Does God Punish Sin

The events of 2020 have brought the concept of “justice” to the forefront of our public conversation. With all the different voices in our culture trying to define justice these days, it is important for us as Christians to turn to the Bible for our definition of justice. Austin’s message on Micah 1:10-16 this Friday helped us to understand the concept of justice from a biblical perspective. In this passage, the prophet Micah lists the various judgments that God is going to send on the people of Judah for their disobedience to His commandments. Before diving into the passage Austin showed us three categories of the Biblical idea of justice as outlined by the old, dead theologian Charles Hodge. The first category, rectoral justice, is the idea that all justice —the very idea of what is right and what is wrong — comes from God (Romans 1:32). The second category of justice, distributive justice, based on Romans 2:7-8, is the idea that God will judge each person according to what he or she has done. This justice can either be retributive, punishing people for their sin, or remunerative, rewarding each person according to his or her righteousness. Finally, because all people are sinners, the only way any person can receive remunerative justice is through redemptive justice  in which, through placing one’s faith in Christ, their sin is transferred to Christ and Christ’s righteousness is transferred to that person. In the passage we studied on Friday, the prophet Micah is proclaiming that God will exact his retributive justice on the cities of Judah. The prophecy is presented as a poem  with  wordplays on the name of each  city to describe the kind of judgment that will take place there. For example, the city of Shaphir, whose name means beauty, will be made naked and ashamed.

The kind of justice described in this passage does not sit comfortably with a lot of people, including myself at times. It is important to remember, however that all of us deserve the same kind of just judgment described in this passage. Because God is perfectly holy and has set the standard of right and wrong, we all deserve God’s retributive justice, to face His wrath for eternity. Instead,  in His love, God sent his Son to live a perfect life and take the right penalty for our sins so that if we believe, our sin is transferred to Christ and his perfect righteousness is transferred to us.

The idea of God’s justice should first make us thankful for our salvation because God, through the death of his Son, saved us from the judgment we justly deserve. Second, God’s justice should provide us with a sense of urgency to bring the gospel to a lost and dying world. More important than fixing any temporal ill in this world, more important than any social cause we may support is the need to get the gospel to those who, in their sin, are heading for God’s judgment. 

11.13.2020 Fall 2020 Week Six

Bobby Hekel

Testimony of the Week: Christine Chen

Christine is a third year nursing major who enjoys having deep conversations & sipping oat milk lattes in coffee shops. 

Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost

But now I’m found

Was blind, but now I see

This is the story of amazing grace, how God saved a wretch like me. 

I was born into a loving family with God-fearing parents and attended my parents’ Chinese church for most of my childhood. I grew up learning about many of the bible stories, and I even memorized verses for my youth group’s yearly “Bible Challenge” event, but my heart was hardened to the truth from those words. I never doubted God’s existence, but I had a skewed view of God’s character and my own sinfulness. Really, I did not feel like I needed God because I was blind to my own sinfulness and depravity before His perfect holiness and sovereignty. 

Growing up, I prided myself on being a morally good person who was friendly, extroverted, and enthusiastic. In my early years of high school, I worshipped my reputation before man. The compliments of others fed my ego, and I genuinely thought I was better than most people. I continued to attend church twice a week and was an active member of my youth group, but I did so out of obligation and as an excuse to spend time with my friends (fun fact: they are still some of my closest friends to this day – God doesn’t waste anything!). 

As I progressed in high school, I lived for myself and the things of this world. I was consumed with academic success and the approval of man. My GPA and the praise of others determined my happiness, and as a result, I was never satisfied. My selfish heart always wanted more than what was meant to be sought after in this world. In Jeremiah 17:9 it says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” My heart is certainly no exception. 

In the summer of my sophomore year of high school, I fell into a depressive episode. That summer, I was preparing to take the SAT, and there was not a day that went by where I did not think about college. I measured myself to a worldly standard and coveted my personal success in life. In the eyes of man, I would never be good enough. Never smart enough, pretty enough, or talented enough. Never enough. Blinded to my sinfulness, I was filled with egocentric thoughts, building and basking in a kingdom of self. This self-focused way of living eventually led me to this low point in my life. In retrospect, this dark time in my life was God’s blessing in disguise. 

During this time, It was difficult for me to get out of bed every morning because I felt insignificant. Yet even though I felt hopeless, by the grace of God, I somehow still had hope in my heart. I clung to the possibility that my life was not going to end in despair, and that I was meant for something greater than myself. Thankfully, this rang true. 

I realized that living for myself and my desires was a hopeless endeavor. I would always want more, and I would never be satisfied or content.The slight yearning in my heart that possibly, just possibly, my life was meant to be lived for something much greater than myself, kept me searching for God. And search, I did. 

In my junior year of high school, I decided to find a Bible-believing church in San Diego, and my older sister, a GOC alumnus, recommended Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego to me. I fondly recall the first time I attended LBCSD and heard Pastor Patrick preach. I remember hearing the gospel for what felt like the first time. After service, I remember feeling terrible but genuinely repentant. I was sorry for the ways that I lived for myself and thought nothing about God. God convicted me of my sinful state, and I realized that I needed to repent and transform internally. God opened my eyes to His word, and I began to find meaning in every verse I read. I was in awe of a gracious and holy God who loves sinners despite our obvious and apparent shortcomings. Romans 5:8 gripped my heart. 

Romans 5:8

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

God, holy God, who knows how deeply we offend Him as wretched sinners sent His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, who is deserving of no wrong, who deserves our pure worship, who chose to love us. That is amazing grace.

From that season forward, I was so utterly convinced of God’s goodness and kindness in my life. I was in desperate need for God. I did nothing to deserve His kindness and care. In fact, I rebelled against Him, and yet He preserved me in spite of my sinfulness. 

I joined the youth group at LBCSD, learned so much about the Bible, experienced the sweet joys of being served by hospitable families, met up with many older godly women who I’m still very close to, babysat children from the church, and went on late night boba runs with college students after bible study. Through all of this, I experienced the bliss of being a part of a Gospel- centered, Bible-believing church family that has so much love for God and each other for the first time. I became a member of LBCSD the fall of my senior year and got baptized the following Spring. Needless to say, I am so glad God used this church as a part of my testimony to saving faith. 

In my time in college, I can say with confidence that my love for God and hatred for sin only increases with each passing day. As a result of God’s great love for His people, I strive to love others more perfectly. My life is characterized by Psalm 16:11, the joy that comes from God.

Psalm 16:11

“You make known to me the path of life;

    in your presence there is fullness of joy;

    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Now, I feel significant not because of my worldly achievements but because my identity is in Christ, not in the things of this world, and I can boldly proclaim that I am a daughter of God. While I still struggle with battling my anxiety, worldliness, pride, and sin, as I will until the day I die, I know that this is not a hopeless battle; it is a battle that I joyfully endure because the Lord, my God will help me overcome it. I take comfort in the promises of John 16:33.

John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

My constant prayer for my life is Psalm 19:14.

Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” 

While there are many areas for growth in my life (..like a LOT y’all), I’m excited to see how God will continue to shape, sanctify, and use my life for His glory. Soli deo gloria. 

2 Corinthians 4:16 

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

God’s Judgment and a Prophet’s Compassion

This sermon by Pastor Austin Duncan covered Micah 1:2-9. God pronounces judgment on Israel and Judah for their disobedience and sinfulness against Him. The first two verses focus on how God is sovereign above the heavens and earth, yet still comes down to meet His people where they are. Verses 3 and 4 cover the judgment that no longer feels distant when the Lord comes which is terrifying for sinners like us. Micah’s message shocked the Israelites because they thought that God was pronouncing judgment on their enemies- Assyria and Babylon. However, God was declaring judgment on the Israelites due to their unfaithfulness and corrupt worship. Pastor Duncan emphasized that the judgment first begins in the house of God. Verses 8 to 9 illustrate how Micah responded to the coming judgment. The prophet weeped, understanding that God’s people deserved judgment. The ultimate model of compassion is Christ, and when we reflect on the incoming judgment that the world will face, we should be in tears like Micah and Jesus. 

This message is particularly applicable to us sinners today, because we know that the sinful world will soon be facing God’s wrath. As the tumultuous year of 2020 comes to a close, we are reminded of how fallen the world is by the many events that occurred and are currently happening. It is all too easy for Christians to look forward to the coming judgment of non-believers and think that the world deserves punishment. However, Pastor Duncan’s point about how the house of God will be judged first resonated deeply with me. The judgment of a perfect and holy God is terrifying, and even though we are sinners saved by grace, we still deserve the Lord’s judgment. We are no better than those who reject the Gospel; it is God in His mercy who chose to save us. Therefore, the coming judgment on the world should sadden us, just like how Micah and Christ cried.  

From this passage, I am reminded to guard my heart against judgment and pride in my attitude towards non-believers. There is no reason for us as Christians to be judgmental or prideful, since we are sinners prone to wrongdoing also. Instead, just like how Micah was in tears for the Israelites and how Christ showed compassion towards everyone, we should be mourning for the world. Ultimately, we are also sinners who deserve God’s wrath, and as we go about our daily lives, we should be saddened when thinking about judgment. Likewise, we should constantly reflect on what a blessing it is to be saved and adopted into God’s family instead of facing His wrath because Christ paid it all for us. 

11.6.2020 Fall 2020 Week Five

Samantha Kan

Who is Like the Lord Our God?

This past Friday, Austin preached on Micah 1:1, particularly focusing on the details of who Micah was, where he was proclaiming God’s Word, and who he was proclaiming to. We learned about the history and geography of Israel and Judah and learned how it was applicable to the book of Micah. We also looked at the structure of the book of Micah and how there was a common theme of judgment with subsequent hope, repeating in three sections of the book. All in all, it was a quick overview of the circumstances surrounding Micah when he wrote this book which we will be studying this year.

The main highlight of Austin’s sermon was related to Micah’s name which means “Who is Like the Lord Our God?” Austin discussed how Micah was preaching to the Israelites whose responsibility was to strive to be like God, holy in all His ways. But in their sin, they had forgotten their purpose. So then came Micah who was named “who is like the Lord our God”. Micah’s name reminds Israel of their whole reason for being. 

But who IS like the Lord, our God? Is there anyone who can match the mercy, love, and compassion that the Lord has so bountifully bestowed upon us? Can we even understand how great His divine attributes are? Austin argues that we cannot even come close to comprehending just how great God’s hope is for us without first understanding God’s judgment and our sin. In our daily lives, we need to be constantly reflecting upon our sinful nature in order for us to fully understand and apply God’s love in our lives. 

10.30.2020 Fall 2020 Week Four

Timothy Ho