Tag Archives: Judgment

What does Christianity have to do with my life?

Last year, Power to Change (York) asked me to speak on this question: What does Christianity have to do with my life? I answered in two parts. The first can be found on my blog post entitled What is Christianity?, and what follows is the second part of my answer.

I want to highlight two gripping ways that Jesus Christ profoundly relates to you. I found these themes in the Bible; specifically in the ancient biography on Jesus written by his close friend Matthew.

1) Jesus is your judge.

Though many people don’t like the idea of judgement, Matthew’s biography clearly shows that Jesus talked a lot about judgement. In fact, Jesus taught that one day in the future, he will come and judge everyone who has ever lived.

In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus paints a picture of what Judgement Day will look like. He is the judge. All peoples will stand before him; and he will separate them, the sheep on his right, and the goats on his left. And their sentence? The sheep (the righteous) will hear: “Come, you who are blessed …” But the goats (the unrighteous) will hear: “Depart from me, you cursed …” Jesus is the judge. He is my judge. He is your judge.

In Matthew 7:24-27 we learn that everyone’s destiny is determined by how they respond to the words of Jesus: destruction for those who don’t trust him, taking him at his word; and life for those who trust him, proving their trust by doing what he says. According to Jesus, your destiny is determined by how you respond to him.

The inevitable event of Jesus’ future judgement ought to inform the way we respond to Jesus now. People save money now in light of future retirement. People pick academic programs now in light of future career plans. Future events have direct ramifications for how we live now. How much more the future judgement!

You may be thinking, “but I’m a good person; I’ll be okay on Judgement Day.” I don’t doubt that you’re a nice person; many Canadians are nice. But when we speak of judgement, the only person’s estimation of your goodness that counts is the Judge’s. So, what does it mean to be good according to Judge Jesus? The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is a great summary of his standards, that is, of true goodness and righteousness. He’s not only concerned with what we do, but what we think, and why we do the things we do; he cares very much about motives. A summary of these righteous standards is found in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Truth is, he knows we’re not. In fact, in the sermon, he calls us “evil” (Mt 7:11). Not the most flattering pre-trial assessment. We need a Saviour. We need forgiveness.  This brings me to my second point.

2) Jesus has the authority to forgive your sins.

The name Jesus means God saves. Before his birth, and angel came to Joseph in a dream, saying, “[Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). Judgement is coming. We deserve to be punished for our sins, but Jesus came to save us. Christianity is pretty simple; as John Stott taught, it’s a “rescue religion.”

In Matthew 9:12-13, Jesus says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick … I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus came to save sinners. He came to save people – people who realize they’re not good in God’s eyes and yet call out to him for help. He came to save the spiritually sick from the impending judgement that is coming.

The good news is that Jesus truly  does have the authority to forgive all of your sins. Anyone, no matter how corrupt your past (or how depraved your current habits), can find full forgiveness in Jesus. Just as he displays his authority over nature, disease, demons and even death, he shows his authority to forgive sins (Mt 8-9). In Matthew 9:1-8, he heals a man who is paralysed and proclaims his authority to forgive sins. Interestingly, he shows his authority empirically while proclaiming his authority to do what can’t be seen: forgive sin. The question is: do you believe? Do you believe he has the authority to forgive sin? Even your sins?

When Jesus came, through his death, resurrection and ascension, he ushered in the New Covenant. A covenant is when God establishes an arrangement with people whereby he is their God and they are his people. When it comes to the New Covenant, Matthew wants us to know that Jesus gave wine to the disciples, saying “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Mt 26:28). God is establishing a relationship with people through Jesus Christ wherein people receive the forgiveness of all of their sins by faith in Jesus. As people forgiven by Jesus, God is their God and they are his people. Again, the way into this covenant is not by works or trying to be a good person. It is by faith in Jesus Christ. This is the only way to receive forgiveness; and therefore peace with God. Everyone from every nation and background is both commanded and invited to come to God through faith in Jesus Christ, the only one who has the authority to forgive sins.

How else will you receive forgiveness?

Though I could go on, those are a couple of pretty significant ways that Jesus Christ relates to you (and me!). You might not feel the relevance; but Jesus certainly sees it. May he help us to both see it and  feel it.

Day 8: “My Time Is Almost Up; I’m Close to the End”

Last week a group of us went door-to-door handing out invites for our summer kid’s program. Arthur and I met a friendly old man named Heinz while walking on the street. Before lone, we got talking to him about the Gospel.

Though we talked for a while and much was said, I was especially struck by Heinz’s words, “But my time is almost up; I’m close the end.” This was his reason for not changing his mindset about God. He figured, “If I’ve lived my whole life not embracing any one religion, why would I start now?” We told him about the judgement to come (Hebrews 9:27) and that we will all stand before Jesus.

After talking about judgement, I said, “Maybe in the Lord’s kindness He sent us to you to tell you the truth before it’s too late.” He smiled and with a bit of a chuckle and said, “Well wouldn’t that be something.” Though he seemed to be joking in part, his eyes didn’t look entirely closed to the possibility.

Another one of his objections was the crusades and other the evil things done in the name of Christ. He said, “There has been a lot of things done in the name of Christ.” We pleaded with him to look to Jesus to learn the truth of Christianity. We encouraged him to read the Bible. He seemed quite intimidated by the size of the Bible and even reading the Gospels. But eventually he settled on the Two Ways to Live booklet that we gave him.

In God’s kind providence, Arthur saw him later that day at the library and Heinz still had the booklet in his chest pocket! May he read it and understand the Gospel of God’s kingdom and grace. Please pray for Heinz.

Bus Stop Dialogue about Judgment Day

I approached a lady at the bus stop this morning, giving her a coin with the 10 commandments and telling her that I am from the church down the road. I explained to her that I am “out spreading the Gospel.” She didn’t look  to be overly thrilled about the idea of talking with me about God. Whatever the case, throughout our conversation she kept interacting with me in a manner that proved that she was really listening and thinking about what I was sharing. Furthermore, she shared what she thought.

I asked her if she had ever broke the 10 commandments. With a smile she said, “We all have.” I said, “Well, yes, that’s true. I have broken all ten commandments, but the fact that I have broken them should not somehow make you feel any better.” I asked if she thought that God would accept her if she was to die today. She was quite. She thought about it and then said, “I don’t know how to answer your question. I do not know. God will decide.” This is the second most common answer that I come across on the streets of Rexdale. The majority of people I meet are confident that God will accept them. Some are not sure, but believe that we cannot know until Judgment Day. Even less believe that God will reject them.

I told her that we can know. I went on to share the Gospel with her, starting in Genesis 1-3. While I was teaching about the holiness of God and the fact that he cannot tolerate wrong, I quoted Paul from Romans saying, “the wages of sin is death.” Interestingly she responded, “but the gift of God is eternal life.” I said, “Ah, so you know this.” I forget how the conversation turned at this point, but it became clear again that she did not believe that we can know how we stand before God until Judgment Day.

By the grace of God, I had an idea. She had the classifieds in her hands. So I said, “see here (pointing at one of the ad’s), we know that (pointing at the name at the bottom of the ad) Charles is selling something. He is selling a Ford (pointing at the title of the ad) and here are all the details (pointing at the middle section). We can know what he is selling because he has spoken about it. She seemed to get my point. I went on, “God has spoken in his Word about the Judgment. In Matthew 25 Jesus said that unrighteous go into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” I said, “Do you believe that you deserve eternal punishment? She said, “I don’t know, do you?” I do not know if she was asking if I deserve eternal punishment or if I think that she deserves eternal punishment. Whatever the case, I said, “Yes, I deserve eternal punishment and so does everyone else. Jesus spoke about hell more than anyone else in the Bible. It is real. And it is where the unrighteous go.”

Then I said, “The question is, ‘Who are the righteous and the unrighteous?'” She shared with me that even religious leaders sin. I could not agree more. I opened up my Bible to Romans 3 and read to her a part of verse 10, which says, “There is no one righteous, no no one.” And then I shared a portion of verse 12: “not one does good, not even one.” At this point the bus was coming, so I gave her the NT with a copy of the Gospel which I have as an insert in the Bible. I encouraged her to read the insert. May the Lord help her to see that she is not righteous and that like me, she must turn to Christ for the forgiveness of sins and for justification. Oh that she may be concerned about her sin and oh that she may fear the judgment – and then, may she cry out for mercy (before it is too late!). May we take seriously our call to “save others by snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 23b). Not that we save people – but may the Lord grant us grace to spread His Word and plead with fellow sinners to be reconciled to God – this is “snatching.”