The Good News of the Judgment

The Good News of the Judgment Hour
William Diehl

The universal yearning in the heart of man is to be free from fear. Despite all of the bumper stickers proclaiming "No Fear", fear is everywhere. The constant aching fear that gnaws at the heart of individuals, families, and nations is the haunting inescapable awareness of Death. Death stares us in the face from the moment of birth and we spend most of our lives running from the inevitable. But even more terrifying than death is the unspoken and frightening awareness that we must ultimately answer to God our Creator for the sins and deeds of our lives. All of the hypocrisy, selfishness, greed, lust for power and dominance, anger, and impurity which we cover with "civility" is open and in full view of the Judge of all. No matter where one goes in the world, the fear of death and the fear of divine judgment at the end of life's journey is on the minds of every society and culture one encounters. The terror of facing life's record is etched upon the heart of every man.

Religion is the term used to describe the various systems of thought that have developed to meet this universal need to deal with and manage Man's fear of death and guilt. Where would mankind be without a religion to deal with guilt and death? There is in fact no one who does not have a religion. Without a rational explanation for suffering, injustice, and death a man will slip into a state of total despair. Without a way to deal with guilt, we become paralyzed and unable to cope and endure the discomforts of life. Man must find meaning to life or he will despair of making the effort that it takes just to survive in the hostile environment of reality. When confronted with the reality of our situation we often repine, "Why me? What did I do to deserve this?" or we have all said either aloud or under our breath, "What am I doing here?" or "Pinch me so that I can wake up from this bad dream called life." Only those who have suffered in life can appreciate the depths of this vale of tears through which we pass. Only those who have watched helplessly the sufferings of an ill and dying son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother can know the true depths of the agony of the human family. We can run from this reality but we cannot hide. The storm eventually breaks upon us all despite our best efforts to outrun or hide from the cruel fate that awaits us.

Despite the seemingly endless varieties of religion in the world there are really only two religions.

The religion of Man and the religion of Jesus. Every false religion of Man seeks to get enough holiness of life and heart in order to be confident enough to stand before the Judge of all. Even though some of the religions may even deny the existence of a divine Being who judges us, even these religions erect a system of morality by which the followers must judge and evaluate themselves. Thus the human heart is its own most severe Judge of all and Man invents myriads of false methods and mythologies to get good enough and holy enough to face the final Judgment.

I spoke with the grandson of one of my clients recently who has become a Buddhist monk. After he described to me all of his life style and meditation methods, I kindly asked him if he had reached perfection yet. He seemed visibly stunned as if I had touched the very core of his being and after a moment to recover he quietly admitted that he had not and that his quest for inner peace was still just beyond his reach. I told him that God loved him and that He had come into this world and had died for his sins and borne all of his guilt for him. I told him that only Jesus is the sinless One and that those who believe in Him are accepted and perfect in Him. Forgiveness and acceptance are to be found only in a merciful and personal God who has provided for all the needs of the human heart and longing after holiness. The young monk said that he would consider what I had said and he went his way.

What way will you and I go. Will it be the way of seeking holiness and perfection inside of ourselves to be accepted by our God or will it be the way of resting in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only sinless One who lived and died to reconcile us unto God, our neighbor, and our own uneasy conscience. Only the repentant Christian knows and mourns that he continually falls short of the mark of perfection and that if he is to ever be accepted on the Judgment Day, his acceptance must be on the basis of the perfection of the only Good One, the Lord Jesus Christ. He accepts us and grants us eternal life on the basis of His own imputed righteousness not because of any amount of sanctification or holy living which we accomplish. God wants His people to fill their lives with good works of loving service to God and Mankind but we must never think that we can be accepted now or on the final Day on the basis of our good works. Thus the Cross of Christ dispels our fear of the judgment and therefore fills us with the joy and gratitude and courage to walk through this valley of the shadow of death. No matter what tribulation may befall us, our hearts find rest in the confidence that we are accepted in the Beloved and "Love casts out all fear." of the Judgment Day.

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