One thing we are reminded of throughout the wilderness wanderings is that God is a God of wrath, as well as mercy. We don't think about God's wrath all too much any more. But think about what Jesus endured for our sake. If you were to read that passage along side of many of the Old Testament passages, is it really that different?
Except that Jesus didn't deserve the punishment He received. He took in our place. We should be the one receiving the punishment of God, our Savior took it in our place. When we read of God's wrath poured out upon the Israelites, we should be thankful to our Savior for taking our place, so that we would not have to suffer, if we have accepted and follow Him. The Nicene Creed puts forth this basic Christian belief in this way:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father, . . . .
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again . . . . .
New Testament Lesson
There is no more essential truth to our beliefs as Christians that we are justified not by our works, but by our faith. We are saved through belief in Jesus Christ and His redemption, not by what we do. We are justified by faith. This one of three doctrines that John Wesley taught to Methodists as essential. Original Sin, Justification by faith, and Holiness of heart of life.
In other words, we are born sinful, we must accept by faith what Jesus has done to be saved, and that grace that we receive continues to work on us throughout all of our lives. Those are three key thoughts for us as Christians. We need salvation, we are saved by faith, and that salvation must, as Paul said, "must we worked out with much fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)." But, it is God's grace that is at work on us at all times. He is the one that deserves all praise and glory.
We see in Jesus Christ, grace is offered to all. To those of us that have never known a time when we weren't Christian, grace is given, and we will enter into heaven. For those of us that were saved this week, grace is given, and we will enter into heaven. None of us are worthy of salvation, that is why it is grace.
So, if we are all unworthy, how can we feel like we are better than others. All of us stand condemned by God. Instead of thinking that we are better than other people, let us all realize that none of us are as good as God, and we all stand condemned before Him.
But, He gives grace, and we have much to rejoice over. No matter what you have done or not done, if you stand on God's grace, you stand on firm ground.