Christians number one third of the human population of six billion persons. If Christ were to return today and render that judgment that he foretold would occur when he arrived what would be his assessment of Christendom, his own kingdom? (Matthew 13:42, 43; Colossians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 5:10)
Would our Lord ask of us the following two questions? (Matthew 12:36, 37)
To be a disciple of any teacher one must begin with a reading or study of his teachings. Most great religious teachers either wrote or left behind writings under the care of their first personal disciples. A true disciple or learner will demonstrate his devotion to his Master by a diligent consideration of those writings or Scriptures though it be a life-long study.
Jesus committed his teachings to the inspired memory of certain of his apostles and charismatic disciples. (John 14:26; John 16:12, 13; John 17:20) These have become known as the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the epistles of Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John. The Nazarene as a prophet greater than Moses gave his own inspired predictions. He taught illuminated disciples would be led by holy spirit which would, "guide you into all the truth ... and will declare to you the things coming." (John 16:13) Such predictions of the future would surely have included the Glorified Lord's own inspired apocalypse or Revelation. (Revelation 1:1)
Not all those who profess to be disciples of Jesus would demonstrate a love for all that Jesus taught. However, that some would read his teachings seriously over a considerable time was also foretold. Daniel 12:3, 10, 11 foretells -- in the context of the chronology of a great tribulation -- "Those who are wise will shine like the sun and those who have given right instruction as brilliant as the stars. ... Many will be cleansed but the wicked will never understand while those who are wise will understand." About 600 years later the Risen Messiah wrote in the Bible's last book, "Blessed with divine favor is the person who reads with understanding and observes these prophetic words." (Revelation 1:3)
Since this is the case would Christ not ask why those who profess him as Lord do not read his teachings more. The truth is that few Christians have completed even one reading of the New Testament. Fewer still have meditated seriously on the teachings of the Jesus. And, those who have committed themselves to a long and careful study of Revelation are rare indeed.
The "God of knowledge" has chosen to communicate with His worshippers through the medium of words. Over a period of several millenniums God spoke in a variety of ways and at different seasons to "prophets." The God of heaven now speaks by means of His Son. (Hebrews 1:1) Much of what is said in the Christian Bible is easy to understand for "love of neighbor" is not a difficult concept. Other portions are "hard to understand" as one inspired writer admits. (2 Peter 3:16) Other portions call on those with "wisdom" (or, an intelligent mind) to try and comprehend complicated prophecies. (Revelation 13:18; Revelation 17:9)
This kind of meditative and prayerful study requires several things: interest, time, faith, and those gifts which come from above. Now the Author of the Bible could have produced a Book of few pages, easily understood by a cursory reading -- something like the newspaper. However, He chose not to do it this way. Why?
Could one reason be that such time-consuming and earnest studies may demonstrate the depth of a "love of the truth"? (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
To illustrate: if a loved one writes a long and complicated letter trusting that those who return this love will take the time to carefully read this letter, would the reader's effort not demonstrate their own love? The only way to 'know' Jesus is from his own teachings and those things written about him by those who loved him first. If one professes to be a disciple of Jesus but has never ready everything he taught, how can this claimed love be manifested? Can our love and affection for God and His Son be demonstrated by a strenuous effort to read these inspired letters written to us for our own good? It is hard to conceive that a Christian disciple who has failed to read such letters will be able to convince the Judge of his affections in that Day.
This is another question our Lord may very well ask members of his Church? It is an awesome question everyone claiming Jesus as their Lord will have to face when they stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10) At this moment there will be those Christians who will be able to speak freely and openly as those who have done just as the Master commanded. (Luke 12:43; 1 John 2:28) Others will be ashamed and reproached. (Daniel 12:2; 1 John 2:28)
Judging from the teachings and parables of Jesus the entire Christian Church, all of Christendom, will be asked: "Why didn't you love others more than you did?" The disciple of the Nazarene must be characterized by not only faith in his teachings, but also in love for brother and neighbor.
Galatians 6:10 -- "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."
James 1:27 -- "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction."
James 2:14-17 -- "If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
1 John 3:16-18 -- "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But if any one has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth."
This charity and hospitality must happen even when it involves an enemy who is wicked and unthankful. (Matthew 5:45-48) This love will be shown by praying for the enemy, doing good to the enemy, even giving money to such wicked and ungrateful enemy without ever expecting repayment.
Luke 6:31-36 -- “And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
(Revelation chapter 18)
The cries of "Lord, Lord," by Christians will go unheeded by our King when he reveals he never had any kind of relationship with them:
"Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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