Judgment and the Love of God

I like to do daily devotions; for example, last year I did A Year with C. S. Lewis. If for no other reason than to make sure that, in addition to my daily Bible reading, I’m receiving daily instruction and teaching. This year I’m going through My Utmost for His Highest and a few days ago I read a passage that I found really inspiring (I’ve underline parts that really resonated with me):
The Christian servant must never forget that salvation is God’s idea, not man’s; therefore, it has an unfathomable depth. Salvation is the great thought of God, not an experience. Experience is simply the door through which salvation comes into the conscious level of our life so that we are aware of what has taken place on a much deeper level. Never preach the experience— preach the great thought of God behind the experience. When we preach, we are not simply proclaiming how people can be saved from hell and be made moral and pure; we are conveying good news about God.
In the teachings of Jesus Christ the element of judgment is always brought out— it is the sign of the love of God. Never sympathize with someone who finds it difficult to get to God; God is not to blame. It is not for us to figure out the reason for the difficulty, but only to present the truth of God so that the Spirit of God will reveal what is wrong. The greatest test of the quality of our preaching is whether or not it brings everyone to judgment. When the truth is preached, the Spirit of God brings each person face to face with God Himself.
If Jesus ever commanded us to do something that He was unable to equip us to accomplish, He would be a liar. And if we make our own inability a stumbling block or an excuse not to be obedient, it means that we are telling God that there is something which He has not yet taken into account. Every element of our own self-reliance must be put to death by the power of God. The moment we recognize our complete weakness and our dependence upon Him will be the very moment that the Spirit of God will exhibit His power.
I can’t help but see three distinct takeaways from this passage:
  1. The beautiful reality that salvation is God’s idea; not ours. For me, this liberates me from any type of works-based salvation. Salvation is God’s idea and, therefore, God’s gift.
  2. Authentic appreciation of the gift of salvation grows out of an understanding of God’s judgment. I truly believe that we don’t understand the value of God’s gift unless we understand the cost of God’s gift.
  3. Because this gift is something we did nothing to earn (in fact, it’s impossible for us to earn) we must realize that self-reliance is foolishness. It is in our weakness that God shows His strength most clearly.