Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Saturday, December 12, 2009

He Will Come to Judge the Living and the Dead

Pastor’s Window for December 2009
He Will Come to Judge the Living and the Dead

Beloved in the Lord,

Jesus is coming again. He is not coming to pay for our sins. This time, He is coming to judge. This is not a very politically correct thing to say in an age that espouses tolerance as the highest virtue, because judgment means that there is such a thing as right and wrong, that some things and some people stand condemned. Judgment is the antithesis of tolerance.

But there will be a judgment. Even Christians often squirm at this teaching. That there will be a judgment, that Christ Jesus will sit in judgment over the living and the dead, means that some people will go to hell. And that is not a nice thought. That doesn’t inspire us and it doesn’t make us warm and fuzzy inside. But contrary to popular belief, the mission of the Church is not to inspire or impart good feelings. The mission of the Church is to preach the truth, and the Truth incarnate, Jesus Christ.

The truth is, if there were no judgment, if there were no hell, there would be no need for Christ. What would be the point of Christ’s perfect life, His death on the cross, His resurrection, His ascension, what would be the meaning of any of it if there is no condemnation? In what way would Jesus benefit us? Why should we believe in Jesus if believers and unbelievers alike go to heaven? (This is called “universalism” by the way, the teaching that all religions are the same, all roads lead to the same place, all people go to heaven.) Why should we do mission work and evangelism if, in the end, all people will be saved? If this were the case, the most Jesus could be is a good example for us to emulate. But again, what would be the point of following Jesus’ example if there is no judgment? If there is no judgment, there is no measure of right and wrong, because remember, to say that something is right or wrong is a judgment in itself. If there is no judgment, who is to say that Jesus’ example is a good one?

The truth is, “The Lord will judge his people” (Heb. 10:30). Jesus is coming again to judge. St. John beheld the scene of this second coming in the Revelation: “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 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” (Rev. 20:12-15). Wow, scary stuff! And it should be scary. God tells us about the judgment beforehand in His Word so that we will be warned and ready.

How can you be ready for the judgment? Abide in Jesus Christ! Abide in Jesus Christ, and you are ready. Remember those mentioned above, whose names are written in the book of life? Jesus is the book of life! Your name is written in Him, engraved on His nail pierced hands, and by Baptism His Name has been written on you. You can remove your name from the book of life by unbelief. Then you will be judged by your works. And your works are nothing but sin before God. But if your name is found written in the book of life, if you abide in Christ to the end, you will be judged by the works Jesus has done, the works credited as your righteousness by faith. Abide in Christ, and you have nothing to worry about in the judgment.

Advent means “coming.” It is all about the coming of Christ. Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas, the first coming of Jesus Christ as the Babe of Bethlehem and Savior of the world. And it is about His coming again as Judge. Because of the first coming of Christ, His coming to die on the cross for the sins of the world, we can face His second coming confidently. In the meantime, as I said, we abide in Him. How do we do that? We meet Him where He has promised to be for us, to continually come to us and for us, in His blessed Word and Sacrament. So come often, especially this Advent season, but throughout your life to hear His blessed Word, the proclamation of Jesus in Scripture and sermon and absolution, and to receive His body and blood in the Supper. Christ comes to you in this time between the comings through these blessed means of grace. He comes, and He forgives your sins and gives you His righteousness. And so, by His Spirit, working in Word and Sacrament, you abide in Christ, and are ready for the judgment. There will be a judgment. The Day is coming soon. But for the Christian this is a Day of joy, for our risen Lord Jesus Christ will raise us for eternal life!

Blessed Advent!
Pastor Krenz

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