“Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”
What is hell like? One thing is for sure, to have the absolute most loving, caring, forgiving, compassionate being in the whole world say, “I don’t know you.” – that is hell. To have the only one who is truly holy, the source of all good – (the name God itself means good) – the source of all that is good, the source of all true love – to have Him say, “I don’t know you.” - to be separated from Him for all eternity, that is hell. It’s not something we wish on our worst enemy. People may joke about it, as if it’s no big deal, but there is no bigger “deal”. It is not a place we want to be.
Jesus lays it all out for us. He doesn’t mince words. He gives these serious warnings because He wants not one single soul to perish. Judgment day is coming – Christ will come again, but not like He once came. Christ came into this world in great meekness, as a tiny little baby, born of a lowly virgin, born in a lowly town, born in a lowly manner, in a manger, in a cattle feeding trough. Christ comes into our hearts the same way – meek and lowly - by the lowly means of Grace, the lowly Word, lowly Baptism, the lowly Lord’s Supper.
But on Judgment Day, Christ will come in all His glory, not concealing His Almighty power, but revealing it. The apostle John describes what Christ will look like (in his vision)– “I saw ...one like unto the Son of man...His eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet…as if they burned in a furnace...and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”
Ready or not, Jesus is coming to judge. Every single person must face Him on the last day. And every single person will say something to Him. Every man, woman, and child will bow the knee to Him, and will say, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Even those who spent their entire life mocking Him, even those who put Him on the cross, even those who spit in His face - they will all confess that He is Lord of all. Many will do it willingly - many unwillingly.
But what is more important than being among those who will do it willingly? What in this life is more important than preparing to meet Him, face to face, the only one who laid down His life for us?
Are we ready? Are we prepared? If we were to die this very day, would we be ready to look Christ Himself right in the eye – and stand before Him, ready to be judged?
The good news of the Gospel is that He has made us ready. He went to the cross to accomplish everything needful for us to be saved. He suffered and died for our sins to make us acceptable to the Father. He rose from the dead which gives us the assurance that God accepted His sacrifice for our sins. We have been reconciled to the Father because Christ made everything right between us and God. Whoever believes in Christ will not perish but have everlasting life.
On that last day, there will be no reason for us to be afraid. Because even in all His power and glory, Christ will still be our closest friend. He will welcome us who believed in Him, saying, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Notice those words, “Prepared for you.” This is the foundation upon which true faith is built. Christ prepared it for you. He is the rock solid foundation. Christ shed His blood annd died, for you. Christ rose from the dead for you. All is prepared for you. Only believe and receive. “Come, for all things are now ready.”
This is the solid foundation that cannot be moved. Yet so many choose so foolishly to discard Him, and build on sand. The sand of, “I can do it. I’m strong enough. I’m good enough. I’ll work hard enough.” Or, “I don’t need to repent. Don’t tell me to repent. I’m a good person. I’m good at heart.”
But even the most faithful stumble and “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” So Christ directs us to the only foundation that cannot be moved. He died and rose again for us. And he keeps us in the one true faith by his Spirit working in us through the Word and Sacraments. By His grace we trust in Him and live for Him. “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.”
The storms of this life can come crashing upon us at any time. And notice Christ’s language – Notice the suddenness and unexpectedness of the situation, and the fury all at the same time:“the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house.”
At any given time, we could lose any earthly thing, or even every earthly thing. Even those things we never thought we would lose. This has happened to countless people throughout history via natural disasters.
But are we defined by what we own? Jesus says a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses. Come weal or woe, rain or shine, storm or a nice day - we still have what matters most, Christ and His promise that no matter what, He will always take care of us. He will always provide everything we need, especially what we need to be kept in the one true and saving faith.
Anything and everything in this life can and does change. The only thing that stays the same, is that everything changes. And that includes our own goodness - Today we may have the kindest words, and the warmest thoughts, but tomorrow we get stressed and everything changes. Our emotions change, our feelings change, and the way we treat others, changes. Christ, and the salvation He earned to save our souls, never changes. He is the one thing needful. His precious promises in His Word and Sacraments are the one thing needful.
Christ is the rock that never changes. His forgiving grace toward us never changes. He is the rock-solid foundation upon which true faith is built.
He is also the rock that enables us to live for Him, enables us to love and forgive, and He gives us the strength to carry on no matter how many times we stumble, He picks us up with His grace and mercy. He promises, I will never leave you nor forsake you. He is the rock that never moves. We can always count on Him, and He will keep us in the true faith until the very end. Amen.