Posts tagged judgment
Posts tagged judgment
To Seek and To Save
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.
And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.
But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10 NKJV)
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"Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?"
When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Mark 2:2, 15-17 NKJV)
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Paul gives tremendous insight, as always:
"I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
"But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner— not even to eat with such a person.
"For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13 NKJV)
So, what does it look like, this Christian life among the grace-centered? For one thing, you’re all bearing the fruits of the Spirit that Paul tells us about in Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
"By their fruits you will know them," Jesus says in Matthew 7:20. Paul gives more detail in Galatians 6:1-5, 9-10 NKJV, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."
In Galatians 5:1-6 NKJV, circumcision serves as a metaphor for the death trap of nit-picking legalism while Paul tells us how to get free: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”
Finally, in Hebrews 4:1-2, 4, 10-11, 14-16 NKJV, Paul reminds us that faith in God’s love — not man’s rules — is the only thing that gives us any rest: “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works” ; For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Give yourself a break! Throw off the yoke of sinful, self-appointed salvation monitors who will never be satisfied, and instead, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Give up trying to pay for your sins, and rest in the knowledge that, as Jesus said with His last breath on the Cross, “It is finished.”
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As long as we’re talking about who’s in charge, let’s recall that God has designated husbands to be the spiritual heads of their families — both of wives (Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35) and of children (1 Timothy 3:4-5, Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4). That’s why it’s so crucial for to make an intelligent, Spirit-led decision when choosing a mate. Anyone who accuses your wife of sinning because she is exercising the gifts of the Spirit is accusing you of incompetent spiritual leadership. God made you the spiritual leader of your home — not the accuser, not your pastor, but you. Anyone with an accusation against your wife must follow Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 18 — repeated many times on this blog. Your position as head of the household is a role, not an indication of superiority. As Paul writes in Galatians 3:28 NKJV, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” If your wife’s accusers won’t treat both of you that way, the sin is theirs. belleatelier: Bag pipes
In SympathySo whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:9-10 ESV)
Yes, we’re all going to be judged one day. The question is this: Knowing that we share our Father’s dissatisfaction with certain situations, is our response in sympathy with His? Are we patient when He calls for patience? Do we let go when He asks us to? Do we take immediate, decisive action when He prompts us?
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My heart aches every time I think of the late George Carlin. One of his childhood friends was molested by a clergy member. No one said or did anything to relieve this child’s pain, and that turned George Carlin against God forever. As you can see by this quote, he turned his back on God when false religion was the real culprit. Yes, God can ease our pain, but He won’t do it unless we invite Him to. Did this child pray? Did George pray? Undoubtedly.
So what happened? Here’s what Jesus says, “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! (Matthew 18:6-7 KJV). This means that those siblings in the faith — those who could have helped but didn’t — are punishable too.
Where was God? With us, as He is all the time. Did the child misunderstand when help came? I don’t know, and neither do you. Were the molester and knowing bystanders punished in this life? Undoubtedly, because that’s how our perfectly just God works. We didn’t see the punishment, and it may not have satisfied those who did. That doesn’t mean that there is no God.
One thing is certain: It’s the molester and the enablers — not the victim — who’s responsible, and s/he will pay for all eternity.
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1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NKJV According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each ones work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each ones work, of what sort it is. If anyones work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyones work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Yeeeoowww! That last one stung some of you!
It was meant to.
I get it now: Jesus asked me to speak in my own words last time because He wanted you to see the contrast between Friday night and today, between Him and me.
Since Friday, some of you have lived with the knowledge that God is angry with you because you won’t stop sinning. You’ve lived with the understanding that He hasn’t forgiven you. You’ve lived with fear.
What is that about? Isn’t God a God of forgiveness?
Indeed He is, but some of you are confusing forgiveness with unconditional love. Some of you think you have a get-out-of-jail-free card because someone dunked you in their backyard pool once (Or the river. Whatever.)
Folks, if you don’t know God’s Word, how can you do it? In John 15:10-14, Jesus says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
If you don’t keep His commandments, how can you abide in His love?
What does Jesus command us to do in order to receive His forgiveness?
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15)
That’s it: Repent, turn away from your sins as in stop doing them, and start doing what Jesus tells you to do. That’s all.
What about all those prophecies against you?
"Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away." (I Corinthians 13:8)
If you repent.
If not, you live under God’s wrath, and you get me prophesying your doom whenever He asks me to, broadcasting your sins in increasingly specific detail for all to see.
If you’ve got it going on, you’ve noticed that I haven’t mentioned one single sin, haven’t called anybody out today.
That’s what Jesus is offering you.
"Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that,Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Yay! Don’t you want that? If you don’t have it (and if Jesus still has me on your back, you don’t have it), it’s because you haven’t repented yet.
Sin is the only thing standing in your way. You already know you have to repent, but as Paul writes in Romans 7:18-19, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
Yup, you’re gonna do it again, and again, and again, and again. Even if you repent.
How do you get out from under that?
"I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin." (Psalm 32:5)
What about those times when you’re so stubborn, so angry, so pained, so conflicted that you don’t know what’s right?
"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:26-27)
But we have to put in the time. We have to be present. We have to be praying.
I’ve already shown you that Jesus is way cooler than I am. What do you think would happen if, instead of coming here reviling me, you went to Him repenting of the sins you understand, asking Him to show you the sins you don’t, asking Him to help you move forward. What would happen if you stopped wasting time hating me and started gaining time loving Him?
"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)
You want power over someone? Stop sinning, and show Satan Who’s Boss.
Nobody wants to be judged, but everybody wants to be understood. Those two things are impossible to ask of anyone in this world, but what if I told you that your final Judge, the one who decides whether you’ll live or die, is the One Who understands you completely?
John 1:3 tells us that, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” In Jeremiah 1:5, our final Judge tells us, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”
Who is John talking about? Who is speaking in Jeremiah 1:5?
John 5:18-30 records a long speech by our ultimate Judge. In it, He gives us clarity and simple guidelines to follow so that we can pass His judgment with flying colors:
18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.
21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.
27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.
28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice
29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Thank you, Jesus for telling us exactly what’s going on now and what will go on then. You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without You, we’d still be stumbling around in the dark.
Jesus, speaking in John 12:46-50, says:
46 "I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.
49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.
50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
Thank you, Jesus, for making everything crystal clear. He doesn’t judge us now, but will judge us on the last day. He made us. He knows us. He feels — physically — what we’ve been through, because He’s been through it, too. If we’re going to believe anybody about what’s in store for us, there’s no better choice than Jesus.
I don’t understand how anybody ever got the mistaken idea that Christianity is restrictive. Oh, I know unchurched people get that idea from Christians. I just don’t understand how any Christian ever got the idea.
Christianity, for those of you who are now utterly confused, is adherence through faith to the commandments and teachings of Jesus Christ — not televised shouting matches with political opponents.
But I digress.
How could anybody believe that Christianity is restrictive after reading John 8:3-11, which says:
3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst
4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.
5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”
6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.
7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.
9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.
10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more”?
There’s no question that Jesus is going to judge us after we die, but in this life, He gives us tremendous latitude. This life, however long it will be, is literally a grace period.
In this life, we decide what rules we’ll follow and why. We’re subject to society and to natural law, of course, but Jesus doesn’t judge us now. John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
So here’s the question: Will you let Jesus save you? Will you accept the free gift of eternal life, purchased for you by Jesus’ blood, offered to you no matter what you’ve thought about doing; what you’ve done, to whom, or how often?
Will you confess that He is your Savior, as Paul writes in Romans 10:9-11 (emphasis mine)— “[C]onfess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.””
Will you trust Him so completely that you keep His commandments, as He told the rich young ruler to do in Matthew 19:16-22 (emphasis mine)?
16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,
19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Pretty simple: Confess that He is your Savior, keep His commandments, follow Him.
Still sound restrictive? Then, think on this: He loved you so much that He emptied Himself of Godhood, came down to earth, and died a hideous death by crucifixion so that we could have eternal life. Would Someone that good, that loving, ask us to follow pointless commandments, ask us to be someone we’re not?
Most of all, think on this: Would He give us the grace, time, and space to answer those questions for ourselves?
We have a good, good, unfathomably good Savior in Jesus Christ. It is a blessing — not a chore — to confess Him and keep His commandments when we let Him guide our steps, when we let Him tell us how and when someone else needs to hear the Word.
When we invite Him in, and let Him guide us, we actually have more freedom, not less. Freedom from fear, anxiety, hatred (of self and others), anger, hopelessness, hurt, and living death.
I’ve said it before: Christianity is freedom. Jesus is asking you nothing more than to come and be free.