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Judgment Begins (At The House Of God)

by Bernie Parsons

Judgment Begins (At The House Of God)

Bernie Parsons

Presented to the Van Lear church of Christ on 09/01/02

Thank you for inviting me to open this weeklong series of meetings here at Van Lear. As we kick off this series of meetings, I want to stir you up and provoke you to righteousness with three things: a warning, an exhortation, and a challenge.

The warning is this: we must remember that, although the ungodly and the sinner will face an awful judgment day, if found still in their sins, yet judgment first begins at the house of God.

1 Peter 4:17 "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18: And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"

If we be scarcely saved, then we had best be looking to our own condition first. We need to get our own house in order. We need to clean up our own backyard. We need to get the sawmill log out of our own eye, so that we may see clearly to help our neighbors with their dust motes. Once we can see clearly, we can then work on the problems of others.

Luke 18:9 "And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11: The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12: I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13: And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14: I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

Brothers and sisters, the clock is ticking.

Hebrews 9:27 "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

Here is the exhortation: let us work together to accomplish our Father's business. Let us direct our criticisms first toward ourselves, that we might reflect the image of our Lord Jesus. Let us first love one another, help each other, support each other, and serve each other. True leadership is found in service.

Matthew 20:25 "But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
26: But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
27: And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
28: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

By exercising true leadership--that is, by serving each other, meeting each other's needs--we can show the world what it means to serve the true and the living God of all. We become the city upon the hilltop, that cannot be hidden from passersby. We become the light of the world, the salt of the earth.

Matthew 5:13 "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15: Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

The world knows who we are by the life we live. We need to live up to the expectations that God has for us.

John 13:3 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35: By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

Judgment begins with us. Let us be ready for the judgment.

Here is the challenge: let us take the gospel to all those around us: family members, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, and friends. Remember that our goal is to bring the lost to Christ. We must seek them wherever they are--in the house of God, or outside the house.

Luke 15:8 "Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
9: And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
10: Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."

If there is a lost one here among us, we should diligently search for such a one to restore him or her to God, their rightful owner. If there is one lost out there, away from us, we must also seek that lost soul.

Luke 15:4 "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5: And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6: And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7: I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."

Mark 16:15: "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

Our goal is to direct the lost to Jesus so that He might save them. We are of the spirit of salvation, as was our Lord.

Luke 9:51: "And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
52: And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53: And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
54: And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
55: But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56: For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village."

God gave His son for that very purpose—to save men’s lives. Ours is not a destructive and hostile spirit, but a spirit of salvation.

John 3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19: And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20: For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21: But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."

Jesus was lifted up, not that He might condemn, and destroy the world, but that He might save it. Our goal, and our purpose, is not to condemn and destroy, but to save. Sometimes we get carried away with a contentious and debating spirit, and we suppose that such contention and debate is righteousness--it is not!

Debates are condemned by the apostle Paul in:

2 Corinthians 12:20 "For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:"

That same apostle warned Titus about contentions in:

Titus 3:9 "But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain."

No, brothers and sisters, our aim is not to fight with people, but to preach the gospel to them, and to allow the word of God to work through His Holy Spirit to lay bare their innermost thoughts, that they might be convicted of their sins and persuaded to turn their hearts to the Lord. We would do well to heed the words of Jesus in:

Luke 9:49 "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
50: And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."

If we concentrate on bringing the lost to Christ, rather than spending our time in criticism of others, and trying to pick fights, we might just be a little more successful in persuading others to come to Christ. After all, the power originates with God, not with us.

Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13: Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."

Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17: For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."

1 Corinthians 1:18 "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."

This great power is entrusted to us, contained in these vessels of clay, not that we might crow about our own condition and position, but that we might give God the glory, and thereby turn lost souls to Him.

2 Corinthians 4:5 "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
6: For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7: But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

We are not here to glorify ourselves, neither are we here to glorify other men. We are here to give God the praise and glory. We see the consequences of failing to do so in the account of King Herod in:

Acts 12:21 "And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
22: And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.
23: And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
24: But the word of God grew and multiplied."

God's word will grow and multiply--He will see to that. He can do it with us, or without us. If we don’t give Him the praise, He will take us out of the way.

I leave you with this warning that we examine ourselves and correct our errors, this exhortation that we work together in the love of Christ, and this challenge to get the word out—not just the word that a meeting is going on, but the word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s get it out to everyone we know.

If you are here, and not a Christian, you no doubt now realize that the righteous shall scarcely be saved, so where does that leave you? When you stand before God in judgment, to give account of what you have done in this body, and in this life, what will His judgment be? Will He be able to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? Or will He say, “Depart from me, you that work iniquity, for I never knew you.”?

Won't you come, believing in Jesus as the Son of the true and living God, repenting of your sinful rebellion against God, confessing your faith in Christ Jesus, to be baptized in the water, to be born again of water and of the spirit? You will then arise a new child of God, to walk in a new life. The called out assembly, the body of Christ, will be here to assist you in your growth and maturation as a Christian. Won’t you come?

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