February 21, 2021 – Living Grace
Where do people get the idea that sometime in the future there will be a day of reckoning? Everyone seems to have an opinion about what happens to a person after they die. Most people, and most religions, believe that there is some kind of afterlife. And most believe some kind of determination will be made by someone or something about the life of the individual … whether a person was good or bad. The alternative to having this belief is to not have this belief … that when a person dies, that’s it. Over. Done. Nothing. Oblivion. Poof!
It’s pretty obvious from reading books and novels and sci-fi, or watching movies or TV, that belief in something in the hereafter is the preferred way to go. If you’re into Star Wars, you are either Darth Vadar and you’ve used the “dark side of the force” to prey on mostly good people, or you are a combination of Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi, and you’ve tapped into the good side of “the force,” and you are a galactic hero.
I want us to focus our attention today on the afterlife, and in particular, a coming “judgment day.” That’s the day when, most people believe, you either get to go to heaven, limbo, or hell.
The USA Today online page, AZCentral, reported what was trending on Twitter yesterday: “Rush Limbaugh has died, and now he can ‘rot in hell’ where he can join the ‘Hall of Shame’ for eternity. Sound harsh? But that appears to be the sentiment of a fair amount of Twitter users …”
One such Tweet came from Saturday Night Live’s Luke Null. He wrote, “Rush Limbaugh already started a radio show in Hell, and is ranting about how the devil should shut the fiery gates because all these OUTSIDERS are ruining everything!”
The View is a daytime show on ABC. Fox News reported, “The liberal hosts of ‘The View’ blasted conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh the day after his death, saying Thursday that he ‘normalized hatred’ for ‘people sitting in their trucks in the middle of America’ and suggesting he was in Hell. Co-host Sara Haines said while many were mourning Limbaugh, ‘many are not’ and blamed him for the ‘beginning of conspiracy theories.’ She even suggested he would wind up in Hell. ‘At the end of our lives, it’s just us, answering for everything we did, who we were, what we said, and how we treated people,’ Haines said. ‘And so now, Judgment Day has arrived for Rush Limbaugh.’”
WOW! Talk about a judgment call …
The Bible talks a lot about a day of judgment. Check out 1 Peter 4:5, 7a NLT
5 But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead. …. 7 “The end of the world is coming soon.”
Jesus said something about judgment in Matthew 7. He was concluding His famous “Sermon on the Mount” when He said, 1“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For God will judge you as you judge others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
Later, in Matthew 7 (vss 21-23) Jesus, speaking of a day of judgment, said: 21 “Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’”
The writer of the book of Hebrews mentions death and judgment this way: (Hebrews 9:27-28) 27 “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.”
C. S. Lewis, the man who wrote a best seller entitled Mere Christianity, had some observations that we should examine.
Among the Jews living about 2,000 years ago in Palestine “… there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time.
“Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.
“One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins.
Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man … who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money?
“…. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences.
“This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.
“… I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.”
That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg … or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.
“You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
I want to make a prediction. As time goes by you and I will hear more and more about “end time prophecies,” the “end of the world,” climate change that leads to a dead planet, atomic warfare recklessness, Iranian terrorism, the nation of Israel, a person called “the anti-christ,” something called “the mark of the beast,” etc., etc.
Sprinkled in with all the gloomy predictions, political nonsense and government malpractice you’ll begin to hear more and more about the conspiracy theory of all time … JUDGMENT DAY. JESUS took it seriously. So should you and I.
If you are a follower of Jesus, your hope is in Jesus – you believe that He was and is who He said He was and is. You believe in the Bethlehem Christmas story, His three years of preaching and teaching, His recruiting disciples and calling twelve of them “apostles,” and you believe that He was arrested, condemned to death on a Roman Cross, that He did in fact die on that Cross, was buried, and three days later He was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit and the will of His Father in heaven. And you believe that 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven in front of hundreds of witnesses … and those witnesses were so sold on His authenticity and His authority that they faced death rather than deny Him.
Let me remind you … When it’s all said and done, you really do believe Hebrews 9:27-28: 27 “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.”
I want to encourage you today. Time is winding down. Like Peter said, (1 Peter 4:7a NLT), 7 “The end of the world is coming soon.”
If you are a Christ-follower, you don’t need to fear anything or anyone. The future has already been decided in your favor.
Now, today … because Jesus died for you, live for Him. Trust Him. Talk about Him. TALK WITH HIM. Share your story with other people. Live your life in a way that brings God glory and not shame. Jesus has you in the palm of His nail-scarred hand, and He will not let you go! Like we talked about last week … put on the full armor of God that’s described in Ephesians 6 … and win spiritual battles every day by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
And above all … remember that the outcome of your story does not rest on your performance but on what Jesus did for you and what He has done IN YOU. Don’t put your faith in your faith. Keep your eyes focused on Him and what He did, and it will affect what you do.
Judgment Day is coming. Live like it may come tonight.
 I Peter 4:5,7a Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
 Matthew 7:1-2, 21-23. Ibid.
 Hebrews 9:27-28. Ibid.
 Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis; The MacMillan Company, New York, New York, © 1943, 1945, 1952; paperback edition 1960. Pages 51-56, Chapter: “The Shocking Alternative.”
 I Peter 4:7a Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.