Tag Archives: judgment day

Why We Cannot Live Without a Judge

When you read the Revelation to John and scratch your head (as every reader does to one degree or another), there is one truth that helps make sense of the whole book: it was written to encourage persecuted Christians that there was coming a Day of Judgment on their enemies. For instance…

They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”…Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” Revelation 6:10-17 (ESV)

Now, it is avant-garde today to reject the idea of a judge, and people are saying today that the idea of a judging God is primitive. Moreover, many claim to be liberated by the idea that there is no God and thus no judge of the world. Ergo, they can do whatever they like morally. They sum up their thinking with this little chestnut: “What’s right for you may not be right for me. Each one must choose what is right and wrong for himself.” Tim Keller says that when intellectual New Yorkers would greet him after a service with this thinking, his question to them would go like this:

“Is there anyone in the world right now doing things you believe they should stop doing no matter what they personally believe about the correctness of their behavior?” They would invariably say, “Yes, of course.” Then I would ask, “Doesn’t that mean that you do believe there is some kind of moral reality that is ‘there’ that is not defined by us, that must be abided by regardless of what a person feels or thinks?” Almost always, the response to that question was a silence, either a thoughtful or a grumpy one.

Keller, Timothy (2008-02-14). The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (p. 45). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Keller also speaks to the idea of “no judge” through a quote from playwright Arthur Miller, and an atheist character named Quentin in his play, After the Fall. Here is Quentin beginning to realize what it really means to believe that there is no judge in the world:

Quentin says: For many years I looked at life like a case at law. It was a series of proofs. When you’re young you prove how brave you are, or smart; then, what a good lover; then, a good father; finally, how wise, or powerful or [whatever.] But underlying it all, I see now, there was a presumption. That one moved… on an upward path toward some elevation, where… God knows what… I would be justified, or even condemned. A verdict anyway. I think now that my disaster really began when I looked up one day… and the bench was empty. No judge in sight. And all that remained was the endless argument with oneself, this pointless litigation of existence before an empty bench…. Which, of course, is another way of saying— despair. 20

Keller: “What is he saying? We all live as if it is better to seek peace instead of war, to tell the truth instead of lying, to care and nurture rather than to destroy. We believe that these choices are not pointless, that it matters which way we choose to live. Yet if the Cosmic Bench is truly empty, then “who sez” that one choice is better than the others? We can argue about it, but it’s just pointless arguing, endless litigation.

“If the Bench is truly empty, then the whole span of human civilization, even if it lasts a few million years, will be just an infinitesimally brief spark in relation to the oceans of dead time that preceded it and will follow it. There will be no one around to remember any of it. Whether we are loving or cruel in the end would make no difference at all.

“Once we realize this situation there are two options. One is that we can simply refuse to think out the implications of all this. We can hold on to our intellectual belief in an empty Bench and yet live as if our choices are meaningful and as if there is a difference between love and cruelty. Why would we do that? A cynic might say that this is a way of “having one’s cake and eating it, too.” That is, you get the benefit of having a God without the cost of following him. But there is no integrity in that.

“The other option is to recognize that you do know there is a God. You could accept the fact that you live as if beauty and love have meaning, as if there is meaning in life, as if human beings have inherent dignity— all because you know God exists. It is dishonest to live as if he is there and yet fail to acknowledge the one who has given you all these gifts. Keller, Timothy,The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

For Thursday, December 10th: Revelation 7

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Posted by on December 9, 2015 in Uncategorized


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All is Discovered…Flee!

Maybe you’ve heard the story told of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, who once got bored and wanted to have a little fun, so he sent a note to 6 or so of his “respectable” friends with the same message to each one, “All is discovered; flee at once.” As the story goes, 2 or 3 of them left the country immediately. One was never heard from again.

The story is likely apocryphal – the above is my summation of the different versions I saw on the web – but even if it isn’t true, the point isn’t a bad one: many people have skeletons in their closets, and faced with the possibility of being found out, they would do anything to save their (false) reputation.

Well, I hate to break it to these folks, but it’s really too late, because there is coming a day when every dreaded deed and every silenced secret will be revealed:

The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. 1 Timothy 5:24 (ESV)

Here Paul tells Timothy that there are two kinds of sin. The first kind you recognize right away, like a burst of anger, and the second kind reveals itself later, like cooking the books at your company or that illicit affair. Whether you are found out in this life or the next…you will be found out. Jesus Himself said so…

Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. Luke 12:2-3 (ESV)

Get ready, in other words, because all will be discovered, and there will be nowhere to flee. And yet there is another side to the story, for Paul tells Timothy that just as all our evil deeds will be found out, so will all of our secret kindnesses:

So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden. 1 Timothy 5:25 (ESV)

And as for the idea that there will be “nowhere to flee” from the Judgment Day report of our lifetime of wrongdoings, that’s not quite right, now, is it? As for me, I plan to flee to Christ. For Paul also tells us that Christ will take the believer’s sin on Himself…and “in Him (we will become) the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

For Wednesday, September 2nd: 1 Timothy 6

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Posted by on September 1, 2015 in Good Deeds, Secret Sin


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How to be Known by God

Many ask the question, “Do you know God?” It’s a good question, and a biblical one, but there is another way to consider our relationship with the Lord.  It is to ask the question, “Does God know you?” This question is just as important as the first.

Paul put it this way…

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God…  Galatians 4:9 (ESV)

To know God puts the initiative in me. To be known by God, well, that puts the initiative with Him. And that’s really where the initiative should be.

More than that, we are in for danger if God does not know us. Famously, Jesus will say on judgment day, “Away from me, I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23).

And so you ask, how can I be certain that God knows me?

Well, consider this: Suppose you told me, “President Obama knows me,” and I said, “Sure he does.”  And you said, “Well, I sent him a letter.”  And I would reply, “He gets letters all the time. What does that prove?” But suppose you answered, “Yes…but I have a letter back from Him.” Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.  Now I have at least an indication that Mr. Obama really knows you.

What does this mean for being known by God?  Well, if God knows you, He will speak to you in His word. There will be some times in your life when you open your Bible to read and there will be fire in the pages. It will suddenly be a living book to you with a speaking God who knows you. Now, let me be quick to say that every word in the Bible is God’s word, and this cannot be overemphasized. Every word is His word and can therefore speak to you. But if you really know God, you will have moments, likely not every day, but occasionally, when you are spending time in the Word and the Holy Spirit will seemingly put a highlight pen through a verse or a phrase. And in that moment, you will know that God is actually speaking to you. Or it may happen that you are walking along and praying about something, and suddenly, a verse will come to your mind and it will be God dealing with you personally. Or it may be that you are listening to a sermon and suddenly, you will have a sense that the word coming from the pulpit is alive and is transforming you. This is knowing God.

In Genesis 16:13, Hagar prays to the Lord, “You are the God who sees me.”  And why does she put it that way?  Because, God told her he was going to take care of her. He told her He had His eye on her son and his eye on her. And she knew that she was known. And there is nothing better in the world than to be known by God.

How can you know God and be known by Him? We get a clue in the passage I referenced from Matthew 7, where Jesus says,

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:22-23 (ESV)

The reason this passage is scary is that these are clearly church people. Some have done more for the Lord than I have. Yet, take note – see what the multitudes are hoping in on the Day of Judgment – They are basing their eternal hopes on the idea that they DID THINGS for Him. So many will come before God with this in mind on the final day.

The way to be known by God, though, is not to do things for Him. It is, rather, to place your faith in Him. As Paul wrote the church at Ephesus: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

When He, from His lofty throne,
Stooped to do and die,
Ev’rything was fully done;
Hearken to His cry!

Weary, working, burdened one,
Wherefore toil you so?
Cease your doing; all was done
Long, long ago.

Till to Jesus’ work you cling
By a simple faith,
“Doing” is a deadly thing—
“Doing” ends in death.

Cast your deadly “doing” down—
Down at Jesus’ feet;
Stand in Him, in Him alone,
Gloriously complete.

– James Proctor


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Posted by on June 18, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The Two Great Lies of Satan

images[9]According to Jesus in John 8:44, Satan is a “liar and the father of lies,” and I think he tells two whoppers with amazing regularity.

First, Satan steadily whispers to non-believers: “Things are honky – dory between you and God.” This is a lie, of course, because they are under His wrath for their sin. (…whoever does not believe is condemned…the wrath of God remains on him.) John 3:18…36 (ESV)

Back in the day, I’m pretty sure he was telling it to me – it was certainly my assumption as a non-believer. I reasoned that if there was a God, he would think I was absolutely terrific. My parents sure did, and God was just my cosmic parent, right? Therefore I had nothing to fear, even though I had thumbed my nose at him with my outspoken atheism in high school. In spite of this, I assumed that any God out there would still think I was cute and lovable. After all, I was a good person. And as to any reputed sin, I used the same reasoning as Heinrich Heine, the famous nineteenth century German poet, who reputedly said on his deathbed: “Of course God will forgive me; that’s his job.”

Satan tells this lie to keep men and women right where he wants them – not repenting and turning to Christ for salvation and therefore…not living for God. It is the devil’s first lie, his first line of defense against humankind, and I’ll bet he tells it to non-believers all the time: “You have nothing to worry about on judgment day.”

But when a man begins to see his sin and realize that judgment day might indeed be a problem, by the grace of God, he turns to Christ for salvation. This is where the second lie comes in – now, using a sort of spiritual jujitsu, Satan says, “Things are not a-ok between you and God.” It’s a twisting of Romans 8:1 into satanic verse: “There is condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” You see, I’ve lived within my own thoughts long enough and counseled enough people to know that many Christians assume that though God will accept them into heaven, it will definitely be a grudging act: “Well, alright, I guess you can come in…but keep your voice down.”

The first lie magnifies our good works – “God couldn’t be mad at someone like you.” The second lie magnifies our sin – “How could He stand to have someone like you around?” And the end result of this second lie is always the same – a defeated Christian, defeated because he assumes he can have no fellowship with the Lord, that despite the hopeful promise in Romans 5:1, there is indeed…no peace with God.

The solution? As always – Satan’s lies are defeated by the truth of the gospel wherein the non-believer realizes the fact of sin and judgment, and the Christian realizes that sin has been paid for at the cross…meaning not only that eternal fellowship in heaven is a guarantee, but so is fellowship with God…today.

When Satan tempts me to despair

And tells me of the guilt within,

Upward I look and see Him there

Who made an end of all my sin.

  • “Before the Throne of God Above”, by Charitie Bancroft

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Posted by on July 31, 2014 in Uncategorized


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