Why I Don't Forward Religious Stories
based upon a letter written by Darrell Hamilton
A note was forwarded to me that went like this:
After living a "decent" life my time on earth came to an end. The first
thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought
to be a courthouse. The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and
have a seat by the defense table. As I looked around I saw the "prosecutor,"
he was a villainous looking gent who snarled, as he stared at me. He
definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen. I sat down and looked
to my left and there sat my lawyer, a kind and gentle looking man whose
appearance seemed very familiar to me. The corner door flew open and there
appeared the judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence
as he moved across the room, and I couldn't take my eyes off him. As he took
his seat behind the bench, he said "Let us begin."
The prosecutor rose and said "My name is Satan, and I am here to show you why this man belongs in hell." He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life, and the more he spoke the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed that I couldn't look at anyone, even my own lawyer, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about.
As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at my representative who sat there silently not offering any form of defense at all. I know I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life -- couldn't that at least equal out part of the harm I've done. Satan finished with a fury and said "This man belongs in hell. he is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise. Justice will finally be served this day."
When it was his turn, my lawyer first asked if he might approach the bench. The judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan and beckoned him to come forward. As he got up and started walking I was able to see him now in his full splendor and majesty. Now I realized why he seemed so familiar. This was Jesus representing me; my Lord and my Savior. He stopped at the bench and softly said to the judge, "Hi Dad," and then He turned to address the court.
"Satan was correct in saying that this man had sinned. I won't deny any of these allegations. And yes the wages of sins is death and this man deserves to be punished". Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, "However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life, and he has accepted Me as his Savior, so he is mine." My Lord continued with "His name is written in the book of life and no one can snatch him from Me. Satan still does not understand yet, this man is not to be given justice, but rather mercy."
As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at his Father and replied, "There is nothing else that needs to be done, I've done it all."
The Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down, and the
following words bellowed from His lips -- "This man is free -- the penalty
for him has already been paid in full, case dismissed."
As my Lord led me away I could hear Satan ranting and raving, "I won't give up, I'll win the next one." I asked Jesus as He gave me my instructions where to go next, "Have you ever lost a case?"
Christ lovingly smiled and said, "Everyone that has come to me and asked Me to represent them has received the same verdict as you, Paid in Full."
I've seen this kind of email several times in the past. I read through it and I never pass them on. I thought I would tell you why.
The problem with this story is that while it conveys a principle that seems true enough, it is actually a fictional story. It is very easy for a crafty person to hide untruths (lies) in the midst of truths when the overall medium is fiction. That is how most mythology was started -- someone came up with a "plausible" explanation with a story that could not be verified.
Jesus, though, is about truth (John 14:6). All who are on the side of truth listen to him. Even small lies are not congruent with what Jesus is.
So what are the small lies in the story?
- Jesus is not depicted in the Bible as a defense attorney. He is said to be king, savior, redeemer, lord, master, teacher, judge, mediator and many other things, but never a lawyer. Lawyers debate the law. Jesus is the law (Matthew 28:18).
What was probably thought of is John's statement, "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 2:1). Yet the word behind "advocate" is parakleo, which means "to call or send for someone." It refers to calling for a friend to testify on your behalf in court. It is not used of a professional lawyer, which is another Greek word: sunegoros.)
- All Biblical metaphorical references to Jesus do not say he was a "kind and gentle" looking man. They say he was the "Lamb that was slain" (Revelation 5:6), a judge sitting on his throne (II Corinthians 5:10), and He who is found worthy (Revelation 5:12). Kind and gentle do not describe the severity and majesty of who he is (Romans 2:2-11).
Yes, Jesus is "gentle and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29), but it is for those who follow after His teachings. To emphasize his gentle spirit and not his other attributes is to present a skewed view of the Savior.
- Satan is never described in the Scriptures as an "villainous looking gent". He and his servants are described as looking like angels of light (II Corinthains 11:14) and as wolves in sheep's clothing (Mathew 7:15).
- "Hi, Dad" may be considered an acceptable form of familial address in our day, but that is not what Jesus taught his disciples. Jesus said to follow him, He would show the proper way. He told the disciples to pray, "Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name" (Matthew 6:9). Jesus said to always refer to God with the utmost respect. To portray Jesus as being a different type of person when he is in the presence of God is to dishonor both God and Jesus.
In general, there is no need to pass along make believe stories about Jesus. It dishonors the Bible to think that you have to get people to see their condition by spreading false tales. The Bible is sufficient to convict men of their ways. Cute stories only encourage people to make up their own story and believe that.
So here is the ultimate test. If you send this story to someone who has never read the Bible, would this story make them curious enough to read the Bible? If they read the Bible because of this story, would they be upset when they discovered that this story is not in the Bible? Too often stories of this nature are designed to give people comfort that they can be acceptable to God just as they are without any change on their part.
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-23).