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Summary: This message builds off the qustion: "If being a Christian was against the law, and you were charged for being one, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" 4 points discussing possible types of evidence are used.

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Guilty, or Not Guilty

Text: Matthew 7:16-20

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? [17] Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. [19] Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. [20] Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

These past 2 weeks have been very interesting in the life of a man in Afghanistan by the name of Abudl Rahman. (Yes, I’m talking about the same country that we just have recently liberated from the oppression of the Taliban hardliners). Anyway, this man had been arrested for the “crime” of converting TO Christianity FROM Islam. As hard as it may be to believe, this Government continues to have in place laws against such an action and if one is caught doing so, it is punishable by death.

After a tremendous amount of outrage from the World community, and of course the citizens of the United States and President Bush, they have decided to allow this man to go, and dropping the charges of apostasy because of the following 2 things:

a. Suspicions he may be mentally ill

b. A lack of evidence.

This past week as I read the story, I thought back to a statement I heard somewhere, and though I cannot remember where, it applied greatly here.

If Christianity was a crime in America, and you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you of this crime?

We have since learned that Italy has granted the man asylum, and somehow he was able to escape all those who wanted to kill him including mobs of people, and is now safe in Italy.

While we are not at that point here in America “yet”, I thought it would be good for us to at least explore the question today and take a look at some of the various kinds of evidence that is collected to provide conviction today and relate it to a person who may be standing trial for Christianity.

We can kind of call it our own C.S.I. Investigation – Christian Scene Investigation.

The Bible says that if you’re going to try to determine what kind of fruit tree is being grown, all it takes is a look at the fruit that is growing from the tree. In other words, Oranges will not grow from Apple trees, and grapes will not grow from fig trees, and of course a Christian will produce good fruit instead of bad fruit that the world produces in their lives.

The first 2 areas we are going to look at apply most often to what those we are around right now can see, and the last 2 are those that will only one day be seen by God Himself who will be the final and ultimate Judge we stand before.

First of all today as each one of us stands trial for being a Christian, we are going to take a look at:

I. CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE

How many of you know that nothing we can do can qualify us for Salvation including, but not limited to going to church, reading the Word, prayer, witnessing, putting on bumper stickers and wearing crosses around our neck.

The Bible makes it clear that all our righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s’ sight:

Isaiah 64:6

All of us have become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

we all shrivel up like a leaf,

and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

So, with this in mind, we can be assured that our Salvation or Christianity cannot be obtained as a result of “righteous acts” as we read here, however, we must also realize that following Salvation many of these things should be a natural outflow of a heart that is fully in love with Jesus Christ and placing Him first.

In other words, these will be “fruits” that will grow from our lives, and be evident to those around us.

I thought that before I attempted to expound on this point I would look up the term “Circumstantial Evidence” to be sure I knew what it exactly meant, and I’m glad I did because it really helps me to make a point.

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE DEFINED:

Evidence not bearing directly on the fact in dispute but on various attendant circumstances from which the judge or jury might infer the occurrence of the fact in dispute.

While Circumstantial Evidence is often not the only evidence presented in a case, we know that there has to be a tremendous amount of it to actually convict someone of a crime, and I submit to you that we need to work on building up the Circumstantial Evidence of our Christianity so that there will be enough to “convict” us on should we ever be placed on trial.

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