What is the Gospel of Jesus? In short, the Gospel is the message that lies at the very heart of Christianity. But what is it really? This is the question being progressively answered in this series called (creatively, I know) The Gospel. If you missed the first posts, you can read them by clicking here.
Having all ready asked, “What Is The Gospel NOT?”, “Who Makes The Rules?”, and “Are God’s Rules Good?”, let’s now ask another question:
Who Enforces The Rules?
In short, God enforces the rules.
God is not only the ultimate legislative branch (as I discussed in a previous post), but He is also the ultimate executive and judicial branches as well, enforcing the laws He creates and judging those who are guilty of breaking them. Let’s examine Scripture to grasp why it is good for God to enforce His rules and why He is able to do so perfectly.
Why Is It Good For God To Enforce His Rules?
1) He cannot be called “good” or “just” if He doesn’t.
While we sometimes think we want Godâ€™s love to be defined as â€œnever judging us,â€ the reality is that “never judging us” isn’t love, it isn’t just, it isn’t good, and (thank God!) it isn’t God. Greg Gilbert, in his great little book, What Is The Gospel?, identifies a popular misconception about God (Gilbert does not himself believe this misconception… just to be clear!) that, if true, would make God entirely unworthy of being called “good.” Gilbert writes:
â€œFor the most part, [God is] a kind, affable, slightly dazed and needy but very loving grandfather who has wishes but no demands, can be safely ignored if you donâ€™t have time for him, and is very, very, very understanding of the fact that human beings make mistakesâ€”much more understanding, in fact, than the rest of us are.â€
While this may sound nice at first glance, truth be told, no one wants a God who takes sin lightly. We lose all respect for earthly judges who wrongly convict, so why would we want a God who does the same? We want justice done because we know justice is good. Gilbert points out, rightly:
â€œItâ€™s always interesting to watch what happens when people who insist that God would never judge them come face to face with undeniable evil. Confronted with some truly horrific evil, then they want a God of justiceâ€”and they want him now. They want God to overlook their own sin, but not the terroristâ€™s. â€˜Forgive me,â€™ they say, â€˜but donâ€™t you dare forgive him!â€™ You see, nobody wants a God who declines to deal with evil. They just want a God who declines to deal with their evil.â€
If God does not punish evil, He cannot be called “good” in any true sense of the word. Can you imagine what would happen in the United States if a judge failed to sentence a pedophile or serial killer? Could that judge be called good in any sense of the word? Of course not, and it’s important that we recognize the same as it relates to God. God cannot be considered good or just if He fails to deal with sin.
2) He is the only One qualified to enforce His rules.
Praise God that He has revealed in Scripture the following great truths about Himself:
a) God alone is the perfect Legislator, who makes absolutely excellent rules.
See the first few posts in this series.
b) God alone is the all-powerful King (Executor), who holds people accountable for keeping His rules.
As the all-powerful King, God alone is able to perfectly enforce His laws, holding the whole world accountable to keep His “rules.” Paul tells us that, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:7-8). The King, the divine Executor, will see to it that His law is upheld, rewarding the innocent and punishing the guilty.
c) God alone is the all-knowing, just Judge, who executes judgment on those who fail to keep His rules.
And not only does God have the power to enforce His rules on all people, but He also has the knowledge to enforce those rules rightly. The “jury” is never “hung” with God. He’s never confused about exactly who has sinned against Him and in exactly which way they have done so. We find in Scripture that the “secrets” of our hearts are not at all secret to God (Ps. 44:20-21), and that sinning against the Lord will always “find [us] out” (Num. 32:23). Turning to the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews tells us that, “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13).
Furthermore, with His perfect knowledge, God executes perfect judgment. In other words, God not only knows everything that happens, but because of the absolute moral perfection that belongs only to Him, He alone is able to judge rightly. The psalmist tells us that, “God is a righteous judge” (Ps. 7:11), who, “judges the world with righteousness . . . and the peoples with uprightness” (Ps. 9:8).
This means that God makes the (most excellent!) rules, has both the position and the power to uphold those rules, and the knowledge and justice required to rightly judge those who fall short. These are great truths about God because they prove that God may rightly be called both “just” and “good.”
I pray that you are feeling the weight of these humbling realities. God made laws that are binding on you. He has the authority to hold you accountable for obeying those rules perfectly. And He will assess your keeping (or not keeping) of His rules with precision accuracy, dealing out perfect justice.
So, where does that leave us? While it is entirely good that God upholds justice, it means something terrible (not meaning “bad,” but “deeply terrifying”) for us. As we’ll see in the coming weeks, humanity is guilty of breaking God’s rules, and are guilty of cosmic treason against the Most High God, who is the perfect Legislator, Executor and Judge, so that divine rescue is our only hope. But I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, be on the lookout for my next post, “What Are The Rules?”