During this Advent Season, I’m reading God In the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, a book of daily devotionals by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written in 1943 while he was in Tegel prison camp in Germany. I will usually be doing a weekly blog post, sharing some truths and quotes that were especially helpful to me. This is a second post on the materials covered in Week 1.
On Week 1, Day 4, Bonhoeffer shifts his focus from Jesus’ first coming to pay the penalty for our sin, to His still future second coming. He begins with what he calls “The Un-Christmas-Like Idea,”
“When the old Christendom spoke of the coming again of the Lord Jesus, it always thought first of all of a great day of judgment.”
There will be two judgments, one for believers and another for unbelievers. Revelation 20:11-15 describes what is called the Great White Throne Judgment. “Books” are mentioned in this passage, the book of life and other unnamed books where the dead whose names were not written in the book of life are judged “according to what they had done.“
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15 ESV)
Those whose names are written in the book of life will not be judged for their sins. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes this clear. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV) But this doesn’t mean our works as believers in Christ are not important. The next two Scriptures make it clear that when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ we will give an account for our works IN CHRIST, after we surrender our lives to the Lord. This judgment has to do with rewards versus loss. As Christians, we will all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, where our works at believers will be judged.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV
“Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.”
1 Corinthians 3:12-13 ESV
2 Corinthians 5:11 begins with these words: “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.” Most of the people who read my blog posts have committed their lives to Christ Jesus as the Savior and Lord. For you, take advantage of this Christmas season by sharing your personal testimony with some who still need to be persuaded of this life-changing decision.
For those reading these words who have not yet made this decision, there is no better time to do so that during this season when we focus on Jesus’ coming as a baby in a manger. For this wasn’t a normal baby. He was God in human flesh, and for thirty-three years He lived a sinless life. Then, Jesus Christ suffered and died on the Cross, paying the penalty for the sin of all who put their faith in Him. But that isn’t the end of the story. Three days later, He conquered death. As it says in Acts 2:24 (NIV), “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
If you haven’t made the decision to make Jesus Christ your Savior and Lord, I invite you to pray the following prayer.
Lord Jesus, I believe You died on the Cross to pay the penalty for my sin. I recognize I need Your forgiveness for my sins. I want to turn away from living life my own way, but to do that I need Your help. Please come to live in my heart, through Your Holy Spirit. I surrender my life to You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You for forgiving my sin and accepting me as Your child. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.
The Christmas season after I graduated from college was when I personally made this life-changing decision. My life – and my Christmas celebrations – have never been the same since then. If you prayed the above prayer, I believe this will also be a part of your testimony. Jesus will no longer just be a baby in a manger to you. He will be Your Savior, Lord, and coming King.