In the previous lesson, we dealt with some of the bad news. Part of that had to do with the wages of sin: death. The Scriptures explain to us that we will all face physical death.
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.Hebrews 9:271
We will all face death and judgment. That’s what we all have in common. However, what you will personally be accountable for on the judgment day will be unique to you. Are you prepared to face God on that day?
Consider Jesus’ ultimatum:
Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.John 8:24
Those who refuse to believe in Jesus will die in their sins. This can be contrasted with dying in the Lord.
And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”Revelation 14:13
Later, John describes another vision.
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 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.Revelation 20:11–15
For many people this is a scary scene. It reminds us of the reality of death. Not only that, but everyone who dies will have to stand before the One who sits on the throne. Are you prepared for that day? Those who are faithful will die once and live twice. But those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ will live once and die twice. In order to die in the Lord, Jesus explains that we must believe in Him. But what does that mean?
First, let’s talk about what it doesn’t mean. In the fairytale world, belief is a child’s or character’s way of escaping his or her current situation to go to some magical land. During the holidays, some children are taught that if they believe in an old man in a red suit, then he will give them presents. Unfortunately, some people have started applying these types of “faith” to their “relationship” with Jesus Christ, the Lord of heaven and earth. Simply acknowledging that Jesus exists doesn’t cut it. In fact, many people will be surprised on the day of judgment that even going beyond that still will not guarantee their place in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus says:
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”Matthew 7:21–23
Most of us would admit that calling Jesus our Lord is important. Equally important is performing good deeds in His name. After all, “faith without works is useless” (James 2:20). However, Jesus claims that many of those who call Him Lord and do mighty deeds in His name will still have to depart from Him on the Judgment Day. So, what is missing from the equation? Apparently, it was obedience to the Father’s will and a true knowledge of Jesus. Which brings us to what true faith in Jesus actually is.
The most popular verse in the Bible states:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.John 3:16
Again, we see belief in Jesus connected with eternal life (in other words, dying in the Lord). Many well-intentioned people have perverted this passage and have taught others that all we have to do is believe Jesus is real, and He will give us presents. That sounds a lot like the jolly, old man in a red suit, doesn’t it? Just a few verses later, the Bible says:
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.John 3:36
Many people love to call Jesus the Savior, which He certainly is (Acts 13:23). However, people are all too hesitant to show it through their lives that He is Lord. The New Testament refers to Christ hundreds of times more as Lord than as Savior. He must be your Lord before He can be your Savior. If Jesus is your Lord, He is your Master; He is the Ruler of your life; He is your King.
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.Hebrews 5:8-9
Jesus Christ authors salvation to “all those who obey Him.” Jesus Christ is the worthy “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14). Jesus Christ deserves our loyalty. How shameful it is to call Him our Lord and not do what He says! In fact, He feels the same way. He once said to a group of His followers:
Why do you call Me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.Luke 6:46-49
Paul knew the importance of this by saying:
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.Philippians 1:21
While we are alive, we must live for Christ, committed to obeying Him in everything. If we can commit to that, we too can look forward to death. If Christ is your Lord, you must be His servant. There is no other way to have it. Those who play the hypocrite by “believing” in Christ by thought or word only will learn the above parable all too well. Does this mean that we must be perfect and never sin? Of course not. We will talk about that in a later lesson. But what this does mean is that we will do all we can to serve Him today so that at the end of our lives, we won’t have to fear death. Instead we can look forward to these beautiful words:
…Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.Matthew 25:23 NKJV