The Special of the Day... From the Orange Moon Cafe...
"Forgiveness and Fear"
"There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared" (Psalm 130:4).
As suggested in Part 1 of this consideration, the correlation of forgiveness and fear seems counterintuitive. God's pardon of sin fills the recipient with gratitude, appreciation, wonder, and love.
"There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged" (Luke 7:41-43).
To be forgiven by God elicits a joyous adoration and devotion that will never leave our thankful hearts. Indeed, we will be even more appreciative in Heaven than we are now as we realize the goodness of our Lord with glorified hearts and minds. "I will praise Thee forever" exulted David regarding the mercy he had received (Psalm 52:8-9). How then does a place exist in our thoughts and beliefs wherein fear accompanies forgiveness?
The answer lies in the means whereby God made possible the pardoning of our sins.
"We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).
To forgive our sins, the Lord Jesus Christ had to shed His blood. He had to die at the hands of humanity. Even more, He had to suffer in the wrath of Divinity. God does not, and cannot according to His nature, forgive sins by fiat. He forgives sins by fire, that is, by the mercy made possible through the Lord Jesus having experienced His Father's flaming fury against sin. God smote His Son with untold judgment and forsakenness on the cross of Calvary, revealing how seriously He views the matter of sin. In such holy light, a place for fear as it relates to forgiveness clearly becomes evident.
"God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints" (Psalm 89:7).
The believer who understands the basis of forgiveness will also perceive the solemn reality it reveals. Again, to make mercy available to all who will receive it, God sent His eternally beloved Son into the fires of judgment. This is how serious sin is to Him, and how serious it must be to us. Indeed, even as we rightly rejoice in pardon, we also rightly realize the pristinely perfect righteousness of the One who freely grants forgiveness through Christ. Certainly, a place for trembling as well as rejoicing finds its place in the hearts of the saints, that is, of all freely forgiven through the sacrifice of God's beloved Son, and our beloved Savior.
Many years ago, I shared this truth with a young man who responded, "Oh I've been saved. I don't have to fear God because my sins have been forgiven and I am His child." While rejoicing with Him in the mercy he affirmed, I also shared with him the New Testament command to "fear God," adding that the Greek root word used by the Apostle Peter literally means to be terrified by Him (I Peter 2:17). "The reason for our fear as believers," I added, "is actually the love of God. He is so perfect in His character, nature, and way that He must hate the unrighteousness that so threatens those whom He loves. This hatred of sin means He will act toward us in very hard ways if we take the matter too lightly. We all do that at times, and fearing His love helps us to avoid disregard of the dark horror of sin." I concluded, "Calvary is where we see this horror most vividly and disturbingly revealed. God hates sin so much, and so desires to forgive and rescue sinners, He judged His Son to make mercy possible. So David was right. God is to be greatly feared not only by those who reject Him, but also "in the assembly of the saints."
The darkness of the cross shines its brilliant illumination on the beautiful heart of the God who "delighteth in mercy" (Micah 7:18). He loves to forgive, and the father of the prodigal who ran to bestow mercy on his repentant son glimmers with the truth that God hurries to pardon those who come to Him through Christ (Luke 15:20). We rejoice in such holy light. But we also fear. Indeed, just as the Apostle John fell in fright when first seeing the glorified Christ in Heaven, a proper place for fear exists in the hearts of all who gladly rejoice in God's mercy, but who remember how it found its way to us (Revelation 1:17). Yes, the sorrows of Calvary and the forgiveness that flows from its holy fount tell us that God is to be loved, praised, thanked, adored, worshipped… and feared.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom… knowledge."
(Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7)
"Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."
Weekly Memory Verse
In Him we live and move and have our being.