Twenty. . .

A Very
Short Story
. . . with Long Lasting Implications

LET me tell you . . . two unreasonable clients and a dysfunctional judge made for an unusually trying day.   So when I got home, I ate something that used to be a pizza, and hit the sack.   I didn't take long to fall asleep, and even a shorter amount of time to wake up - dumbfounded, in front of a large, occupied desk!
   The man sitting behind it made eye contact as He motioned me to sit.   As you can imagine, I had a zillion questions and hoped his first sentence would answer half of them.   But, instead, He silently took one of three books stacked on His desk and began to leaf through it . . .

   "Excuse me?" I said.   He glanced up for a moment, then resumed reading.
   "Excuse me . . . but . . . where am I?"
   He kept reading.
   "Hey, you! . . . hello . . . I'd like to know what's going on."
   Without lifting His eyes, He said, "I'm reviewing your whole life."
   "You're what?"
   "It's all here, all 47 years."   He lifted the book, showing me the cover.   My full name was on it.
   "What are you talking about?   I'm 47 now.   How could that be my whole . . . ?   All right, stop joking, where am I?"
   "It's no joke," He said.
   "You mean I'm dead?"
   He nodded.
   "No way!"   I stood up, turned around to leave and found myself facing Him again.   I made several more attempts, but each time I turned, His desk somehow repositioned itself in front of me.
   "Sit," He motioned.   "It's easier to take this if you're sitting down."
   "Take what?   What do you mean?"
   He grabbed the second Book off the stack, opened it, and slid it toward me.   His finger landed on a sentence: "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" (Heb. 9:27).
   "Judgment!   For what?"
   "Sins."   He held up the first book again.   "You haven't been very law-abiding."
   "Look, I don't know where I'm at, but I'm a lawyer, I know my rights.   Show me which laws I've violated."
   He pointed to the second Book again: "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."   (1 John 3:4)
   "Cut the double-talk.   Show me which laws!"
   He placed both books side by side, comparing one against the other.   "Exodus 20:15 says: ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ yet on February 15, 1992, you overcharged a client by 32%."
   "He didn't come clean with me during the case.   Besides . . ."
   "The Law also says: "Thou shalt not commit adultery."   Yet on March 7, 1962, you fornicated with . . ."
   "Come on, I was a kid!"
   "What's your point?"
   "Okay, so I'm not perfect.   But I know some people that probably broke every law in the Book.   You can't say I'm as bad as they are."
   He flipped the second Book around, throwing another sentence in my face: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."   (James 2:10)
   "Wait-a-minute!   Where are you getting this stuff?"   I grabbed the book, lifting it to see the cover.   It said: HOLY BIBLE.
   "You gonna judge me by what it says in the Bible?"
   "Of course," He said, "you're a lawyer; you know how important it is to confront your accuser."
   "This is ridiculous.   I didn't know I'd be accused by an outdated book."
   "It says here you had a Bible sitting on your shelf for nine years, warning you of this very day.   It clearly said that, ‘He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.’   (John 12:48)"

   I clenched both fists.   "So, what was I supposed to do, become a Bible scholar?   Besides, my minister showed me everything I needed to know."
   "Then why so surprised?   Didn't he warn you about this?"
   "Look . . . Maybe he forgot . . . Why don't you read the good stuff instead?"   I pointed to my book.   "Go on, read it!   You'll see where I gave several times to charity . . . And the times I went to church when it wasn't even a holiday.   Oh, and there was that time when I . . ."
   He shook His head.   "The Bible clearly says: ‘But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities [SINS], like the wind, have taken us away.’   (Isa. 64:6)"
   I pounded the desk.   "I don't care what it says!   What about leniency?"
   "On what basis?"
   "Are you serious?!   All those good deeds have to count for something."
   "But no such promise was ever made.   Who told you they would be taken into account?"
   "Everyone knows they will!   You're changing the rules on me."
   "The rules, as you call them, are all written in here," He grabbed the Bible, extending it towards me.
"You had at least nine years to learn them.   Take it, and show me where it says that your good deeds could save you."
   I stared at the Bible, not knowing what to say.   I recalled the number of times I had won a case on a technicality.   How many other times had I humiliated a witness because they had made an erroneous assumption and never bothered to learn the facts.   Now it was my turn.
   He opened the Bible and read more verses to me.   "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any may should boast."   (Eph. 2:8-9)
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us," (Titus 3:5).   "...for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."   (Gal. 2:16)   "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.   Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight..." (Rom. 3:19-20).
   "I could go on," He said.   "But . . ."
   "Never mind, let me plead my case to God Himself."
   "You had 47 years to seek His face.   It's too late now."
   "Don't give me that garbage!   He's supposed to be a loving God.   I want to talk to Him!"
   He shook His head.   "It won't do you any good to . . ."
   "IN THAT CASE," I stuck an angry finger in His face.   "Tell your so-called God that He's not as merciful as He makes Himself out to be.   First, He hides Himself. . ."
   "The Bible was on your shelf . . ."
   "SHUT UP!   Then He makes it impossible to survive this kangaroo court by requiring me to be perfectly sinless.   I WOULDN'T SERVE YOUR GOD IF HE WERE THE ONLY GOD IN THE UNIVERSE!"
   "Exactly!"   He slammed both books shut.   "I rest my case."
   I paused, realizing my self-incriminating statement was the true reason for my guilt.   I slowly sank back in my chair and stared blindly into space.   After several minutes, He broke the silence.
   "All God wants is that, ‘the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.’   (Isa. 55:7)   It's not a matter of good deeds versus bad deeds.   It's a matter of submitting to God's will and obeying what He says.   If you had read His Word you would have learned that neither your baptism, good deeds, self-righteousness, or church membership could save you from His judgment.   You would have learned you needed a Saviour.   That's why, Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3).   ‘God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’   (Rom. 5:8)   It's not God's fault if you didn't care what He said.   You're the one who chose to ignore Him and His Son."
   I started breathing heavily.   "So what was I supposed to do?"

   "You should have repented, changed your mind about ignoring God and opposing His will.   You should have forsaken your sin, your self rule, whatever you were trusting in to save you, and submitted to Christ, making Him your Lord and Saviour.   That Bible on your shelf said all along, ‘That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [REPENT], and shalt believe in thine heart [TRUST] that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’   (Rom. 10:9)"
   "Okay, I'll do it.   If that's what God wants. . ."
   "Too late.   Besides, you don't really want to serve God; you just want to save your skin."
   "NO!   You're wrong . . . I understand now.   I'm different.   I want to . . ."
   He kept shaking His head and saying, "You had 47 years."
   "THEN I WAS RIGHT ABOUT GOD!" I blurted out, collasping in my chair.   "HE'S UNFAIR," I kept repeating, between tears of helpless frustration, until I realized the third Book on His desk hadn't been opened.   I sat up, wiping my eyes, "What's in the last book?"
   "This," He said, reaching for it, "is the Book of Life.   It contains the name of everyone who has accepted Christ as Saviour."
   "OPEN IT!" I said.
   "Why?   You've already said you never . . ."
   "I don't care what I said before.   Open it!"
   "Very well," He said, as He patiently began to turn the pages.
   "Come on, come on."   I grabbed the Book from Him.   The names were in alphabetical order and I quickly found the spot where mine would've been.
   "IT'S NOT THERE!   Is there a second volume?"
   "I'm afraid not."   He took the Book from my hands and the moment He closed it, I heard something behind me begin to rumble.   I turned around.   The wall was splitting in two, slowly revealing an orange glow.   I felt an intense heat pour into the room.   I turned back to face Him, and for the first time, His stoic face showed emotion.   A tear trickled down His cheek.   I looked down at the desk where both of His hands laid, extended, with the palms facing upward - they had been pierced with nails.
   "I died in your place," He said.   "I took the blame for your sins.   But you never repented and accepted my sacrificial payment.   Now you must pay the penalty yourself."
   He raised a finger, pointing toward the wall behind me.   It was wide open.   Beyond the edge of the floor, stretching out toward the horizon, lay a sea of molten lava.   The stench of burning sulfur filled the room.   When I faced Him, His eyes were no longer teary, they were flames.   His chair was now a throne, brilliantly white, towering before me.
   The full impact of my fate buckled my knees.   I begged for mercy.   "Please don't do this!   I'll . . . I'll do what you say.   You win . . . You're my Lord . . . I was wrong.   PLEASE, GIVE ME ANOTHER CHANCE LORD!"
   "why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46)   His voice shook everything, penetrating into my bones.   "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity."   (Matt. 7:23)
   Someone grabbed my arm and started dragging me toward the Flames.   I screemed, I begged, I pleaded, and when that didn't work, I cursed.   But eventually the strong arm held me high above the Flames.
Paralyzed in terror, I heard a voice say, "Revelation Twenty."   And then I was cast in . . .

   The heat turned into cold sweat as my eyes opened, revealing the rotating blades of my ceiling fan.
I laid perfectly still at first, afraid that if I moved, I'd re-awake and find myself in the Flames again.
However, to my relief, this was now reality.   Still shaking, I rehearsed in my mind various parts of the nightmare and one phrase kept coming up again and again, "Revelation Twenty".
   I ran to the shelf where the Bible sat, covered in dust, and opened it . . .

"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. ... And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."   Revelation 20:12-15

IF you were to die today, are you 100% SURE
you would go to Heaven?
  The Bible says
YOU CAN BE SURE (1 John 5:13).

BUT FIRST, you must realize that what keeps you from going to Heaven are your sins, because:
"...your iniquities [sins] have separated between you and your God," Isa. 59:2.
In fact, in God's eyes YOU ARE A SINNER: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Rom. 3:23.
And Jesus, referring to sinners, said that He:
"shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity [sinners];
And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
  Mat. 13:41-42

SECONDLY, you must realize that there is NOTHING you can do to save yourself and earn Heaven: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."   Eph. 2:8-9   Baptism, good deeds, church membership, self-righteousness are all examples of good works that cannot save you, because: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he [Christ] saved us," Titus 3:5.

THE ONLY WAY you can get saved is through Jesus Christ.   He said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."   (John 14:6)   THAT'S WHY: "...while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."   (Rom. 5:8-9)   THEREFORE: You must REPENT (change your mind); admit that you are a Hell deserving sinner and can't save yourself.   And call upon Christ, and Him alone, to save you.
"if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [REPENT], and shalt believe in thine heart [TRUST] that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."   Rom. 10:9

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