My church has weekly pot-luck dinners before midweek Bible study. I sat between two mature men – both lifetime Bible scholars – and listened to them discuss the relative effects of God’s grace, against his righteous judgement of sin. One man was so thoroughly convinced of the infinite power of the cross that he said he believed original sin is no longer an active force in the world.
The other man patiently listened, then asked a few pointed questions about what scripture has to say about our fallen nature. Aren’t we born as sinners in need of a Savior?
“I think both of you are 100% correct,” I said.
Let’s go back to the way the Lord explained His name to Moses:
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” -Ex. 33, NIV
The Lord tells Moses about his goodness and mercy, but still Moses would not be able to see His face, for He is holy.
5 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” -Ex. 34, NIV
So there we have it, in one sentence, out of the mouth of the Lord. His grace is absolute, and so is His inability to overlook sins, even those passed down to us by our grandparents. The only way to reconcile these opposing statements about God is through Jesus.
The Bible contains countless paradoxes. What if Jesus is the key to understanding all of them? Here’s a short list compiled by Adrian Rolfe, Architect, Astronomer, and Theological Historian, from https://www.quora.com/Which-are-some-of-the-famous-paradoxes-in-the-Bible
1. EXALTATION THROUGH HUMILITY (Jas. 4:10)
God has never been pleased with the proud, boastful and over confident. We know that, Lucifer in his madness became Satan. He wanted to be exalted like God but he fell! The Most High God sees to it that all who will desire to be exalted out of His will & timing will ultimately fall. What a contrast Satan & his children are from Christ who humbled himself but was exalted! (Phil. 2:8-9).
2. STRENGTH THROUGH WEAKNESS (II Cor. 12:10)
In this passage we see that, of the apostles, Paul received an abundance of revelation, more than all the others combined. Paul wrote 14 NT books including Hebrews or about 1/3 of the entire NT! With all his God-given privileges & advantages; there was always the possibility of being proud and over confident. So God allowed a “thorn in his flesh” which kept him lowly and ever dependent in God. Thrice he prayed for removal of the thorn but God said that His grace is ever sufficient. In this Paul rejoiced! Would you like the world to see the power of Christ rest in you? Then serve God faithfully in spite of sickness, trials, troubles. Rejoice in God! We all have weaknesses which God can use to make us aware of our limitations, and keep us humble and useful!
3. RECEIVING THROUGH GIVING (Acts 20:35)
The ultimate test of love for God & man is in giving something that we hold so dear. Giving is quite foolish to selfish people. The world’s philosophy is – It’s much better to work & work, save, earn all you can, get rich, keep & withhold! Some of the most miserable people on earth are those who take & take. Some of the happiest people are givers for they manifest God in their unselfish attitude. God Himself is the greatest giver (John 3:16). God will bless you beyond what you need so you may have the chance of becoming His channel of blessing! You may cheerfully & willingly give your time, talent, treasure for God’s glory and in return receive love, joy, peace, satisfaction, respect from men!
4. FREEDOM THROUGH SERVITUDE (Rom. 6:18)
Men think they are free since they are outside prison cells. The truth is there’s another form of imprisonment & bondage which is spiritual & moral in nature. Many are enslaved by fear, doubt, hatred, vices, and sin that add to life’s hardship. Friend, if today you are enslaved by sin & doubt, you can be free in Christ! Only in personally knowing 5.
5. GAINING THROUGH LOSING (Phil. 3:7-8)
Materialism and love of money have always been the greatest hindrances to a personal living relationship with the Lord. People who are materialistic never have any thoughts of sacrificing & offering anything for Him who died & gave Himself for them. After receiving Christ as Lord & Saviour, we need to accept the fact that we are to live a life of service and sacrifice for Him. Only then can we be truly satisfied. You can gain the whole world but lose your own soul (Mark 8:36; 10:29-30) or like Paul you can lose earthly opportunities but gain Christ & lay up treasure in heaven!
6. LIVING THROUGH DYING (John 12:24)
Jesus was foretelling his death. The corn of wheat that falls to the ground and dies also grows and becomes productive. This is an agricultural and a spiritual principle as well. Death to the old self is the first step to Christian growth and this principle is found in all the NT (Rom. 8:13). Death to the sinful nature means to be willfully against the works of the flesh, the mentality, philosophies and damnable superstitions of the world. God says that the flesh must be crucified with its sinful lusts (Gal. 5:24). The more you die to SELF the more CHRIST is seen in you! John the Baptist said that Christ must increase and we must decrease! (John 3:30).
7. FINDING THROUGH LOSING (Matt 10:39)
People try to find the meaning of life in earthly pursuits, in trying to succeed & prosper, & in trying to enjoy their material possessions – only to find out too late that nothing on earth really satisfies the soul. Friend, without Jesus… life is meaningless for Jesus is the very essence of life. He is everything that your poor lost soul has ever longed for. Jesus will still be Lord and King even without you, but friend you are NOTHING without Jesus!