No, Bishop Chamberlain -- Jesus Has Never Conducted a Trial and Never Will!

No, Bishop Chamberlain --
Jesus Has Never Conducted a Trial and Never Will!

Bishop Ray W. Chamberlain recently posted his "perspective" commentary at the Holston Conference web site. For a time the commentary will be available at Perspective - A Shocking Trial!. It is titled, "A Shocking Trial." It is obvious from certain statements made later that the bishop has some memories of the infamous Dammann trial in mind as he speaks of Jesus conducting a trial in the future.

In the opening statement Bishop Chamberlain refers to a "big trial" that is going to happen and he cites Matthew 25 as the basis for that. The passage refers to the return of Jesus and calling people to account as to what they have done with their lives.

The bishop states that there are 3 important questions which will be asked at this "trial" conducted by Jesus. These are, "Did you feed the hungry?" -- "Did you welcome the stranger?" -- "Did you clothe the naked?"

UM bishops are interesting people when they talk about the needs of children. In connection with the last question about clothing the naked Bishop Chamberlain states, "Did we do anything about the outrage of 24,000 children who die every day in our world of preventable diseases? Did we help the millions without health insurance and proper care in this country?"

How many times have you heard UM bishops emphatically denounce the slaughter of unborn children in the womb each week? And when they talked about their Initiative for Children, did they stress that we need to stop the brutal murders of unborn children? Take a look at the latest tally ---

Unborn Babies Killed
since Roe vs. Wade
January 1973

It appears that the bishop is trying to have us picture a courtroom setup in the Matthew 25 event. That is more than a bit misleading -- Jesus never conducted a "trial" and He never will! A trial involves a judge presiding, a jury which hears the evidence as it pertains to the defendant, a prosecutor who presents condemning evidence, and a defense attorney who attempts to establish the innocence of the defendant. The jury then weighs all the evidence and hands down a verdict of guilty or innocent.

Jesus will not be following the above trial protocol -- He is the Judge -- there is no battle between a prosecutor and a defense lawyer! Jesus hands down His decision which involves nations as well as individuals. Depending on the circumstances, the judgment rendered will be one of two possibilities -- acceptance and reward or condemnation and everlasting punishment.

The New Testament has not left us in doubt on this matter. But then that is where a serious problem exists -- in the name of "liberalism" (read apostasy!) a number of facts regarding final judgment as rendered by Jesus and the reality of eternal bliss or eternal hell are denied and rejected! Oh, we might accept the possibility of a "heaven" somewhere but a place of eternal punishment for those who hear Jesus say, "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)? That just can't be! But notice that this bunch which finds itself condemned has appealed to the fact that they had done a lot of things in His name but at the same time have been told that they have practiced lawlessness! Bear in mind that this is not a "trial" conducted by Jesus -- it is a judgment decision with no appeal possible!

It seems that church leaders are accustomed to drawing attention to the "works" issue of feeding the hungry, etc. but fail to really focus on the primary mission as Jesus clearly defined it in a parting command before ascending to God the Father.

Christians are to bear the fruit of works which cares for the needy and the deprived, but the focus is to be on fulfilling the commandment given by Jesus to confront the entire world with His claims and demands -- namely, that all people everywhere repent of their sins and believe on Him as Savior and Lord.

Bishop Chamberlain is in a position to know as to what reprimand has been handed to at least one member of the family of UMC bishops. This one (and maybe there is more than one) has gone on record that we ought not to go into other cultures with their different religious belief systems and confront them with the call to repent of sin and receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and thus convert to the ways of Christianity! For that renegade bishop, whatever religion those in other cultures around the world have, it is sufficient. The transforming power of the message of Jesus Christ is simply not necessary -- besides it often disrupts and upsets those in the other cultures anyway since on the basis of the personal claims and demands declared by Jesus all other religious expressions outside of Christianity are in error!

Sobering is the fact that there is not going to be a trial situation to settle this issue -- all of the world's inhabitants are going to be standing before Jesus to be judged and their final destiny determined.

Christians need to constantly examine themselves as to how they are involved in carrying out Jesus' mandate to take the Gospel into all the world and by God's grace be able to say at the end of life's journey as did Paul:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7,8).

Don't forget -- Jesus is not in the business of conducting "trials" -- in His sovereign power as King of kings and Lord of lords, He will issue judgments on nations and on each of us individually, and His word is final. Be committed in a life of obedience and service to Him daily so that one day you will hear His words, "Well done, good and faithful servantů." (Matthew 25:21).

April 15, 2004
Clayton D. Harriger
Elder in full connection
Western Pennsylvania Annual Conferenc
The United Methodist Church
and presently pastor of
Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Gipsy, Pennsylvania

It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:126-128 NKJV

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