By Larry Ray Hafley
Whether man acknowledges it or not, God possesses three relationships to him. These are: (1) Creator and Sustainer, (2) Redeemer and Savior, (3) Judge and Executioner. The Bible’s fabric is woven on the loom of this sacred trio. Nearly all major themes of Scripture have these facts as their foundation, if not their substance. Try your hands at disputing and disproving it if you doubt or deny it.
I. Creator and Sustainer
When God reproved his people, when he warned and admonished them, he often appealed to his office as Creator and Sustainer to justify his majesty and mastery and to humble the defiant (Isa. 40; Psa. 73; 90; 139). Paul’s awesome and fearful condemnation of the alien mind is justified “because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful. . . . Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more (rather) than the Creator” (Rom. 1:21,25).
We live in a world of unbelief. Men, like animals, go about their pursuits with no thought of their origin, let alone their destiny. Men and societies generally conduct themselves in accord with the concept they have of their nature. Again, in Romans 1, the degradation of body and soul did not commence until men cast God out of their thinking “and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man” (Rom. 1: 18-32). It should not, therefore, be surprising to us today when we see, hear and read of the ungodliness, unrighteousness and gross, blatant immorality that surrounds us. Our society is merely reaping the harvest of its philosophies. Entertainment mediums and worldly life styles simply reflect the road and route men will travel when they have no respect or regard for their Creator and Sustainer. If we are the offspring, not of God, but of blind, random, aimless, mindless evolutionary processes, then our behavior will have no base, nor root, no anchor.
The only way to lead men from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, is to cause them to know that God is their Father, their Support, and that in him “we live, move and have our very being. ” The man or nation that does not admit it cannot be led to repentance.
II. Redeemer and Savior
Closely linked to the view of Creator and Sustainer is that of Redeemer and Savior. Man recognizes his need for salvation. His level of consciousness concerning deliverance, however, is inextricably welded to this ideas of himself. Liberal theology seeks for redemption from human miseries, i.e., ignorance, poverty and disease. The religion that will not begin with God rather than man, with the spirit rather than the flesh, with the mind rather than matter will always strive for man’s needs, the flesh’s desires and matter’s preeminence.
Consequently, Paul’s appeal to humanistic, heathen pagans often began with “God that made the world and all things therein” (Acts 17:24). Scripture reveals that man cannot aspire to the gospel’s “eternal life” until he is cognizant of his position before his Creator and Sustainer (cf. Acts 14:15-17). The summons to repentance falls on uncircumcised hearts and ears when the audience does not know God as its author, father and provider. Preaching to Epicurean and Stoic philosophers avails nothing until, or unless, their minds comprehend the true nature of “The Unknown Go (Acts 17:18ff.). So, in a world where man is the consequence of accidental evolution, the preaching of the cross is foolishness. Those “whose God is their belly” can only respond to a gospel that is of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life. Spiritual socialism breeds and feeds in the warm climate of atheism and humanism. To see God as Redeemer and Savior, one first must see him as Creator and Sustainer.
III. Judge and Executioner
“There is one . . . who is able to save and to destroy” (Jas. 4:12). “And fear not them which are able to kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
What has the carnal mind of unbelief to fear? It is oblivious to a judge and an executioner. It is unaware of a reckoning before a bar of justice. It is blind to the stroke of an executor, one who is sufficient to carry out the sentence of a judge. Do you not see the fiber of our fabric braiding and interweaving itself? If man knows no Creator, he knows no Redeemer; if he knows no Redeemer, he knows no Judge.
Conscience and societal mores are the only judges that unbelief acknowledges. But what of conscience, what of society does he have to dread or fear? If he can numb his conscience and escape society’s clout, he avoids execution?
One’s care or concern for judgment is only as deep as his reverence for his judge and executioner. There are potential flaws and weaknesses in all courts of justice. (a) A judge may be bribed. (2) A judge may be prejudiced for or against. (3) A judge may be deceived. (4) A judge may neglect the execution of his verdict. (5) A judge may be reversed. (6) A judge may have the government, on which his jurisdiction rests, overthrown. (7) A judge may die before he can carry out the sentence of his court. (8) A defendant may escape from his captors and avoid judgment. With these possibilities, the unbeliever faces odds in his favor. It is only when he sees his Creator’s true power and his Redeemer’s real love that he is able to tremble before the unquenchable, consuming fire of Divine Judgment and certain execution!
It is not by coincidence that Psalm % exalts God as Creator, Redeemer and Judge. (1) “The Lord made the heavens.” (2) “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering and come into his courts. . . the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved.” (3) “He shall judge the people righteously . . . for he cometh to judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.” This is the course Paul pursued. (1) “God that made the word . . . giveth to all life and breath and all things . . . and (2) now commandeth all men everywhere to repent (thus accepting him as Savior); (3) Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world.”
The assurance, the guarantee of judgment is the empty tomb. Objector: “So, God created the world. What then?” Reply: “You must repent.” Objector: “But why should I repent?” Reply: “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world.” Objector: “How do I know there will be such a judgment?” Reply: “Whereof he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
Our task, then, is to show men their Maker, point them to their Savior and confront them with their Judge, Jury and Executioner. It is a domino relationship with eternal consequences. It must be preached with reason, force and passion. “Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech” (2 Cor. 3:12). “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11).
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 13, pp. 398-399
July 7, 1988