"Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off" (Romans 11:22)
Paul tells us in today's passage to remember the kindness and sternness of God so that we will continue in this kindness and not fall away to be cut off? What is the kindness of God? If we are to remain in it, it is important to understand what it is so that we can grow and develop under God's kindness.
Paul said in Ephesians, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus" ( Ephesians 2:4-7 ). Because of Gods great love for us, he sent Jesus to redeem mankind from the dominion of darkness by which we were held captive. He looked upon our condition and knew that we were powerless to save ourselves and so he sent Jesus to do what we were incapable of doing. This is the message of grace and it shows the fullness of God's love and kindness towards us in the person of Jesus Christ.
Paul also said in Romans 2, that it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance ( Romans 2:4 ). God's love and mercy is what brings us to Christ to be justified by him. Many times we try to scare people into the kingdom of God by preaching fire and damnation, but this is not the message of Christ. The gospel means 'good news' and it is a message of grace, love and kindness. It is more effective to share the good news of what Christ has done for us in bringing people to the Lord, than it is to argue and condemn them for their sin which has already been paid for. Understanding the kindness of the Lord and his goodness towards us in the person of Jesus Christ will bring us to him to find eternal life.
Because of Jesus' kindness and grace we are included in God's family by believing in him through faith. None of this was earned by our own merit. Grace is what continually holds us in this position of favor with the Lord. The same passage in Ephesians 2 tells us that "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus" ( Ephesians 2:6 ). We are currently seated with Christ in heaven because of God's great love for us. This is our present position by grace, secure and unharmed by what the world can do to us. Knowing and experiencing God's kindness towards us will lead us into a life solely devoted to him. This devotion is based on gratitude for what he has done for us. It is not based on what we can do for him. Therefore our lives are changed because of God's kindness towards us. Paul said to remember and consider what his kindness has done for you so that you will always remain steadfast in it.
If kindness is showed to us by accepting his gift of grace through Christ Jesus, then what is the sternness of God that Paul warns us about? John said, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him" ( John 3:36 ). Even though the payment for sin was fulfilled in Jesus for all sins past, present and future ( Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 9:28, Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 10:18, I John 2:2 ). And the way to God has been opened up and freely offered to all through Christ Jesus, some will not accept this message and find salvation. The only thing that can keep you from eternal life and keep you out of heaven is the choice to reject Jesus. Jesus said in John, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" ( John 14:6 ). If we reject Jesus, which was the expression of God's kindness towards us, then we will remain under his wrath and experience the severity of God in the age to come.
In the same way, as born again believers we must continue in his grace and abide in his love so that we will not drift away, become complacent and calloused towards this wonderful gift. The writer of Hebrews admonished, "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will" ( Hebrews 2:1-4 ). If the message of the law was binding how much more severe will God be against those who have rejected such a great salvation? The blood of Jesus completely satisfied God's wrath against us. It is so complete that he now looks upon us with favor and kindness. He is not angry with us and will not punish us for sin because all judgment was placed upon Jesus. However, if we choose to reject such a wonderful gift then we remain enemies of God instead of being among his dearly beloved children.
Paul warns us against falling away from this wonderful gift of grace. Once we have accepted this gospel message, he reminds us to remain steadfast in God's kindness built up continually in faith and love so that we will not become hard hearted toward God and fall away. Paul said, "For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either" ( Romans 11:21 ). This only happens by unbelief and being calloused towards the Savior. This is why Paul said to remain in God's kindness standing firm in faith.
Today, I am encouraged because of God's kindness towards me in the person of Jesus Christ. I rejoice in this great salvation in which I have been included. May you understand this grace to which you were called, amen!