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“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).

WHEN PETER SPEAKS OF “JUDGMENT,” HE PRESENTS US WITH A SOBERING THOUGHT. The marvelous gift of the freedom of our will is accompanied by responsibility and accountability to our Creator. The time will come when we will be judged. In our conscience, we all know we are guilty of having rejected what we knew of God’s will on many occasions. If there can be no forgiveness, the consequences of our sin will fall upon us inexorably.

In the gospel (“good news”) of Jesus Christ, forgiveness is the very thing that is offered. But the offer must be responded to. The gospel must be obeyed. And Peter’s words offer no hope to those who, having heard the gospel message, refuse to obey it. “What will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

The initial terms of obedience to the gospel have been looked at on many pages in this book, but let’s review them. Believing that Jesus is the Christ, we must make an open confession of our faith to others (Romans 10:9,10). Then we must do what Peter instructed the audience to do on Pentecost: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). In the act of baptism, we die with Christ, receiving God’s forgiveness and also the strength and guidance He provides so that “we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Have you obeyed the gospel? Whatever others may have done, have you responded rightly to the glad tidings of salvation in Jesus Christ? The gospel is the best news in the world, but the results of refusing it would be more tragic than we can imagine.

I know of no better way to view obedience than to see it in terms of God’s kingship. The problem of sin is the problem of rebellion against the rule of God. Surely there can be no reconciliation without an honest return to obedience, starting with the initial terms of God’s pardon and continuing for the rest of our lives. Are you willing to come back to the King and obey His gospel? If not, the only consequences you can expect are those of an outlaw.

“I cannot say ‘Thine is the kingdom’ if I do not give the King the disciplined obedience of a loyal subject” (Anonymous).

Gary Henry — +

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