Cheap Vs. Costly Grace

Nobody wants to think about God’s wrath.  We like to think of God’s love and forgiveness and grace, but we’d rather forget about the wrath part.  I can’t say I’ve never been the one who just wants to forget about God’s wrath. I’ve wrestled to the ground with God about eternal punishment. I mean isn’t that a little harsh? (It’s not.)

I’m not here to prove that eternal payment is the right punishment.  But I am so tired of cheap grace.  And grace and forgiveness and love COMPLETELY lose their value if there is not also wrath.

Here’s the deal.  God is just.  That means he is FAIR.  He is also eternal.  He is also supreme.  And ultimately, all wrongdoing is against him because he is the supreme authority. If you lie to your friend you may get one punishment, but if you lie to the Supreme Court, you will get a much more severe punishment.  Sin against an eternal God… eternal punishment.

I think it’s so funny that we hate God’s wrath, but then get so angry the minute someone crosses us.  Why do we think it’s so unbelievable that God judges sinners? What do we want when people wrong us? JUSTICE.  And yet we hate God’s justice.

But this is where the most unbelievable part happens.  God must punish sinners.  And the punishment must fit the crime.  And it does.  And if you hate the part about God’s justice, then you must also hate the next part about his grace.  Because his grace does not happen apart from his justice.

We had it coming.  Every single one of us.  But God sent his Son. Do you know that on the cross Jesus ABSORBED the wrath of God for us? This is so elementary to Christianity, that I am tempted to assume everyone gets it, and yet I constantly hear people missing the point. God is just.  God is a god of wrath. That’s not too hard to believe.

But God gave his own Son as an offering for sin?  God poured out the FULL fury of his wrath on his beloved child? Let’s let Mother Theresa pay for Hitler’s crimes.  That seems fair, right?  And yet compared to Jesus, Mother Theresa (and you and me) are all far more like Hitler. The perfect Son of God as a substitute for evil sinners? Would you deliver your innocent baby to death as a substitute for a murderer? God’s grace is much more unbelievable.  It’s much more offensive.

Consider that if there is no wrath, then the cross means absolutely NOTHING.  The world needs hearty truth, and it needs Christians who know and believe that truth!  This hurting world needs a God who is JUST.  The poor and oppressed need justice!  The orphan who is held back from adoptive parents for a bribe needs justice!  The persecuted in Iraq need justice!  The women in sexual slavery need justice!

God loves sinners.  God loves to forgive sinners.  Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. You can receive God’s payment for your sins by trusting in Jesus.  But apart from him there is no other offering for sin.

Let us not say God is unjust when he has graciously and lovingly provided the only acceptable sacrifice on our behalf.  And let us not hate his justice unless we also want to hate his forgiveness because the two are inseparable.

Leah

4 Comments

  1. Thanks for this, Leah. I really relate with your post- I often think of the justice that God deserves for our sin. But, I do think there are others who often think and camp of his loving mercy (not that you can separate the two). Have you found this when discussing with friends? I do not think it is people don’t love God and understand that we needed a propitiation for our sins, but that they are more moved by his other attributes.

    My husband says I have a big justice gene- and often get frustrated when people are taken advantage of or go unpunished. Have you had this experience as well? 😉

    • Thanks for your comment, Vanessa! YES, in fact today, I was heard from a friend that she just really didn’t want to think of God as having wrath… I think our culture wants to believe in forgiveness apart from justice, but there is just no such thing. It may also come from another false belief that people really are generally good. It doesn’t make sense.

  2. Amen! Well said. We deserve death, yet He gives us eternal life through faith? What an astonishing, unbelievable act of grace.

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