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PROVIDENCE AND PANDEMIC

PROVIDENCE AND PANDEMIC
If Providence inflicts harm, we ought to heed the alarm

By Roger Salter
Special to Virtueonline
www.virtueonline.org
March 30, 2020

In the event of terrible disaster and acute danger, some colossal calamity, Christians are tempted to prove their reasonableness and compassion (truly genuine within them through the influence of Jesus Christ), by erroneously pampering society with a soothing message that allays any awareness or concern as to the divine displeasure and impending anger.

Society is placated by sentimental religious platitudes that do not allow for the hard sayings and plain truth of Holy Scripture.

The mention of sin is evacuated from the counsels of the church, and also from the comments of many individual professors of the Christian faith. God is portrayed as doting in a feeble-minded kind of way. The vocabulary relevant to human evil, reigning and raging in the human heart, rebelling against God, and ruling in the degraded nature of the entirety of mankind, is omitted from general discourse. The concepts of divine justice, the penalty due to the offenses
of our race, the call to repentance before God, and his costly salvation for our deliverance from our plight, are absent from our assessment and response to our sad misfortunes.

Our sense of moral accountability toward our Maker for our contradiction of his will and the abuse of his goodness is obliterated from our consciousness and reckoning.

Many Christian leaders and apologists almost lean over backwards to excuse God for his alleged mischief, and they mollycoddle those who need to recognize distinctly the absolute need for our correction and punishment merited by the blatant wrongdoing attributable to base human nature. Individuals and nations transgress the divine law with a high-hand and a smirk on their faces, and ultimately times arrive when our audacious flaunting of immorality must be checked by heaven's punitive intervention. God is not mocked. He is righteous, just and good, and the destructiveness, chaos and misery of evil must be curtailed. Eventually it will be finally neutralized in the display of his fury in the last judgement.

That judgement will be overwhelmingly furious and any forecast or foretaste of it is sent as a warning, and an invitation to avoidance through the mercy of God in Jesus Christ. How can we withhold this solemn warning and proposal of mercy from the lost for whom we care and tremble and who must be made aware of their perilous condition? "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10)

How can we deprive those, susceptible to destruction, of the opportunity to heed the warning of God, reason with him, and come to confidence in the Savior of the world? God's judgments in the history of the earth are meant to cause within us the dread of the destruction of the earth and its unrepentant inhabitants. Limited or little flames lit by God are meant to persuade us to avoid the all-consuming fire that will break out suddenly in the future. How can we assess as to when "the measure of our iniquity is full" (John Newton) and the Lord happens to declare

"Should I not punish them for this?" May not God scrutinize every land upon the face of the earth, and in righteousness resolve, "Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?" (Jeremiah 5:9). Cosseting sinners is immensely cruel. We cannot render them cozy by silencing the grave reality of the foretold conflagration that will inevitably occur.

"For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). We must assume the role of awakeners as best we can.

Sadly, the human race fails to recognize the gravity of sin. The church in general, and even mature and well-informed Christians underestimate its horror and harmfulness; in essence it is indescribably hideous, and utterly hateful to a holy God. We are numbed to the vileness and viciousness of evil and the maliciousness of its author. Participation in wickedness is self-inflicted destruction that attracts the abhorrence of God toward our flagrant abuse of his gifts and goodness. He is appalled at our wasted existence and the loss of opportunity to seek him.

It is only when people detect their native hostility to God, and realize that they have offended his marvelous benevolence in creating them, and lavishing benefits upon them, that the urgent need of a Saviour, and their sincere appreciation of him is aroused, We hastily assure folk of a salvation of which they possess no felt need. The carnal mind that rules in the contemporary church of God, let alone the world, has no credible explanation of the necessity of Christ and the saving accomplishment he has wrought. Effectively, we have made him of no account and surplus to requirement, except in some vague way as an example of virtue to be emulated.

We succor the sinner before they recognize or grieve their sin. "Poor things", we console them, as if they are innocent victims hard done by, and God has got his harsh dealings toward them out of proportion. We defend him with paltry arguments that ignore his moral purposes.

We yearn over the lost, but the lost must be enabled to learn that they are lost, and then discover the compassion of Christ crucified.

Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, does not desire the death of sinners, but, rather that they may turn from their wickedness and live. He has commanded and authorized his Ministers to assure his people that they will receive absolution and forgiveness when they repent of their sins (not remain settled in them). God, the Father, pardons and forgives all who truly repent and sincerely believe his holy gospel. Therefore, let us ask him to grant us true
repentance and his Holy Spirit, so that what we do now may please him, that the rest of our lives may be pure and holy, and that finally we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. The Declaration of Forgiveness
(BCP)

From the Litany: Do not remember, Lord Christ, our sins or the sins of our parents, and do not take vengeance for our offenses. Spare us, good Lord; spare your people, whom you have redeemed with your precious blood, and do not be angry with us forever. Gracious father, in your mercy look upon us in our weakness; and, for the glory of your name, turn away from us all those evils which we have deserved: Grant that in all our troubles our whole trust and confidence may be in you; and that we may always seek to serve you in holiness and purity of life, to your honor and glory; through our only Mediator and advocate, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Rev. Roger Salter is an ordained Church of England minister where he had parishes in the dioceses of Bristol and Portsmouth before coming to Birmingham, Alabama to serve as Rector of St. Matthew's Anglican Church

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