by Bruce Mills
I’m on vacation this week and have had more time to catch up on my reading. I’ve been reading through the wonderful book, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology. As I have been reading about this great man and his doctrine, a few thoughts have arisen which I have decided to express in a brief post.
Pastor Tom Ascol has contributed a chapter to the book titled “Redemption Defined.” In it, he makes the following statement: “A superficial knowledge of God and a superficial knowledge of human nature prevent a person from regarding the cross as the saving wisdom of God.”
What Pastor Ascol is saying is that until an individual perceives how infinitely holy and righteous God is and that His wrath toward sin is infinite and eternal, and until that individual perceives that he himself is sinner who is hopelessly lost in his sin which has infected every area of his being—his body, spirit, mind, emotions, desires, motives, and will—rendering him justly deserving of eternal condemnation, that person will never appreciate the death of Christ as the greatest display of God’s grace, mercy, love, and wisdom that has ever taken place. And, thus, he will not turn and seek the saving refuge that is found only in Christ.
Unfortunately, we live in a day and time when men have rejected the idea of a God who is infinitely wrathful toward sin; instead, favoring a God who chooses to overlook the sins of men because His love for them is greater than His wrath and justice. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is loving (1 John 4:8, 16), but He is also wrathful (Nahum 1:2, Rom. 1:18) and just (Job 34:12, Luke 18:7). He does not change (Mal. 3:6, Heb. 13:8). This means that God cannot and does not overlook any sin (Ex. 34:7, Num. 14:18).
So man is left in a situation in which he is incapable of fixing his problem. He is hopelessly corrupted by and enslaved to sin and is faced with a God who will not overlook that sin, but has promised eternal condemnation for everyone with unforgiven sin. This is why the cross of Christ is the ultimate demonstration of God’s grace and mercy. It is the only place at which God’s wrath against sin is satisfied and His infinite love, grace, and mercy is poured out on undeserving sinners. Only God could conceive and carry out such a plan of salvation, so it truly demonstrates His wisdom.
Therefore, those who are believers have a fuller understanding of the nature of God and the nature of man, and so they see God for who He is, themselves for who they are, and find the cross to be the source of their highest praise and thanksgiving. But unbelievers are those who, as Pastor Ascol says, have only a superficial knowledge of God and a superficial knowledge of human nature, and so they miss the magnificent glory of God’s saving wisdom which was embodied in the cross of Christ. Ask yourself: In which category do I find myself? Your eternal destiny will depend upon your answer.