Tony Elder

Tony Elder

Recently, I received a summons to appear at the courthouse. No, I wasn’t being sued or otherwise involved in any dispute or legal action. I was being called upon to fulfill my civic duty to serve as a juror. Nevertheless, I knew I needed to take this official notice seriously. So I cancelled a meeting scheduled for the Monday I was supposed to appear, as well as kept the rest of the week clear of any obligations in case I was chosen to serve and would be tied up for several days. However, the weekend before my duty was to begin, I received a reprieve. When I followed the instructions to call to check if I would be needed, I discovered that only a portion of my jury pool was required to be there – and I was part of the group that had been dismissed.

The Bible reminds us of another summons we shouldn’t ignore and one we will not be able to avoid. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Unless the Lord returns first, we will all face death one day. And following that inevitable experience, we will stand before the Lord our Judge. “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, ‘As I live says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10-12). God’s Word might leave room for varying ideas about the details of this event and how it will all play out, but it leaves no doubt about the reality of the judgment itself. We will appear before God for the purpose of judgment. At that time, each person will hear either God’s commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Lord”, or His condemnation, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”.

The good news for believers is that we don’t have to fear that judgment. Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, those who trust Him as Savior are no longer under condemnation. We can come before God on that day knowing that our sins have been covered by the blood of Christ. We can appear before God with the assurance that “it is well with my soul.” Sure, we may still have to face up to some things we did or didn’t do in this life in connection with our heavenly rewards, but our eternal destiny will not be in question.

Too many today deny or ignore the reality of the coming judgment. Maybe they’ve been deceived into thinking God is like a lenient grandfather who isn’t going to hold them accountable. They think He’ll just lovingly overlook their sin and rebellion and welcome them into heaven along with everyone else. In their view, He certainly couldn’t send someone to a place like hell. Others may rightfully believe in divine judgment, but haven’t made preparations to face it. They haven’t submitted themselves to God’s Word and haven’t trusted Christ as the only Savior. Instead of having the assurance of eternal life, they simply hope they’ve been good enough and that God will show them mercy. For those who aren’t ready, the Bible says “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

We all have a summons to appear in the divine courtroom. We don’t know when it will be, but we know with certainty that it’s coming. Are you prepared to face the Judge of all the earth?

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by e-mail at


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.