Statistics help us manage risk. Knowing the likelihood of an outcome helps us to prepare appropriate to our circumstance and resources. But the ultimate statistic is death. 1:1 dies. The day comes to all of us. None of us can escape it.
After death we all innately know we will be brought before God. The Scripture confirms, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” That judgment will prove to be either our complete undoing, or our final salvation. For either we are fit to be before God on account of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, or we are set ablaze by the presence His holiness. Knowing this, we can easily see the value of Jesus’ promise to respond to our faith in Him when He said, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” To have Jesus testify to the Father that we belong to Him is to know we will be able to stand in God’s presence unafraid when that ultimate statistic comes to us. That reality brings comfort to many as the day approaches.
Yet Jesus’ affirmative statement of our acknowledgment of Him also carries with it a powerful warning to those who refuse to acknowledge Him. For He added, “But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” That thought brings fear to the hearts of the many who at one point or another had disowned Jesus.
Matthew will later record what happened at Jesus’ crucifixion, “Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.”
Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
One might think that in light of Jesus’ comment about disowning Him, Peter’s fate was eternally sealed. The Scripture proves otherwise; Peter was restored after Jesus’ resurrection (see John 21:15-19). So the outcome of disowning Him that Jesus spoke of prior to His death is not a blanket statement of despair. Rather, it is a pointed warning that our lives are on a path that leads to a firm conclusion – one way or the other. The only way to change that outcome is to change our minds about Jesus and then live that repentance out in our daily life.
God is fair: It is not the person who rejected God after hearing the Gospel who is hopeless, but the one who rejected God after hearing the Gospel and dies without repenting. That one is lost forever, for there is no repentance after death. Once we step out into timeless eternity, there is no longer any time to repent. There is just the consequences of a life that has ended.
To that end the Word of God preaches to our hearts, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Amen.
We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.The wise woman of Tekoa (from 2Samuel 14:14)
Today, live like you are dying.