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“Do God’s Books Balance For You?”
Daniel 7:9-10


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Christ the King Sunday–Last Sunday in the Church Year—November 25, 2012

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The New Testament testifies that the Final Judgment, of us, and all humankind, will take place at the Second Coming of Christ on the Last Day:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ;”

“He is the one whom God appointed to be judge of the living and the dead;”

“It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that to face the judgment;”

“This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ;”

“For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed;”

“The Judge is standing at the door!”

In today’s Old Testament Reading, Daniel has a vision of this Final Judgment on the Last Day:

“As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancients of Days took his seat.  His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.  A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him.  Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.  The court was seated, and the books were opened.”

We consider this text under the theme, “Do God’s Books Balance for You?”

My older brother recently retired after working for over 40 years as the bookkeeper for a grain elevator in our hometown of Canton, Kansas.  He began long before the computer era, entering the figures by hand in old-fashioned ledgers.  It used to be that at the end of every month he would have to work late for a few evenings doing the end of the month calculations and making sure the books balanced.

“The court was seated, and the books were opened.”  Do God’s books balance for you?  Paul says in Romans, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  The Bad News is, if you are judged according to what you have and haven’t done, God’s books do NOT balance for you.

On the debit side, there is the enormous debt of your sins.  Our country’s national recently passed the staggering figure of 16 trillion dollars, about $50,000 for each American citizen.  In the eyes of God, the debt of your sins is the spiritual equivalent of the national debt: inconceivably enormous.  As Psalm 51 says, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.  Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the moment my mother conceived me.”

I remember one month when I was a little boy my brother stayed at the elevator late into the night for a whole week trying to get the books to balance.  He was off by just one penny, but he couldn’t find his mistake.  I didn’t understand what the big deal was being off by just one penny.  I even offered to give him a penny if that would help.  He explained to me that, in accounting, being off by one penny is just as bad as being off by thousands of dollars, because the books have to balance, the books have to be right. It’s not the size of the error that matters, because any error, no matter how small, means the books are wrong, out of balance.

In the same way, James says, “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”  So even if your sins and shortcomings don’t seem to be serious, in the eyes of God the debt of your sins is the spiritual equivalent of the national debt: inconceivably enormous.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  It’s starting to seem impossible that our nation will ever pay off our national debt.  Hopefully, we will, someday, somehow.  But, the spiritual debt of your sins is absolutely impossible for you to ever repay.  For not only is the enormity of your sins charged against you on the debit side, on the credit side of the ledger you also “fall short.” In God’s ledger, all your good works add up to the spiritual equivalent of a zero.  For Isaiah says that in God’s eyes, as far as earning your salvation is concerned, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”

Have you ever tried painting light over dark?  One coat won’t do it; the dark keeps showing through.  That’s what it’s like trying to cover up your sins with a few drops of good works and self-righteousness.  The ugly blackness of your sin keeps showing through.

Our good deeds are not good enough to balance out the books and earn us God’s favor, we all “fall short of the glory of God.”  Paul concludes in Romans, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law.”

“The court was seated, and the books were opened.”  The Bad News is, if you are judged according to what you have and haven’t done, God’s books do not balance for you.  But the Good News of the Christian Gospel is, God’s books DO balance for you, on account of Jesus Christ, his life, death and resurrection.

The Good News is, on the debit side of God’s ledger, your sins have all been blotted out, for Christ’s sake:

“God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not counting men’s sins against them;”

“He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself;”

“It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed...but with the precious blood of Christ;”

“Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name;”

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him:’

“I am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and will remember your sins no more.”

On the debit side of God’s ledger, your sins have all been blotted out; and on the credit side, Christ’s holiness is credited to your account.  In comparing Christ and Adam, Paul says in Romans: “Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one Man the many will be made righteous.”

Actually you are saved by good works, but not your good works.  You are saved by the good works Jesus Christ performed for you, on your behalf: his sinless life of perfect obedience, his suffering and death, his atoning sacrifice, his holiness and righteousness. These are all credited to your account through faith in him, as Paul says in Romans, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

“The court was seated, and the books were opened.”  Trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior; through faith in him, God’s books do balance, for you.

And how will that Good News affect the way you live your life?  Peter says, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?  You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.  So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found by him spotless, blameless and at peace.”

Amen.

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