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Saturday, January 20, 2024

Behold The Judge Is Standing At The Door

It is sometimes hard for Christians to grasp emotionally that they will be judged by Christ on the Day of Judgment.  So much has been made of the grace of God and God's love that it is hard to come to grips with the idea of judgment but James in writing to Christians says, "Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.  Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!" (James 5:9 NKJV)  So he is.  "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  For it is written:  'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.'  So then each of us shall give account of himself to God." (Rom. 14:10-12 NKJV)

If the Bible is true, and I say that without a doubt in my mind, then every person who has ever lived or will live in the future, or who lives now, will someday be found on their knees at the feet of Jesus the creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is.  I cannot imagine the terror of one who is forced into that situation knowing that he or she has lived a life of rebellion against God.  Terror is too mild a word for that experience.

Can a man fight against God and hope to win?  If not should we not consider the life we ought to be living?  We have today.  We ought to make use of it for "behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:2 NKJV)  Today is the day God will accept us if we willingly accept him by faith and obedience to the gospel.  But as life has well taught us today is here and gone tomorrow.  We have all been to the cemetery too many times to fool ourselves into thinking that today will last indefinitely.  Our last day on earth shall arrive gradually with expectation or come as a surprise like a bolt of lightning out of the blue but when that day does arrive, as it will, then we pass from today into tomorrow and into too late--too late to obey the gospel and live life eternally with God in heaven. 

If I could beg you to obey the gospel and it would do any good I would do it but that is not how it works for obeying the gospel to please me would do you no good.  Gospel obedience must be from the heart, sincere in its desire to please God, not a man.  As Paul wrote to the Romans "You obeyed from the heart" (Rom. 6:17 NKJV) and so it must be with us all.  In Christianity, it is folly to think of using force of any kind to convert people.  In the Muslim world that might work but not in the faith God requires as found in the Bible.

Where does a man run to get away from God?  "Where can I go from your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from your presence?  If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there." (Psalms 139:7-8 NKJV)  Jonah tried running away from God but did not get far.  I guess one could say though that he got far enough away to realize he could not flee.  It is hard for me to understand how people with advanced degrees, and great innate intelligence, think they can escape from God but it is as common with them as it is with the ordinary everyday man or woman.  Who can understand it?  Yes, we can run from God but we can’t outrun him, cannot hide from him. 

When the Lord returns in judgment he "will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts" (1 Cor. 4:5 NKJV) for "he knows the secrets of the heart." (Psalms 44:21 NKJV)  Yes, he knows your evil thoughts (Matt. 9:4) and we will be judged for ours as they are listed in a list of sins as found in Matt. 15:18-19.  "God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ." (Rom. 2:16 NKJV)  "All things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Heb. 4:13 NKJV)

What I have written so far I have written both to the saint (the Christian) and to the sinner (the one who has never obeyed the gospel).  But, I want to direct my words now to those who are Christians.  Be forewarned, "The Lord will judge his people." (Heb. 10:30 NKJV) 

“If we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins." (Heb. 10:26 NKJV)  The writer here is speaking to those who are guilty of "forsaking the assembling of ourselves together." (Heb. 10:25 NKJV)  The entire book of Hebrews is directed primarily to a Christian audience.  The writer closes this section of his writing by saying, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb. 10:31 NKJV)

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul begins by talking about the journey out of Egypt to the Promised Land.  He speaks of some of the sins God's people fell into during that period and of the consequences of those sins saying, "With most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness." (1 Cor. 10:5 NKJV)  Then after recounting a number of those sins, he says, "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.  Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." (1 Cor. 10:11-12 NKJV)  Paul is writing to Christians when he makes this statement.  The book of 1 Corinthians is addressed "to the church of God which is at Corinth." (1 Cor. 1:2 NKJV)

So all of mankind, saint and sinner both, shall stand before Christ on the day of judgment and give an account of their life. (2 Cor. 5:10)

Salvation is free in that we do not earn it nor do we deserve it but neither can we take it for granted or be indifferent toward it.  The Hebrew writer makes this clear when he speaks of "a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.  Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”(Heb. 10:27-29 NKJV)

In the letter that was to be delivered to "the angel of the church in Thyatira" (Rev. 2:18 NKJV) Jesus said, "I am he who searches the minds and hearts.  And I will give to each one of you according to your works." (Rev. 2:23 NKJV)  Yes, the message is to Christians and I could not help but be reminded as I read this passage, reminded again of what I have heard over and over again, that works do not matter, it is all grace.  Jesus did not teach that. 

God " ’will render to each one according to his deeds’:  eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil." (Rom. 2:6-9 NKJV)  Jesus is "the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him." (Heb. 5:9 NKJV) No person can be saved without the grace of God but to imply the Christian has no obligations to meet for salvation, God's grace will just cover it all, is a perversion of the truth. 

Matt. 7:22-23 ought to be an eye opener to all who will give it serious consideration.  Jesus says, "Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?'  And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (NKJV)  He is speaking, of course, of the Day of Judgment.  Here is a group of men who had some religion about them.  Were they lying to Jesus about the things they had done?  I cannot conceive of a man who would be that big a fool at the Day of Judgment to lie to Jesus knowing what was at stake and knowing with whom he was dealing.  I thus take them at their word as did the commentators I consulted on this passage.  Furthermore, Jesus does not take them to task for lying to him.

So, what is the point?  Simply this--a man may claim to be on the Lord's side, he may do things that appear to be good and positive and they may be that up to a degree, and yet the bottom line is despite appearances, despite one's own I am satisfied with my religion, the man is lost.  Yes, a regular churchgoer (figuratively speaking), a religious man, who is lost.  Why is he lost?  Because he practiced lawlessness.  What is lawlessness?  "Sin is lawlessness." (1 John 3:4 NKJV)  Now note the text in Matthew says nothing about whether or not this sin was deliberate or not.  Sin does not have to be deliberate to be sin.  Many who crucified Christ or were in favor of it did it in ignorance, Peter says so in Acts 3:17, but it was nevertheless a sin as was Paul's later persecution of Christians before his conversion.

Who will be saved on the Day of Judgment?  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father in heaven." (Matt. 7:21 NKJV)  Note this is the verse just before Matt. 7:22-23 quoted above, just before Jesus denies entry into heaven of those who had done many good works in his name but who practiced lawlessness.

It is time to give this line of thought a practical application to our own time.  There are hundreds and hundreds of denominations today each teaching a different doctrine or doctrines.  I would as soon believe that two plus three equals four the same as does two plus two as to believe that one can be saved in just any church of your choice.  It is just as logical to believe one as it is the other.  Everyone cannot be teaching truth while contradicting one another.  Now honest, how smart do you have to be to figure that out?    Yet, we hear it all the time we are all going to the same place, choose the church of your choice, and other such things.  There are not thousands of different truths out there.  Jesus said, "You shall know the truth" (John 8:32 NKJV) "the truth," one truth, not one thousand truths.

Modern-day denominationalism partakes of postmodernism in that each has his own truth.  If it is contradictory it matters not.  Each is true anyway.  Nonsense?  Yes, absolutely but that is postmodernism, that is denominationalism.

If we approached our secular educations the way we approach Bible study there would be no graduates, no degrees handed out.  Our instructors would rebuke us and rightly so for our lack of common sense and reasoning and for letting our emotions run wild overwhelming our ability to think rationally.  We are ruled by our traditions and emotions just as much as the Pharisees and until we get over that we will like them find truth hard to come by all the while convinced in heart and mind we have it.

The bottom line is every person ought to be reevaluating their life in light of what the scriptures say, not what their church (denomination) says.  Who cares about "their church" on the Day of Judgment?  In the first place, you do not have a church in any scriptural sense for the church belongs to Christ, not to you or me.  In the second place, we are not saved collectively but individually.  The vast majority ought to be getting out of what they call "their church" right away anyway for if we would reason correctly and study the scriptures with the reason and logic we do textbooks we would soon see the error in the one we hold allegiance to and begin to search wholeheartedly for a congregation that taught and practiced the truth. 

One advantage to getting older is that you are no longer concerned about what people think about you.  You are reaching the point where reality (death) is beginning to stare you in the face and you can truly say, "I will not fear.  What can man do to me?" (Heb. 13:6 NKJV)  Not to offend anyone deliberately but when you start getting older you have bigger fish to fry than what people think of you or will say about you.  Where you are headed they are not going, at least not so soon, but you can see you are.  Truth ought to become utmost in our desires then.  It ought to be that way all through life but often it is not.

Yes, "the Judge is standing at the door!" (James 5:9 NKJV)  He is expecting you.  He "was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead." (Acts 10:42 NKJV)  The day is appointed (Acts 17:31).  Christ will be there.  You will kneel and confess that Jesus is Lord and answer for your life.  Are you ready?  If not what are you going to do about it?  Surely you are not going to fritter away the time you have, are you? 

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