Bruce Ball tells an old story that took place in a western town in the late 1800’s. A horse was spooked and then bolted, running away uncontrollably with a small boy in the bed of the wagon. Seeing the child was in grave danger, a young man risked his life to catch the horse and stop the wagon, thus saving the boy’s life.
The child who was saved grew up to become a lawless man, and was finally arrested for killing an unarmed man over a disagreement. He was arrested and eventually stood before the judge. As he looked up at the judge, he recognized him as the young man who had saved him so many years before. Seizing an opportunity that might save him, the killer told the judge that he was the boy who the judge had saved and then he asked the judge for mercy.
The response from the judge left the guilty man stammering for words. The judge said, “Young man, I came to you before as your savior, and I gave you the chance to become something good. You ignored that chance and lived according to your own rules. Today, I come before you as your judge, and I must hold you accountable for what you have done. I sentence you to death.”
This story, while it may be apocryphal, illustrates the situation each of us face and the changing role of Jesus.
In one of the great scenes recorded in Scripture Jesus enters into Jerusalem during the last week of his life to a welcoming multitude of people crying,
“Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
The King of Israel!” (John 12:13).
In Jesus’ words following this He clearly identifies himself as the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. He proclaims Himself to be “the light of the world.” And the One who came to save the world from the darkness, destruction and damnation of sin. Then he issues this solemn warning:
“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
When it comes to doctrinal issues, lifestyle choices and the terms of salvation as revealed in Scripture, many folks like to dismiss such issues by saying things like, “Just accept Jesus in your heart.”
When we teach, preach and write on these topics, we are charged with being judgmental. Furthermore, we are reminded that Jesus came “to seek and save the lost” (Lk 19:10). He came not to judge the world, but to save the world (Jn. 12:47). So, we are chided that we should not make moral and religious differences. Jesus loves everyone. And the supreme commandment is simply love.
While all of this sounds good, it ignores our theme verse today. And other passages of Scripture that speak to a similar Truth.
Yes, Jesus came on a rescue mission to earth to save humankind from sin. But our salvation is conditioned on His terms. Not our opinions. He said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). In His famous Mountain Message, Jesus issued this warning, “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).
Being right with Lord is not left to our subjective views that may change with cultural correctness. It is not some fuzzy feeling. Nor is it reduced to our definition of what love is.
It is based on “the Word.” What word? It is “the word of the gospel.” The Word of Truth.” “The faith” once delivered to the saints.” The “one faith” revealed by the Holy Spirit to the inspired apostles and prophets (Ax 15:7; Col. 1:5; Jude 3; Eph.4:4; Eph 3:3-5).
It does make a difference what we believe. How we live. Who we love. The way we worship. The fellowship we embrace. The doctrine we teach. And the values that guide our lives.
Yes, Jesus came to save us from sin. He brought the Father’s message. And executed His perfect plan.
But one day, He will apply that Word as a basis for judgment. What will He say when you and I “appear before the judgment seat of Christ?” (2Cor 5:10)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman