HIS PERSON - Part 4

A great many other things are said to be parts of the personal essence of our God. Such things as the characteristics of longsuffering, faithfulness, mercy, and forgiveness are all forever intertwined with His all-inclusive love! Perhaps we do not need to deal with these separately, except in the form of a little word-study. It seems to me that they deal with different aspects of His love for His creation.
            “Longsuffering” appears to have something to do with pain, and sometimes it may; but often it may rather be simple patience. In reference to God; His constant offer of a loving redemption in spite of being rejected, or simply ignored, may cause Him pain as well as try His patience! If we think again of the demands of justice, we will see that every moment when He withholds judgment is a time when we should thank Him for His patience.
            At the time when God saw the need for the judgment of the flood, He said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever”, yet He withheld judgment for another one hundred twenty years! (Genesis 6:3) There is an appropriate statement in I Peter 3:20, “...when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared...” (NKJV)
            It is noteworthy also that Paul lists “longsuffering” as a part of the “Fruit of the Spirit”! (Galatians 5:22) The Spirit of God urges us to “suffer long” with Him when it would be our human tendency to seek for retribution!
            “Faithfulness” speaks of loyalty as well as the keeping of one’s word. As I write this, it occurs to me that what we know about God’s person just seems to be what we consider to be “what is right”! It may be closely related to “holiness”. Unfortunately, fallen humanity seems to have lost the sense of rightness and wrongness. I really think that there is a code of morality which is apart from “commandments”! This code would seem to have been in effect before the law was codified in the time of Moses. How was Cain supposed to know that what he did was wrong? Yet he did know, or he could not have been judged! The same is true of all mankind at the time of the flood! Did those people not know that their thoughts and actions were evil?
            “Mercy”, as well as “longsuffering” is a withholding of punishment. We often speak of giving a person a “second chance”, or third, or fourth. There seems to be a mystery in the idea of God’s willingness to allow sinners lengths of time to make a choice. We run afoul here of the knowledge God has of the outcome of our choices. If God knows what our choice will be, why does He give us extra time? It’s a matter of “rightness”! Is any man going to accuse God of “unfairness” in the day of judgment? In their ignorance, some might; but the argument will not stand!
            “Forgiveness” is also an outgrowth of God’s love. I have pointed out that God can forgive the sinner and still be just, because God has met the requirements of justice for us. He sent His Son to die for this express purpose!
            Forgiveness is the heartfelt desire of God’s whole being for every sinner, and He has bent every possible effort to convince us of it. It is freely offered, without exception!
            God’s genuine Church echoes the cry of the Spirit, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ and let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)

-- Roy Dettwiler