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Non-negotiable. I sometimes use that word with my kids. There are things in life which I consider non-negotiable. A specific time to be somewhere. A test coming up. Homework assignments, a session or show to prepare for, a deadline, something which can’t be ignored, or rationalized, or passed off, except to our detriment. I tell my son, “This is non-negotiable.” That means no argument, reasoning, or emotional display will change the happening.
In reading steadily through the New Testament these past few weeks, I’ve come up against many non-negotiables. Faith in Christ. Holiness. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Legalism, the idea that we can be holy by human effort rather than by faith-reliance on Christ within us, is something to be carefully avoided; a close trust relationship with God as Father is to be consciously and faithfully cultivated.
There’s a lot of black-and-white in the Word of God; it’s a book of divine Facts that, if we really grab hold of them in faith, will transform not only our understandings, but our attitudes and actions.
These things are to be held to as incontrovertible facts because of the ultimate non-negotiables: the judgment seat of Christ, of which Paul speaks, and the great white throne judgment written of in Revelation.
Interpretations aside, the Word states plainly that judgment is coming, both for believers and unbelievers. Those whose names are written in the Book of Life through faith in Jesus Christ will have the quality of their life’s work determined by the only human in history qualified to always give a righteous judgment – the God-Man Jesus Christ.
For believers who began in the Spirit by faith and then continued in faith, building Christ upon Christ, there will be reward. Believers who began by having Christ laid as a foundation and then built with the works of their hands, well, those will suffer loss, escaping into heaven’s glories as refugees escaping through the flames – whether by legalism or license will be beside the point. …he that overcomes, and keeps My works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations. The fruit of the Spirit is just that – fruit that comes from the Spirit, not from human effort. His works through us.
Unbelievers will face the reality of the Johannine description of standing before the great white throne, clothed not in Christ but in the works of their own hands, and judged by those good and bad works. The trouble is that God doesn’t grade on a curve; their works will be found wanting, the book of Life will be checked for their names, and then one of the most dread-full and horrific things recorded in the Bible happens to them.
What strikes me most about Revelation is the total non-negotiability of it. Just as there are times with my kids where I don’t take their opinion into account, so God does with us. And just like my kids, I don’t always like my Father’s non-negotiables. But there they are. I can rationalize. I can ignore. I can pass them off. But they’re still going to happen, no matter what I choose to do with that fact.
That’s one of the main things I love about the Word. It goes against the flesh-grain, stirs me up with uncomfortable thoughts that break me out of complacency, world-think and world-sleep; the Word forces me to face Reality.
A non-negotiable just is. Tax Day. The day our electric bill is due. The date of our concert, or our book deadline. The day our children leave home – prepared for life in the world, or not. The judgment seat of Christ. The great white throne judgment. A non-negotiable says, “Here’s the fact, Jack. Deal with it or it will deal with you.”
We can go with these non-negotiables, order our choices by them and be prepared when they hit. Or we can rationalize, compartmentalize, and be unprepared. In that case we’ll have to endure the consequences; where a non-negotiable meets the Now, choice is no longer an option.
Righteousness flows by aligning ourselves with these Facts in God’s Word. That’s faith.
Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.