Doomed or Delivered?

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Judgment is indeed according to works. On the day of judgment the books will be opened and we shall be judged according to all that we’ve done. But in that case we’re all doomed because what we’ve done is deserving of eternal death. We can do nothing but sin (Luther). All our good works are filthy rags, since they are not animated by perfect love for God and neighbour. And even if our good deeds outweigh or outnumber our bad, “one sin outweighs much good.” One does not escape punishment by pleading that he has kept all the commandments save one. It is precisely because he has broken that one that he is being punished, even if he has kept all the rest.

Left to ourselves we are doomed. But Christ did for us what we could not do for ourselves. His work swallows up all our works, good and bad. Our sins are but a drop in the ocean of his righteousness. His righteousness covers all our unrighteousness. His work and his righteousness are imputed to us and are ours if we put our faith in him. Christ himself is our righteousness. And on judgment day, when called to account, we present to God our work, although it is not ours but his, but ours nevertheless because it was done for us and imputed to us. In fact, even now judgment has been rendered in advance regarding us. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. He who believes in me shall not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.” The future judgment will be nothing more than a public confirmation of the favourable judgment which has already been passed upon us by virtue of what Christ has done for us.

Does this mean that “fearing God” and “keeping his commandments” no longer have any place in our lives? Far from it. On the contrary, all the more they have become an essential part of our every waking moment, because those who put their faith in Christ alone and are saved by faith alone are children of God, and to his children God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son, and the Spirit’s work is to instil the fear of (i.e., reverence for) God in the hearts of God’s children, and to move them to keep his commandments out of love and not out of servile fear. In fact, he inscribes God’s laws upon our hearts.

The conclusion of the matter is: Fear God and keep his commandments. How shall we obey this? By believing in his Son Jesus Christ and receiving him into our hearts as our Lord and Saviour. “This is the work of God that you believe in him whom he has sent.” And if you have already done so then go and keep the commandments with all your might, for you are not powerless to do so. As God’s child you have the Holy Spirit who will empower you to do God’s will from the heart, not in order to be saved, but out of love and gratitude to him who has saved you by grace alone through faith alone. Amen.

Don’t merely live under the sun. Live under the Son!

The Last Laugh

“Laughing lions must
come to annihilate with laughter.”
(Nietzche)

“The One enthroned in
heaven laughs.”
(Psalm 2:4)

The War

And the Lamb had been slaughtered in the place of the worms
Raw flesh on the altar, warm blood on the soil;
Dragon-teeth round scattered in the valley of bones:
White mementos of the War against the Dragon and the wolves.
But the exploits of the Lamb had been lost in the mist,
Clean forgotten by the worms who now worship the Beast.

The Darkness

And the tears out of heaven should have flooded the earth
For high towers of insolence relentlessly rising:
Their ominous shadows defile all the living.
Worms upon worms upon worms! To the heights
They ascend – cruel rabble – trampling one on another,
While the Lamb on the altar is despised and forgotten.
Though of old there are rumors that the Lamb is alive
There has been not a stir, and the blood – it has dried.

The Metamorphosis

And the loathsomeness swelling and the darkness surrounding
Drove the heavens to screaming, and the screams – they were heard.
Now the Lamb on the altar from His slumber awakes:
And the fleece change to fur and the feet into rakes.
Claws of vengeance, fangs of judgment, righteous hunger for his prey;
At the lightest of His steps, mountains crumble and give way.
For the Lamb is now a Lion seeking whom He may devour:
Blazing like the golden lightning, burning with the lust for War!

The Judgment

Worms for breakfast for the Lion had He not been seized with laughter
(He had such a sense of humor He forgot about His hunger)
At a sight so misanthropic – it was tragic, it was funny:
Worms and worms, from fear and envy, building towers in a hurry!
Now the onslaught of His laughter spelled the creatures’
certain doom:
Wormish towers all a-crumbling at the Lion’s sonic booms.
And the writhing worms of Wasteland knew that Nemesis had come:
‘Twas the fury of His laughter that had spoiled all their fun.
And their eardrums were all shattered, and their towers were in ruins,
And their hearts had all stopped beating, and the carnage had begun.

The Aftermath

And this was the Final Judgment … In the ages still to come
Men will ponder o’er the ruins and the paw prints on the sand
Which the Wind itself could not erase however hard it blew.
There were terrors then unheard of, there were secrets no men knew:
“Why do heavens roar with laughter, why are clouds as white as fleece,
Though some streaks of golden lightning ride the cool, infrequent breeze?”
Men shall ask but not remember what the heav’nly symbols mean,
For the knowledge of these myst’ries had been drownéd  in the din
Of a multitude of voices babbling nothing to the point:
Jagged edges, broken perches – everything is out of joint!
No direction, one obsession – that’s to rise at any price:
Worms on worms (this sounds familiar) building towers to the skies.
Crackling thunder in the heavens (Someone’s laughing in a hurry):
“Wow! I never thought a re-run would be more than twice as funny.”

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