Tom Fry is the pastor of Ambassador Baptist Church in Frederick, Maryland.
I want to look at a passage in II Corinthians. It is one of those passages, that because of wrong teaching, has robbed us sometimes of emphasizing this verse. It’s a great passage. I remember some years ago struggling with knowing what I believed and what my stand was on various things. I got saved in a good church. Then I went across town and joined a church that was not such a good church as a teenager. In fact, the first pastor that I had in that church is not saved, never has gotten saved. I witnessed to him. He is a lost man, still in the ministry. He moved to the state of Illinois, pastors a huge church over there, but he is still lost as far as I know. The last time I talked to him I shared the Gospel with him and he would not trust Christ. He is in the ministry because he wants to do good things for people. That’s his idea of what the ministry is. He doesn’t believe in a literal Heaven and literal Hell.
I went to that church because as a teenager I knew a lot of teenagers that went to that church. I can explain to you why they had such a big youth program. Somebody says, “They have a big youth program.” There may be carnal reasons why they have a big youth program. I’m not against big youth programs. I’m for reaching everybody we can. This particular church probably two-thirds teenagers. I didn’t know any better. I was just a new convert. The pastor was a kind of a pseudo-psychologist.
Our youth activities were something like this. You can imagine why a lot of teenage boys would want to go to these youth activities. He would talk about how important it was to get in touch with our sensory feelings. He would put us in a room, all the teenagers, blindfolded and you had to go around feeling and try to guess who you were touching. You can imagine.
They had a building that didn’t have pews. It had chairs. They would take the chairs out on Friday night and have a rock group come in and do rock concerts for the teenagers. People in town would say, “That’s the church that cares about young people.” No, that was the church that was letting young people go to Hell. They had big numbers, but there was nothing being done for God there. I was in that church because I didn’t know any better. I was just saved and thought everybody believed the same thing. I thought all churches were the same. I had no background, nothing to compare it to. Then the pastor left.
A new pastor came in. Why this particular pastor came to this church, I do not know. Why the church wanted him, I do not know. Why he wanted to come there, I do not know. It was a young man, had just graduated from Midwestern Baptist College, up there with Dr. Tom Malone. He came down and took the church. All of a sudden, something happened. He started preaching the Bible, preaching the Gospel. Sunday school teachers started getting saved. Deacons got saved. (It’s good to have some saved deacons.) It was amazing. The leaders in the church started trusting Christ as their Saviour and there was an excitement in the church. In the midst of that, I surrendered to preach. It was an exciting place to be.
All of a sudden our youth program wasn’t quite as large as it used to be. In fact, the attendance in many ways went down, but the Word of God was being preached. This was a non-denominational church.
I am a Baptist by theological position, but I am not part of any denomination. Somebody says, “Where is the headquarters for your church?” It’s called Heaven, the New Jerusalem. “Who is the President of your denomination?” His name is Jesus Christ. “Who is the Administrator of your denomination?” He’s called the Holy Ghost of God. He is the One in charge. We don’t have some hierarchy. This is it, folks. We are directly accountable to God. That can be a scary thing sometimes when you stop to think about it.
But we are independent, fundamental Baptists. You say, “Why is that?” I believe that is what the Bible teaches. I find no denominational hierarchy in the Bible. Every church was self-governing. I do find Baptist doctrine. I’m a Baptist, not a Methodist, not a Lutheran, not a Catholic, not a Presbyterian. They had a church constitution at one point said that they wanted to be a community church open for people of all faiths. They didn’t just mean Christian. It had it literally spelled out, Buddha, Hindu, Muslim. All faiths could come and worship together. How do you worship together when you are talking to a different God? Somebody says, “There is only one God.” You got it. There is only one and the rest of those are false gods.
But that was my background. I got saved as just a teenager. I started winning souls. I started preaching. I started trying to tell people how to get saved. I carried my Bible with me to the public school. Though I didn’t do everything right and say everything right, I was trying to live for God. People asked me, “What are you? Are you a Baptist, a Methodist?” I said, “I don’t have a clue,” because I didn’t. I didn’t know what all these groups taught or anything like that.
What I found out slowly as a teenager, I’d get invited to the youth group over at the Church of God to preach to their kids. I got invited to the Assembly of God to preach to their young people. I got invited to the Baptist Church to preach to their young people. After a while, only one group would let me come back. I couldn’t understand why some of them let me come one time and I didn’t get invited back anymore to that place. It wasn’t because I was taking a stand against them. They didn’t want me after I went one time. I didn’t know. I just believed the Bible. I didn’t know what their denominations taught. I spoke at what was called a Free Pentecostal Church. That means anything goes. It was wild. People talk about running the pews. You couldn’t find anybody still in the pews. There was some woman over here that sounded like a motor boat taking off. Somebody else ran that way and somebody would scream. Somebody fell that way. Somebody threw a blanket over them here. I had to get up and preach.
I thought everybody just believed the Bible so I got up and preached on what the fullness of the Holy Spirit was. I found out they didn’t believe what I believed the fullness of the Holy Spirit was. It wasn’t because I was such a theological student. I just didn’t know anything except what the Bible said. I just preached it and they said, “We don’t want him back. He preached against everything we just did.” That’s the funny thing. I didn’t even know I preached against everything they just did. Because I was just so naive, I just thought Christian means we believe the Bible. Pretty soon I’m over at the Methodist youth group preaching. I’m talking about Jesus went under the water and came up out of the water when He was baptized. I didn’t know they didn’t believe that. I just believed the Bible. I didn’t know they believed you spit on their head when they are a baby and they are all right. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know you could drool on them and they are baptized. I thought everybody understood baptism. So I wasn’t really being so super-spiritual; I was just so ignorant I didn’t know that there could be anybody who called themselves Christian that didn’t believe the Bible. Then I started getting educated.
The verse I want to look at today, some folks preach some stupid things from this passage of Scripture, but it’s in the Bible. You don’t have to be afraid of it or run from it, if it is in the Bible. What does the Bible say? What the Bible says may not be what you heard somebody say the Bible says. Many times they are not the same thing. I want to preach the Bible and I want to help you. Sometimes people say dumb things because they get away from the Bible.
“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Corinthians 5:1-21)
Look carefully at verse 17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Notice that statement we are in Christ, a new creature. Notice the words “...all things are become new.” Somebody says, “All things means all things.” Well, let me ask you this question. The moment you got saved if you had blonde hair, did you become a brunette? Of course not. If you had brown eyes, did you get blue eyes? I thought all things changed. If you were 5’ 2”, did you become 6’ 4”? If all those things took place and I got home, I’d say, “Momma, I got saved.”
My momma would say, “Who are you?”
There have been some crazy things taught from this verse. “All things means all things.” I just told you several exceptions for the all things, some things that did not change when you got saved. If you wore a size 9 1/2 shoe, you didn’t wear a size 5 after you got saved. Wait a minute, all things, wouldn’t that include your shoe size? If ‘all things’ is so encompassing, it means everything changed? If you were bald, you didn’t have hair after you got saved. All things obviously, in the context, does not mean every single thing about you changed when you got saved.
There are some folks teaching that if everything about you didn’t change, then you really didn’t get saved. Do you see that there are a lot of things that did not change when you got saved. Your IQ didn’t change. Boy, I wish that would have improved! I was still dumber than a box of rocks when I first got saved, but I was still saved and on my way to Heaven. I was smart enough to figure that out that you put your faith in Christ. I didn’t become a jock or turn into a nerd when I got saved. My skin color didn’t change. I didn’t know any more Bible after I got saved. If you asked me one minute after I got saved to quote you several Bible verses, I couldn’t quote you any more than I could the moment before I got saved. They say, “But if you were really saved, you’d know that Bible more now.” I didn’t know any more Bible than I did before I got saved. I still had to learn it.
So what is meant here when it says, “All things are become new”? I just pointed out several things that didn’t become new the very moment I got saved. We are going to get to what I believe He was talking about, but first I want to tell you what it is not talking about.
From this false idea, there is a discouraging message out there. “We led five people to Christ this week, but none of them really got saved because that one is still smoking. Those people got saved Tuesday and are still living together and not married though it’s Friday, so they didn’t really get saved.” They are the same person they were before they got saved, but there are some things that did change. All things obviously doesn’t mean what these folks are implying. Common sense, logic, horse sense, tells you that it cannot mean, “If I was overweight before I got saved, I got off my knees and I was built like Charles Atlas.” It didn’t happen. “Preacher, all things had to change or you really didn’t get saved.”
Then what does ‘all things’ mean? Why don’t we let the Bible be the commentary on the Bible? The ‘all things’ that He is talking about are the things that He is talking about in the context. All those things changed the moment you got saved. My address didn’t change. When I got saved, I still went home to the same house I lived in before I got saved. You say, “But Preacher, then you must not really have gotten saved.” Do you see how foolish that is when you begin to think about it? If everything in your life had to change, everything about you the moment you put your faith in Christ, none of us here are saved, because there is not a one of us that everything changed the moment we got saved. All the things He is talking about are the things in the context He is referring to. Those things all changed the moment we got saved. What things changed? These things all became new.
Look at chapter five, verses one though four he says, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.”
#1. We have a new hope the moment we got saved. We are going to get a new body one of these days. That was settled the moment we got saved. This old body is not my eternal future. That changed the very moment I got saved. The ‘all things’ He is talking about first of all, is that we now have a new hope. We are not looking forward to just going through eternity in this old, sickly body. We are getting a new body one day. That changed the moment I got saved. A new creature. You say, “Why is it called a new creature or new creation?” Because I have a different destiny. My destiny changed the moment I got saved.
Imagine it’s four o’clock in the morning. You hear a terrible ruckus outside your window. You look up and go to the window and open it up and there is a cow trying to get on the roof. It’s tearing the siding off, tearing the down spout off. Finally, it makes it way onto the roof and goes “Cock-a-doodle-do!” It’s not going to happen. Do you know why? The cow can’t become a chicken. You can have all the hope in the world that cow is going to lay an egg, but you are going to be highly disappointed. It’s not possible. A chicken, you can have some hope that the chicken will lay an egg. There is no hope for that cow ever getting on that roof and crowing. Because that is not its nature. But we are made a new creature. Now we have a new hope. We are looking to something beyond what we used to have. It used to be everything was this world. That changed the moment we got saved. We have a new hope.
Look at verse six. “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” That’s one of those things that changed. I had no hope of ever going to Heaven before I got saved. I had no hope whatsoever of going to Heaven before I got saved. No matter what I did, no matter what I tried to do to get God’s attention, there was no hope, but that changed the moment I got saved. Let’s let the Bible tell us what the “all things” are, rather than let some preacher tell us what the “all things” are. What else changed?
#2. I got a new Guide that I didn’t have before I got saved. Verse 5 says, “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” He is speaking of the Holy Spirit. We now have the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. That happened the moment I got saved. That changed. Do you know what it used to be? All about me.
A man that used to come to church always had such a wrecked life. I’m convinced that drugs had destroyed a big part of his brain before he got saved. He was so burned out. He would take alcohol and mix over the counter pills together and drink these concoctions just to get high. He was in and out of jail. He got saved and still continued sometimes to go to jail for one silly thing after another, struggling with drugs and alcohol. He would come down and want to get saved again and again and again. Did you ever know anybody like that? I’ve seen a lot of them like that through the years, particularly if they have a drug or alcohol background. They’ll come and get saved again. Folks, I believe you have to get saved one time. You only get truly born again once. You don’t get born again and again and again. In his mind, he wasn’t saved because he knew that he was not living like Christians told him that Christians live. He fell short of that, so he must not really be saved. I was talking to him one day about this. He said, “Preacher, I don’t think I am saved. I need to get saved.”
I said, “Did you get saved last Sunday? Didn’t you get saved the Sunday before that?”
He said, “Yea, Preacher, but I don’t think I am saved.”
I said, “Now tell me why do you not think you are saved?”
Here is what he said, “Because I still go out and do some of the stuff I did before I got saved.”
I said, “Before you got saved, did you enjoy doing that stuff?”
He said, “Are you kidding me? I was the life of the party.” He’d boast about it. He said, “I had a ball.”
I said, “Let me ask you something. You do those same things. Do you enjoy them?”
He said, “I feel miserable. I feel like a heel. I feel so sick of myself when I go out and do those things.”
I said, “You sound like a saved man to me.” That’s what the Spirit of God does inside of a saved person. He convicts us. You can grieve the Spirit of God. You can strive against the Spirit of God. You can fight against God’s tugging in your life and trying to instruct us, but we got a new Guide the moment we got saved. We now have Someone who will guide us and direct our lives that was not there before.
When I was growing up, my dad was my hero. He was a combination of Davey Crockett and Daniel Boone. He was a woodsman. My heroes were rough woodsman type people when I was growing up. I was in athletics and sports and all that, but my heroes were never athletes. It was always those pioneers. I’d read all about them, want to hear about them. My dad was that kind of fella. He would tell those hunting and fishing stories. He’d tell stories about going hunting when he didn’t have a gun and get more than the people that had a gun. He used to tell a story about his first squirrel hunting trip. There was a neighborhood boy from a wealthy family, got a brand new .22 for Christmas. This boy was going to go squirrel hunting. My dad said, “Can I go with you?”
He said, “No, you’ll scare all the squirrels. You can’t go alone.” My dad said, “I decided I was going to follow him.” He followed him out there. He said he saw this squirrel run up the tree and that boy pulled up his .22 and shot and missed it. That squirrel ran in a hole. That boy waited and then went on down through the woods. My dad got over to that tree. He climbed up that tree and looked down in that hole. He could see movement down in that hole. He got his pocket knife out and cut his off a stick. Then took his shoe laces and tied his pocket knife on the end of that stick and reached down in that hole and gigged him a squirrel out of that hole. He looked down there and there was still movement down there. He gigged it. He brought four squirrels out of that hole. A little bit later he was walking out of the woods, four squirrels hanging off his belt, and here is this boy with a brand new .22 rifle that didn’t get a thing. He used to love telling those stories. He was my hero. I’d have problems and go talk to him. He was a lost man, but he had some common sense about things.
I remember the day he died. I left the hospital that night and came home and sat along side of the bed with my mom. My mom suffered from chronic-schizophrenia. She hardly knew where she was sometimes. We bathed her and fed her and took care of her. The ambulance had taken dad to the hospital. I came back and she was in bed. I woke her up and said, “Mom, Dad just passed away.” She said something like this. “Oh, I don’t know where he went. He’ll be back here in a little bit.” She had no concept that he was gone. I left the bedside there and I went out of that little house that my dad had built just outside of town, and there was a little pond out in the pasture field there that my dad had dug with an old Allis Chalmer tractor and we had a horse drawn scraper blade and we dug a little pond for the livestock. I walked down to that pond and sat on a rock and began to feel a little sorry for myself. My dad had just died, and as far as I knew he went to Hell. I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know why, selfish I guess, but I was wondering who was I going to talk to when I have a problem now. Who am I going to talk to when I have decisions to make. I didn’t hear an audible voice and I didn’t see a 900 foot Jesus, but I did have that still small voice down in my heart that said, “Son, I’m still here.”
I remember walking back from that pond. I’ve heard people preach about how God puts a song in your heart. I began to sing that old hymn and I’ve never remembered the words. Every time I’ve ever used this in a sermon, I could never remember the words, but I remembered every word that morning. I was walking back from the pond and I sang, “Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight, tis a melody sweeter than song.” I got down to the chorus. “Peace, peace, wonderful peace coming down from the Father above. Sweep over my spirit forever I pray in fathomless billows of love.” I caught myself singing it and then I stopped and felt ashamed of myself. “What are you doing singing? Your dad just died.”
Then I understood that’s what the Bible said He would do, because the Holy Spirit, my Comforter, was still there. He moved in the very day I got saved. That changed. My only guide was flesh and blood before He moved in. The Bible sometimes calls Him the Holy Ghost. I like what one fella said. “He’s the Holy Guest.” Many times we ignore Him, but He is there to guide us and direct us. That changed the moment I got saved. I was stumbling through life like a blind man looking for a black hat that was not even there. All things passed away. It changed the moment I got saved because I had the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God. “...old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” He is talking about the indwelling Holy Spirit. He’s talking about a hope of a new body some day in Heaven. That changed immediately when I got saved.
#3. Then a new judgment. I think this, in particular, is so interesting. He says in verse nine. “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” What changed? I’m going to a different judgment day. That changed the moment I got saved. The day I got saved, there was a like a split, a ‘y’ in the highway. This way leads to the Great White Throne Judgment. This one leads to the Judgment Seat of Christ. That changed the moment I got saved. I veered off to the right and I’ve been on my way to the Judgment Seat of Christ ever since. I’ll never, never, never have to stand before the Great White Throne Judgment of God. That happened the day I got saved when I became a new creation with a new destiny. Any fear of standing before the Great White Throne Judgment ended the day I got saved.
One old country preacher said, “I’m so saved I could swing over Hell on a rotten cornstalk singing Amazing Grace.” That’s how saved I am today. I think of those Jewish boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego coming out of that fiery furnace. They didn’t even have the smell of smoke on their clothes. I’ll never know the smell of the smoke of Hell on me. When you are saved, you’ll never be touched by it because you’ve got a new judgment you are going to go to one day, not the Great White Throne Judgment. That changed the moment I got saved. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” All plans ever for me to go to that judgment ended.
Now the plan is to go to the Judgment Seat of Christ. You say, “What’s the difference?” The Great White Throne Judgment, nobody goes to Heaven from the Great White Throne Judgment. They’re all bound for hell eternally. Everybody goes to Heaven from the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is only for born again believers.
Nobody goes to Heaven from the Great White Throne Judgment. That’s where the words will be spoken, “Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, for I never knew you.” I said earlier, absent from the body and present with the Lord. If you are saved, you immediately go to be with the Lord. If you are not saved, you don’t go sit in a little room with your legs crossed waiting to say, “Is Dr. Jesus available so I can find out where I’m going to go.” There is no such room.
When you die without Christ, the Bible says in Luke 16, “...and in Hell the rich man lifted up his eyes being in torment.” The very next breath is the smoke of Hell. To exhale in this world and inhale in the next, it’s just that quick. Hell is not very far away. Some have speculated and I happen to believe that Hell is in the heart of the earth. I believe the Bible teaches that it is down. No matter where you go on earth, Hell is down. Somebody says, “Scientists say it is molten rock.” Let me talk to the scientist that went there and saw it. Scientists say a lot of things dogmatically they don’t have a clue about. I read a book the other day. It was talking about how we know there was life on Mars in years gone by. I’m wondering, “How does he know that? He’s never even been to Mars.”
I believe the Bible teaches that Hell is down. I don’t know how far it is, but it’s not far. Under your feet today, it may not be far from where you stand right now that some departed grandmother is. My dad might not be farther than six to ten miles away from where I stand right now. I don’t know about you, but that bothers me. You say, “I’m glad I don’t think about that.” I’m glad I do, because that means I’ll probably go out with some tracts this week and try to win somebody to Jesus. Hell cannot be considered some far away place because it’s not far from where you and I stand right now. When people die they go to Hell if they are not saved. One day at the Great White Throne Judgment, according to the book of Revelation, death and Hell will give up those that are in the grave. It is a resurrection from Hell. Those that have been in Hell, maybe for hundreds of years, all of a sudden they are brought up into the very presence of Almighty God. They will plead and beg. The Bible says every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. They will be judged according to their works.
You say, “Why is that?” They are going to go from there to the Lake of Fire. I believe there is fire in Hell, but the Lake of Fire is something worse, something different. Understand there are degrees of punishment in eternal judgment of God. I believe somebody that maybe tried to do right and live right, but went out into eternity without Christ, their suffering might not be as bad as somebody that was a mass murderer, an Adolph Hitler. Jesus said it was going to be more tolerable for some people than it will be others. As Americans, Hell might be a little hotter for some people because we had more opportunities than others, than for somebody that lived in some jungle that had very little opportunity to know about Jesus Christ, when we have people on every corner, that we could have heard the Gospel if we wanted to. Hell will be a little hotter for an American than it will be for some others across the world. They will be brought up and they will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever.
That changed the moment you got saved. That passed away. All things become new. Instead of the Great White Throne, we are going to go to the Judgment Seat of Christ. There we are going to be judged, not according to our sins, but according to our works.
The Bible teaches that we will be judged by what we did in this body. I’m not dogmatic about this. That term ‘what we’ve done in the body’ could mean two things. Maybe it means both of them. I’m not sure. It could mean what we do in the body of the church. I am a believer in the local church. Maybe there is no reward for things done for Christ that are not done through our local church. I can understand how some people might take that position. Maybe it has to do with our physical body. You hear some people say, “They did that in the flesh.” Everything I’ve ever done, I’ve done in the flesh. I’ve never been able to escape this flesh and go do something as a ghost. Everything we do, we drag this flesh along with us. I understand what they mean by that, but we understand we do it sometimes to honor and please the old nature. Understand we are going to give an account one day.
The Judgment Seat of Christ is not a judicial judgment; it’s an athletic judgment if you would. It’s like an athlete receiving the prize for the race they ran, or the lack of the prize. I’m not opposed to what we do with the Special Olympics and that sort of thing. I think in a normal world that should never be so. I don’t think they ought to give everybody a blue ribbon. You ought to have to earn it. Otherwise, it doesn’t mean anything. Some folks are going to receive great rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ and others receive very little.
I heard Dr. John R. Rice talking about his little dog. He had a little dog named Fifi and it bit him on the thumb. He was up preaching with it all bandaged up. He said, “What worries me about it, I’m afraid if I get blood poisoning and die and one day stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ. We are all lined up to stand before Jesus. There will probably be somebody standing in front of me that died as a martyr. They were dragged into the Roman colosseum and thrown to lions as they were tied up in animal skins, and lions ripped them apart. They’ll say, ‘I was thrown to lions’ and they’ll call out their name and give great rewards. They’ll say, ‘All right, John Rice, come on. Fifi bit you.’ I don’t want to have to die that way and get the prize for being bit by Fifi.”
There is a judgment day coming for the Christian, but it is not to determine whether we are going to Heaven. Once we are saved, we are going to Heaven. It’s not to determine whether we will get a mansion. We are going to get a mansion. It’s not to determine whether we will get a body like Jesus’ body. We are going to get one, but there is a reward day coming. There is a payday coming for the Christian who sacrificed and gave and lived and worked and witnessed for the Lord Jesus Christ. God pays for all overtime. That’s what the Judgment Seat of Christ is. That’s a scary thing because He said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;” All things, a new hope, a new guide, a new judgment.
#4. A new purpose. Do you know what your purpose is? He says we are now made ambassadors for Christ. Not all ambassadors are good ambassadors, but we are all made ambassadors. From this point on, from the day you got saved, you are a representative of Jesus Christ. You may be a good one. You may be a bad one, but you are an ambassador from that day forth for Jesus Christ. I’ll be honest with you. Sometimes I’ve been a good one and sometimes I’ve been a bad one. I’ve not always represented Him well. Other times I go away saying, “I believe I honored the Lord there.” Other times I’ve gone away saying, “Lord, I feel so ashamed. I dishonored You there.” We are His ambassadors, whether good ones or bad ones. That purpose in life was given to me the moment I got saved.
Keep that thought in mind. You understand ‘all things’ is not an all encompassing statement. Your eye color didn’t change. Your height didn’t change. But the things that did change are the things that He specifically outlined in this chapter. They changed the moment you got saved. You couldn’t go back and undo them. A chicken can’t become a cow. A cow can’t become a horse. You became a new creature in Christ Jesus. These things are sealed by the very Word of God the very moment you got saved.
Follow with me now to II Peter 1. Oh, it’s good to be a new creature in Christ Jesus. Sometimes a horse can act like a donkey. Sometimes we can act like some other creature, but we’ve been made a new creature in Christ. This is an interesting chapter that deals with Christian growth. Beginning in verse one, “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:” Let me ask you a question. Is he writing to saved people or lost people? Saved people.
Verse two, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,” He is praying for them that grace and peace will be multiplied. They have grace and peace, but he wants it to be multiplied. Verse three, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,...” There is that term ‘all things’ again. He’s given us all things. All things became new. What are the ‘all things’? The things that he outlined for us. Here is this idea of all things again that pertain to godliness. “...through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:...” He says the way we have this growth of godliness in our life is through these precious promises, through the Word of God. We get the growth through the Word of God. “...that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”
We are a new creature. We have a new hope. We have a new destiny. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have all the things that we need that pertain to godliness, but that doesn’t mean I’m using it. That doesn’t mean I’m applying it. He makes it very clear. He said, “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things...” Can you be saved and lack these things? Absolutely. “...is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” I’ve dealt with people and I have to assume they are lost, when they tell me they don’t know for sure. Afterwards, I’ve gone away thinking, “They might have been saved and just got messed up here.”
You say, “If they were really saved, they would know it.” Not always. You can get so backslidden, so carnal, that you don’t even know you are saved anymore. You say, “I don’t believe that.” I’m sorry. Cut that verse out. That’s what it says. You say, “They weren’t really saved.” I’m glad you are not God. Because God says they are, but have forgotten. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” You’ll never fall into deep sin. You’ll never fall away and lose your testimony, if you keep these things before you, if you keep growing, if you keep applying and obeying the Word of God. Verses 11-12 says, “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”
When I was thinking about this, a family came to mind in the community I grew up in. Two boys, same father, the mother had abandoned them and the dad raised the boys by himself. To be quite honest, the dad was rough. He didn’t necessarily instill some of the right morals in the boys and they grew up rough. They came up tough. They had a reputation to be fighters. They were in a fight all the time. As kids growing up, it was a normal part of life. In fact, one boy, to give you some idea, he was on the football team and he broke his arm. He had his arm in a cast. In those days it was a little different. You didn’t have much padding on anyway. You just had a little leather covering on top of your head and some cleats and there you are, dressed for a football game. He had a broken arm and he was on the bench during the football game. This kid was so tough that he made touchdowns for the team. The crowd started cheering for him. They wanted him to come out on the field. They were losing the game. The coach said, “I’m not sending him out on the field. He has a broken arm.”
He said, “Come on, coach. Just one time. Just get the ball to me. Let me have the ball one time.” He put him in the game. The quarterback hiked the ball back and passed the ball to him. He’s got the ball under this arm. He just marches down the field. Boom, boom, boom, with that cast knocking guys all over the place with that cast and makes the touchdown.
They were in fights all the time. They had the same background. They were in the same family, same dad, but one day they came to a crossroads. They both had been witnessed to, but the one boy trusted Jesus Christ as his Saviour. He got saved. He started going to, in those days there was no independent Baptist church in the town. He went to the old American Baptist Church that preached the Gospel and preached the Word of God. He got fired up and ended up going to Tennessee Temple in the early days. Dr. Roberson had just started the college. He surrendered to go to the mission field. He went to the old French Congo as missionaries, him and his young wife he met in Bible college.
His brother never left the little town. When he got old enough he went to work in the mines and got crippled up and had to spend the rest of his life kind of dragging one leg everywhere he went. Any time he wasn’t working, he was drinking and practically drunk himself to death, a terrible life. The other brother went to Tennessee Temple, then to the mission field. They had several boys born to them while they were in Africa as missionaries. After several years working in Africa they accidentally ate some poison mushrooms. It just destroyed their immune system. They came back to the states. He believed God would give them some kind of ministry there. They continued to serve the Lord as an evangelist in this country. They had two boys who grew up and played soccer for Tennessee Temple. They were there the same time I was at Tennessee Temple.
His brother had two sons, too. One of them got involved with a motorcycle gang. The other boy spent several years in prison. He accidentally killed a man over the change in a Coke machine. He hit him one time and killed him. He went to prison. Two different routes completely, two different heritages started, but we could come back to this man and say, “Which one of those boys was your son?”
“Why they are both my sons. The boy that went that way is my son. They are both my sons.”
When a person trusts Jesus as Saviour, there are some things that change, but there are some things that determine what decisions you make from that point on. Are you still his son? Absolutely. You became a child of God the moment you got saved. That will not be changed ever, but you can live a life of making the wrong decisions and as a Christian destroy your life. Many people have done it, but there are Christians who made the right decisions and had the blessing of God.
You say, “Sir, which one is yours.”
“Preacher, they are both my sons.” God Almighty looks out of Heaven and says, that person that gets saved, gets involved and faithful to church and is living for the Lord and giving and witnessing and studying their Bible, that’s My child. The other person gets saved. Maybe they are not faithful. Maybe they don’t get in church. Maybe they don’t read their Bible, but a son is still a son because they were born into that family the moment they got saved.
You say, “I thought all things were going to change.” Some things did change. All the things that God says would change will change. They got a new destiny. They got an indwelling Holy Spirit. All things doesn’t mean everything about them changed, their appearance, their height, shoe size, hair color. You say, “All spiritual things changed.” No, I didn’t suddenly know my Bible after I got saved. I didn’t suddenly have this godly prayer life the moment after I got saved.
None of that, but the things that changed are the things God said would change. We put a level of expectation on new converts sometimes that they cannot live up to. “You didn’t really get saved, or you wouldn’t still be smoking.” I’m glad that God saves folks even if they are still smoking. Somebody says, “They didn’t really get saved because of such and such. All things are passed away.” All things is not a blanket statement. It’s the things that God defines as all things, not what some Baptist preacher defines as all things. You may say, “That’s splitting hairs.” If it is splitting hairs to try to be consistent with the Word of God, then I’ll be guilty. We never have to back away from anything in this Book. We don’t have to run from it or be ashamed of it. Somebody says, “What are you going to do with this verse, Preacher?” I’m going to believe it, because the Bible says it.