What is it about a courtroom setting and drama that captures the attention and imagination of so many? In the United States, for example, there are great literary classics that center on the courtroom.
In Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch is a Great Depression-era lawyer in the South who agrees to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who had been accused of raping a white woman.
So powerful were the impressions left by the character of Atticus Finch that in 2003, Atticus Finch was voted by the American Film Institute to be the greatest hero in American film.
A courtroom scene represents both justice and injustice
The courtroom has been used as a setting to facilitate dialog dealing with important social and political ideas of our time. For example, in playwrights Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's, Inherit the Wind, the setting is the small Southern town of Hillsboro, Tennessee, where Bertram Cates is behind bars awaiting trial for teaching his students about Darwin's theory of evolution. An epic clash ensues when Matthew Harrison Brady, a Bible-believing zealot, faces off with the prominent litigator Henry Drummond, patterned after famed lawyer and ACLU member Clarence Darrow. The events of the play were heavily inspired by the Scopes "Monkey" Trial of 1925.
The intent of the playwrights was to criticize the then-current state of McCarthyism or anti-communist investigations of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA) and Senator Joseph McCarthy. The authors used the historical Scopes trial as the background for a drama that comments on and explores the threats to intellectual freedom presented by the anti-communist hysteria.
The real life murder trials of O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony riveted the nation and drew millions to their television sets and various media to get "the latest" news of what had happened in court that day.
All will face God's judgment
But what, if anything, does this have to do with you? Will you become the centerpiece of a courtroom drama? Will you stand before a Judge who wields the power of life and death over you? Does the Bible, of all books, have anything to say about this? The answer is "yes"—on all counts!
Let's examine what God's Word has to say about our "day in court" before the Great God and the ultimate judgment we all will face. "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27 Hebrews 9:27And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:
American King James Version×). "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" 2 Corinthians 5:10 2 Corinthians 5:10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.
American King James Version×.
Unlike the court systems of this world, which can be unjust and, in some cases, manipulated, the justice of God will uncover all of the truth about our lives:
"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God" (1 Corinthians 4:5 1 Corinthians 4:5Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
American King James Version×). "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books" (Revelation 20:12 Revelation 20:12And 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.
American King James Version×).
Note that we will be judged "according to our works" by the things that were written "in the books." The word for "books" here, in the Greek, is biblia, which refers to the Bible! We are all to be judged by how we live our lives according to the eternal truths and guidelines set forth in the Scriptures.
How will you be judged?
The questions that remain for each of us are these: Do we know the Bible and its truths well enough in light of this ultimate judgment? If we don't know these truths, where can we find assistance in coming to understand them? When we stand before the Ultimate Judgment seat of Christ, will there be enough evidence to "convict" you and me as being Christians?
The United Church of God freely offers to you our Bible Study Course that gives us the answers to life's crucial questions: Why are we here? Where is the world headed? What does the future hold? Our eye-opening 12-lesson course will make the Bible come alive as it leads you through the biblical answers to these and other questions!