THERE IS NO limit to what can be accomplished when a person is motivated by a strong love. And no love can be so strong as that which comes from the knowledge of the love God has shown on our behalf. This is what Paul meant when he wrote to the Corinthians that “the love of Christ constrains us” (II Corinthians 5:14).

To act from fear of judgment is not a bad thing. It is far better than not acting at all. But how much better it is to act out of love! The “severity of God” is not that of a Big Bad Bully who wants to punish us. It is not that of a Taskmaster God who stands over His people, ready to give them the lash the moment they slip or fall behind in their work. When the Scriptures speak of God’s judgment, they almost always speak of it in a context of rebellion or rejection.

Jesus sent out the apostles with the commission to “Go … preach the gospel to every creature.” When men hear the gospel they may do one of two things. Jesus dealt with both. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15,16). The heathen who have never heard are given no hope in Scripture, but this verse does not involve them. Christ speaks here of those who hear the gospel. If they accept and obey it they will be saved. If they reject it they will be condemned.

The Christian who attempts to please God but fails through human weakness is a different sort of person entirely from the one who renounces all desire to please God. The first is covered by the blood of Christ. The latter is offered no forgiveness so long as he continues in such disbelief. He “considers the blood of the covenant an unholy thing.” Nothing remains for him but a “fearful judgment” (Hebrews 10:26-29).

There is no room for playing games with Almighty God. God is love (I John 4:8). He is also a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). The coin has two sides.