Vol. 12 No. 2 February 2010
There is no mistaking the reason for which Jesus Christ came to the earth the first time. He made it abundantly clear why He had left heaven and had come to the earth when He said, “…the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus Christ came the first time into the world as the Savior (Luke 2:11; 2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 1:4; 2:13; 3:6; 2 Peter 1:1, 11; etc.). “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).
Consequently, Jesus Christ relayed to mankind a divine plan of salvation whereby human souls could be saved; this salvation is conditional upon obeying Jesus Christ (Hebrews 5:8-9). Complying with the instructions of Jesus Christ includes: (1) believing that He is the Son of God and Savior (John 8:24), (2) repenting of sins (Luke 13:3), (3) acknowledging publicly one’s confidence that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior (Matthew 10:32-33) and (4) being immersed in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16).
However, many are the so-called Christian denominations that have set aside part or all of what Jesus said respecting the forgiveness of sins. In place of what the New Testament records about salvation, mankind has devised substitute plans of salvation that differ from what Jesus Christ taught. Hence, our Lord, as Savior, is out of work or unemployed—at least in the lives of those who reject the plan of salvation for which Jesus left heaven and died to establish.
Likewise, other world religions (such as, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam) have set aside the plan of salvation brought from heaven to earth by Jesus Christ Himself. Thus, they, too, have put our Lord out of work. Add to these considerations that atheists, agnostics, immoral people and criminals reject the salvation Jesus died to make available to mankind, also sending the Savior to the unemployment line.
When Jesus Christ returns the second time, at least for most souls on earth, He will not return as Savior, but this time He will come as Judge (Acts 17:31; 2 Corinthians 5:10). “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1). The type of judgment that our Lord will perform is not the responsibility of any mortal, but final judgment is reserved for Jesus Christ alone; mortals are forbidden to exercise this kind of judgment upon their peers. “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” (James 4:11-12). (There is a difference between being a fruit inspector—noting the contrast between what Scripture teaches and one’s conduct (Matthew 7:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:12)—and condemning another soul to eternal damnation, as if any human even has the ability to do such a thing.)
Nevertheless, especially Christians seem to dabble or meddle much in the business of judging non-Christians and Christians alike so as to displace Jesus Christ from His office as Judge. Yes, we can and must note the difference between false teachers and true teachers of God’s Word (Romans 16:17-18; 1 John 4:1), but we neither have the right nor the capacity to assign to anyone his or her eternal destiny. Besides, as long as they live or the Lord delays His return, even false teachers, ungodly persons and anyone who has simply neglected to obey the Gospel of Christ may yet become a faithful child of God. Christians should not find themselves in the position, for instance, of preaching departed souls into either heaven or hell. Let’s not put Jesus Christ as Judge out of work, sending Him to the unemployment line because we have preempted His role as Judge.
In reality, of course, mankind cannot displace Jesus Christ as Savior or Judge. Mankind only deludes itself in either case supposing that men can substitute alternate plans of salvation or take over from Christ His role as Judge. Divine dictates, not human ingenuity, will judge mankind ultimately (Revelation 20:11-15). “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). We may think that we have dismissed our Lord from His roles as Savior and Judge, but we are mistaken! Therefore, it behooves every human to go to Jesus Christ as Savior and allow that He alone will sentence the ungodly in the last day to an eternity away from God in a devil’s hell (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).