How are you going to feel when you see Jesus? At the moment of death, just after your last breath when you finally stand before Him, will you be filled with indescribable joy in the presence of the Alpha and Omega, the Author and Finisher of your faith? Or, will you be afraid–or ashamed?
“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent [in our human bodies] to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” (2 Corinthians 5:9-11)
One of my greatest desires is that I be neither afraid, nor ashamed, when I see God. But why would any of us be either? Let’s take a look.
1) Fear is what those who have rejected Jesus in this life will experience–the fear that recognizes one’s own unfathomable and unforgiven guilt, and the punishment it is rightly about to receive. It will be an emotion perhaps more rightly described as horror, because it will be an ultimate recognition that those who urged us to be made right with God through Jesus were correct, yet which at that point will not longer be possible because “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Many of us feel we’re okay in this regard because we accepted Jesus once, but the Bible urges “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith…” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Jesus clearly said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23, NIV)
It isn’t our works that save us–forgiveness and right standing is through Christ and Christ alone–but our obedience, or lack of it, evidences our faith–or lack of it. Remember that faith is a package deal that involves agreeing with God regarding our sinfulness, trusting in the forgiveness we have through the finished work of Christ on the cross, and aligning ourselves under His authority. Merely believing He exists is useless. As James explains, “You believe that ‘God is one?’ Good for you! The demons believe it too–the thought makes them shudder with fear…such ‘faith’ apart from actions is barren…” (James 2:19-20, CJB)
But what does it mean to reject Jesus? I believe we reject Jesus to a certain extent anytime His Spirit moves us and we refuse Him and push away. This is not to say that those who consistently walk with Christ will be rejected because they’ve ever ignored the prodding of the Holy Spirit, because then all of us would be lost! It is, however, dangerous to ignore the Spirit’s conviction because Hebrew 10 is, perhaps, the most highly disconcerting passage of Scripture:
“For if we go on willfully and deliberately sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice [to atone] for our sins [that is, no further offering to anticipate], but a kind of awful and terrifying expectation of [divine] judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE and BURNING WRATH WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES [those who put themselves in opposition to God]. Anyone who has ignored and set aside the Law of Moses is put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much greater punishment do you think he will deserve who has rejected and trampled under foot the Son of God, and has considered unclean and common the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and has insulted the Spirit of grace [who imparts the unmerited favor and blessing of God]? For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE [retribution and the deliverance of justice rest with Me], I WILL REPAY [the wrongdoer].” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” It is a fearful and terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God [incurring His judgment and wrath].” (Hebrews 10:26-31 AMP)
2) But why might I be ashamed? Even if I have not rejected Jesus; even if I am completely covered by the forgiveness God freely gives through Jesus’ death–I would be ashamed if it turned out that I have squandered the time God has allowed me here on earth. And how might I squander my time? By pursuing the things of this life too much–by being preoccupied and distracted to the point that I failed to do the “…good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) This life has only so many years, days, and hours; I cannot be eagerly working towards His kingdom and my own at the same time–like Jesus said, either I will be devoted to the one (God), or I will be devoted to the other (engrossed in my covetousness, idolatrous in my desire for and pursuit of the things of this world; see Matthew 6:24).
So obviously, I have two questions to ask myself. First–have I agreed with God about my sins, and committed myself to His mercy because of the death of Jesus–am I right with Him on a daily basis? If so, I have no reason to fear death, or what comes after. And second–am I pursuing His purposes, His kingdom, His work, not engrossed in mine? Then, I will not need to be ashamed either, for I am being faithful.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Help me live my life so I will be neither afraid, nor ashamed when I face You! Amen.
“The apostle quickens himself and others to acts of duty. Well-grounded hopes of heaven will not encourage sloth and sinful security. Let all consider the judgment to come, which is called, The terror of the Lord. Knowing what terrible vengeance the Lord would execute upon the workers of iniquity, the apostle and his brethren used every argument and persuasion, to lead men to believe in the Lord Jesus, and to act as his disciples. Their zeal and diligence were for the glory of God and the good of the church. Christ’s love to us will have a like effect upon us, if duly considered and rightly judged. All were lost and undone, dead and ruined, slaves to sin, having no power to deliver themselves, and must have remained thus miserable for ever, if Christ had not died. We should not make ourselves, but Christ, the end of our living and actions. A Christian’s life should be devoted to Christ. Alas, how many show the worthlessness of their professed faith and love, by living to themselves and to the world!” (Matthew 5:9-15)