Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is the gospel of Jesus Christ a message unto salvation or a message unto judgment?

16 weeks gestation

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
Proverbs 24:11

"God has to be seen in His wholeness and God is as much glorified in His wrath against ungodliness
as He is in His grace towards those who believe."
~ John MacArthur

While we know that the gospel of Christ is a powerful message of salvation by grace to those who believe, we have a hard time believing that this same gospel is also a message unto judgment to those who will not savingly repent. And yet, this is exactly what scripture teaches us. We want to know and understand the whole counsel of God. When we go out to the abortuaries with the gospel of life & eternity, the vast majority of those who are murdering the little babies reject our message. Our desire is to bring the perishing mothers and fathers who are dragging their infants to slaughter the mercy and truth of Jesus Christ, that they might be granted repentance unto life. We want to give them HOPE. And yet, there is no lasting, eternal hope apart from salvation in Christ. If they refuse this HOPE, they remain HOPE-less. We must know that in the providence of God He sends us to our lost neighbors at the killing place. What we do not know is who is going to be judged by the message and who is going to be saved by it. "Salvation is of the Lord."-Jonah 2:9 Salvation is the work of God. It is He alone who quickens the soul. Psalm 147:11 tells us that "The LORD delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love." However, those who refuse to heed and obey the warning of God and turn from their wicked ways will not be spared, but damned. Our duty before God and man is this: to preach the gospel, commanding all men everywhere to repent and believe. If the hearers harden their hearts as in the day of rebellion, their blood and the blood of their poor little babies, will not be on our hands. As God has promised in Ezekiel 33:9: "But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself."

I have taken excerpts from a sermon by John MacArthur that will help you to understand that the purpose of God in sending preachers is not always for grace, sometimes He sends preachers for judgment. Those of us who have been arrested and won by Jesus Christ are His people, His ambassadors, 'the righteous' by His glorious grace. Please consider that although children in the womb are not innocent or righteous compared to God, but they are innocent and righteous compared (or relative) to other human beings. As Jesus so beautifully taught of children 'of such is the kingdom of heaven' and 'unless you become as a little child you will in no way inherit the kingdom of heaven'. So, as you read this sermon, be mindful of the imperiled orphans who are being led to slaughter by their parents whenever you read about the blood of the righteous. I don't think it's too far of a stretch, do you?

Together for Life & Eternity,
Patte Smith

Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous bloodshed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Matthew 23:34-36

... this is a very difficult thing to understand. But the Lord says, I am sending you these people, not so that you might have another chance to believe. But that you might have continued chances to reject so that you will pile upon yourself a greater weight of guilt which deserves a severer judgment. It's a fearful thought, but that's what He's saying. "Because when I send you these prophets and these wise men and these scribes some of them you will kill and crucify and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute them from city to city so that upon you will come all the righteous blood." ...

The purpose of sending the preachers is not for grace, it's for judgment. And may I suggest this to you, that when you hear the message of Jesus Christ and you hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is a message unto salvation or it is a message unto judgment. And the more you hear it the more it comes to you as a message of grace and the more you reject it, the more it piles upon you the guilt of judgment. For the more you have, the more you're responsible for. To whom much is given, what? Much is required. Better off only to have heard once than to have heard a multiplicity of times and continue to reject, you just pile on greater guilt...

In 2 Corinthians 2:14, (Paul) says "Thanks be unto God." And this is a most unusual passage for which to be thankful by the way. But he says, "Thanks be unto God who always causes us to triumph in Christ and makes manifest the smell of His knowledge by us in every place." Now I want you to listen to this. Paul says I'm thankful that no matter I do, no matter where I preach, no matter what the response is, we triumph. Every time a preacher preaches the gospel he's victorious. Every time the word goes forth it accomplishes the purpose to which it was sent and listen to me, the purpose is not always salvation. The purpose sometimes is compounded guilt. Do you understand that?

The purpose sometimes is to bring the grace of salvation to the heart and God is glorified through His grace. The purpose other times is to compound guilt to bring judgment and God is equally glorified through His judgment, because God is as much a God of judgment as He is a God of grace. I don't know that we have understood that properly. And so verse 15 says, "For," here's why we can thank God that we always triumph, "For we are unto God a sweet taste of Christ in them that are saved and in them that perish." Why? You say you mean it's a sweet taste in God's mouth when people perish? It's a sweet smell to God when people perish? It's hard for us to understand that. But God is as much revealed in His glory in the devastation of judgment as He is in the expression of grace and salvation.

God is not lopsided. He's not all love and grace and kindness and mercy. He's a God of holiness and a God of justice and a God of judgment and a God of wrath and a God of vengeance against evil. And if men choose that, He will be glorified in their condemnation as much as He is glorified in the conversion of those who believe. God will be glorified either way. And so it is a sweet smell to them that are saved and them that perish. To the ones who are saved, it is a smell, says verse 16, "of life unto life." To the ones who perish, it is a smell of death unto death.

What a statement. What a statement. So He says we don't corrupt the word of God in verse 17. We don't alter the message. We give it as straight as it can be given and we know that we triumphed every time we give it, because God is glorified when some believe He's glorified in His great grace, when some reject His glorified in His holy judgment against their rejection and their sin. Do you see the point? And God has to be glorified as much in this end as He is in this end, else He is not revealing Himself fully as God.

Perhaps Revelation 22:11 might help. In Revelation 22:11, at the conclusion of all that God could possibly say at the last Chapter in the Bible, the message is all given. This is the last word, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still. He that is filthy, let him be filthy still. He that is righteous, let him be righteous still. He that is holy, let him be holy still." In other words, as it is at the end so it'll be forever. And if you are unjust and filthy, then let it be so forever. God will be glorified even in that act of judgment against your ungodliness. If you are righteous and godly, let it be that forever. God will be glorified through that as well.

Go back to Romans Chapter 9 for a moment. I want to show you two other verses. We studied these recently. And here the apostle Paul in Romans 9 is saying God has a right to do what He wants. And he says in verse 21, "If God is the potter and He desires to make a vessel unto dishonor, that's His privilege." The potter can do that. He can make one vessel to honor and another unto dishonor. That's the potter's choice. And so he says and it's an interesting way he says it, it's almost like verse 22 is so "What if God willing to show His wrath and make His power implied against sin known endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." What that verse is saying is look, if God wants to display his wrath and his power against sin on vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, so what? Doesn't He have a right to do that? He's God. He's God.

And on the other hand, He will show the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy as well. God has to be seen in His wholeness and God is as much glorified in His wrath against ungodliness as He is in His grace towards those who believe. Now you can go back to Matthew Chapter 23. So God will send preachers and God will send teachers and God's going to send writers. Jesus says you're going to have them all. But it isn't that you may be saved. It is that you will kill them and you will scourge and you will persecute them and as a result of that, you will bring on yourselves the filling up of the cup of wrath and the blood of all the righteous. And then God will judge you with severity....

So ...[if people] reject Jesus Christ. And ...refuse His message ...He says, all right, fill it up. Fill it up. And just to be sure you do, I'm going to send more preachers and more teachers and more writers and you're going to fill it up by killing them and the ones you can't kill you're going to persecute. And then you're going to fill that cup up so much that upon you verse 35 says, "is going to come all the righteous blood shed on the earth." The whole thing is going to come apart. The dam is going to take only so much and it's going to break on you. The cup of wrath will be filled.

...God's purpose...God's judgment will pour itself out. It isn't that God wills that men be lost. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. It is, however, that when men reject the Lord Jesus Christ and refuse to come to Him, it is when they do that, they bring upon themselves an outpouring of God's wrath. And listen carefully to me, the longer they have rejected and the more information they have that they have rejected and the more lessons given them from which they have not learned the greater the guilt. Do you understand that?...

And so it all breaks on their heads... I hope we can see it as clearly in our own nation, because we are in the very process right now of filling up the cup of God's wrath. And we've been doing it steadily and this generation alive today is more guilty of doing it than any in the past, because we have the accumulated testimony of God's truth in this culture and we also have the accumulated lessons of why we should not act against a holy God. And the more we accumulate that data, the more guilty we become and when it breaks, it'll break on the generation that finally fills the cup to the brim...

And one generation which duplicates the sins of past generations and rejects the lessons of past history and rejects the revelation of God that it has, brings upon itself a more profound judgment. So judgment is cumulative. And He says this to them, verse 35, this is a fascinating verse. "It's going to break on you all the righteous blood," that is all the blood shed when righteous people were killed. When they persecuted righteous people and took their life, which, of course, is the greatest indicator of the rejection of God's truth. I mean, when you kill the righteous, you've gone the limit, right? That's the worst you can do.

So all of the worst of your evil manifested in the killing of righteous people, shedding their blood, it's all going to come to fill the cup and break on you. "And you're going to be suffering the just punishment of all that blood from righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah's son of Barachiah whom you slew between the temple and the altar." From A to Z, from the beginning of the Old Testament, Genesis Chapter 4, the first murder of a righteous man, who killed who? Cain killed. Why did he kill Abel? Because he couldn't stand a righteous man, right? He couldn't stand him.

I said it earlier and I'll say it again, if a society has the latitude to kill righteous people, it'll do it, because it can't tolerate that. And Cain could not tolerate the purity of Abel, so he murdered him. And that was the first murder of a righteous man. And he sweeps them all the way through their history, because they were out of the loins of the Adamic family...

God said the cup is full, that's it. God's spirit does not always strive with man. And so the word of judgment was imminent condemnation and it came and it came fast. That's how God feels about sin. That's how God feels about the rejection of His truth and His Son.

Excerpts from Jesus' Last Words to Israel, Part 1

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