Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Resisting Mercy Brings Greater Judgment

[paralleled in Matthew 11:20-24]

"Whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say: 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. The one who hears you hears Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me, and the one who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me."
- Luke 10:10-16

Puritan minister Peter Bulkeley, in a sermon in a church in Concord, MA, about 1650, said of this passage [idiosyncratic spelling and grammar in the original], "The Lord never shewed so great severitie against any people, as he will doe against those which despise the message of grace brought by the Gospel, even as that people [i.e., the Jews] is now become a spectacle of wrath above all people. When the Scripture threatens a woe, it notes the extremitie of that misery which is to come; but there is woe upon woe threatened against this sin, 'woe to thee Bethsaida, woe to thee Chorazin,' woe to those places where the Gospel comes, and is not regarded."

He continues, "This sin sets more of God against us than was before; before the Gospel came to us, we had justice against us armed with power, both which were provoked by us , but yet mercy was ready to save us, if we would come in and accept of the grace offered; mercy was not yet become our enemy, as not yet being provoked by us, but when it is brought to us by the Gospel, and is despised by us, now mercy and grace itselfe also is against us, and is made our enemy, now mercy joynes with justice, and increaseth wrath."

People often ask of the Pagans, whether in Asia, or Africa, or the jungles of South America, "What of those who never hear about Jesus?" They still bear the wrath of the Law against sin, which is why Christians send missionaries around the world. And for them, the message is that the mercy of Jesus is available to redeem them from that curse. But what about you, American? You have lived all your life in a land where sermons like the one above have been preached for almost four hundred years. You can see a church on any corner. In fact, you may have been in Sunday school as a child in one of those churches. There are Bibles in every bookstore, and Christian television programs twenty-four hours of the day. What will be the witness against you in the judgment? Not just the offended Law of God, but also His offended mercy, which was offered to you at every opportunity, but you turned your back every time! The mercy that would have saved you in a moment, will then be the top witness for the prosecution against you, and your judgment will be that much worse.

Psalm 95:7-8, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart."

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