Fear and love embrace on the cross

Do you not fear Me?’ declares the LORD.
‘Do you not tremble in My presence?’

But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;
They have turned aside and departed.
They do not say in their heart,
“Let us now fear the LORD our God…”

…today we deny God’s holiness; we have little understanding of justice; we deny the need for an atoning sacrifice; we deny our own sins; we deny the imminent judgment of God; we defy the absolute sovereignty of God; we deny our absolute inability; and we even deny the sinless Christ, saying that He wasn’t sinless. We’ve forgotten who brings the rain. We’re rebellious—we’re just like the people of that day. And so we don’t understand fear and we don’t understand love, and therefore we don’t understand the cross.

Here is the opening sermon from the 2010 ClearNote Fellowship Conference. This sermon was preached July 9, 2010 by Max Curell.

(This is sermon 1 in a series; see also sermon 2, sermon 3, and sermon 4.)


Outline

Our rebellion
We abhor ourselves mostly in a theoretical way (we deny our sin)
We deny God’s holiness
We have no understanding of justice
We deny the sinless Christ
We deny the coming judgment and hell
How we must approach the cross of Jesus Christ

Let’s pray.

Father in heaven, there’s a reason that the angels adore Thee, veiling their sight. And tonight Lord, as we consider the themes that surround the cross of Jesus Christ, I ask, Lord, that You will give us faith and understanding, and that we will see that the work of Jesus is powerful on our behalf. That Lord, unlike the king with Elisha that struck the ground with the arrows three times, Your Son on our behalf has crushed the head of the serpent and made it possible for us to have access to You, to come to You, and that He is eternally mediating our relationship to You. And Father, we ask that You will give us eyes to see. Open our hearts, we pray. And open Your Word to us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Our rebellion

“Fear and love embrace on the cross.” Lawrence was talking earlier about how professed Christians in America would respond to that statement, and I think most of them would think that it’s nonsensical—most of us probably wouldn’t have any idea that fear and love could have communion anywhere, let alone on the cross. And so we don’t understand this as we ought to. And as we go into this tonight, I want to start by reading from the book of Jeremiah, as the Holy Spirit speaks through the prophet, and he’s talking to the people of Judah, and it’s a familiar passage. If you have your Bible, turn to Jeremiah 5:20,

“Declare this in the house of Jacob
And proclaim it in Judah, saying,
‘Now hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
Who have eyes but do not see;
Who have ears but do not hear.
Do you not fear Me?’ declares the LORD.
‘Do you not tremble in My presence?
For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea,
An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it.
Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail;
Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it.
But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;
They have turned aside and departed.
They do not say in their heart,
“Let us now fear the LORD our God,
Who gives rain in its season,
Both the autumn rain and the spring rain,
Who keeps for us
The appointed weeks of the harvest.”
Your iniquities have turned these away,
And your sins have withheld good from you.
For wicked men are found among My people,
They watch like fowlers lying in wait;
They set a trap, They catch men.
Like a cage full of birds,
So their houses are full of deceit;
Therefore they have become great and rich.
They are fat, they are sleek,
They also excel in deeds of wickedness;
They do not plead the cause,
The cause of the orphan, that they may prosper;
And they do not defend the rights of the poor.
Shall I not punish these people?’ declares the LORD,
‘On a nation such as this
Shall I not avenge Myself?’
“An appalling and horrible thing
Has happened in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority;
And My people love it so!
But what will you do at the end of it?”

What is the sin of the prophets and the priests and the people that the Holy Spirit is speaking to? It’s the sin of rebellion. They’ve cast off obedience to Him—they’ve cast off even the knowledge of Him. They’ve cast off things that they should have known and understood, things that should have been primary to their thinking and to their action—even neglecting to see and remember that God was the one that provided them the rain!

How are we like this today? Well today we deny God’s holiness; we have little understanding of justice; we deny the need for an atoning sacrifice; we deny our own sins; we deny the imminent judgment of God; we defy the absolute sovereignty of God; we deny our absolute inability; and we even deny the sinless Christ, saying that He wasn’t sinless. We’ve forgotten who brings the rain. We’re rebellious—we’re just like the people of that day. And so we don’t understand fear and we don’t understand love, and therefore we don’t understand the cross.

What is this cross of Jesus?

We abhor ourselves mostly in a theoretical way (we deny our sin)

We deny our sin. We’re taught in Sunday School or at Campus Crusade that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; however, little work is done to connect the dots. If all have sinned, then I have sinned. If I have sinned, what are my actual sins? Are there any actual sins that I have sinned, or are there just is it just a theoretical thing? If I have sinned, I have fallen short of the glory of God. And in our Reformed churches we reference Scriptures to prove that we’ve got it right, and so we read Jeremiah 17,

The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?

We read Romans 3,

“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE…[no one] WHO UNDERSTANDS…NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”; “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”

We say this, because we’re Reformed: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We make our membership vows as we join the church. We confess that we abhor ourselves, but we abhor ourselves mostly in a theoretical way—we balk even at saying those words, because within us is the reality that Whitney Houston has told us, that “The greatest love of all is learning to love yourself.” And so we say the words because we’re Reformed. But when was the last time you mourned over your sin until your insides ached? You know that pain here, where you groan and you mourn and you grieve and everything is wrong and your eyes fill with tears and you wonder as you consider your sin before God, how someone so vile could ever be completely clean and be glorified. How deceitful is your heart? Have you ever entrusted big life decisions to the counsel of others, realizing that you were so self-deceptive that you weren’t able to make them?

My wife Annie recently read a biography of Sarah Edwards (that said things like this):

Near the close of the year 1738, according to the testimony of Mr. Edwards, [Sarah] was led under [the] uncommon discovery of God’s excellency, and in an high exercise of love to God, and of rest and joy in him, to make a new and most solemn dedication of herself to his service and glory, an entire renunciation of the world, and a resignation of all to God. After this, she had often such views of the glory of the Divine perfections, and of Christ’s excellencies, and at times, for hours together, without any interruption, that she was overwhelmed, and as it were swallowed up, in the light and joy of the love of God.

Annie came to me after the reading and she was lamenting, saying, “I’m just depressed! I could never be as pious and godly as Sarah Edwards.” And I said, “Honey, honey, don’t worry. You don’t have to achieve the piety of Sarah Edwards. You only have to achieve the glory of God. That’s all.”

Now Annie and I deceive ourselves. In reality, we prefer to fall short of Sarah Edwards or Teresa of Calcutta rather than falling short of the glory of God. And you do the same thing. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

Here we begin to see the point of our need. Here we see our abject, wretched, utter inability—we just begin to get a glimpse how sinful we are. The heart is wicked and deceitful. Who can know it?

We deny God’s holiness

We deny God’s holiness.

“Every good thing given and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

1 Peter 1:16,

“YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

1 Timothy 6:13,

I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time–He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see.

How do I explain the holiness of God? How can we understand His singularity?

I came across a statement in my reading in a standard reference work, Vine’s Expository Dictionary under the word propitiation, and the statement just kind of cranked my brain. It’s a very simple statement: talking about propitiation, it just says that “never is God said to be reconciled. It is man who needs to be reconciled to God, and not God to man.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But have you ever thought of it? God hasn’t moved! God hasn’t shifted out of orbit. He is holy and immutable. He hasn’t changed. He has no shadow, he has no turning. Why does the statement cause my brain to go Ckkkkkk? Well it’s because I have shifted out of orbit. You have shifted out of orbit. I change like a shifting shadow, and I project my wandering heart onto the holy God, and then I have to have a statement that says “God doesn’t need to be reconciled to me.” But how many of us at worst would think that God would need to be reconciled to us, and even at best wouldn’t consider that it’s all about our deviation and that God never changes, that He’s absolutely holy?

He cannot do what is contrary to who He is. I was reading recently the account in Judges 7 about God calling Gideon, because I was responding to a comment that someone was making on the Baylyblog about the Wild at Heart books, where it talks about God calling Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites and Gideon amasses an army and God says the army’s too big. And in the book, the author is maintaining that God wanted to make the army smaller because God likes the thrill of the challenge. But of course that’s not what the Bible says. In Judges 7:2 the Bible says,

The LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.'”

God is saying, Look, I can’t do it. I’m not allowed. It goes against My nature to do this. There are too many. So this is what you have to do, because I’m not going to look good and you’re going to think it was you that did it. And so this army is going to get pared down. And so they pared it down and pared it down and pared it down.

God cannot share His glory. There are some things that just have to happen, because of who He is.

“Jesus, stop Your disciples from crying out!”

He doesn’t say it, but it’s implied: “I can’t!”

What does He say? “If they’re silent the rocks will cry out.” They must! Before Abraham was, I AM! They must cry out! They can’t keep silent.

This is the God that we worship: unchanging, absolutely unchanging.

Isaiah 6:1, Isaiah is seeing the vision of God in the temple in the year that King Uzziah died, and the six-winged angels are flying about, and with two wings they cover their eyes and with two wings they cover their feet and with two they fly, and they sing Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty constantly—they can’t stop. They must, because that’s who He is: absolutely holy.

But we’ve depreciated Him, we’ve made Him so small, we’ve been inclined to think that this God is not as holy as it’s been proposed to us. And we have lost the themes of His holiness all through the Scripture.

We have no understanding of justice

We have no understanding of justice. We’re made in the image of God and yet we recoil at the concept of justice.

I’m not talking about revenge, I’m talking about justice. We all understand revenge very well, right? In the last week I sinned in a meeting by stating that I wanted to exact my pound of flesh from someone. I understand the concept of revenge very well. But justice? It’s a different thing.

God says that we are never to pay back evil for evil to anyone, in Romans 12,

Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

Who is this God of justice who reserves for Himself the right of avenging punishment? He is the holy God! All knowing, all present, all-powerful, justice is reserved for Him because He is the incarnation of the code. He doesn’t merely acknowledge the truth, He is the truth. Every infraction is therefore a sin against Him. And that’s why you have David in Psalm 51 confessing his sins to God—you know what David did. He probably should have gone to war, but he stayed home, so his hands were idle. He saw Bathsheba on the roof. He made arrangements for her to come to the palace. He had an adulterous relationship with her. She conceived a son. He was in trouble because her husband—one of his own mighty men—was at war. He calls Uriah back and schemes to make it a cover-up. But Uriah is righteous—he won’t go in to his wife while all the other men are sleeping in tents at the war zone. So he sleeps out on the curb in front of the palace. David realizes that he’s not going to be able to cover up his sin by having Uriah go sleep with his wife, because he won’t do it; David writes a letter, puts it into the hand of Uriah, and Uriah delivers his own death sentence to the general of the army. David tells the general: Put Uriah up in the front where the fighting is fiercest, pull everybody else back, if Uriah dies don’t worry. That’s what he says, paraphrased. Uriah dies. So David commits adultery; David conspires at murder; David doesn’t admit it; God sends His prophet; David is exposed; David repents of his sin and he cries out to God.

Now who did David sin against? Did he sin against Bathsheba? Did he sin against Uriah? What does he say in Psalm 51?

Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.

He knew that every infraction is a sin against the holy God, and that finally that’s the judgment seat that he would stand at, in front of God. God must be satisfied. He’s not squeamish in His justice. But we are squeamish about justice. Why? Well because we want to make allowances for ourselves. I’m thinking about how sometimes you’ll see somebody pulled over in traffic and it’s the guy that just cut you off about a half a mile back. And so, what? Suddenly your sense of justice wells up: “I’m thankful for the authorities”? No. You’re thankful because you were angry and that guy got his. Right?

But how often do we see the lights flashing on the side of the road and feel a sense of satisfaction in the realization that there are laws governing us and police officers patrolling and enforcing the laws? Are we comfortable in the knowledge that God must be satisfied? I think about the gallows sermons, the sermons that were preached as men and women were about to be hanged in the gallows, and it is my understanding that it was a common practice that the ministers would ride in the wagon with the condemned as they went to the gallows, and then when they got there they would walk up and stand on the gallows and preach a sermon; and then the convicted would often stand and he or she would declare how he or she had fallen into sin and warn the people against what they were going to incur on themselves if they would do the same thing.

Can you imagine, in our time, having any ability to process justice that way? (And I know there were people in that time as well who were thinking vengeance, they were just glad somebody was being hung, maybe they were there for the party. But there were also those there who had a sense of satisfaction in the reality that justice was taking place.)

Do you have a satisfaction in justice? Or is that foreign, unacceptable as something that happens in your heart? God must be satisfied. Do you see His satisfaction on the cross, His justice on the cross?

Isaiah says,

All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

It’s a familiar passage to you. But listen to this next verse:

But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

Do you understand that this holy God, who is loving and just, when He metes out His punishments even on His Son on the cross, on Whom He had imputed our sin, He is pleased to crush Him, and it’s no contradiction: God must. He could no sooner not crush Him than He could not receive glory in the time of Gideon. And Jesus in the ninth hour cries out with a loud voice, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

It pleased God to crush Him.

Are you comfortable? Now of course you’re not. But are you comfortable in that God was satisfied, that His wrath was satisfied?

We want to say it’s contradictory, we want to say it’s paradoxical, but in reality we’re not comfortable because we’re so worldly that we cannot take comfort in judgment and punishment—we just want it to all go away. In the church we’ve redefined the gospel in such a way as to minimize the necessary action of God the Father in exacting the toll He took on His Son, whom He made sin on our behalf. We’ve not taken comfort in the satisfaction that God took in crushing Christ.

That sounds awful, doesn’t it? Because His crushing was the substitution for our crushing. And yet it pleased God—out of His love for us, out of His holiness, out of His justice, it pleased God.

And so when we receive the Lord’s Supper, we take the broken body and we take the poured out blood and we remember: it pleased God to crush Him. It had to happen.

We deny the sinless Christ

We deny the sinless Christ.

In 2002, nearly 50% of the people in America who declared themselves to be Christians stated that they believed or were inclined to believe that Jesus sinned while here on earth. The number was growing and was especially true among young people. Nearly 50% of the people who called themselves Christians believed that Jesus sinned. And that was eight years ago. And you know how fast the decline is in the culture around us.

Abhor yourself yet? Are you feeling the weight of the awfulness of our sin, that we would assign Jesus sin in order to make us feel better about ourselves?

John the Baptist the next day, when he saw Jesus coming to him, said,

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Hebrews 4:15,

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21,

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf

1 Peter 1:18-19,

you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with [the] precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ

Do we know our sin, do we know a holy God, do we know the justice of God, do we know the sinless Christ?

We deny the coming judgment and hell

Do we know the judgment that’s coming upon us?

The denial of judgment and hell are fast-growing doctrines today. Men who pose as Christian shepherds dilute and dismiss the doctrine of hell to the point that many people have no concept of its reality.

I remember reading Mark Twain’s book Huckleberry Finn. Huck’s best friend was Tom Sawyer; remember when Huck was was talking in the beginning of the book, he’s talking about his life, he’s living with the widow and the widow’s trying to give him religion; the widow’s aunt, Miss Watson, is there, and one day Huck says, “Well do you think Tom will be in heaven?” And Miss Watson, the negative evangelist, the one who turns people away from God, says, “Well not by a long shot.” And so Huck goes away and he says, “Well, that decided it for me, ’cause I didn’t want to go anywhere where Tom wasn’t going to be.” Right? But we have people today who think that way! They think, you know, hell, that’s a good place to go, because I’ll be with my friend and he went to hell, and so there might be some unpleasantries involved but generally I’ll be with friends—because they don’t think of it as a place of punishment, they think of it as a kind of carrying on of this life, I suppose.

But then we have the account of the rich man and Lazarus and we see the truth. The rich man habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day, and Lazarus sits at his gate covered with sores, nothing to eat, the dogs eat the crumbs, Lazarus gets nothing, the dogs lick his sores—it’s a gruesome, awful picture. The rich man does nothing to help, he gives Lazarus nothing. The rich man dies; Lazarus dies. Lazarus is carried to the bosom of Abraham, where he is succored and cared for and has joy and peace; and the rich man is in hell, in anguish and agony. (And Jesus doesn’t tell the story as if it’s a parable. He tells the story as if it’s an account of two people He knows about that actually happened.) In hell, the rich man can see Lazarus in Abraham’s lap, and he says, Father Abraham, please, would you send Lazarus to me so that he can take his finger and dip it in some water and just touch it on the tip of my tongue. If you would just let him touch it on the tip of my tongue. And Abraham says no, he can’t come there, and you can’t come here. The rich man says, would you please, then, send him or someone back. I have five brothers, I don’t want them coming here! I don’t want anybody I know to come here! Please send somebody back. And Abraham says even if somebody comes back from the dead they won’t believe.

Hell is not a joyful place, it’s not an easy place.

There’s a saying that we sometimes say that we only remember the second half of. It comes from a play, and the saying is,

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned,
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.

And we usually say “Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.” How many of you have ever heard that before?

You wanna bet?

The fury of hell. The anguish of hell. If Jesus says we can’t imagine the wonder and splendor and blessedness that God has prepared for us in heaven, what makes us think that we can somehow comprehend the awfulness of the flame that never dies? The flame that would make a man say, “Would you please let him put water on his finger and just touch it to my tongue?”

Revelation 6 verse 15,

Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us…hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

“You know, but Jesus is my friend! You know God the Father, yeah, He’s a little scary, but Jesus is my friend, I mean, you know. I never have any fears from that. He’s kind and gentle…”

…hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb

A day will come when judgment comes and the wrath of the Lamb will be let go. And the Scripture says that the devil, the deceiver is thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, and he with the beast and false prophet are there, and they are tormented day and night forever and ever. You know, we have this crazy idea of hell being a place where Satan is there tormenting sinners, and demons are there tormenting sinners. That’s not what I read! What I read is, God casts them into hell and they are tormented, but then it doesn’t stop.

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire…”for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

How we must approach the cross of Jesus Christ

So, fear and love embrace on the cross. We have at the cross the convergence of many things. The holy God, the sinless Son, the imputation of our sin, the satisfaction of God’s wrath against the sins of His people poured on Jesus Christ; atonement; a way open for reconciliation. And Jesus says,

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”

All of that’s happening on the cross. We talk about the cross all the time, but we don’t know what happened on the cross. We don’t understand, because our hearts are rebellious.

How do we approach the cross? Well, we have to approach the cross like David did. David said,

For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

Well, against You and You only I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, and so You are right, You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.

When we come to God we have to come like David, who knew his sin, who knew who God was, who knew about God’s justice, who knew about God’s holiness, who anticipated the holy Christ to come, who knew about judgment. And what does he say? He says, “You’re right. You’re right! You can judge me this way. I have no defense! This is the sin that I committed. I committed adultery. I murdered a man. You’re right! You have every right, Father, to destroy me. You have every right to cast me into hell. Could You have mercy on me?”

And this is how we approach the cross of Jesus Christ. Instead of the men who are afraid of seeing the face of God and terrified by the Lamb of God, you have the psalmist saying,

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”

What a difference. What a turnaround happens when we come before God humbly, confessing our sins, rather than coming in the presence of a holy God on a day of judgment. And it’s the work of the cross.

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness…”

…so Jesus was lifted up that He would draw all men to Himself.

I wish I had a silver bullet, but the reality is, we have to do the work of our souls before God. We have to call on God, we have to humble ourselves before God, we have to confess our sins to God, we have to admit that we’re so wicked we don’t even know how wicked we are. We’re so wicked that we don’t understand His holiness. We’re so wicked that we don’t understand His justice. We’re so wicked that we would assign sin to His holy Son. How awful is that to God! After what He has done for us with Jesus Christ, how awful that we would assign sin to Him. But if you want to understand the reality of fear and love embracing on the cross, then you have to understand the reality of God’s ability to cast us into hell while at the same time holding out forgiveness to us in Jesus Christ. And even then—I’ll close with a psalm, Psalm 130 verses 3 and 4,

If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

There’s no contradiction on the cross. Fear and love embrace.

Let’s pray.

Father, as we’ve heard Your Word tonight, we pray that You will use it and apply it to our hearts by Your Holy Spirit. Lord, we need You desperately. We live in a wicked time, and there have been wicked times in the past, but we didn’t live in those. We live here and now today in a wicked age, this present evil age, and Lord, we are assaulted on every side from within and without, and Father we need You desperately. Would You save us, O God? O Heavenly Father, would You save us? Would You have mercy on us. Would You cause us to lift our eyes and see the Son of Man lifted up on the cross so that we may turn and see Him and be healed, that we may fear You and love You, and that You may receive glory from us as Your creatures, as You ought to receive. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

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