THE scene is the celestial courtroom. The time is postmillennial. The defendants are the lost of all ages—Satan's crop of tares. Among them are some Seventh-day Adventist preachers. One of them could be you or me. Let's use me for an example.
Christ, the Judge, speaks: "Ron, how long were you a Seventh-day Adventist minister?"
"Thirty-three years, but my service ended when You came back the second time."
"Were you happy or sad that I came back and put an end to Satan's reign of sin?"
"Oh, I was tremendously happy."
"I can't understand why you were so happy since you ended up in this group of rejects—terrified tares."
"Well, I never expected to be in this group. After all, I was a minister, and my whole life was devoted to spiritual things. How could I possibly be lost!"
"Well, Ron, it is a tragedy to inform you that My irrevocable decision is that you are doomed to eternal death. True, you accomplished a tremendous lot in building up the Advent Movement on the earth. Your baptismal record was above average. You never failed in your Ingathering program. The churches you built were wonderful memorials. In fact, your record of accomplishment is among the best!"
"Well, why is it that You are dealing so harshly with me? Didn't I have all my sins confessed? I don't know that I willingly persisted in breaking Your commandments."
"Correct. I really can't put my finger on any outstanding sin or error in which you persisted. Of course, in some areas there were what you labeled minor things that you didn't think were so important to overcome."
"But, Master, I was a great believer in righteousness by faith. So I figured that all the little things were taken care of by Your covering of righteousness. Furthermore, it was my understanding that it was the general trend of a man's life which was the important determining factor in the judgment."
"Well, I won't dispute that, but let us examine a moment the general trend of your life. Think back a moment to your past record. Perhaps the written record I have before Me will refresh your memory. Do you have any particular section of time in your life history that you would suggest we investigate together?"
"Yes. Let's go back to 1969. That was a pretty good year for me. I put a new addition on the church. I made the Centurion Club. Furthermore, I got 10 percent more than the stipulated Ingathering goal. Subscriptions for our church missionary journals were doubled. Yes, that's the year I would like to suggest."
"What week shall we examine?"
"Let's take a week out of November."
"Fine! While you were talking I turned to your 1969 record. Let's take a look at the first week of November. On Sunday, November 2, you got up at 7:00 A.M. That's not too bad, because you didn't go to bed until after midnight the night before. Let's list the things here on a sheet of paper so you can clearly get the picture."
7:00 A.M. Got up.
7:01 Let the dog out. Saw the Sunday pa per on the front porch and spent an hour and a half going through it carefully.
8:31 Went into bedroom and talked with wife for one hour about past events and plans for the future.
9:31 Got the lawn mower out and changed the oil and filled it with gas while wife got breakfast for family.
10:00 After a quick blessing on the food, family ate and talked for an hour and a half.
11:30 Mowed the lawn.
1:30 P.M. Got dressed and went to hospital to visit sick parishioners.
4:00 Bible study appointments with three families.
9:00 Arrived home but emergency call came. One of your members had died. Visited bereaved family until 11 P.M.
11:00 Ate quick snack because meals were missed due to heavy program.
11:30 Tumbled into bed.
"Ron, that was an extremely busy day, filled with certain home duties and a number of hours spent on church work."
"Yes, I remember that day in particular, for that death experience shook me up a bit."
"Now let's go on to Monday, November 3."
6:45 A.M. Got up and spent two minutes on knees in a hurried prayer session. By the way, this was the first private prayer since Sabbath morning, November 1.
7:30 Breakfast. Read Morning Watch book to family while food was being gulped down. Dropped oatmeal on book pages.
8:00 Rushed children off to church school and hurried to church office to meet with ministerial intern.
9:00 Began visiting Gift Bible Evangelism interests. Found tremendous interest in six homes.
2:00 P.M. Grabbed bite to eat in cafeteria.
2:30 Visited sick in hospitals.
4:30 Went to church office and answered mail.
6:30 Young couple came for marriage counseling.
8:00 Building committee meeting.
Midnight--Arrived home and after quick good night to your wife and the Lord, went to sleep.
"Now, Ron, that was a tremendously busy day, wasn't it?"
"It surely was, Lord. I don't see how You can condemn me for not being about my Father's business."
"Well, let's take another day of that week. Tuesday. As I look it over, it was almost identical to Monday. Let's come over to Wednesday. Well, that's just about identical to Monday and Tuesday, except that you got up at 7:00 A.M. and in view of the tremendous work load for that day, you spent only 23 seconds on your knees that morning. Oh, yes, there was one slight change. At 6:00 P.M. you hurriedly opened your Bible and a few books to gather some thoughts for prayer meeting message."
"But, Lord, You don't understand the heavy load I was carrying. I had a tremendous burden to get the building project finished, to keep the church school operating, and to take care of all those interests developed from Gift Bible Evangelism. Furthermore, we were getting ready for our big Ingathering campaign. I just had to get these things done."
"Certainly a true Christian minister will be most active in My service. I find no fault with you on this score. These things you ought to have done but not leave the other undone! You missed the whole point of being a Christian. Remember, the palace of salvation is built on the foundation of love for Me.
"By the way, Ron, did you love your wife?"
"Did you love to be in her presence?"
"Did you enjoy talking with her?"
"Naturally! But why ask me these questions when You know I loved my wife."
"Do you remember the sermon you preached using Isaiah 54:5 and 62:5?."
"I have a faint recollection; but what's the point?"
"You preached on the fact that the relationship between a man and his Maker should equal and exceed that of a man and his wife. The point is, if you really loved Me, you would have enjoyed being in My presence, enjoyed communing with Me through prayer, meditation, and study of the Scriptures. In fact, Ron, you spent more time each week reading Time, News week, U.S. News & World Report and watching the Huntley-Brinkley news program than you did with the Bible."
"But shouldn't I have kept up with all the news?"
"Never at the expense of fellowship with Me. Ron, I could have spent most of My time on earth keeping up with the news from RBC (Roman Broadcasting Company). There was no end to earthly events as long as time lasted. But those who loved Me supremely spent their most precious hours in My presence."
"Well, I did read the Spirit of Prophecy writings some."
"The fact is, you spent more time reading the Reader's Digest and The Sunday Tribune than you did the special revelation for these last days."
"But, Master, You will have to admit I read good books, such as The Taste of New Wine, Don't Sleep Through the Revolution, and The Last Years of the Church."
"I'm sorry, My boy; these were interesting books. I don't deny that. In fact, they had some good points in them. But, Ron, you should have made My Book your constant companion. My Book should have been devoured daily. My Book should have engrossed your mind, especially the prophetic books of Daniel and Revelation. My Book should have had first claim on your time, and then the other books could have been read. And, of course, I spelled out for you very clearly through Ellen White that 'it would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ.' "—The Desire of Ages, p. 83.
"I knew that one by heart."
"Why didn't you take it to heart?"
"Oh, I guess I felt everything else had to be done first. I wanted to make a good record with the brethren.
"I love You, Lord. Please give me an other chance."
"I'm sorry, Ron."
"Please, please—just one more chance."