Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Trial

A few years ago I was making a left-hand turn at a traffic light in town. As the light went from green to yellow I found myself partially in the intersection wondering if I should ease out further or try backing up. Backing up was not an option as the car behind me was so close that I am not sure a breeze could have blown between our bumpers. When the light turned red I had no option other than to make my turn and head for home. Within seconds of my turning I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the most dreaded sight, the flashing blue lights of a police car. I had no idea where this guy came from, it was almost as if he just appeared out of thin air. Once I pulled over, the officer walked up to my car and asked the question "Sir, Do you know why I stopped you?" I really had no idea, I assumed I had a burned out tail light or an expired license plate sticker. Whatever it was he was on my bumper before I ever knew what happened. I told him I had no idea why he pulled me over. He told me I ran the red light. I tried to explain my situation to him but he wanted no part of my explanation. He took my license and registration back to his car and proceeded to check me out. Surely he would give me a warning. It had been almost 15 years since my last ticket. Surely he would see that I was a good, law abiding citizen with no red flags in his bad guy database, and see my side of the story. No such luck! Johnny Law wrote me a ticket and told me to have a good evening. While all of this was going on my wife and kids happened to ride by on their way home. Well you can guess what I was greeted with when I walked in the door. My kids were scared that I was being arrested and going to jail. Once they saw I made it safely home the questions started and went on and on. As I replayed the scenario in my mind I thought "I am going to fight this thing, I do not think I did anything wrong!" As my court date approached, I gathered my evidence. I took photos of where the cop was positioned, I noted the official sunset time for the day of the violation, etc. I was ready! My day in court finally arrived. I was seated with the other people in the "innocent until proven guilty" section of the courtroom. As the day progressed a lady came into the room and called a few of our names and asked us to step into a side room. She read my charge and asked how I plead, "Not guilty mam!" she responded "Would you like to appear before the judge or a jury?" "I would like to have a jury trial." "No problem" she replied and asked me to step back in the courtroom. I waited a while and she asked me to come back in the side room again. She told me that the court was very busy that week and that they had decided to drop the charges against me. They did not have time to pull a jury together and hear my case. I was free to go and the charge would be be removed. Wow, I was relieved and disappointed at the same time. I just knew if they gave me a chance I could have beat the charge. I was an avid fan of LA Law back in the 80's. I had Arnie Becker's style down pat! I had my suit and tie on and even practiced how I would address the jury and possibly the officer. But I never got my chance. I was free to go, no cross examination, no closing argument, just a simple "You can exit through those doors and have a nice day."

So where is this story going? Yesterday I finished my goal of reading through the Bible in a year, actually it took me less that 10 months. As I was finishing up I read the following:

Revelation 20: 11-15 - 11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

I read this and I did not notice any conversation between God and man here. Often we have heard the famous question "If you died today and God said 'Why should I let you into My heaven', what would you say?" I do not see any conversation in this passage. I do not hear anything about a trial, witnesses, defense attorneys, rebuttals or closing arguments. God will simply look for our name in the book of life. If it is there we will be with Him forever in heaven, if it is not, you will be thrown into the lake of fire and separated from Him forever. Will there be people begging for mercy, pleading their innocence; I have no idea, the only hint of what may happen comes from Matthew's gospel:

Matthew 7:21-23 - 21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

These individuals are trying to plead their case. They thought they had enough evidence to show that they were not guilty but the Judge found them guilty. There is only one thing that will ensure that you are not guilty before God, that your name is written in the Lamb's book of life, and that is to put your trust in the finished work of Christ. Depending on what He did for your right standing before God. Don't wait until it is too late, don't expect someone to come into the heavenly courtroom saying your case has been dismissed because the court is too busy. That will not happen. God has all eternity to try the dead.

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