Note: Due to sporadic Internet outages at the "Dial Daily Bread" office because of a large wildfire burning nearby, we were unable to send last night's DDB. We're sending it now while there is a "window of opportunity."
Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Is it the will of Christ that those who believe in Him shall live their lives under a dark cloud of fear of final judgment? A shallow judgment may answer "Yes!" because of this text: "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, ... whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor. 5:10, 11).
Sounds like a motivation of raw fear. Shape up or leave! This has been the text of many hell fire-and-brimstone sermons. And yes, common sense tells us that a healthy sense of fear is good. Don't you look both ways before you walk across a busy street? That's consistent with happy living.
But the rest of that chapter is devoted to a different motivation for following Christ. In verse 13 the apostle notes that some people think he's crazy for wearing himself out in service for Him (he calls himself "a servant [slave] of Jesus Christ," Rom 1:1), but he explains that a new motivation has possessed him: "The love of Christ constrains us." And it's not a shallow sentimentalism, for he says, "because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died."
That's a reasonable, common sense deduction! "One dying for all" means that if One had not so died, all would be dead. (He clearly saw that the "death" Jesus died was his own second death.) And from that common sense deduction, Paul's soul is moved with such total gratitude that "henceforth" (KJV) he can no longer live unto himself; "I am crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20) becomes his daily heart-choice. No ugly fear clouds the pure flame of his devotion. He is a "slave" of love, a heart appreciation of what it cost the Son of God to save him from hell itself.
Then what about "the terror of the Lord" in verse 11? Look at it a second time. Paul isn't afraid of hell fire, nor of death, nor of any punishment. What he dreads is the shame he will feel in his own soul if he spends his life in self-seeking, and then at last looks into the eyes of the Son of God who died his second death--especially, as a minister of the gospel!
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 22, 2002.
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