The magnitude of god’s love can be understood only when measured by the extent of his holy wrath against sin. His grace must be seen against the certainty of judgment, his mercy in relation to that from which we have been saved.

We demean the nature and extent of God’s love unless we recognize sin for what it is—with its wages, now and for eternity. The Gospel is perverted if God is regarded as a sentimental being to whom men’s sins are merely offenses against one another, a matter requiring social reformation only and not redemption and a new creation.

Primarily sin is a matter not of man’s inhumanity to man but rather of man’s offenses against the holiness of God—human rebellion against divine sovereignty.

Until we are humbled before the love, mercy, and grace of God so that we cry out to him like the lepers of Israel, “Unclean, unclean,” we have never even sensed the wonder of salvation. Out of this vision of God’s holiness and our own sinfulness there come true worship, praise, and adoration, and from it there have come some of the world’s greatest hymns.

But the man who considers himself worthy of God’s love stands condemned by his own pride and folly. Furthermore, any conception of the Gospel solely in terms of service to others is not Christian but humanistic.

Why is this so important? Because of the very nature of God himself, of sin, of man, and of the salvation that is ours through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Bible tells us that “God is love.” It also tells us that “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29) and that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). This seems to be a contradiction. How can both descriptions be true? The answer is found in God’s love for the sinner and his ...

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