“The doctrines of the gospel are doctrines of peace, and they bring comfort to all who believe in them; they are not like the law given by Moses, which consisted of troublesome and painful ceremonies; neither do they carry with them that terror which the law did; as, “cursed is every one who continueth not to do all things which are written in the book of the law:” If you were to keep the whole law, and break but in one point, you are guilty of the breach of all. The law denounces threatenings against all who do not conform to her strict commands; but the gospel is a declaration of grace, peace and mercy; here you have an account of the blood of Christ, blood which speaketh better things than that of Abel; for Abel’s blood cried aloud from vengeance, vengeance. But Jesus Christ’s crieth mercy, mercy, mercy upon the guilty sinner. If he comes to Christ, confesses and forsakes his sin, then Jesus will have mercy upon him: And if, my brethren, you are but sensible of your sins, convinced of your iniquities, and feel yourselves lost, undone sinners, and come and tell Christ of your lost condition, you will soon find how ready he is to help you; he will give you his spirit; and if you have his spirit you cannot be reprobates: you will find his spirit to be quickening and refreshing; not like the spirit of the world, a spirit of reproach, envy, and all uncharitableness.” Extracted from a sermon by George Whitfield
Men like George Whitfield (“no velvet mouthed preacher”) and Jonathon Edwards (Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God), preached a gospel that required repentance, but offered a remedy for the justice demanded… if one confessed their sin. Were they simply deluded and often times harsh men? Was Paul’s image of a terrible God, something he contrived to persuade souls? If so, then rather than Apostle, he would be a charlatan.
Have we outgrown this image of a just and terrible God or were these men aware of something we as Twentieth-first Century Americans have lost?
These last few days, I have not been able to get away from the word “justice”, as in a just God. We cannot escape justice nor afford to sugar coat the gospel for a culture now so near reprobate. Justice demands a consequence when wholeness/integrity is violated. Not trying to be legalistic, but for the sake of this conversation, we must give some place for the benefit of Law.Rules, or laws, are meant to bring us clear definition and boundaries for our behavior.
Fortunately we are not left with the Law alone, for the Torah leaves little room in its “eye for an eye” prescription for justice.
We now understand the universe to be some 14 Billion light years across, which this “God of the Galaxies” spoke into being. Standing before a being this awesome would be troubling for the sinless! Certainly it would quailfy as terrible, given how unjust we all have been at some time in our life.
This in fact leads me toward the conclusion of this entry. Isaiah 45:21 points to both God’s justice and His salvation. “Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.”
How does a just God in fact provide grace for my transgression? How can He so equally balance the wrath justice demands, with the love Jesus demonstrated, especially when we hear words like: “If you have seen me, you have seen the father”? “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” I John 4:8. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Rms 5:8. KJV.
Love and justice are fully accommodated in one being, the Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” I Jn. 2:2. “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22.
The Law demands the shedding of blood when violated. Is God that just, or have we come to a better understanding of who He is, and no longer need be concerned with violating the law or even justice? One man recently stated, “I have no problem with Jesus as my Lord, but I can no longer buy this ‘bucket of blood’ gospel!” Wow!
Was the blood required to appease this terrible God of justice or was the Law and its ceremony simply to bring us to an awareness of a time when a man named Jesus, would be born of a virgin, crucified on a tree thus bearing the curse for my sins; then, by the Spirit, be resurrected from the grave, ascending to the heavens as the Son of God?
Has God himself, in the flesh of His only begotten, paid this terrible price demanded by His own justice, the wrath of God now appeased? Can one being be true both to justice and to love? Is that God-man now forever a reminder before God of the remedy for my sins or better yet a source of my hope when I fail at righteousness? In fact, not only is He my source of hope, but a resource for my provision and blessing, as God through Christ now showers my life with blessing, yes and even at times abundantly.
This is the platform for the Christian faith; justice carried out to the full measure of the Law, in self-sacrificing love. Dare we neglect the Lamb in the day of our prosperity, or worse yet when we realize how easily dismantled the lifestyle of our culture could become?