In public worship our habit is to slouch or squat; we do not kneel nowadays, let alone prostrate ourselves in humility before God. It is more characteristic of us to clap our hands with joy than to blush with shame or tears. We saunter up to God to claim his patronage and friendship; it does not occur to us that he might send us away. We need to hear again the apostle Peter’s sobering words; ‘Since you calll on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives…in reverent fear.’ In other words, if we dare to call our Judge our Father, we must beware of presuming on him. It must even be said that our evangelical emphasis on the atonement is dangerous if we come to it too quickly. We learn to appreciate the access to God which Christ has won for us only after we have first seen God’s inaccessibility to sinners. We can cry ‘Hallelujah’ with authenticity only after have have first cried ‘Woe is me, for I am lost’. In Dale’s words, ‘it is partly because sin does not provoke our own wrath, that we do not believe that sin provokes the wrath of God’.
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