Sunday, August 05, 2012

What We Miss About God's Grace- Hebrews 12

Hebrews 12:18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, c“If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.”21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to eMount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly1 of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time ohis voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

The greatest testament to God's love also contains clearly what we tend to miss:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life". John 3:16

We get lulled into sleep sometimes regarding the Holiness of God which fuels the fire of His eternal wrath against ungodliness.

The worse the bad news, the better the good news. I get worried that we preach a gospel that sounds like this- "you are a good person, you have just done a few bad things. Get educated and help and you can overcome these negative vibes. And let's make sure we are nice to everyone, not really stand for anything because we are all God's children. Don't be offensive, only speak with loving service."

So people think that they merely have a sickness. Get a dose of the Jesus shot or any other faith solution and you can be healthy.

That is a FAR cry from the seeds that sparked the 1st great awakening. Here is a portion of what Jonathan Edwards preached- not screaming- just reading his manuscript:
The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.
O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.  
                                                                  "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" July 8, 1741

The good news is great news because the bad news is gruesome. The Holy Mountain of God is a blaze of fire and to touch it in your sinful state is immediate obliteration. I wasn't sick in need of a hospital- I was dead and in need of a resurrection. I wasn't a good boy who did bad things- I am a stinking sinner, my default nature is a love of sin and self- I need a savior. I don't have hope to discipline myself to earn God's favor- I am ruined I need a new life. I can't pay for this, I can't earn it- I even need a gift of faith to receive it. THAT IS THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL OF GRACE!

Moses had that healthy fear. He saw it in full living color. It didn't keep him from sinning and God banished him from the promised land.

How grateful should we be? We do not see that side of God's true nature. We have been covered by the one who took the fury of God's wrath undiluted and unrestrained.

The cross is like a heat shield on the space shuttle. The fury of God poured onto the SON so that we experience grace and peace.

Don't talk to me about any patronizing diluted gospel. Eternal punishment is a reality and sin will be blasted. 

Richard Neibuhr got it right about our culture- he spoke out about the 'gospel' we were selling:

"A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross."
What gospel message are you telling?

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