I believe that we have barely scratched the surface of understanding and appreciating the love of God for us in Christ, or the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf, or the blessings bestowed upon us in and through Christ. God is not eager to punish us for our sins; God is eager to forgive us our sins. The Psalmist continues still further: "As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him. For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust." (Ps. 103:13-14 NRSV) Too often we forget that God is for us: and if "God is for us, who is against us?" (Rom. 8:31) In other words, if God the Almighty Creator of the universe -- holy and just in nature -- is for us, then who of any greater value is against us, and why would that even matter? There is no one greater than God. So if He is for us, then no matter who is against, we shall prevail.
I fear that too many of us believers and followers of Christ still operate within the framework of works instead of grace. We have no inherent power to save ourselves; no inherent power to warrant forgiveness; no inherent power to perform the necessary means of atonement; no inherent power to live sinlessly; no inherent resurrection power; no inherent power to obtain the love and grace and mercy of God -- we are powerless. "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." (Rom. 5:6) We need to acknowledge and to own our powerlessness.
The late Henri Nouwen, encouraging himself in his journal, writes: "Your willingness to let go of your desire to control your life reveals a certain trust. The more you relinquish your stubborn need to maintain power, the more you will get in touch with the One who has the power to heal and guide you. And the more you get in touch with that divine power, the easier it will be to confess to yourself and to others your basic powerlessness." Did not the apostle Paul confess the same exact idea?
To the Roman Christians the apostle confessed our weakness and ineptitude at saving ourselves (Rom. 5:6); and to the Corinthian Christians he expounded upon the concept of weakness: "So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." (2 Cor. 12:9) People make many boasts, but usually they are of the nature of strength and ability. Paul, however, boasted of his powerlessness.
Again, Nouwen writes, "One way you keep holding on to an imaginary power is by expecting something from outside gratifications or future events."
I just read that sentence today, and I had to read and re-read it again a few more times. I sensed a profound truth in it, concerning myself, but I couldn't fully grasp the connection. Then I understood that the "outside gratifications or future events" were themselves "an imaginary power" that were hindering me emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.
"As long as you run from where you are and distract yourself, you cannot fully let yourself be healed. A seed flourishes by staying in the ground in which it is sown. When you keep digging the seed up to check whether it is growing, it will never bear fruit. Think about yourself as a little seed planted in rich soil. All you have to do is stay there and trust that the soil contains everything you need to grow. This growth takes place even when you do not feel it. Be quiet, acknowledge your powerlessness, and have faith that one day you will know how much you have received."
I never had the power to force God to love me, to forgive me, to grow me. If I looked to others for personal or spiritual affirmation -- "outside gratifications" -- or some future event, such as a career, or a church office, or some other achievement in order to gain a sense of worth or approval, then all I have truly accomplished is a failed attempt at catching the wind. Either God redemptively loves me within His own self -- some attribute that derives from His nature -- or I remain powerless and hopeless for all eternity. No, God is not waiting to punish me or to punish you, brother and sister. Christ Jesus has already taken our punishment -- bearing upon Himself the wrath of God on our behalf on the cross of Calvary. If only I could convince that poor woman of these truths.
This post was written by William Birch. You can find the original post here: http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/2013/11/is-god-waiting-to-punish-you-believer.html
BE A MAN.