To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.
- Herman Melville
Excerpt from Eternity...The Wager
by Robert R. Pennington
The following excerpt is a climatic courtroom scenes from "Eternity...The Wager." A work of Biblical fact-tion, the author skillfully uses "biblical forensics" and "Scriptural archeology" to assemble clues scattered throughout the Bible that provide the backstory to everything, truly making this the "Greatest Story Never Told."
The exchange entitled "What Kind of Savior" is offered here for several reasons. The first is to introduce the reality of a trial taking place in the Supreme Court of Creation that greatly involves mankind. Based in part on the passage beginning in Revelation 12:7, here we find God the Father as the Chief and Only Justice, God the Son as Heaven's Advocate and humanity's Counselor and Satan, the Devil as Accuser or Prosecutor.
Secondly, it's the author's intent to give place to a great question few are willing to admit they've asked and answered one way or another. By raising the unspoken objection of billions on Earth, the Devil plays humanity's advocate, though for diabolical reasons of his own.
Lastly, it is our desire to give Christ the opportunity to address the issues of the fairness and goodness of God and His role as Creator and Savior.
God As Satan’s Witness
The Advocate’s Examination
“Then I saw that there was a way to Hell, even from
the gates of Heaven.”
“Order!” thunders the Throne. The Judge’s command booms throughout the Third Heaven, assisting Michael’s guard in quelling a million outbursts in the aftermath of Satan outrageous demands.
“Are You willing Counselor? roars the Voice from the Bench.
“The Advocate takes a moment. “Your honor, the Defense both rests and is willing” answers the Counselor to the amazement of all.
“General Ruel is excused! Prosecutor, call your Witness!”
“Thank You Your Honor,” responds Satan as the Destroyer ceremoniously rises, exiting the witness box. On his way out the two exchange a knowing glance. With a nod the Adversary reminds his general to redeploy the Insurrection’s greatest warriors in and around the Supreme Court.
Ruel passes through the gallery like Moses passing through the Red Sea. Grinning, Satan turns, addressing the Throne issuing the clarion call he’s waited an eternity to sound. “The Prosecution calls the Advocate to the stand!”
Heaven’s Counsel humbly enters the witness box. Turning to face the gallery He waits quietly to be sworn in.
Even the mightiest Archangel in Heaven feels the gravity of the moment. Never in all eternity had a Member of the Trinity been summoned to the stand.
A gleam in the Advocate’s eye eases Michael’s apprehension. “Do you affirm the testimony you’re about to give is the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth?”
“I Am and do.”
“Please be seated” invites the Archangel through the thinnest of grins. With a wink from the Advocate the bailiff assumes his position.
The Devil’s smile fools no one as slowly approaching he stalks the Witness.
“Please state your name and title for the Court.”
“I have a few.”
“Don’t we all? A brief rendition should suffice.”
“I Am God the Son. Son of God and Son of Man. Yeshua Hamashia, Jesus the Christ. The Bread of Heaven and Water of Life. I Am the slain Lamb and conquering Lion of Judah.
I Am Alpha and Omega. The Way, Truth and Life. I Am the Resurrection, holding the keys of Hell and Death. Possessor of the key of David, I open what can’t be shut and shut what can’t be open.
I Am He who has the seven Spirits of God, who holds the seven stars, walking among the seven golden lampstands. I Am the Faithful and True Witness...
I Am the Angel of the Lord and Ancient of Days. King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. I Am Heaven’s Counselor and Mankind’s Advocate...
I Am the Word made flesh and the fullness of the Godhead bodily...”
I Am God the Son. The Second Person of the Trinity, the Face of Omnity...
“My witness” Satan interrupts.
“You asked for the short list” smiles the Defense.
“The short list? Right” the Prosecutor retorts smugly. “Let me thank You for agreeing to testify.”
“It’s not the first occasion you’ve had to examine Me” reminds the Advocate, referencing His extreme torture and crucifixion on Earth at Satan’s hands.
“Water under the bridge.” whispers the Prosecutor.
What’s In A Name
“Are these titles uniquely Yours or are they held in common by the Trinity?”
“They are Mine.”
The Adversary nods. “But as the ‘fullness of the Godhead bodily’ and the ‘Face of Omnity’ You speak on behalf of the entire Trinity. Is that correct?”
“During Your short soliloquy I couldn’t help but note a reoccurring phrase. ‘I Am.’ Isn’t that God’s most consummate title?”
“I Am...” the Devil muses. “So You’re the Divine present tense participial! A fact You like reminding us of. Pre-incarnate, You introduced Yourself to Moses by it before a burning bush. During Your Earthly ministry You repeatedly used it in preaching and even to miraculously escape being stoned by an angry mob of Jews. You used it again in Gethsemane, knocking the feet out from under a Roman cohort of hundreds of soldiers before Your arrest.”
“My point, Counselor, is that I Am seems to be Your favorite nick name. Yet there’s one I Am I’ve never heard You use. I Am responsible! Truth is, God’s more than just the great I Am. God’s the great ‘You Are!’ As Omnity Your a class all by Yourself!” Not just knowing, You Are all knowing! Not just powerful, You Are all powerful! Not just here or there, You Are everywhere at all times!
Yet again there’s one thing that apparently You Are not. You Are not to blame. Never, no how, no way! In fact, what You Are is the biggest bully on the block touting ‘I’m paper and you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.‘ Who can even question You without being labeled a heretic or Rebel and accused of treason? ”
“Apparently anyone,” intervenes the Advocate staring holes in the Devil. You’ve been doing so for billions of years. You’re strategic manipulation’s put the question, ‘is God good?’ on lips and in hearts throughout three heavens.”
“And not just in so many words” the Son of Man continues. “Since arranging humanity’s fall you’ve hurried and harassed man from one false paradise to another. All the while whispering in their ears, ‘God’s to blame.’”
You harness every disappointment and heartache, every betrayal and act of violence to sow your theory of a distant and silent God, or even none at all. You drive them into deserts of selfishness, into wildernesses of entitlement. You hold out the carrot of unlimited personal freedom while alienating them from their friends and family, their conscience and Creator.
You keep individuals and society too busy scrambling from mirage to mirage to notice they’re running out of time. You coach, "you should be as Gods" while all the while inspiring even greater acts of godlessness. You tempt children, teens and adults. You break up marriages and families while breaking down social order. You topple governments, instigating war and atrocities against the weak and helpless.
And to top it all off You twist Omnity’s patience into evidence God doesn’t care or even exist.”
“Well its true isn’t it!” demands Satan. “As far as mankind’s concerned You don’t exist! How dare You claim to care in the face of the carnage you just described?”
What Kind Of Savior?
“Carnage you create” objects the Advocate.
“Carnage You allow! Even if creation buys Your innocent act what of Your failures to intercede? Your omission level’s off the charts. Ask a hundred thousand parents of children dying of cancer every year. Ask six thousand children a day left orphaned by AIDS. Ask a billion starving right now on Earth while we’re chatting in Heaven.
“Your Hypocrisy’s glaring!” denounces the Accuser. “You deliver Your famous Good Samaritan sermon and then refuse to end human suffering. Like the Priest and Levite it’s You who’s passed mankind by for millennia. You who’s leaves them wallowing in their pain day after day, passing the buck on to mankind to save themselves.”
God the Son objects, “You’re the one...”
“It’s my fault, it’s their fault! When Your kids are asleep and Your house is on fire who cares who set it?” decries the Prosecutor. “For all Your fancy titles one of two things is happening here. Either You can’t save Earth or You won’t.”
“I’ve made a Way.”
“A Way?” interrupts the Devil with a laugh. “A Way few can find and even fewer follow!
Ready? Here comes another of Your ‘I Am’s. ‘Be ye perfect as I Am perfect.’ I’ve got a news flash Counselor, ‘nobody’s perfect!’ From the look of things, maybe not even You.
It’d be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. You knew the end from the beginning. You knew salvation would leave most of humanity lost for eternity. We know because You said so. ‘Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.’
And it’s not just the wicked You threaten. Take Your Ten Virgins. Aren’t Virgins pure? All ten believe in You. All ten go out to meet You. All ten have lamps lighting up the darkness. And what’s their reward? You reject five for not having taken extra oil. What kind of Savior condemns half those He’s saving on a technicality?
And if that’s Your own church, good luck to the rest of humanity. Most can’t even find the gate. So much so You Yourself warn, ‘when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the Earth?’
Your own scriptures testify You’ll fail to save billions. The Bible’s filled with failure. The Gospels and every epistles of Your apostles predict failure. Then there’s good old John’s Book of Revelation! Here we got Your favorite disciple describing the big finale in painstaking detail. And what does he reveal? Scorched Earth and blackened sky, poisoned water and seas of blood. And last but not least, over two thirds of mankind dead and dying! That’s more than four thousand million dead! All part of the hit parade of Your greatest failure of all!
And if I reading my Bible right” Satan smirks turning to face the gallery, “the players for the last inning should be taking the field right about now.”
One And Only
God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it,
not without pain but without stain. C.S. Lewis
The hum of commotion from the gallery spikes into pandemonium over Satan’s railing indictments. Shouts ring out from celebrities among the faithful.
Peter and Paul the apostles bellow, denouncing the Devil’s slander. James roars, declaring fallen angels will tremble like spineless demons before the Judgment! Samson and David exchange blows with mighty fallen angels who’s blasphemy’s crossed the line.
Moses and Elijah’s eyes flash fire as a whirlwind of righteous indignation grows, whipping around the Courtroom and the Third Heaven!
“Enough!” demands the Throne, flashing fire of it’s own. “Let the Advocate respond!”
“Yes Your Honor,” thanks the Defense. Heaven’s Counselor stands, a slight nod to the Prosecutor assures He’ll not be interrupted.
“The Courtroom’s Yours Counselor.”
The Advocate takes a breath. “Let me begin by saying I appreciate the important questions being raised, if not the spirit in which they’re offered.
As you either know or have forgotten, your minds were designed to thrive on inquiry. Your souls to crave understanding. Your spirits to rise to the heights of experience.
We created your hearts to yearn for meaningful relationship with each other and your Creator. To the degree you’ve failed to do so, I Am... sorry.
The pertinent question being framed by the Prosecution is how sorry? How much does God care? It’s a valid concern raised in various ways across Three Heavens.
The Adversary acknowledges that I Am while accusing I Am not enough. As for Earth, he asserts God lack’s the power or concern to immediately and completely save mankind.
He’s mistaken on both counts.
On Earth the Accuser’s taught billions to echo his refrain, ignoring any evidence to the contrary. While his is the popular opinion, some question it. Like the poster reading, “I asked Jesus how much He loved me and He said, ‘this much’ then stretched out His arms and died.”
During his examination the Prosecutor posed an important question. What kind of Savior... I’d like to clarify with a few questions of My own.
What kind of Savior generously shares His glory through creating billions of angels, providing them the unparalleled pleasures to enjoy eternally... and honors three among their ranks as Archangels, entrusting one of the three as the pinnacle of His creation?
What kind of Savior responds with infinite restraint while His authority’s usurped and love’s betrayed by the very one who should be most thankful... and exercises Divine patience in the face of this Evil One corrupting billions he was created to bless and serve?
What kind of Savior demonstrates unfathomable compassion to assure fallen angels their day in Court, a day lasting billions of years... and creates the First Heaven to reveal the true nature of the Rebellion?
What kind of Savior creates mankind to love so completely as to lay aside Omnity and be born humbly among them... and heals the sick, the blind and lame while casting out demons and opening the floodgates of eternal life to thieves and prostitutes, addicts and ‘whosoever will’?
What kind of Savior endures torture, shame and crucifixion at the hand of humanity He’s come to save... and is both able and willing to become sin, paying the full penalty of eternal punishment for lost humanity?
What kind of Savior's resurrected from the dead, as the firstborn of many brothers, spending the next two millennia interceding for mankind who so often reject Him... and hears every cry of the oppressed, stores every tear, records every prayer while feeling their every pain?
What kind of Savior will soon put right the wrongs on Earth, rewarding true human kindness throughout Eternity?”
Pausing, the Lord of Glory takes a breath and slowly sits, weary of being misunderstood. “In the end the answer to the question what kind of Savior I Am is simple. I Am the One and Only!”
Christ On Cross
Silence fills the Courtroom as truth has it’s moment.
Satan himself remains quiet, alone in his thoughts until the stillness is shattered by Heaven’s Judge. “Prosecutor, anything further?”
“Yes Your Honor,” answers the Devil standing to address the Witness and the Third Heaven. “Impressive” Satan concedes. “Still, I notice You failed to dispute the scriptures I mentioned. Then again why would You? They’re Your words. And isn’t it true that they and other passages declare in the end tens of billions of men and angels will be lost for all eternity?”
“And after all You’ve been through...” the Enemy touts. “If this is a case of the ends justifying the means, they don’t.”
“The cost of Rebellion’s great” admits the Son of God, quoting the Spirit’s words to Ariel on Earth. “Still, with all that’s lost, much will be gained.”
“Did God just admit failure?
“I admit you’re cunning.”
“Are You saying the Devil made ‘em do it?” the Prosecutor mocks. “That I’m too much for You, Counselor?”
“You’re too much alright,” warns the Advocate. “Too much for your own good and that of weak willed and wicked angels, demons and men.”
“Let’s remember Who’s on the stand, shall we?” redirects the Adversary. “Be honest, Counselor. According to the Bible God’s pretty damn hard to please.”
“Actually, pleasing God couldn’t be easier.”
“Not from the sound of the scriptures we’ve discussed,”
Christ smiles. “After My baptism in the Jordan the Spirit led me to fast in the wilderness for forty days after which you tempted Me to turn rocks into bread. Remember My response?”
“Vaguely,” groans the Devil.
“Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
“Those are just a few passages. There are many others that...”
“Contradict the ones were discussing?” interrupts the Prosecutor.
“I was going to say compliment. Painting a more complete picture of salvation.
“These passages are condemning and Your Book’s full of hundreds more along the same lines. You got some kind of loophole? A get out of Hell free card?”
“Big enough for all mankind.”
“Simple as it is beautiful. Four little words that turn sinners into saints, death into life, and Hell into Heaven.”
“Which are?” the Devil demands impatiently.
“Mercy triumphs over judgment!”
What Heaven Allows
Satan sneers, “This is a Court of Law. Even God can’t wink at sin when humanity’s guilty as hell!”
“Were guilty” corrects the Redeemer. “All were guilty as charged. I’m sure you remember that under your influence I was arrested, tried and falsely convicted. You saw to it I was beaten, tortured and sentenced for their crimes. You were there when judgment was carried out. You know the penalty was paid in full. Now I have the keys of Hell and Death. I Am the Door to Heaven. To enter, Mankind need only please Me.”
“You can’t possibly condone their behavior! Their sins reach Heaven!”
The Defense level’s a long stare at Satan. “It’s amazing what Heaven allows.”
“It’s obscene!” condemns the Devil. “You can’t have sinners parading around Paradise.
“Really? I should think the Rebellion would have little grounds to object.”
“The jury’s still out regarding the Rebellion. As for man, a few years and time’s up. Scripture says ‘its appointed every man to die and then the judgment.’”
“And judged they are. On the quality of love and mercy they’ve shown.”
“Kinda lowering the bar aren’t we Counselor?” Grading on a curve?”
“Mercy trumps judgment and ‘love covers a multitude of sins” quotes the Defense.
“Your making an end run around Your own rules.”
“The rules exist to encourage man to develop the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such there is no law.
“If You're going to circumvent Your own Word, Your law’s as useless.”
“First I fail to save man and now I making it too easy,” chides the Advocate. "Quite the contrarian. You’ve either got a ‘Goldie Locks’ complex or you don’t like porridge.”
“What I don’t like are double standards. Either the rules are real or they’re not. And as for rules, there’s a few more than Ten Commandments. The Bible has thousands!
“Sounds daunting. Who could possibly expect mankind to remember much less obey so many? Unless...” mocks the Defense. “One was simple enough for a child to understand. One was repeatedly emphasized above all the rest. Of course, to be fair it would have to be comprehensive, encompassing all others. I know, love your neighbor as yourself!”
“According to You that’s the second great commandment!” “You said the first is to love God with ‘all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.’ That’s a lot of ‘alls’! Tell me Counselor, how many do that?”
“Everyone who loves their neighbor as themselves!” the Redeemer laughs. “See what I did? I put the how right after the what! Isn’t it fantastic that the Creator loves and identifies with creation so completely that when humanity loves each other God takes it personally? That’s what I meant when I said, whatever you do or fail to do to the least you do or fail to do to Me.
Simple but profound. Thousands of commands concentrated into two. If two’s too many, one will do! What could be easier than that?
On Earth there’s a story about Heaven and Hell. In Hell there’s a feast set with every delicacy the heart desires stretching as far as the eye can see. But there’s a problem. The giant table’s blazing hot and so wide the banquet’s out of reach, creating a starving throng miles deep. Rioting for food, they curse and scream, beating one another and flinging themselves against the fiery table while never reaching the feast. Giant twenty foot long spoons scattered around the table could safely reach the food but before they can be used to get a bite those nearest the table are beaten and tossed by the mob to the back of the line.
In Heaven, so the story goes, there’s the same red hot banquet table and food, same giant spoons and crowd. The only difference is everyone eats to their heart’s content. They feed each other!”
“Nice” moans the Devil. “Your moral?”
“It’s not lowering the bar or grading on a curve to make loving your neighbor as yourself the way to Heaven. Heaven is love and mercy! Without that, Hell’s all there is.”
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