Perhaps our churches have focused too much on mercy. This probably sounds heretical to some of you. Let me explain.
The mercy of God cannot be our starting place. A person must first realize that they stand condemned for his sins. If he doesn’t recognize his condemnation before a fearful God, then he cannot understand mercy. After all, the Christian message is that we deserved death from God, but we graciously received mercy from Him. You can’t understand the latter without the former.
So many people demand mercy from God without realizing that they deserve punishment. Some people either do not believe that they are sinful. And some do not believe that their sins merit death. Either way, how can the gospel be preached if the hearers are firm believers in one of these two views? The gospel is good news to those who are perishing, not to those who are comfortable before God.
The church has to learn to teach effectively the sinfulness of mankind. Otherwise the mercifulness of God will never be known.
Of course, the answer isn’t to stop stressing mercy. Instead, the mercy of God must follow the wrath of God; God’s gracious reconciliation with us must follow our understanding that our condemnation is just.
If we don’t communicate God’s righteous judgment against sin –– which implies that God’s righteous judgment is, without Christ, against a sinner like me –– then we cannot communicate the gospel to people. And Christians everywhere should find that unacceptable.
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