I have found that it is very easy to hold a view of God, or at least by our actions and words assume a view of God, that is unfaithful to the whole of His word. In our day and age God, and Jesus specifically, is often seen only as a God of love and compassion, and love is indeed a true reflection of His character. But as we know, that is not the entirety of His character. God is holy, and just, and righteous, and will punish sin mercilessly. That is the meaning and purpose of the cross of Christ, that justice might be satisfied. But it is also very easy to lean too heavily on the truth of God’s justice and wrath while neglecting the truth of His mercy. Westborough Baptist Church, which has been in the news lately due to their picketing soldiers’ funerals to declare the judgment of God, is a good example. They seem to have completely forgotten (or chosen to ignore) the love and grace of God, and we need to make sure we do not do the same.
You may have noticed from my previous posts that I do spend time talking about the law of God, and our violation of it. We MUST focus on this truth of God’s word, because it has been sorely neglected by much of the modern church. There is an ignorance of sin in most people, because sin is seldom discussed in many churches. Some church pastors have even bragged about that fact that they don’t talk about sin! But with no understanding of our guilt before God, God’s anger and wrath seem arbitrary and harsh, and His character is impugned. The full message of the Gospel must be proclaimed when we share our faith, or we are being unfaithful to God and His word. That means sin (and the fall), God’s law and our guilt before Him, the insufficiency of our works to make us right with Him, Jesus Christ as God in the flesh, His death on the cross and resurrection for our justification, demonstrating His love and mercy, and Christ as the only mediator between God and men. God’s love, compassion, and long suffering are just as vital to understanding the good news, and the meaning of the cross particularly, as are his holiness, justice and wrath. So make sure you preach them all!
God has been convicting me personally in this area recently, so I have been thinking and praying more about both understanding God’s love, and about making sure it is central to my evangelism. I don’t want to use those truths to replace anything, but rather to round out my presentation as a whole. As I was looking for an appropriate chapter this week I ran across Isaiah 55, which is a wonderful testament to God’s mercy and compassion. I hope the outline below will be helpful to you. And I encourage you to never stop struggling, studying and praying to understand to the truths of God and His word better. The fuller our understanding is, the more clearly we will be able to express it to the lost, and the more God will be glorified as we preach His word.
For the praise of His glory,
Read Isaiah 55
You may have been turned away from God and Christianity because of the impression of God as nothing but a harsh judge, and of Christians and mean spirited and petty.
Recent news reports and court decisions have highlighted these ideas
It is very true that God is a God of justice and wrath, and that must never be forgotten, and Christians can often be mean spirited and petty.
But we are not here speaking today out of a desire to be harsh or judgemental, but because we care about you and where you will spend eternity.
God is a God of justice, but His justice is not arbitrary. It is based on His law, and His law is based on His holy character.
God is holy. His eyes are too pure to look on sin, and He will not leave the guilty unpunished.
But because of His love and mercy, He satisfied justice and displayed His wrath on the cross.
Do you see your own guilt? Are you willing to admit and deal with your own guilt, the guilt that made the cross necessary? Please look at yourself in light of God’s law.
GO THROUGH THE LAW
Guilt is not necessarily a negative emotion. Although it can be misused to oppress, when we look at God’s law, we feel guilt because we are actually guilty.
But God, in Isaiah 55, calls the wicked to forsake his way, and the righteous man his thoughts. Our guilt should drive us to Him!
He calls the disobedient to seek Him while he may be found, and He will have compassion and will abundantly pardon those who seek Him.
Although that passage is written to Israel, it is the truth of God’s character. He calls, and commands, all people everywhere to repent, and to trust in Christ alone, so we might receive His compassion and mercy.
You may not desire to come to Christ. You may be striving to satisfy yourself outside of His will
But God calls those who hunger and thirst to be satisfied in Him.
I would ask you what He asks. Why to you labor for that which is not bread? Why do you waste your time striving after things that can never satisfy?
Not only can the things of this world never truly satisfy, but they will kill you!
Delight yourself in the riches of God, a God so rich in love and mercy that He sent
Jesus Christ to die on the cross, that those who believe might be reconciled to him.
God states that His word shall not return empty, and that it shall accomplish what He proposes and succeed in the thing for which He sent it. I pray that today, as you hear His word, that it will fill your heart and bring you to repentance and faith in Him.