Here Where Dogs Bite and Bees Sting: Part Three
When All Things Are Made New
It has been said God is not doing anything about evil in nature or humankind in any of its forms, therefore, He must be either evil or powerless. God is doing something about all forms of evil. All of history has been His work against evil. First, He’ll deal with the troublemakers who started it all. Namely, us. Paul says “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18a). If that is the case, which it is, we are all in lot of trouble “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
But there is hope for us because although we don’t deserve it, God loves us dearly and will do He anything He can to save us. Paul says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God fully acknowledged that “the wages of sin is death,” but in His stupendous grace, he took the penalty for us. He came down as the God-man Jesus Christ to suffer and die, experiencing disgrace and death in order that we might be able to choose the gift of “eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
The judgment, therefore, will be the final act of God’s purging the earth of sinful man. Our path rests on another choice that will literally change our world forever: To accept Jesus’ death and resurrection or to reject it. This path of acceptance is simple. Dr. Robert Picirill names four basic things we must accept in order to be saved: 1.) We cannot save ourselves. 2.) We can only be justified by obedience in Jesus Christ. 3.) It is completely free for all. 4.) Justification is through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ (The Book of Romans, 58-60).
This path means a full acknowledgment that God is a completely perfect God and that our disobedience means we deserve His wrath. It means accepting that this God of perfect wrath is also a God of perfect, supreme goodness. We, as Christians, must accept both of these aspects of God. C.S. Lewis made this easy to understand. He was a master at making complex, theological concepts like this easy enough for anyone to understand. He embodied this skill in his famous children’s fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. In his book The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, God is represented by the lion Aslan. Before coming face to face with him, Lucy and her siblings have a conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver concerning this God-figure:
“…said Mrs. Beaver, ‘if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you” (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, 80).
We can be assured of this: Like Aslan, God is thoroughly good but He is not safe. He is perfectly good, but He is also a God of perfect holy wrath. He is not a feeble, spoiling grandfather figure; He’s a perfect Lord. This perfect Lordship means He is all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving, and completely just all at the same time. All of this culminates in His thorough grace. The appearance of this grace is sometimes fearsome to behold. Sometimes it may even appear evil to us. But what may appear so is His way of battling the true evil forces of darkness. Sometimes our finite minds may not see an end of all that we see as evil (whether or not it really is), but our hope must always be in Him. Always. This is true regardless of what happens in this life. Picirilli says:
“…we cannot always understand God’s ways. They are too wonderful for us. We are assured he controls history so as to make mercy available to all in the most opportune way, but we cannot see this in our limited understanding of the changing historical scenes. We have to accept God at His word” (Book of Romans, 236).
While God is in this process of bringing true evil to damnation, He is using it to accomplish His ends. But rest assured it will end. Revelation 21 says that God’s plan will culminate in a brand-new heaven and brand-new earth with all of the many imperfections of this universe completely wiped away. In this chapter, John tells us that in this new kingdom tears and death will be completely non-existent. This is coming. I am convinced of it. But if we want to have any chance at all of living in this renewed universe, we must first accept the gift of eternal life through Jesus the Son of God. We must fully accept Him as the Lord and Savior of our lives. When we do this, our lives are renewed right now in the inner man. But this renewed man will continue in a world that has not yet been renewed. We will continue to get hurt, get old, die, and be tempted to sin. Until that time when all things are made new again, we must persevere with full faith on and in full service of God here where dogs bite and bees sting.