Yes, I agree with what you say here.
Can I take up another, related question, partly because reading through what I have written I suspect it could read as though I am subscribing to a form of Indifferentism - that is the idea that God forgives us all without any cost to anyone, which, of course, is hardly Orthodox. What I should like to do is to explore a little more the idea of God as love.
You can tell from this, and my other post today on 'Prayers for those in Hell' that I am reading Romans and some of the Patristic commentaries on it. It seems that St. Paul wrestles with this same issue in Romans 3:23-26 when he tells us:
Quote:3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
3:24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
3:25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,
3:26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
if we subsume all aspects of God into our concept of 'love' we miss that He is also light and a consuming fire, and that He is the only Just Judge. Matthew 13:49 and following remind us of this, and even in the Sermon on the Mount we are told about His judgement as well as His love. In Matthew 22:21-23 we are told specifically:
Quote:7:21 Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
7:22 Many will say to Me in that day, `Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'
7:23 And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
I hope I am not proof-texting here, but it does seem there is a very substantial body of material, just in Matthew, about God's judgement as well as His forgiveness.
Perhaps we have to remember how expensive our salvation is to God? As the upholder of a moral universe, God cannot just overlook our sins- that would be to make a nonsense of everything He has made. We can be redeemed by the sacrifice on Calvary and the Resurrection if
we become sons by adoption, by believing in or receiving Him (John 1:12). If we ignore or reject Him, then we pay the penalty for that: He sends no one to Hell - but we can send ourselves if we reject His love.
Here, St. Paul's comment quoted above shows us how God remains just and justifies the believer - through the sheer grace of God as a free gift; but that free gift, if I understand aright, did not dispense with the expiation of our sins, it required it and obtained it through Calvary. That justifies and acquits us of our sins, we are forgiven and our relationship with God restored; but if that is so, then we have to acknowledge our sins and amend our lives.
The Cross on Calvary transcends any human sense of justice. If we want that sort of justice we find it in Romans 6:23 - where we also find His generosity to us:
Quote:6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
So yes, God is love, but we also stand under judgement, and our obedience to Him shows our love for what He has done in setting us free.
Or so it seems to me; I would, as ever, appreciate being put right if I have erred; I would also be interested to know how others read these matters. I have tried to read these things in the light of the teachings of the Church, but my success may have been very small.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)