Revelation 21-22; Isaiah 9-10; Psalm 111
There is a caricature of God based on the true statement that God is love. People take this statement out of context by proclaiming that since God is loved, He will accept everyone no matter what they do. Of course this has brought us a society where anything goes…except believing that God has standards for proper living and behavior. The only unforgivable sin in today’s world is believing that sin exists and that God is not pleased with sin.
In truth, God’s wrath against sin is an important part of His love. His wrath against sin is what brings us to the point where we realize that we need a Savior, a Savior He provided in Jesus Christ. If there was no sin, we would not need to be saved from our sin. And let’s face the truth – there is no one on this earth who does not need forgiveness for their sins. Without God’s wrath, there is no need for God’s mercy.
Today’s readings highlight the wrath of God and the mercy of God. There is a statement in Revelation that truly highlights the two: “Nothing impure will ever enter it [the Holy City, the New Jerusalem], nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)
At the final judgment there are two kinds of people: those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life and those whose names aren’t there. Those whose names are there are those who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ. It is not that they are necessarily better than others, but that they have lives changed by the influence of Christ in their lives. Their sins are covered by God’s mercy because they have thrown themselves on the mercy of God. Those who choose not to commit their lives to Jesus are not in the Lamb’s book of life. Their lives don’t change by the influence of Christ by their own decision, and they receive not God’s mercy, but the just punishment for their sins. Heaven is exclusive to those in the Lamb’s book of life, but the invitation is inclusive to all people – accept Jesus Christ as Lord of your life and you too will be in the Lamb’s book of life.
Lord, there are some reading this who will agree with me. I ask Your blessings on them as they continue to struggle in this life. Help them to grow in Your grace and mercy. There are others who will disagree with me. If I am wrong, show me. If they are wrong, woo them into Your kingdom by helping them see their sin and the forgiveness and grace You offer them.