The Big Difference
I enjoy watching old Dragnet reruns. The stories themselves are not nearly as entertaining as the melodramatic way in which they are presented. Even the titles of the episodes are promises of the melodrama to come. So, with a slight nod to Dragnet, I have chosen to title this article, The Big Difference. But despite the title, and despite the fact that the story you are about to read is true, there is no attempt at melodrama. I want you to read the following paragraphs with all seriousness.
The drama of the passion of Christ continues. Jesus has endured the agony of Gethsemane as he drank from the cup of God’s wrath. And now a crowd of men, armed with clubs and swords, comes to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus. The crowd is not a mob, as they might appear to be. They are an officially sanctioned faction of the Sanhedrin, the supreme ruling council of the Jews in those days. These are men employed as temple police by the Jewish authorities. It is religion, not the state, that is arresting Jesus.
At the head of the pack is Judas, one of the twelve, who betrays him. A question immediately comes to our minds. How could someone in Judas’ position ever come to this? Is it possible that you or I could ever be brought to this? Could we ever sell out our Lord for thirty pieces of silver, then hand Him over with kind words and a patronizing gesture? You have to wonder how long Judas had been contemplating this act. It must have come about slowly…little by little. For months, perhaps for over a year, perhaps for two years, perhaps from the very beginning of his discipleship Judas dipped his hand into the bag. He was the person who kept the money, and little by little his conscience has become seared and dull, insensitive to the warnings of God, to the voice of conscience.
Judas was a believer. But in outward terms only. From the point of view of the disciples, he was a believer. He was one of them. He had obeyed the outward call of Jesus to follow Him. And yet he betrayed the Son of God. Is it possible to be a Christian in the world's eyes, in the church's eyes, and still be a son of perdition, a tool of Satan. Yes it is! And that possibility scares me to death! Furthermore, I think that this possibility is meant to scare us to death. I also think that if we bring in the doctrine of eternal security to try and comfort ourselves here, we're bringing it in too soon. Because as far as these disciples were concerned, Judas was one of them. He was a member of that visible church.
The doctrine of eternal security is that genuine followers of Christ will persevere to the end. Yet it is possible to be a believer in the eyes of the church and fall away. There’s a big difference between someone who is a genuine follower of Christ and someone who is a believer in the eyes of the church. You may have made a profession of faith and were baptized years ago. You may be an active member in the church. The question you should be asking yourself is not, “Have I ever professed faith in Christ?” Rather, the question you should be asking yourself is, “Am I currently trusting in Jesus with all of my heart and soul today? Am I repenting of my sins today?”