JUSTICE AND MERCY HAVE KISSED

JUSTICE AND MERCY HAVE KISSED

Rom. 3:25-26 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Here are two opposite even conflicting aspects of the nature and character of God. God is holy and God is just. It is impossible for sin or any impurity to stand in His presence. At the same time He is merciful. David sang about this mercy, “the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever”. Again in Psalm 104 David declares, “For Your mercy is great above the heavens and Your truth reaches to the clouds”. Of course who can forget Isaiah’s vision of God’s holiness as he saw and heard the angels singing, “holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory”. So which is it, holiness and justice or goodness and mercy? Of course these are some of the “diverse excellencies” seen in the Lord. This apparent conflict was settled at the cross. God’s justice is satisfied by the judgement of man’s sin in Christ and at the same time mercy extended to whosoever will. What an amazing God! His ways are past us, too deep for human comprehension. Here is Jonathan Edwards’ thoughts about this amazing conflict satisfied at the cross.
.
“Such diverse excellencies are expressed in him (Christ) towards men, that otherwise would have seemed impossible to be exercised towards the same object; as particularly these three, justice, mercy and truth. The same that are mentioned, Psalms 85:10, “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” The strict justice of God, and even his revenging justice, and that against the sins of men, never was so gloriously manifested as in Christ. He manifested an infinite regard to the attribute of God’s justice, in that when he had a mind to save sinners, he was willing to undergo such extreme sufferings, rather than that their salvation should be to the injury of the honor of that attribute. And as he is the judge of the world, he doth himself exercise strict justice; he will not clear the guilty, nor at all acquit the wicked in judgment. And yet, how wonderfully is infinite mercy towards sinners displayed in him! And what glorious and ineffable grace and love have been, and are exercised by him, towards sinful men! Though he be the just judge of a sinful world, yet he is also the Savior of the world: though he be a consuming fire to sin, yet he is the light and life of sinners..”

I love that, justice and mercy have kissed at the cross. Jesus Christ is the just and the justifier. Our sins have been judged and mercy has been extended. There is no message quite like the gospel of Jesus Christ. The cross is central, through it the Lord has demonstrated those supposed conflicting characteristics. At the cross He has revealed His love for justice and His incredible endless mercy.

THE REAL SUFFERING OF JESUS

THE REAL SUFFERING OF JESUS

Rom. 3:25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,

This word propitiation is a very important Bible word. It seems like many in our modern Christian world, want to throw out the scary sounding theological words. Many times we end up throwing out important doctrinal footings. Propitiation is critical, it deals with the satisfaction of the righteous anger of God against the sinfulness of man. God is not only kind and merciful, He is also holy and just. Sin cannot be ignored, the Lord had to deal with it. He dealt with it by becoming a man and satisfying the justice of God by taking our place at the cross. Christ literally took God’s judgement against sin upon Himself that we may go free. This brings us to Gethsemane, Jonathan Edwards brings out the true agony of Gethsemane, check out this powerful description of the suffering that began in that garden.

“The sorrow and distress which his soul (Jesus) then suffered, arose from that lively, and full, and immediate view which he had then given him of that cup of wrath; by which God the Father did as it were set the cup down before him, for him to take it and drink it. The thing that Christ’s mind was so full of at that time was, without doubt, the same with that which his mouth was so full of: it was the dread which his feeble human nature had of that dreadful cup, which was vastly more terrible than Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. He had then a near view of that furnace of wrath, into which he was to be cast; he was brought to the mouth of the furnace that he might look into it, and stand and view its raging flames, and see the glowing of its heat, that he might know where he was going and what he was about to suffer. This was the thing that filled his soul with sorrow and darkness, this terrible sight as it were overwhelmed him. For what was that human nature of Christ to such mighty wrath as this? it was in itself, without the supports of God, but a feeble worm of the dust, a thing that was crushed before the moth, none of God’s children ever had such a cup set before them, as this first being of every creature had.”

This is the Victory that we celebrate at Easter, justice has been satisfied, sin has been judged, the tomb is empty, we have been set free from sin. Mankind had been imprisoned in his sin for thousands of years. You and I were born in a hopeless condition, our lives were trapped by the fallen condition we had inherited from our forefathers. When Christ appeared He came with you and me in mind. When He went to Gethsemane, the whipping post, and the cross, He was satisfying my debt of sin. When He was raised from the dead I was raised with Him, you were raised with Him, we are free. As we celebrate the Resurrection this year, realize it was also you who died and is now alive for evermore.

THE FEAR OF GOD

Fear of God

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Rom.3:10-18

Not one of the most popular topics in this trendy, modern civilization. This passage is actually at the heart of Paul’s teaching on salvation, a very important part of the New Testament. We would rather hear about inclusion and success or maybe a healthy self image, not exactly Paul’s message. One of the great reformers, John Calvin (not one of the modern favorites), commented on this passage.

“In the last clause he (Paul) repeats again, in other words, what we have noticed at the beginning — that every wickedness flows from a disregard of God: for as the principal part of wisdom is the fear of God, when we depart from that, there remains in us nothing right or pure. In short, as it is a bridle to restrain our wickedness, so when it is wanting, we feel at liberty to indulge every kind of licentiousness.”

What a statement, “every wickedness flows from a disregard of God”. All of us know our world needs to change. The difference we have is the source of that change. According to the Bible, the basic problems of our lives and, ultimately our world, flows out of the depths of our hearts. How does our heart change? It can change only by spiritual awakening. As we become aware of Him, His holiness, His Sovereignty, His wisdom and power, His amazing grace, then, and only then can we change. Having a glimpse of His greatness produces this godly fear in our hearts. How can we change? It starts by recognizing our need for Him in our lives. Then we begin to call out for Him, that is when He comes. The beginning of our spiritual journey is the fear of God. What are you waiting for, it is time to seek the Lord.

JUSTICE AND MERCY

JUSTICE AND MERCY

21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed
Romans 3:21-25

In Romans 3:25, Paul presents the solution for our sin. He introduces a word called propitiation. This is a very powerful and very important Bible word. Propitiation describes the joining together of the two diverse qualities found in our Lord, justice and mercy. Our God is a Holy and Just God. Sin cannot enter His presence and sin cannot go unpunished. At the same time the Lord is incredibly merciful, “the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.” At the cross, sin was judged. Christ became the representative of the human race. The Lord did not overlook sin, He judged it. Man’s sin, my sin, was judged by God. Because of the judgment of sin at Calvary, mercy becomes available. Because Christ suffered in my place, mercy has triumphed over judgment. Christ has forgiven me. I have been declared righteous. By faith I can now live. This is one of the great truths Paul proclaimed. Sin has been judged, the sacrifice has been accepted. We have been declared righteous because our representative took our judgement on Himself.
Several times, in the ministry of Jesus, He would say, “Go in peace, your sins are forgiven.” The Lord never made light of sin because of the horrible fruit sin produces. He was saying ” I am taking full responsibility for your sin”. He could say “Your sins are forgiven ” because of what was about to happen at the cross. At Calvary, My sins received full judgement because God is just and holy. At the cross my sins were forgiven because God is merciful. Christ Himself, has fulfilled the righteous demands of God. In view of the mercies of God , offer yourself to Him.

REJOICE WITH TREMBLING

“This fear is a gracious habit or principle planted by God in the soul, whereby the soul is kept under an holy awe of the eye of God, and from thence is inclined to perform and do what pleaseth him, and to shun and avoid whatsoever he forbids and hates.”

John Flavel – puritan Pastor who lived from 1628-1691 who died in jail, imprisoned for his faith.

In Romans 3:18 Paul quotes Psalm 36:1 saying “There is no fear of God before his eyes.”  We live in a generation that takes the things of God for granted and has no fear of God anywhere to be found.  Obviously, the lost people have no knowledge of God and cannot respect the Lord.  However, the church is in a different situation all together.  The fear of God is also absent from our congregations today.  I think often about the sorry spiritual condition the supposed Body of Christ is in and I have come to some conclusions.  Apparently, we have been willed to sleep with a message about the blessings of God in this life and we have lost our moorings.  Christianity is about more than careers, houses, ministries and everything else than has been the focus of “church” for too long.  The normal message is about success, vision, purpose, church growth, marriage and other topics that pertain to this life.  Where is the preaching about Christ and His Kingdom.  I thought Jesus taught His kingdom is not of this world.

As we reflect on the words of John Flavel, we are reminded of the difference of the church in 1600 to the church of 2000.  Flavel said that the fear of God is planted supernaturally in our soul.  Natural man is afraid of a lot of things, but the fear of God is nowhere to be found.  As we call upon the Lord, and hunger after Him our heart is filled with the fear and majesty of Almighty God.

Flavel also said that the fear of God causes an inclination in us to do the things that are pleasing to God.  In Hebrews 11:7 the Bible says that Noah was moved with fear to prepare an ark.  Noah was inclined to obey the Lord because of a Godly fear that came upon Him.  This fear produces not only obedience but like David said a delight.  “I delight to do your will oh God.”  Psalm 40:8

Finally, Flavel said that this fear causes us to avoid behavior that is displeasing to the Lord.  Job was described as one who feared God and turned away from evil.  When we come to Christ, and experience the reality of God in our souls, we have this tendency to flee from evil.  Our heart is changed, we are not attracted to the disgusting practices of the world, and we are strangely attracted to Christ.

David spoke of this strange joy in Psalm 2:11.  He said serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.  When the incredible, holy majesty of God comes upon us we are stricken with two things.  We are overwhelmed by His attributes.  We are struck by His holiness, kindness, grace, power, love, justice, sovereignty, and power.  We tremble before this awesome God.  Secondly, we are strangely affected by the joy of heaven.  This supernatural joy fills our souls and overwhelms us.  We begin to rejoice, every part of our being begins to rejoice.  The joy of the Lord becomes ours, our joy is made full.  If you long for happiness, it is available to you.  It is available not in the pleasures of this world, but at the Father’s right hand, pleasures forevermore