The Goodness and Severity of God
Romans 11:17-24
And if some of the branches be broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them…


1. Without goodness, the character repels instead of winning. There may be certain qualities which command our respect in a Draco, who ordains death as the penalty for every trifling violation of the law, or in a Brutus, who with tearless eye gives orders, in the way of duty, for the execution of his sons; but from such untempered austerity we recoil.

2. Without severity goodness degenerates into that moral pliancy which, under the name of good-nature, has often made men "consent" to the enticement of sinners, and has given them nothing in return, but the insipid reputation of having been enemies to none but themselves.

3. In a perfect character, if such existed among men, you would see the counterbalancing powers of goodness and severity held in exact equilibrium. And such, the Word of God assures us, is the character of Him with whom we have to do.

II. AN ILLUSTRATION OF THIS TWOFOLD ELEMENT OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER MAY BE DRAWN FROM NATURE. " God is light," says the Scripture. Now light is compounded of seven different rays; but it has two main ingredients: the sombre rays (blue, indigo, violet); the bright rays (orange, red, yellow, green). Both are essential to the delicacy and purity of the substance. Without the sombre rays light would be a glare — the eyeball would ache beneath it; without the bright rays light would approximate to darkness, and lose the gay smile which lights up the face of nature, and twinkles on the sea. Similarly, the holiness, justice, and truth of God (attributes which wear an awful aspect to the sinner), are an element of His nature as essential to its perfectness, as mercy, love, and goodness. Suppose in Him, for a moment, no stern defiance against moral evil, but an allowance and admission of it, and you degrade Jehovah to the level of a pagan deity. Suppose in Him, on the other hand, an absence of love, and you supplant the very being of God, for "God is love." But combine both righteousness and love, intensified to the highest conceivable degree, and you are then possessed of the Scriptural idea of the Most High.

III. IT IS THIS ESSENTIAL CHARACTER OF THE DIVINE BEING WHICH FORMS THE BASIS OF THE GREAT DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT. God presents us in this with the highest illustration of both His attributes. He may be conceived as standing by the Cross and pointing to it, saying, "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God."

(Dean Goulburn.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

WEB: But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them, and became partaker with them of the root and of the richness of the olive tree;

The Goodness and Severity of God
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