“Your not preaching the bible… your gospel is irresponsible… God is not just love but also justice… Jesus preached more on hell than any other topic…”
All those thoughts ran through his head as he stood before the judgement seat of God. To his left were people weeping, full of sorrow and regret. To his right were those righteous saints who warned Caleb all those years that he was preaching false doctrine. They stared him down with arms crossed, shaking their head with tight lips as if to say, “We told you so.”
An angel open the book of works to which every man would be judged, from the least to the greatest. “Caleb, you have spread lies about God. You have told them of a God too accepting, a God too loving, a God too fatherly. Yes, those are attributes of God but you neglected to warn people of hell. You neglected to preach the necessity of confessing your sin, asking for forgiveness, and believing for salvation. The work of Jesus you preached was too inclusive. You relied on grace and love. Your gospel was too compassionate.”
Caleb threw up his arms in protest. “Are you kidding me?! Where is Jesus? Where is my heavenly father?!”
Jesus approached Caleb with an embarrassed look on his face. Jesus cleared his throat and shuffled around for a moment. “Yeah, Caleb, I’m sorry. You did make us out to be better than we really were. Am I loving? Yes! Accepting? Sure! But only to those who choose me! You followed your heart too much, you relied to much on your own sense of morality. We are good, just a different kind of good. Not your kind of good.”
Caleb rubbed his face in frustration. “I made you out to be too good? I relied on my morality? What the hell is going on here?!”
“Caleb,” announced the angel behind the books with a thundering voice. “You were sincere in what you taught, mistaken but sincere. We have decided to extend you mercy and give you a chance to repent and renounce the gospel you preached.”
A chance to repent. A chance to renounce. Caleb thought over these options. He looked to the people on his left weeping, he looked to the people on his right eagerly waiting for his response.
“If what I spoke about you is untrue, than I would rather spend eternity in hell. I cannot imagine being with a God who would allow all these people to suffer for age upon age. I have to be honest, I was hoping I was wrong about you. I was hoping you would have been better than I preached. I will not renounce my gospel. If its not good news to those people who stand on my left, than its not the gospel.”
The angel behind the books heard this from a few people already. Every time it saddened him. How unfortunate that Gods creation became more compassionate and moral than God himself. How unfortunate that the unchanging God could not keep up with the gospel Caleb was preaching.
The angel slammed his gavel and Caleb was ushered to the left. The angel turned the page of the book of works. “Would Michael approach the judgement seat…”
The crowd was gathered listening to the sweaty street preacher, yelling while gripping his bible. Pointing at a young man, he asks “Have you ever lied? Yes? That makes you a lair! Have you ever lusted after a woman? Yes? That makes you an adulterer! Have you ever hated someone? Yes? That makes you a murderer…”
The preacher continued to list the reasons why this young man deserved hell. On the outskirts of the crowd stood Jesus and Hank. Hank was an average church goer. He attended every Sunday he could. He owned a few Christian books on his bookshelf and was secure in his salvation. Jesus was a Jew. He cared more for people than religion. As they stood there, Hank shook his head in disgust. “This guy is making us look so bad. That is no way to win people over to Christianity.”
Jesus stroked his chin. “What about this guy is making your people look bad?”
Hank laughed. “He’s treating people like dirt! He’s running people away from Christianity! That is not the way to go about it, I’ll tell you that.”
Jesus thought for a moment. He turned to Hank and asked, “Do you believe in the hell he speaks of? Do you believe sinners are going to this place if they don’t agree in the Christ he speaks of?”
The question caught Hank off guard. He shifted uncomfortably as he thought of a tactful way to answer the question. “Well, yea. I do believe that there is a hell that non-believers are going to. But what he is doing is running them further away! You have to be lead by the spirit.”
Jesus shuffled his feet, thinking how he should say this with tact. “What you seem to disagree with is the mans method, but not his message. That is troubling to me. If you do believe that there is a hell, a place where people are tormented eternally for not believing in this Christ, than why are you not like this preacher here? He is taking his belief seriously. You seem to not care that most will be tormented forever.”
Hank felt his face get red. Its not that he didn’t want to save people from hell, it just seems so wrong when he sees it acted out in front of him. This street preacher made him uncomfortable. Was it because of how he was preaching, or was the message itself ugly?
Jesus seemed to sense his discomfort. “Hank, relax. I don’t know who this Christ is that this man preaches about. In my day, there were many Christ’s. If this man makes you uneasy, its not his method. Its his message. Something in you realizes that this is ugly, that this isn’t right. Trust that feeling.”
The street preacher locked eyes with Jesus. He pointed to Jesus with his bible and asked, “You sir. If you died today do you know where you would go?”
“Yes. I would probably go into the ground. Hopefully in something tasteful, like oak or mahogany.” The crowd laughed at Jesus’ reply. The street preacher wasn’t laughing.
“Do you think eternity is a joke? Laugh now, but there won’t be any laughing in hell. Have you ever lied sir?”
“Let me stop you right there. This Christ you speak of is a monster. If he is the one I must trust to get into heaven, I’d rather suffer in hell. Let me answer your question in regards to eternity. There was a man who was invited to a party. When he received his invitation, he went around town and rubbed it in everyones face. He judged those based on who he thought would attend the party, and those whom he thought wouldn’t. When the night of the party came this man walked in the door. To his dismay the whole town was invited to the party. He was angry feeling deceived and fooled. When the man saw the head of the party, he confronted him asking why he allowed him to believe it was a private party. The head of the party replied, because it made him laugh.”
The preacher gave him a blank stare. “Sir, have you ever lied?”
Jesus laughed. “Lets go, Hank. I’m hungry. If I’m going to hell, I might as well do it on a full stomach.”
After much study and contemplation, I’ve discovered what the final judgement will look like. Answer correctly, and enter into eternal life. Answer foolishly, and into the lake of fire with you. Let’s all hope we are not asked what the capital of Assyria is…
Side note: Learn as much about swallows as you can. It just might secure your salvation.
“I got a copy! I got a copy!”
Luke was running towards the others with a copy of the King James bible in his hands. The boys up in heaven heard a lot about the bible, but this is the first time they were able to lay their hands on a copy. After Luke approached the group, they all gathered around him as he opened it up.
“Lets see, lets see… ahh! Here it is! Check it out boys, my work made it.” Luke flipped through a few more pages. “Ok thats odd, they split it up into two books. Thats fine! As long as its all in there. Lets see who else made the cut… Hey Paul! Some of your letters made it in,” shouted Luke over his shoulder.
Paul pushed forward through the group and leaned in over Luke’s shoulder and asked, “Letters? My letters? What letters?”
“Your letter to the Corinthians. Your letter to Philemon…” As Luke continued to list the letters, a puzzled look came over Paul’s face.
Paul snatched the bible out of Luke’s hands, “Let me see that!”
“Philemon? Why would they put that in there? What could they possibly get from that? Corinthians? I wrote like 5 letters to them, why are there only two… Oh I see what they did. Where are their letters back to me? HEY! I didn’t even write that part! This is confusing as shit!” Paul continued to flip through the pages. He stopped at the Epistle of Peter and started to laugh.
“Hey Peter,” called out Paul. “I didn’t know you could write!”
“WHAT?!” Peter ran forward and pulled the bible out of Paul’s hands. “I cant! It says I wrote that?”
Paul nodded. “Yea, it says right here that you wrote this.”
A man from the crowd rose his hand and coughed. “Sorry… that was me! Hi. My name is Tobias. This is awkward, I admit. I wanted to get my literature out there. Maybe they will figure it out one day and drop it out of later editions…”
“What about me?” shouted a voice from the crowd. “Did any of my stuff make it in?”
“Hey Enoch! Ya, let me check it out,” called back Paul as he grabbed the bible back in his hands.
“Sorry Enoch. It seems to not have made the cut.” Paul passed the book back to Enoch who fanned through the pages.
“Bullshit man. I worked hard on that. Oh! Lovely, thats fair! They put Jude who uses my material, but not me? Mine doesn’t make the cut, but the insanity of John the Revelator does?” Enoch continued to read and started to smile, “They put all these John writings together. They put John the Beloved next to John the Revelator! They probably think its the same guy! Thats some unfortunate book placement there.”
John the Beloved thew up his hands. “Whatever. This whole thing is a mess. No offense John.”
John the Revelator smiled, “None taken. I don’t mind the good publicity.”
Luke took the bible back and sighed. “Jesus Christ! What a disappointment.”
Jesus replied, “Tell me about it. That’s why I didn’t write a damn thing down.”
“Jesus, you cant go! You have to stay here with us!”
A large crowd placed themselves between Jesus and the heavenly pearly gates.
“Move! Get out of the way,” cried Jesus, waving his arms at the masses.
A man stepped forward, dropping to his knees, pleading, “Jesus! Please! We endured so much to be here with you! Our hope was to spend eternity with you. Why do you want to leave us? Why are you leaving?”
Jesus reached down and touched the mans face, “There are people hurting right now. There are people in torment. I cannot enjoy one minute of heaven knowing that some of my brothers and sisters are in pain. I must go and be with them.”
“Jesus,” spoke another from the crowd, “they made their choice! They rejected you! We are the ones who chose you! Don’t punish us for their mistake! Stay with us! We love you! They didn’t!”
Jesus turned toward the direction of the voice. “Friends, if you love me, you would love them. You chose me, yes, but I chose them! If I stay here, I will be miserable. How can I, or any of us, spend one more minute here knowing our friends are in pain? Was I speaking in riddles when I said we should visit the prisoner? I say lets go! Lets go to the pits of hell and visit the prisoners! Lets give them water, lets give them compassion, we must go and show them they are not forgotten!”
“Jesus, its what they deserve! Justice demands it!”
“Justice demands it?” Jesus asked. “Why did those people chose hell? It’s because they never met me. Instead, they met you. They met a people so concerned with securing their own heaven they let their brother go to hell. I’d rather be in hell with those suffering, than in heaven with those who are righteous.”
A woman stepped forth from the crowd and slowly approached Jesus. She wrapped her arms around him and started to weep. She pulled away and looked at Jesus in the face. “Thank you,” she said, “when I arrived here I noticed my husband and my son were not here. I was waiting for a miracle. I was waiting for their memories to be erased from my mind. I realized though, if I forgot who they were I would be loosing the heaven I experienced on earth. I want to go with you, Jesus. I want to see my son, I want to see my husband.”
The crowd parted for Jesus and this woman. They knew the only way to keep Jesus there would be to restrain him. They didn’t know how long Jesus was going to be gone. One thing was sure, heaven wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
The world is no longer a safe place. As we move forward we must take into consideration the serious threat of chemical weapons, advanced viruses, and other unknown consequences of living in a highly advanced world.
Recently, the Council for Christian Evangelism met together to hammer out the ministry of future evangelism. With contributions from theologians representing Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary and 14 other seminaries, real world solutions were planned and implemented.
One of the first issues was to address the future possibility of a viral outbreak that would infect its host in ways unseen before. Once thought of just as fiction in horror movies the possibility of such an outbreak is not only possible, but a threat we live with every day. The Council for Christian Evangelism (TCCE) wrestled with how the church would respond if an undead epidemic (classically known as zombie outbreak) were to occur. The solutions were creative, compassionate, and practical.
The concern brought to the forefront was would it OK for a Christian to kill the walking dead? The obstacle to killing the living dead is that Jesus himself rose from the grave. If the body of Christ killed those who rose from the dead, it would be as if Jesus was killing himself. This would be equal with suicide, an issue that the church is still split on.
What about the salvation of such walking dead? TCCE agreed it would be best to hold out hope, even for the walking dead, that their souls could be saved. A proposal was made to prepare Flesh Kitchens for the walking dead. Such kitchens would offer animal flesh instead of human flesh to the afflicted. This would prevent the walking dead from further committing acts of murder, violence, and sin. Once in the Flesh Kitchens the walking dead would not be able to leave. This would provide opportunity for families to visit their loved ones in a safe environment. Every night scripture readings and prayer would be provided to the walking dead. The hope being that the walking dead would eventually decay and pass away in a safe and in a peaceful way.
Finally it was determined that violence against the walking dead would be discouraged, though not forbidden. Even though the walking dead does not appear to be alive or fully human, to practice love and mercy towards them would be the way of Jesus. Some argued since it’s not fully human it makes violence OK. We have laws to protect animals from human violence, so must we adopt moral laws to protect the walking dead from violence. In the end we don’t know if the viral state of the undead is permanent, or if a cure could be found, but hope must be held out.
“Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” – 1 Corinthians 6:3
The smoke cleared, the final judgement for humanity has been completed. Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. One last judgement remained. It was the judgement that every angel feared since Paul uttered those words, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” At that spoken word every head in heaven turned to Jesus, where he sheepishly shrugged. But now that day had come. So far it hasn’t been good for the heavenly hosts. Humanity has not been as merciful as one would have liked…
“For the next order of business, would Seraphim Raziel please step forward. You will be judged this day by Vivian Karmichael of Crow Hill, Tennessee.”
Raziel stepped forward, wings glowing in majesty. He burned blue with flames of holy fire. His eyes green like emeralds. Hanging from his side was a sword forged from the bones of the mighty Leviathan. For years he had served as a keeper of the mysteries of God. Today his eternal purpose would be judged.
Vivian Karmichael stepped forward. Wearing a floral dress, white gloves, and hair styled high in classic bee-hive fashion. Her skin wrinkled, her lips puckered as if she ate something sour, and her eyes squinted. As she walked towards Raziel she scrutinized him from top to bottom.
Vivian placed her hand on her chin, “How do you plead, Rachel?”
Raziel opened his mouth, and words thundered out like a heard of buffalo, “Vivian. My name is Raziel, not Rachel, though I can understand the confusion. As for my plead, I have faithfully served The Lord since my creation. I have kept the mysteries of God locked away and I have protected them with my eternal life. I never strayed and never faulted. It has been an honor to serve The Lord, and humanity with this task. I request admittance into the new heavens and the new earth, as my reward for my faithful service.”
“Hrm…” Vivian was in deep thought as she rubbed her chin. “Faithful service you say? Let me ask you a few questions Mr.Ray. First off, your hair. It’s a disrespect to God. On earth, long hair on a man is an abomination. I never seen any real man of God with long hair. So, if you wanted to serve God faithfully, maybe you should have thought about how you are presenting yourself. Not only that, but your too bright. I can’t even look at you without my eyes hurting. Seems kind of prideful to me.”
Raziel never thought about how he looked. He reached his hand up and touched his hair. It was long. “Vivian, I beg you to have an open mind. Angels are not like earthly men. I was created like this. My hair doesn’t grow, it just is. As for my brightness, I reflect the glory of God. His brightness is my brightness.”
Vivian huffed. “Well, you don’t take criticism very well. All I’m suggesting is a haircut, and dim down a little bit. You said you were a keeper of mysteries? Well, I don’t see how you effectively performed that job. In 1959 I could not find my purse. I had just got of the train and I needed money to buy a ticket to the next station. I had to wait at that station for 4 hours until my husband could pick me up after his shift from work was over. That was one of the worse days of my life. I prayed and prayed, but I never found it. I know I had it right in my lap! I told the conductor, and he assured me no one turned in a purse. I always thought he stole it. But I couldn’t prove anything. Where were you then?”
Raziel placed his hand on his chest and humbly replied, “Vivian. I am sorry for your misfortune. I think you are confused on what my job was. I wasn’t the revealer of mysteries, but the keeper of them. It was my job to guard Gods mysteries from being discovered until the right time.”
Vivian looked shocked. “Oh! I see! So it was your job to keep me from finding my purpose? Whats the point of having all these abilities if you cant help me? Where were you when I needed you?”
“Vivian, it was not my job to keep any of your possessions from you. My job rarely intersected with humanity. It’s a complicated matter and…”
But Raziel was cut of by Vivian. “Well it’s not that complicated Ray. I am the one judging you, remember. So obviously I am well equipped to handle this.”
“I in no way meant any insult. I wanted to let you know I am unaware of the details of your life. I was not assigned to help you in anyway. For any misfortune in your life, I apologize. But having endured to the end and with a new heaven and earth to look forward to, surely you can look past these minor details.”
“Excuse me, sir? Minor details?” Vivian put one hand on her hip and pointed the other at Raziel, “Young man, you have no idea what its like to wait at a train station for 4 hours! I could have been kidnapped, or killed! If you would have not been keeping secrets from me, and instead helped me out, maybe I could enjoy eternity! But my purse isn’t in the new earth and heavens! It was destroyed WHEREVER it was on the old earth. So, no, not a minor detail.”
Raziel stood there at a loss of words. He had conquered the Leviathan, helped battle legions of dark angels, yet he was no match for Vivian Karmichael from Crow Hill, Tennessee.
“I am ready to pronounce judgement,” declared Vivian. “I judge Ray guilty for negligence, and dishonoring God with his appearance. Ray, you must hereby find my purse. Once you find my purse, you will be allowed to enter into the new creation. Until then, get to work. You’ve been loafing around for too long, it’s time you did some real work and learned what serving humanity it really about.”
Raziel thought to himself, if this is what serving humanity was like, maybe he picked the wrong side. The new heaven and earth didn’t look too appealing anymore.