Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Tough Side

One of my favorite things it to see young men taking a stand for their faith and stepping up into leadership positions. I had the joy of seeing this happen last Tuesday at the weekly CRU meeting. My friend Logan Canipe taught a wonderful message on the tough side of God. Following up two messages on God's love and God's mercy, Logan wanted to remind us that there is another side of God.

God is our father...and if my dad is like most, then he's fun and loving and caring...but he's also stern. He has authority over me. God is no different. He loves us, pours out his grace and mercy upon us...but he is also our judge. He is a just God. There are several examples of God's justice and authority exercised throughout scripture.

No one ever spoke like Jesus did
John Piper in his book Seeing and Savoring the Gospel says this: "We need to listen to the stunning severity of Jesus’ mercy. It caused people to marvel in his own day. Even his enemies admitted that he was amazingly indifferent to the approval of others.
Jesus didn't care what people thought of him because what he spoke was truth.
Matthew 23:27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness."
This verse was spoken to religious people. He called them out...used very harsh language. So what is he saying? Many Christians are living lives that are outwardly beautiful but they are spiritually dead. They are doing all the right things but their hearts are not in the right place. He sees right through us. Hypocrites! The exclamation point makes me think that he was raising his voice...it makes me want to pay attention to what he means by this. A hypocrite is someone who says one thing and does another.
Matthew 23:2-3,5-7 "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you— but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice...They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.
Whatever you are most concerned about is derived from what your heart is most concerned about. Unless your heart is concerned about the things of God, you are spiritually dead and acting as a hypocrite. Nothing we can do on our own will bring us life...we have to dive into God with everything we've got...heart, mind, life. What does your heart desire most?

His justice is also shown when it comes to hell. Hell is a severe place of punishment. It was not meant for us but when we sinned, that was the just punishment for our sin. God could have sent us all there and he would have done nothing wrong...but he chose instead to send his own Son to die so that we wouldn't have to experience the severity of the consequence of our sin.
Matthew 13:47-50 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It is a fiery furnace...eternal torment. Jesus spoke of hell more than anyone else in the Bible....he is concerned with our eternal well-being. God will judge our hearts and lives when we die. If you aren't all-in, then his just punishment is eternal separation and division. Sin makes us spiritually dead. If we are spiritually dead then we can't experience eternal life.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A wage is something earned...we have earned the punishment for our sin which is dead and eternal separation. We were all headed for hell but then Jesus did something radical...he died.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Because he died, we are called to repent and believe. Not just that but we are called to rejoice because we are justified. God is merciful, God is good, God is loving. He is also just and has all authority over everything. Our only response to him should be complete obedience and praise.
Hebrews 12:5-14 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

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