Scripture passage: Psalm 50:1-23

          The justice of God is not typically a popular topic.  It seems as if we, as believers, seem to almost feel as if we need to in some sense apologize for God's if the whole idea of it is somehow offensive.  In many churches, the truth of scripture has been watered-down in an effort to make church more appealing to outsiders. We often seek to accentuate the gracious and merciful aspects of God while at the same time minimizing our own sinfulness, and God's necessary hatred of it.

          The reality of what we see in scripture is that God hates sin.   Consequently, he opposes sinners and all that is evil in the world.  We are told that he is storing up wrath against all unrighteousness and there is a coming day when he will no longer restrain his vengeance against all that is wicked in this world.  All men stand condemned before a perfectly holy and righteous God.  This is the plight of us all apart from the saving work of Jesus Christ in our lives.  When we ignore this important truth of scripture - when we neglect to acknowledge the justice of God in light of our sin - we transform the Gospel from a matter of necessity to a matter of convenience.  Instead of impacting and reorienting our lives, we compartmentalize the Gospel into something that we only think about for one hour on Sunday mornings.

          When we don't properly understand the gravity of our sinful condition, we cannot adequately grasp the magnitude of what has been done for us upon the cross.  We often seek to, as one pastor recently put it, "unhitch ourselves from the God of the Old Testament because we believe it hinders the message of the Gospel."  Nothing could be further from the truth!  The God we encounter starting in Genesis is the same God we find in Revelation.  The God of Abraham and Moses is the same God we worship today.  God is eternally immutable (which means he has never and will never change).  It is because God so loathes sin that he willingly humbled himself, descended his throne, took on flesh, lived, and died for our sins.  His hatred of sin necessitated this grand gesture of mercy and grace.  Without it, no one would be able to withstand the judgement which is one day promised to all men.

          We can't appreciate fully the beauty of the Gospel when we rob people of the perspective of the ugliness of their sinful hearts and God's disdain for it.  It's a difficult, but necessary pill for us to swallow.  The truth of scripture, particularly in terms of God's justice against sin, is always best utilized carefully, like a surgeon wielding a scalpel, rather than casually, like a butcher wielding a cleaver.  Both have the capacity to cut away, but only one does so with the hope of ultimately bringing healing.

          Jesus is a gracious and loving savior, but he is such because he is first and foremost a good and just judge...not in spite of the fact.  We want people to know Jesus as Savior, but not at the expense of acknowledging him as King.  Jesus loves you, but he isn't your pal.  He is the sovereign King of the universe; the perfect, holy, and all-together righteous Lord; the good, fair, and just Judge; and the patient, loving, and merciful Messiah.  He is all of those things...and more.  When we fail to acknowledge and appreciate the many offices of Christ, we fail to know and worship him fully, as he rightly deserves.

          I once heard it said that Heaven is a place for people who love God, not for those who fear hell, and I agree with that statement wholeheartedly.  I appreciate that when we evangelize the world, we not do so with scare tactics that elicit an emotional response, rather than a genuine one.  However, people need to know that God isn't our kindly, white-haired Grandfather in the sky.  He is ferociously holy and jealous for the glory and renown of his name!  He is not someone we can manipulate or fool with clever words and insincere actions.  He demands our worship...not in a robotic or slave-like manner, but from a heart that has been transformed by the power of the Gospel, that is broken over its sinful nature, and has been overwhelmed by the grace that it has been shown upon the cross.

In Grace,
Chris Morris

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Part 5 - Delighting in God as the Just Judge
Questions discussed in this sermon:

1. How do we typically think about God's justice?
2. How is religion different from worship?
3. How does the gospel shape the way we understand God's justice?