Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Dread Filled Phrase

     Here in Florida, during the summer months, we grow accustomed to our daily thunderstorms.  It seems most storms come in the afternoon, and the sound of distant thunder soon becomes louder as it approaches.  This is when a smart Floridian leaves the pool, gets off the golf course or out of their boat and goes inside to be safe.  Florida is known as the lightning capitol of the United States with more than 1.4 million strikes per year according to the Orlando Sentinel.  For those of us who live on the central ridge of the state with a slightly elevated terrain, it is very scary to be outside when a storm suddenly comes up.  Every year, there are a number of fatalities that occur which could be avoided by seeking shelter.  While lightning is a fearful force of nature, there is something even more terrifying that none of us would wish to hear.
     In the Gospel according to John, Jesus had an encounter (one of many) with the Pharisees in the
Temple treasury.  Of course, the Pharisees were always testing Him and could not see past their blinded eyes that He was the Messiah.  Instead, they jealousy challenged Him at every turn.  Jesus, in John 8:12, calls Himself the light of the world and promises that whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness but in the "light of life."  Over and over, He makes known that He comes from the Father.  However, the Pharisees miss this completely.  The Lord makes it clear that their judgment is clouded in verses 15-16:  "You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.  Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me."  The Pharisees looked through the eyes of flesh that could not see the truth.  Then, Jesus pronounced the words that no one would want to hear in the next few verses.  "He said to them, 'You are from below, I am from above.  You are of this world; I am not of this world.  I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins" (verses 24-25).  Chilling words for their ears or anyone's ears to hear, yet they still did not understand for their reply is:  "Who are you?" (vs. 25b) and His reply is:  "Just what I have been telling you from the beginning" (vs.25c).  Amazing isn't it?
     Throughout this passage as in many others, the Pharisees did not see or understand who Jesus was claiming to be.  Their refusal kept them from coming into the light and led to the pronouncement that they would die in their sins.  That was very much like a lightning bolt.  What a fearful thing to hear from the Lord of all creation.  Dying in our sins is an eternal death sentence which leads to separation from God not just for a short time but forever.  However, the Good News is that we do not have to hear these words if we have accepted God's offer of salvation and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is, indeed, the light of this world who drives out the darkness and brings life.
     Our Savior carried our sins and took our punishment on the cross for us.  He died in our place, but He rose from the grave conquering death.  Not only this, He ascended to the Father in heaven where he makes intercession for us who believe in Him.  Why would anyone not want to walk in that light.  Sadly, though, there are those who do turn away when presented with the truth of the Gospel.  We have all met them.  They are lost in their sins and judge according to the flesh (our current culture) rather than by God's Word which is reality and truth.
     Beloved, we should rejoice in what God has done for us.  At the same time, we need to pray for those outside the faith that God by His Holy Spirit would open their eyes.  God's almighty judgment is real, final and to be dreaded.  Our sins, if we do not repent of them, will condemn us for works do not bring salvation in God's economy.
     If we are a believer, we will not hear the pronouncement of the sentence, "you will die in your sins" because we have already passed from death into life through Christ (John 5:24).  However, if we are reading this and like the Pharisees refuse to recognize Jesus Christ as God's only Son who came into this world to die for our sins, those dreaded words like a lightning bolt will strike us one day.  Instead of gambling on the storm, let us run into the shelter of His everlasting arms.  He is our lightning rod who has overcome this world.  Be encouraged in this and believe in Him.  Selah!

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