The world totters on the brink of moral collapse.1
The Judge of All is about to pass judgment on those who have refused to acknowledge Him as their Leader Eternal.
“Is there anyone else,” He calls out, “anyone else who wants to be free from the burden of sin?”
A few people struggle towards Him. The rest slink away.
“Not fair!” roars the enemy. “Condemn all or condemn none!”
“I won’t do that,” the Judge of All replies. “All who come to Me will be saved.”
The enemy slinks away, grumbling under his breath. “That’s the problem with Him,” he mutters. “He’s not fair. He mixes judgment with mercy, and time and time again I’ve proven that it just doesn’t work. He won’t listen to me.”
[Thought Questions for God of Grace and Judgment January 25, 2012]
1. Justice and grace. Have you ever felt unworthy of God’s mercy? Have your sins ever blocked your vision of a loving, forgiving, gracious God? Why is it so hard even for us Christians to accept the reality of God’s love for the most degraded people in society? Are you able to experience love for those in your community who are destitute or in deep trouble in their families or work? As humans, do we tend to lean toward the judgment side when confronted with a choice for dealing with the hard up or uncouth?
2. In Eden. Was grace a characteristic God acquired after sin? Or was He always filled with mercy and grace? Explain. Why did God condemn the wiley snake immediately after the sin has been committed? Why did God’s promise concerning the relationship from then on between the snake and the woman strke a note of hope in the hearts of Adam and Eve? Why did God at that instant create a sense of fear and loathing in the hearts of His children towards snakes? Has God been kind in his dealings with the devil? Why? or why not?
2. The Flood. How could the world become so wicked so quickly? Or was it a quick transformation? Did the giant ark being constructed many miles from the nearest body of water arouse a lot of attention? Was that one reason God had Noah build an ark–to atract attention? Why does the story of the universal flood seem to draw a lot of ridicule? Would you say that the flood was almost the equivalent of total destruction of the world? What was left? Does it seem that God was angry? Very angry? Where was grace when the flood came?
3. John 3:16. How much does God love the world? Is it possible for God to redeem everyone who has ever drawn breath on earth? Is heaven big enough? Why won’t that happen? How did the incarnation of God as Jesus on earth demonstrate God’s love? Did God the Father suffer from this act? Does the phrase “God’s son” trouble you? Does it help to remember that God lives outside of time? Think about it.
4. The rest of the story. What feelings come to you when reading the four verses following John 3:16? Didn’t the world deserve to be condemned? Wasn’t Jesus fully qualified to bring judgment on the people of the world? Instead of condemnation, what did He offer? When you read about wicked people or see their images on the screen, do you ever wonder how they can prefer a life of crime to the law-abiding life of an ordinary citizen? What does it take to get “hooked” on sin? Does God offer us a way to be drawn to His sinless character?
5. The Hour of Judgment. Where is the captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia now? How did his decision to abandon ship affect the crew? Will Jesus ever abandon His people caught in the sinking ship of sin? Does something else need to happen before the “hour of His judgment” arrives on earth? What might that be? The just-arrived baby does an adult’s job of screaming, but something soon settles the infant down. What? Does God provide comfort to us when we see horrible things happening around us? Always?
6. Grace and the judgment. Have you ever made a list of the worst things you’ve ever done? (Don’t, if you haven’t already.) What about a memory bank of all the kind and loving things you’ve ever done? Would that be a good idea? How much does God know about you and me and what we’ve done or thought? Is God going to expose all of our sinful thoughts and bad deeds during the final judgment? When we’re “on the other side,” will we ever need to concern ourselves with judgment issues again? Is there enough grace for you?