I think I’ll need to write a follow up post with the opposite title just to remain balanced theologically but until then…
Often when I am in turmoil, the last place I want to turn is to the pages of Scripture, primarily for fear of condemnation. But what most often happens is I find the forgiveness and love that God promised. This seems so basic. Isn’t this the entire message of the Gospel? We are sinners, living in rebellion to a Holy God, but that God made a way in which we could be reconciled to Him.
Why? Because He loves His creation and His people. It really is that simple.
Yes, sin matters and it matters a great deal-it’s the cause of our separation from Him and will be the cause of our just punishment unless we acknowledge this fact and see our need for God’s work on our behalf. Again, this is nothing novel, insightful, or profound in terms of high theology. It’s the Gospel 101. It’s the basics. Yet I so often forget the basics-at least practically. Intellectually I could quote to you the “Romans Road” half asleep-but this means nothing if not applied to the heart and mind.
The pages of Scripture are absolutely saturated with comfort, love and forgiveness. Yes, there is judgment, punishment, and condemnation-but this contrasts and helps us understand what we are being saved from. This is it’s own comfort. God has paid the penalty Himself for our sin, just like He promised He would do all the way back in the garden (Get 3:15) and to Abraham when God walked through the pieces instead of Abraham (Gen 15), and all throughout the Old Testament until He fulfilled His promises in the New.
One of the absolutely most profound and complex, yet simplest (the Bible is full of wonderful paradoxes) verses in all of Scripture is this “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” I John 4:7-8
“God is love”. What does that even mean? It’s not “God is loving”-though He is; it’s not “God loves”-though He does; it’s God is love. This is His essence. This is who He is.
It may not always seem that way. God continually brings situations into my life that I think I would have been much better to do without. He places me into situations that hurt, that are complicated, that are seemingly almost impossible to navigate and to overcome. But again, the Scriptures step in and say “The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Prov 16:9) and “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer 29:11).
I understand this last passage was given in a specific context to the exiled Israelites, however we have the affirmation of this truth for God’s people (all the saved) in the New Testament: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6).
God places us into situations that we cannot understand, but Scripture is clear that He has a purpose in all these things; no matter how much we feel like we mess it up, or make wrong decisions, or have feelings that we do not understand. Sometimes He breaks our hearts to bring us near to Him.
But this is all found in the pages of Scripture. Read it, don’t fear it. This I must remind myself of daily.