Monday, March 24, 2008

GOD'S GLORY - THE STANDARD OF ALL JUDGMENT


We who believe the Gospel must judge all things by the standard of God’s glory, and we must seek to be motivated in all our desires by that same glory. It is our love and compassion, therefore, for lost sinners and our desire to see them saved that keeps us from compromising the truth concerning God’s glory and Christ’s Person and work. This is what motivates us to preach the Gospel to the lost and tell them the truth about their lost condition and the wickedness of their best efforts aimed at the ground of salvation. We see an example of this in the Apostle Paul who refused to compromise the Gospel. He loved His countrymen so much, but he refused to dishonor God or deny Christ to win their approval and friendship by counting them saved.

Romans 10:1-4
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
For Christ the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.


It was this refusal to compromise God’s glory that brought great persecution and reproach upon Christ, as well as the prophets of old, the apostles, and all who truly believe the Gospel. This persecution comes mainly from the religious world, even our loved ones and neighbors. We are accused of not showing a gracious spirit, of being too narrow and dogmatic, of being uncharitable and offensive, of being heresy-hunters, all of which are not true. We desire to be liked, respected, and well thought of, but not at the expense of God’s glory and Christ’s preeminence.

The Apostle Paul spoke of “the offense of the cross” (Galatians 5:11). The offense of the cross is the fact that God can only be glorified in salvation conditioned upon the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. The offense comes when we tell sinners that all who are either ignorant of or not submitted to Christ’s righteousness are lost and their deeds are evil (John 3:18-20; 7:7). Their deeds are evil, not because of immorality which is evil, but because their deeds are opposed to God’s glory. When a person believes that he can do something to earn, merit, or qualify himself for salvation, he is denying the redemptive glory of God in salvation conditioned on Christ alone. This is an abomination to God (Luke 16:15). This is why their deeds are evil, and this is offensive to self-righteous, religiously proud sinners. The only way to escape the offense of the cross is to compromise God’s glory by speaking peace to such sinners when there is no peace.

God is jealous of His character, His glory (Exodus 34:13-14). He never encourages His people to compromise His glory in order to win friends, influence people, or gain and keep an audience. When we are tempted, as we many times are, to avoid controversy and to avoid the offense of the cross, in the name of love or to get someone to listen to us, we should always remember God’s honor and God’s love. God’s love subjected His Son to the greatest depths of humiliation, suffering, and even death in order to maintain the honor of God’s character in salvation. Christ on the cross proves that God could not and would not compromise His glory to save even one sinner.

We who believe the Gospel cannot avoid controversy and persecution in this world because all of the foundational truths of genuine Christianity are controversial and offensive to the natural, religious world. Christ promised suffering and persecution to all his disciples because of this (Matthew 5:10-11; John 15:18-22; 16:1-3). The Apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews 12 that any who are not chastised are “bastards” and not sons, children of God (Hebrews 12:6-8).


Chastisement in Hebrews 12 has to do with those who suffer for the Gospel. The point is that any who seek to avoid the persecution of the cross in order to gain the approval of the world are not children of God. Sinners by nature hate the Gospel because they are led by another spirit to believe in a counterfeit christ and worship and serve a false god. As long as this is the case, and as long as we seek their salvation, we will encounter controversy and persecution.

The issue is not a mere point of non-vital doctrine, as some would say. It is not simply that sinners are saved without this knowledge and only need teaching. The issue has to do with eternal life or eternal death, true worship or idolatry. Their can be no eternal life apart from a revealed knowledge of the true and living God, a just God and a Savior. The first saving view of God a sinner has is of the God who justifies the ungodly based solely upon the merits of Christ’s blood and righteousness. There can be no true worship apart from attributing unto God those qualities of character that belong to Him as a just God and a Savior. God delights in that which most glorifies Him. That which most glorifies Him, which reveals all the perfections of His character, is the full, free, eternal salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ. Sinners are fully warranted and commanded to trust in that which glorifies God.


By Bill Parker

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