Online Worship for Last Judgment, Sunday November 8, 2020
Sermon for Last Judgment – Sunday November 8, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
Hebrews 9:27–28 (NKJV)
27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
The One Savior of Sinners,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
Most Americans attach a significance to certain numbers.
For example, the number 65. For many years the age of retirement was attained at the age of 65. It seems that for many people today that number is hardly fixed.
Then there is the number 55. In many states the speed limit on highways is 55 mph. This number is hardly universal anymore, and in many western states the speed limit on interstate highways is somewhat higher.
Most recently, the number 270. There are currently 538 electors in the Electoral College, and an absolute majority of votes needed to elect a president is 270.
In the Bible, especially in prophetical books, there is also a significance attached to certain numbers.
The number 12 is significant in prophetical books like Revelation because there were 12 families of Israel and 12 Apostles of Jesus.
The number 7 is significant because God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day.
The number 3 is also of note because God reveals himself as One God in three persons.
This Sunday is the third to last Sunday in the Church Year, entitled Last Judgment. We will be taking a break from our study of the phrases of the Apostle’s Creed for the upcoming holiday season and focusing on the themes of the season.
In the 9th Chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews, the very first number is important, even emphasized. In this chapter, the Holy Spirit compares the Old Testament Worship with Christ’s Sacrifice.
Many Sacrifices – The Old Testament Priests offered up many sacrifices in the days and years of their service. One day a year the High Priest entered into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) with the Blood of an animal to make atonement for the sins of the people. God accepted those many sacrifices because He had planned to send His Son to make the Once for All Sacrifice.
One Sacrifice – Christ came into human flesh and blood to be the ultimate High Priest. He came – not into a temple made with human hands – but into God’s presence. Christ came with his own blood, not the blood of an animal. Christ came once and through that sacrifice made atonement for the sins of the world.
In the 27th and 28th verses of this chapter, we have a ‘once’ comparison, from the lesser to the greater. We are reminded of the fact that human beings die once and afterward come into judgment. We are comforted that Christ died once to deliver us from the fear of Judgment.
May God the Holy Spirit bless our study of this Scripture.
Therefore, let us pray:
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Resurrection and the Life. You have promised that those who believe in you will live, even though they die. Grant to us who live and believe in you the steadfast conviction that we shall depart this life to be with you at death and return on the last day to be reunited with glorified bodies and perfectly fitted for eternal life. Amen.
We human beings are naturally a skeptical lot. We are often easily deceived and we know it, so we are from time to time skeptical. We hesitate to believe things that seem ‘too good to be true.’ We should strive earnestly to confirm whether something is true or false before repeating it…but we often don’t. Is it any wonder that some today doubt that there is absolute truth, things that are true for every human being?
What things can be said to be certain, in this life? Well, death and taxes according to Benjamin Franklin (1789), Daniel Defoe (1726) and Christopher Bullock (1716). We don’t like to talk about it or think about it, but death is a certainty for every one of us. Ignoring this fundamental truth is foolishness.
Ever since the first human beings defied God and did the one thing that He forbade; human beings have all been given a date on the calendar upon which they will die. We see the doctor and exercise and try to eat healthy foods, but this won’t stop that day on the calendar from arriving. In the closing verses of this 9th Chapter, the Spirit of God addresses the ‘invisible elephant’ in the room.
“…it is appointed for men to die once.”
I’m sorry to burst your aspirations of living forever…but the Scripture teaches simply that it is ‘appointed, laid up, reserved, inevitable’ that men die. Females often live longer lives than the male of our species, but they too are included in the term ‘men’ or ‘human beings’ for whom death is inevitable.
There is a bit of good news here…(temporal) death is only going to happen once. There will be no ‘virtual Groundhog Day’ during which we continually return to this mortal life. While some human beings hold to the idea of reincarnation; the One God of the Bible offers no such hope. It is stated simply here that we are appointed to die once. This is it. There were no former lives (that you lived in another body, that only happens in the movies). There will be no future lives here on this earth, no avatars for our souls to inhabit. It is appointed for humankind (since the fall into sin) to die once.
Moreover, there is no reason from Scripture to believe that the spirits or souls of departed human beings remain here on earth in any fashion. When death comes, the spirit either returns to God in heaven or it departs for the prison of spirits known as hell.
Strange ‘ghostly’ things may happen, but they don’t occur at the impulse of departed loved ones. There are other invisible forces at work in this world, and not for good.
Death, however is not the end…there is something that follows death for every human being.
“…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”
When this life is done, the die is cast. There are no ‘do overs.’ There is one thing we must all then face – judgment (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10). The word for judgment here refers to the pronouncement of a verdict by a judge. We won’t have to wait for the Last Day to know what is that verdict. When the soul departs the body, it will depart either to heaven or to hell; to be with Christ or to be incarcerated in hell with the unbelieving (1 Peter 3:19-20).
There is no ‘in-between’ here, no holding tank for souls. There is no purgatory – inferred or otherwise – in the Bible. There is no second chance for living human beings to make things right with God on behalf of departed human beings.
Death and Taxes? Two things are certain: Death and Judgment! We may deceive ourselves about many things but not death and judgment.
Finally, on the Last Day, the bodies of all the dead will be raised and reunited with their souls. The bodies of believers will be glorified, prepared for everlasting life (Philippians 3:20-21). The bodies and souls of the unbelieving will depart to hell (Matthew 25:46).
This elemental truth of Scripture should rightly scare us to death. God expects us to be dedicated to Him and His Law 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. God demands that we be perfectly obedient and sinless. The idea of having to stand before God with hat in hand to recount our lives of sin…should make us tremble…were it not for the other once that is mentioned in this Scripture, indeed throughout the Bible.
“…as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.”
It is a comfort for us to know that the Son of God became human to deliver us. It’s comforting to know that Jesus really does know what it’s like to be tempted to sin because He went through it himself (Hebrews 4:15-16).
But when it tells us that Christ died, that He was offered up to bear sins, it isn’t placing Christ’s death on the same plane as every other human death. Jesus’ death wasn’t just another human life…snuffed out. Jesus didn’t just die after having lived a full life on earth and having reached his day on the calendar.
Christ came in order to die…but not because He had to. He wasn’t a fallen, corrupt human being. He was God made flesh, the second Adam, the sinless one. He was burdened with our sins, for He had none of his own. God made Him to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He died for our sins. He didn’t just die, he was offered up as the ONE perfect sacrifice, the once for all sacrifice.
Jesus took up the sins of many, indeed the sins of all. Let’s understand that the word ‘many’ doesn’t limit Christ’s sacrifice in any way. This doesn’t mean that Jesus only died for some people, because the Scripture is clear that he died for all (2 Corinthians 5:14-15) and that his death has made atonement for the sins of the world (John 3:16, 1 John 2:2).
This contrast looks at the ONE Sacrifice of Christ and declares that it is effective – not just for one – but for a great many people, indeed all that by God’s grace trust in His completed work. The word many does not limit the redemption won by Christ to some literal 144 thousand, but looks at the great multitude delivered by His Blood.
It is appointed for human beings to die ONCE and afterward receive the verdict of the judge. Christ was offered up ONCE as a sacrifice for many, to bear the sin and guilt of many. The ‘jump for joy’ news follows.
Christ died once in order to deliver a great many from fear of judgment. While men die and are judged, Christ died and arose. While men depart into death and can’t be expected to return…Christ will return and raise all the dead.
“To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
The Bill of Rights is the first 10 Amendments made to the US Constitution. This ‘bill of rights’ guarantees certain civil rights and liberties to individual Americans, like freedom of speech, press and religion. It protects the right to bear arms. It sets rules for the due process of law and reserves all powers not delegated to the Federal Government to the people.
It need be said, though, that the Bill of Rights speaks to American Citizens. It doesn’t guarantee the same rights to citizens of other nations. It doesn’t promise these ‘inalienable’ rights to other nations, but to American Citizens.
So also, these words do not speak to everyone, but only to those who trust in Christ. The comfort and the promise found here are for those to rely upon Jesus and not themselves for salvation. Therefore, this Scripture doesn’t speak to the unbelieving and promise that He will appear for them. In their case, the die is cast when they die in unbelief. They have every reason to tremble at the return of Christ on the clouds of heaven, for they have rejected Him. He comes to judge the living and the dead.
But these words don’t speak of Him acting as Judge. These words don’t picture the legal process. They show Jesus as He is to His people, a loving Savior, returning visibly to give them full use of their rights as children of God. For them, His return is not a matter of anxiety. He comes not to bear or punish sin, for this He has done already on Calvary.
He comes to invite His People to come back with Him. He invites them to share fully in the blessings He purchased and won by His Life, Death and Resurrection, to say to His people (Matthew 25:34):
“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.””
We should rejoice and be glad and await eagerly His Second Coming, for He will come to deliver us from judgment. He can do this because of His Once for All Sacrifice.
O Christ, who died and yet does live, To me impart Thy merit;
My pardon seal, my sins forgive, and cleanse me by Thy Spirit.
Beneath the cross I view the day
when heaven and earth shall pass away,
And thus prepare to meet Thee. (TLH 604:4)