Torchbearers for Christ
Monday, December 10, 2018
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In Romans 11:31 we read, “Behold therefore, the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity, but towards you goodness, if thou continue in His goodness, otherwise thou also shalt be cut off”. In this verse we have two basic truths regarding God’s character; His goodness and His severity.

Let us think first of God’s goodness which includes such delightful qualities as His love, His compassion, His patience, His abundant mercy and His unwillingness that any should perish. There are some fifty references in the Scripture to God’s goodness; He wants us to be in no doubt about this quality. We could think of the first and the last verses of Psalm 118 where we read, “O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, because His mercy endures forever”. Nahum 1:7 comforts us with this promise, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble and He knows them that trust in Him”.   The supreme expression of God’s goodness is found in the Cross where God’s great love for mankind was shown in the giving of His Son for our salvation. It is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance (Romans 2:4).

It is quite proper that we should be constantly mindful and grateful for God’s goodness to us all, but not to the point where we overlook His severity. Throughout the Scriptures we find repeated references to God’s justice. He cannot overlook or tolerate sin and will not leave the guilty unpunished (Nahum 1:3). His eyes are too pure to look on evil and He cannot tolerate wrong (Habakkuk 1:13). Although He is a God of patience and not willing that any should perish, there comes a time when His patience is exhausted and punishment is meted out to the guilty. We read in Ecclesiastes 8:11 that “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong”. Men can misinterpret God’s longsuffering to mean that He is indifferent to wrongdoing. But we are warned that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31) and that “God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28).

One has only to look through the Scriptures at those occasions when God, having allowed evil to run its course, intervened in justice and punished wrongdoing. We could think of Noah’s day when “the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:13). We are told that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth” (Genesis 6:5) and God decided to destroy mankind after a time of patient waiting for men to repent. But Noah, who was a righteous man and a preacher of righteousness was spared, together with his household. God was both good and severe. Then we have the sad story of the cities of the plain, Sodom and Gomorrah, whom God destroyed with eternal fire (Jude 7), making them an example to later generations who would live ungodly lives (2 Peter 2:6).   In the New Testament we have a similar picture of God dealing severely with those who defied Him. We have the example of Ananias and Sapphira who “lied to the Holy Spirit” and were struck dead.

How, then, could a God who is so loving and yet a God of justice find a way to bring sinful men into fellowship with Himself? The answer is in the Cross of Christ where love and justice meet. First, God’s love is expressed in that He gave His only Son as a sacrifice for our sins. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be an atoning sacrifice for sin” (1 John 4:10). At the same time, God’s justice is satisfied, in that His indignation against sin was borne by the Lord Jesus. God “made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”. At the Cross, “Heaven’s peace and perfect justice kissed a guilty world in love”.

This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  Since 1983 he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.  

 Click here for Previous Messages from Pastor Geoffrey Davies.