God for us, or God against us?
God is for us. Romans 8:31
But I have this against you. Revelation 2:4. See also 2:14, 20; 3:3.
So, which is it? Is God for us, or is God against us? If we are in Christ, the answer is: maybe both. God is certainly for us, and God might also be against us.
God is for us in an absolute sense, in Christ. We have peace with God (Romans 5:1). There is now no condemnation threatening us, none at all (Romans 8:1). God foreknew us, predestined us, called us, justified us and promises to glorify us (Romans 8:29-30). God is for us.
So here is my assurance. I can sin my way out of my marriage, I can sin my way out of the ministry, I can sin my way out of physical health, and a lot more. But I cannot sin my way out of Christ, and neither can you, because the cross of Christ paid the damning penalty for our sins.
God might also be against us at times. Not that he de-justifies us, but he might discipline us (Hebrews 12:5-6). He might oppose us (James 4:6). He might send out wrath against us (2 Chronicles 19:2; 32:25). Not condemning wrath, but purifying wrath, correcting wrath, for a time. Even his disciplines and oppositions are gifts of love. How could it be otherwise? The smile of God is not an all-approving grin. What kind of Father would that be?
Is our understanding of the gospel biblical enough to include a category for the God who is for us also being against us? Is our understanding of the gospel big enough and complex enough so that we feel not only reassured but also solemnized? If the only message we are willing to receive is reassurance that God’s condemning wrath has fallen on Another, why? Why block out this other clearly biblical message, warning us that his disciplining wrath can fall on us? If we are in Christ, why deflect anything the Bible clearly says?
Even when God is against us, still, he is for us. His love is burning away whatever keeps us from pressing more deeply into his mighty heart.
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19).
This post was originally published on The Gospel Coalition