GOD WILL REPAY ALL . . . . Repayment that is final! But do not fear!!

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Reference: Revelation 20:12-15 )

The Book of Life. The writer of Revelation alludes to the belief that everything that one has done is recorded in great record books. And from those books the names of those found worthy are entered into the Book of Life, which is literally (according to the writer of Revelation) the names of people who are deserving of eternal life. If your name is not there . . . well, you read what is excerpted here.

Peter Riedeman in his Confession of Faith says, “So we truly believe that all our words and deeds, good or evil, are recorded before God and his Son as though written in a book. When the time comes, God will open his secret book and show to each all their deeds.” And based on those deeds each person will be rewarded or punished. But, beloved, I am not preparing to deliver a fiery exhortation. Quite the opposite in fact. I believe, and I want to tell you, that it is the cumulative nature of those deeds that will be rewarded or punished.

If we were perfect beings, each deed would be glowing in its report and our names would be prominently featured in the Book of Life. But our God knows we are not perfect; that is why our God sent Jesus Christ, of whose birth we are in the midst of celebrating. (See the companion pieces of Advent postings.) I don’t think we can or should read the book of Revelation separate from the story of salvation. I do not think the book of Revelation intends to set aside Christ’s redemption of the faithful. But sometimes when we talk about judgment and punishment etc we forget that our faithful belief and worship of God has secured our name in the Book of Life. Do not fear that day of judgment beloved, whenever it may come! Selah!

GOD WILL REPAY ALL . . . . So give God your all!

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.” (Reference: Colossians 3:23-25 )

The historic Anabaptists focused on the last part of the verse, while making a nodding acknowledge to working for the Lord and not men. Menno Simons warned the magistracy that they will be judged for their actions no matter their stance and position. I do not know where some contemporary Anabaptists/Mennonites might put the emphasis. However, I know what part of this verse speaks to me more than caution of repayment.

For many years I needlessly worried that I was in the place where God wanted me. I was not sure if I made the correct choices about employment and livelihood. I keep wondering, asking and praying, “Am I doing the work that God would have me do?” In other words, was I working for the Lord and not for people? It took me some time to realize that if I have turned my life over to God, I am where God wants me and am serving the Lord. No matter where that is. And since letting go of my fears and words, I have found peace about my job and my life. And I have found that the worries I have in my job seem to work out much better than when I was obsessing about “being in the right place.” That is not to say my work, or my life, is any easier. But since I stopped worry about doing correct work , and focused on doing the work correctly according to God’s guidance, I am much more at peace . . . most of the time.

And I am not so sure that we have to wait for the “inheritance” and “reward” from the Lord. I firmly believe being at peace about my job is an inheritance and a reward. Not to mention seeing the results of my working helping and benefiting God’s people. That too is an inheritance and a reward.

Furthermore, I would be hard pressed to see where one can go “wrong” serving the Lord. We all know that it is possible to claim that you are doing God’s will when you have actually substituted your will for God’s. And that may be what Menno Simons was accusing the magistracy of. But as yesterday’s scripture passage said, God will not be mocked. The Lord knows what is truly in the hearts of men and women.

May you beloved work for God and work under God’s guidance wherever and whatever your employment may be. And may God reward you with an inheritance worthy of your efforts. Selah!

GOD WILL REPAY ALL . . . . So don’t give up!

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Reference: Galatians 6:7-9 )

Pilgram Marpeck wrote in “Five Fruits of Repentance” specifically referring to this passage from Galatians, “It is not enough that one merely says: I would gladly repent and confess of my sins. A part of it is to recognize what kind of fruit sin brings. For what each person sows,

they will and must reap or harvest, Gal. 6:8. For all pain, anxiety, distress, and suffering together with eternal death are the true fruits and reward, yes, the true wages of sin, which is given to all sinners who have not received grace, and by which they are condemned to eternal destruction. Whoever does not find Christ in this depth (that is, in this true baptism for the remission of sin) will not find Him in the height in joy and glory eternally.”

I am glad for Marpeck that “all pain, anxiety, distress, and suffering” can be avoided by the “ true baptism for the remission of sin”, and finding and abiding in Christ at a great depth. But there are people who lead good Christian lives and walk with God who still have “pain, anxiety, distress, and suffering”, and quite honestly we get tired of being told we could avoid this if only . . . .

Now I know Marpeck means these things that come into one’s life because of sin, and not because of ailments and illness, and circumstances beyond one’s control. But when you are struggling (as I have been for the past week or two) it is hard to hear these admonitions and not take it personally as being “preached to.” That is the problem, beloved, of preaching to an unknown audience – you don’t know if there are those out there whose life circumstances have caused them the very things you are preaching that can be avoided. And there has been many a “red-faced” preacher (or there should be) who has had to apologize because someone who is suffering has pointed out their lack of compassion. And isn’t that just the thing that God would warn preacher and minister about! DO NOT harm the innocent, naive, and down trodden.

But what should the message be to those who suffer in this life for things beyond their control? Well, actually, the same thing; don’t give up! Because God knows their suffering, and knows that they are innocent but suffer anyway. God’s mercy may not feel like it is coming through to them; but do not blame God. Set the blame at the feet of those who turn away from those suffering or dismiss them. As a person who both suffers and ministers to those who are suffering, I know important it is to discern between the suffering of a sinner and the suffering of an innocent.

I do not mean to preach to you, beloved, that you are dismissive of those who suffer. I just felt it was time again to stand up and remind the world that not all of those who suffer are deserving of it because they have sinned or have been wicked. In fact, it is those of us who are suffering that could and should be the recipients of good being done!

Beloved, may you be ever mindful of those in your faith group and circle of acquaintances, and of strangers also. Be mindful of their sufferings that they have not brought on themselves. Do good to them, encourage them not to give up but to keep moving forward to a life eternal that is free from suffering and misery. It is what we all long for! Selah!

GOD WILL REPAY ALL . . . . The good, the bad and the in-between

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God,and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.” (Reference: 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 )

Just as the writer of the gospels and epistles believed, the historic Anabaptists believed that the time of judgment would be coming soon. And if that was coming soon, then all who wished to repent should do so quickly. Jan Wouterss encouraged his accusers to make themselves right with God before the time of judgment. The irony is that his accusers thought it were people such as Wouterss and other historic Anabaptists who were living wrongly.

Wouterss said, “If I must innocently suffer for this unadulterated faith, I can think, that my Lord Jesus Christ, whose servant, I poor, sinful man am, fared no better at the hands of the authorities of that day and this through the instigation of the learned. O my honorable lords, repent, amend your ways and your doings. Jer. 7:3. And I also proclaim repentance of all my lords still living, who are guilty of the innocent blood of Joris de Ve, [Joris Wippe, who was put to death 1558] who shall soon come forth, shining in God’s glory, with great joy. For the day of the Supreme Judge is at the door: this is apparent from the pestilence, dearth, rumors of wars, and many other signs. O my honorable lords, be cordially warned of the evil which is to come upon you, for it is done out of love and friendship, and not through bitterness, for beyond doubt, we must all appear before the Supreme Judge; there every one shall give account of himself, and receive according to that he hath done; there excuses or regrets will not avail. Rom. 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10. Oh, reflect; it will soon come to pass, and none can escape it.”

There is an authenticity in Wouterss statement that is compelling. He stakes his sincerity on the fact that all will be judged by God, and if his motivations in encouraging his accusers were not pure, he will be judge by God in that regard. And this resonates deep within me. How we spread God’s word and the attitude/motivation we have to spread God’s word is just as subject to scrutiny and judgment as how we life and organize our own lives. It is no wonder we need the support and intervention of the Holy Spirit to live well and wisely!

May you beloved live your life such that the judgment and scrutiny of God will bare witness to your to dedication to a Godly life. Selah!

GOD WILL REPAY ALL . . . . All that we humans attempt to do and be

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” (Reference: Jeremiah 17:9-10 )

Sometimes I am not really sure how to take these scriptural excerpts. They seem to come across differently just reading them straight, out of context. When you read them in context surrounded by their neighboring verses a different sense comes across. So, what about this one? Is the heart “deceitful”? [A brief survey of translations shows that the word “heart” is used most often, but there are one or two instances where the word “mind” is used instead.) Well, it depends on the heart, and what you mean by “heart.” If you are taking about emotions, as in human emotions all on their own according to will-full human agendas, yes the “heart” is deceitful. But if you are taking about care and compassion, sensitivity and kind regard, no the heart is not “deceitful.”

The editors of Reading the Anabaptist Bible say that “the Lord searches the human heart and renders judgment” so I guess that would mean that the heart may be deceitful . . . or it may not. The writer of Jeremiah qualifies his statement by saying the Lord looks at the heart and mind, and judges one’s actions. But are not one’s actions motivated by the heart, and by the mind? Isn’t all of that a “package deal”?

In the verses preceding verses 9 to 10 two examples are set up; those who trust in human/mortal flesh, and turns away from God. And those who trust in the Lord and reap the benefits of living within the Lord’s guidance. So how could that faithful-to-God heart be “deceitful”? Or perhaps “deceitful” is not the right/best word. The Hebrew word has the sense of a steep or treacherous hill. Maybe a better way to understand this is that the human heart is inconsistent. It maybe oriented towards God; or it may be ruled by earthly or base agendas. This would makes sense if the Lord is to judge the heart by the actions that it prompts and motivates.

How would God judge your “heart” beloved?

GOD WILL REPAY ALL . . . . Based on your actions, and not your “net worth”

Do not trust in extortion or take pride in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.” (Reference: Psalm 62:10-12 )

It’s very easy to get caught up in the accumulation game, especially coming into this time of year – Christmas. We look at all all the things that are available – all that we could get and all that we could give. And we start to think that the worth of a person is based on how much they have, and how much material things they can give to others. But that is a skewered way of looking at things.

Having “things” is good, and giving “good things” is good also; but these are not what we should set our hearts on, and certainly not what we should use to judge each other or ourselves. God knows the true worth of a person, and does not count the material wealth or power that a person can wield. In fact, if someone is TOO caught up in the accumulation game, they might be rewarded by God far less than they think they should.

Beloved, may you measure others and yourself not by what measure of things that are one’s life, but by how much God is in one’s actions and priorities. Selah!

GOD WILL REPAY ALL . . . . No Tricks or Hidden Information Involved

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” (Reference: Deuteronomy 30:15 )

Five years ago I said;

The essence of magic is misdirection. In a very simple magic trick the conjurer challenges his/her audience to find the small item (a small ball, a nut or some other small object) hidden underneath one of the three cups, shells, or other hollow object. And no matter how many times the guesser tries to guess where the item is hidden, they guess wrong. The reason? The item is never hidden under the object but is palmed by the conjurer. The essential knowledge needed to understand what is happening is hidden by the conjurer. God does not operate like that.

God sets out clearly and without misdirection what can be found in this life. If one searches for evil and sin, it can be found. If one searches for goodness and righteousness, it can be found. If one follows the round to death and destruction, one will get there. And if one follows the road to life and glory, one will get there also. The choice of which way one goes is up to each individual traveler.

Balthasar Hubmaier wrote, “See here, Christian reader, how bright and clear this Scripture shows us that God has freely entrusted to the human being anew also after the Fall the choice of evil and good, blessing and curse, life and death. So that even if the whole world said otherwise, heaven and earth would stand against it and testify openly on the last day before the judgment throne of Christ against all people that not God, but we ourselves, out of free will, are responsible for our sins and eternal damnation.”

May you, gentle reader, see what is clearly before you and make your choice accordingly. Selah!

It is no coincidence I am sure, beloved, that this theme comes after the theme of “Day of Lord.” While we do not know the timing, we are pretty sure end times are coming. These past years have been hard years with many changes, destruction, and death. Yet the world turns on. But it does not matter when the “Day of the Lord” comes because it is the destiny of humanity and all creation to come under judgment of God. How and when? No one knows for a certainty. One might not even believe that such judgment is inevitable. But it cannot be argued that this was written in Deuteronomy. And it cannot be argued that for at least two thousand plus years or more people have believed it and lived accordingly. The only question remains is, “What are you going to do about it?” I say again beloved, make your choice. Selah!