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COLUMN: Jesus came to save and will return to judge

COLUMN: Jesus came to save and will return to judge

Mike Ruffin

Mike Ruffin

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17)

I love the above verse. It’s often overlooked because it’s right after John 3:16. It speaks volumes about Jesus. In a simple sentence, it defines His entire mission for taking the form of a man that the world through Him might be saved.

As a child, I had a saving moment of a different kind. Our church group took a day trip to a lake where we could swim, picnic, etc. Shortly after we arrived, I noticed a huge diving platform in the middle of the lake. So, I swam out to see it.

While we were on the platform, one of the girls with us - who could not swim - was being encouraged to take off her life jacket and dive in. “You’ll be okay,” we told her. “It’s the best way to learn how to swim.” She took our advice, jumped into the water, and sank like a rock. When she didn’t come back up, I jumped in to save her.

I’ll never forget the bear hug she gave me. I couldn’t break it and we both went down in the water. I remember thinking that I was going to drown. She was several years older than me and therefore stronger. I couldn’t get her off of me.

All of the sudden, someone broke her hold on me. I rushed to the surface and made my way back to the diving platform. One of the older boys with us had saved both of us.

None of us ever forgets life-saving moments, especially the day when we asked Jesus to come and live in our hearts. The Bible teaches that salvation gives us a second chance at life. We can live life differently, enjoy the peace and tranquility that the world cannot understand, and look forward to spending eternity with Jesus.

But much like my near-fatal swimming accident, we cannot pick and choose when the moment Jesus decides to reach out and save us. This is an important spiritual truth emphasized in an illustration I heard several years ago.

Ironically, it involved another young man whose life was also saved in a swimming accident. He never saw the man who saved him again until years later when he appeared in court on a drunken driving charge that involved a fatality. If convicted, he would likely serve several years in prison.

Much to his liking, he recognized the judge that would hear his case as the same man who had saved him from drowning years ago. “Don’t you remember me?” he asked the judge. “I’m the little boy that you saved years ago in the swimming pool at the YMCA. Please help me. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I’ll never drive drunk again.”

“Young man,” the judge said, “I remember you. Unfortunately, I’m not your savior now. I’m your judge.”

When Jesus returns, that’s exactly what He will say to those of us who have yet to be saved. We all have friends and neighbors who seem to think that they, too, have time to change – particularly the young. The problem is we don’t pick our saving moments. When the saving moment does arrive, the Bible is clear: “Now is the accepted time”. (2 Corinthians 6:2)

As Christians, we need to be sure the world around us understands this important spiritual truth. When Jesus returns, He will no longer be our savior. He will be our judge. Until then, our charge as Christians is to do what we can to see that those who really don’t know Jesus are given the opportunity to have a saving moment in their lives, too.

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