Saturday, February 02, 2008

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4 ESV)

One of the hallmarks of modern Christianity, and religion in general, is the emasculating of God by focusing exclusively on His love without tempering that love with His justice and holiness. God becomes either a loving teddy bear of a being, or a helpless bystander obligated to save people while they sneer at Him. But He has revealed Himself to be nothing of the sort. His mercy, His grace, His forbearance, His longsuffering tolerance of us is not a sign of His weakness but grace. Grace is not what is portrayed by many, a tolerance of sin, but rather a soveriegn show of underserved mercy towards sinners. Men are saved in spite of their own righteousness, not because of it. God's mercy and grace do not reveal Him to be weak, but the strongest of Sovereign Lords. His mercy passes over us as an act of forbearance designed to lead to repentance.

When you read the Bible, and get a full sense of how incredibly fallen mankind is, it should strike you with wonder that God doesn't immediately smite the whole world and be done with it. One of the key components of the Gospel message is, indeed must, start with man's sin. All too often sermons and Christian books focus on grace, but in doing so they skip right over sin. We sing of grace, we praise His grace, we name our churches after grace but can we truly understand grace if we don't grasp sin? Grace is wonderful and makes us feel great, but grace is not God adding His righteousness to our own inherent goodness. It is the imputation as a merciful act of the meritorious work of His Son upon sinners. It can be hard to tell someone (especially yourself!) that they are a sinner, but really how can one appreciate grace and understand the need for salvation without a recognition of their own sin? You do not do anyone a service or favor by talking about grace and glossing over sin.

God's mercy and forbearance is not a sign of weakness but rather of love. Don't denigrate His mercy by seeing it as a right, but as the wonderous and underserved gift that it is.

No comments: