Why this question is a non-gospel-centered question: The only reason people struggle with this is because Christians (most of the ones I know) only want to worry about things that affect their salvation. The question behind the question could be:
- “If I’m already justified, why should I worry about whether or not the Holy Spirit is grieved?” To paraphrase John Calvin, the displeasure of God should always be more of a motivating factor for obedience than the threat of punishment. We believe the gospel because God is lovely, not because we fear hell.
- or “Why would God let anyone into heaven who displeases him?” That seems to miss one of the great truths of the gospel, that God justifies the ungodly. Those who once were enemies, and those who, after being reconciled, continually stumble in many ways and grieve the Holy Spirit, are still allowed to see the Kingdom of God because of, and only because of, the righteousness of Christ!
- or “How is it not a contradiction that God is pleased and displeased by the same human being?” That seems to miss one of the great truths of justification. That is not a contradiction in the same way it is not a contradiction that God is well-pleased with, and at the same time was pleased to crush, the same Person, namely, His Son.
I hope that helps in understanding a bit more of what it means to be gospel-centered. Might there be any other questions behind the question I might be missing?
When Paul says “and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph 4.30), he is talking to justified saints. It is a very good question, with a pretty simple answer, but usually comes from Christians who have not been taught to be gospel-centered:
- Very good question- Our life is hidden with Christ in God. In Christ, God is well-pleased. To be justified is to be declared righteous by God, and it is for all those who are in Christ. And as I just said, in Christ, God is well-pleased. BUT, Christians are told not to grieve the Spirit. Can I, as one who is pleasing in His sight because of Christ, also at the same time grieve Him? How can justification be true while at the same time, justified saints anger the Lord? This is a good question.
- Pretty simple answer- our justification is always first and foremost about our legal standing in the law-court of heaven. Our grieving of the Holy Spirit is always about our daily battle with sin. Our righteousness in the sight of God is always the basis for our eternal life in heavenly glory. Our disobedience that displeases God always has to do with our relationship to Him as our Father. In one sense, to be able to displease our Father is good news in comparison to an unbeliever being able to do a good work that will not please His Creator. The short of it: Justification has to do with salvation and eternal standing; grieving the Spirit has to do with sanctification and has no bearing on eternal standing. Even shorter of it: Justification gets us into the Family; grieving the Spirit is grieving God as a family member.
- Why the question is a non-gospel-centered question- The only reason people struggle with this is because Christians (most of the ones I know) only want to worry about things that affect their salvation. The question behind the question could be “If I’m already justified, why should I worry about whether or not the Holy Spirit is grieved”; or it could be “why would God let anyone into heaven who displeases him”; or it could be “how is it not a contradiction that God is pleased and displeased by the same human being?”
I believe the answer to all three questions will help you grow in gospel-centeredness. I will try to address these in the next post.
Thank you to all our troops! This video probably highlights the God-given gift of love within the family more than anything, but there is also an intrinsic goodness to the sacrifice our servicemen and women make. May the Lord bless you all through this:
No need to fudge around the truth; Jesus didn’t. Some great minds believed that God annihilates sinners out of existence after they die in unbelief. But Jesus says in Matthew 25.46, of those who do not show any fruit of being born again, “and these will go away into eternal punishment.” And of those who are His elect he says “but the righteous into eternal life.” That sentence makes it clear that there is a parallel between the eternality of punishment and the eternality of life after the Final Judgment.
Nobody claims that is easy to take in, but you must settle it in your mind that the un-easiness of accepting eternal punishment as true comes from our tendency to be man-centered. When you have a hard time seeing the goodness of eternal punishment, I offer three ways to be more God-centered:
- Think about how God feels. As Romans 9.22 says “what if God, desiring to show his wrath and make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” God is indignant every day toward sinners. Everyone knows they are to love God with all their heart, soul and mind, and yet no one does. Everyone knows they are to love their neighbor as him/herself and yet no one does. No one responds well to the revelation God gives them. Yet He chooses never to flood the earth again. We all know what it is like to be angry at someone for wronging us. Yet none of us knows what it feels like to be angry at someone for wronging us, while we ourselves are all-powerful, all-wise, all-holy, all-good.
- No one in hell is born again. Unbelievers and the devil and his angels do not only deserve punishment for their sins in this life. They rebel against their Creator forever, and will constantly merit wrath.
- Think about the cross. Just as there is a parallel between the forever-ness of heaven and the forever-ness of hell, there is a parallel between the wrath of God in hell and the wrath of God on Jesus 2000 years ago (Romans 3.25). Whatever you think should be taken away from the wrath of God in the Lake of Fire, should be taken away from the wrath of God on the cross, if you want to be “fair.”
Praise the Lord that God has chosen to save any of us through the eternal blood of His Son. And praise the Lord that convincing people of the eternality of hell doesn’t save them. Jesus saves.