And rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Joel 2:13
Promises like this one are very beautiful, rich, and far-reaching. The Holy Spirit holds them before us so that people who are deeply discouraged in their souls may find refuge and comfort in these promises when they sense the Lord’s anger. It’s wonderful to see the way the Holy Spirit works. He highlights the threat in order to show us the goodness and mercy of God. This is what all the prophets do: They frighten us with the strongest and most severe threats. Then they immediately add the greatest promises of the mercy and grace of God.
But the effect of these threats and promises is different for God-fearing people than for ungodly people. The ungodly don’t apply the promises or the threats correctly. When they hear the threats, they don’t think these threats pertain to them. They continue in their hypocrisy and godless ways and even consider their ways to be very spiritual. Therefore, these rich promises have no effect on them. Because the threats don’t result in troubled hearts for the godless, the promises are equally ineffective for them.
On the other hand, God-fearing people apply these promises to themselves in the right way. They are disheartened and crushed by the anger of God and the threats of punishment. They know they deserve judgment. They recognize the seriousness of their sin and its condemnation. So when they hear these promises, they turn to God’s mercy and their consciences are lifted up again and calmed. So this is the way our God works: He leads his faithful people to hell before he brings them back. After terrifying them with threats, he comforts them with his promises.
Barnas Sears, D.D.
An historic and comprehensive biography of early Christianity’s most influential leader of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther.
Controversial and visionary, Luther’s life is revealed in this rare presentation of his work as an educator and church leader. From his birth and childhood, to his religious education, and the events leading up to the Protestant Reformation, you will discover the views and experiences that led to his excommunication by the Pope in 1520. Correspondence and accounts shed further light on Luther’s defiant translation of the Bible from Latin to the language of the common man.
This unique biography is reproduced from an 1850 American Sunday School Union original, and in it you will be introduced to the pivotal life of this enigmatic man before, during, and after one of Christianity’s defining events.