Program Air Date - 7-11-04



Good morning! Let me welcome each of you to our program this morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us to hear the Living Word of God. We are excited that you have chosen to give this time of sacrifice to our God. Won't you take advantage of every opportunity this morning to give your own reverence to God, as we together offer this time of worship to Him. May all things be done, to God, for God and unto His glory. Let's begin our offering to God with a prayer!


I would like to take a moment this morning and invite you to visit with the Washburn Church of Christ in Washburn, Missouri. This congregation is yet another good supporter of this work of our Lord and we appreciate their continued love and support. If you live in the Washburn area you can meet with these brethren on Sunday mornings beginning at 9:30 for Bible class, then a main worship follows at 10:30. Again on Sunday evening at 6:00 this congregation provides an opportunity to assemble before God. A mid-week service is offered as well, every Wednesday evening at 7:00 o'clock. So, won't you please take advantage of this opportunity and visit with these good brethren very soon. If you need further information or would like to contact this congregation please do so by calling their minister, Ken West at (417)826-5425. We again thank these brethren for their help.

Now it's time to praise our God through song. So, won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "Stepping In The Light."

(SONG # 1)


What a great study we have had over the last few months concerning the great doctrines of God. It is our hope and prayer that together we have been able to confirm that God has certainly revealed to us His truths which we can know unto salvation. Furthermore, I hope that we have accepted that when God has shown us what to do, that He requires that we obey His Pattern.

I love the way that Paul put it in 2 Timothy 1:13, there we read, "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." Here we find that this inspired writer confirms that there is a pattern which confirms God's Will to man and it is based on the "sound words" which come from God.

You might also remember that in Acts 2:42, we read, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." What was this "apostles doctrine?" Where did it come from? The answer is God!

Everything the apostles did, knew and believed came directly from God the Father through the Holy Spirit. We know this to be true because He was promised to them by Jesus Himself. In John 14:26, Jesus said, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."

Thanks be to God that He has given us the truth in His Word, which was first delivered by His Son, through the apostles. Today we can know the truth which makes us free, John 8:32! We can obey that which was delivered through Christ unto all man! We can adhere to the pattern of God's Doctrines, which are revealed to us in the great Book or Books! Have you submitted to the Will of God? If not, choose today to do God's Will and to accept nothing less than to do that which He has commanded of us! Can you be satisfied with what God requires?

As far as our main study of the day, we will be concluding our study on the "Important Doctrines of God." Our specific lesson of the morning will deal with, "The Doctrine of Last Things". So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will be leading us in our main thoughts of the day. But for now let's join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross."



Speaker: Ray Sullins

"Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow, for what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." How many of us wonder what will happen after we die. How many of us fear death because we do not know what might happen after we leave this life. Certainly it is something that has crossed all of our minds and as we conclude our series on "The Doctrines of God," this morning we want to look at the doctrine of last things. Just as we have seen that God has clarified for us all of the other important doctrines that we have considered in this series, as sure as he has done that, he has as well done for us in understanding what will happen in the end. He has given us a clear idea of what our part is, of what it takes, and what will come of us if we live righteously or if we reject His Will. Because of this unsurety, certainly we must look somewhere. There's no other place I know of that gives such clarity about life after death, about the concepts of what were referred to by some historians as those mystical or mystery religions, those religions that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is something beyond this life and thankfully so because as you and I know most might live maybe in their 70's, 80's, to 100 if we are fortunate, but we all will die. In fact, the Hebrew writer said in Hebrews 9:27, "It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment."

Certainly the Bible confirms to us death is something that we cannot stop. It is something that is inevitable for each and every one of us and then after death, at some point, the Bible shows us that God will judge the world.

But what is it then that will happen at the end of time? I think one of the best places that we can go often to understand the concepts of immediate reactions to death is found in Luke chapter 16. You might remember the story, the parable, if you will, that was told of the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus was a beggar. He was a man who had nothing in life. He was pitiful. He was very, very looked down on the world, by his fellow man. The rich man obviously having everything and well-blessed, but yet, looking at the two, Lazarus looking to God, loving God and knowing that God was all that life was about. The rich man because of his self-sufficient attitude saw no need for God, no interest in God until after he had died. In that story, however, that some say was not or could not have been true, we find some important ideas presented. Let me remind you that every story ever used by Jesus such as the rich man and Lazarus, every parable ever spoken by Him always was based on reality. Jesus was not one to talk about fairy tales or about things that could not happen or to use examples of fictional things that certainly could not be the case. He always used illustrations that were realistic. He always used parables that made a point from a standpoint of reality, something that could happen. With that in mind as we look at the rich man and Lazarus, we find that they both die very much around the same time. As they die, "Lazarus goes to the bosom of Abraham," the scriptures say, "a resting place where he is nurtured," and yet there is a great gulf between him and where the rich man ends up. There in Luke 16 it tells us that, "The rich man ends up in a place called Hades or Tartarus," something that is not heaven, something that is involved with pain, something that is involved with punishment and the weeping and gnashing of teeth. We know this to be the case because the plea that the rich man makes to Abraham is to "please allow Lazarus to come and to dip his finger in some water to simply cool my tongue because I am tormented in these flames. In the punishment that I am in, I am greatly tormented."

Now we know that this was not the final judgment. We know that the final judgment had not yet taken place because the Bible clearly says in Acts 17:31 that someday that "God has appointed a day in order that He will judge the world." In fact, we read a verse there in Hebrews that, "As we will die, we will be judged, but we know the judgment has not happened because we're still breathing." We're still alive. During the judgment day and the day of judgment, all those who are alive and all those who are dead, as will see, will stand before the throne of God and be judged. As that has not happened where was it that the rich man and Lazarus were? Where is it that you and I will go? It seems that it is a place that is intermediate, between, between earthly life as we know it, between Heaven and Hell, as we know the final outcome of eternal rewards.

Why and how could this be the case? It has to be the case because it's the example that Jesus gave using a story that certainly had to have been based on some type of factuality. It's true because we find here in scripture that the concept of the rich man and Lazarus and a resting place was based on the lives that they already lived. You know sometimes we say, "Well we won't know until judgment how God will judge us." Folks, we're living right now, today, by our words and deeds, everything we do. We are living how we will be judged. We are really putting up towards either good or bad in store for the judgment those things that are right. So when we die, our time is up. Whether judgment has come or not, the good we have done will find us justified, or the bad that we have done will cause us to be condemned. We are making that decision right now so it is not strange that the rich man and Lazarus already had an outcome at death, that they already were being preserved in the former state until the final outcome was dealt at the judgment to all men simultaneously at the same time.

And so as we see that taking place, then we know yes, the judgment is coming. We know that there certainly must be a place between the final judgment and the life as we know it and that place seems to already be indicating what our final reward will be. Why? Because today I am making decisions to really make the final choice as to how God will reward me at the point of death.

Let me also mention that interestingly enough although many men claim to know when Jesus will come again or that is God from Heaven with His mighty angels and the trumpets shall sound and the dead in Christ shall rise and all these things will come to pass. Many claim that they know the time. That's very interesting because even Jesus Christ Himself in Mark chapter 13 in verse 32 said that, "No man knows the hour." In fact, even Jesus said that He did not know the day or the hour that He would come again for the second coming, the judgment of the Lord. So it's interesting that man today knows more than even God in the flesh, Jesus Christ Himself, knew. No man knows the time. Peter, in the book of 2nd Peter chapter 3 and verse 10 said that, "The day of the Lord, the judgment day, will come like a thief in the night." How many of us know when a thief is coming? Well certainly we don't know that and that's the point. We don't know and cannot know when a thief is coming in the middle of the night. It will be a surprise, a surprise to everyone who is alive and as well a surprise to everyone who is dead because we know they will be brought forth from the grave.

So yes, we will all die. At death we go to a place, it seems clear in Luke 16 of an intermediate stage already according to the lives that we have lived and according to what the final judgment has already been set by our lives, by our words. Then eventually God will come. He will judge the world. Some will still be alive. Some will already have died.

In Jude chapter 1 and verse 6, it talks there about even the souls, the souls of those who are being reserved until the day of judgment. You see again that intermediate concept. Some have died. Some have died, but the souls are being reserved. They're being held somewhere until that day and God knows how to judge them again, in 2 Peter 2 and verse 9. He will reward those in that state as well as at the final judgment.

Now we want to turn over to 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 because it is there that we have probably one of the clearest pictures of exactly what will happen in that final day. Some of the best ideas we might say of understanding how it will play out, exactly what will happen, exactly what will take place. If you'll turn there to 1 Thessalonians, we're going to read together several scriptures in order that we might understand better for ourselves really what God hath revealed so that we might know what to expect when that day comes. So again in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, we will begin reading in verse 14. Here Paul was talking to the Thessalonian church, he was actually talking about those who were already asleep in the Lord, those who had died and were faithful to the Lord. He was concerned about them or those at least at Thessalonica and therefore he was reassuring them that those asleep in the Lord are in that intermediate stage. They are being cared for by God. They will rise again. They will be judged. They will have the reward. It says, "Don't worry about them. Don't worry about them as you worry about those who are still alive, who might miss the mark, but rejoice in that they are asleep in the Lord." That's the key there. Verse 14 beginning in the Bible says, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring Him those who are asleep in Jesus for this we say to you by the word of the Lord that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means proceed those who are asleep. Here we have it, those who are alive, those who are already dead. What will then happen? Verse 16, "The Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with a trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and thus we shall always be with the Lord." Here from the standpoint of the faithful, we find the alive and we find those who have gone on and in that day when the Lord comes with a great shout, the sounds of mighty trumpets as if it were real trumpets, the concepts that it will be indescribable, not understandable and something that will not be mistaken as the final judgment. He will come. The dead will first come forth from the grave and the verse there tells us that as they come forth from the grave then we who are alive will be caught up together with them to meet our Lord in the sky.

What else will happen there? Well if you'll mark and maybe read in your Bibles at a later point in the book of Corinthians in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 50-54. It says there that we will all be changed. Why? Because flesh and blood cannot enter the spiritual kingdom of Heaven. So it says our corruptible form, the flesh and the blood, will take on incorruption or mortal will take on immortality. We will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. When? The same verses there in 1 Corinthians 15 say, "At the final trumpet sound, when the Lord ascends from the sky." So there we have it. The Lord is coming. We will, with the dead, rise and stand before God. We will be changed in the twinkling of an eye and then we who are faithful will be taken up to meet our God and to be with Him forever.

So then what will happen at the judgment? The Bible tells us that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. We read this in Philippians 2, verses 9-11. Everyone who has ever denied Christ will now admit that He is the son of God. Even in Romans 14 we remember and we find again the fact that truly everyone will now know that Jesus is, was and will always be the Christ, God in the flesh, the son of God. No longer can man deny at the judgment because everyone will make that great confession before they are given their reward or their punishment.

And then finally we know that the rewards are Heaven or Hell. The concept of Heaven is always that mentioned by the author there, John of Revelation, as being a paradise, a wondrous place of golden streets and concepts of mansions and pearly gates giving us the earthly sense of what a glorious spiritual existence in Heaven for eternity will be like. But then on the other hand as we saw with the rich man there in Luke 16, and as we see again in the book of Revelation as well as in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9. Hell is talked about as a place of final damnation, of condemnation, of something that will take place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, where there is fire and brimstone. Whatever it is, it will not be pleasurable and it will be eternal.

So you see the choice is ours to make. Every day that we live we are making that decision so that when we die, we will either be found justified or we will be found condemned before our God. We will either be considered as those who are righteous and pure and holy in His sight or we will be rejected as those who are sheep as though they were sent themselves to the slaughter. Isn't it there again in Matthew 25 that Jesus Himself talked of in verse 46 the concepts of eternal damnation and eternal life. They must be real. Why? Because God has told us. There has to be a place called Heaven because He has confirmed that to us and that we there in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 and verse 10, "We'll be judged according to what we have done in the body whether it be good or bad." That "we will be judged by the very words that come out of our mouth," Matthew 12 and verse 36 & 37. And by the words of Christ we will stand justified or we will stand condemned.

Oh the things that will come, the last things, the doctrine of God. Why not live then today so that we know we will have that reward, so that we will know that when our life on this earth ends whether it be by death or when the judgment comes that we will be ready and we'll be counted among the faithful, those who have proven themselves before God to be obedient and believers in all that they do. Are you willing to consider (end of tape).

(SONG # 3 - "The Way Of The Cross!")


Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this worship to God!

But for now let me ask if you have any questions or comments about today's lesson? Maybe, you would like a free transcript or a cassette tape of this program? Possibly, we could assist you with free Bible materials or correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please contact us at the following address:

The Living Word 2540 N. Kansas Expressway Springfield, Mo. 65803

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Or if you prefer, you may call us at: (417)869-2284

How wonderful it is to know that God has promised us a great reward at the end of this life. Will you live today, so that at the judgement you will be rewarded with Eternal Life?

(Program closing)