|Vol. 12 No. 8 August 2010||
“It is appointed for people to die once — and after this, judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). It is something a lot of people do not take time to think about anymore, but something everyone should. What happens when we pass from this existence? For some, the only existence they believe in is what they see, the here and now. Yet, creation itself offers testimony to the Creator (Romans 1:20), and God has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). For others, it is assumed that everyone will go to heaven when he or she dies. However, Scripture reminds us this is not so either. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
The writer of Hebrews reminds us all that, once this physical existence ends, we all must face the judgment of God. Paul explains it this way to the church in Corinth; “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). How one lives his or her life on earth determines what type of judgment one receives in eternity. Jesus said those who have done good will receive the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil will receive the resurrection of judgment (John 5:29).
For those who have lived in faithful obedience to the will of God, the offer is salvation, eternal life (Hebrews 5:9). What a glorious thought to know one can be like Christ and see Him as He is (1 John 3:2), to be with Him forever (1 John 2:25). For those who have not obeyed the will of God, judgment consists of punishment, the weeping and gnashing of teeth that lasts for all eternity (Jude 7).
Thinking about the coming judgment can either comfort or condemn, depending on one’s point of view, on whether one has lived faithfully for God, or for self. You cannot have it both ways; either you live for God, or you live in sin (Romans 6:16). The choice you make on how you live determines the judgment you will face. There will be no role reversals in judgment. “The one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit” (Galatians 6:8). The time to think about judgment is today. The time to make changes is today. Which judgment awaits you?
“Unfeigned” literally means not being hypocritical. Originally, it meant one who was real and not just a play actor on a stage, acting out a part. He is genuine. Unfeigned love is, therefore, sincere affection without admixture of deceit; it is true affection. It is not in word only. Thus, we have in 1 Peter 1:22, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another with a pure heart fervently.”
They had purified their souls through their obedience to the truth. They had heard the word of the truth of the Gospel and had obeyed it (John 17:17; Romans 10:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). They then had the same spiritual parentage. They had become children of God. They had now been added to the New Testament church (Acts 2:47; 1 Corinthians 12:13). They had the same spiritual Father. They had become brothers and sisters in Christ. They were to love one another with a pure heart fervently. “Fervently” is from ektenos and describes an emotion that is forceful and warm.
We read in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all things, being fervent in your love among yourselves; for love covereth a multitude of sins: using hospitality one toward another without murmuring.” He described a warm, ardent love. The word from which fervent comes is Ktenos. It originally had to do with music, referring to the drawing out, of the stretching of a music string. The point being that children of God are not to love one another halfheartly or indifferently like a lost string on a musical instrument, but with the full tension of heart strings giving our all.
In New Testament Scripture, love is the badge of discipleship. This is one of the chief ways that the world recognizes us as truly being the children of God by the love we have one for the other (John 13:34-35). “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Since this is the case, then it is also true that when brethren fight and war with one another over matters of judgment, it will leave a bad taste in people’s mouths in the community. It often takes many years for a community or town to get over a church split. Brethren, why must we bite and seek to devour one another over matters of judgment (Galatians 5:15)? Paul lovingly wrote, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
At the same time, love does not mean maintaining silence and allowing error to gain control. It does not mean compromising the truth for anybody, at any place or at any time. Truth is never an item to be surrendered at any price (Proverbs 23:23; 2 John 9-11; Romans 16:17-18). However, let us have the wisdom to distinguish between matters of doctrine and matters of judgment. Further, while doing so, let love of the brethren continue (Hebrews 13:1). Let us love one another from a pure heart fervently, and let our love be unfeigned. Christian love is interested in helping, in binding up, healing and forgiving. It is interested in protecting and preserving the church and the truth as well as saving men’s souls. It is “unfeigned.” Let us “abound in love one toward another” 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 John 4:11-12, 19). “Ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another (2 Thessalonians 4:9). “Love the brotherhood” (1 Peter 2:17).