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  • Judgment and Mercy equally under both covenants

    I raised this issue on another and would like to hear some feedback here, asking the same question.

    What evidence do we have that God is equally judgmental and equally merciful under both covenants, Law and Grace? 1st, we must ask, Why even do many Christians believe that the God of the OT is harsh, whereas the God of the NT is kind?

    John 1.17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

    Throughout Paul's letters we see the regular theme that the Law was a bondage, whereas Grace is liberty. Does this mean that the Law was exclusively for judgment and that Grace was exclusively for forgiveness?

    No, these systems land on opposite sides of Christ's act of redemption. Therefore, those under the Law had to temporarily maintain a posture of redemption that looked forward to Christ, whereas those coming after Christ no longer had to expect any further redemption required to be done.

    Whatever system man found himself under, the holy standards of God were the same. The same sins had to be redeemed. The same sins had to be judged. The same sins had to be forgiven.

    Under the Law, therefore, there were requirements that would one day become redundant and unnecessary, because redemption would complete the process begun earlier under that system. Redemption through animals would be completed through the redemption of Christ. But there would be no less need to repent of sin, with or without the rituals of redemption.

    There are lots of examples of judgment in the OT. From human death in the time of Adam, to the Flood of Noah, to the invasions of Israel, there were many examples of divine judgment, particularly as explained in the Prophets.

    But has it been any different in the NT? Many have completely corrupted Jesus' Olivet Discourse, given to his Disciples, calling for imminent judgment against Jerusalem and the temple. Many Christians fail to see how the churches in Revelation have judgment, or chastisement, leveled against those who do not take their Christianity seriously enough. And Paul clearly called for judgment and discipline within his churches.

    I think the major reason Christians fail to see God judging throughout NT history is because they lack Scriptures and Prophets that deal with NT events, such as they occurred in the OT. Israel had passed away. And the NT Scriptures were written before there were any Christian nations to judge and discipline.

    If we are to apply the OT Prophets to our own day, we need to recognize that the same judgments applied then to Israel under the Law can now apply to Christian nations under Grace.

    On the other hand, it bears noting that grace was also available under the OT system of Law. The Law itself provided for limited forgiveness--they just couldn't receive, through animal sacrifices, eternal life. It was preliminary and with trust in the future redemption God Himself would provide through Christ.

    We can trust that as God showed mercy to Israel in OT times, so He will show grace and forgiveness for us today too. But we must also remember that if there were holy standards under the Law of Moses, so also there is a "Law of Christ" today, as well. Eternal Life is predicated upon our willingness to conform to the perfect and sinless Christ.

    Any lessening of who Christ is, in all of his holiness, today, under the NT system, depreciates the value of his sacrifice, in my opinion. If we are to repent under the Christian system, what are we to repent of, if not from the same kind of sin that happened under the OT Law? And if so, the dangers of divine wrath are just as imminent today, as they ever were in OT times.

    Matthew 24.42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

  • #2
    Originally posted by randyk View Post
    I raised this issue on another and would like to hear some feedback here, asking the same question.

    What evidence do we have that God is equally judgmental and equally merciful under both covenants, Law and Grace? 1st, we must ask, Why even do many Christians believe that the God of the OT is harsh, whereas the God of the NT is kind?

    John 1.17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

    Throughout Paul's letters we see the regular theme that the Law was a bondage, whereas Grace is liberty. Does this mean that the Law was exclusively for judgment and that Grace was exclusively for forgiveness?

    No, these systems land on opposite sides of Christ's act of redemption. Therefore, those under the Law had to temporarily maintain a posture of redemption that looked forward to Christ, whereas those coming after Christ no longer had to expect any further redemption required to be done.

    Whatever system man found himself under, the holy standards of God were the same. The same sins had to be redeemed. The same sins had to be judged. The same sins had to be forgiven.

    Under the Law, therefore, there were requirements that would one day become redundant and unnecessary, because redemption would complete the process begun earlier under that system. Redemption through animals would be completed through the redemption of Christ. But there would be no less need to repent of sin, with or without the rituals of redemption.

    There are lots of examples of judgment in the OT. From human death in the time of Adam, to the Flood of Noah, to the invasions of Israel, there were many examples of divine judgment, particularly as explained in the Prophets.

    But has it been any different in the NT? Many have completely corrupted Jesus' Olivet Discourse, given to his Disciples, calling for imminent judgment against Jerusalem and the temple. Many Christians fail to see how the churches in Revelation have judgment, or chastisement, leveled against those who do not take their Christianity seriously enough. And Paul clearly called for judgment and discipline within his churches.

    I think the major reason Christians fail to see God judging throughout NT history is because they lack Scriptures and Prophets that deal with NT events, such as they occurred in the OT. Israel had passed away. And the NT Scriptures were written before there were any Christian nations to judge and discipline.

    If we are to apply the OT Prophets to our own day, we need to recognize that the same judgments applied then to Israel under the Law can now apply to Christian nations under Grace.

    On the other hand, it bears noting that grace was also available under the OT system of Law. The Law itself provided for limited forgiveness--they just couldn't receive, through animal sacrifices, eternal life. It was preliminary and with trust in the future redemption God Himself would provide through Christ.

    We can trust that as God showed mercy to Israel in OT times, so He will show grace and forgiveness for us today too. But we must also remember that if there were holy standards under the Law of Moses, so also there is a "Law of Christ" today, as well. Eternal Life is predicated upon our willingness to conform to the perfect and sinless Christ.

    Any lessening of who Christ is, in all of his holiness, today, under the NT system, depreciates the value of his sacrifice, in my opinion. If we are to repent under the Christian system, what are we to repent of, if not from the same kind of sin that happened under the OT Law? And if so, the dangers of divine wrath are just as imminent today, as they ever were in OT times.

    Matthew 24.42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
    We have an excellent type to help us - that of Elijah and Elisha. Elijah speaks for the Law. He does 8 miracles, but he calls fire from heaven and kills 400+ false prophets single-handedly. Elisha has double the Spirit of Elijah and does 16 miracles. They are mostly graceful, but interspersed with Judgment (the bears etc.).

    The bottom line, I think, is that God's main attribute is JUSTICE. He has the attribute of MERCY, but the death of the animals of old, and the death of His beloved Son Jesus shows that God's JUSTICE never bends. Justice MUST be satisfied before mercy is extended.

    But what is very similar in both testaments is that the intervention of the Lord in matters of life and death, is always to PROTECT His honor and protect the innocent. In the Old Testament death was so that they "put that evil away from among you" (Deut.17:7, etc.). In the New Testament it is "put that leaven away from among you".

    The MERCY extended in the New Testament is BECAUSE justice has already landed on Jesus. But JUDGMENT is not forgotten. It is only DEFERRED. Each of us, Christian, Jew and Gentile have our fearful assize.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Walls View Post

      We have an excellent type to help us - that of Elijah and Elisha. Elijah speaks for the Law. He does 8 miracles, but he calls fire from heaven and kills 400+ false prophets single-handedly. Elisha has double the Spirit of Elijah and does 16 miracles. They are mostly graceful, but interspersed with Judgment (the bears etc.).

      The bottom line, I think, is that God's main attribute is JUSTICE. He has the attribute of MERCY, but the death of the animals of old, and the death of His beloved Son Jesus shows that God's JUSTICE never bends. Justice MUST be satisfied before mercy is extended.

      But what is very similar in both testaments is that the intervention of the Lord in matters of life and death, is always to PROTECT His honor and protect the innocent. In the Old Testament death was so that they "put that evil away from among you" (Deut.17:7, etc.). In the New Testament it is "put that leaven away from among you".

      The MERCY extended in the New Testament is BECAUSE justice has already landed on Jesus. But JUDGMENT is not forgotten. It is only DEFERRED. Each of us, Christian, Jew and Gentile have our fearful assize.
      One area where I think you've helped me is in the understanding of how the NT authors used the word "Law." Although they understood that we are no longer under the OT, they realized that God's Law remains in effect in the NT era. It's not the old Law of Moses, of course, but the Law of God for Man from the beginning. That has never ceased. And if indeed it remains the rule for Man, then God's judgment, along with His mercy, has never ceased either.

      I don't know if that's precisely how you put it, but something in our discussions about the Law prompted me to look in this direction. And I think I have a better grasp on it now. The word "Law" can be used in different ways.

      I've heard it said that we're in the Age of Grace now, and that God doesn't punish or judge anybody in the current age. All of the bad things we experience in the current age are the product of Satan or irresponsible people. I think that's utterly false. But for some reason that theology has taken hold. It sounds an awful lot like the old theology of the heretic Marcion.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by randyk View Post

        One area where I think you've helped me is in the understanding of how the NT authors used the word "Law." Although they understood that we are no longer under the OT, they realized that God's Law remains in effect in the NT era. It's not the old Law of Moses, of course, but the Law of God for Man from the beginning. That has never ceased. And if indeed it remains the rule for Man, then God's judgment, along with His mercy, has never ceased either.

        I don't know if that's precisely how you put it, but something in our discussions about the Law prompted me to look in this direction. And I think I have a better grasp on it now. The word "Law" can be used in different ways.

        I've heard it said that we're in the Age of Grace now, and that God doesn't punish or judge anybody in the current age. All of the bad things we experience in the current age are the product of Satan or irresponsible people. I think that's utterly false. But for some reason that theology has taken hold. It sounds an awful lot like the old theology of the heretic Marcion.
        The best is that I define what I mean by Law. The Law is that of Moses given at Sinai - a collection of about 625 ordinances. This Law was given for four main reasons:
        1. God first. God had chosen out this single nation from among all nations to DWELL there. To suite His holiness, Israel were to follow certain ordinances that the other nations did not have. Israel had to be ritually clean to host Jehovah.
        2. God second. By living according to the MORAL in the Law, God would be displayed to the surrounding nations. If Israel did not, God chastisement would be displayed to the surrounding nations. Either way, God is elevated - whether it be His MORALS or His JUSTICE
        3. Israel, if they kept the Law, would be blessed far and above all nations.
        4. The earth, if Israel kept the Law, would be blessed. Since Abel, the earth "groaned" under curse and pollution. Israel's obedience would lessen this. If Israel defiled the land like the surrounding nations, God would show the surrounding nations that He cared for the earth by driving Israel from the Land until it could have its Sabbaths.
        The New Testament is a time when all men may see that man is irretrievably sinful, whether a Jew under Law, or a Gentile under conscience, and, having been shown this, turn to a Savior. Law is singularly unsuitable for this. Law demands justice and retribution, giving the criminal no place to turn to a Savior. Law only convinces and convicts of imminent death. So Law is not the tool, or vehicle for saving man from his sins. The effective vehicle for saving men is to give time to be convinced, and time to make a decision to turn. For this, judgment and retribution must be DIFFERED. The Holy Spirit convicts men of their deadly situation, and men testify of escape - the gospel.

        But this time of DIFFERED Justice has a limit. Anon, the whole world had heard of the Savior and have made their choice. And men chose one of their own - the Beast - to save them. The gospel is largely abhorrent to men. The gospel tells a man that he is evil, and the gospel teaches men of clinging to a Savior in weakness (his inability to save himself). Men hate this revelation, and rather choose a man who agrees and takes delight in their evil, and one who is a strong man in matters of government. But their minds and understanding are darkened, and anon, God's choice of a Man turns out to be stronger. He sets up a new government on earth which has, as its essential trait, instant and commensurate JUSTICE - the "rule of the rod of iron".

        And so, in all ages, from Adam forward, JUSTICE prevails. Mercy must be BOUGHT. Whether under conscience, under Law, or under the Law of Christ's Life, justice must always be met. It falls on the perpetrator, or it falls on Jesus. Man always gets the chance to choose which way he wants to go, but God gets to settle scores in the end.

        Just like Elisha, God's dealings with the CHURCH in the New Testament age are blend of much grace and some fearsome chastisement. God is not to be played with. The majority of warnings and their execution is directed at the Church. Herod may be eaten by worms, but the Christians who took the Lord's Table in a rebellious way got sick and died - not much different to Herod. In actual fact, if you see the chastising and pruning hand of God more evident among Christians than the heathen, don't be surprised. With us (Christians) God has a goal. The heathen will have their eternity of terror - anon.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Walls View Post

          The best is that I define what I mean by Law. The Law is that of Moses given at Sinai - a collection of about 625 ordinances. This Law was given for four main reasons:
          1. God first. God had chosen out this single nation from among all nations to DWELL there. To suite His holiness, Israel were to follow certain ordinances that the other nations did not have. Israel had to be ritually clean to host Jehovah.
          2. God second. By living according to the MORAL in the Law, God would be displayed to the surrounding nations. If Israel did not, God chastisement would be displayed to the surrounding nations. Either way, God is elevated - whether it be His MORALS or His JUSTICE
          3. Israel, if they kept the Law, would be blessed far and above all nations.
          4. The earth, if Israel kept the Law, would be blessed. Since Abel, the earth "groaned" under curse and pollution. Israel's obedience would lessen this. If Israel defiled the land like the surrounding nations, God would show the surrounding nations that He cared for the earth by driving Israel from the Land until it could have its Sabbaths.
          The New Testament is a time when all men may see that man is irretrievably sinful, whether a Jew under Law, or a Gentile under conscience, and, having been shown this, turn to a Savior. Law is singularly unsuitable for this. Law demands justice and retribution, giving the criminal no place to turn to a Savior. Law only convinces and convicts of imminent death. So Law is not the tool, or vehicle for saving man from his sins. The effective vehicle for saving men is to give time to be convinced, and time to make a decision to turn. For this, judgment and retribution must be DIFFERED. The Holy Spirit convicts men of their deadly situation, and men testify of escape - the gospel.

          But this time of DIFFERED Justice has a limit. Anon, the whole world had heard of the Savior and have made their choice. And men chose one of their own - the Beast - to save them. The gospel is largely abhorrent to men. The gospel tells a man that he is evil, and the gospel teaches men of clinging to a Savior in weakness (his inability to save himself). Men hate this revelation, and rather choose a man who agrees and takes delight in their evil, and one who is a strong man in matters of government. But their minds and understanding are darkened, and anon, God's choice of a Man turns out to be stronger. He sets up a new government on earth which has, as its essential trait, instant and commensurate JUSTICE - the "rule of the rod of iron".

          And so, in all ages, from Adam forward, JUSTICE prevails. Mercy must be BOUGHT. Whether under conscience, under Law, or under the Law of Christ's Life, justice must always be met. It falls on the perpetrator, or it falls on Jesus. Man always gets the chance to choose which way he wants to go, but God gets to settle scores in the end.

          Just like Elisha, God's dealings with the CHURCH in the New Testament age are blend of much grace and some fearsome chastisement. God is not to be played with. The majority of warnings and their execution is directed at the Church. Herod may be eaten by worms, but the Christians who took the Lord's Table in a rebellious way got sick and died - not much different to Herod. In actual fact, if you see the chastising and pruning hand of God more evident among Christians than the heathen, don't be surprised. With us (Christians) God has a goal. The heathen will have their eternity of terror - anon.
          Well spoken. I will say that judgment is always deferred in whatever age--it is deferred until God's patience runs out. Fortunately, one of God's virtues is patience. And so we are given 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances. Thanks for the lesson--good stuff.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by randyk View Post

            Well spoken. I will say that judgment is always deferred in whatever age--it is deferred until God's patience runs out. Fortunately, one of God's virtues is patience. And so we are given 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances. Thanks for the lesson--good stuff.
            Your OP is actually crucial to our Christian faith, because it asks if God is the same yesterday (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and the Pharisees), today (the age of grace) and tomorrow (the Millennial Kingdom). I was hoping for a more energetic discussion to your OP. But I hope that the interested readers have something to chew on now.

            Comment


            • #7
              Mal 3.6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed."

              God is here declaring His consistent nature of being faithful to His word and of being merciful. God promised Israel He would be faithful to His promises to Abraham, and would thus be merciful during times of Israel's failures.

              But this applied not just in the OT, but also in the NT. God is still faithful today to Israel, and to the rest of His promises to Abraham concerning the nations. God will have a world filled with the knowledge of Himself, bringing many nations to faith.

              The problem is that many Christians believe that God was one person in the OT, and a different person in the NT. Whereas He was harsh and legalistic in the OT, they think He is now kind and merciful in the NT.

              But I believe God is the same "yesterday, today, and forever." He was kind and merciful under the Law with Israel, and He is judgmental and stern under the New Covenant in the age of the Church.

              Marcion was an ancient Christian heretic who posited that the God of the OT was actually a different god than the God of the NT. The Law was viewed as evil, whereas Grace was viewed as good. And it's this kind of thinking that we have today, where the NT era is viewed as simply nature's consequences to human sin, and God's judgments are nowhere to be found. God is thought to be kind, and unwilling to judge until the end of time.

              But is it true, biblically, that God was not kind in the OT, and did not judge in the NT? Of course not. As I said, God is always of the same character. In the Law the sacrifices were God's means of covering sins, and showing mercy. In the NT God began that era with judgment against Judaism, to make way for the principles of Grace. We really need to see this, lest we think God is not stern towards our bad behavior in the present era.

              It is not always seen, but in the Olivet Discourse of Jesus, he clearly proclaimed an age of punishment against the Jewish People as a whole. There would be a remnant of believers among the Jews, as Paul said in Romans 9-11. But the vast majority of the Jewish People would reject Christianity, and they would be under judgment until the return of Messiah.

              This Discourse has been butchered, I believe, by futurists (I am a futurist myself), who wish to ignore this "judgmental" aspect of God's NT program with the Jews. It is actually a program of tolerance, instead of pure judgment, giving time for remnants of faith across the earth to develop, in accordance with the Abraham's promises. Many nations are to come to faith. God is judging Israel, but not destroying them. He is only putting off final judgment, which ultimately will bring about the restoration of Israel as a nation of faith.

              In the OT Prophets, judgment was directed at Israel, a covenant people, to show how God deals with a nation in covenant with Himself. This was a pattern so that in NT times, Christians would understand that the same thing applies to them, when they are in covenant with God as nations. After all, the Bible was written not just for Israel, but also for us!

              The many warnings of judgment were not just against Israel in their disobedience, however. It was also directed against the enemy nations of Israel, who even though they brought judgment to Israel would also suffer judgment for their own sins. Israel would ultimately be delivered from them, and they would be judged.

              These same prophecies apply, in principle, to enemy nations of the Christians today. They also continue to apply to the enemies of Israel. These nations, when they are done being used of God, will themselves be judged. This can be historically verified.

              How we cannot see that the book of Revelation applies to today I don't know? Yes, that book is largely about the future time when Antichrist will reign for 3.5 years, after which he will be judged at Christ's Coming. But why do you think it was written at the beginning of the Church Age unless it was designed to help the Church throughout the present age?

              The Apostle John said, "there are already many antichrists." Jesus said there would be false prophets and false Christs among the Jews, even in Israel during his own time there. Israel and the nations would be deceived by false proponents of the kingdoms of men, who pretended to be the Kingdom of God.

              And so, the future prophecies of the Revelation were designed to be understood as applicable in principle throughout the NT age, and not just at the end of the age. God isn't just going to judge the Antichrist at the end of the age, at Christ's Coming. But He is already judging anti-Christian nations today, and all lawless, pagan nations whose sin comes to maturity. God's patience only lasts so long!

              So yes, God's kindness and judgment is in all ages, both OT and NT. We need to learn from the Prophets, and know that they apply to the Church today. When the Scriptures were written, there were no Christian nations yet such that we had Prophets written directly to Christian nations. But what was written for Israel in the OT was intended to instruct us in our time, when Christian nations exist.

              God has not changed! And as Paul said, if God has now shown mercy to the Gentiles, by enabling them to become Christian nations, so also He can show mercy to fallen Israel, to lift them up out of their age-long punishment. Their judgment will come to an end, when God will remove the trouble-makers, and exalt the remnant who are faithful to Him. Judgment remains for backsliding and apostate Christians. And mercy remains for lost Israel.

              All of history can verify these things! Mercy has not been exhausted with Israel. And judgment against sin does not await the end of the age. God's Kingdom is near to the earth today. We have to keep ready, because the Judge is at the door! God may be patient with us. But His justice must ultimately respond to unrepented-of sin and wickedness in every generation. History verifies that!

              Comment


              • #8
                For the Lord loves justice, And does not forsake His saints. They are preserved forever​​​​​​; Psalm 37:27-29
                Originally posted by Walls View Post
                The bottom line, I think, is that God's main attribute is JUSTICE.
                It is a joy for the just to do justice, But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity. Proverbs 21:15

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