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September 22, 2011

End Times Witnessing: How not to miss being saved?

There are two characters in the Bible who shared some similar worldly characteristics and yet ended differently in their eternal destinations. Both were men of worldly success in terms of power and wealth.

PILATE

Pilate was a shrewd governor working for the powerful Roman Empire. He was unpopular, cruel and feared by many. He had the power to put a person to death, regardless whether the person was found guilty or not. Jesus was tried in his court and found innocent but Pilate still sentenced him to death. He was politically ambitious and correct. He knew how to appease his subjects (mostly Jewish) on one historical occasion. He avoided civil upheaval by succumbing to the majority regardless of justice. His concern was to stay out of trouble and keep his governor’s position safe. Jesus gave him three chances to know Him and even receive from Jesus salvation for him and his household. Responding to the three mundane, routine, temporal political questions he asked, Jesus revealed to him spiritual truth leading to eternal life.

He asked Jesus: “Are you the king of the Jews?” (The Jews had accused Jesus of ‘revolting’ as they wanted Pilate to execute him). So Pilate was asking the accused what he was accused of. It was a pertinent interrogation question.

Jesus answered: “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about Me?” Jesus wanted Pilate to proclaim with his mouth he wanted to know Jesus personally. This is Salvation Truth Number One: Everyone must personally seek to know Jesus, the King of kings, the only Saviour of men!

Pilate missed the spiritual point. He went on and asked: “Am I a Jew? Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?” He just wanted to get the trial over as soon as possible. He had to ascertain the criminal act done by the Jewish accused and then pass the appropriate sentence. Then he would have completed another job. His own wife knew of Jesus’ ministry and even dreamed of Him on the night before the trial. But Pilate was just being ‘practical’ and could not be bothered with foreign spiritual issue.

Jesus gave him a further chance: “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, My followers would fight to keep Me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But My Kingdom is not of the world.” Jesus stated that Salvation Truth Number Two is: Know that Jesus is the King far above human kings, and with far more superior authority and power. Only Jesus has the authority and power to life and kingdom beyond this world.

Pilate again missed the spiritual truth. “So you are a king?” He was still obsessed with earthly politics. He only wanted Jesus’ admission that He was a king so he could sentence Him (as accused by the Jewish leaders for political treason against the Roman ruler, Caesar). He was interested in getting to the earthly ‘truth’, that is, was what the Jews accusing Jesus of the truth?

Jesus gave him the third Salvation Truth: “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is truth.” Salvation Truth Number Three: Genuine Truth-seeker will believe and acknowledge that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The conviction will result in life transformation. The believer will submit to the kingship of Jesus with accompanying life changes toward God and others.

Pilate brushed aside this eternal TRUTH and remarked sarcastically, “What is truth?” In his human experience he knew there was no truth in human society. He knew he had to fit the so-called ‘truth’ to suit whoever in power at any moment.

The words that Jesus had spoken had gone into Pilate’s rational mind. They did not make sense to him. He had enough of worldly power struggle and wealth making worries to occupy his mind and emotion. The words never entered his spirit. So he missed the three chances.

ZACCHAEUS

Zacchaeus was a shrewd chief tax contractor-collector for the powerful Roman Empire. He too had wealth and power. Like Pilate he was not socially popular and was feared by those under his oppression. Like Pilate he miss-used his power and caused hardship and grievance.

But Zacchaeus differed from Pilate. He had heard of Jesus and His teachings through others. He determined to seek and know Jesus personally for himself. Undeterred by physical disadvantage he made an ingenuous effort, climbing a tree to position himself higher than anyone. Indeed Jesus noticed him and came to his house as his honored guest! Thus, Zacchaeus fulfilled Salvation Truth Number One!

Zacchaeus knew and believed that Jesus had far superior power and authority than what the worldly kings could offer. He heard and believed. When encountering Jesus personally his belief was confirmed. He submitted to this King immediately! Thus, he fulfilled Salvation Truth Number Two: Know that Jesus is the King far above human kings, and with far more superior authority and power. Believe that only Jesus has the authority and power to life and kingdom beyond this world.

Zacchaeus was convicted and submitted to the kingship of Jesus and responded by repentance and actions following repentance of his heart. He declared publicly his repentance and restitution actions. Thus, he fulfilled Salvation Truth Number Three: Genuine Truth-seeker will believe and acknowledge that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The conviction will result in life transformation. The believer will submit to the kingship of Jesus with accompanying life changes toward God and others.

Why did Zacchaeus respond to Jesus differently? Zacchaeus believed and gave priority to spiritual reality. When he encountered God he knew and submitted. Pilate did not believe in or give importance to the spiritual. Even when God appeared to him he missed God completely.

Some will get to heaven and some will miss heaven. The chance is one hundred percent either way. You choose.

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