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"Behold the Goodness and the Severity of God"

by Max Patterson

The remarkable statement that forms the title of this article was made by Paul in his letter to the Romans (Romans 11:22). We love to preach on the goodness of God, but we are reluctant to speak on the severity of God. People love to hear sermons on the goodness of God, but had rather not listen to those on the severity of God.

Well, God is good. He made available the paradise of Eden for Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:8-15). He rescued Noah and his family from the old world (Genesis 8:1-4). He led His people out of Egyptian bondage (Exodus 3:7,8; 34:6,7). He was especially good to send His Son to die for mankind (John 3:16). This was a supreme sacrifice.

Yet, there is the severity of God. The word severity has to do with being stern, strict, demanding, exacting, serious. One sees this as manifested against Adam and Eve when they sinned in the Garden of Eden. Peter uses three illustrations to point out the severity of God in 2 Peter 2:4-6. He says that God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell. He says that God spared not the old world, but saved Noah. Finally, he says that God turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes.

In the wilderness, when God's people sinned, they fell, and many times they were destroyed (1 Corinthians 10:8-10). During the time of the judges, when the people "did what was right in their own eyes," God allowed them to fall into oppression (Judges 2:14).

Only the disobedient will be in the lake of fire.

We must recognize that the goodness and severity of God are conditional. Now God exercises love and mercy, but in the day of judgment He will mete out severity and justice to those who did not believe and obey Him. Just as God was not severe toward the angels until they fell, and destroyed the antediluvian world only because of its sinfulness, and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah only because of their immorality and inhuman practices, just so only the disobedient will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.

God pleads with man to come to Him and do what is right (Matthew 11:28-30).

"...upon this rock I will build My church..." Matt.16:18

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