Luke 19:11-44 Right Gentle … for Now
(Final Message in Ecclesiastes Series)

Ecclesiastes Part 18
   - Judgment Day
   - Fear of God
  - Palm Sunday

  
Gentle…for Now
Ecclesiastes Part 18
Luke 19:11-44         4-13-2014
 
 
 
Introduction
 
Triumph or Tears?
 
When you think of Palm Sunday and Jesus’ Triumphal Entry riding into Jerusalem on a colt, what kind of picture do you have in your mind? Do you imagine all of Jerusalem coming out, waving palm branches, shouting “hosanna!...” and Jesus with a huge smile on His face as finally He is receiving the praise and honor that He is due? That never happened. Jesus rode into Jerusalem, but He was most certainly not smiling. According to Luke 19:41, He was weeping. Wasn’t this His big Triumphal Entry? No, the Triumphal Entry never happened. He rode into Jerusalem on a colt - not in triumph; but rather in tears. Palm Sunday was a very somber, heartbreaking, tragic day.
 
The Bible never uses the phrase “Triumphal Entry.” It is just a traditional phrase to describe what happened on Palm Sunday, but there are two problems with that phrase. First, it wasn’t triumphal. And second, the word “entry” is the opposite of the word the Bible uses. It was neither triumphal nor was it mainly an entry. And to explain what I mean by that I need to show you something about the structure of the gospel of Luke.
 
The Structure of Luke – It Is All about the Exit
 
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are all biographies of the life of Jesus. But as biographies go they are a little unusual in that they focus mostly on the final weeks of His life. Luke is a long book – 24 chapters. And Luke covers Jesus’ birth, 30 years of life, and His final three years of public ministry in chapters 1-8.
 
By chapter 9 we are only one-third of the way through the book, but Luke is already telling us about the very end of Jesus’ life. Luke 9 is a very pivotal chapter in the book of Luke. If you want to understand Luke you have to understand chapter 9. Starting in verse 28 we read about an event known as the Transfiguration, where Jesus’ went up on a mountain, His appearance changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning, and Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. Have you ever wondered what they were talking about? I can tell you.  It is in verse 31.
 
Luke 9:31 They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.
 
Notice that word departure. Moses and Elijah miraculously appeared with Jesus, and the three of them had a conversation about Jesus’ dramatic exit from this world, which would be brought to fulfillment in Jerusalem. Then what did Jesus do? Skip down to verse 51.
 
Luke 9:51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.
 
So the great, dramatic exit from this world that Moses and Elijah were talking with Jesus about, this grand exit that would take place in Jerusalem – would be an exit from this world so He can go to heaven. Jesus would leave through the exit door marked “Jerusalem” and would be taken up to heaven. And so in Luke 9 Jesus looked at His watch and said, “Wow, it’s almost time for My departure. I’d better get to Jerusalem,” and it says Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And everything from Luke 9 to chapter 19 all takes place during this final journey to Jerusalem where Jesus is going to make His grant exit. So all through the heart of this gospel Luke has us anticipating – Jerusalem! Things come up that attempt to distract Jesus. He even gets a summons from the King – but Jesus says, “No, I’m on My way to Jerusalem.” He would not be deterred, distracted, redirected, detained – no detours; He is headed directly to Jerusalem where His great departure would take place. And all through those 10 chapters Luke keeps mentioning geographical landmarks that remind the reader that we are getting closer and closer to Jerusalem.
 
And in chapter 19, after 10 long chapters of suspense, that journey finally ends on Palm Sunday. By this time a large crowd of disciples were traveling with Him. And that crowd was excited. All their lives they had read in the Scriptures about how the Messiah, son of David, would someday arrive and take the throne in Israel and lead the nation into a glorious age of peace and joy. And the throne of David would be established in Jerusalem, the city of David, the capital of Israel, Mt. Zion, the city of God. And after all this talk about Jerusalem, they are thinking, “Finally, it’s about to happen!” The Messiah is about to enter into the city of David and set up His eternal, glorious kingdom promised throughout the Old Testament! They were fully expecting a triumphal entry in Jerusalem. It is no surprise that they thought that .On this whole, 10-chapter journey to Jerusalem Jesus had been preaching about the kingdom. It is no great shock that His disciples figured the full, final form of the kingdom would appear as soon as He entered the holy city.
 
A Correcting Parable
 
When Jesus saw that this is what His followers were thinking, He corrected them with a parable.
 
Luke 19:11 he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.
 
The man in this parable is of noble birth, but he is not king yet. In order to be crowned king he has to travel to this distant country. He is going to be gone a long time. Jesus wants them to understand – He is not here to make a grand entrance. He is here to make a grand exit. He is like a nobleman who left his servants and his subjects and his realm to go on a long journey. But before he leaves we read about two different groups of people – the servants and the subjects. The servants are in verse 13 and the subjects are in verse 14.
 
13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ 14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
 
His servants are given a task, and the subjects voice their rejection of him as their king. Now, if you do that, you had better hope the guy does not end up becoming king.
 
15 He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
 
That is the part we looked at last week. Some servants got more reward than others based on their faithfulness. But all were generously and lavishly rewarded except for the one who did nothing with his mina. He cared so little about this king and advancing his interests, that he just set the mina aside and did nothing with it. And that servant is harshly rebuked and gets no reward at all.
 
All of that takes up most of the parable, and by the time you get through all that you have pretty much forgotten about the subjects. But Luke reminds you in the closing verse of the parable.
 
27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.
 
They could have had lavish reward like the others, but they chose instead to rebel and reject this man as their king. So his first act as king is to reward the ones who were loyal, and his second act was to have all those who rejected him as king slaughtered in front of him.
 
So there you are, standing in the crowd of Jesus’ followers, listening to that story. The guy next to you leans over, “Why do you think He told that story? What is His point?”
 
“I’m not sure. It’s a story about three categories of people – faithful servants (who are lavishly rewarded at various levels), an unfaithful servant is who rebuked and gets no reward at all, and the subjects who rejected him as king who are slaughtered at his return. And all this takes place after a long delay while he is crowned king in distant country. Hmmm. I’m not sure what to make of that story. If Jesus is the king in the story, what is that long delay he is talking about? And where is this distant land where he is going to be crowned king? And who are these subjects who reject him as king and are slaughtered? Maybe He will explain it further when we get into town.”
 
Praise from the Servants
 
Well, at this point we see the familiar events that we think of in connection with Palm Sunday. Jesus commandeers a colt and rides into town. Riding into Jerusalem on a colt was an unmistakable message. That was how David installed Solomon on the throne during a rebellion when someone else was trying to take the throne. He sent him through Jerusalem riding a colt to make it clear he was the true king. For Jesus to do that exact same thing was a clear statement, “I am the Messiah, the son of David, and like it or not, I am going to reign as your king.”
 
Now right here is where most people miss what happens. There is a crowd waving palm branches and shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” There was a crowd that did that, but it was not the people of Jerusalem. Look carefully at what God’s Word actually says.
 
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives…
 
(This is prior to entering the city)
 
… the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:  38 "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
 
These are Jesus followers - the people who had been traveling with Him all along. And that is confirmed in verse 39.
 
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
 
At this point Jesus has not even entered Jerusalem yet. He is still approaching.
 
The people of Jerusalem were not a fickle crowd that praised Him on Sunday and then rejected him on Friday. They never did praise Him. In the next three verses Jesus pronounces judgment on them for rejecting Him.[1] Jesus’ disciples praised Him. And Jesus accepted that praise, by the way. The Pharisees said, “Rebuke them!” (because they were giving Jesus praises that are only fitting for God Himself). And Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you’re right. I’m just a regular human being – they shouldn’t be worshipping me.” No – that is not what He said.
 
40 "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." 
 
“It’s so imperative that I be worshipped, that if they stop, the rocks would pick up where they left off.”
 
People who say Jesus never claimed to be God have not read the Bible (at least not with their eyes open).
 
Palm Sunday was not a triumphal entry, it was the beginning of Jesus’ exit from this world to go to a far off place to be crowned king. Jesus was going to die, rise from the dead, ascend into heaven, and there He would be declared with power to be the Son of God (Ro.1:4). After a long delay He would return. and when He returns, it is going to be Judgment Day for everyone – both the servants (who wanted Him as king) and the subjects (who rejected Him as king). The servants will be evaluated based on their service and faithfulness in furthering the king’s interests with the resources He entrusted to each of them. The subjects will be brought before Him and slaughtered.
 
Sorrow for the Subjects
 
Why? Is Jesus some vindictive, angry tyrant who takes pleasure in punishing His enemies? Look at the next verse.
 
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 
 
The word translated wept in verse 41 is literally “wailed.” It is a term that emphasizes the noise being made. This is not just a few sniffles and dabbing His eye a little bit. These are loud sobs and heaves of sorrow. Jesus is not riding into town triumphantly grinning from ear to ear, falling for some phony, fickle praises of unbelievers. He is riding into town wailing and sobbing in heartbroken grief.
 
You can imagine the crowd of disciples at this point in stunned silence at this point. The only sound is the “clop, clop” of the hooves of the colt and the loud sobbing from Jesus.
 
“Why is He crying?”
 
Because He was about to die? No. These were tears of compassion. It was not about what was going to happen to Him; it was about what was going to happen to Jerusalem. He knew they were going to reject Him as king, which means they were going to have to be punished, and it broke His great, infinite heart of love.
 
In verses 43-44 He goes on to describe the bloodbath that would take place in Jerusalem 40 years later, in 70 AD. The Romans came, surrounded them, starved them out for four years, then went in and slaughtered everyone – young, old, men, women, children – no mercy. But that is not the worst part. The worst part is that was just an illustration of the final judgment that would take place when Jesus returns as King at the Second Coming. Seventy AD did not exhaust all of God’s wrath. It was just a very limited picture of final judgment.
 
As I studied this I had to ask: Why is it that there are not loud sobs and streams of tears of compassion flowing from my eyes whenever I preach on hell or Judgment Day? God forgive me for being so heartless and dull and falling so far short of Jesus’ compassion. Oh, that I were more like Him.
 
Gentle … for Now
 
In the ancient mid-east, when a king gave a peaceful visit to a city, he would ride a donkey. Don’t think of a donkey as a lowly, humiliating thing. Believe it or not, a donkey was a royal mount. It did not diminish a king’s greatness or majesty, but what it did do was send a message that the king was coming in peace. When Jesus rode in on this donkey He was saying, “I am going to be crowned as your king, and I’m coming now gently, peacefully, patiently – not to judge but to save … for now. But that will not always be the case. I’m going to depart, I’ll be crowned King, and after a long delay I will come again. And when I return, there is literally going to be hell to pay for anyone who is not a faithful servant. Next time I won’t be on a donkey. I will be riding a war horse, and I will have to bring judgment on all who were not faithful servants while I was gone.” And He broke down in tears.
 
What happened on Palm Sunday was not the Triumphal Entry; it was the tearful exit. It was the king weeping in heartbroken compassion for the subjects who were inviting disaster upon themselves by rejecting His kingship. But make no mistake – the Triumphal Entry is a reality. It has not happened yet, but it will. Jesus was crucified, rose from the dead, and made His exit from this world, He was taken up into heaven, gloriously crowned King, and is going to return to establish His reign, reward His faithful servants, and punish His enemies.
 
Matthew 24:29 Immediately after the distress of those days " 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'  30 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
 
Is Jesus gentle and patient? Yes…for now. But not forever.
 
Punishment of the Subjects
 
Human Rebellion
 
The rebellion of mankind against God is described in Psalm 2.
 
Psalm 2:3 "Let us break their chains," they say," and throw off their fetters."
 
The idea is that God and His Messiah rule, but they regard that rule as being like chains and fetters that they want to break free of. They want to be captains of their own lives. They want to decide what will make them happy, they want to decide what will ultimately be best for them, and they want to live their lives for those things rather than for God. They trust themselves and their way more than they trust God and His way.
 
This is mankind declaring, “We will not have this king to reign over us.” So there is a revolutionary war going on against God. 
 
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
 
He sees this uprising and says, “What kind of a lame attempt at an uprising is that?”
 
5 Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, 6 "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."
 
That is Jesus being crowned King.
 
9 You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery."
 
The last two weeks I preached about Judgment Day, mainly focusing on what it will be like for believers. But most of what Scripture says about Judgment Day has to do with what will happen to unbelievers on that Day.
 
The Awesome Throne
 
In Revelation 20:4 we read about the resurrection of the righteous (which Jesus said will be the time when we get our rewards as His servants – Lk.14:14). Then, 1000 years later, the rest of the dead come to life.
 
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne … 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them
 
Every human being who has ever existed since the beginning of time is now raised from the dead. Can you imagine the scene – billions and billions of human beings all gathered there before God’s throne? As amazing as that would be to see, there is something a lot more amazing. At the beginning John does not even notice all those billions of people, because there is something much greater that captures his attention. Look at the first thing John notices:
 
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.
 
Scripture is very clear that the Judge on this throne is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, who has been crowned with ultimate glory. And that throne is so awesome that all of humanity is nothing next to it. Isaiah says all the nations are a drop in a bucket compared to God. The judgment throne of Christ is so awesome that he says Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. It is so massive and powerful and awesome that the earth and the sky saw it and got scared to death. Everyone there will cower in fear before this great throne, and they will want to hide but will not be able to. People think they are going to tell God a thing or two on that day – they will not. Jesus will tell them a thing or two and then sentence them and it will be over. In His humiliation, when He came gently offering terms of peace, Jesus stood before Pilate. But here Pilate will stand before Him. So will Herod and Caesar and President Obama and every other human being who ever existed. This throne towers over every other authority or power. It carries universal jurisdiction over the entire created order. It overrides every decision of every other being. Its summons is irresistible. Its verdicts are final. It cannot be overturned. All of its judgments and verdicts are perfect. There will be no argument. Every mouth will be shut. Why? Because of the books.
 
The Books
 
Revelation 20:12 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.
 
These books contain the record of all our sins – every last one. No sin will be overlooked. God is keeping meticulous records so that the perfection of His verdicts can be clearly seen by all. Countless sins that you have long forgotten – things you thought you got away with - they are all written in His books. And they will be brought up against you for judgment. The documentation will be right there – that is why every mouth will be silenced.
 
Only Two Possible Verdicts
 
Jesus described Judgment Day in a parable in Matthew 25.
 
Matthew 25:46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
 
If your name is recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life, then those other books will show that you lived your life for Jesus Christ. You weren’t perfect, but the whole goal and trajectory of your life was to bring Him honor. And you will receive eternal life.
 
Romans 2:6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
 
“But what about those people who are Christians – they invited Jesus into their heart as their personal Lord and Savior, but they haven’t lived for Christ - they haven’t followed Him? What about them?”
 
Those are the people in Matthew 7.
 
Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
 
If they didn’t live a life devoted to carrying out the desires of God, their relationship with God is a mirage. Those people who have invited Jesus into their heart as their own personal Lord and Savior, and they meant it with all their heart – but they did not really follow Jesus as a disciple – those people are in for a surprise. Jesus is going to call them evildoers.
 
Does that mean true Christians are perfect? No, not even close. But it does mean our whole life is a striving to follow the Word of God, and when we fail, we repent and turn back to God. And when a person lives like that, that is proof that the person has true faith and is in Christ. And if you are in Christ, all your sins are forgiven and there is no condemnation for you on Judgment Day like there will be for everyone else. Because you have earned it? No! Because if your life is marked by Christ-honoring words and deeds, that is proof that there is a change inside you – a born-again heart. But if there isn’t a life that proves you were in Christ, that means your name is not in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
 
Condemnation
 
15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
 
What happens in the lake of fire?
 
10 …They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
 
When I said a minute ago there will be hell to pay – I am not using that as a figure of speech. I would never use that as a figure of speech because hell is way too serious a matter to minimize it by comparing it to our little hardships in this life. The subjects of this King who did not accept His rule are punished with the ultimate punishment. There is no such thing as Purgatory. There is no second chance. Your fate on Judgment Day is sealed the moment you die. Nothing can change after that.
 
Hebrews 9:27 man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment
 
Some people teach that they will not be tormented forever. Instead they will just go out of existence.
 
Matthew 25:46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
 
The punishment of the lost is just as eternal as the life of the saved. And it is not the punishment of extinction, but the punishment of torment. In fact, if you skip ahead to the very end – the eternal state where believers are all enjoying the New Jerusalem in eternity – the wicked still exist.
 
Revelation 22:15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
 
I included a more detailed argument against annihilation in the appendix of the sermon notes because this is an issue that is becoming more and more clouded in our day. Hell seems so incredibly harsh. Unending torment with no possibility of relief ever, for all eternity – that is just too horrible to even think about.
 
The Wrath of God
 
They say it contradicts the very nature of God? Would a loving, kind, gentle, compassionate God really do that to anyone? It does not seem like He would because in our culture we have such a diminished understanding of God’s greatness, holiness, justice, and wrath. When our culture invents what they think of as the best possible god, they invent Santa Claus - someone who is nothing but jolly, happy, and useful for giving us the things we want, but who never interferes with our lives in any way or makes any demands on us. And they want to imagine God is like that.
 
He is not. The true God is awesome. God is infinitely good, which means He has to have infinite wrath against evil. If you see someone torture a little baby, and that makes you laugh – you are an evil person. If it bothers you only a little bit, you are still a bad person but not quite as bad as the first guy. The better person you are, the more it will bother you if you see a baby being tortured. God is infinitely good, which means He has an infinite wrath against evil.
 
Not only that, but the more worthy the person you sin against, the more serious the sin. If you step on a cockroach, no one cares. But if you strangle a cat, that’s more serious.  Why? Because a cat is a higher being than a cockroach. If a rapist gets punched in the nose, we don’t get too worked up over that. But if an innocent little baby gets punched, that is outrageous. The degree of evil is measured by how innocent the victim is. If you hurt someone who is innocent, that’s bad. But what if the person is not only innocent, but especially deserving of good treatment? What if a soldier throws himself on a grenade to save his comrades and ends up losing both his legs, and he comes home in a wheelchair and people spit on him? That is even worse than spitting on an innocent person. This man deserves honor, and so to spit on him is especially evil.
 
Who is the most deserving, most worthy being in existence? God. So to do any kind of dishonor to God is the worst conceivable evil and deserves the most extreme punishment. God is infinitely worthy, and so to dishonor Him is a crime that deserves an infinite punishment.
 
The reason hell seems too extreme to us is because we have such a low view of the worthiness and goodness of God. God’s wrath against evil is awesome. Adam and Eve committed one, single sin and God condemned the entire universe – shattered it with a curse. And you and I have committed more sins than we can even conceive of. We have thought blasphemous thoughts, vile thoughts – thoughts so wicked you would not admit them to your closest friend.
 
And so when Judgment Day comes, every defendant will know better than to even try to offer excuses, because everything will be brought to light so that the wickedness of our sin will be so manifestly obvious and every one of our excuses will be so clearly invalid that it won’t even cross our minds to try to offer them. For the condemned there will be no defense, no appeal, no parole, no partiality, no favoritism, no mercy, no grace, no compassion. And if you are not a follower and disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ today, take this sermon as fair warning. It is God’s mercy and grace and patience that has brought you here today to hear this so that you can repent and be forgiven before it’s too late.
 
This world is filled with fools who are betting their eternal destiny on the idea that there will be no final judgment - no ultimate accountability or justice. They are risking their eternal destiny on the idea that their Creator can be safely ignored. They have convinced themselves that when Almighty God issues a command – it is optional. They have convinced themselves that it is ok for them to pass judgment on God’s commands – picking and choosing the ones they like and don’t like. The insanity of that presumption will be obvious on that Day, but it will be too late. And as soon as the Judgment begins, it will be instantly clear that God is not grading on a curve. You won’t be able to say, “Well, at least I didn’t do that,” or, “I wasn’t as bad as that guy.” It is not a relative judgment. Every moment of your life will be measured against the standard of the perfect holiness of God. And every point that falls short of that will be severely punished forever.
 
Terms of Peace
 
How can God be loving and compassionate, and also just and holy and full of wrath? If you want to see what that looks like, just look at Jesus. He rides into Jerusalem wailing in sorrow. You tell me – if there is no wrath to come, what is there for Him to weep about? And if there is no love, why is He not laughing over the coming judgment on His enemies? The nature of the Lord Jesus Christ goes out to the infinite extreme of justice and wrath over sin, and the infinite extreme of love and compassion, and the intersection of those two extremes in the heart of Jesus brings Him to ride into town waving a flag of peace, but warning of coming wrath.
 
Please notice what it is Jesus came to offer:
 
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it  42 and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace
 
The phrase translated what would bring you peace appears one other place in the Bible – a few chapters earlier in Luke 14:32. That is where Jesus tells the parable of a king who, if he determines he doesn’t have enough forces to meet the opposing enemy will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. That phrase terms of peace is the identical phrase. Before the day of wrath arrives, in His first coming Jesus came to offer terms of peace. The picture here as Jesus approaches Jerusalem for the last time is that a king is coming to a rebellious city, a hotbed of resistance against His rightful authority. And instead of wiping them out the king is willing to grant amnesty - a full pardon if they will just agree to His terms of peace.
 
What are the Terms?
 
So what are those terms? First of all, they are whatever the King says they are. It is not a debate, it is not a discussion, it is not a vote. We are the guilty rebels; He is the merciful King giving us another chance – He decides the terms.
 
And what has He decided? He demands that you give up something that is worthless in exchange for something that is priceless. The worthless thing that He requires you to give up is the car keys of your own life -.Independence from God. That is so precious to us that many people would rather die than give that up. They would rather die than submit to God’s commands, because calling their own shots is so precious to them.
 
But in reality, it is worthless. My own life, with me in the driver’s seat, is worthless. The places I would drive this car will not bring me ultimate happiness, and they will not bring honor to God, which means my life will be utterly worthless, wasted, and of no ultimate value. Me hanging onto the car keys of my life is the weapon of my seditious rebellion against God. He created me, my life belongs to Him, and so taking my life for myself is like stealing from Him and committing treason.
 
The terms of peace are for me to lay down the weapons of my rebellion (the rebellion of self-determination), and exchange that for something that is priceless, namely, favor from God. And not just a little bit of favor – the same favor He has for His Son, Jesus Christ. That means everything Jesus gets, I get. Every bit of affection God has for Jesus, He has for me. It means all my sins are forgiven and Jesus’ perfect life is credited to my account.
 
Those are the terms. And how is this exchange made? Through faith. If I just simply trust Jesus Christ – so much so that I entrust my entire life to His hands, and I let Him call the shots in my life instead of me, and if I trust Him to the point where when I read His Word, the Bible, I do not decide whether to accept what it says on a case-by-case basis – if the Bible says it, then I accept it as truth, period – if I trust Him in that way, I will no longer be His enemy and will instead be at peace with God.
 
Conclusion
 
There is nothing more certain than Judgment Day.
 
The only thing that is not decided yet is if you are a subject or a servant. And if you are a servant – what kind of servant? If you are not living your life for the glory and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ, take this sermon as yet another instance of His compassion and patience and love for you, giving you yet another chance to have your name written in the book and escape the Judgment before it is too late.
 
And if you are a servant, are you a faithful servant, who will be richly rewarded for what you have done for His kingdom with the resources entrusted to you? Or is your mina buried somewhere collecting dust?
 
And if you are exempt from the wrath to come because you are a faithful servant, what is your attitude toward those all around you who are rocketing toward Judgment Day without knowing the Lord Jesus Christ?  Is there enough Jesus-like compassion to break your heart, and to urgently warn them and to let them know about the terms of peace?
 
 
 
Benediction: Philippians 3:19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
 
 
 
Application Questions (James 1:25)
 
How certain are you that your name will be found in the Lamb’s Book of Life on Judgment Day? And why?
 
The nobleman gave minas to his servants and told them to put them to work until he returned. What are some “minas” (resources) that the Lord has given you to use for His purposes until He returns?
 
Which aspects of your life prove that you have a strong belief that Judgment Day really will happen, and which aspects would seem to reflect a heart that has forgotten about Judgment Day?
 
 
 

Appendix: Eternal Torment or Annihilation?
 
 
 
The doctrine of anihilationism (sometimes called conditionalism or conditional immortality) holds that the wicked will ultimately be consumed by the fire of hell and go out of existence altogether. The primary evangelical voice arguing in favor of this view has been Robert Fudge.
 
 
 
Fudge does have some strong arguments. For example, in Mt.18:8, where Jesus says, It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire, Fudge argues that it means not “eternal fire” but rather “eschatological fire” or “fire belonging to the age to come.” I concede those would be possible ways to translate the word.
 
 
 
Fudge does believe that the wicked will receive eternal punishment, but argues that “eternal punishment” can refer to the ongoing results of the punishment rather than ongoing punishment (like eternal redemption – we are not being purchased forever, but we do enjoy the results of having been purchased forever).
 
 
 
I concede these as a possible interpretations if we look only at those passages. However, the traditional interpretation (ongoing torment) is also quite possible. Therefore we must look to the rest of Scripture to see if the idea of annihilation is possible. I believe it is not because of the following six points.
 
 
 
I. REVELATION 14 - Everlasting torment
 
 
 
Revelation 14:9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.”
 
 
 
The anihilation view says they will be temporarily tormented with fire, then go out of existence (symbolized by the smoke). The eternal nature of the smoke signifies only that they will never come back into existence. But it is not the smoke of their annihilation, but rather the smoke of their torment. And that torment is defined as non-rest.
 
 
 
I assume The anihilation view would say that the “no rest” jumps back to prior to their annihilation. That is, they didn't get rest during the time they were being tormented. I believe that's an unnatural jump to assume. It seems much more likely that the non-rest is a description of the torment. And that would fit the contrast with v.13, where the saints do have rest from their suffering (meaning their suffering comes to an end).
 
 
 
Revelation 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”
 
 
 
Going out of existence would be a form of relief (in fact, that's the whole appeal of this doctrine - no relief seems too harsh). In Rev.9 people suffering God’s wrath will long for death, but it will elude them. Dying, then, is a form of mercy.
 
 
 
Revelation 9:6 During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
 
 
 
Hell is worse than just dying.
 
 
 
Mark 9:42 And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.
 
 
 
 
 
II. REVELATION 20 - Lake of Fire
 
 
 
Revelation 20:10 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 and ever.
 
 
 
The anihilation view argues one of two ways on this text. Fudge suggests that "tormented day and night forever" in the lake of fire means "irreversible extinction,"[2] so that even the devil is annihilated.
 
 
 
Others argue that the devil is tormented forever but not humans. But the primary basis for the whole view of annihilation seems to be that eternal torment would be contrary to the nature of God. If it is contrary to the nature of God to torment a human forever, why is it consistent with the nature of God to torment another created being forever?
 
 
 
Secondly, this passage describes what “lake of fire” means. It is symbolic language, and John explains here what this particular symbol (lake of fire) means. So later when humans are thrown there, there is no exegetical reason to assume a different meaning for the symbol. If he already defined it as a symbol that represents never-ending conscious torment, why would assume a different meaning to the symbol (consuming fire) five verses later? The implication is that those who are thrown into that lake share the same fate that was just described.
 
 
 
And the idea that unbelievers share the same fate as the devil is confirmed by Mt.25:41.
 
 
 
Matthew 25:41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
 
 
 
III.  2 THESSALONIANS 1 - Everlasting destruction
 
 
 
2 Thessalonians 1:9 says that unbelievers will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power. Destruction is what happens to the beast in Rev.17:8, and we know that the beast suffers torment day and night forever in the lake of fire.
 
 
 
Also, being shut out of something is meaningless if the person doesn’t even exist.
 
 
 
IV.  REVELATION 22 - The dogs
 
 
 
Revelation 22:14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
 
 
 
This describes the eternal state and the wicked still exist outside the city. And they not only continue to exist, but they continue to sin, generating more guilt and deserving more punishment (Rev.22:11).
 
 
 
V.  MARK 9 - Worm doesn't die
 
 
 
Mark 9:43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. … 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’
 
 
 
The anihilation view argues that the unending fire means it is unending during the time it is consuming the victim, after which time it does end. So a better translation would be "irresistible" - the person cannot put the fire out or resist its effects. I can see that as a possible meaning of "unquenchable." A firefighter might say, “The fire was too big – we couldn’t put it out and the house was lost.” The meaning of that would be that the fire was unquenchable while it burned so that nothing could be saved from total annihilation. The purpose of such a figure would be to say that when God brings His fire of judgment, there will be no hope of the fire being extinguished in mid-judgment so that the sinner might survive.
 
 
 
The problem with that view is it fails to explain the worm not dying. The ongoing life of the worm means he always has a meal. Edward Fudge argues that the undying worm is the same as the unquenchable fire (in other words, the worm doesn’t die while it is consuming the corpse, after which time it does indeed die). I find this untenable. That interpretation could make sense with the fire, but not with the worm. If the fire is extinguished in mid-judgment, the person could potentially survive. I could see someone saying, "My hope is that the fire will go out in mid-judgment so I can survive." But no one would say, “My hope is that the worms that consume my corpse will die in mid-judgment.” If the worm died half way through eating the corpse, the corpse would still be as dead as ever. I think it is extremely unlikely that the original readers would have taken this phrase to mean, “Oh no – there is no chance that the worms will consume only half of my corpse.”
 
 
 
 
 
VI.  Daniel 12 – Raised to everlasting contempt
 
 
 
Daniel 12:2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
 
 
 
If everlasting shame means they go out of existence, what would be the point of “awaking” them to that? Why not just leave them dead? On what basis should we assume that the original readers of Daniel would have seen that and taken it to mean God would awaken the wicked to annihilation?
 
 
 
 
 
Response to Edward Fudge
 
 
 
Some other arguments Fudge brings up are 1) immortality belongs only to God and the people of God, not everyone, and 2) in the Old Testament the final end of the wicked is always death.
 
 
 
Regarding immortality, I don't think of eternal torment in hell as immortality. The biblical term means "incorruptible" and points to more than just duration. The Greek philosophers may have defined that word as mere never-ending existence, but I think the biblical concept goes way beyond that. The biblical concept is never ending life. And life is far more than mere existence (the souls of unbelievers are dead, and yet they exist). The condition of being tormented in hell is not a state of life or incorruptability. Rather, it is a state of death and ongoing corruptability.
 
 
 And the problem I have with his Old Testament argument is that there are so many times in the Old Testament where the end of the wicked is spoken of as already having happened once the wicked die physically. If the end that is in view were annihilation, then it would have been incorrect to speak of it as having already happened when they died because the souls of the wicked, according to Fudge, are not yet annihilated. 
 
 1] The only thing that happened when Jesus got into town was the people came out and asked, “Who is this?” (Mt.21:10). They hear all the commotion from the crowd of disciples, and so they come out and ask who the guy on the colt is. That is the only recorded response from the people of Jerusalem at the “Triumphal Entry.”

[2] Edward Fudge, A Final Word on Hell, p.139.