Throughout the Bible, there is a seeming paradox: God is holy and just, but He is also loving and forgiving. God declares these things to be true about Himself in Exodus 34. He tells Moses that He is a “merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). But He also says that He will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:7). We are left with the question: how can God be gracious, loving, and merciful, while also being a just, holy, fair judge of the guilty?Continue reading “A Merciful God Who Doesn’t Clear the Guilty”
In Matthew 22 Jesus speaks to the disciples in a parable that we regard as “the parable of the wedding feast.” He starts of by telling them that “the kingdom of heaven could be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son..” (verse 2). He proceeds to tell them that the king sent out his servants to invite people, but the people would not come. He sent more servants to invite them to the wedding, but the people paid no attention to them, treated them shamefully and even killed them. He sends out new servants with new instructions, “Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.” These servants gathered good and bad (a foreshadow that Gentiles would later have the gospel message offered to them, but more on that in a different post) people, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But the king comes in and sees a man without the wedding garment and asks him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” (verse 12). The man was speechless, and at once the king had him bound and cast into outer darkness.
If your like me, you may read this and think, “What in the world? The man didn’t have on the right clothing…so he was cast out? What about meeting people where they are and welcoming them into our churches no matter what?” These are the things that I thought before the Spirit revealed to me the much deeper meaning of the passage. Here’s the deeper meaning:
The wedding feast represents heaven, and the King represents God. The servants that go out and invite people (the Jews) represent God’s prophets in the Old Testament, that proclaimed repentance and prophesied about Jesus, but were treated badly and put to death. The good and the bad people represents everyone else (because the Jews refused to respond). All of this so far may or may not be obvious, but what on earth does the poor man without the wedding garment have to do with anything? Well, he is truly a poor man, and I’ll tell you why:
The wedding garment represents Christ’s righteousness that is laid over us. This is the way that Jesus taught that our self-righteousness would never be enough! From the very beginning of creation, God has provided a “covering” for our sin. To insist on covering ourselves is to be clothed in “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Adam and Eve tried to cover their shame, but they found their fig leaves to be woefully scant. God took away their handmade clothes and replaced them with skins of animals (Genesis 3:7, 21). In the book of Revelation, we see those in heaven wearing “white robes” (Revelation 7:9), and we learn that the whiteness of the robes is due to their being washed in the blood of the Lamb (verse 14). We trust in God’s righteousness, not our own (Philippians 3:9)! The man who did not wear the wedding garment is an example of one who trusts in his own righteousness and merit to get into heaven! It simply cannot be done, if we try to do so, we will be cast into outer darkness.
The king provided wedding garments for his guests, and God has provided salvation for mankind through Christ! My friends, our wedding garment is the righteousness of Christ, and there is no wedding feast for us if we do not have it! When the religions of the world are stripped down to their basic tenets, we either find man working his way toward God, or we find the cross of Christ. Jesus crucified, buried and resurrected is the only way to God, for He himself says, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
God has invited us to a wedding feast, and an eternity with him. Our invitation comes with a garment that we must receive and put on to enter: Christ’s righteousness. We do this by trusting in His life and finished work on the cross to cover our sins, without any bit of trust in our own merit or good works. If we trust in ourselves, our own righteousness, and our good works to gain us entrance to the feast, we wil be cast in to utter darkness: eternity in hell. However, the kingdom of heaven is opened to those who will set aside their own righteousness and by faith accept Christ’s righteousness.
My friends, there is a heavenly wedding feast awaiting, and your invited. The question is, do you have the attire?
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling, And there is no blemish in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7
“The greatest task of the believer is to seek out and try to discover how much God loves them.” -Paul Washer
The hardest thing to believe is the way that our God loves us. He loves us with a pure and perfect love, and when he looks on us, he says, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling.” It is so hard to believe it, because our culture gives us such a shallow definition of love. But oh, this love, we have never seen anything like it! Think about it, the God who created ENTIRE UNIVERSE looks on US, and says, “You are beautiful, my darling.”
Why does he view us as beautiful? Because Christ is beautiful! We are told that any good thing we do as an unbeliever is nothing but “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Picture yourself, before you come to Christ, standing, wearing nothing but filthy, dirty rags. You see, Jesus also wears a garment, it is a cloak of perfect righteousness, and it is utterly beautiful. When we lay everything at the cross and come to Jesus to save us from our sin, he strips us of our filthy rags, and he places HIS cloak of righteousness over us, and WE are made righteous. When God looks upon us, he doesn’t see the old, wicked, rebellious sinner. He sees his Son’s cloak of righteousness, his Son’s beauty, and he regards US as beautiful.
We ought not to only say, “Christ died for us.” You see, Christ also lived for us! He stepped down from his heavenly throne and lived a perfect life, full of good works, filled with love, mercy, and grace! He lived this life so that by going to the cross and being crushed for our sin (Isaiah 53:5) God the Father’s wrath would be taken out on him, and that we, by believing in him, may be given his perfect obedience as our own. This is what the second part of the Song of Solomon verse is referring to when it says, “and there is no blemish in you.” ! How amazing is this! That when the God of the universe looks on us, he loves us and sees us as beautiful, because we have Christ’s perfect obedience and life laid over our own lives. He sees us as PERFECT! He sees no blemish in us! This is how he can love us so much and be so passionate about a relationship with us!
God pursues his children. Constantly. He loves them so much! He is always calling them, “Come, come, come” and he makes sure that they will. This is why someone who says they were saved twenty something years ago by saying a prayer but have never grown, they have not come to love God’s people, and they have never encountered God, probably are misunderstanding salvation..and have not truly been saved…because God PURSUES his children! Oh, that you would not experience a life without the Father’s love! He desperately wants you to come to him and seek him and love him! When we focus our eyes on heaven, when look to Jesus, when we pray with a pure heart, his heart beats faster and faster. That’s how much he loves us, he PASSIONATELY desires you! Our God is such a lover. Our love for him, regardless of how small it may be, is cherished by him! Paul Washer says that,”Every time that we cut our eyes to heaven, it is as if the heart of deity beats faster!” Oh, how God loves his children coming to them in prayer!
True religion is not trying to do better or doing the right thing, the real religion is, “He saved me, I want to know Him, I want to please Him, I want to love Him!” He loves us this much! This will drive the unconverted, falsely assured “Christian” to think that this gives him the license to sin, because he will simply be forgiven. Oh, how wrong he is! This truth of how much our God loves us will drive the converted, genuine Christian to say, “If he loves me this much, I want to be for him all that he wants me to be!,” which will ultimately cultivate obedience.
If you are in Christ, God really does love you this much. He sees his only begotten Son, whom he so desperately loved, every time that he looks at you. His righteousness is yours. I plead with you to come to him! This love relationship is unlike any other you will ever experience on this earth. It is so hard for us to fathom because we have never seen anything like it. Come to Him, pray to Him, seek Him, love Him, cut your eyes to heaven and make His heart beat faster! He is longing to hear from YOU!