Salvation and Judgment

I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken.                                                                                                             John. 12:47-48 NLT

Twice Jesus tells us what his purpose was: it was salvation (Jn 3:17; Jn 12:47). He did not come to judge the world, but to save it. Yet he will judge the world; the Father has given him that authority (see the extended discussion in John 5:22-30). What is going on? Did Jesus come to judge or not? Is Jesus, the Savior, going to send us into eternal separation from God?

Verse 48 helps us here. No, Jesus’s purpose in coming was not judgment, but what he has said about himself and us and the world calls for a response. What he has said is factually true, and what we do about that truth will determine our eternal destiny. 

It is like this. Someone says to us, “Drive around that brick wall, not into it.” But we decide we know better: the shortest route to our destination is clearly through that wall. So, we floor the accelerator and smash into the wall, killing ourselves in the process. The person who gave us the good advice stands there, shaking his head, saying, “You poor fool.” He is passing judgment on us. But in the end he is not the one that killed us. It was the truth itself, and our rejection of it, that judged us. Human flesh cannot stand the sudden stop involved in a ton of metal hitting a solid brick wall. That’s the truth, no matter what “Star Wars” theology might say, and we rejected it.

It will be the same on the last day. Jesus will not say to some poor, whimpering sinner, “You go to hell!” No, having rejected the truth of who he is and who we are and what we need to do, we will condemn ourselves, just as the foolish driver killed himself. So, is Jesus your Savior, or is the truth about him your judge?

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