Imagine you're caught red-handed breaking the law in a serious way; and in such a manner that your conviction is a mere formality. You and your buddy (you witnessed him committing the same crime that you committed before he was pinched by the same cops) are sitting in the courtroom with your government-appointed council awaiting the inevitable arraignment.
A bailiff announces the arrival of the judge - the one in whose hands your fate now rests. This man takes his seat looking impressive in his gown of raven-black, appearing to care little about the taut attention that has electrified the room at his appearance. Your heart pounds as he reviews his notes and mutters a few cursory words of greetings to those in attendance - watching with palpable dread as he dons a pair of reading spectacles in order to peruse the cases that have been set before him. An eerie silence settles over the gathering as he appears to read for a moment, then before you register it (and with a subsequent pang of terror) he calls your name and lifts his eyes to peer down at you.
You see in his stern gaze more than the expression of a mere man, for he represents every taxpayer who voted him into that position for the purpose of executing just laws. He represents every cry of every victim of injustice, and the honor of every righteous statute in which you now stand condemned. Appealing to him for mercy is pointless - for he is not bequeathed the latitude to barter for your acquittal based on emotion. His task is to see that the law is justly served for every soul who stands before him. As you rise you feel something fall into the pit of your stomach - a heavy stone for which digestion is a ludicrous notion.
The charges are read and the facts are laid bare before this man as he scribbles attentively and reacts to the details of your crime. When he sets your bail and judges your case to be worthy of standing trial, you are not in the least surprised - for in your mind you have already begun to consider the prison sentence to which you will certainly be remanded in due course. As you take your seat the full weight of the law is resting firmly on your head, and you know you deserve nothing less than what is coming. A life squandered - freedom and prosperity obliterated in a moment of reckless abandon.
Then your buddy rises and in an instant everything in the room is turned on it's head.
There is a collective intake of breath in the room as your accomplice's name is read aloud for the court's perusal. His surname is identical to that which is clearly legible on the mahogany tile stretching elegantly beneath the Judge's imposing dais. The judge is staring loose-lipped at the papers set before him, his shoulders stiffening visibly as he becomes cognizant of his next charge. You watch with morbid fascination as the Judge's eyes lift to scour your accomplice - his expression no longer a mask of disciplined neutrality but now livid with dread. Your buddy - the one who was seen committing the same crime for which you have now been justly arraigned - is the Judge's son.
Brothers and sisters, in this very scenario rests the momentous issue of justice. What happens next will forever change the lives of every single person in that room.
Suppose the judge does what some would think to be the only "human" thing to do - to scour the pages set before him until he can locate the loop-hole that will let his son skirt the law and go free. If you are one such person, I am already praying for you - for those who have a true understanding justice already know what this unfortunate Judge must now do. We know that in order to preserve the dignity of his office and the justness of our laws, he has little choice but set the same terms for his boy that he has set for others. Anything less is a grievous violation of ethics that (under a just system) will invariably lead him into disgrace and certain impeachment.
Even if the Judge could somehow let his boy escape his punishment by some circuitous twist in the law, ask yourself honestly - would you not be outraged? Would you not demand that (at the very least) the same twist be applied for the first criminal who has already been remanded to trial and likely incarceration? Would you really admire any judge who could not be counted upon to perform his high duty of blind justice even in this ghastly scenario?
Brothers and sisters, a far greater court than this shall be called into order at the end of all things. Once all has been said and done, every soul that was appointed to live on the earth will stand before the Great Judge who is capable of neither injustice nor corruption. He is the One who loved every single person the same and gave everything to atone for their sins. The transgressions of those who accepted His Son are covered through true repentance and the power of His blood - and the judgment rendered on their behalf will be "innocent" because Father God will see His Son shining in their eyes as they stand before Him.
But here is the rub - and there is no denying it. In order for justice to be served, the same weights must be used for one and all. Just as the Same Blood made atonement for those who repent and are saved, so too is the sentence of death levied against those who commit sin. Shall those who died with unrepentant sin be given a pass because at some point in his/her life they made a profession of faith and walked with Abba a short way? Do we not retain our Free Moral Agency until the very end?
Of course we do...
For those who doubt this logic, a couple quick scenarios should put things in order:
Imagine a man who lived 80 years without committing the pettiest of crimes. Should his 80 crime-free years excuse him if he is caught raping and murdering a child?
Imagine a criminal who (upon being caught) vows to amend his ways and walk straight paths - only to be caught hours later committing the same crime? Do his actions not speak louder than his words and convey a lack of true repentance?
Imagine a husband or wife vowing faithfulness and chastity at the alter before a host of witnesses - only hours later to be caught in the embrace of another. Do we not know the penalty for such crimes? Is this vile act any more excusable with the passage of time? A year later? Two? Twenty?
Actions and words mean things. The freedom given to every human to choose our own path ceases only at death when our fates are eternally sealed. Our God is just - and surely the tree lies where it falls.
The man who was slain as a condemned citizen of Sodom or Gomorrah will not be able to lift a finger to accuse The Righteous Judge because The Judge allowed others to indulge the same behavior that has cost him the fires of Hell. Jesus did not die to excuse sin - but to eradicate it entirely through true repentance, His cleansing blood, and the astonishing transformation of refinement that we call sanctification. IF His great atonement merely excuses sin, then Hell will be empty and Heaven filled with the unrepentant wicked. Even here on Earth we can imagine how ruinous such a policy would be - to see prisons swung wide and society filled with murderers, thieves, rapists, and all other sorts of wicked criminals.
This will never be allowed to happen.
Only those in whom our Holy Father sees the image of His Son will be acquitted, for they have been transformed into His likeness - a new creation. Conversely, any who are indulging unrepentant sin at death do not bear Yeshua's likeness and will judged accordingly - no matter how long they may have attended a church.
The Judge is just - His judgments are always just.
Please do not be foolish with your lives or careless with your choices. Salvation is eternal for those who believe and remain in Jesus from that moment forward. Free will is never retracted, however - and one can at any time foolishly turn his/her back on that great salvation. Scripture is clear and what follows is only one example of many more like it:
2 Peter 2:20-22
"(20) If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. (21) It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. (22) Of them the proverbs are true: 'A dog returns to its vomit,' and, 'A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.'"
Judgment is coming - the world will soon remember what it means to fear God.
Please get your house in order and seek Jesus while He may be found.
Your brother and servant in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Mark Scott Grimmett