by Tad Lindley
Picture this entirely imaginary scene, the Alaska State Troopers knock on the door and are invited into the residence whereupon they see a small, blue berry-picking bucket on the kitchen table and notice a strong odor of yeast and alcohol.
AST: “Do you mind if we look around the kitchen?”
Homeowner: “Not at all. Help yourselves.”
AST: “What is this cloudy substance in this small, blue bucket on the table?”
Homeowner: “That? That’s homebrew.”
AST: “Are you aware that this is a local option community and the sale, distribution, and manufacture of alcoholic beverages is a felony pursuant to Alaska Statutes?”
Homeowner: “Yes, sir, but you don’t understand, I am a good person. In fact, I’ve been such an outstanding person, that 4,197 times I made Kool-Aid instead of homebrew. 4,197 times officer. That counts for something doesn’t it?”
Breaking the law is breaking the law
In case you didn’t catch it earlier, the situation above is completely made up. How many of us though, if we were stopped by a police officer for speeding would think, “What’s he doing stopping me, I’m one of the safest drivers around,” or, “How come she didn’t stop that guy who blew by me on the red Honda?” We want to focus on the fact that either we do so much good that a little bad won’t hurt, or that the fact that there are other people who are so much more criminal than us that they are the ones that the police should be after. The fact of the matter is, the law is the law, and making home brew in a dry village is as much breaking the law as selling heroin out of a hotel room in Bethel.
When Jesus becomes judge
Almost 2,000 years ago, the one true God of the Old Testament became a human being and dwelled among men (John 1:14, I Timothy 3:16). We know Him in this capacity as Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Don’t be deceived by philosophers and watered down versions of Christianity: all of God was in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9, II Corinthians 5:19). He ministered to many and was crucified on a cross by the Roman soldiers in Jerusalem in about 29 A.D. The purpose of this mission was that through the power of his death, burial, and resurrection, many might be saved. In fact he is still patiently waiting for many to repent and turn to him as their savior. He has promised to return and judge the earth, but now he is patiently waiting (II Peter 3:9). Nevertheless, the day will come when the one who came to be our Savior, will return to be our judge.
Standing before Judge Jesus
Jesus gives us a rather chilling picture of the courtroom. In Matthew 7 he speaks about that day: Not everyone that says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter into the kingdom of heaven … Many will say to me in that day, “Have we not prophesied in your name? And in your name cast out devils? And in your name done many wonderful works?” And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me you that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23) It’s not unlike our homebrewer friend is it? Jesus told them, you’re busted, and they tried to draw his attention to all of the good things that they had done. They had great experiences in God, casting out demons, prophesying, and partaking in miracles. Those were their 4,197 pitchers of Kool-Aid.
Back to the “…”
If you notice in the scripture I quoted above, I had “…”, meaning I saved part of the verse for down here. The words that Jesus spoke that condemned the people at the judgment were these: Not everyone that says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. Apparently the people Jesus spoke of had been in church for the songfests and the healing services, but didn’t live the complete Christian life. We can be very good in certain areas of our life, but God calls us to surrender to him in all areas of our life. In the same way that a man in a dry village cannot make enough pitchers of Kool-Aid to justify manufacturing homebrew, we cannot do enough good to cancel out our sin.
Salvation comes from recognizing Jesus as Lord and repenting, which means turning our lives around to match up with his word. This means we must surrender our will to the will of God. This is why if we would enter the kingdom of heaven, we must not only believe he is Lord, we must also be born again of the water and the Spirit (see John 3:5).
Knock on the door
Someday for each and every one of us, there will come a “knock on the door” and then the judgment. At that time no amount of good works will save us. The only thing that we will have to fall back on is did we believe on the Lord Jesus, were we born of the water in Jesus name baptism (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16, Galatians 3:27), were we born of the Spirit (Acts 2:4, 8:17, 10:44-47, 19:6), and were we obedient to the will of God? When the knock comes, will you be ready?
Reverend Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.