Saturday, 22 December 2007

Objects of wrath

The fall of Adam put us in opposition to God. It changed our nature and our relationship with God.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2)
This is not just some, it is all mankind. All men prior to redemption are by nature children of wrath. Even if we desire God's ways we still sin and fall under God's wrath. We deserve judgment.

This is not the pleasure of God. God does not desire that the wicked are destroyed. Jesus says,
God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3)
Paul tells us,
...God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2)
And Peter informs why the day of the Lord is delayed:
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3)
Jesus, Paul and Peter all state that God desires the salvation of every man. He would that heaven be filled, that not a single person lost.

Sure, the destruction of the wicked will demonstrate God's glory but their condemnation his not his desire. God gains much greater glory by showing mercy than by just judgment. If God judges by justice alone he will send every man to hell.

So how do we square Jesus' offer of mercy to all men with Paul's comment on God's mercy?
So then God has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (Romans 9)
I find it interesting that the actions here are not opposites. God is described as hardening men, but not softening them. I am sure God can soften hearts, but the point is the context contrasts hardening and having mercy. These actions of God can be seen in connection to our response to God. We are all children of wrath because of our nature. So when one rejects God's work in his life he is resisting the work of God in drawing him to himself. If we reject God and refuse his ways then God cannot gain glory by offering mercy to us. There is nothing else but to harden us that God's glory may be maximised in our lives; not as objects of mercy, which is God's preference, but as objects of wrath: that all may see that the rebellious will not prevail against God.

And for those who choose God, yet who by their nature are children of wrath, he offers mercy so that they may become children of God. If in judging those who deserve judgment God is glorified, how much more so when he shows mercy to those who deserve judgment!
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! (Romans 11)

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