We like to tie things up neatly, but the grace and wisdom of God are not open to our counsel. For example, I have heard it preached so many times that, “Just because we are forgiven does not mean there will not be consequences to work through.” True, but not universally so. The prodigal son could have been treated like a hired servant upon his return to help him meditate upon the error of his ways and learn wisdom, but he wasn’t. Sometimes the right fear of the Lord means I come to Him and say, “You know whether it is best to release me from the consequences of the sinfulness and stupidity of what I have done or help me to learn through them. I would like the former better than the latter, I really would, but I trust your righteous, wise and merciful grace either way, Father…but if it is alright, I just stress my preference….”
Or what about “God will never withdraw His love from His people,”? Well, He will and does. Look at Jeremiah 16 verse 5, where God says to those who by grace He has chosen as His people: “I will withdraw my unfailing love.” It does not mean He has stopped loving in his heart. His love is aways safely kept there as are our names. His love and our names are from eternity to eternity intertwined there. However there are times when God’s people on earth look and cannot see signs of that love resting upon them in blessing and favour. Oh by the way don’t write to tell me that it is different now as we live under the grace of God. The people of the Old Testament were redeemed by grace too, just as we are. They were set free from Egypt before the law was given. Their eternal salvation was based on the fact that the Christ who died for us in our past would come and die for them in what for them was their future. They just had the tedious business of living in the shadow lands until that moment came, having to repeat sacrifices and works of the law until Christ would fulfil the law and set every priest and person among the people of God free from that endless, non satisfying, non effective way of relating to God.
The danger of tying God down to a truth that has become very dear to us: It happens all the time, no matter how noble and true the truth may be; “The goodness of God,” “The Father Heart of God,” The Kingdom of God” are a few that people have tried to make the unifying principle in y experience of Church life since the 70’s onwards, but particularly the 90’s onwards. You might want to say. “God is love,” is surely unquestionably the unifying principle, however the Apostle who wrote that, John, also said, “God is Light.” When we build our lives and even our ministries around one particular truth rather than the whole counsel of the Word of God, something usually comes along to spoil it all: a circumstance, an inconvenient Scripture….good to be scientific and honest and accept our theory needs tweaking rather than tweaking the evidence to fit the theory.