As Christians, we are really bad about assuming people have any idea what we are talking about. We use “churchy” words that we are very familiar with, but someone who has never been in church much has no concept or context with which to understand it. “Salvation” and “saved” and perhaps the biggest examples of this. My friend and occaisional contributor on this blog Jim Groth helped out during Judgement House recently, filling in my spot when I had to go fill the role of someone who went home sick. Jim was gracious enough to write down what he shared with people as they came to the end of Judgment House, and it was so well stated, that I thought I would post it up here. Thanks again, Jim:
“At the end of life there are only two paths or alternatives. It doesn’t make any difference if you like it or not, believe it or not or just think it’s unfair.
The one alternative available is Heaven. In heaven you will experience eternal joy, peace, love, happiness, security. It will be unspeakable wonderful.
You will go to Hell. There you will experience eternal bitterness, hatred, envy, total hopelessness, with no joy, no happiness, complete insecurity, and extreme torment.
Our problem is that we must decide this issue on this side of death. There is a reason for that. The Bible tells us we are made righteous by faith. Faith can only be exercised on this side of the grave. I’ll mention more about that in just a few minutes. Once we die, there is no need for faith, the situation is then obvious.
We all have a real problem. We are born into this world alienated from God and as his enemies. Everyone! You cannot escape it. It makes no difference that you have sinned very little or a lot or what you may have done or not done. It makes no difference who you are… a pastor, fireman, teacher, in the choir, teaching Sunday School or whatever. Our biggest problem with this is there is nothing at all we can do about it. The evidence is seen in our acts of behavior we call sins. They are proof of our problem just as spots are the symptoms of measles. So now we have personal accountability. This is the situation unless God intervenes. We are all condemned.
God in his love has intervened. Jesus was born as a baby. But his birth was very different than ours. He was born of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary. In contrast we were all born in the natural way. He was not born alienated from God as we were. His birth was unique.
He lived a perfect sinless life. He described it this way: He said he never did anything that the Father did not tell him to do, and he never did anything without the Father telling him to do it. His will was always subject to His Father’s will. They lived in perfect unity of will and mind. All based upon their love for each other. This was his perfection. They were completely united. This is what God intended for us… to have the same unity and love. It was his desire that we should have the righteousness of Jesus. He lived a perfect life in our place so that his perfection can be transferred to us. God wants no one to be alienated from him.
In his life we see the kind of perfect unity of will, mind and love when Jesus asked his Father, in the Garden of Gethsemane that the burden of the cross be lifted from me. But he concludes with the words, “Not my will but yours be done.” He is always in subordination to his Father and without resentment.
And so we see Jesus go to the cross. At the moment of his greatest agony, he cries out from the cross, “My Father my Father why have you forsaken me?” Why has the one who created the universe been forsaken by God? The answer to “Why?” is because at that moment your sins, my sins and the sins of the whole world were laid on him. The Father reacts the only way he can. Sin cannot be in the presence of God. He steps away from Jesus. In horror, He turns his back to him. Jesus, with our sins, is rejected by God. The Bible tells us Jesus became sin. He became sin so that we may receive his righteousness. Here in the greatest moment of history, we are declared not guilty of sins and Jesus, God himself, takes the blame, guilt and shame. So the deck is cleared. No longer do our acts of sin, lying, cheating, hating, etc., count against us. They now count against Jesus. We all, the entire human race is declared not guilty of any evil acts. The sin problem is resolved.
But, even though we are no longer guilty of sins we are still alienated from God. We are still spiritually dead. When Jesus took our sin, He made what was not possible now possible. We can have new life. We can be made as righteous as Jesus. Jesus wants us to have the perfect life he lived for us as our substitute. The means for this is faith. The Bible tells us we are made righteous by grace through faith. All we need to do is trust what He says is true. God wants us to count on faith and turn away from our own schemes and mechanisms to appease God to get Him to bless us. God is not interested in our sucking up to Him. What He wants is our trust. That is all He has ever wanted. We put our hand in His, trusting Him, trusting that what He said is true. It is when we do that that we are born again as new creations with the righteousness of Christ. Our identity has completely changed. We are no longer His enemies–we are His friends. This is true of you if you simply trust in Jesus.”