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“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (John 12:46–48).

WHEN WE HEAR THE WORDS OF JESUS CHRIST WE HAVE A DECISION TO MAKE. The question we must answer is actually two questions: Is it true? If it is true, what are we going to do about it? No decision we ever make in this life has greater consequences.

In these daily meditations, we have emphasized that our response to God’s initiative is a matter of choice on our part. The gospel comes to us in the form of an invitation. From the depths of His great heart, our Lord is saying to each of us, “Come to me” (Matthew 11:28). But while the freedom our Father has given us is a magnificent blessing, it entails a serious responsibility.

Looking back at John 12, observe how Jesus describes the two paths that we must choose between. In v.46, He had spoken of “whoever believes in me.” That is the first path. Then, in vv.47,48, He speaks of the other path, the path of disbelief. Hearing Jesus’ words, this person “does not keep them.” Refusing to believe, he “rejects me” and “does not receive my words.” So to disbelieve is not merely to be uninterested or unconvinced: the decision not to “receive” or to “keep” Jesus’ words is a decision to “reject” Him. If what He taught is false, that is precisely what we should do. But what if it is true? In that case, we will have rejected the message that could have saved us — and in doing so, we’ve sentenced ourselves to eternal death. “The word that I have spoken,” Jesus said, “will judge him on the last day.” If we are lost, it will not be because we couldn’t be rescued, but because we rejected our Rescuer.

The picture in John 12 is not simply that of a person distrusting a set of doctrines. When the words of the gospel are rejected, it is Jesus Himself who is being refused. So let us look at our situation with clear eyes: our eternal destiny hinges on our response to the person of Jesus Christ. If His words are true, He alone is our Savior. How we respond to Him is the most important thing about us.

“Jesus Christ never asks anyone to define his position or to understand a creed, but ‘Who am I to you?’ . . . Jesus Christ makes the whole of human destiny depend on a man’s relationship to himself” (Oswald Chambers).

Gary Henry — +

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