The Tree of Salvation and How to End on the Right Branch


This week Todd encourages us to be mindful of our faithfulness to Jesus, that we as a followers of Christ should, through the work of the Spirit, prepare ourselves to be presented to Christ.

Todd WagnerSep 13, 2015Luke 12:49-59; Ecclesiastes 7:14; 1 Peter 2:12; John 3:16; Proverbs 9:12; Matthew 5:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Romans 14:12; Matthew 25:21; Luke 12:49-59

In This Series (12)
The Tree of Salvation and How to End on the Right Branch
Todd WagnerSep 13, 2015
How the Bible Preps Us for the Return, the Rapture and the Rupture: Setting Our Heart Not the Date
Todd WagnerAug 30, 2015
How the Bible Preps Us for THAT Day
Todd WagnerAug 23, 2015
How the Bible Preps Us for Loneliness
David PenuelAug 16, 2015
How the Bible Preps Us for Failure
David MarvinAug 16, 2015
How the Bible Preps Us for Doubt
Adam TarnowAug 16, 2015
How the Bible Preps Us for the Future
Harrison RossAug 9, 2015
How the Bible Preps Us for Spiritual Warfare
Blake HolmesAug 9, 2015
How the Bible Preps Us for Perseverance
Drew ZeilerAug 9, 2015
How the Bible Preps Us for Surprises
Rick SmithAug 2, 2015
How the Bible Preps Us for Pornography and Lust
Jonathan PokludaAug 2, 2015
How the Bible Preps Us for Addictions
John ElmoreAug 2, 2015

In This Series (12)

Well, good morning! Hello to my friends in Plano and Fort Worth, and hello again to Dallas. It is awesome to be together. We are wrapping up this Prep series. We have been talking about how to get ready. So that we might do that effectively, we're going to dive in. This morning we're going to talk about the fact that we, even as believers, will face the judgment, and about what we can do to be absolutely ready for that judgment we, as believers, are going to face.

I'm going to remind you of what judgment we won't face. We're going to lay it out for you in a way that will be accessible to you, that you can see visually. What we've done the last several weeks I've been with you on this topic is used Jesus' prep series in Luke, chapter 12. Now I want to read through the very end of Luke 12 so we can get through that, and then we're going to dive into other Scriptures together. Let me show you how Jesus ends this message.

He's been telling stories. He comes back one more time to this same story of, "Hey, listen. There's a Master. He's coming. He's given you responsibility; be faithful with it. There are some of you all who reject him as the Master. That's not going to work out well for you." Then he takes this little pause right here, and you're about to read a section of Scripture you can't believe your Jesus says.

Too many times we have this view of Jesus that he's, "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild. Bring your lambs. Bring your children. Let me get the Velcro up here, put some sheep up, tell you sweet stories, and hold your hands. We'll walk through little mustard seed meadows. We'll heal some people, and we'll speak peace."

Well, listen. He is the Prince of Peace. He came to make peace with you. Why? Because you are at war with a God who is holy in your sin and rebellion. But he came because he hates sin. He came because he loves people, and he wants people to be free from sin and the judgment that is due it. So in his offering of himself and in his revealing of himself, through his words and his works, he said, "Don't miss me. Don't miss the signs." This is what you need to know about Jesus. This is his prep message.

We've covered the first 48 verses, now these are verses 49 and following. This is what he says, "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!" Jesus wasn't distressed… This baptism to undergo was his identification with sin and death so he, in his benevolence and kindness, could offer himself for you in order that the justice of a holy God, who demands a holy and perfect sacrifice, could be satisfied.

How do you satisfy a holy and perfect God? Where are we going to get a holy and perfect sacrifice? Answer: only through that which God himself provides. The visible image of the invisible God in the person of his Son offered for you. He's going to identify with our sin. He's going to go to the cross. He says, "I'm distressed until I do this because until I do this there is no peace between God and men."

Romans 3 says God, in his kindness, has looked over the sins of men for a time, "But all men are still under judgment until I remove them from judgment." Jesus wasn't distressed because he had a whupping coming to him. He was distressed because those whom he loves are separated from him. When you're separated from him, you're not experiencing the love he, as a gracious Father, wants to offer you. So he says, "I'm distressed." He said, "Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth?" You go, "Well, I kinda hope so. That's what I'm hoping you would do."

He says, "Well, you're wrong. I came to create division." What's the division? "For from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law…" I don't know why it didn't say mother-in-law against son-in-law, but it didn't. "…and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

In other words, he's not just saying, "These petty conflicts that happen between people." He's saying, "Look, not everybody in a family is going to agree about who I am, and I am going to create a division in the world. There are going to be people who recognize Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life…not a way; the way. He is the visible image of the invisible God…or they're going to make him into a prophet, a good teacher, a good man, or a fable.

Next week we'll equip you if you come to Dallas, Plano and Forth Worth friends. Next Saturday we're doing an Equipping day, right here, on the historical Jesus. Some of the leading scholars in the world are going to be here with us all day on that training day. Check it out and come.

There's a dividing line about who you say Jesus is. He was saying, then, to the crowds, verse 54, "When you see a cloud rising…" Now watch this. When you see the sign, the harbinger, to use a phrase, "…in the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming,' and so it turns out." I was in the car earlier this morning just after 6 a.m. It was a beautiful sunrise in the east. I was reminded of that little phrase I've heard ever since I was a kid near water, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor's warning."

There are these clouds in the sky the rising sun is projecting off of in the west, and so you know there are potentially storms that day. Jesus said, "You know how to figure that out." He said, "And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, 'It will be a hot day,' and it turns out that way." It's just an expected part of our nomenclature and our vernacular here in Texas to say, "That's a blue norther came in right there." We all know what that means. There's a cold front that's coming in.

"You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time? And why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right?" Now Jesus is specifically talking here about that present time and judging what is right when a guy does the things he is doing, when the sign of the Messiah is the lame would walk, the blind would see. He's doing these things.

That's why he says, "If you don't believe my words, then deal with my works. If you can't figure out what I'm doing… If I walk like a duck and quack like a duck, then maybe I'm a duck! I look just like the Messiah." He said, "I'm going to do one more thing that's going to rather stun you. I'm going to turn my life over to you, you're not going to take it from me, and I'm going to take it back up again on the third day. That ought to tell you something."

So he says, "For while you are going with your opponent to appear before the magistrate, on your way there make an effort to settle with him, so that he may not drag you before the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison." Look, you know when you're at odds with another human and you're going before a judge, you'd better make all the peace you can because when you get before that judge, you don't know what is going to happen.

Jesus is saying, "Listen, if you think you'd better make peace with another human before you get before the judge, you'd better make peace with who I am and what I've come to say." Verse 59: "I say to you, you will not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent." He says,
"There is going to be an accounting, and it all comes down to…Who do you say that I am?"

Now I'm going to show you. It's not just who you say he is, but who you are. In other words, Jesus is saying, "Don't just throw out an idea about me. I'm not looking for a true or false answer to a question about a propositional statement. Truth is a person, and I want you to have a relationship with a person."

It is a dangerous thing to have a said faith and not a saving faith. A said faith is just the understanding that there was a guy named Jesus who lived, that men are generally not good, that God did something about their not-goodness. He sent his Son to die on a cross. You're okay with that cross. You believe Jesus hung on that cross.

You believe he was crucified, dead, and buried for three days. He was raised from the dead, and he ascended eventually to the Father, where he now sits at the right hand of the Father, where he offers life to all who know him until he comes to judge the quick and the dead. You might go, "Todd, I agree with that story."

The question is…Have you ever personally, personally interacted with that Jesus, by saying, "I don't just think the story is true. I think that truth forever has changed my story. My impression of who is God is now fully informed by that story. I'm that sinner. I need that Savior, and I believe this is all about you, Jesus.

I'm going to order my life and set myself up to be reconciled to you by grace, through faith alone, apart from works. You did everything I need to be reconciled to God. But, to show you I have a faith in that and that it's true, my faith is not going to be apart from my working out my salvation. The foundation of my relationship, God, with you is Jesus, but the fruit, the evidence, of that faith is where and how I live." Gang, if there is never any fruit on that foundation, the Bible just says, "Take pause. Take pause."

Now listen, there are applications to this for our day. When Jesus says you should know the signs… A little bit later these same disciples he was talking to at this point said, "Jesus, when will you come and what will be the signs of your coming in the end of the age?" I did a Real Truth. Real Quick. this week that's out right now you can watch, just a very short answer to some of the signs of our times and when Jesus is going to return.

The idea of Jesus returning… And there are some people who are way hyped up about it. This weekend there is this holiday tomorrow, Rosh Hashanah. If you go look at what God is doing in his kingdom program, lining up with Jewish feasts, there is probably eventually going to be something that happens around this time sometime that is going to shake the world. Duly noted.

We've talked a lot about being ready. We've also talked about not making a big deal about what might be true and putting it on the level of what we know to be true. Because if you go all in with what might be true and it doesn't happen, then they're going to not believe there is any truth to go all in on.

What are we to do in light of this? Some people get really scared when I talk about things like the rupture of America, the coming accounting of a country like ours that… By the way, America is about to move someplace beyond its $20 trillion in debt, beyond its slaughter and genocide of people that makes what the Nazis did with the Jews look like… Well, it's fractional.

Beyond our mocking at the morality of God, we are about to do something we have never done before as a nation, and that is to squarely put ourselves in a spot where just say, "We are now of this class of people." That class of people is people who don't care about Israel and God's concern with it.

The Bible says in Genesis 12:1-3 (some of the central verses that explain all of God's working in all of history) to this specific group of people, "Those who bless you, I will bless. Those who curse you, I will curse." If you haven't noticed (if you're reading through the Bible this year), God makes a big deal about treaties, when national leadership formalize relationships. We're about to formalize a relationship with countries that say they exist to annihilate and destroy Israel.

By the way, if that wasn't stupid enough, they go, "And we hate you, and we think you're the Great Satan. You're the reason we can't destroy Israel. So give us $200 billion, and let us develop a nuclear program." We're like, "Well, sure. Who cares if it makes God angry, and who cares if you want to destroy us? Here's a couple of hundred billion. Here's our protection in a treaty to develop that nuclear program." I don't care what else you're watching happening, when that happens, I'm just like, "Wow! What in the world are we doing?"

Take even the Genesis 12 part out of it. What are we doing? This thing called the rupture of America, it scares the death out of people, but listen, my hope is not in America. Can I just tell you something? I said this to some folks last week when I was teaching at the LAUNCH Retreat. I'm going to say it to you now. I want you to hear me. I want you to listen very carefully. I don't sing the national anthem anymore. I don't even sing "God Bless America" anymore. That's not because I'm not a patriot. I love this country.

My Bible tells me to seek the welfare of the city in which I live. I pray God would bless America. I pray our flag would still fly, and it would stand for what our country has always stood for. I'm going to tell you why I don't sing the national anthem. Because whenever the national anthem is played, I bow my head. I thank God for men and women who have given their lives for this country and the freedoms that we have. I pray, as 1 Timothy 2:1-2 tells me to pray, for kings and all those who are in authority.

I don't ask God to bless a country that doesn't walk according to his will and his way. I pray we would repent and we would act in a way that would allow God to bless us. I don't just go through some superficial orthodox creed of "God bless America." I want to go, "Hey, why don't we do what God says he'll bless?" Listen. I don't not sing because I don't love our country. I pray because I love my country.

Sing if you want. God bless you if you want to sing, but I ask you to join me in praying for this country because prayer and repentance are the only things that will keep our country from rupturing. That's just been what I've done. That's just been the best practice for me for about the last three or four years. I pray for our servicemen and women, our political leaders. I pray for me, that I would do what God wants me to do to help this land be ready.

Some of you guys get wrapped around the axle when I start talking about the rupture of America or the rapture, the return of Christ. Let me tell you, if you're fearful, the only reason you would be fearful is because you don't have a relationship with the Master who I tell you is going to come. Or you know the Master, but you are not living in his will. You're involved in what I've called risky business. That will make you scared.

The Bible says, "Don't be fearful. Your hope isn't in America, Todd. You might live in America after America is no longer the land of the free, and guess what? You're still free! Your hope is still coming. Your hope is not that America will live forever, but that I am the King." So what do you do if America is ruptured?

Let me just say this real quick. If you're fearful, I've got two little pieces of advice for you. Either, number one, you don't know your Master, or two, you know he's not going to be happy when he sees you. If you know your Master, and you're at peace with him…

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." I'm not worried that Jesus is going to show up. I'm at peace with God because I've accepted his provision for me. Some of you guys are like, "Todd, I don't just think that's true. I have a personal relationship with God through Jesus." But you're still not excited about his coming because you know he may not be happy with you because you've been distracted with other things.

You're involved right now with risky business. You're not repenting. You're not living with an eternal mindset. All I would say to you is, "Get to know him if you don't know him, and get busy living like you know him. He's coming so you are not fearful." Is that pretty simple? So this morning, if you don't know him, get to know him. If you know him, get busy. Don't get worked up. Get to work. Be ready.

So what do we do? How do we get ready? I'll just say this very quickly to you. As individuals who know he is coming and there might be a rupture… Again, some people have looked to profit off this little timing of the stock market, all this stuff. I told you… Don't look to profit from the stock market. Be wise. Be prudent. But be a prophet. Be a herald of righteousness. Don't act like you know what's going to happen on a specific day. Jesus said, "No one knows the day or the hour, not the angels, not the Son of Man in his humiliation. Only the Father knows."

What I would tell you is if America is ruptured, if God advances judgment on our country, we should be… It is the greatest opportunity in our history to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ because the truth is America will never really pay attention until God shakes them. It's just like most of us. When our financial markets finally crash or our freedoms and liberties finally crash, people are going to want to listen to something else to put their hope in. You should be ready.

You should be like, "That's where I've been. I've been telling you." It's okay if you're prospering, but just be faithful. This is what it says in Ecclesiastes, chapter 7, verse 14, "In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider—God has made the one as well as the other so that man will not discover anything that will be after him." In other words, you're people who know God makes both and used both. If you're prosperous, and this is the land of the free, then we ought to be gracious, making more money, investing more money for kingdom purposes.

If it's a time of crisis, then we go, "Hey, we know how to live in a time of crisis because our hope has never been in this world." Right? Our hope has never been in this world. Our hope is in Jesus. We are aliens and strangers in this world, so we're not going to be upset. Prepare yourself by anchoring your hope in Jesus Christ. Prepare yourself, friends, not just by anchoring your hope in Jesus Christ, but prepare yourself by living out your faith before your neighbor.

First Peter 2:12, "Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you…" You people who say there is a God and that he is coming. "…they may because of your good deeds…" Because you lived your life in light of that truth. "…as they observe them…" And, watch! "You guys really lived like your hope wasn't in America and wasn't in your funding and wasn't in your fun. It was in your faithfulness to your coming King."

When they see the King comes, they should go, "God, thank you for those people who were a constant reminder this world was not to be our home." So in the day God visits them, even if they rejected him…if God is done with us here on earth and he removes us…they go, "You know what? Thank you for those faithful followers of Christ at Watermark and other faithful churches who lived in a way that tells me I know exactly what happened even though the world is trying to put a spin on it. Thank you for them."

Live out your faith faithfully. Prepare your neighbor. That's how you prepare yourself. Prepare your neighbor by sharing your faith and hope with them. Tell them the source of your hope. Look, I say all that, and then I'm going to tell you this. People who are prepping in other ways… I don't know if you've noticed this, but we used to think preppers were crazy people. Now they attract prime time ratings, and everybody wants to go, "What are they doing? Maybe we should learn from them." Watch these 50 seconds on the different kind of preppers who are out there.

I hope they watch, and they learn to prep by listening to Jesus. I hope they can watch you and see that's what a prepper looks like. Look. Do those people look crazy? It looks like they know something is about to happen that nobody else knows is about to happen. That's what you should look like, except not because you're picking up groundhogs and doing pull-ups. It's because the way you walk on this ground is as if you know your joy is not based on what happens whether you're placed in it or serve the people on it.

You're not looking to do pull-ups to make yourself stronger. You acknowledge your weakness, and you profess the strength of Jesus Christ. You're trying to lift him up so others can be drawn to him. That ought to be prime-time living. You ought to be like shining stars in the midst of a dark and perverse generation. Now, gang, here's the truth. Because we have such an amazing assignment, there is an incredible responsibility. I'm going to show you a salvation family tree. Before I do that, I'm going to tell you why I teach the way I do.

I did something I've never done before. I've done, I don't know how many weddings in my life. A lot. Too many, in terms of my appetite for that way to spend a weekend. But I did one this May that was different than any I had ever done. I'm always… Even the one I was in that I was excited about, I was standing at the front, and I was waiting for the bride to come. As a pastor, I'm waiting for the bride to come with the bridegroom, or I was the bridegroom waiting for the bride to come. It's always… You know, I love that moment. No matter what I think about that weekend, I love that moment.

I did something I'd never done before. I was back there with the bride walking the bride up the aisle. This was the last photo my single daughter and I ever took, right before we went down the aisle. All right? My little sweet daughter, Ally. As we hit that deal, as the thing came open… This is that picture where you can see her coming. Look how sweet she is in that picture.

There we are. I just thought to myself, My goodness. I'll tell you what was happening right then in my mind. As I got to the next picture, where I was giving Ally to this 22-year-old punk… I want to tell you something. I love that kid. The only thing I don't like about him is he's a collegiate wrestler, and he can hurt me.

That was not my plan. My plan was for me to be able to hurt my son-in-law. It didn't work out that way. Listen, he's not a punk. He's a godly man, and he's a gift to my daughter, a gift to me, and a model and example to my son. I told Connor, "I pray my sons are as ready to receive a woman as you are ready to receive my daughter." I love Connor. It was a joy to give her to him, but literally, at that first picture as Ally and I were walking up, this is what the Lord said to me.

He goes, "Hey, Todd, listen. I stewarded this woman to you. I love that young man up there. I asked you to shepherd this young girl's heart, to teach her what it means with your wife to be a godly young woman, to serve me, to honor me, to know that, 'Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.' Good job, buddy. Way to go. You weren't a perfect dad, but you did what you could. The direction of your shepherding and guiding of her was good. You did a good job of preparing this bride to go meet that little 22-year-old."

He said, "Can I just tell you something, bro? You better be walking my bride up that aisle, the church, with the same intentionality because you're not dropping off that bride before a 22-year-old wrestler. You are walking my bride to meet me, and you are going to give an account for how you shepherd the flock of God among you." That's what went through my mind at that moment. It was you.

That's why, gang, when I come up here and I teach you, I do it with fear and trepidation. I'm just saying, "Hey, people, I am walking you to meet Jesus, and I'm going to give an account." Can I tell you something? This is a preach-to-the-believers. You're going to give an account for how you did before the Lord in serving his church. This thing called community, it's not just something you have to do to be a member. It's what God calls you to if you're going to be faithful.

What we're going to do is walk you through a salvation tree. I'm going to show you what's before us as clearly as I can. So here we go. There is this thing called the offer of the gift of salvation. "God so loved the world that he offered his only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in him should not perish but come to everlasting life." You have a chance to decide what you want to do with the offer of that gift.

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," Romans 6:23 says. Jesus himself said, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." God pleads with us. He says, "For My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

He says, "I love you. I've come to make peace with you and to make a division in the world." There is a division in the world. On one side, there are a group of people who just say, "No, thank you. I reject you as the Man of God, as the Son of God made flesh." Proverbs 9:12 says to those who say, "No thank you," "If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it." Those groups of people will be judged by works. In other words, since there is no other work they're trusting in, they will be judged based on their own lives.

Here's the problem: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." It's why he says in Matthew, chapter 5, verse 20, "I tell you, you guys think the Pharisees are very righteous? Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees, you're not going to get into heaven. Do you think they're the most spiritual people on earth? They don't even come close. Why? Because Matthew 5:48 says, 'You have to be perfect, just like your heavenly Father is perfect.'"

The Bible says in James, chapter 2, verse 10, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he is a law-breaker. He's guilty of breaking the law." Everybody has sinned. Romans 3:12 says, "All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." Listen, all that's saying is if you say, "No thank you" to God's provision to be reconciled to him, you're going to be judged with your resume. And your resume will not be good enough.

You want to know how good good enough is? It's not never missing church. It's not being a philanthropist. It's not being chaste. It's not being monogamous. It's not being heterosexually monogamous. It's not being kind to the poor among you. It's perfection. I have to tell you, guys, I've never met somebody who said, "Well, that's great, Todd. That's why I've been living my life this way. I'm ready."

I've done this for a long time, and I've never heard anybody say, "Okay, if that's true, I'm still good." Everybody kinda goes, "Well, I don't know if that's true, but if that is true, I'm in trouble." And you are in trouble. You're in trouble to the point of being cast in what the Bible calls the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. I think this is the single most horrifying verse in your entire Bible.

When I taught a series called The Most, I went through a bunch of different most verses. I called this the most awful verse in the Bible. It talks about the people who reject who Christ is. It says, "These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power." I'm going to tell you (I've said this before), don't tell me, "Well, if I go to hell, Todd, at least I'll be in hell with all the other party animals."

No you won't, because friends are a gift from God. There will be nothing there that will remind you of his kindness, so you can scratch friends off the list. Sex is a gift of God. You can pervert it and use it your own way right now, for your own temporal satisfaction, but when you're away from the presence of God, you'll be away from all the presence of his gifts. You can scratch sex off the eternal list in hell.

You'll be away from sleep. You'll be away from death because death would even be a gift. Wouldn't death be a gift if things weren't going well? Yeah. Scratch that off the list. "Well, at least I'll have good loud music, you know. I'll be down there rockin'." No you won't. Music is a gift from God. We can use music to pull our affections other places.

"Okay, well at least, Todd, I'll be down there in my induced drug and alcohol state." No. No. No. God created drugs. We can use them for good or we can use them for harm. Fruit of the vine… That's God's gift. We can either become drunk with it, or we can use the vine appropriately. So scratch sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll off the list. Scratch friends off the list. Scratch sleep off the list. I'm like, "Boy, that's a pretty dark place you're describing." Yeah. I would call it hell, and God doesn't want you to go there.

Right now, believers and non-believers alike are benefiting from the benevolence of God. He's holding the whole world together. We may not choose to live in this broken world underneath his benevolence, and so we still benefit some from the fact that it's there. But there's going to be a day when he says, "Hey, thy will be done. You want nothing to do with me? Thy will by done. Go. Forever."

On the other side of this tree of salvation, there are people who hear of the gift of salvation. They say, "Yes, please. Yes, please!" And they are saved by grace. The Bible says, "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit." Christ alone. We sang that. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." God just gives us the gift of salvation. "Yes, please, God. Yes. Give me the gift of salvation."

I want to say this to you real quick right here because this is really a scary part. It's about to branch off two more times. Now look. You need to realize there is a part of this family tree that goes off to the right as you look at it. There are people who go, "True! True! Yes, Lord. I think you can save people!" I would just say to you, beware of delusion, that you would know the Lord's name, you would know the Lord's story, but you don't know him.

Jesus says there are those people who are out there. Some of them are in pulpits. Some of them are in churches today. Many of them call themselves Christian. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter." That's not me; that's not me trying to intimidate you. Those letters are in red in your Bible. Matthew 15:8 says there are people who honor him with their lips, but their heart is far from him.

Let me just tell you something. Beware that it is possible you are deluded, that you're just a true proposition person and not a true relationship person, that he is by profession God but he is not by a possession of a relationship with him God. "How do I know? How do I know?" Well, Jesus says, "He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me." It doesn't mean perfectly. It just means you abide with him, and you are focused on him. You're not just showing up. You're not just going through some ceremonial part of things Christians do.

You really desire to honor him. You ask other people in your life, "Would you watch me? Would you rebuke me? Would you admonish me? Would you encourage me?" You make yourself subject to elders. You make yourself a part of community. You discover, develop, and deploy your gifts. You invest in eternal things. You look forward to his coming. You're not rattled by the rupture of the country you live in. That's how.

Watch this. Underneath this thing, back down to this: we're saved by grace. Here's the news though. We'll still be judged by works. There's still going to be a judgment by works. Listen. I've said this before. Salvation is always won on the basis of God's work for humanity. That's how salvation is won. But rewards are always done and given on the basis of our work for God. I'm going to teach you about rewards here. This is how you can be ready so you might receive the reward.

Let me just say this to you again. Our work for God is never a substitute for God's work for us. There is nothing in me. I stand before the Lord, and he's going to say, "Todd, what do you got?" I'm going to say, "I got nothing but Jesus," and as many of the words of "In Christ Alone" as I can remember, I'm going to start singing.

I'm going to say, "I've got Jesus. That's all I've got. I don't have Watermark. I don't have giving. I don't have faithfulness to my wife. I am a wretch. You are holy; I am not. Jesus died for me, and I rejoiced in that. I tried to respond to it as best as I could, but, Lord, you know what a rebel I am in my heart. You know I was prone to leave the God I love. You know how I did many good things. But any good thing I did was because Christ was living in me, and I was yielding to him in that moment. All I've got is Christ."

Now there's going to be some stuff that happens besides that because the Bible does say in 2 Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ." This is what I'm talking about here. I'm going to be judged before the judgment seat of Christ. I didn't share it, but Matthew 16:27 is Jesus saying again, "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds."

So watch this. He comes, we're reconciled to him, and there's going to still be a rewarding and a repayment based on our deeds. If I don't have a relationship with him, there's going to be repayment according to our deeds of sin. We already covered that one. Now we're here. Before now I'm at the judgment of sons, as servants. I'm already saved. I'm already rightly related to God by genuine faith.

Let me read it to you this way. Romans 14 talks about this. It says, "But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God." Romans 14:12: "So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God." This is written to believers. We will give an account. This is called the bema seat. A bema is just a Greek word for a stand. It's where an athlete would go and stand before the judges. They would receive reward.

Nobody would get a scolding at this particular point. They would receive rewards for what they had done. They're already an athlete. They're already in the Olympics. Now the race is over. They competed according to the rules, and they go to receive their reward. Some have competed more nobly than others, so they will receive rewards.

Don't you want to be ready for that? I do. That's why I'm teaching you this. I'm walking you down the aisle. My job is for when you show up it's not like, "Well done. You made it by the skin of your teeth." No. I want to walk you down the aisle, and I want the Lord to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant! That was awesome! Well done. Not only were you not deluded, you were faithful. You were gettin' it done. Get 'r done." I don't know if Larry the Cable Guy will be there or not. "He got 'r done, Lord," but that would be awesome to hear.

Now watch. Underneath the servants, as sons, there's another part of a family tree. On the left and the right there's an eternal difference between these two things, but there's also an eternal difference between this branch over here. On one side…this is the one we want to be ready for…it's just that you're ready. You're going to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant." You were ready. You prepped. You prayed. You preached. You lived as a prophet, not for earthly profit.

This is Matthew 25:21, "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things.'" This is Luke 12:37, "Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them." This is Luke 12:44, "Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions." And that's going to be a great and glorious day.

Now look, there's another side to this family tree over here. Some servants are going to be judged this way. This is 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, "Now if any man builds on the foundation…" Watch this. There is no foundation a man can build on other than the finished work of Jesus Christ. That's our only foundation. But look, the way you know that's your foundation is you set roots in that foundation.

When you set roots in that foundation, it should bear fruit. If you set your roots and something happens where there's no fruit, there is one of two choices there. Either you're deluded, and that wasn't really your foundation…you had a said faith, not a saving faith…or something went terribly wrong.

The Bible says, "Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as though through fire." I don't want you to be saved as yet through fire. I want you to be mightily saved and mightily ready.

Team, this is why… By the way, how do I know? "Todd, how do I know what works are going to persevere and which ones are going to get washed up?" Answer: "Without faith it's impossible to please [God] ." It says those who come to God must come by faith. The things we do, we must do by faith. Anything you're doing that you would just do anyway whether Jesus was coming back or not, and not really because of faith in him, it's just worthless, but if you live your life…

If you give because of your love for Jesus, if you love your wife because of your love for Jesus, if you choose to be chaste because of your love for Jesus, if you have a noble character because of your love for Jesus, if you say no to sin because of your love for Jesus, if "the life which you now live, you live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and delivered himself up for you," it'll be rewarded. Not if you live a moral life. Not if you're societally acceptable. Not if you do it because it makes you feel good. If you do it to honor Jesus as best you can. That's how you do it.

"Without faith it's impossible to please [God]. " Therefore, it will be burned up. That's why we don't do random acts of kindness. That's why everything we do, we do in the name of the Lord. That's why when we give, we don't give for a tax benefit. It's okay that we get one in our country. Our country was wise to incentivize people to be noble, but if you're not incentivized to be noble by this, it'll be burned up.

Application…How do we get ready for the coming? He's coming. I'm telling you, Jesus is coming. Don't be a date-setter. This should sound familiar to you. Be like Ezra. Ezra set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it and to teach it. Did you get that? Four things. Set your heart after the Word of God. Study it. Practice it. Teach it. Don't be a fear monger; be a Christ follower.

Don't be one of those people who say, "Ah. What does what I do in the middle of the week have to do with what I do right now?" The answer is everything, because everything has to do with Jesus. Don't be a doomsayer. Be a disciple-maker. Who are people who know Jesus because of you? And not only know Jesus because of you, but who are learning to do everything he commanded them because of you?

Who are the men you are going to bring? Who are the people who are going to say, "You know that guy? You know that broken individual? Jesus, that guy was your vessel to teach me about who you were and to raise me up into righteousness. He was the guy who walked me down the aisle to you."? Do you have anybody like that? Here's what I would tell you. If you don't have somebody like that, come let us equip you so you can do that.

"The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." Come to Equipped Disciple. We'll teach you. Who are you going to bring? Who are your men? Who are your women? I'm going to remind you. Don't you confuse speculations with Scripture. You stand firm where God's Word is firm. You be ready. You preach the Word. You endure persecution. You love others. You serve others. You put your hope in Christ alone.

I'll just close with this. This is a way Paul said it in Romans 13:8-14. "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, 'you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" Because of Jesus is implied.

"Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts."

My friends last week with me at the LAUNCH had a little prayer room. They didn't just want to go have a great weekend; they wanted to launch into faithfulness. So in the prayer room, one of the things they did to be strong in the life of ministry and worship is there was a chance to go in there and write down some different things about what they're going to do so they can commit to being faithful, to being strong in the life of ministry and worship.

All around all of our campuses, we have boards out there and we have Sharpies. I want you to spur the saints on to love and good deeds. Today, all week long when you're up here, next week when you come, we're going to fill these boards up. I hope you walk by them, and you see other people and the things they say they're going to do to motivate you and to encourage you, that they're getting after it and being faithful. I hope you're spurred on. Take some time.

There are six boards in Dallas. There are three in Plano. There are a couple in Forth Worth. We're going to fill them up, and we're going to leave them around here. I hope you walk by it every now and then, and you go, "That's an idea. That's what I can do to get ready." Somebody might even put their phone number down there. "Hey, I'm looking to disciple somebody so I can be ready. Are you clueless? Call me." All right?

Somebody might say, "I'm going to go Equipped Disciple. Who wants to join me? I'm looking for a community; someone get in there with me." Fill the board up with what you're going to do. Amen? Don't just fill the board up. Let's just be biblical people. Let's be who God wants us to be so we can say, "Hosanna. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, and blessed is he who is ready."

Father, I thank you for my friends. We're wrapping up this series. We want to walk each other up, Lord. We want to walk each other up in the presence of our Bridegroom. We want to say, "Lord Jesus, here's your church. Here I am, adorned in the righteousness of Christ. Here are others who, by the grace of God, your Spirit working in me has brought." Father, help us to be the church.

If there is somebody here this morning who is not ready because they don't know when you come that you're blessed, I pray this morning they would repent and get ready because that day is coming, that they would awake. Lord, help the rest of us to be faithful, like you're coming tomorrow on Rosh Hashanah. Let us be faithful.

If you give us the privilege of serving you for decades still, let us be ready. I pray this church would be faithful, that we would seek first your kingdom and your righteousness. Thank you, Lord, that you prep us through what Christ has done on the cross, and you provide for us through what the Spirit provides in our lives. We love you. Amen.