We're in the middle of Ask Eastbourne at the moment - please be praying that folks keep coming and trust in Jesus.
Here's a section of tonight's talk I'll have to leave on the cutting room floor. I'm speaking about "What happens when we die?"
With Jesus we have the only gracious Judge the world has ever conceived. I want to be very clear here: There is only ONE gracious Judge and His name is Jesus.
That’s a bold statement I know, but I thought I’d put it to the test by considering the top 5 spiritual beliefs in the world. Let’s compare what they believe about judgement.
Christianity is number one, let’s look at the number 2 belief in the world: Islam.
Who is the Judge? Allah. Now Allah continually calls himself the compassionate and merciful. But even Mohammed was utterly terrified by the prospect of judgement day. He had no confidence that he would fare well on the last day. Allah told him he would inherit paradise but, in the Quran Allah is known as the Best of Deceivers (Sura 3:54). And Mohammed knew that he couldn’t trust Allah to save him. His promise might be a deception. So Mohammed did not trust Allah to save him. And the Quran forbids you to trust him for that day (Sura 7:99)
Interestingly, the next in line after Mohammed was a man called Abu Bakr – the first Caliph in Islam. When someone tried to encourage Abu Bakr that he would probably do alright on judgement day Abu Bakr said:
‘By Allah! I would not rest assured and feel safe from the deception of Allah, even if I had one foot in paradise.’”
No Muslim can presume to know how they will fare with Allah on judgement day. And the very greatest Muslims were terrified of coming before that judge.
Let’s consider the third most popular belief in the world: No religion. Now if you don’t believe in God, you have not escaped judgement have you? You are still at the mercy of bigger forces than you, aren’t you? You will be judged by decay and death. And you will get absolutely no mercy from death. No-one has ever avoided that judgement. Death is, perhaps, the least merciful judge of all. And it’s certainly the least hopeful.
What about the number 4 belief in the world: Hinduism. Here your fate in the afterlife is determined by your Karma. If you do good, you’ll accumulate good karma, maybe you’ll get reincarnated as a priest. If you do bad, you get bad karma, you’ll get reincarnated as a donkey or something. But it’s all down to you. There is no mercy whatsoever. It’s all about earning.
The number 5 belief in the world is Buddhism. The Buddha started life as a Hindu, but he didn’t like the idea of continually being reincarnated. So his hope for the future is “Nirvana” when you finally get off the merry-go-round of re-incarnation. Then your soul is “blown out” like a candle. That’s what Nirvana means – it means being blown out. So Buddhism again teaches that your after-life is down to your karma – down to your performance. And the ultimate hope is non-existence.
So have a look at the beliefs in the world and know that, apart from Jesus, there is NO MERCY from the Judge and NO CERTAIN HOPE for the outcome.
But with Jesus...
Here’s what the Judge of the world has done, according to the Bible. Jesus is the judge who has stepped down off the judgement bench. He’s put Himself into our shoes. He’s taken our side completely – we who are in the dock. He has stood with us. And then on the cross He stands for us. On the cross He takes HELL on Himself. He takes our Hell, to give us heaven. And He does it so He can offer anyone and everyone eternal life.
This is the Judge in Christianity. A Judge who is judged. A Judge who pays the price for our sins and offers us free forgiveness. What a Judge! You will not find any other Judge like this Judge. In religion, in atheism, in all the world – you won’t find a Judge like Jesus. Run to Jesus. He gives you immeasurable mercy and a certain hope for the future.
When you hear that Jesus judges the world - don't hear that as bad news. It's GREAT news. Jesus judges the world! We should rejoice to know that Jesus is Judge. He’s the Judge we want.