God Is Not a Buffet Line of Options by Pastor John Samson
What is the Church's biggest need? I believe that what the Church needs more than anything else is GOD as He really is, and the GOSPEL as it really is. If one of these is distorted, then so is the other.
God has not changed in any way at all. Not recently. Not ever! God Himself says, "I am the Lord, I do not change." - Malachi 3:6. Yet in today's church, many of Godâ€™s characteristics or attributes have been deliberately obscured from view. The more popular attributes of God are still being displayed, such as His Love, His Grace and His Mercy. Yet there has been the obscuring of certain other attributes of God - His Holiness, Righteousness, Justice, Wrath and Sovereignty.
At a Buffet, we find no Buffet Police watching to see if we put every item on our plate, and holding us accountable for doing so. We are free to choose which type of food we will eat, and which we will leave to one side. We do so with impunity, for we face no legal action for passing by a certain meat or failing to put the apple pie on our plate.
But lets be clear, Godâ€™s attributes are not a buffet line of options. We are not invited to choose the attributes of God that we like best and leave the others. We have no right to say, â€œIâ€™ll give Sovereignty a pass, but Iâ€™ll take the love." God doesn't allow us to put some of His attributes to one side. God is everything He says He is. To only believe in or to only emphasize certain of His characteristics is to invent our own god. There's a biblical name for that - idolatry! An idol can be fashioned and formed by the heart and mind just as much as by the hand. There is only one God and any god that is not the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture is a false one.
Romans 5:8-9 declares, â€œBut God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.â€ God in His love sent His Son into the world to save us from His own fierce wrath which is against all that have sinned against Him, defying His holiness.
Hebrews 10:31 says, â€œIt is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.â€ The ultimate calamity is to fall into the hands of the living God while not being in right standing with Him, facing the full judgment and wrath of God for eternity. If this is the greatest peril, then being rescued from this is the greatest deliverance and salvation. All who place their trust in Christ as Savior and Lord are saved by God, from God, for God.
J. I. Packer summed it up by saying, â€œThe gospel tells us that our Creator has become our Redeemer. It announces that the Son of God has become man and has died on the cross to save us from eternal judgment. The basic description of the saving death of Christ in the Bible is as a propitiation, that is, as that which quenched Godâ€™s wrath against us by obliterating our sins from his sight. Godâ€™s wrath is his righteousness reacting against unrighteousness; it shows itself in retributive justice. But Jesus Christ has shielded us from the nightmare prospect of retributive justice by becoming our representative substitute, in obedience to his Fatherâ€™s will, and receiving the wages of our sin in our place. By this means justice has been done, for the sins of all that will ever be pardoned were judged and punished in the person of God the Son, and it is on this basis that pardon is now offered to us offenders. Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed himself to be â€˜just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.â€™ Do you understand this? If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel.â€