The day after the San Bernardino shooting was The Master’s Seminary Christmas Chapel. As I was preparing my son John and myself to attend, a little wiggle of fear made its way into the forefront of my mind. Compelled to pray for grace to withstand the temptation to say “what if some terrorist shows up with a point to prove, so I shouldn’t go,” one line from the Battle Hymn of the Republic came to mind. . . “He is trampling out the vineyard where the grapes of wrath are stored.” This gave me pause for praise. Yes, murder is a tragedy; yes, it is a heinous act of cowardice and a prime example of unchecked sin. However, Christ will not let this go unchecked for long. . .
God’s Righteousness in Light of Heinous Sin
What we need to really keep in mind, especially with regard to San Bernardino, is this. . . people who are so taken with their sin, ones who have a deep desire to kill and have no desire to repent will always find a way to satiate the carnal desire that lies deep within them. It perverts their thinking, intentions, and lifestyle. (See Romans 1:28-32.) We can rest assured in the Biblical fact that although they circumvented the judgment of the worldly court they did not skip out on the judgment of the Holy and Righteous Judge, condemned with no hope or rest for the rest of eternity (cf. Revelation 4-16).
Here is a basic definition of God’s righteousness that I learned from my husband while he was studying for his Theology exam. . .
God’s righteousness (justice): God’s perfect absolute justice in and toward Himself, His prevention of any violation of the justice of His essence, and His revelation of Himself in acts of justice.
For me this is the greatest comfort with regard to tragedies such as San Bernardino: not a gun, not a judge, not laws or human retribution; but the fact that there is a sovereign God who holds us accountable for our deeds and thoughts (good, bad or indifferent).
I am also comforted and extremely thankful that God provided a means for my salvation that renders me able to stand guiltless before the throne of God. The blood of Jesus. Jesus the perfect Shepherd, became the perfect Lamb, lived among His people, became the perfect Sacrifice and died and rose again so that imperfect people such as you and me, who’d be tempted to be afraid of a momentary discomfort, could stand firm in Him girded up by His word, and strong in His promise.
An Opportunity for the Gospel
I was reminded of this again when I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with some Jehovah’s Witnesses that came to our door the other day asking me what I thought God thinks of the recent terror attacks. They were surprised to hear “One day every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess Jesus as Lord. These things were meant for evil and serve the god of this world, yet regardless of their original purpose, Christ will be glorified.”
Unsure of what they were supposed to say to that exactly, they told me my words were beautifully articulated. Funny, I just said what the Bible says . . . but what a great time for me to share eternal truth with them, to model a true Christian response and peace. Because we know that the false religion which incites acts of terror such as what was committed by the Farooks will fail them and eventually the praises of Allah (Satan) will be turned into the rightful praises of the Lord Jesus Christ, God Almighty and Prince of Peace.
A Proven Testimony
As a mother who knows her children will grow up in a world full of increasing violence and persecution, it is so very important that they see my husband and me pouring over our Bibles, testing ourselves, reassuring ourselves, strengthening ourselves so that they have no doubt where our hope lies. So they have no reason to doubt our testimony. Our children need to see us praying and in communion with Christ. So do our neighbors, coworkers, friends, and extended family.
They need to see us living out 1 Peter 1:13 and, because that will most assuredly turn up the heat, they need to see us living out 1 Peter 2:21-25 as well. And we should be willing to do so because as Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:12, “ For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that Day.” Cross-reference that with Hebrews 7:25, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. What a joy-filled comfort!
Our God is Marching On
To end, my friends. . .
I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
“As ye deal with My condemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free.
While God is marching on.
~Julia Ward Howe, The Battle Hymn of the Republic