Sinners in the Hands of a Forgiving God
Eccl. 3:1-11: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”
When we’re young we think we are invincible and growing old will never happen to us. To be 30 years old is like a century away when one is a teenager. To be thirty and think of fifty is just as far away. But time goes on and we all grow older, and when one finds themselves living in their 30’s they can realistically see themselves in their 50’s. But what about the sunset years of our lives? When one grows older they start to face realities they did not consider before. Such as weakness or sickness and death. Sometime or another all of us consider what will happen to me? Will I grow old with all my faculties, will something interfere in my quality of life. But life has a way of humbling us at times, as God controls the circumstances we go through to make us aware of Him. He will even chasten his children who are veering off the narrow road to get their focus back on him.
Some people’s view of Jesus is that he is all love and forgives everything, having no anger toward sin or evil. He is so tolerant that He accepts all and would never bring any punishment to anyone. Everyone goes to heaven and no one is going to be sent to Hell (with a possible few exceptions like Hitler). This is not how the Jesus of the Bible conducts himself. This Jesus does not exist except in some people’s hopeful imagination. God is just and He must punish sin. It is for this reason God sent His Son to die for sin in our place. At His first coming he demonstrated the love of God as he became the sacrificial lamb but He is coming back the second time as the lion from the tribe of Judah. As the lamb he offered love, mercy, forgiveness and healing to those who repent. But His justice awaits those who refuse to respond to His grace and chose a life of sin and rebellion against God’s only way to make it right.
We are all sinners in the hands of a forgiving God who is angry at our sin. In other words, God becomes our judge unless something changes in our relationship to him, until we repent and are saved. We are all sinful and at war with God (rebelling against his ways) whether we know it or not (Col.1:21). Ps. 7:11 “God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day.” The majority of the people hold that God is love and this is true, but he is also a God of justice and that he must punish sin just as he would reward what one does is right. Lest we find ourselves in the same predicament as Israel when Jeremiah said, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!”(Jer. 8:20).
We need to bring closure to God’s offer of salvation to us, for our eternity is sealed in the death of Christ who died so we will not find ourselves at war but at peace with God. There are no good or bad people only lost people who need to be saved. Your good deeds will not tilt the scales of justice in your favor. Some people’s sins are like BO, they really smell; others are covered up by their deodorant of fine clothes and their position in life.
One day we will stand before the Lord, and we will have no excuses then. What seemed valid on earth will soon fade as valid when standing before him “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). What was done for him will last into eternity and what was not, and done in the flesh will be burned up. Eccl. 12:14 “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Nothing will be hidden on that day. It is fast approaching. One day all who lived will be raised, as Jesus said “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice “and come forth-- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29)
It is then we will be accountable for the things we did in our lives. It is then we will know the full importance of His forgiveness, as believers we have passed from judgment to eternal life. Yet we will be held accountable for what we did and for what we did not do. Nothing will be unnoticed as Jesus said even a glass of water given in his name will not go un-rewarded. But he will notice the things we neglected, the opportunities we had and let them pass because of our inconvenience and cowardice.
We can be confident that (Psalm 9:8) “He shall judge the world in righteousness, and He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.”
Better to find our self as a sinner in the hands of a forgiving God now than to later find our self as a sinner in the hands of an angry one. The Bible is filled with references to God having the last say on evil and sinners, and that day is fast approaching. Nah. 1:2-3 “God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious.”
The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies; The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked.” Rom. 2:5-6 “But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds” no matter how good you think you are, you are not that good in God’s sight.
As Jonah who rebelled in going to Nineveh to give God’s message and give them a chance to repent, he later reflects why he went to Tarshish: “for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.” (4:2)
As the Lord told the prophet Ezekiel (33:11) “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
As the New Testament reiterates “God is longsuffering not willing that any perish but that all would come to repentance,” but he knows when the time to judge has come for he knows the heart of man.
It is “Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lam. 3:22-24)
God is not willing to be angry with us as he draws us with love so that we can receive mercy, but he does want us to respond. Acts 17:30-31 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Jesus Christ is the pivotal point for all mankind and what your decision is on him decides what God’s decision will be toward you. In the meantime all have been given a chance to repent, as we are living in the age of the Gospel of grace.
Some disbelieve that God would ever punish? But why would he not punish? He has done it so many other times before: to the world to nations and to individual people. It was God who brought the flood upon the earth because of mankind’s wickedness. He judges Sodom and Gommorah, he judged King David. In 1 Chronicles 21:15 God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. Similarly, Jesus pronounced judgment on Jerusalem which later came to pass in 70 A.D. Yes; God has judged man throughout our history and he will do it again.
So many people see God as someone that will overlook everything they did wrong or evil because they have done some good. Some are confident that their bad in life is so few and their good deeds so many that they have nothing to be concerned about. But they are very wrong.
Our families and society all model in some way the structure of God. As we grew up we saw the consequences of doing wrong. In our family when we did something wrong we hoped our parents would not punish us or if they did punish that it would not be severe. As we grew older many of us watched our friends go to jail and even die for doing wrong. Evil is not rewarded in our culture, and God certainly does not ignore it. Paul says the governing authorities are put in place to punish evildoers. How much more is God just toward those who do not repent from what he calls evil; sin.
Sinners who have given their lives into God’s hands have assurance the punishment was taken so we would not need to be punished. God is no longer angry with sinners who repent, we don’t have to earn his love; it is freely given. Like a man of compassion offering water to a thirsty man it is not withheld. What a hope we have with a God like this. Rom. 6:22-23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I Jn. 4:9-10 “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” God took the initiative and came as man to accomplish what only He could, to die for our sin, so we can be accepted by the God the Father. No greater love has been displayed to any man on earth since the beginning of time. To reject what he has done is to not receive the love God has for you. As the psalmist writes (32:1-2) “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Rom. 4:7-8). No religion no other religious person other than Jesus Christ offers forgiveness of sin.
Heb. 9:27 “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” The common denominator with mankind is that we all live and we die. Death is final eliminator between joy and disappointment. Only those who are born twice (physically and spiritually in this life) will live again with God who has unspeakable riches to give his children. Your best day on earth will not compare to the least day in heaven. For the “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him”(1 Cor. 2:9).
The earth and all its pleasures are passing away. Rom. 8:5-8 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” You may think God accepts you by your religion or good deeds, but that is mans earthly fallen perspective not God’s heavenly perspective.
For the believer who knows God and knows where he is headed “We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). God has a more permanent place for those who want to follow and learn of their creator. He becomes as a Father to his children and has prepared a place that is beyond description of anything known on earth.
In the life after God can become your judge and you can find your self in the position of being His enemy. To have him as your advocate you need to do certain things in this life. You need to take care of business with him now before it is too late and you find yourself as a sinner in the hands of a holy, righteous and angry God. He will either be your judge or your savior from judgment.
When one dies they are appointed in the afterlife where they will spend their eternity. God is a not going to ask you what denomination you belonged to. All these labels will matter little compared to what He is going to ask you: did you come to me the way I asked and provided? Did you accept my ONLY Son’s sacrifice and follow Him and live for me. If not: why not? Any excuse at that time will seem about 1000 times lamer than it does now as you stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. God does not wink at sin. You will become acutely aware of your sinfulness and know what sin actually is because you will be standing in the presence of holiness you had never known.
There is only one way to God and to enter heaven-through the death of Christ on the cross. Why? Because God loves us too much that he made it as easy as possible so that we could not miss it. One way to the one God -- there will be no valid excuses made in his presence.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom 5:8-10).
I implore you, while there is still time be reconciled to God through His Sons sacrifice and come to know the joy and plan He has for your life on earth.