As I read the news, I am dismayed to see how few people seem to be preparing for the one day in their lives that matters more than any other – the day they give an account to God.
I live in Fort Lauderdale, and about 20 years ago there was a series of billboard ads on behalf of God. Someone anonymously donated money to have these ads created.
The billboard and inside-bus ads included such messages as:
- “What Part of ‘Thou Shalt Not …’ Didn’t You Understand?” – God
- “Keep Using My Name in Vain And I’ll Make Rush Hour Longer” – God
- “That ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ Thing, I Meant It.” – God
- “You Think It’s Hot Here?” – God
But the one I found most memorable in that whole series of ads was this one: “Have You Read My No. 1 Best Seller? There Will Be A Test.” – God.
The only important day in your life – the day by which every day should be measured – is the day of accountability when you stand before Jesus Christ, who is God. He has been entrusted as judge of the whole world. It is to Him we shall all give an account, regardless of our beliefs or denomination or religion or country of origin or anything else.
Jesus is the inescapable imperative. If you think I’m wrong, then you are staking your whole eternal future on the prospect that Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead. As the saying goes, “Good luck with that!”
A couple of years ago, Ron Reagan Jr., the rebellious son of one of America’s greatest presidents (my favorite since Lincoln), cut an on-camera ad on behalf of an atheist organization.
His tag line at the end said he’s not afraid to burn in hell. He could only say that because he doesn’t believe it’s real. At this point in his life (and he still has the chance to repent), he is staking his eternal well-being on the idea that Jesus didn’t walk out of His tomb 2,000 years ago.
Some of the most hope-filled words ever spoken are when Jesus told the thief on the cross who repented of his sins and believed in Him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.” Last minute sincere repenters are welcome in. Wow.
None of us on our own merits is able to stand before a holy God. This is why Jesus died for sinners. Those who knowingly reject His offer of forgiveness will be cast from His presence, where there is no light, no laughter, no joy, no quenching of thirst, no reprieve … nothing good. Jesus is the source of all good. Remove His presence, and it all is bad.
Thus, Dante could write in his classic “Inferno,” “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
I just finished listening to a wonderful series of lectures on CD, “Jesus: Legend or Lord?” by D. Paul L. Maier, professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University. I have interviewed him many times. He points out that historians can’t prove miracles, like Christ’s resurrection, but they can prove that the tomb of Jesus was empty on that first Easter Sunday.
They can’t prove that Jesus did miracles, but they can prove that even hostile sources acknowledge that Jesus did such extraordinary things – things that were beyond natural.
For example, Dr. Maier mentions the arrest warrant for Jesus of Nazareth (listed here as Yeshu Hannozri) while He was on earth:
Wanted: Yeshu Hannozri
He shall be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy … Anyone who knows where he is, let him declare it to the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. (Sanhedrin 43a, Babylonian Talmud)
So here we have a hostile source traced back to the first century providing attestation that Jesus did supernatural works – which they wrong attributed to demonic, not divine, power. Clearly, what Jesus did went beyond natural events.
Historians can’t prove that Jesus rose from the dead per se, but they can prove that the disciples changed dramatically based on their claimed experience of having seen Him after He rose. Those previously cowering disciples went and boldly laid the foundation of much of Western civilization.
The founders of America believed that we would all give an account for our lives one day, and they gave us limited government based on the notion that we would govern ourselves. The system doesn’t work without that notion of divine accountability.
That’s why John Adams could say, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Scan the headlines and see for yourself how few seem to be ready for the test. I hope you’ll be an exception.