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Friday, January 17, 2020

Love and Sovereignty

God has an image problem. While some Christians try to point out that Scripture says God is Sovereign, that God hates sin, that God is just, that God is, in fact, wrathful over sin, others tell them to back off. "Hey, hey, God is not like that. He's loving. He's gracious. He's merciful. The God you're describing is not the God we know." So, which is it?

There is a problem at the outset. We have two groups that appear to be pitting God ... against God. We have certain attributes of God -- Sovereignty, Justice, hating sin, etc. -- at odds with other certain attributes of God -- love, grace, mercy, etc. So, clearly, one (or the other) is wrong. And that just can't be. We get our best, most detailed, most reliable information about God from His Word. We get some from nature (Rom 1:19-20) and that's fine, but it's only some and open to discussion. "I see power." "Well, I see a world that is red in tooth and claw, and that seems evil." The Bible isn't as ambiguous or open to opinion. God is love (1 John 4:8). He is also Sovereign (1 Tim 6:15). He is gracious (John 1:14) and merciful (Psa 69:16). He is just (Gen 18:25). God does have wrath (Rom 1:18). This isn't a God Restaurant; we don't get a menu to pick two things from Column A and two from Column B to form a DIY God. He is God -- the God He says He is. We have to take Him at His Word and go from there.

So how do we put together a God who condemns unrepentant sinners to eternal torment with a God of mercy? How do we reconcile a God who loves with a God who judges? How do we harmonize wrath and mercy? (Hint: It is not by eliminating one over the other.)

There are ways to put these together. I suspect that it begins with "'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' declares the LORD" (Isa 55:8). We will need to be ready to see "love" and "Sovereign," for instance, in a different light than our "warm affection" versus "tyrant" mode so popular today. We will have to see how hell can be love and how mercy doesn't nullify justice. We will have to grasp that God sees things we don't in ways we don't for purposes we don't necessarily or fully understand. We will have to hold tightly to God's self-revelation as we go. That's because anything we worship other than the God we see in the Bible is an idol, not God.

I'm not aiming to go through God's attributes and traits here and explain how Column A aligns with Column B. I'm just urging you to do it. Don't let the outrage of those who, as it turns out, don't know God to sway you to a god who is not God. He is all that He says He is in His Word. Put that together and you'll find a more robust grasp of the God we love as well as a new understanding of our own mistaken views.

(For a little nudge in that direction, try reading Romans 3:21-26 and see if you can figure out how God can be both just and merciful simultaneously.)


Craig said...


Now I’m getting spam again, thanks. I guess this is what happens when you combine narcissism, a lack of self control, and s short attention span.

Stan said...

I assure you through no fault of my own.