The World is a Courtroom


Pastor Jerry Gillis - November 8, 2015

The world is a courtroom and every one of us is going to stand before the Judge.

Community Group Study Notes

  • We read in Revelation 19-20 that Jesus will be the Great Judge who will rule with justice. Why is this both a comforting promise and a clear warning? When you feel injustice, what should you find hope in? When you are unjust towards someone, what should you be mindful of?
  • Death itself will eventually be destroyed (see Revelation 20:14). How does this perspective help us face the fears of this life? How does a right understanding of the Resurrection give us clarity into how powerless death will ultimately be? Why does this bring us comfort in this life?


Memory Verse

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all he does. (Psalm 145:13)

Sermon Transcript

You guys have probably heard the phrase before, the world is our classroom. In other words wherever we are, we're learning, right? Whether that's been formal education that you've gotten, or whether that's high school or college or something beyond that - maybe you've had an opportunity to do formal education or you haven't. You've been working and you've gained experience, and you've learned as a result of that, because really wherever we are, wherever we find ourselves, the world is our classroom.

Now, the thing is with the classroom of the world, we learn some things, and based upon the knowledge that we have in that classroom, we make decisions. And those decisions ultimately lead to various consequences, and at the end of the day the decisions that we make have impact. They have influence. They have something associated with them so that, when all is said and done in this life, the choices that we make are what we are remembered for and/or what we are judged by. That's ultimately the idea.

So, it cannot only be said that the world is our classroom, but maybe even more importantly, the world is our courtroom. Because ultimately we are judged by the choices that we make in the life that we lead, and that's an important thing for us when we get to where we are in the book of Revelation. We've been unfolding this book all the way through from chapter one.

Now, we're in chapter nineteen and twenty, and what we're going to find in chapter nineteen and twenty is that the whole world is a courtroom. This isn't like the courtroom of the UN, you know the world court or the International Court of Justice, more formally called where there are a few select nations that are involved. No, this is a global courtroom where everybody is called into account and what we are going to see in chapter nineteen and chapter twenty is that there is an interesting judicial role reversal.

Now, I was reading some archived articles in the Buffalo News from 2013, October of 2013. There was an article about a particular trial that was going on in Rochester, but because the trial needed some impartiality and fairness and all those things - I guess there was exposure there in Rochester - that they wanted to move the trial to Buffalo, and they did. And in that particular trial, something very unique happened that is really basically unprecedented. When the US District Attorney called a witness to the stand in this particular case, the US District Attorney asked, "Sir, can I ask you what you do for a living?" The response of the witness was, "I am a federal judge."

Now, according to the article this was the first time that a federal judge had testified in a local case. And it was an interesting thing, because the one who was normally wearing the black gown and who handled the gavel and who was ruling in favor or against a particular decision, was now sitting on the witness stand. Now, just as an aside, the judge had done nothing wrong. The judge was just a witness to the goings on and was kind of an expert witness in this process. The judge was not incriminated for anything, had not done anything at all. But I thought it was a very interesting story when I read it because it was a role reversal judicially. It was where the judge had become a witness.

Now interestingly enough, when we meet Jesus in the gospels and we're introduced to Jesus at his birth, the very first way or at least one of the very first ways in which we meet Jesus is as a witness. In fact, the Scripture says that when he's born you'll call him "Emmanuel" because he will be what? God with us. Are you guys with me? We call him Emmanuel because he will be God with us, right? The idea is that Jesus was going to witness to or testify to the nature of who God was. Jesus was also going to testify to the nature of what true humanity looked like surrendered in obedience to God the Father. Jesus would also testify to God's glory in the earth. He would testify to God's kingdom. He would testify to God's truth and God's justice and God's holiness and God's hope and God's love. Jesus would testify faithfully to all of these things.

And through the course of his ministry, even though he is testifying faithfully to every single one of these things, the tide of popular opinion turned against Jesus, and Jesus was carted off to a cross. In so doing, when he was captured by Pilate and through some of the work of the religious Jewish establishment at that time, Jesus was actually led like a lamb was to the slaughter the Scripture says, but he did not open his mouth. Why? Because his testimony stood. He didn't need to even say anymore because his testimony had been faithful. All his life. And that led him to be faithful all the way to through his death, where he was a faithful witness, surrendering himself, pouring out his blood for the sake of humanity. His resurrection from the dead on the third day after his death, testified that he was a faithful and true witness, and everything he said about God and about himself was exactly as he said it was going to be.

And then when he ultimately departed some weeks later - physically departed from this earth to go back to be with his Father - the apostles who had been following after him, who ultimately were filled with his Spirit, began testifying as well to how faithful and true his witness was and the power of his resurrection, so that humanity could be reconciled to God.

So, we see that through the sweep of the New Testament with Jesus, so it's no shock to us when we get to the book of the Revelation that in chapter one we are introduced to Jesus by these words, "He is the faithful and true witness". And it's no shock that in chapter three, we are reintroduced to the fact that Jesus is the faithful and true witness. And it's no shock that when we get to chapter five and we see - we hear that He's a lion - but we see that he's a lamb, that he had the courage of a lion to lay his life down as a lamb, so that he would shed his blood as a faithful witness to the truth, that no man can come to the Father except through the Son. And then we see the power of - the overcoming power of his blood, as the faithful witness in chapter twelve, because they overcame the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, right? And then in chapter fourteen we actually see the purchasing power of his blood, because there were many who were purchased by his blood.

So when we get to chapter nineteen and chapter twenty, we see an interesting judicial role reversal. The witness becomes the judge. Now look with me in verse number eleven in chapter nineteen. It says this, "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. And with justice he judges and makes war."

So what we see here is this vision that John is having, and now we get the perspective of heaven; I see heaven opened and there is a rider on a white horse who is called Faithful and True. And he does two things - listen to it - he judges and makes war. There are two kind of dual narratives, dual metaphors that are presented for us here. One is judicial - he judges - and one is military - he makes war.

Now, there is no question that the military kind of narrative is something we should pay attention to because this was part of the Jewish mindset, and John has a tendency in Revelation to do this over and over and over again. He takes things that the Jewish people think about, and he recasts the image for them. And there is a military idea behind Jesus being - or the idea of Messiah being - of the line of David. You remember David was known as a military hero, right? And when they thought of this idea of Messiah, they thought of kind of a military and political king. Because David, you know, he was David, man he won his battles, right? Saul killed his thousands, but David took out his tens of thousands, right?

So there is a natural idea with this idea of a military thought process, as well - John, by the leadership of the Spirit, is speaking into a scenario that the people that he's writing to would have understood full well. Conquering heroes that come back on white horses who have triumphed like the Empire did, that would triumph over their enemies or over other nation states, and would come back in, triumphally, on their white horses.

So you've got two competing narratives here - a judicial narrative and a military narrative - and what we'll see as we kind of walk through the text is that the judicial narrative is the controlling metaphor or the controlling narrative here. In other words, Jesus in these passages that we're going to read, is more judge than general, even though he's both.

Now the interesting thing is, is that the Scripture says that his name - this rider on the white horse - his name was Faithful and True. Now what's missing there? What have we seen in Chapter one? He's the faithful and true what? Witness. Chapter three, the faithful and true witness. But now when we get here, he's just faithful and true. Why? Because the witness has become the judge.

You see, this is a part of what we need to be able to understand and unpack, because it says that he comes in with a number of different things as it begins to unpack for us in chapter nineteen, look in verse number twelve. He says, "His eyes are blazing fire and his head has many crowns and he's got a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations and he will rule them with an iron Scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe ad on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."

Now, this is a reminder by the way, it's almost like a flashback for us, because those of us who remember chapter number one, remember the vision that we saw of Jesus at the very opening of the book of Revelation. Eyes that are like blazing fire. We saw that in chapter one. The idea is that he sees everything. There is nothing that escapes His vision. He penetrates even to the heart and soul of every human being. Think about that for a minute. Every human being. He see everything.

And then it says that he has on his head many crowns. This is an idea of his sovereignty, his majesty, the fact that he is actually King over every king and Lord over every lord. This is the idea behind this.

And then it goes on to say that he has a name that is on him that only he knows himself. You say, well Jerry, what is that? Did you read that? A name that only he knows himself. I'm not even going to waste any time there, because I have no idea what that is, because only he does. So those of you who want to speculate, that's just called stupid. Because he's the only one that knows that, right?

Then the Scripture says that he has a robe that is dipped in blood. Now pause here for just a moment. Many people, depending on the way that they kind of like to posture the book of Revelation, enjoy talking about this as, here's Jesus and basically those that he's conquering, you know slaying the beast and all of that kind of stuff, their blood is all over him. Well that's certainly a possibility. But here's what I would suggest to you. This is actually being described before he engages in conflict. It's his blood. It's his own.

And who's with him? An army that is in white, fine and clean. We saw that same imagery from the marriage supper of the Lamb, right? The righteous acts of the saints. And they're coming in on white horses. Again, the idea of triumph, that God's people are being vindicated so to speak by who Jesus is and what he's done. And you know the only reason they're wearing white is because he's wearing red. Did you catch that? The blood of Jesus is the only way that you and I ever will experience the purity that he has designed for us.

So, then the Scripture says kind of names a number of different things about who he is as Messiah, and calls those from the Old Testament. It says that he has a sword that's coming out of his mouth with which to strike down the nations. That's from Isaiah eleven. It says he has an iron scepter in his hand with which he's going to rule the nations. That's from Psalm two. And then it says that he treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty, that's from Isaiah sixty-three. All of these places - Isaiah eleven, Psalm two, Isaiah sixty-three - are all messianic in tone, and they are teaching us about the Messiah. If you ever had a question about does the Scripture ever talk about Jesus very specifically as Messiah, you don't have to go any further than right here, because all of these Old Testament messianic passages are all culminating right here saying this is who he is. This is what he does. This is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

In fact, that name is actually written on his robe and that makes perfect sense since he's His Majesty. But it's also written on his thigh. You probably read that and you go, what's that all about? It's written on his robe and written on his thigh? Pause for just a second. Where do swords normally hang? Right here. But he doesn't have one. Just a name. You know why he doesn't have a sword? He doesn't need one. He has the sword of his mouth. Doesn't need one hanging right here. Why? Because he's King of kings and Lord of lords. This fight is fixed and it's not even going to be a fight. What you'll find out about this war is that it's not even a war. There's actually no fighting. Jesus speaks and all of these things happen. The sword of his own mouth.

For those of you who are confused, how could Jesus be both Savior and Judge at the same time? Because if he's coming to save, he's not coming to judge. Well that's because of what it says about the sword of his mouth, and Jesus actually spoke to this idea when he was on earth in his public ministry.

Listen to John chapter twelve and what it says. Jesus says, "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day."

Did you catch that? The very words that he has spoken. The sword of his mouth. He doesn't need one on his thigh. He's King of kings and Lord of lords. The judgment is going to be he has been a faithful and true witness, and those who have rejected that, that is condemnation for them. You see, once you start picking up the imagery of what the text is teaching us, we start to grab hold of it and go, o.k, o.k,, now I'm starting to understand this a little bit better.

But as a judge, what do you expect a judge to do?  A judge rules, right? A judge rules in favor of certain things. A judge rules against certain things, right? Those of you in the legal profession know this. Those of you who have been on the wrong side of the legal profession know this. Right? Not that that's happened to any of you. Except for I know it's happened to some of you, because I'm looking at you.  Nonetheless, it's part of our story, right? We've been redeemed, we've been changed, some of us. So we know that's what a judge does. A judge rules.

And so what we see unpacked here in chapter nineteen and chapter twenty is we see the judge actually issuing some rulings. The first one we see is this: The judge rules against the Beasts. We've been following the beasts and I'm about sick of them and I'm ready for them to be dealt with in justice. Because we've been following the beast from the sea being the idea of empire. And the beast from the earth being the idea of the false religion that propagates this kind of idea that there can be something other than God.

And so the beasts are judged. Look in verse number seventeen of chapter nineteen. "And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair 'Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.' Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh."

It's stark, isn't it, the imagery? Where you read it and you just go, man this is stark imagery. Well, guess what, it's not made up. It's actually from the Old Testament. It's from Ezekiel chapter thirty-eight and thirty-nine. This is exactly where this language comes from. You might want to jot that down, because you'll want to go back to it. In Ezekiel chapter thirty-eight and thirty-nine, all of these things - from the actual war that's going on, to the idea of the supper of the birds flying around and gorging themselves on the flesh, because remember, to die unburied was a very ignoble death. It was kind of an inglorious way to die. And so that the beasts of the field that would eat the flesh of those that were rotting out, there was a very inglorious way to die. And the idea here is that the beast and the empire that they have created, these two beasts are going to die a very inglorious death. That this is going to be a horrific thing.

But what you also find out here, is that there is actually no fighting. They assembled themselves for war, and Jesus captures them. That's it. That's what you got. It's not like, you know, it's not Lord of the Rings, right? Not Braveheart. We just got it straight ahead, here we are, we're done.

Listen to this. The same one, Jesus, who spoke everything into existence in creation is going to speak everything into re-existence. By judging that which stands against his good creation so that he can purify it and usher in re-creation, new creation. That's kind of the flow of the narrative of the book of Revelation.

So, he judges the beasts. The beasts are thrown into, the Scripture says, the lake of burning sulfur. Now obviously that's a picture. You say, well Jerry, what kind of picture is that? A bad one, o.k.? It's a bad one. Do you think that's a literal thing? Of course not. It's a picture. This is apocalyptic imagery. Haven't we been telling you that over and over and over and over and over again. But here's the thing. As Jonathan Edwards said, who would preach very specifically - very much what you would call an old school fire and brimstone preacher from the United States. Jonathan Edwards - one of the great theological minds that you'll ever read. Hard to read. Kind of the puritan kind of reading. But he was asked one time - in fact, his famous message is [Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" - that was his famous message, right? You're going, yeah, chipper. I want to hang out with him, right? He's serious, man, serious minded, godly man.

And here's the thing. He was asked, do you really believe in a literal lake of burning fire? Lake of burning sulfur? Number one - look at the imagery. Lake, fire, right? What do you use to put out fire? Water. So it's an imagery, it's an image that's being cast. Kind of this lake of burning sulfur. But, here's the thing. Whenever you have metaphor used in the Scripture, it's used there because there are no words to be able to quite describe what's going on here. So when we talk about a lake of burning sulfur you say is it that bad? No. It's worse! This is just a picture to try and describe what it looks like - what the torment looks like to be separated from God and to be judged by God. It's a stark kind of reminder, and we don't need to marginalize it or try and dumb it down. It's actually worse than the picture. It's just a picture trying to describe it in words.

So the beasts are dealt with. And I'm glad. Because the judge needs to be just and is going to deal with all of those things that have raged against his good creation and raged against him.

But there's a second thing the judge does. He rules against Satan himself. Remember, Satan's called the dragon, right? You've got the dragon and the beast. That's been the imagery of Revelation.

Well, look in chapter twenty, verse number one. It says, "I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain." You obviously see this as a picture, right? Not just one chain and he's chained up - come on. "He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time."

Then look in verse seven. "When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth - God and Magog - and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever."

So here's the picture that we get. The great deceiver, the one who from the very beginning, that old serpent, that ancient serpent, the devil - and it uses four different ways of describing him - the dragon, the ancient serpent, the devil, and Satan - all of the ways in which Revelation has actually referred to our adversary, are all kind of settled up right here and the way that the scripture refers to our enemy, all throughout the course of time - here's what we see: call him by whatever name, he's our adversary, but he's dealt with. He is dealt with in justice just like he should be.

And then in verse number seven, it talks about this war where he's going to lead the nations of the four corners of the earth - Gog and Magog - and gather them for battle to do what? To make war against the Lamb. You say, well, man, didn't we just read in chapter nineteen about this war where the beasts and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider? Is this a different war? I don't think so. There are some that do. I don't think so. The reason that I don't think so is because it comes from the exact same passage. The clue? Gog and Magog. It's from Ezekiel chapter thirty-eight and thirty-nine. You'll need to connect the dots there. And because that's referring to the exact same passage, I also believe that that's referring to the very same thing that Revelation sixteen, sixteen is referring to.

Here's what it says in Revelation sixteen, sixteen. "They gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon," or Har Megiddo, kind of the hill of Megiddo, all right? Megiddo is an actual town. It was kind of a hill fortress territory. I've been there many, many times. This is all talking about the same thing.

You see, in Revelation when it's referring to this cataclysmic battle, as opposed to settling these things out chronologically like they're small little battles, it's about one cataclysmic battle. When you read this in the Greek language, here's what you'll find in Revelation sixteen, Revelation nineteen, and Revelation twenty. It refers to - listen carefully - it refers to THE battle. THE War. In every one of those contexts, it is the definitive article. It is not a battle, or another battle. It is THE battle.

What is the battle? It is the influence of Satan through the empires and the false propagators of empire in the world that are trying to do their best to deceive the nations, to gather themselves to do whatever they can to defy God and to create an anti-Christ spirit in the world. It is the cataclysmic battle for the worship of Satan, ultimately. That's what we're talking about. And, it ends rather quickly with the one from the sword of his mouth saying, nope. Beasts, good-bye. And dragon-boy, good-bye. That's what happens. All right? And he is cast into the same place that the beast - both beasts are cast into as well - the lake of fiery, burning sulfur.

So, if you've got judgments that go against those who are opposing God, you would expect to find judgments in favor of those who are God's, who are of him. And you do. He not only rules against the beasts and against Satan, but he rules in favor of the martyrs.

Listen to what it says in chapter number twenty, verse number four. It says, "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."

Now, what do you think is going on in this passage of Scripture? Listen carefully, because this is a thorny mess for a lot of people. This is the place where a lot of people start building areas of theology off of these few verses that there are no corollaries in the whole New Testament, and they take these few verses, build a theology off of it, backfill it with everything else they can think about - about the end times - and try and force fit it into a system. And that's where you get, are you pre-millennial, are you post-millennial, or a-millennial.

Listen, nobody that's reading this in John's original audience would have had any idea what you're talking about. When you start talking in those terms. They wouldn't have any idea what you're talking about. What we have to ask is why is this here? It's here because it is showing us something very important. It is showing us the vindication of the faithful witnesses to Jesus.

Now, when we see the faithful witnesses or the faithful martyrs, do you think it's only talking about people that got beheaded? Do you think in the Roman empire people were stabbed to death? Do you think they were thrown into lion's dens and all those kinds of things? Of course they were. All of that stuff happened. These were faithful witnesses. That's a picture. It's a real picture because people were actually beheaded, and still are today by the way. So that's a real picture. But it's also kind of indicative of something larger and bigger. Kind of the idea that these are faithful witnesses who've been faithful to the end.

And here's the thing. The beast who has been trying to oppress them has been contesting with the faithful witnesses of Jesus over two things. Rule and life. That's it. So in other words, he's been able to steal from them their lives, so to speak, by killing them, and as a result has established his rule over everything. But here's the thing - when we get the glimpse of heaven, here's what we see. We see in actuality that the beast did not win, because the faithful martyrs, they're not dead. They're actually still alive, because they have been brought to life, the Scripture says, with Christ. So they are living and not only that, they're ruling. The rulership of the empire is coming to an end and the rulership of the faithful witnesses is continuing on with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why this is here. It is talking about the vindication of the martyrs so that we know that they won and not lost and that they lived and not died.

Now here's the thing. We can get really, really backwards here if we get too down deep in the weeds. But let me tell you what this looks like to me. This chapter twenty, beginning portion - it looks like an interlude like we have already experienced in the book of Revelation two different times. Do you remember at the end of the first set of judgments - the sealed judgments? That there was a break in the action, an interlude, a pause. And that pause was to tell us about faithful witnesses and the impact of those faithful witnesses, even in the midst of all of this trouble. And then, at the end of the second set of judgments, the end of the trumpet judgments, we actually had another pause in the action in chapter ten and chapter eleven that was telling us about the faithful witnesses and their impact. Well, this looks exactly the same. It looks like another break in the action to tell us about the faithful witnesses, and what God is doing in the midst of that, and how they are actually winners not losers.

We also have to be careful because Revelation is not always chronological. You know like, at the end of some of these various judgments that are going on, and then in chapter twelve we get this picture of a woman and a dragon and a child. Right? Remember that? The child is Jesus and the woman is kind of a picture of Israel, so to speak and ultimately the Church and the dragon is Satan. So it actually gives us a picture of the birth of Jesus, which is way before all the stuff that's going on then. So it's not always chronological. Sometimes Revelation reads forward and backward. It reads past and present and it's not confined - it's sometimes, into its - our space and time kind of linear thinking. So we have to be careful.

Here's why I say all of that to us. Because what's happening here is based upon Daniel chapter seven. And where we may have gotten ourselves upside-down - because when it says I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge? There's no real indication to me that that's on the earth. It might be. But there's no real indication that that's the case in the text itself. Some people have built theologies around this - it's when we rule on the earth and that kind of stuff. Maybe. But there's nothing in the text that says that specifically.

In fact, this is borrowing language from Daniel chapter seven. We've referenced that a number of times. Listen to what it says. Let me just say this. I won't quote it. Daniel seven says that there is one Ancient of Days that's sitting on the throne, and one like the son of man that's seated on a throne, and there are other thrones. The idea of the vindication of the people of God that are seated on thrones. But whenever we see thrones in Daniel, and whenever we see thrones in Revelation, we see those in heaven. Now, I'm not suggesting this has to be something that's occurring in heaven. I'm suggesting to you that I think that it might be.

In fact, have you ever wondered what's going on when Paul said what he said in Ephesians chapter two, when he said these words? He said, "and God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus." Have you ever wondered what that's all about? I mean do you think that we're just... {whistling} We're  ust sitting there? Right? Doing nothing? What are you doing? I don't know. Seated in the heavenly realms. {whistling} That's obviously not the case. What if that's actually referencing the fact that we are being graciously allowed to participate in the rule and reign of Jesus?

And see, I think ultimately at the end of the day when we're talking about what we're talking about here, here's what we need to remember. Even though our destiny is to rule and to reign with him on a newly created earth which we'll read about next week - the reality is this: is that this is here, this idea, is here so that we understand that the martyrs won. We understand that they are vindicated by what the Lord Jesus has done. We understand that both in ruling and in life they won. This is not about trying to mark out a calendar for a thousand years.

You say, Jerry, do you think the thousand years is an actual literal time period? Please, man. I've been telling you all through Revelation - there's not a number in Revelation I think that just means that number. Not one. How are you going to start going literal here when we haven't been able to do that through the whole entire thing?

Literalists have a very, very huge problem in the book of Revelation because there is complete inconsistency in their literalism. Like they'll say, well there's a hundred forty-four thousand Jewish males who are virgins. That's what it's got to be. O.k. Well, they're on Mount Zion in chapter fourteen with a Lamb. Well, the Lamb's Jesus. I know. So you're going non-literal there and literal right next to it in the same passage. Inconsistent. You have to be able to think about these in different terms.

By the way, the Scripture uses this idea of a thousand years all throughout it, by the way. With the Lord, a thousand years are like a day and a day are like a thousand years. The Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills. What about the other five thousand hills? Are those other people owning that and are they negotiating? What kind of deal do they get with God? Right? This is just a statement of time, right? That we have to understand that for a period of time we have the privilege or the martyrs have the privilege of ruling and reigning with Jesus. Let's leave it there for now because what the judge has done is he's ruled in favor of the martyrs and that they are vindicated. They're not dead. They didn't lose. That's the main point.

But then, there's another ruling and it's this. He rules in favor of all the believers and against all the non-believers.  This is - there's something on my glasses. That's better. Sorry. Sometimes you just got to do what you got to do, right?

Listen to Revelation twenty, verse eleven. "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done." Then look in verse fifteen. "Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire."

Now, let me help you understand some of the picture that's going on here, ladies and gentlemen. I don't want you to miss this. Because here's what I'm most assured of. That as much as is humanly possible over the next few minutes, every distraction on planet earth is going to try and take your eyes and focus off of what I'm about to talk to you about. Every distraction. And I want us to eliminate the distractions. Because there are people under the sound of my voice right now that may die not knowing Christ. This is teaching us what that looks like. And I don't want you to miss this, because if you're here, like the many in the last worship gathering who gave their lives to Christ, you're going to have an opportunity to do the same. Because today may very well be the day that God's trying to get your attention and draw you to himself, so that you could know what it means to be transformed and forgiven, and to have hope when you stand before the judgment.

This is a strong picture, but this very strong picture of the idea of a courtroom and the idea of books being opened is a borrowed picture, again from Daniel chapter seven. Listen to the words of Daniel seven beginning in verse nine. "As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him." Those are just big numbers to indicate a lot of people. "The court was seated, and the books were opened."

You see, this is a courtroom picture, and what we see in Revelation is we see a book and we see books. The book that we see is the book of life. It's like a citizen registry. And the books that we see are books of our deeds. In other words, the things that we have done in our life. Everything is recorded. This is the picture that we have right here. It's all written down. There's nothing that has escaped the eyesight of the Judge. He knows everything. Every action, every thought, every deed, everything. If you're not in the book of life, if your name is not in the citizen registry for the Lamb's kingdom, the Scripture says that your fate is the same as that of the beasts and the dragon. But if your name is in the book of life, there's an incredible promise that we're getting to next week in the last two chapters of the book of Revelation with new creation, new heaven and new earth.

The thing is, if your name is not written in the book of life, some of you are saying we at least I'll make appeal because there's other books, the books of my deeds. Oh. You sure you want to appeal? Because your appeal process is just going to confirm the fact that you have no part and no place in the kingdom. My name's not found written in the books, so I'm going to appeal to the books. O.k. Well then they're going to be opened and you're going to be shown not only maybe you, yourself, but whoever else happens to be in the audience. I don't know what that's all going to look like. But it is going to be patently obvious to you and to everyone else that the Judge is dealing with you justly. Every thought, every deed, every action called into account. And those of us who have never relied on the blood of the faithful Witness turned Judge - those of us who have never laid ourselves in faith upon him, recognizing that he is the only one that can be our sin bearer, and that God judged our sin in him instead of we deciding we want him to deal with us on our own merits. We're going to find that doesn't end well. Because everyone has sinned and come short of the glory of God. And no one can actually save themselves.

If you think for one second that your list of things that you have done in your life is going to overwhelm God to the point that he's going to have his hands tied behind his back and go, "Oh, man, I must have missed it with you.  I've got to let you into my kingdom because, man, I really blew it. No, you're right, you're incredible." No, you are a sinner, listen, you are a sinner who cannot save yourself if you are apart from Christ. And there's no hope - listen - no hope whatsoever. Even if you say, I want to appeal to the books. No you don't. Because you are going to find out - it's going to be obvious to you and to everyone else that you have no part in the kingdom of God. This is strong, strong language here.

All of us, however, the Scripture says - all of us - are judged based upon what we've done. All of us. Everybody. Now this is not a works salvation idea, by the way, so don't misunderstand. Because even though the Scripture's very clear in Ephesians, right? That we've been saved by grace through faith, and this is not of ourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works unless any of us should boast, right? That's the clear teaching of the gospel. But do you know the next verse, right after that says? For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

In other words, those of us who've been literally genuinely transformed by Christ - do you know what will happen? That the working in his life works itself out, and we begin to act and move based upon the leadership of the Spirit doing good things that are empowered by the Spirit, not empowered by our own flesh. Not for our own selfish desires but empowered by the Spirit and we, the scripture says, will be judged as believers, we'll be judged based upon what we've done or not done with what we've been entrusted and rewarded or not rewarded in accordance with that.

But all of us will be judged based upon what we've done. In fact that's the testimony of Scripture. Listen to Jeremiah seventeen - it says this: "I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind," That's got it covered. " reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve."

And then listen to Romans chapter two, it says, "God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism."

Listen to how Peter says it. "Since you call on a Father who judges each person's work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear."

So, Jesus is actually judging in favor of all the believers and there's a promise associated with that that we'll see next week and he's judging against all unbelievers because he's just. And by the way, as the faithful witness, he's the only one qualified to judge.

But there's a last thing. The judge rules against death. Listen to what it says in verse number fourteen. "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire."

Do you know the great weapon of the enemy over our lives oftentimes is death? It threatens us. Oh, man. And I see it in the people of God all the time. Man, the world's going to hell in a hand basket. Why in the world never going to heaven in a hand basket, I don't ever understand that. But the world's going to hell in a hand basket, right? Things are going crazy, man. Man, we might die! This is ahh ahh. Yeah, we might. We're all gonna. Hate to break the news to you. We're all going to. And at the end of the day if it's dying in faithfulness to Jesus Christ then so be it. So be it. Because death hasn't won the day. Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ death is defeated.

That's why John Donne, the great poet wrote these words: "Death be not proud." And then he goes on at the very end and he kind of lands the plane with that poem and says "Death, thou shalt die." He's right. Because of Jesus.

In fact, when Paul was writing kind of his great proposition on the resurrection in first Corinthians fifteen, he noted this in first Corinthians fifteen, twenty-six. "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." That's exactly what we see here in Revelation. That the very thing used to hang over our heads and to scare everybody to death is death. But it's going away. It's going away, because this is the vindication of the Son of God. That it did not take Jesus down forever, nor will it take his people down forever, because he is the first fruits of resurrection. That means he is the tree from which we are born. And as he was in his resurrection, so too will we be in our resurrection.

So the judge rules against the beasts and against Satan and for the martyrs and for the believers and against the non-believers and against death. You see this all the way through here. Here's why I'm saying it to you. Because the world is a courtroom. Every one of us is going to stand before the Judge. The world is a courtroom. The faithful Witness is going to ultimately be the Judge, and he is going to vanquish every foe that opposes the good things that he has designed. Everything. Be it systems or people. Nobody escapes. No action, no word, no deed goes unchecked. If you're snoozing, wake up. Nothing escapes him. Nothing.

You see, the reason I'm so passionate about this is because I know that I'm going to stand before Jesus. And I'm going to have to give an account because he has called me, and you have graciously received me as one who teaches you. And I'm going to give an account to Jesus as to whether or not I told people about the gospel of Christ. Did I preach the whole counsel of the Word of God? That I can stand before him with clean hands and say I told them. I told them. I pleaded with them. So that, this is a part of, when I am preaching the words of Jesus, it is Jesus' own words that actually condemn those who reject him. It is the sword of his mouth. Not me. The sword of his mouth - his words.

So I say this to you. There are people in this place, under the sound of my voice, in this room or in the East Worship Center, that very well may die separated from Christ. Your fate, the Scripture says, is the same as the enemy. Not because God hates you, but because God deals in justice. And if you choose justice, you have made a huge mistake. You don't want justice. You want mercy, and mercy has been offered to you in the person of God's son, Jesus Christ, who shed his blood so that you can be reconciled to the Father. That's how much God loves you, and if you want to reject that and choose the way of justice, God will give you what you choose.

So listen, I am pleading with you, but not more than the Spirit of God is pleading with you. That you surrender your life to Jesus Christ, because he loves you and he's a good Father and he's true. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no man, no woman, no boy, no girl, comes to the Father except through me." You can't do this by appealing to justice, because all you'll do is appeal to the books that will condemn you based on your own works.

So, I say this with all the love I can in my heart. I want you to respond and receive Jesus today. Would you bow your heads with me? And as you do, I would ask you in the name of Jesus, if you don't have to get up and it's not an emergency, please don't. Just out of respect for the people that are around you who are trying to listen to what God is saying.

If you're here and you've never before really genuinely turned from your sin and put your faith and trust in Jesus as your Savior, I want to call you to that today. I want to invite you to that today. Really, it's much more than me inviting you. It is the Spirit of God prodding your heart who's drawing you to himself. Who's saying to you I love you, and I want you to know me. So if that's you, and that's the decision you need to make in your own heart, in your own life, then right where you're seated right now, maybe pray something like this in your heart if you mean it. There's no magic in my words. You've got to mean this with your own faith. You've got to mean this in your own heart.

But if you do, pray something like this silently in your heart. Lord, Jesus. Just repeat that to him. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner and I can't save myself. I don't want justice. I'm asking for mercy. And I know the mercy you've shown me is in Jesus, who died to pay for my sin, and who rose from the dead conquering sin and death and the grave. So with all the faith that I have, I surrender myself to you this moment, and I trust in you as my Savior and my Lord and my King.

As our heads are bowed and eyes are closed, if you're in this room or in the East Worship Center, if you would acknowledge unashamedly - if you just prayed that and meant it with all your heart - it's really the first time you've been heart serious with receiving Jesus and surrendering your life to him and asking him to transform your life - if that's you and you just prayed that with me, and meant it with all your heart - would you put your hand up in the air high so I can see it? Not half-way. High. Put it up so I can see it. All over the room. Unashamed. All over the room. Thank you. You can put your hands down.

Here's what I'm going to ask you to do. If you just prayed to receive Jesus, you really believe this is the moment, this is the time, one of our folks is going to be standing in the middle aisle. Jon Cook's going to be standing right here in the middle of the aisle, right here in the crossover section. I want you here, or Pastor Wes who's over in the East Worship Center. I'm going to ask you in a moment if you'll just get up from your seat and come and stand with him, and here's what we're going to do. I'm going to tell you in advance. It's not a sneak attack. We want you to move from your seat, come with him into the Fireside Room, where we will have some pastors and prayer partners talk to you for just a moment about what it means to really follow Jesus. They're going to give you something that you can take home with you to help you in your journey of faith. That's what we want to do. All right?

I'll just be honest with you. There's no more important decision you're going to make in your whole life. Not nothing. Nothing. You say, well, man, I'm kind of in the middle of a row and I, you know...  Hey, listen - the people around you would love to get out of your way. They would love it - to get out of your way. You say excuse me, and they will be like ,absolutely. So be praying for these folks right now - those of you who know Christ.

So, if you raised your hand and said this is the moment. I'm giving my life to Jesus Christ, and you were serious about that decision, I want you to slip out where ever you are - in this room or in the East Worship Center - I want you to slip out and come stand with Jon right here. Just come stand with him right here in this room. Right here. Just let them move - let them move, yeah. Be glad to let them move. Same thing in the East Worship Center. Come by and see Pastor Wes.

Hey, be praying for these folks, man, be praying for them as they're moving. We'll give you another moment right here in the Worship Center. We've got a number of folks that are responding here. East Worship Center - same thing. You catch Pastor Wes, and Pastor Wes, whenever you're ready you can take them over to the Fireside Room. We're going to wait another moment here. There's some folks that are still coming to receive Jesus Christ. This is awesome.

Hey, folks that are down there standing, look at me. This is what we do. I'm going to ask you to follow Jon into the Fireside Room and hopefully I'll be over there in just a moment and be able to say hello to you. For the remainder of us, I want to take an opportunity for us to be able to pray. You can celebrate with them again, man. That's worth celebrating. I mean if you're going to do it - do it! There you go!

These are people whose names are getting written down. Here's the beautiful thing. They already were. They just didn't know. God in his sovereignty knew exactly what he was doing in this moment on this day at this time. He's good. And He loves us and he wants us to know him.

So, Father, here's what I pray for us. I pray that you would write on our hearts - those of us that know Jesus - I pray that you would write on our hearts the reality that is a sure reality and that is that our choices and our decisions and the things that we choose to do - they matter and they have impact. And God, the people that will remember our lives will remember us based on choices that we make and God we want those choices to be choices that are influenced by your Spirit and toward faithfulness to Jesus. That we are faithful witnesses in the world as Jesus was. God, I thank you for that.

I'm even reminded of my friend Matt Mekjean, ninety-seven years old, almost ninety-eight that I buried this past week. A pillar in this church, and a man who was a faithful witness to Christ. His life will be remembered as a faithful witness. I remember the phrase he used to always say to me - Jerry, I'm so glad that God keeps the books. That He does. Thank you that you do that, God, because you are just and you are merciful. That we can be removed from the kingdom of darkness and placed into the kingdom of Light because of you and because of what you've done. Lord Jesus, anything we ever have and ever do that is worth anything is because of you.

So help that be written on our hearts, God and help us to have a passion and compassion for the people around us in the world that are yet to know you, God. We should never look at them through our noses looking down. We should always be reminded that this is like one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. That we need to help people know the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ because we have been shown grace and we have been shown mercy. So, Lord, fill us with your Spirit. Use us as we go out into the world for your glory and so that more people might come to know Jesus. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.

Love you, folks. Have a great week.

More From This Series

A Vision of Jesus

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 1 - Sep 20, 2015

Dear Church

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 2 - Sep 27, 2015

The Throne Room

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 3 - Oct 4, 2015

Judgment & Witness

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 4 - Oct 11, 2015

War of Worship

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 5 - Oct 25, 2015

Babylon Falling

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 6 - Nov 1, 2015
Watching Now

The World is a Courtroom

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 7 - Nov 8, 2015

The End Is The Beginning

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 8 - Nov 15, 2015

Worship Set List

Hands To The Heavens

Kari Jobe


Forever Reign



Even So Come



Lord Over All

Kari Jobe


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