The Glorious Gospel of God (Exodus 34:6-7) | Jared Betts

The Glory of God

There is but one thing I want us to do today, and that is to behold the awesomeness of our God. I particularly want us to see how awesome He is in respect to our salvation and eternal security in Him. May we see Him for who He is, and what He has done for all who have forsaken themselves and exercised true faith in His Son who suffered and died for their sin.

Romans 4:7-8 says:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

The truth before us is astounding, and it provides the answer to the frequently asked question, will a genuine believer who has turned from their sin and trusted in the Person and work of Jesus Christ ever give an account of their sins to God? Does God truly forgive people for all their sin, even the most heinous and vilest of people according even to man’s standard? Will the believing murder, or rapist, or even child molester stand before God absolved of their sin? Paul tell us that God will forgive anyone who is sorrowful over sin and confident in Christ, and that He will not take their sin into account. Those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven and covered by the blood of Christ are blessed, and they are blessed because God will not consider their sin. He will not reckon their sin to their account.

God says in Isaiah 43:25:

“I, I alone, am the one who wipes out your wrongdoings for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

After Moses asked to see His glory, God revealed a portion of it to Moses in these words:

“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”[1]

Listen to the Psalmist as he beautifully declares a similar statement by the inspiration of God:

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever.10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.”

God says in Hebrews 8:12:

“For I will be merciful toward their wrongdoings, And their sins I will no longer remember.”

The message of Christianity truly is a scandalous one. Scandalous meaning something that causes outrage because of a perceived offence against law or morality. What is the good news of the gospel? It is that God justifies the ungodly. It is that God willingly and graciously forgives wicked people not based on their works, but on the basis of their faith in the work of His Son according to His Word. Paul, therefore, says:

“But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness…Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”[2]

The Beauty of the Gospel

Yes, we serve a God who justifies ungodly people. Justification being the act whereby God judicially declares a believing sinner to be righteous and acceptable before Him.[3] There would be no good news for us if God did not justify and forgive ungodly people. Paul says to the Corinthians:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”[4]

He says to the Colossians:

“When you were dead in your wrongdoings and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our wrongdoings, 14 having canceled the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”[5]

He says to Titus:

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”[6]

The Christians message to a wicked and dying world is that they too can experience both total forgiveness for their sins, and an abundant life forever at peace with God. Our message to the world is “that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.[7] This is the beauty of the gospel.

A believing sinners’ confidence is in the fact that Christ lived for them the perfect life that they were incapable of living, and that as the sinless Son of God He went to the cross to become their sin and bear the wrath of God they deserved for the totality of their sin against Him. He, as the innocent One, took the place of us, the guilty ones. Isaiah says:

“He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him…10 But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering…11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities… 12 He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”[8]

Peter says that Christ “bore our sins in His body on the cross.”[9] God demonstrated His own love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, He sent His only Son to be the propitiation for our sins.[10] Jesus placated the judgment of God toward man by becoming One, and experiencing sins penalty in their stead, and shedding His infinite and eternal blood to atone for their sin, for without the shedding of blood their can be no forgiveness of sin.[11] He purchased eternal forgiveness for His people with His “precious blood.”[12] His resurrection on the third day demonstrates that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 4:25 says:

He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”

This is the confidence of the Christian.

What then is our hope which will one day come to pass because the God whom we serve is the Living God who is faithful and true? It is this, that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”[13] It is that “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins.”[14] It is that “Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”[15] This is the hope of the Christian. If complete forgiveness for sin were not a reality, there would be no hope.

The Scandal of the Gospel

The message of the cross is the power of God toward those who are being saved, but it is foolishness to those who are perishing.[16] The gospel is scandalous to them, and it offends their senses leading some to audaciously charge God as being unrighteous because He will willingly and freely forgive the most wicked of people who humble themselves at the foot of His cross. They tell God whom He can and cannot forgive. They seek to put a limit to His pardon, but the God we serve justifies the ungodly. He will justify the murder, and rapist, and child molester, and any person who repents of their sin and believes in the gospel; who turn from their evil and trust in His Son; who are genuinely sorrowful over sin and confident in Christ. He will forgive their sin, and atone for it, and not take it into account. He will remember it no more and remove it from them as far as the east is from the west.

            Some will say, “That is not fair.” That is correct, that is grace! If you want God to be fair then prepare to perish forever under His fury, for that is the wage of all our sin.[17] Not all sin is equal in practice, but all sin is worthy of eternal damnation under the just wrath of God. Even the most minor of sins deserves it, though it will be experienced at a lesser degree as God renders judgment to all unbelieving men and women “according to their deeds.”[18] God measures us all to Himself by His Law which is an expression of His holy glory. Based on that standard we all fall far short.[19] We all are eclipsed by Him, and left wanting and condemned. We all are left guilty and deserving of eternal death in need of complete forgiveness and life.

Most people generally have no problem reading the truth that God will destroy the wicked, but they do not consider the fact that “wicked” is how God describes them. Murderers and rapists and child molesters are abominable people, and according to God so are liars and lustful thinkers, internal murders and idolaters, so are the gluttonous and the greedy, and the lovers of pleasure and self rather than God. According to God’s holy standard, we are the guilty. When we realize this, we are all left in a dire situation. We need a way to God. We need the truth. We need a life that is not our own. We need a hope which acts as a sure and steady anchor for our souls.[20]

All of us have been shut up in disobedience, and this is so that God might show mercy to all. What is mercy? It is when the penalty we deserve for our sin is withheld from us. When God forgives our sin, and atones for it, and does not take it into account. When He will remember it no more and remove it as far as the east is from the west.

How can God do this and still be considered good, righteous, and just? Afterall, He tells us that people who justify the wicked are an abomination to Him.[21] The book of Job rhetorically asks, “Does God pervert justice or does the almighty pervert what is right?”[22] The answer is obviously, “No, He does not!” Abraham asked, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”[23] The answer is a resounding, “Yes, He shall, and He will!”

The Scripture establishes this wonderful and beautiful paradox which magnifies the love of God, satisfies His justice, and brings glory to Him alone. It creates a question which only the gospel of Christ can answer, how can God forgive sin without corrupting justice, and punish it without crushing the guilty? How can He justify the wicked without being an abomination? The glorious message of the gospel of Jesus Christ declares that He made Him, who knew no sin, to became sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, so that He is therefore just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.[24]

Consider what John says in his first epistle:

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”[25]

Since Christ was our propitiation John goes on to say, “Perfect love casts out fear.” We need to ask the following questions: What is this perfect love, and what is the fear it casts out? It is the perfect love of God demonstrated in Christ, who humbled Himself by becoming a Man obedient to death on the cross for us helpless and ungodly sinners who were His enemies.[26] Those who taste of this perfect love of God in Christ will strive to practice it towards others with all genuineness and sincerity of heart.  The outer demonstration of such love will evidence that such a person has had an encounter with God, who is love.[27] Love will have been perfected. It will not merely have been received but extended,[28] which assures the believer that God truly knows them and is at work in them both to will and to work for His good pleasure.[29] Such assurance, as John goes on to point out, gives us “confidence in the day of judgment, because as He is, so also are we in this world.” What is the fear that is cast out by the perfect love of God? It is fear of God’s judgment toward sin. John says:

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

In other words, the one who fears judgment either does not understand the demonstrated love of God in Christ as the propitiation for their sin, or they do not see the practical evidence of God’s love in them towards others. This lack of love strips them of their assurance that they truly know God, but more importantly it gives reason to believe that God does not know them, because His love is not being perfected in them; and if God does not know them, they are condemned already and have every reason to fear His judgment. Perfect love casts out that fear and gives the believer confidence in the day of judgment, because they not only understand what God did to save them from that judgment, but they see the evidence of the Holy Spirit in them; a progressive sanctification that draws them to live and to love as Christ did.

 The Judgment Seat of Christ

It is true that there will be a day when believers stand before the judgment seat of Christ,[30] but this is not a judgment of sin. To suggest that it may involve some degree of judgment for sin is a direct assault on the efficacy of Christ’s atoning work for sin on the cross, thus diminishing the extent of God’s forgiveness. Hope is dashed to pieces, Christ is made a liar, and the gospel has lost all its power. Before He breathed His last on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished,”[31] which should be understood as a financial term meaning to be paid in full. What was paid in full? The sin debt of His people. Christ effectively bore the sin of all who have believed, and are believing, and will believe upon His body; and He suffered their punishment once for all so that He may one day appear with their salvation without reference to their sin.

Again, the judgment seat of Christ is not a judgment of sin, but an evaluation of the believer’s life lived in Christ.[32] It is an examination of whose glory the Christian lived for, Christ or their own? Every moment we live we are building with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw. The focus of our lives will become evident at the judgment seat when the lives we lived are tested by fire. Everything in our lives that glorifies Christ will be as if we built with gold, silver, and precious stones. These works shall remain after not being consumed by the flame and the believer will receive a reward. Anything that glorifies self will be as if we built with wood, hay, or straw. These works will be utterly destroyed by fire and result in the loss of eternal reward, though we will be still be saved. The consequence of building with such combustible material is not a receiving of anything from God, but actually a lost opportunity to receive an eternal reward from Him.

It is also important to note that the seat, which is known as the Bema seat, was a raised platform where athletes, who competed and won, went to receive their prize. The athletes that did not run with endurance the race that was set before them, or compete according to the rules, suffered both a loss of reward and open shame for not competing as well as others. It should therefore be said that any professing believer that is content with a loss of reward and is only concerned about getting into God’s kingdom through the skin of their teeth, will stand in open shame for not fighting the good fight, but wasting the precious life God graciously bestowed upon them. It should also be said that any professing Christian who is more concerned about merely getting into the kingdom, rather than glorifying the King of the kingdom who purchased believers’ admittance by the giving of His life as a ransom for many, needs to seriously examine themselves. Such thinking is not a characterization of those regenerated by Christ, but those unregenerated by Him. It is true that all of us will suffer some degree of loss, but knowing that should drive us to hold every thought captive in Christ and walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called in Him, not revel in complacency which settles on salvation while finding contentment in selfish ambition. Paul said to the Corinthian believers:

“For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”[33]

 In the end, God will still be glorified even through believers who frequently sought their own glory rather than His, because He will justify them not based on their love and works for Him, but His love and work for them. He will save them by His grace through their faith in His Son according to the Scripture for His own glory alone. Truly, there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Him.[34]

Ambassadors of Christ’s Gospel

The Apostle Paul, a blasphemer and murder of God’s people says this:

15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost sinner Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.”

Do not stumble over the scandal of His grace. Embrace it, and as His ambassadors proclaim the truth that the Christ suffered and died for sin according to the Scripture, and that He was raised the third day never to die again. Make known the message that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting their trespasses against them. That He will return with the salvation of His people without reference to their sin. Declare that the forgiveness of sin and the hope of eternal life can be experienced by all who repent of their sin and believe in the gospel; who turn from their evil and trust in His Son; who are genuinely sorrowful over sin and confident in Christ. He will forgive their sin, and atone for it, and not take it into account. He will remember it no more and remove it from them as far as the east is from the west. All who call upon Him will be saved and will not be disappointed.[35] As Paul said:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

Truly we can say as God said of Himself:

“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”[36]

[1] Exodus 34:6-7

[2] Romans 4:5,7-8

[3] Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Merrill Unger; Page 62

[4] 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

[5] Colossians 2:13-14

[6] Titus 3:3-7

[7] 2 Corinthians 5:19

[8] Isaiah 53:5-6,10-12

[9] 1 Peter 2:24

[10] Romans 5:8

[11] Hebrews 9:14,22

[12] 1 Peter 1:18-19

[13] 1 John 1:9

[14] 1 John 2:1-2

[15] Hebrews 9:28

[16] 1 Corinthians 1:18

[17] Romans 6:23

[18] Revelation 20:12

[19] Romans 3:23

[20] Hebrews 6:19-20

[21] Proverbs 17:15

[22] Job 8:3

[23] Genesis 18:25

[24] 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:25-26

[25] 1 John 4:10

[26] Romans 5:8-10; Philippians 2:5-8

[27] 1 John 4:8

[28] 1 John 4:11, 20-21

[29] Philippians 2:12-13

[30] 2 Corinthians 5:10

[31] John 19:30

[32] 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

[33] 1 Corinthians 6:20

[34] Romans 8:1

[35] Romans 10:9-13

[36] Exodus 34:6-7

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