Judgment Day Chad?

Our election-day indecision is getting more and more comical — and ridiculous — as time goes by. I actually endured through a session of NPR ‘political analysts’ the other day who were going into intricate detail about the proper identification of the ‘hanging chad’ on the ballot cards, explaining what it meant if it was detached on three of the four corners with the remaining corner on the left, detached at three of the four corners with the remaining corner on the right, ‘pregnant’ chads (indented, but not detached at any corner), detached only on one corner, etc., etc. It was unbelievable the lengths they were going to try to justify a hand recount of the ballots.

Their stated purpose (and you can believe this as much as you want to believe) was to "ensure that the voters' INTENT was accomplished in the election" and, if not, that "the law's INTENT" would be carried out, regardless of the apparent results. (That is why, they explained, they are suing to allow the recounting of the ballots — the fourth count in some places — past the deadline for having them turned in and certified. The deadline was apparently not really a deadline.) And some people call ME legalistic?

If there was ever a time to make some spiritual application, this election fiasco is it. There are a couple of lessons we should learn that parallel the events surrounding the Florida election. HERE AND NOW. Like some who are involved in the apparent desire to interpret the ‘intent’ of the law in the Florida election laws, there are many who are going to great lengths to get us to believe that the word of God is not quite so clear and certainly not so clearly defined that would allow one to say His law is absolute on any one subject. Why, if I were to believe what some are saying today, either I cannot understand the Bible at all, I cannot use it to teach an absolute standard, or it is subject to each person's individual ‘interpretation’ of the text to be able to determine what is ‘right’ for each situation (which sounds eerily like situation ethics).

Such wranglings make a mockery of the clear, plain teachings of our Lord and lower our faith to the same level as these political court battles we are now watching. As is often the case, such wranglings are not actually over any difficulty in understanding what is written, but in the application.

Some can read Matthew 19:9 and see that Jesus teaches there is only one divinely-approved reason for divorce, while others focus on what is not said, what Jesus ‘intended’ when He cited the original marriage law, or even tell us that the words of Jesus do not apply if we do not want them to.

Without fail, these arguments have been used by those who seek to justify current situations and/or practice, more than out of a desire to know and abide by the truth.

What we must understand is that what God intended, He said. We don't need a degree in Greek language studies, we don't need a conference of preachers to tell us what it means, and we don't need to wet our fingers and hold it up to see which way the political winds are blowing before we decide what the text means.

God gave His word that we might know it (1 Tim. 2:4), has commanded that we understand it (Eph. 5:17), and says we CAN understand it (Eph. 3:4). It takes a lot of word-twisting to make some clear, plain teachings mean what they do not say, but such is done and it is done to the twisters' own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16).

To add to this confusion, there is a ‘translation’ of the Bible popular among many religious folks today (the New International Version, or NIV) that, by its own admission, published their version of the Bible as something "more than a word-for-word translation" — it was one that came about because they considered the "thought patterns" and the "meaning of the writers in the Bible" when they looked at the texts.

What PRESUMPTION to know what the writers ‘really meant’ when they wrote God's divinely-breathed words!


One of the assertions of some of those who are now challenging the Florida election results is that some ballots were incorrectly counted because the INTENT was not recorded. Those ‘pregnant’ chads are the point of contention, with some arguing that if a ballot had an indented chad, it meant that the voter INTENDED to vote for that candidate, though it was not recorded as such. Now, whether or not that may be so is something I do not personally believe we can know for certain. To say — without a shadow of a doubt — what a voter's intent was just by looking at an indented ballot seems to me to be a little presumptuous.

And here is the lesson for us in the spiritual realm. Without a doubt, many will stand before God on Judgment Day with a clear understanding that they had not done the will of God. Some will stand before Him as never having obeyed any part of God's will and never having done that which would have brought them forgiveness. Others will stand before Him having obeyed and become His children, but who disregarded particular commands or added to what He has revealed. Many will stand before Him fully believing that they were pleasing to Him, doing what they did ‘in the name of the Lord,’ when they were not, in reality.

ALL will appeal for mercy from the Lord, and many will base their appeal on what they INTENDED to do but never got around to doing or for doing what they did (without His approval) with the ‘right intent’ — sort of like those infamous ‘pregnant chads’ so many are talking about.

Many — including many religious speakers and leaders — want to believe that if we fail to do what God commanded, God will instead judge us by our INTENT. Such is nothing more than wishful thinking, for this is not found anywhere in the Scriptures.

That said, what DOES the Bible say about the final judgment? What can we expect? God tells us — in words we can clearly understand — that “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 hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10)

Did you notice that God did not say that we will be judged for what we INTENDED to do? Paul also told the Romans that impenitent hearts were in danger of the judgment of God, “who will render to each one ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.” (Rom. 2:6)

No ‘pregnant chads’ to consider, no judgment of INTENT. Remember the old saying about the road to hell? We would do well to heed that warning, for what we INTENDED to do will mean little on the last day, but what we DO will mean much.

By Steven Harper

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