What city of all the cities on the earth do you think the Lord is most ready to bring judgment upon? Would you guess the city of Las Vegas? Or maybe Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea? Or would you guess Amsterdam or Rio de Janeiro or San Francisco or maybe Rome?
Is there any reason you would not guess Dallas, the home of a great many churches? Is there any reason you would not guess Colorado Springs, the home of many of this country’s most well-known Christian ministries?
Is there any reason you wouldn’t guess Appleton, Wisconsin, the home of, well, us?
Let me adjust the question a little. In what 10-year period in all of American history was America most ripe for divine judgment? Would you say right now, the second decade of the 21st century? Would you say the 1960’s, which gave us the sexual revolution? Would you say the roaring 20’s or the 1860’s, when we entered civil war?
Is there any reason you would not guess the 1950’s when Leave It to Beaver and the Donna Reed Show made their debuts on national television?
Is there any reason you would not guess the 1980’s when Ronald Reagan was fighting the Cold War with so much wisdom and grit?
Why ask these questions? Because questions like these put us in a place we are quite familiar with. They put us in the seat of judgment. They put us in the place of having to decide who we think is ripe for divine judgment and who we think is not. This is a place we often put ourselves, even when someone is not asking annoying questions.
It is part of our nature to justify and to condemn. Even if we have no legal authority to execute or to acquit, we like to sit in the seat of judgment in our mind and decide who has it coming to them and who does not. We like to pick the moral winners and moral losers. It is part of our human nature to do so. But it is also part of our human nature - because we are sinners - to never judge ourselves and others correctly until we understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
If we do not believe and look-out from within God's gospel, we will look on all men and ourselves as moral relativists.
A moral relativist draws a circle around his own life, around his own people, around his own culture, around his own time in history, and he says, “The people in this circle are more safe from judgment than those outside of it.”
The one with the pen, who drew the circle, becomes the relative point of judgment against which all others are judged. If you judge the world that way, if you judge yourself that way, you will find God incomprehensible and you will find the gospel unbelievable.
The death of Jesus Christ is God's revelation that the whole world languishes under a great debt of sin and that justification before God can only be found in Christ's righteousness not our own.
Nothing can wash away my sin /
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Being a member of the best cultures in history, or a graduate of the best schools, or an heir in the best families - none of these unions will release me from my sin debt. Why? Because my transgressions are not weighed against other men's lives or other cultures or other families or other people's achievements. My transgressions are weighed against God's holy and perfect law.
In Romans 3:20 Paul says: “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” The law does not loosen, it binds.
Paul is speaking the language of King David who said: “Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you” (Psalm 143).
David is saying, Lord help me, but don’t wait until I am righteous, I’m not. Help because you are merciful and because you are righteous.
We may, of course, find a culture or a person more noble and lawful than another culture or person. However, we will not find a culture or a person or a way of life within which we can hide and escape the fires of judgment. What is not covered by blood is exposed to wrath. Only in the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, is there shelter and refuge from the consuming fires of judgment. Wrapped in his perfect alien righteousness - a righteousness outside of us but given to us - we are safe, safe and saved from the blazing furnace that will consume all the earth on the Day of his appearing.
We should stand amazed and in awe in the worship of God that our only safety was given to us freely - Jesus, born under the law to redeem those under the law.
Brothers and sisters, please understand: one of the chief reasons American churchgoers do not weep for the salvation of their children, are not alarmed for their kin, are not naming their neighbors in God's courts often, is because we have tumbled into the pit of moral relativism. We think all the decent people we like - who also happen to like us - are safe from divine judgment. But God's word reveals that good people will be damned to hell just as sure as the bad people will be.
There is no safety except through the purification of Christ's blood. Offer men no other gospel. Believe no other gospel.