Wednesday, 4 September 2013

"The Sternness of God"

Romans 11:22
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Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.

As I explained in the previous post, the context of this verse is the rejection of the Jews and the acceptance of the Gentiles as God's people. The Jews as a nation had rejected Jesus, murdering him on the cross. As a result God (as he had always planned) opened up the gospel for the gentiles as well - everyone who puts their faith in Christ who will be saved, regardless of heritage or outward signs.

Though he talks about God's kindness in this passage (explored here), Paul also talks about God's "sternness". I like writing about God's mercy and grace - those things are what we like to hear. But the truth is that God is good, and that means his justice, perfection and righteousness are good as well. That means we need to praise him for those attributes just as much as we do for his kindness toward us.

The sternness of God is not Injustice.

When Paul talks about God's sternness he is talking about his pure an righteous judgement on all who reject him. We are sinners, God is pure. As a result we deserve his wrath and we can do nothing to change that. In Jesus God's kindness is displayed - we can be shown mercy because if we put our faith in him, he takes our sins and God's punishment and we take his perfection. If we reject Christ then we will get what we deserve.

What exactly is it that we deserve?

Hell. God's eternal condemnation and wrath against our sin. If we reject God and his means of saving us, then we will be rejected by him eternally. But what is hell?

  • Hell is Eternal - Revelation 14:11 "And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name."
  • Hell is physical Torment - Luke 16:24 "And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame."
  • Hell is separation from God's presence and is God's wrath against sin - 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might"
  • Hell will be just and God's punishment varies - Matthew 11:22 "I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you."
It's safe to say that hell will be a terrible, horrible place. Yet that is what we deserve because of our sin. We all deserve God's eternal wrath. Yet there is salvation, full and complete forgiveness and adoption as God's children through Jesus.

How do you turn to him?
"Repent and Believe for the Kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15)
Repentance is the act of turning around. Instead of rejecting God and living sinfully, we need to say sorry for our rebellion an to fight to obey God. It isn't our obedience that saves us, but true repentance will result in obedience.

Belief, or faith is trust in God. Trust that Jesus did truly come, that he is truly God and he is fully man. That he did die and that he paid for our sins. It is also belief that he rose literally, physically rose again and that we will be with him eternally in heaven.

We deserve God's sternness, his justice, because we reject him and live sinfully. Yet he has held out the free offer of complete salvation in Jesus. Will you repent and put your faith in him?

If you want to discuss this more then feel free to email me at

I hope this was helpful.
Soli Deo Gloria!

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