The thunderous roar of water was deafening as it pounded the rocks some 250 feet directly below where I stood wide-eyed and fairly quivering with excitement. I stood suspended in space before Zambia’s Victoria Falls—a stunning 250-350 foot high water fall stretching an entire mile across its length.
Imagine standing in front of a sky-scraper and counting up 30 stories. Then take that height and stretch it out for one mile. The waters of the mighty Zambezi River hurl angrily over this precipice into a gorge measuring a mere 400 feet in width. The converging waters detonate with such force as they pour into this narrow chasm, the spray can rise over one mile into the air and be seen from 25 miles away. The mist is so heavy and the sound so cacophonous, I confess I felt Victoria Falls more than I actually saw its splendor.
Had I attempted to get as close as I could to the falls by riding over it in a raft, I would have plunged 300 feet and been crushed to death. Had I tried to wade across the river that was exploding through the gorge below, I would have been torn limb from limb and swept away by the raging waters. There was only one way I could stand so close to Victoria Falls and live to tell about it: I trusted the single, narrow walking bridge that spans the gorge and puts one face-to-face with the falls.
This experience serves, in my mind, as a faint reflection of my future accounting before God. It is the consistent testimony of the New Testament authors that every soul will someday stand before the all-powerful Creator of the universe whose moral perfections will flow freely like a thunderous waterfall, sweeping away every sinner to eternal judgment.
I realize this is by no means a commonly held opinion in our day. Even many who readily identify themselves as Christians dismiss such warnings as the vestige of a bygone age—religion long ago evolving past such unconscionable scare tactics. Yet I would argue that neither the most resolute opponent of the Bible, nor the Christian most readily embarrassed by its more strident passages, is helped in the least by pretending the biblical authors did not consistently and passionately issue such warnings. Read Romans 2:1-11 and 14:10-12, 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12, Hebrews 9:27, 2 Peter 2:4-9 and Revelation 20:11-15, and you will have to agree. Pull the thread of pending divine judgment from the biblical storyline and the message unravels; retain it, and you at least permit yourself to understand the worldview that informed the New Testament authors.
If the vision of these authors is to be honestly deciphered (to say nothing of trusted), we must recognize that they believed all people are sinners, fall short of the glory of God, violate His law, and serve false idols to His defamation. In consequence, all will stand against the raging power of God’s absolute holiness with less self-sufficiency than they would possess in an attempt to swim over Victoria Falls (Rom. 1:18-32; 3:10-20).
The Bible never mutes the gravity of human frailty in the face of the awesome power of God’s holy nature. As God cannot change His nature to be anything other than all-powerful and perfectly holy, sinners have no hope of withstanding His judgment. No hope, that is, except one.
One solid bridge spans the chasm of God’s judgment—one way is provided for sinners to stand face-to-face with God and not die. That way is Jesus Christ who said: “I am the way, the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus does not point the way to God. He does not merely teach us about truth. He does not help us live a better life. Jesus is Himself the singular Bridge on which one may stand in God’s presence and live.
In more specific terms, Jesus came from God, perfectly fulfilled God’s law, suffered the wrath of God in the place of sinners when He died on the cross, and rose from the grave in victory over the death which is the penalty of sin. Those who trust the work of Jesus to pay the penalty of their sins and trust in His resurrection, receive the gift of Jesus’ righteous standing before God (Rom. 3:21-26; 6:23). The one who thus believes, Jesus promised, “does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24b).
We can enter eternity in our own strength and attempt to wade across the fulminating flow of God’s pristine righteousness, or we can stand before our Maker secure in Jesus and filled with awe and wonder before a glory that defies earthly explanation and fills us with eternal joy. We may either dismiss such notions or trust the Bridge. Eternity will reveal whether there is any terror or splendor to be realized in our choice. The voices of the Apostles ring in urgent concert insisting there most certainly is. I trust those voices. I have planted my feet firmly on the Bridge, Jesus Christ. With keen anticipation I await the day I will stand safe in Christ in a state of incomparable awe and wonder before the glorious presence of the Almighty Maker of Victoria Falls. I nearly quiver with excitement at the thought. How about you?