THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 2-10-08
LESSON TITLE: "FEAR GOD AND KEEP HIS
COMMANDMENTS: THE CHOICE OF ETERNAL LIFE OR ETERNAL DESTRUCTION"
Thank you for joining us for the Living Word Program on this wondrous Lord's Day morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us for this time of offering to God. We welcome you to this service for our Creator.
Today, we have the opportunity together to worship and praise our God. This morning we will glorify our Lord through songs of praise and through the study of His perfect Word. Won't you do your part to make this time together acceptable in His sight. Now, let's begin our praise to God in prayer.
It's time to begin with our first song of the morning. So, won't you join in with the brethren at this time as we sing together, "The Way Of The Cross."
(SONG # 1)
Sometimes we forget just how fortunate we are to have God on our side. If we look around in our society today and consider those around us, we really don't find a lot of people we can count on anymore. Past generations were founded on fundamental Godly principles like trust, honor, dependability and sincerity. When someone said yes they meant yes and when someone said no they meant no. What about today when someone says, "I'll do it today" or "you can count on me," can we really?
The fact is, our society seems to be full of people who are satisfied with getting the most they can, with the least effort possible. It doesn't matter whether the job is done right or wrong, good or bad, as long as it's done, we'll get paid. Where has honor, respect and reliability gone? Where are those who do a job and want it to be right because their name is on it?
Well, the good news is, even though our society seems to be headed the wrong direction, we can also regain our strength and confidence in the things of God. Notice what Moses said about this in Numbers 23:19, there we read, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" Here we find out more about the God we serve. He is not just a mere man who might let us down, but He can be depended on! Why? Because He does not lie and He will do the things which He says. Every word God has spoken will be fulfilled and can be counted on.
The second thing Moses tells us that we can find confidence in, is found in the very next verse, where he said, "Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it." Not only does God not lie and not only can His word be counted on, but there is nothing you, I, or anyone else can do to change His will! So what have we seen thus far? If God said it, He meant it, it will happen and there is nothing that can stop or change it.
You see, as Christians a knowledge of these things helps us to be what we should and to do the things God wants us to. Why? Because we know that He is with us in everything we do and His guidance, protection and promise can be relied upon. Even in troubles, God is going to be there to help us, as we need Him. Isn't that what David meant when he said, "many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers Him out of them all," Psalms 34:19. God is truly our rod and our staff, He guides us, He comforts us. Let's all remember to focus on God, keeping in mind His commitment to us. If we can count on Him, knowing that He can be depended on, we can then be able to do and bear all things.
This morning we will consider our next lesson in our series on "Fear God and Keep His Commandments." Our specific topic of study today will deal with "The Choice of Eternal Life or Eternal Destruction." So please stay with us through our next song and after that we will return with this study from God's Word.
To lead us in this discussion, we are happy to have brother Kevin Patterson with us. Brother Kevin is the minister for the HWY. 13 Church of Christ in Bolivar, Missouri. We thank him for being with us today and look forward to him guiding our thoughts in just a few minutes. But for now it's time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "There's A Great Day Coming."
(SONG # 2)
By Kevin Patterson
Good morning, and thank you for making this program a part of your Lord's day morning. Let me also offer a very special thanks to all of the faithful congregations of the Lord's church and individual members of that body that make this effort possible. Your support sends the Word of God into places that it might not otherwise reach. And so for your help and for your dedication, we thank you.
For the last several weeks we've been focusing on a series of lessons entitled: "Fear God and Keep His Commandments." This title comes from some of Solomon's concluding statements in the book of Ecclesiastes where after years of searching for the meaning of life, he actually concludes that the duty of every man is to fear God and keep His commandments. This week we're going to continue to examine this theme by focusing on the specific topic: "The Choice of Eternal Life or Eternal Destruction."
First of all, we ask the question, "Is eternity a reality?" Everything that we see, hear, taste, touch and smell in the universe around us had a beginning and it will have an end. The mighty oak tree began as an acorn and will someday die and rot away. The house that many of us live in was at one point in time built and at some point in time it will either fall down or be torn down. Even our own bodies began to grow at the moment of conception and at some point in time our bodies will die and return to the dust of the earth. But what about God? Did He have a beginning? Will He have an end? The answer to those questions is "No." God did not have a beginning nor did He or will He have an end because God is not a physical creation as we are.
We read in John chapter 4 and verse 24 that, "God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth." Notice those first three words: "God is spirit." He is not of this physical realm. He exists outside of space and time, the things that we see as qualities of our world and universe around us. As a result, we see that God neither has a beginning nor an end. In fact, the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 90 and verse 2, "Before the mountains were brought forth or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God."
God is in essence eternal in both directions. I've always found that a little difficult to understand because I can kind of understand how a person might live forever going forward but it's a little hard for me to understand how someone could be eternal going backward. But God is everlasting to everlasting, so why is that significant? Why do we bring that up? Well, it's significant because we are created beings created by that eternal God and God has placed within each of us an eternal spirit that will continue on long after our bodies have expired.
Back to Ecclesiastes chapter 12 and verse 7 Solomon wrote, "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was and the spirit will return to God who gave it." Well that sounds like good news. Why then would we focus on this subject of eternal choices? Why would we fear God then and keep His commandments? Well, if you continue to read that passage that's found in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, you see a broader picture. It reads, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep His commandments for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgement including every secret thing whether good or evil."
You see we recognize that unless Jesus Christ comes again, the Hebrews writer records in Hebrews 9 and verse 27-28 that, "It is appointed for men to die once and after this the judgement." 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 other words, if we live long enough there will come a time that our bodies will cease to exist and our spirit will move on into eternity unless of course that is intervened by Christ's second return.
We read in Romans 14 verses 10-12, "Why do you judge your brother or why do you show contempt for your brother for we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ for it is written, as I live," says the Lord, "every knee shall bow to Me and every tongue shall confess to God, so then each of us shall give an account of himself to God."
Paul also wrote in 2 Corinthians 5 and verse 10, "We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he has done whether good or bad." So if you recognize whether we die and then face judgement or whether Christ comes again we will also face judgement. There is a time when we will face the eternal consequences of how we have lived this life.
But what eternal difference does it make as to whether I live a good life or a bad life? Well my friends, it makes every difference. Jesus said in Matthew chapter 25, verses 31-46 that, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory and all the nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats, and He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 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 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?' The King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly I say to you, in as much as you did it for the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me.'" On the judgement day, there is going to be a reward for those who follow God's Will and walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
But what about those who don't follow God's Will, those who walk according to their own paths? Jesus said, "Then He will say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me you cursed into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food. I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink. I was a stranger and you did not take Me in. Naked and you did not clothe Me. Sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' Then they also will answer Him saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them saying, 'Assuredly I say to you, in as much as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'" I want you to pay very special attention to the verse that's found in Matthew 25 and verse 46. He draws the distinction. He makes evident the consequences that will face these two groups. He says, "Those who did not do the Father's Will..." He said, "These will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
To those who live righteous lives, we have some wonderful words of comfort. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 13-18 some of the things that would come about when Jesus Christ comes again. We read specifically in 16, 17, 18 that, "The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and thus we shall always be with the Lord." Therefore, comfort one another with these words.
These words are not only comforting because they give us the image of our reuniting with Jesus on that judgement day and being able to look forward to the reward, but in 1 Peter 1 verses 3-4, the apostle Peter wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away..." Reserved where? "In heaven for you."
If you ever turn in your Bibles to the chapter of Revelation chapter 21 and you read the description that is given of heaven; it is a marvelous description. It gives descriptions like how "the foundation of the walls of the city are adorned with all kinds of precious stones." It describes how "the streets of the city are made with pure gold like transparent glass." It mentions that "the city has no need of sun or moon to shine in it for the glory of God will illuminate. The Lamb," it says, "is its light." But we also read in verse 27 of chapter 21 that, "There shall by no means enter it anything that defiles for cause is an abomination or lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life." That means to those who are unrighteous a different fate awaits them.
In 2 Thessalonians chapter 1 verses 6-10, we read again about Jesus' return concerning those who are disobedient to the Father. We read, "Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." Those people who do not obey God's Will are going to suffer an eternal punishment away from God.
We read in Revelation chapter 20 verses 10-15 about this eternal place of punishment. We read that, "The devil who conceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." Down in verses 14-15, we read that, "Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire, this is the second death, and anyone not found written in the book of life were cast into the fire."
John chapter 5 verses 28-29 gives us a good concluding passage to bring all of this together. It reads, "Do not marvel with this for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth. Those who have done good to the resurrection and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation."
And what about the earth? What about the world around us? What about the universe? What about this physical realm? 2 Peter chapter 3 verses 7-12 teaches us that when Jesus Christ comes again and ushers forth that judgement for all of mankind that this physical realm, that this earth will be destroyed with fire.
I want you to consider just exactly how long eternity is. I remember when I was younger a story that was told in a gospel sermon by a preacher that has always stuck with me. He described, he said, "Picture in your minds a little bird that flies down to the earth and picks up a little grain of sand and he flies that grain of sand all the way up to the moon and deposits it on its surface. Then the little bird flies all the way back down to planet Earth and picks up another piece of dirt or soil and he flies it all the way back up to the moon and he keeps doing this, keeps flying back to the Earth and picking up a piece of it and flying all the way to the moon and coming back and picking up another piece and flying it all the way to the moon and he continued to do this until finally the Earth in its entirety sat on the face of the moon." I remember that gospel preacher looked at us and he said, "Brethren, remember that eternity will have just begun."
It is important for us in this life to make good choices because the choices we make in this life will be the kind of choices that are going to be brought up to us on the day of judgement. These are the choices we're going to have to face and that we're going to have to give an account for.
On that day of judgement, will you find yourself as one who lived life according to your own will, according to your own desires, walking in your footsteps the way you want to do things? If so, I fear that you are going to suffer an eternal fate that is far beyond comprehension. But if you will follow God's Will, if you will consider doing what He commands of you and if you will give your life to Him with your fullest ability, then in that end, that judgement day, you will be found with Him and forever more you shall be.
(SONG # 3 - "Trust And Obey!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
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May we live today and every day, as those who strive to work toward eternal life with God. For some day we will be judged, and if found faithful in the end we will receive that great reward!