Foundations for a Christian Worldview: Begin Here (6)
So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. James 2.12
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus… Romans 8.1
Not near, perhaps, but sure
The end is near!
At the risk of sounding like a sandaled prophet carrying a home-made sign, I need to remind us: All good things must come to an end, even this life and everything about it we love. This is a fundamental and important component of the Christian worldview, rooted in the garden of Eden and the Law of God (Gen. 2.17; Lev. 22.9), and proved in every generation of humankind.
The end for every one of us, if not near, is at least, sure.
Now folks don’t like to talk about dying. Humans can be very creative in the various ways they euphemize, and try to postpone, ignore, deny, or otherwise avoid the subject. All living things die, and that includes all human beings.
To die once
Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker which reads (and I modify here), “Life’s a bummer; then you die.” The writer of Hebrews tells us that people live under the fear of death (Heb. 2.15). What are they afraid of, I wonder?
Some, perhaps, of the manner in which they might die? They’d prefer a minimum of pain and suffering. Don’t drag it out. Don’t let it be violent. Just let me go in my sleep, if you will.
Others fear simply no longer existing. What will that be like? But I don’t know why they should fear this, if no longer existing is the consequence of death. If they’re no longer existing, they won’t care.
But nobody wants to not exist. We want to live, and if we have to die, well, then, we’d like to live somehow, somewhere else, where we didn’t have to fear dying again – a feature of every religion known to humankind, except the religion of secularism. Secularism, with its entrenched naturalism and materialism, has nothing good to offer in the way of hope beyond the grave. This is perhaps the one point of Biblical religion that secularists will affirm: “…it is appointed for men to die once…” (Heb. 9.27).
But this is the problem most folks face: They know they aren’t meant for death. They’re meant for life. Life is what human beings are all about. Death is the enemy. Death is the Grim Reaper, not simply the Inevitable Consequence. People don’t like to think about death, and I suspect that one reason is the haunting fear that, after death, existence might continuein some form.
And in that after-death-existence, “living” might not be, well, worth it?
After this the judgment
Could it even be that judgment awaits us?
This is, of course, what the Christian worldview teaches. A day of judgment is coming for all, when all shall come under the searchlight of the Law of God and render an accounting of their lives. We do no one a favor either by refusing to acknowledge this, or to make it known to the people around. We’re all going to die, and then we’re all going to appear before the judgment seat of God.
James says that, knowing this to be the case (as those who hold the Christian worldview certainly do know), we should live each day toward the end, preparing for that great assize by walking in obedience to the Law of God, not in order to gain salvation, but to show the salvation of God to the world through good works of love, and to prove our claim of being saved by not presenting ourselves to Jesus as lawless but lawful (Eph. 2.8-10; Matt. 7.21-23).
The true believer “suits up” for each day by renewing his testimony of Jesus and putting on the Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness, walking in the Law of liberty and love (Rom. 14.13, 14; 1 Jn. 2.1-6).
Believers do not fear what follows death, for they know that Jesus Christ has already stood in their place to receive the condemnation which the Law declares against all those who transgress the Law of God. And that would be all of us.
Whew! Half-way there to the presence of God: The judgment against us is satisfied. The wicked serpent bruised the heel of Jesus on the cross, while Jesus crushed His head by overcoming death and the grave, and by rising to glory and eternal reign (Gen. 3.15).
But Jesus does not leave us merely half-way into the presence of God. He satisfied the wrath of God against our sins, and this came at the end of a life of perfectly obeying the Law of God in every detail, which, by doing so, accomplished all the righteousness we will ever need to come fully into the presence of the eternal God of glory. As Paul summarized this twofold work of Jesus, “[God] made Him who knew no sin to besin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5.21).
Death may still hold a certain dread for believers. That’s only natural. And the loss of a loved one through death is, for believers, a time of grief and sorrow. But even that dread and grieving will one day be no more, when death is swallowed up in eternal life for all who hold the testimony of Jesus and keep the commandments of God.
So for now, we live toward the end, filling our lives with the holiness, righteousness, and goodness of God and His Law, following the path that Jesus walked in good works of rejoicing and love.
If we’re to live this way, with a view to the coming judgment of God, then we must anchor our Christian worldview in the Law of God, so that our testimony of Jesus will be borne out in our daily lives in the form of love for God and our neighbors.
That way, when we arrive at the end of life, we’ll be “well-suited” to endure the judgment that is sure to come.
Questions for reflection
1. Why is it important to include the bad news of judgment whenever we share the Good News of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ?
2. Why does it only make sense to bring our lives into line with the teaching of God’s Law?
3. Believers do not fear the judgment of God, but does this mean they can live any old way they want? Explain.
Next steps – Preparation: Outline what you would say about the judgment to come when sharing the Gospel. Share your outline with a Christian friend.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
Living toward the End
- T.M. Moore
- March 20, 2019
The Christian knows how it all ends, and is ready.
Foundations for a Christian Worldview: Begin Here (6)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.