November 15, 2017
2 Corinthians 5:10 - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
That Scripture above is just about as clear as you can get: the day is coming when we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, each to receive according to what he has done with his life, whether he has used it for good or evil.
A long time ago, I heard a story which sheds some light on that passage. The story went something like this: a woman arrived at the pearly portals of heaven. A voice, presumably that of St. Peter, asked, "What is the password? Speak the password and you may enter."
The lady was shocked. She remembered nothing about a person's entrance to heaven needing a password. She thought for a bit and said, "Is it 'Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved'?"
"No," replied the voice.
The lady thought and said, "How about 'The just shall live by faith'?"
"'Call upon Me in the day of trouble'?"
"Nope. Wrong again!"
"How about, 'I have fought the fight -- run the race'?"
"Those are all true sayings," says the voice, "but they are not the password for which I listen."
Exasperated, the lady finally said, "Well, then I give up."
"That's right" said the voice. "Come right on in. You see, you've got to give up doing it yourself."
The story points out the truth of our text today. The truth that someday we will all have to stand in judgment before the Lord and, we will, figuratively speaking, need the right password.
You know, we don't have to die to be judged. Certainly judgment will happen after we die, and there will be no reprieve. Similarly, there will be no innocent pleas accepted by virtue of the fact that we should not be held accountable for our actions.
The fact of the matter is that we are judged every day by the conditions of humankind and the affairs of our own hearts. That means if we were to speak honestly, we would have to confess that there is very little good inside us. Indeed, as St. Paul says, even the things we try to do right seem always to go wrong, and are far short of 100-percent acceptability in God's sight.
All of this explains precisely why we need a Savior.
If we cannot save ourselves, we need someone to do it for us. If we cannot earn forgiveness ourselves, we need someone to shoulder our transgressions and pay the price necessary to get them removed. If we cannot conquer death on our own, then we need to find someone who has that ability.
That Person, of course, is the Savior. The work we were incapable of finishing -- the things on which we were forced to give up -- the Savior has accomplished. Now, by the Holy Spirit's power, faith is placed into us and Jesus' successes become ours.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, normally we would say giving up is not a good thing. However, when it comes to being saved, giving up and placing our faith in Jesus to win our salvation is the only way we can enter heaven. Keep me strong in that faith which has given me eternal life. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries