"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."
Colossians 1:18

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Perfect Patience

Our infinitely holy God, by sheer virtue of His infinite holiness, is possessing of an infinite hatred of sin.  He cannot help but be so.  Holiness cannot choose but to oppose sin, or it is not holiness at all.  God removed of holiness is an impossibility, a horrible bit of paradoxical double-talk, so we conclude that He hates sin as steadily and as comprehensively as a thing could ever be hated (cf. Prov. 6:16-19). 

The utter repugnance of sin which resides within the Divine leads us to conclude that the barest shadow of patience within God in the face of sin must also be of infinite weight.  As God has righteously and immutably chosen to be the omniscient, incorruptible Judge of all the world (Acts 17:31), He cannot merely turn His back on sin.  He thus has every reason to hate sin and every motive to punish it, as well.

What happens, then, when infinite and holy justice collide with infinite and holy grace?  A window of incredible value is opened up:  a window of divine patience.  It is only this window that affords us any sort of chance at all to be saved by His grace.  The sword remains in its sheath; the Rider has not mounted His war horse, and we are incredibly extended the offer of salvation.  "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Pet. 3:9) Dear, divine patience!

There are those who would reckon this patience as weakness in our avenging Lord, or as proof of His fictitious origins (2 Pet. 3:3-4), but we know and rejoice that "He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed." (Acts 17:31b) So God's patience with sinners, my friends, is of infinite quality, but not of eternal quality (an interesting combination in our Lord).  It will reach its end on the day that God chose long ages ago.

Mark this well, brothers and sisters.  There is immeasurable glory in God's patience, just as there is incredible glory in His grace.  This divine forbearance floods the humble soul with a very tangible proof of God's incredible love, does it not?  However, there is no glory whatsoever for God to display through an eternal patience.  An eternity in which hell stands empty and unused demonstrates not patience, but apathy.  We see no justice here; only accommodation for sinners at the expense of God's holiness and biblical assertions.  Similarly, an incredibly long patience as God waits until all sinners repent reveals not a sovereign, loving God, but a weak sort of god who is enslaved to his own creation, who cannot move until they have, and whose words of warning are fodder for the scorn of depravity.  See how Christ's teaching about the narrow way (Matt. 7:13-14) is thus turned on its head. 

No, there lies in store for the unrepentant a fixed day in which the vast ocean of God's just wrath will confound its present bounds and break loose upon the world of God's enemies, roller upon everlasting roller.  The unsaved will by eternally drowned in the fury of the great Judge, immovably secured to an existence in which darkness, anguish, and loneliness are their only and just lot.  This is true because God's holiness and righteousness require it, but note too how well it shows us the strength of His present forbearance.  Let our lifelong brush with the immense patience of God prompt us to honor Him by making the greatest use of it - by obtaining so great a salvation, by growing in that salvation, and by proclaiming that salvation to others!


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