Sunday, June 15, 2014

Death of the Ignorant

It is appointed for men to die; and after this comes judgment
(Hebrews 9:27)

Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience…?
Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
Who will render to each person according to his deeds:
  • To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality: eternal life
  • But to those who are selfishly ambitious & don’t obey the truth:wrath and indignation.

There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil …
- but -
…glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good…. 

For there is no partiality with God.
(Romans 2:4–11)

We disciples know that everyone will stand before the throne of God one day and He will judge.  Everyone dies, that’s a fact.  People disagree about what happens next; but those of us who believe the bible is true must accept the fact that at some point after we die, we will be judged by God. 

The wise person will live a life of preparation for the day on which his or her eternity will be determined.  But most people are not so wise.  Most of us live for reasons other than for the day of decision.  Some live for themselves, or their families or their church or political views.  Some just want to have fun.  Others want to be respected, cute, funny, powerful, rich or other things. 

One of the great tragedies is the abundance of ignorant, divided Christians today, who split themselves into groups and imagine some are “saved,” and some are “lost,” and then they debate the means of reckoning. 

Here is a brief, and simple guide to the most important things we need to know about Judgment Day and The Judge Himself.  Entire books have been written on each topic, but I want this article to be short.  Also, I know that the readers here will either:
  • Accept these words and act on them, or
  • Accept them and fail to act, or
  • Be tempted to debate. 
Whatever option you choose, I know that answering all objections won’t change minds, so I’ll make this brief.  You would do well to accept these words … and ACT on them. 

Judgment Day

We will be judged according to our deeds

Much of the western Christian world is divided between views of “works” and “grace.”  That’s too bad, because the scriptures don’t consider them mutually exclusive.  In fact, if you read the passage from Romans above, you’ll see they’re connected.  If you go back to near the end of Romans 1, you see that Paul is writing about disobedient people, but then he turns to the church and says that if they (the church) judge these people, they need to be careful themselves.  Then he writes about “taking lightly” God’s grace.  And then he talks about us being judged according to our deeds. 

The fact is that we will be judged according to our deeds, actions or works.  Not one single New Testament passages says otherwise. 

Many (maybe most) who call themselves Christians will be condemned

These passages are two of many.  Take them deeply into your heart:

“Not everyone who calls me Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven,
-          but -
…he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?’
And then I will declare to them,
‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’
(Matthew 7:21–23)

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
(1 Corinthians 10:12)

Many who never accepted Jesus as their Lord will be approved  

There are many examples of those who are not God’s children being accepted by God.  Bathsheba’s first husband was a Hittite, it was a Syrian who God cleansed of leprosy, and a Gentile woman whose daughter was purged of an evil spirit.  Even the famous Ruth (ancestor of David, Solomon and Jesus) was a gentile.  And of course the thief on the cross was no disciple and did nothing to be saved but ask for it.  Quoting again from the passage above:

When Gentiles (who do not have the Law) do instinctively the things of the Law, these … are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”  
(Romans 2:14–16)

These three facts about judgment make sense, if you think about it.  Should God refuse to give grace to one who never knew Jesus but lived a good life, and then extend grace to a person who claimed to be a Christian but lived like an judgmental jerk?  Consider Jesus’ words:

“A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said,
‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’
And he answered, ‘
I will not’;
But afterward he regretted it and went.  The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘
I will, sir’;
But he did not go.
Which of the two did the will of his father?”  
They said,
“The first.”
Jesus said to them,
“Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.”
(Matthew 21:28–31)

Three things to Know about The Judge

Our Father (Yahweh) will be the Judge on that day.  It’s easy for us to take for granted the grace He offers, but this foolish.  Consider these three facts for you, your friends, and for non-Christians

God is Just (Righteous or Fair)

In the bible these three words mean the same thing: justice, righteousness and fairness.  Again:
Just = Righteous = Fair

There are more passages about this than I can list here, so I won’t.  But it’s important that you understand the implication of this:
Never fear that God will send a good person to hell. 
There will be no one in hell who doesn’t deserve it. 
Not one single innocent will burn in hell … not one.

God is Merciful

One of my favorite things about God is His mercy, His grace, His forgiveness.  God forgives people who deserve punishment.  My favorite story that illustrates this is the one we call “The Prodigal Son” parable by Jesus (see Luke 15.11-32).  In that story, the younger brother acted selfishly and foolishly.  He wasted his inheritance, he lived according to his own rules, he had parties and friends and lots of sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll … and he came to ruin.  His older brother, meanwhile, stayed home and worked and was obedient.  But the father forgave the rotten son, anyway, after he had repented (changed his ways) and came home. 

All disciples know someone who is living foolishly and misbehaves.  Sometimes we love them and hope they’ll be saved, anyway.  Sometimes we are angry that they have been disobedient to God, like the older brother (especially when their sin hurts us personally).  But whether we like it or not, or agree with it or not … God is merciful.  Heaven will be full of forgiven sinners. 

The Most Important Thing

We know God will judge, and we know He will give grace.  Will there be enough grace for me?  Will there be enough grace for my friends and family?  What is the rule for the distribution of saving grace? 

The answer is that no one knows. 
Many claim to know, but no one does. 
But there is one thing that we know for sure, and if you keep this in mind as you live your life, and as you share with others or withhold: The Judge is also the Father of a murdered son; murdered to provide the grace for salvation. 

God is the Father of a murdered son
When you stand before the throne of judgment, and you try to look into the face of this Father, will you be able to whine about how hard your life was?  Will you be able to make excuses?  What will you have to say for yourself?  

When a person gets drunk and kills a friend’s kid with his car, are they still friends? 
If you allow your child to starve so you can feed me … how will you feel about me when I come around with excuses for how I didn't even say “thank you”? 

What matters when we face the Father of a murdered son?  Remember: the Father is not our accuser, but Satan is our accuser, God’s son is our defender, and the Father is the Judge! 
What will you say then? 

Jesus was very, very clear about this matter.  He discussed it many times. 
Jesus never said cussing is a sin, or told us we had to go to church every Sunday or belong to a certain religion.  Jesus didn't make great theological speeches about grace and works or issues of sexuality or abortion.  But Jesus was very, very, very clear about how we should prepare for Judgment Day.  He was clear to warn us, and also to offer us hope. 

Read the passage below, then Matthew 24.42 – Matthew 25.46. 

And then live accordingly

“Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels … nor the Son, but the Father only. 
For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
(Matthew 24:36–39)

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