This is how we should live our lives.

Initially, I intended to name this post, “The Kindness and the Severity of God”. However, on further thought, I decided to focus on how we should live our lives based on the knowledge of God’s kindness and severity because it is this fear of the Lord that will make our paths straight. With that, I focus a lot on the topic of election and how we as the elect should not take our saving grace for granted in this post.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in His kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
(Romans 11:22, NIV)

With the hardening of hearts of the Jews, the gentiles got a place in the Kingdom of God in God’s foreknowledge, by grace. On this note, Paul argued that God did not reject His chosen people – the Jews. Rather, God kept for Himself a remnant among the Jews [1], by grace.

There is a common sociological trend behind Paul’s writings – Salvation and God’s Election.

Peeling back the gospel-centric messages, we see in Paul’s rhetorical analysis of salvation and election a common sociological trend unfolding. First, we have within the apparent-God-chosen-people, 7000 people who God kept for Himself during the days of Elijah [2]. Second, we have Paul testifying to the Roman churches that he too is a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, and he is not rejected by God [3]. Third, we have Paul prophesying that there may be a group of people who have received the grace of God but are arrogant towards others, hence belittling the sovereign nature of Christ’s saving grace [4].

Just as how history has unfolded in accordance with the revelation given to Paul, the social fact of God’s election is still unfolding in the world today. “Branches” are constantly being broken, and new “wild olive shoots” are constantly being “ingrafted” into the “root” of Christ. This is the work of God, and He will always be working until the full number of God’s servants are with Him in paradise [5].

“There may be a group of people who have received the grace of God but are arrogant towards others, hence belittling the sovereign nature of Christ’s saving grace.”

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
(John 15:1-2, 6-7, NIV).

If God did not spare the natural branches of the rightful-physical-heirs of salvation, God will also not hesitate to cut us off and throw us away into the fire and be burned [6]. The only way to remain in God’s covenantal love is to fear He who can “destroy both soul and body in hell” [7].

We are to live our lives with utmost reverence and fear for the Lord, remaining in Christ just as how He remains within us, and praising God with our lives for the kindness He has shown to us.

With all that was said, I think it is rightfully so that we live our lives with utmost reverence and fear for the Lord [8], remaining in Christ as how He remains within us [9], and praising God with our lives for the kindness that He has shown us by offering our bodies as a living sacrifice that is both holy and pleasing to God [10].

 

Footnotes:

[1] – Romans 11:5, NIV – So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.

[2] – Romans 11:4, NIV – And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

[3] – Romans 11:1-2a, NIV – I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.

[4] – Romans 11:17-18, NIV – If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.

[5] – Revelations 6:11, NIV – Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.

[6] – Romans 11:20-21, NIV – But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

[7] – Matthew 10:28, NIV – Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

[8] – Ecclesiastes 12:13, NIV – Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

[9] – John 15:4, NIV – Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

[10] – Romans 12:1, NIV – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

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