Playback and Payback Time

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Rom 2:6-16 GW  He will pay all people back for what they have done.  (7)  He will give everlasting life to those who search for glory, honor, and immortality by persisting in doing what is good. But he will bring  (8)  anger and fury on those who, in selfish pride, refuse to believe the truth and who follow what is wrong.

“Glory and honor and immortality (eternal life) for those who do good, anger and fury for those who follow what is wrong.” Can someone tell me what’s going on here? What happened to grace? What happened to salvation by faith in Jesus alone? How can this be? How can people be saved by doing good when we know that there is none righteous, no not one!

Well, let’s tear into this portion of Scripture asking the Holy Spirit to show the way, that we may once again be enlightened, encouraged, and challenged  with the necessity of having faith in Jesus Christ and demostrating that faith through active obedience to His Word.

Rom 2:6-16 GW  He will pay all people back for what they have done.  

On Judgement Day, it will be payback time. This payback is not for some people to the exclusion of others it is for ALL people! God is going to drag out everything that all people have done and make a public display of it on the Last Day. It’ll be playback and payback time. Does that make you a little nervous?

I don’t know about you, but I have done plenty of things in my life that I don’t want to go public. I did things just this last week, I said things last week, I thought things last week, that I would just as soon keep between me and God thank you very much!

OK, let’s chill out a little here. Let’s relax just a little bit. The reason that God gives these verdicts based on works and not merely on the basis of faith in Christ (or a lack thereof,) is due to the fact that these works are a public testimony which shows the presence of faith or the absence of faith in Christ.  Here, God will show His perfect judgement and justice not for His benefit, but for the benefit of the angels and all men.

God will in effect be saying, “I know the heart of each and every person. I know whether or not they had saving faith in My Son. You angels and other men cannot see inside their hearts, so I will show you what the inside of their hearts has outwardly produced  by showing you their works. This is what James was talking about in the NT.

Jam 2:14-18 GW  My brothers and sisters, what good does it do if someone claims to have faith but doesn't do any good things? Can this kind of faith save him?  (What will that kind of faith look like on the Last Day? What will God have for evidence to show others how He was just in finding you not guilty?

(15)  Suppose a believer, whether a man or a woman, needs clothes or food  (16)  and one of you tells that person, "God be with you! Stay warm, and make sure you eat enough." If you don't provide for that person's physical needs, what good does it do?  (17)  In the same way, faith by itself is dead if it doesn't cause you to do any good things.  (18)  Another person might say, "You have faith, but I do good things." Show me your faith apart from the good things you do. I will show you my faith by the good things I do.

Let me just clarify this last verse in James for you. It seems James is having an argument of sorts with some professing Christian who says to other professing Christians, “Don’t pay any attention to what James is preaching. you have faith that ‘s all you need. Let James do his good things, they really don’t matter.

James in the power of the Holy Spirit replies, oh yea, show me your faith. All you can do is talk about it! I can’t see it. No one can see faith except God! So, how can I evidence faith? By responding obediently to Christ!  (and if we want to go to the meaning of Romans here,) how will the angels, or anyone else be able to witness God’s perfect justice concerning you on the Last Day if you don’t show evidence of faith in your life, if you don’t do those things that Christ commands?

Joh 14:15 GW  "If you love me, you will obey my commandments.

As for me, James says, I will show you my faith, I will make the invisible, visible. I will give you a picture of my heart by what I do in the name of Jesus, and in so doing I will give you a picture of Jesus..

The long and short of it is this. God doesn’t need to see your good works, He knows your heart. But He wants his angels and the world to see them because they are proof that His Son and the death of His Son meant something to you. They are proof to the world even now that Jesus means something to you, and that He is alive and well!.

Now that doesn’t mean that we walk along with a trumpet in our hand and every time we do something good we blow it and make sure everyone notices. No! Good things don’t need to be trumpeted to be noticed. God notices and He is in charge of the evidence locker. He is keeping the books!

Mat 6:1-4 GW  "Be careful not to do your good works in public in order to attract attention. If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you. (Why? Because He sees your heart and your motive  is not right!)   (2)  So when you give to the poor, don't announce it with trumpet fanfare. This is what hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets in order to be praised by people. I can guarantee this truth: That will be their only reward.  

(3)  When you give to the poor, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.  (4)  Give your contributions privately. Your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you. (On the Last Day because your heart, your motive, love of Christ was right)

Please note too, where these good works begin. They begin in the Body of Christ. What did Jesus say on His last night on this earth?

Joh 13:35 GW  Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other."

And where did James direct us in our application of good works? He said in v15, “suppose a believer.... a who? A believer has a it and you give evidence of faith, give evidence of the love of Christ alive and well in your congregation.  Fail to meet it and you are hindering evangelism, because the world observes you and deduces that your faith is dead,  meaningless, hypocritical.

This is why we have a benevolent fund here at Living Word. It is to be used to meet the needs of those in our midst. We seek to do it quietly and prudently, because we know from these passages in Romans, James, Matthew, and John, and from Acts 2, that this is a very important ministry of the church, and a vital tool of evangelism..

How will this judgement of God, this “payback” and “playback time” look on the Final Day?

Rev 20:12-13 GW  I saw the dead, both important and unimportant people, (Did we leave anyone out here?) standing in front of the throne. Books were opened, including the Book of Life. The dead were judged on the basis of what they had done, as recorded in the books.  
(13)  The sea gave up its dead. Death and hell gave up their dead. People were judged based on what they had done.

What were these “books?” They are the books that have recorded absolutely every deed, (good or bad) done by every  man, woman, and child who ever lived.

One of the books opened is the Book of Life. This is the “heart” book that only God knows. If your heart is right with God through faith in Jesus, your name will be in that Book. But if you don’t have faith...well,

Rev 20:15 GW  Those whose names were not found in the Book of Life were thrown into the fiery lake.

The other books are the evidence books. The judgement books if you will. Let us witness what it will be like when the evidence books are opened, let’s see what the evidence will say about you!

Mat 25:31-46 GW  "When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  (32)  The people of every nation will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  (33)  He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left.  (34)  "Then the king will say to those on his right, (the sheep, those who heard His voice and followed Him) 'Come, my Father has blessed you! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.

(Why are the sheep allowed in?)

(35)  I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me into your home.  (36)  I needed clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'

Let me ask you, where do we find Jesus today? He indwells all believers, and so we see again the necessity of focusing first on our brothers and sisters..

Pretty impressive list of deeds wouldn’t you say? But what about these deeds? If you read the list, you may think yourself a little short and be concerned about your salvation. After all, this is  “the book of evidence.”

The book of evidence contains the deeds, it contains all that was done in a person’s lifetime and when the evidence is displayed angels and men will see how just God is in His condemnation or how just He is in His acquittal.

The book of evidence for the unbeliever will actually show him or her and the angels and the world absolutely every good and bad thing they ever did. Nothing left out! Scary thought.
But the book of evidence for the believer will be a little bit different. His book of evidence will show the sinless Christ Himself performing the good deeds in the stead of the believer because he did his deeds in the name of Jesus.

The evil deeds of the believer will not be shown because they’re gone! The believer is in Christ and Christ is in him and in Christ, there are no evil deeds! There is no sin! The slate is clean!  God, the angels, and men will see nothing sinful, nothing but the righteous deeds of Christ. Our sin is far as East is from the West. Though are sins were as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.

The irrefutable evidence of righteousness will be there for those who are in Christ.

The good that the believer does will be listed, after all, it is the evidence, but I believe the good will be viewed as if done by Christ. Why do I say that? Look at what happens next for the believer according to Jesus in Mt 25 beginning at v37

 (37)  "Then the people who have God's approval will reply to him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you something to drink?  (38)  When did we see you as a stranger and take you into our homes or see you in need of clothes and give you something to wear?  (39)  When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

Get the picture here. The books are opened and they don’t see their name connected to any of these good deeds. They are looking frantically for the black and white listing of their deeds, but they are not there! Lord, when did we do these things? We know we did them, but where are they? We don’t see it here! All we see is Your deeds.  

  (40)  "The king will answer them, 'I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.' (You did as if it were Me!)

It doesn’t matter that they aren’t listed specifically in your name here because you were in Christ, and the angels and the world will see your good deeds alright, but they will see them as if Jesus Himself were doing them...because He is doing them! You died when you became a Christian and Christ became alive and as Christians our identity is with Christ!  

Haven’t you ever wondered about this “sheep and goats” passage in Matthew?  I mean, how could I not remember these things done to the least of these Christ’s brethren?

Some would say, “well, it becomes so natural for the believer that HE doesn’t notice it”......poppycock! We notice and we really have to fight the tendency to get others to notice or to allow self righteousness to take root.
It’s not about me remembering, it’s about what is written in the book. “Jesus, when did I do these things? Where’s the record? I don’t see them listed in my name in this Book! And He says, you got it! You’re with Me, you did them for Me, it was like I was doing them, not you! When you started doing them because your heart was right with me, they ceased being filthy rags!

Meanwhile, the unbeliever sees the book with his deeds listed and says, “ see look at all these good things I did!” There I am, right there, working at the food bank, and look here’s that time I visited a prisoner.” And Jesus says, “depart from Me for I never knew you.” You did those things out of your own self righteousness, and not Christ-righteousness, because you have never surrendered to Me. You never died to yourself .

Beloved, remain in Christ and you have nothing to fear on judgement day. No public embarrassment on judgement day, just your name listed in the Book of Life, and those things, those acts of obedience that flowed out of you because of your relationship with Christ will be viewed as if He were doing them, because in reality....He is.

Now, that doesn’t mean you and I can sit on our hands and wait for the return of our Lord! No! Because of our relationship with Jesus, by grace through God-given faith, Because we are dead to self, we humbly seek to serve Him by doing those things that He commends in His Word. What things? I don’t know, that’s for God to know and for you and me to find out!

Eph 2:8-10 GW  God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God.  (9)  It's not the result of anything you've done, so no one can brag about it.  (10)  God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.

And we find out by reading His Word and responding to it in simple obedience.  God will pay all people back for what they have done! What do you want replayed on that great trinitron screen in the sky on Judgement Day? Everything you did? Or everything Christ did in and through you?

As embarassing as it will be for the unbeliever, if that’s all it is, he could possibly live with the mammoth but temporary embarassment, but  how much worse will it be to be cast into the fiery lake for eternity? One replay gives evidence for damnation, the other gives evidence for salvation. And it all comes down to what you have done with the free gift of salvation offered to you by God through Jesus Christ.

Have you rejected it, or humbly received it? How will you know? You’ll know when you die to yourself.  You can’t see faith, but if you receive it, the evidence will begin to manifest itself as you will eagerly seek to do His will as revealed in His Word.  Your love of Jesus will burst forth as you seek to obey His commands.

Do you want some of that in your life? Do you want to start adding to the evidence file. Then sincerely call on the Lord and ask Him for His gift of saving faith.  The Bible says:

Act 2:21 GW  Then whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'

Beloved, call on Him today. Surrender to Him, die to self.