Nov 24, 2023
A Sermon Reflection
This past Sunday, as Pastor Dashawn Cousins exposited Romans 9:14-18, a passage considered difficult to understand by many, he reminded us that, as we face the unknown mysteries of God, we must trust in the truths about Him that are clearly revealed in the Scriptures and we must remember that He alone is God.
In Pastor Dashawn’s memorable words, “In the midst of the unknown, we must trust what God has shown because He is God alone.”
As we studied our passage, we saw that God is good, He is just and He is able to do as He pleases. And when we don’t understand His ways, we must trust in His character. I highly recommend that you listen to his sermon found HERE.
Pastor Dashawn reminded us that, while we may not understand how God’s Sovereignty and man’s free will work together in salvation, it is at the cross where we see the goodness, the sovereignty, the faithfulness, the love, the holiness, the glory, the steadfastness, the mercy, the justice and the grace of our God.
It is also at the cross where we see, in the most glorious way, the wisdom of God on display. And we see that God provides what sinners need to be righteous in His sight, in a way that does not compromise His own character and judgment.
Let’s take a closer look at the wisdom found in the Gospel.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see God’s chosen people, the Jewish nation, continually rebel against the Lord in spite of the great favor and wisdom He has shown to them. They received warnings, opportunities for rescue and the countless blessings of the Lord.
And yet, from the patriarchs, to the kings, to the judges - the pattern of sin and rebellion continued. We see, in our own lives, how we have failed as well. But we also see, through the entirety of Scripture, a God who expresses a longing to redeem and restore people to Himself.
As we read the Old Testament, we are left wondering, how will a good and holy God resolve the tension in this dilemma? None are faithful and the situation seems hopeless.
While it leaves no confusion in the mind of God, it may leave some of us, after reading the Old Testament, feeling a tension that could be summed up by the wisdom of Proverbs 17:15
“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.”
We are left asking, how can a Holy God ever restore sinful, broken people to Himself?
And, this is where we see, in a glorious way, the wisdom of the cross.
We see, in this proverb, two things that God considers an abomination:
Justifying the wicked. Basically, letting the criminal off the hook without even a slap on the wrist. This is declaring the one who committed the crime to be not guilty.
Condemning the righteous. This is just the opposite. Allowing the innocent to be blamed and punished.
The Lord hates these things. And when we see these actions in the news or in the lives of those around us, we too are rightly angered. We know that this is wrong.
So, how can anyone be saved from their sin and from themselves?
We see that God, in His wisdom, did what no man could have ever imagined.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
At the cross, God employed the greatest exchange in all of history and He maintained His own righteousness as He made a way for sinners to be restored to Himself.
He laid the sins of the world on Christ, who willingly bore the weight of all sin, from all time, for us. In this, God was righteous to give Jesus the punishment we deserved. At the same time, God gifted the perfect righteousness of Christ to us. This was a free gift of grace given with the full consent of the Son. And, in this, we were justified.
So, God maintained his character in this exchange of guilt and righteousness. By a process we call double imputation, guilt for sin was placed on Christ and Christ’s righteousness was placed on all who would receive Him as Lord.
This is the beauty, the glory and the wisdom of the Gospel. God saves in a way that maintains His character.
This may leave us asking why?
Why would God go to these great measures to save wretched sinners like you and me?
For one, He loves those whom He has called. This truth is made abundantly clear throughout the Scriptures.
But beyond that, we know that God saves for the sake of His name. God acts for His own glory. This truth, while often neglected, is repeated throughout Scripture.
Here’s just two passages - one from the Old Testament and one from the New.
“And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord God.”” Ezekiel 20:44
“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.” 1 John 2:12
As I ponder the wisdom of the cross and as I reflect upon the Sovereign goodness of my Lord who has saved me, I find myself drawn to worship Him - for all that He has revealed AND for all that remains a mystery. I am at peace, allowing the secret things to belong to the Lord and allowing my focus to be on the things He has revealed. It is in this reflection that I praise Him for simply being God and I ask Him to strengthen me, in faith, in love and in obedience, in all that He has revealed that He may receive glory!
“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” Romans 16:25-27