Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďBEING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF GODĒ

 

I cannot remember precisely where I was when I began to think about you, when my mind settled upon a consideration of not only your spiritual condition and welfare but also the spiritual condition and welfare of that person who most influences you. Then I was troubled with the thought. Are you sure it is wise for you to allow that person to influence you as much as he or she does? Think about it for a moment. Is it really so wise that you adopt without serious reflection on the matter your fatherís attitude toward reading, your fatherís attitude toward study, your fatherís attitude toward providing for the future, or your fatherís attitude toward the things of God and matters of eternity? I ask this question because my own father was either indifferent or hostile to spiritual matters for the first sixty years of his life.

For an individual, be he a young man or be she a young woman, to succeed in life where his father failed or where her mother failed, that individual must at some point make a conscious decision to not follow the example of his or her dad or mom and be different. My father was the son of a very poor sharecropper and his wife who had very limited educations, no marketable skills of any kind, and no prospects for the future. For some reason my father chose to read rather than follow the example of his father, and he did so without in any way dishonoring his father. My aunt Ruth, dadís older sister, taught him to read when he was four or five years old. Over the course of his childhood he was actually discouraged from reading by his parents, oftentimes missing meals while engrossed in a book because his parents refused to call him a second time when supper was being served to their very large family. Yet had my dad not chosen to go a different way than his father he, too, would have ended up trapped in a vicious cycle of ignorance and poverty. My fatherís decision, his conscious decision, to learn how to read and to become a diligent and committed reader resulted in opportunities that he could and did take advantage of that others in the same predicament did not take advantage of, either because they did not see those opportunities or if they saw them could not take advantage of them. That is how my dad became the first in his family to obtain a college education, to secure a white collar career, and to thereby so alter the course of his life and guarantee that he would never face the grinding poverty that he grew up in. Was my dad wrong for doing what he did? Was he in any way disloyal to his dad? Did he at any time dishonor his father because he made a choice to not follow his dadís example and preferences in life? No, he did not.

Having spent a few moments on the benefit to my father (and also to me) of him not blindly following the example of his father, let me now rehearse to you the benefit of me in similar fashion not following the example of my father. Of course, I did follow my fatherís example when it came to reading and becoming an avid reader. That is an example that any child should emulate. As well, I followed my fatherís example with respect to obtaining an education. There are different kinds of education and training, so that one size or one kind is not necessarily suitable for everyone. That said, making your way in this life is always easier when you have training of some kind than when you have training of no kind, when you are educated in some way rather than being educated in no way. Where I did not follow my fatherís example was with respect to spiritual matters. Why not? Because my father was throughout most of his life utterly dismissive of spiritual concerns. I submit to you that if your father, or your mother, or some other important and influential person in your life is either obviously wrong about spiritual matters or is completely dismissive of spiritual matters then it is your responsibility before God to choose to limit that personís influence on your life so that you do not treat in cavalier fashion what is quite simply the most important concern of anyoneís life; eternity. It is far better to honor God by obeying the gospel than it is to follow the example of some influential person and erroneously honor him while you both dishonor God, even if that influential person happens to be your own mother or father.

Someone, anyone, who has not been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ is on the wrong side of God. Let me say that again. Anyone you know who is not a believer in Jesus Christ is on the wrong side of God. Anyone who rejects Jesus Christ, and who dismisses what the infallible Word of God says about the need every sinner has to trust Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, thereby declares himself to not only be incompetent with respect to spiritual concerns and the hereafter, but he also shows that no one in his right mind should follow his example or embrace his influence in that respect. When you are wrong about Jesus Christ, and have not been reconciled to God, how can you possibly be right about anything that is truly, eternally, important? I am in no way suggesting that any child should in any way dishonor or disrespect mother, father, or any other influential person in his or her life. Neither would I suggest or imply that you in any way diminish the love that you have for anyone in your life because he or she is not a Christian. However, I am insisting that you and only you are completely and utterly responsible in the final analysis for who you allow to influence you. Of what possible benefit to you is it to allow someone who is on the wrong side of God to so influence you that you foolishly remain on the wrong side of God, as well?

That said, three main points for your consideration:

 

First, CONSIDER THE REALITY OF GOD

 

Let me speak to four points related to the reality of God:

First, there is His certainty. I have no need to engage in any effort to prove the existence of God. Despite the protestations of the most virulent atheists, almost no one actually doubts or questions the existence of God; not in the depths of his heart and soul, at least. Allow me to illustrate: In Psalm 14.1 we find the declaration,

 

ďThe fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.Ē If you consider the verse without italics you will notice that it reads ďThe fool hath said in his heart, No God.Ē

 

Thus is described both the fellow who is so stupid that he denies Godís existence and also that utter rebel who denies Godís dominion.[1] Let me illustrate with two examples: The most famous of all so-called atheists was Karl Marx, the author of Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto. He was the ideological icon behind the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin and the Peopleís Republic of China under Mao Tse-tung. However, Richard Wurmbrand, who suffered persecution and torture by the communists for being a Christian pastor, did extensive study and published a book calling into question Marxí atheism. The title of the book is Was Karl Marx An Atheist? and shows rather from his writings that Marx was a Satanist rather than an atheist.[2] If you embrace the reality of Satan you must, therefore, embrace the reality of God, since even Satanists acknowledge that Satan was himself created by God. Marx was no atheist, despite what communists say about him. Then there is the famous community organizer from Chicago who so strongly influenced Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama, Saul Alinksy. Interesting to notice is who his famous book Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals is dedicated to; none other than Lucifer the first rebel.[3] However, once again it must be pointed out that for Lucifer to exist God must exist because God created Lucifer. Reasonable people recognize the certainty of God.

Next, there is His creativity. Psalm 19.1 reads,

 

ďThe heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.Ē

 

Thus, the psalmist David insists that nature attests to the creative activity of God. And who would deny that God is the creator and sustainer of all things? Karl Marx did not, because he embraced the notion that God was Satanís creator. Saul Alinsky did not, because he, too, embraced the notion that God was Luciferís creator (Lucifer being Satanís original name). Therefore, at both ends of the spectrum, from the Word of God and those of us who are devoted to the inspiration, authority, and accuracy of the Bible, all the way to the other end of the spiritual spectrum with those who vehemently deny Godís right to rule over His creation, it is implicit in the beliefs of both ideological opponent groups that God is the Creator.

Third, there is His personality. It is when you settle on a discussion of the personality of God that the two groups that are poles apart find their differences irreconcilable. While both those who fear God and those who hate God are agreed that God is a personal God, possessing intellect, sensibility, and will, Christians as well as others who embrace the character and authority of the Bible subscribe to the notion that God is as He describes Himself in the Bible, a being of highest moral character. There is no belief by such as Karl Marx or Saul Alinsky that God is not immortal. They will grant us that. Their contention is that God is not good, that God is not love, that God is not merciful, and that God is not gracious. They are convinced God is of low moral character. That is how they justify their rebellious and defiant attitude toward Him, who they see as mean and hypocritical. In a sense, the entire human race divides over the accuracy of the Bible with respect to its description of Almighty God, or should I say Godís description of Himself in the Bible. Is God good? Is God holy? Is God love? Is God wise?

This brings us to our final point concerning the reality of God, His morality. I make no apology about being someone who believes the Bible. I believe that in order for someone to hold an intellectually tenable position certain assumptions have to be made. The assumption that I made forty years ago, and the assumption that I continue to embrace without hesitation today, is that Godís Word is true, and that it reflects the character of God, Who is also true. Therefore, allow me to read just a few verses that clearly indicate the morality of God:

 

         In First John 4.7-8 we find the phrases ďlove is of GodĒ and ďGod is love.Ē

         The almost 160 verses in which the word ďgraceĒ is found show that God is gracious.

         Jude 25 declares that He is ďthe only wise God.Ē

         First Corinthians 10.13 declares that ďGod is faithful.Ē

         Revelation 16.5 informs us that God is righteous.

         Second Corinthians 1.18 is one of many passages declaring that God is true.

         In Titus 1.2 the Apostle Paul insists that God cannot lie.

         Revelation 4.8 is only one of the verses showing God is the thrice holy God.

 

Therefore, since Godís Word, the Bible, is true, John 17.17, it must accurately reflect and declare the nature of Godís morality. In short, God is moral in the very best sense of the concept of morality. Thus, it is an inescapable conclusion that if you are on the wrong side of God you are wrong, and you are only right when you are on the right side of God because Godís side is the right side.

 

Next, CONSIDER THE REQUIREMENT OF GOD

 

It is more than reasonable to suppose that the Creator of all things would entertain wishes for His creation, requirements if you will. Consider in three ways the basis for Godís requirement for those He has created:

First, Godís requirement is based on His sovereignty. Sovereignty can be defined as,

 

ďThe biblical concept of Godís kingly, supreme rule and legal authority over the entire universe. Godís sovereignty is expressed, exercised and displayed in the divine plan for and outworking of salvation history. Divine sovereignty is emphasized especially in the Augustinian Ė Calvinist tradition, where it is paradoxically contrasted with human responsibility.Ē[4]

 

One commentator writes, ďOnly two alternatives are possible: God must either rule, or be ruled; sway, or be swayed; accomplish His own will, or be thwarted by His creatures.Ē[5] We must ask ourselves if the Bible declares that God will get His way, bring to pass His divine purpose, and accomplish His purpose and goals. My answer is that the existence of the Book of Revelation, the capstone of scripture, which shows what will most assuredly come to pass, establishes beyond any possible doubt the sovereignty of God in that it shows that God most definitely will accomplish His eternal purpose and goal. Whatever it is that God requires is what God will get, because sovereignty means that God will get His way.

Second, Godís requirement is based on His holiness. Holy is

 

ďA biblical term generally meaning Ďto be set apart.í The term is used widely in Scripture to refer to a variety of people and objects alike but ultimately points to God as the one who is qualitatively different or set apart from creation. . . In the NT holiness takes on the sense of ethical purity or freedom from sin. The fullness of the biblical witness, then, testifies to Godís holiness, understood as Godís Ďothernessí and Ďpurity,í as well as to Godís prerogative to set people and things apart for Godís own purposes, together with the resulting godliness in the lives of those whom God declares to be holy.Ē[6]

 

Such passages as Deuteronomy 4.24 and Hebrews 12.29, which reveal that God is ďa consuming fire,Ē are descriptions of His holiness. However, there is more to Godís holiness, in that it is an active attribute and not a passive characteristic. That is, God is not only clean and absent any sin or impurity, but His nature of holiness is such that He seeks out that which is defiled to bring to bear His judgment against it. That is why Godís Word has so much to say about that which is clean versus that which is unclean and therefore defiled, and the great need for cleansing, especially the cleansing of the heart and the cleansing away of sin.[7] Thus, if Godís holiness demands that sinfulness and uncleanness be either cleansed or punished, and if the means of cleansing is freely available to any who need it, what toleration should be expected from God when the sinner refuses to be cleansed?

Finally, Godís requirement is based on His righteousness. Righteousness is

 

ďAn attribute of Godís being; Godís right and just character, actions and judgments. Godís righteousness as understood in a covenantal context includes Godís right judgment of both Godís own people and those who oppress them, as well as Godís salvation and mercy extended to those to whom the covenant in God has promised to be faithful righteousness and salvation are summed up in and provided for all those who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.Ē[8]

 

Illustrating Godís righteousness is the comment Abraham made to God in Genesis 18.25:

 

ďShall not the Judge of all the earth do right?Ē

 

Righteousness as an attribute means that God will always judge rightly and deal rightly, not only with those who are right and who do right, but also with those who are wrong and who do wrong. Thus, when God casts the unsaved into the lake of fire after they have appeared before the Great White Throne, He is doing the right thing and thereby displays His righteousness. By the same token, when God grants forgiveness full and free to the repentant sinner who trusts Christ and based upon that is assured of an eternity in the presence of his glorified Lord, that too is righteous, based as it is on the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary where God punished the saved sinnerís sins in the person of his divine Substitute, Jesus Christ. Righteousness on display once more, this time the result of Godís grace meted out through faith in Jesus Christ. So you see, it is right and a righteousness thing for God to demand that sinners turn from their sins to trust Christ, to treat eternally well those who respond in faith believing, and to treat eternally harshly those who refuse and who reject the free offer of salvation in Christ.

 

Finally, THE REWARD OR THE RECOMPENSE OF GOD

 

The reality of God cannot be questioned by rational men. That there would be a requirement demanded by such a being, based on His sovereignty, based on His holiness, and based on His righteousness, is also beyond question. There is a right side of God and a wrong side of God, and there are all kinds of consequences to either be enjoyed or suffered depending on which side of God you are on, the right side or the wrong side. If you are on the right side of God your sins are forgiven, your guilt is all gone, you have the instruction of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Bible available to you, and also access to Godís wisdom. On the other hand, if you are on the wrong side of God, your sins are not forgiven, your guilt remains, and you are spiritually lifeless and without the real instruction of Godís Spirit through Godís Word, leaving you for the most part a complete fool with respect to spiritual matters, which is to say those matters which are most important.

That said, my real focus in this message has to do with the long term eternal consequence of being on the right side of God or the wrong side of God. I will address the bitter before addressing the sweet:

Allow me to label the bitter Godís strange work. I refer to the eternal torment of the damned as Godís strange work because of what I find in Isaiah 28.21:

 

ďFor the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.Ē

 

To what does this verse refer in which reference is made to Godís strange work, His strange act? The entire chapter predicts the fall of Samaria and is a warning to Jerusalem.[9] In the short term God will use the Assyrians to punish the sins of the Kingdom of Israel, with the punishment of the Kingdom of Judah and the capital city of Jerusalem being warned later on, both of them the direct consequence of being on the wrong side of God. Thus, we see that even with Godís sovereignty, holiness and righteousness, He does not like or enjoy administering appropriate consequences to those deserving it. Lamentations 3.33, written while Jerusalem was under siege by the Babylonians, when starvation and even cannibalism was rampant, speaks directly to this issue:

 

ďFor he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.Ē

 

Moving from lesser to greater, let us consider that which lies beyond Godís punishment of wrongdoing and being on the wrong side of God in the here and now to a consideration of eternity, after the man who is on the wrong side of God departs from this life and enters the eternal state. What will it be like for him? At the end of His Olivet Discourse, the night before His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to what it will be like for those who do not avail themselves of His salvation, who instead willingly die in unbelief. Matthew 25.41 and 46:

 

41    Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

 

46    And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

 

Numerous other passages reinforce what we have seen here, unbelievers dying and going to Hell, but then comes eternity, everlasting fire, and everlasting punishment. Do you really want to follow the bad example of the most influential person in your life? Is it worth it to you to prefer the favor of an individual over the favor of God?

I cast my vote for the Savior, and look forward to benefiting from Godís preferred work. Godís preferred work is to keep His Word, to fulfill His promises, and to deliver on the salvation promised to those who cast themselves on the provision of His Son, Jesus Christ. Philippians 1.6 reads,

 

ďBeing confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.Ē

 

Thus, we can be sure that what God starts He will finish, with respect to salvation. And what will God finish with regarding the believerís salvation? In First John 3.2 the apostle, writing to assure believers in Jesus Christ, writes,

 

ďBeloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.Ē

 

Most comforting, however, are the words the Savior spoke the night before His crucifixion, in John 14.1-3:

 

1      Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

2      In my Fatherís house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3      And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

 

So you see, those who are the right side of God, who came to be on the right side of God when they turned from their sins and trusted Jesus Christ as their personal savior will be blessed by Godís preferred work, while those who pass into eternity as Christ rejecters will suffer from Godís strange work.

 

Let me urge you to carefully consider where you are, on the wrong side of God. Consider also that you will remain on the wrong side of God unless you selectively choose to restrict the influence on the direction of your life you allow others to have, even if those others are your father, your mother, your brothers and sisters, or some other admired person. It is a glorious thing if you can follow the example of your father and become a Christian like him. However, if most men in our church had followed their fatherís lead in that respect they would not be the Christian men they are today. At some point you have to make a decision regarding the influence others have in your life. At some point, like these men and others I have mentioned, you have to strike out on your own and obey the gospel, or you will spend all eternity suffering regret and torment of the soul. You donít want to be on the wrong side of God.



[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henryís Commentary On The Whole Bible, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), bible@mail.com

[2] Richard Wurmbrand, Was Karl Marx A Satanist? (Glendale, CA: Diane Books, 1978, Revised Edition)

[3] Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (1971) Random House, ISBN 0-394-44341-1; Vintage books paperback: ISBN 0-679-72113-4

[4] Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), page 109.

[5] Arthur Pink, The Sovereignty Of God, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, Sixth Edition, 1959), page 17.

[6] Grenz, page 60.

[7] Psalm 51.7, 10; 1 John 1.7; Revelation 1.5

[8] Grenz, page 103.

[9] Hobart E. Freeman, An Introduction To The Old Testament Prophets, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1968), page 213.


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