Please bear with me and this post, but I think there are some significant pay-offs if you stick with it as I try to describe something that I am still figuring out. Feedback from several of you regarding the good Reverend Dollar’s talk about salvation indicates this real concern regarding ‘Judgment Day’. Now it is very clear that none of us can truly know the mind of God…not in this life at least. However, God has left us ample evidence in His Word, through scripture that we may at least understand His intent as it applies to us – His creations. So we should proceed as forensic investigators looking for signs supporting our salvation.
We can safely begin as if God has this wonder-filled tropical paradise that He has prepared especially for His children. We can hardly imagine the spectacle that it is tropical or not, but know that it is truly awe-some. And, we know that all of us have open invitations to ultimately dwell in this Kingdom:
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2
Now, in order to get there we need to make the journey to this place. He has left us instructions on the journey and the options we have. (Make no mistake; He wants us all there with Him, and one way or another He will get what He wants. Remember He is God.) I imagine travelling through the airport to Hawaii for instance. I can picture those security check points. They have separate lines set up for the pilots and crews, first class, frequent flyers, and then one reserved for the rest of the passengers. Ultimately all of the travelers will get to Hawaii. Some may get there before others and with less hassle. Some of the passengers may get lost and have to back-track to get there. Some may even have their planes crash and burn, survive on a desert island for years, suffer a bit, be rescued and then start all over again on a new plane. But sooner or later we are going to land in Hawaii, because that is what God wants. Now back to Judgment Day:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire…Revelations 20:11-15
Real scary stuff – it’s imagery that definitely sticks with you. But a couple of things that I am wrestling with… The last phrase in the verse – ‘And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.’ The word ‘if’ – is it even remotely possible that we are all in the book of life? I think of that saying I have heard a couple of times from the pulpit: ‘Even though there may be a hell that does not mean that anyone is going there. Or, I consider several verses in the bible that indicate God’s use of fire as a way to refine or test :
- This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.'” Zech 13:9
- For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. Psalms 66:10
- so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1Peter 1:7
So who is to say that even if some poor souls actually make it to the “lake of fire” that their journey is concluded? Sure it may be a bit uncomfortable, like an overnight layover in Topeka, but could they re-board once ‘refined’ and get back on to Hawaii? I mean Hawaii (Heaven) is gong to be there for all eternity. Now, for us that are believers in Christ none of this even applies. Go to the next chapter in Revelations and see what is in store for us (Stick with me because this is the REALLY GOOD NEWS.):
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
We are the ones whose names are definitely in the book of life. We avoid the long lines and delays. We go onto that line that says ‘First Class’. No Judgment, for we have been freed from Judgment and reconciled by the blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Grace of God:
- 18 He that believeth on him is not judged: he that believeth not hath been judged already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18 (everyone stops after 3:16)
- 18 All of this comes from God, who has reconciled us to himself through the Messiah and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 2Cor 5:18
- “Their sins and lawless act I will remember no more.”– Hebrews 10:17
- For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.1Peter 3:18
- Among others – you can Google it!
Typically, the response to this gift of unmerited favor usually gets a response like, “OK Rob, so if I don’t need to be concerned with Judgment Day as a believing Christian, then I have a ‘Get out of jail free card’ for life! – Yipee! Well yes and no. Yes for most of us who will continue to sin because of our inherent human weakness, no for those who use it as an excuse to sin…St. Paul’s great response sums it up:
And lastly, our non-stop flight to Waikiki is secured by our promise to follow Christ’s simple instruction:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35
To me it is sort of like gathering your immediate family – say your brother and / or sister(s) – in front of your father. Think of that for a second – picture those people. Then you tell your father that you promise to love your siblings and not to do them harm, at the very least, to wish them well. Now at that point could you sin against them? Could you sin against them if you knew for a fact that your father was watching, or would for sure find out about this sin? If you would knowingly then you are likely scheduled for a little longer flight to Hawaii.