‘Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.’ John 18:8–9
Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 12:5–11
When you suffer tribulation, affliction and adversity, do not think that God is punishing you for your sins, for no child of God can be punished for sin penally. Let me not be misunderstood. A man is brought before God first of all as a criminal before a judge. You and I have stood there. Through Christ’s blood and righteousness we have been absolved and acquitted as before God the Judge, and it is not possible for the law to lay so much as the weight of a feather upon us since we have been perfectly acquitted. In all the pains and sufferings which a Christian may endure, there is not so much as a single ounce of penal infliction. God cannot punish a man whom he has pardoned and who is then adopted into God’s family. Now, if he shall as a child offend against his father’s rule, he will be chastened for it. Everyone can see the distinction between chastening by a father and punishment by a judge. If your child were to steal, you would not think of punishing that child in the light in which the judge would do it, who would commit him to imprisonment for having broken the law; but you chasten your child yourself, not so much to avenge the law as for the child’s good, that he may not do this evil thing again. So our heavenly Father chastens his people with the rod of the covenant, but he never punishes them with the sword of vengeance. There is a difference between chastening and punishing. Punishing is from a judge; Christ has suffered all such punishment, so that no penal infliction can fall upon a soul that believes in him; but we may have chastisement which comes to us as the result of a father’s love, and not as the result of a judge’s anger; we have felt such chastisement, and have reason to bless God for it.
For meditation: If God becomes our Father, he will sometimes judge that we need disciplining now (Hebrews 12:6–7). If he remains our Judge, he will one day condemn us for ever. Faith in Christ is the only way to have a Father instead of a Judge in heaven (John 5:24).
Sermon no. 722
25 November (1866)