February 2, 2015

Isaiah 5:16 But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice,
and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness.

We like to focus on God’s love and mercy, but we ignore His justice and righteousness to our peril. (The Japanese says “judgment” rather than “justice,” but the implication is certainly of just judgment.) Insurance companies speak of “acts of God,” but they treat them as random natural phenomena rather than as anything intentional on the part of the Creator. The very idea that you could insure against the judgment of God is laughable! That’s not to say that everyone who suffers in a natural disaster has earned that suffering any more than the next person. Jesus dealt with that issue very specifically in Luke 13:1-5. We all deserve worse than we get! When children are not raised to know that actions have consequences, sometimes painful ones, they grow up without a proper fear of God, with a stunted or twisted conscience. Likewise, parents who try to protect their children from any possibility of injury are doing them no favors, because the world is not like that. When we do stupid or careless things, unpleasant consequences result. You cannot spit in God’s face and get away with it. God is indeed incredibly merciful and loving, but it takes repentance to see and receive that side of Him. He is holy and He is righteous, and nothing will ever change that.

As a pastor I prefer to focus on God’s love and mercy, but if I fail to point out His holiness and justice I am insulting Him and doing no one any favors. The message of grace is meaningless unless and until we really understand that we need it. The second verse to the hymn, At Calvary, says it very well. “By God’s grace at last my sin I learned. Then I trembled at the Law I’d spurned, till my guilty soul imploring turned to Calvary.” I’ve got to help people understand first of all that they are headed for hell by their own choice, and then and only then help them see that they can choose to do otherwise because of what Christ has done for them. Laying the foundation of an understanding of sin and judgment can be difficult in Japan, but even America is increasingly becoming a post-Christian culture, and there too people need to be taught there is a right and a wrong. I cannot do it in my own strength and wisdom (which are no strength or wisdom at all) so I’ve got to seek and depend on the help of the Holy Spirit. As Jesus said, He will convict of sin, righteousness and judgment, (John 16:8-11) and there we have the foundation for repentance and faith. I cannot do it on my own, but I am to keep myself available as an instrument of the Holy Spirit for whenever and however He wants to use me, for the salvation of many and the glory of Jesus Christ.

Father, thank You for the privilege of participating in Your plan of salvation, not only for myself but for others as well. Help me be increasingly effective as Your agent, for a massive harvest in Your kingdom, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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