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The Patience of God

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
April 26, 2024 12:00 am

The Patience of God

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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April 26, 2024 12:00 am

Dr. Stanley teaches that God is not long-suffering because He sees goodness in us but because He wants to see us saved.

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Charles Stanley

Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Friday, April 26th. Psalm 145, verse 8 says, The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Today's lesson highlights the incomparable and perfect patience of God. More than likely, you heard the gospel many times before you ever trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. You probably heard it from lots of different sources, for example, maybe somebody in your family, or maybe at church you heard your pastor, or maybe you heard somebody in a Bible conference somewhere or a Bible teacher.

Maybe it was your friend, somebody on radio, maybe on television, wherever it might have been. You knew it was the truth when you heard it. In fact, in spite of the fact that you knew it was the truth, you just kept on living the way you were living. You'd get under conviction every once in a while, and you knew you ought to change your ways, but you wouldn't, and you didn't. And often you would feel frustrated, unclean, separated, unrighteous, unholy, empty, lonely, sometimes hopeless and despairing.

But you know what? You just kept on. You just kept on living the way you were living. Now you know I'm going to ask the question, how can a person just keep on doing that?

In other words, what's God's response to that kind of living? Why didn't God just wipe you out? That is, why is it that God just kept on and on and on, putting up with your deliberate, willful, knowing sin? Well, that's what I want to talk about in this message, in the series, The Power of Patience. So I want you to turn, if you will, to 2 Peter, and if you will, to chapter three. And what's happening here is that there were those who heard about the coming of Jesus. They'd been hearing about it. And in spite of the fact that they'd heard and heard and heard and heard and nothing was happening.

And so they came to the conclusion, well, you know what? He's not coming. Because if He were coming, He would have already come. So what's all this stuff about Jesus coming again, the judgment and all that stuff?

So they were thinking the same thing back in those days. And so this is Peter's response, 2 Peter chapter three and beginning in the third verse. Know this first of all, that in the last days, mockers will come with their mocking following after their own lust and saying, Where is the promise of His coming?

For ever since the fathers fell asleep or they died, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation. For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice, Peter is saying, that by the Word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His Word, the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise.

Look at that. The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. So He's answering the question here, what is God up to in this whole issue of allowing people and nations to keep going on and on and on, living in disobedience? So I want to say first of all that patience is an attribute of God. Now an attribute means a characteristic, a trait. That is, it's who He is.

It's the reason He acts the way He acts. And so when we think about the fact of a trait of patience, for example, remember that the definition of patience is the willingness to wait. And for example, in the Old Testament, the Hebrew equivalent in the Old Testament to New Testament word patience is the phrase, slow to anger. Over and over and over again you'll find in the Old Testament that phrase, God is slow to anger. That was their phrase for saying that God is patient. Now I want to give you a definition of the patience of God. The patience of God is His goodness in withholding punishment from those who sin over a long period of time. It's the goodness of God in withholding punishment from those who sin over a long period of time. And so God by His very nature is a patient God.

In fact, He declares Himself, look back if you will in Exodus chapter thirty-four, God says about Himself that He is a very patient God. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with Him, that is with Moses, as He called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, here's what God said, the Lord, notice they're all capital letters, the Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness and truth, who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgressions and sins, yet he will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. Visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.

Now look at this. God says, this is who I am, abounding in loving kindness, He says. And He says, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin, which is three different words that refer to different aspects of disobedience or rebellion toward God. He says He forgives iniquity, transgression and sin. But notice what He says, He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of the fathers and the children, the grandchildren and the third and fourth generation.

Now here's what I want you to remember. Oftentimes people get confused about, they say, well now wait a minute. God says He's a God of love, goodness, mercy, abounding, loving kindness, overflowing with it. We say amen. And so there seems to be a contradiction because how can He be a God of, listen, of justice, wrath, righteousness and judgment and at the same time be a God of love, goodness, mercy, kindness, grace. How can He be both of these? And you see, one of the reasons that many people don't believe in God, do not believe in Jesus, they say, well you folks have a contradiction.

No, we don't. You see, you'll never understand what God is really like until you receive His Son Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Then you know what happens? Your eyes get opened. Your heart gets opened. Your mind gets opened. You begin to understand the things of God which the Word of God very clearly declares that you can only understand when the Holy Spirit comes into your life, which He does the moment you're saved.

Then all of a sudden you begin to see how. He can be a God of goodness and love and kindness and mercy and gentleness. And at the same time be a God of justice and wrath and judgment, slow to anger on the one hand, quick to judge on the other at the right time. And what I want you to see is there's no contradiction in God. He is one God, a God of righteousness and holiness, justice, wrath, mercy, goodness, love.

Kindness, gentleness. That's who this God is. And once you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, here's what happens. Once you do that, you begin to understand that the reason Jesus died was God the Father executing His wrath upon your sin on His Son who took your place as a substitute. That's what the passion of Jesus is all about. That's what the death of Jesus is all about. That's what the crucifixion is all about. The crucifixion is all about God making His Son a substitute for what we deserve. And this is why the wrath of God came upon His Son at the cross. He said, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me, suffering the wrath of God to pay the penalty for your sin and mine, so that you and I could do what? We can enjoy His grace, goodness, love, kindness, mercy and gentleness.

That's what it's all about. Now, somebody says, well, why is He so patient with us? So, I want you to look at three verses in a moment. Why is God so patient with us?

Well, first of all, watch this. This is not the reason. It's not because of the fact that He looks at us and says, well, well, well, well, well. Here's some goodness in Him, goodness in Him.

No. He says our righteousness is like filthy rags compared to the holiness of God. The best we can do is like stinking, dirty, nasty rags compared to the absolute purity of a holy God.

So, it has nothing to do with us. So, what is the reason for God's patience? Let me give you one in Romans chapter two. What God said to the Jews in those days, of course, He says to anybody, anywhere, whoever they may be. And listen to what Paul is saying to them because of their sinfulness and their rejection of Him. In Romans chapter two, verse four, listen. He says, speaking to them, do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God is for the purpose of leading you to repentance? Don't you understand that He says? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you're storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.

Now, here's that combination. Look, do you not think of the riches of the kindness, tolerance, patience of God? And he says, he's storing up because of your stubborn, unrepentant attitude, wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. So why, what's the purpose of God in being patient with us? Listen, the purpose of God in being patient with us is what? Is His desire to see us saved. That's His primary purpose. He wants to see us saved.

So what does He do? He's patient, that is, He's willing to wait. He gives us time. Look, if you will, in First Peter for a moment.

And if you'll notice in this third chapter and look, if you will, in the twentieth verse what he says. Speaking of the days of Noah and how God waited and waited and waited the days of Noah, he says, verse twenty, who once were disobedient, speaking of those people, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, kept waiting in the days of Noah. God is patient.

Why? Why was He waiting? To give them opportunity to believe. Then look at our text, if you will. He says in Second Peter chapter three, verse nine, The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you.

Why? Because He doesn't want to see anybody lost. Not wishing for any person to be lost, but for all to come to repentance. So His primary reason for being patient with the most wicked, His primary reason for being patient with disobedient, rebellious believers is because He doesn't want to see the unbeliever lost and He doesn't want to see us have to go through discipline after discipline after discipline until maybe one of these days we have gone beyond where we ought to go. Now, this God of justice, wrath, righteousness and holiness is a God of grace, mercy, kindness, abounding in loving kindness and love toward us. But there is a limit to God's patience, which means there will come a time when God's patience runs out and then this loving, gracious, kind, good, merciful God, listen, executes His wrath, His judgment, His righteousness and His holiness upon the wicked.

Now watch this carefully. It is not our business, nor is it within our range of our knowledge to know exactly how God is working in somebody else's life. We don't know how much they know.

We don't know what their opportunities are. We don't know what God's plan for their life is. We can't judge what God's doing in somebody else's life. And you and I cannot say, well, if you sin a certain period of time, then God's going to wipe you out.

No, it may be short for some people, longer for others. Well, does God's prejudice? No, He just knows what He's called them to do.

He just knows what His requirements are in that particular person's life. Now, let's recall what we said about the very definition of the patience of God, and that's simply this. It's God's goodness in withholding His punishment from those who sin over a period of time. So we're not talking about somebody who sins today and God wipes them out tomorrow. That is, God's patience is, listen, His patience is, He says, is stretched out over a long period of time.

Now, how long does He give us? The reason I don't say anything is because I don't know the answer to that. You know what?

Because it's different. Every single person's relationship with God is different. I can tell you this. The Bible is very clear that people like myself and other pastors out there and Bible teachers who believe the Word of God, He probably gives us a much shorter time than He does other people. We know better.

He probably is quicker to convict in some ways than maybe with someone else. We know the truth. We're responsible for the truth. We read it daily.

We study it continuously. While He convicts us all, listen, the span of time from the moment of His conviction over sin and the time He executes His divine discipline, nobody can answer that for someone else but I can tell you this. He is a very patient God because He is by nature patient. But will there come a time when He says, when He says, This is it?

Yes, there will, but here's what happens. Satan distorts our view and says, Well, you know what? God doesn't really consider it all that serious.

Let me ask you a question. How serious is one's sin over others? Somebody says, Well, murder is the most important. It takes somebody's life.

Listen to this. If God called you to preach the gospel, to go to the mission field or to serve Him in some fashion, and you say, Well, you know what? Thank you very much, God, that you love me enough to call me, but here's what I'm going to do. And you set out your plan for your life. What does God, does He strike you dead immediately? No, there'd be so many funerals.

Listen, we couldn't count them all. Here's what He does. He convicts, He convicts, He brings all kinds of hardship, frustration, anxiety, failure, you name it, that person's life, still being patient.

At some point, does God take that person off the scene? So I want you to listen very carefully to what I'm about to say. Two things primarily.

Watch this. Number one, you and I can never judge why someone else dies when they die. We cannot judge that.

Whether it's an accident or a disease, or they just hard, just quits beating. We can never judge anyone else. We don't know that. There is a limit to the patience of God. My spirit will not always strive with men. Very evident in the Scripture, not always strive with men.

Now I want you to think about this, first of all, for a moment. God was very patient with the Israelites coming through the wilderness there on their way to the Promised Land. But when Moses came down from Sinai and they had built a golden calf and were falling and worshipping this calf. When he had brought them to the Red Sea, opened the waters, and now they're worshipping an inanimate object.

He said, that's it. He told Moses, called the tribal Levi, sorted them up, killed three thousand of them in one day. God's patience ran out. Now when I think about the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, listen to what happened. The nation of Israel had their kings disobeying God, rebelling, violating the law, doing several things that He would not tolerate forever. First of all, idolatrous worship, serving other gods.

And secondly, intermarrying with the pagans. And God absolutely forbid it, made it extremely clear. They kept on, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and all the minor prophets over and over and over again said, the judgment of God's coming, cannot keep this up, judgment of God's coming, generation after generation, generation, judgment of God's coming, threw them in jail, want to kill them, you name it, and what happened?

One day the Babylonians came, broke down the walls, burned the city gates, destroyed thousands of people, and took some back to Babylonian captivity for seventy long years. You know why? The patience of God had a limit. And I want to challenge you as an individual, if you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and you think you can just go on and on and on, and only just explain it away, you may be wealthy with prestige and prominence and position and all the rest. You think God is going to use that to keep on being patient?

No. You remember this, the more you and I know, the more we understand, the more responsible we are. We have a responsibility to live godly before Him.

Perfect, no, but godly. And Father, we thank You for Your patience, not that we deserve it. Thank You for Your love, don't deserve that. Thank You for Your mercy, we don't deserve that. We're not asking for anything we deserve, we're only asking for Your mercy, not because we deserve it, but because of who You are. I pray that every single person who hears, they understand they've simply heard the truth, and now they have to deal with it. Either in rebellion and defiance, or in genuine, humble submission to Your precious Word, to receive Your salvation, cleansing a new beginning. In Jesus' name, amen. Thank you for listening to The Patience of God. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by In Touch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-26 05:28:36 / 2024-04-26 05:36:34 / 8

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