Judgement and Forgiveness
Introduction: As we explore the beliefs of Drakes UMC, it is helpful to contrast Drakes with other church cultures in the United States. One of those waves that may broadside us and catch us off guard is how to deal with God's judgement, consequences and forgiveness. This topic explores this.
Many churches are de-emphasizing God's judgement. They portray God as being pure love, and thus over looks our sin. This is a bit off the mark.
We believe at Drakes that God is love, pure love, greater than we can ever imagine. A love so great that it motivated God to send His Son to suffer for us on the cross so that we might be forgiven of our sins. At Drakes we believe that this great love is not above God's holiness and righteousness, but they coexist. For instance, God judged Adam and Eve and kicked them out of the garden. I am sure they regretted their sin and repented of it, even though they did play the blame game initially. But God believes that sin has consequences, for it damages our relationship with each other and God. God perhaps forgave Adam and Eve for their sin, but He did not remove the consequence of their sin. This is God showing them true love—a love that encourages us to greater things, by letting the threat of consequences drive us towards right living. God knows that right living is best for us as individuals and communities. This is true love.
Does God show mercy? Yes. He showed mercy when He sent Jesus to the cross to pay our debts. We can not bring an acceptable sacrifice to pay for our sin, but God provided one able to pay the debt in full. God often shows mercy; just read the story of King David, a murder and adulterer, and also know as a man with a heart that pleases God. The penalty for these crimes in David's time was death, yet God spared him. God knows that if mercy becomes the default then He has removed consequences and encourages us to sin.
The good news is that God does forgive us to point of forgetting our sins when we come with a broken heart for what we have done and earnestly have a desire to change. It is not the act of committing the sin that troubles God as much as the state of our heart. He has called us to holiness and right living with God and our neighbor. This is a matter of the heart and the solution is that we earnestly desire our hearts to be more pleasing to God. We are called to be a new creation, born again out of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Another topic is whether we are to judge others. If we believe God judges us, then that means there is possibly eternal consequences. God also calls us to go after the lost sheep, so we have to recognize lost sheep from saved. Jesus talked a lot about recognizing good and bad fruit, and the difference between goats and sheep. We are called to judge the actions of individuals, but God does not want us to do is judge the final state of a person's soul. Jesus sits on the throne and makes this call. We are not worthy to even imitate this side of Jesus. We are called to turn the other cheek and to forgive our brother seven times seventy. We are called to restore the relationship with our brother so that we can assist each other in our journey towards God.