Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The eternal gospel

One of my groups just finished reading through the Revelation. I love a couple of the final songs that show up in the book. In Revelation 14, an angel flies and proclaims "the eternal gospel":
Fear God and give him glory,
for the hour of his judgment has come;
and worship him who made heaven and earth,
the sea and the springs of water (14:6-7).
Then, in chapter 15, God’s redeemed sing "the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb":
Great and amazing are your deeds,
Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
King of the nations!
Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship before you,
for your judgments have been revealed (15:3-4).
These hymns are both terrible and beautiful. We sometimes struggle to connect the judgment of God with the "eternal gospel", until we remember how thoroughly evil saturates the world, and how even our highest ideals can be contaminated by sin, until we recall that our broken world truly needs to be made right. All of us cry out for God’s justice, and rejoice when we see it coming. The doctrine of God’s judgment is not intended to inspire terror in God’s people, but thanksgiving, because "though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet" and will restore all things. One day in the future, and even now through our prayers and works, the kingdom of God comes.

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