Sunday, November 12, 2017
My bible readings this month included John’s Apocalypse—i.e. the book of “Revelation”. I am persuaded that nothing was recorded in the Bible without good reason; I am convinced that it represents the authentic word of God and was inspired by the Holy Spirit; and I am of the opinion that many of us routinely ignore the things recorded in it that does not suit us or would cause us to accept change in our lives.
But this passage from Revelation reminded me that just because I do not like what’s written does not mean I can ignore it. Consider these words from John:
20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from His presence, and there was no place for them. 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. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
What grabbed my attention were the words (in bold): “….the dead were judged according to what they had done…..”. We don’t like to talk about “good works” and heaven in the same sentence because of the emphasis we prefer to place upon God’s mercy and grace, and God’s provision of His own Son to serve as a sacrifice—-a “covering” for all our sins. We belief, according to scripture, that we are saved by faith in the completed work of Jesus on the cross. I hold this to be absolutely true. But, there’s no getting away from the promises that John, Paul and Jesus Himself made about accountability for what we said, did, or failed to do after our conversion experience. I am not suggesting that once you have received Christ you must “work hard enough” to earn eternal life, yet there’s a clear warning here: We are expected to do good works and put away “living in sin” after we confess our sins to God and receive God’s gift of eternal life.
Jesus gave parable about how there would some surprises in heaven—i.e. some would not allowed into heaven, even though the knew Jesus, but failed to “feed, clothe, visit and have compassion” on other people—-the “least” “other people”! Similarly Christ spoke about a man that was TOTALLY forgiven of all his debts—(billions!) by a king, but then refused to forgive a friend who owed him a small sum (less that $100) and how that one forgiven of much was basically “unforgiven” and sent away to be tortured. Yes, I know that this might sound crazy, but I didn’t write the bible, I just read it!
My point is merely this: By my deeds I will prove that I am “heaven bound” or not. Now based upon the good things I have done versus the bad things I have done, I have no hope of attaining heaven—I am certain of that. But if my deeds are nothing but self-centered, deceitful, destructive, debilitating to the work of the Church, and callous and indifferent to the needs of others, I might be surprised when the roll is called upon yonder—I might want to re-consider if I really know Him.
If I have received Jesus Christ my life is not the same— I have become a new creature. If I have truly been born again my actual life, my altered reasoning is proof that I have been redeemed.