation will come to an end and the probation time given to man to repent will close. Will you be ready for supper?
For a man to be judged guilty there must be a law in place that he has broken. God’s law of Ten Commandments is the standard in this judgment. Notice what Paul says in Romans 2:12, 16: “For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law. … in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
There are many in heathen lands, even to this very day who have never heard or learned of God’s law, the Ten Commandments. But the Bible is clear that the Spirit of God still moves and works upon those individuals’ hearts and the actions that they live out according to their conscience will either accuse or excuse them and by that they are brought under judgment.
Even atheists, those who believe that there is no God or do not believe His Word or trust in His law, have the law written on their hearts by His Spirit and will come under the judgment. They have a conscience and know the difference between right and wrong, leaving them no escape. The law will also judge those who know the law of God, His standards and requirements. There is no escaping the One who knows all. So it behooves us that our lives come into harmony with the law of God. To survive the judgment we must be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus.
We have not been left ignorant about the state of the world just before the coming of Jesus. As we see the signs approaching and as we look at how things are in society with the increase in crime and natural disasters abounding, it should cause us to be all the more eager to be ready to meet Jesus. Instead, many of us focus our energy in becoming more settled in our lives on this earth. This earth is not our home. We are looking forward to a new earth, and new heavens, under which righteousness will dwell.
We are told in Revelation 22 that in the end there will be only two classes of people, those who are faithful to God’s government and those who are not. This declaration is going to be made before Jesus comes. In the days of Noah when Noah and his family had entered into that ark, the angel of the Lord closed the door. At that moment those who were left outside were unaware that their probation had closed. Being too busy with their worldly plans they had neglected to get ready for supper, and they were lost. Seven days later the flood came and they were all destroyed.
This same situation is going to happen at the end of time. In Revelation 22:11, the words call out, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still.” Tragically, those who are declared unjust by Jesus when He finishes the judgment will remain unjust. In other words, there is no longer hope of their being converted, no hope of their being born again and no hope of their inheriting the gift of eternal life. They have chosen to be “unjust still” and no other power in heaven could shake them from their lethargy. The Bible goes on to read, similarly, “… he who is filthy, let him be filthy still.” Those who neglect to become clean in the time of probation will remain unclean and filthy when it closes. But, praise God, right now there is still hope.
There is another group in which each soul should desire to be. “… he who is righteous, let him be righteous still.” This is not referring to self-righteousness, for no man can boast of being righteous. It is by accepting the righteousness of Christ and living His life, dying daily to self, that any can be righteous. It is the work of the Holy Spirit guiding and directing the life that a sinner becomes a child of God. It is God Who declares him righteous and holy. He has put on Christ’s robe of righteousness, reflecting the character of Jesus. This is the condition of all who are ready for this supper.
Jesus would have come long before today, but He wants us to be ready. Therefore He delays His return in mercy that none might be eternally lost. Revelation 7:1–3 says, “After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.’ ”
There was a time when four angels were about to release the four winds of the earth, which would have resulted in total chaos. Christ was about to come and the plagues of God were about to fall upon humanity. But Christ, our high priest, looking down upon His remnant people, saw that they were not ready. So He pleaded with His Father, “ ‘My blood, Father, My blood, My blood, My blood!’ ” Early Writings, 38. The Father bathes His Son in exceeding bright light and He sends another angel out to bid the four angels to hold: Wait a minute; they are not ready; they are not sealed with the seal of God. They are not prepared, Father. They are not ready. Today we still see those winds of strife to a great degree lingering because of God’s mercy.
What is the seal of God? Before Jesus returns, all living creatures will receive either the seal of God or the mark of the beast. The seal of God assures the recipient of eternal life, while the mark of the beast identifies the recipient with the archenemy of God. We want the seal of God. In Exodus chapter 31, verse 13, the Bible says, “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign [a mark, or symbol, or seal] between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord Who sanctifies you [makes you holy].’ ”
“ ‘Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ ” Verses 16, 17.
The Sabbath contains the seal of God. When we want to understand what the seal of God is, we will be drawn to the Sabbath. But keep in mind that we are not just talking about going to church on Saturdays. That is not what it means to keep the Sabbath holy.
God’s messenger has told us, “We should take this lesson to ourselves. Again, the destroying angel is to pass through the land.” In Heavenly Places, 150. That is a prophecy. History will repeat what happened when the destroying angel passed through the land of Egypt before the slaves were set free. “There is to be a mark placed on God’s people and that mark is the keeping of His holy Sabbath.” Ibid.
It does not end there. Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Again, it is not just a matter of coming to church Saturday after Saturday; it is a call to live a holy life because no one can keep the Sabbath holy unless he or she has been made holy. “No other institution which was committed to the Jews tended so fully to distinguish them from surrounding nations as did the Sabbath. God designed that its observance should designate them as His worshipers. It was to be a token of their separation from idolatry, and their connection with the true God. But in order to keep the Sabbath holy, men must themselves be holy.” The Desire of Ages, 283. Holiness is the standard. It is impossible to live like a saint on Sabbath and live like the devil for the rest of the week. That is not going to cut it. Every single day is to be lived in harmony with God and His requirements. We must possess the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Man is not made righteous because he keeps the Sabbath, rather man keeps the Sabbath because he receives the righteousness of Christ by faith. Then he is given the Sabbath as a sign to be distinguished as God’s true servant. Being sealed with the seal of God has to do with being made holy. And those who live holy lives will be sealed.
“It [the Sabbath] points to Him [Jesus] as both the Creator and the Sanctifier. It declares that He who created all things in heaven and in earth, and by whom all things hold together, is the head of the church, and that by His power we are reconciled to God. For, speaking of Israel, He said, ‘I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them,’—make them holy (Ezekiel 20:12). Then the Sabbath is a sign of Christ’s power to make us holy. And it is given to all whom Christ makes holy. As a sign of His sanctifying power, the Sabbath is given to all who through Christ become a part of the Israel of God.” The Desire of Ages, 288. It is not a matter of coming to church, but how you are living throughout the week. How do you treat your neighbors? Are you having daily devotions? How are you treating your family members? How are you treating your enemies? What are you thinking? What holds the affections of your heart captive and what do you think about? All of these things are involved in keeping the Sabbath holy.
To be prepared or ready for this supper, we recognize, first of all, that we must have the seal of the living God placed upon our foreheads, or else the wrath of God will be poured out upon us, but it is not enough for us to have merely head knowledge of these truths. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” The Spirit of God is working upon our hearts and if we should refuse to do what we know is right, then we have actually become a transgressor of the law. It is not how much you know; it is a matter of what you do with that knowledge.
Keeping the Sabbath
The following statement is very thought provoking: “Not all who profess to keep the Sabbath will be sealed. There are many even among those who teach the truth to others who will not receive the seal of God in their foreheads. They had the light of truth, they knew their Master’s will, they understood every point of our faith, but they had not corresponding works.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 213, 214. They knew it all, but they lacked the power that could change their lives.
“These who were so familiar with prophecy and the treasures of divine wisdom should have acted their faith. They should have commanded their households after them, that by a well-ordered family they might present to the world the influence of the truth upon the human heart.” Ibid., 214.
Here we are told that there are many who are teaching and preaching, and know everything concerning present truth, and yet their homes are out of order. This causes us to recognize the importance of the family. We are all part of some family, even if it is a single person family.
Preparation In the Home
Men, we are called to be the priest of our home. How do we interact with the members of our families? Each situation is different but godly principles remain the same and the Spirit of God is able to meet every situation. We need to examine ourselves. Husbands, do you love your wives as Jesus loved the church and gave His life for it? Fathers, are you living up to God’s standards in your family? Are you caring for your children and your spouse? Mothers, do you show respect and honor towards your husband setting an example for your children? Children, are you honoring and obeying your mother and father? How is it in your home? Is it a place where angels long to linger? A well-ordered loving family has greater influence and speaks louder than any message that could be preached from the pulpit.
The grace of Christ is needed in every home. Many homes do not begin on a solid foundation. Broken families are the cause of fragmented and wretched societies where degradation abounds. Young men and women should secure their relationship with their Maker before thinking of starting a new family. Christ must be the center, the foundation, of all relationships for a healthy and happy home.
Preparation For Life’s Work
Not only must we be prepared in the home, but we must prepare also in our field of labor for the Lord.
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ ” Matthew 25:34–40.
Though the home life is essential, are you preparing to work in the Lord’s field? “God could have reached His object in saving sinners without our aid; but in order for us to develop a character like Christ’s, we must share in His work.” The Desire of Ages, 142.
To be saved is not a matter of just coming to church and settling down on the dregs of our Christian experience. We must be active in the cause of God. In order to enter into His joy, the joy of seeing souls redeemed by Jesus’ sacrifice, we must participate in His labors for their redemption.
“The fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah contains present truth for the people of God. Here we see how medical missionary work and the gospel ministry are to be bound together as the message is given to the world. Upon those who keep the Sabbath of the Lord is laid the responsibility of doing a work of mercy and benevolence. Medical missionary work is to be bound up with the message, and sealed with the seal of God.” Evangelism, 516, 517.
“All who love God will show that they bear His sign by keeping His commandments. They are the restorers of paths to dwell in. … Thus genuine medical missionary work is bound up inseparably with the keeping of God’s commandments, of which the Sabbath is especially mentioned, since it is the great memorial of God’s creative work. Its observance is bound up with the work of restoring the moral image of God in man. This is the ministry which God’s people are to carry forward at this time.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 265, 266.
We need to understand how to unite the medical missionary work with that of giving the gospel. The medical missionary work is called the right arm of the gospel and it is the gospel in practice. What good is it for you to know the theories of truth and yet fail to live it out?
Ellen White, in Welfare Ministry, 35, 36 says, “I saw that it is in the providence of God that widows and orphans, the blind, the deaf, the lame, and persons afflicted in a variety of ways have been placed in close Christian relationship to His church; it is to prove His people and develop their true character.”
This is a test, and passing it will determine whether you will be ready for supper. “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Revelation 19:9 KJV. Many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). We want to be among those who are chosen, those who are faithful and who understand that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. The result of this will cause us to search out Christ in order that we may have His life, because if we have to appear before God on our own, the Bible says, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6 KJV. In other words, our best is still not good enough. Self must die, traditions that are contrary to the will of God must be put away. We must have the life of Christ; He offers us this life freely, His own righteousness.
Conversion must take place every day. Examine your heart to know whether you are of the faith if you want to partake of this supper.
In vision, Ellen White was given this word concerning the marriage supper: “In my dream a sentinel stood at the door of an important building, and asked every one who came for entrance, ‘Have ye received the Holy Ghost?’ A measuring-line was in his hand, and only very, very few were admitted into the building. ‘Your size as a human being is nothing,’ he said. ‘But if you have reached the full stature of a man in Christ Jesus, according to the knowledge you have had, you will receive an appointment to sit with Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb; and through the eternal ages, you will never cease to learn of the blessings granted in the banquet prepared for you.
“ ‘You may be tall and well-proportioned in self, but you can not enter here. None can enter who are grown-up children, carrying with them the disposition, the habits, and the characteristics which pertain to children. If you have nurtured suspicions, criticism, temper, self-dignity, you can not be admitted; for you would spoil the feast. All who go in through this door have on the wedding garment, woven in the loom of heaven. … Within this door nothing can enter that could possibly mar the happiness of the dwellers by marring their perfect trust in one another. You can not join the happy family in the heavenly courts; for I have wiped all tears from their eyes. You can never see the King in his beauty if you are not yourself a representative of his character.’ ” The Review and Herald, April 11, 1899.
May we each have on that wedding garment when Christ returns so that He may take us with Him to heaven to participate in the great supper of the Lamb.
All quotes are NKJV unless otherwise noted.
Demario Carter is currently a Bible worker for Steps to Life.