The Wrath to Come (Various Scripture)

The Wrath to Come (Various Scripture)

Why preach wrath?

First, the holy character of God demands it. An essential part of God’s moral perfection is His hatred of sin. A.W. Pink asserts, “The wrath of God is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin.” God is “a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29) who “feels indignation every day” (Ps. 7:11) toward the wicked. God has “hated wickedness” (45:7) and is angered toward all that is contrary to His perfect character. He will, therefore, “destroy” (5:6) sinners in the Day of Judgment.

Second, the ministry of the prophets demands it. The prophets of old frequently proclaimed that their hearers, because of their continual wickedness, were storing up for themselves the wrath of God (Jer. 4:4). In the Old Testament, more than twenty words are used to describe the wrath of God, and these words are used in their various forms a total of 580 times. Time and again, the prophets spoke with vivid imagery to describe God’s wrath unleashed upon wickedness. The last of the prophets, John the Baptist, spoke of “the wrath to come” (Matt. 3:7). From Moses to the forerunner of Christ, there was a continual strain of warning to the impenitent of the divine fury that awaits.

Third, the preaching of Christ demands it. Ironically, Jesus had more to say about divine wrath than anyone else in the Bible. Our Lord spoke about God’s wrath more than He spoke of God’s love. Jesus warned about “fiery hell” (Matt. 5:22) and eternal “destruction” (7:13) where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (8:12). Simply put, Jesus was a hellfire and damnation preacher. Men in pulpits would do well to follow the example of Christ in their preaching.

Fourth, the glory of the cross demands it. Christ suffered the wrath of God for all who would call upon Him. If there is no divine wrath, there is no need for the cross, much less for the salvation of lost souls. From what would sinners need to be saved? It is only when we recognize the reality of God’s wrath against those deserving of judgment that we find the cross to be such glorious news. Too many pulpiteers today boast in having a cross-centered ministry but rarely, if ever, preach divine wrath. This is a violation of the cross itself.

Fifth, the teaching of the Apostles demands it. Those directly commissioned by Christ were mandated to proclaim all that He commanded (Matt. 28:20). This necessitates proclaiming God’s righteous indignation toward sinners. The Apostle Paul warns unbelievers of the “God who inflicts wrath” (Rom. 3:5) and declares that only Jesus can “deliver us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). Peter writes about “the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (2 Pet. 3:7). Jude addresses the “punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 7). John describes “the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:16). Clearly, the New Testament writers recognized the necessity of preaching God’s wrath.

 

Christians on Hell

It has become common for Christians to describe hell as our freely chosen identity apart from God. Hell, it is said, is not so much where God sends the wicked, as much as it is what the wicked choose or create for themselves. This is the view famously espoused by C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce. Lewis argues that hell is our own self-absorption and idolatry let loose for all eternity. Hell is God’s way of saying “Thy will be done” to us when we refuse to say “Thy will be done” to God. Hell is what we get when we choose human freedom instead of divine salvation. The gates of hell may be locked for eternity, but they are locked from the inside. We refuse to give up the hell within us, so hell is what we get around us.

 

This seems to indicate that Hell is a passive response of God toward sin. Is that all there is? Indeed not; we see images in Scripture of God actively cursing and punishing…

 

  • In the garden, God cursed the serpent, the woman, the man, and the ground. He said to the snake “I will put enmity between you and the woman” (Gen 3:15), and to the woman, “I will multiply your pain in childbearing” ( 3:16). He sent the couple away and drove them out of the garden (Gen. 3:23-24). In this first episode of sin we see the way in which covenants work. Disobedience does not just result in bad consequences; it results in divine cursing.

 

  • At the time of the flood, God responded to the rampant wickedness on the earth by declaring “I will blot out man whom I have created” ( 6:7).

 

  • In Genesis 12, the chapter where God promises to bless the whole world through Abram, he also promises to curse those who dishonor Abram ( 12:3).

 

  • In Deuteronomy 28we see the promise of covenantal blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience. Both are actively sent by God. The curse is not a passive consequence of bad choices. On the contrary, we read in verse after verse: “The Lord will make the pestilence stick to you. . . .The Lord will strike you with wasting disease. . . .The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. . . .The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt” ( 28:21-27).

 

There are even instances, such as the Law of the Sabbath, where a violation of the Divine Law carries with it the death penalty.

 

Surely that is just the Old Testament, though. Don’t we have, in Jesus, the kinder, gentler God? Afraid not.

 

  • Jesus warns us to fear the God who can destroy both body and soul in Hell (Matthew 10:28)
  • Jesus, through the pen of the Apostle Paul, warns that God will give the wicked over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1)
  • Jesus, through the pen of the Apostle Peter, Jesus warns us that the earth is being reserved for fire. (2 Peter 3:7)

 

Is the coming wrath really necessary? Yes; God’s covenant keeping nature demands that He honor that curses in the covenants that He has laid down.

 

5 Types of Divine Wrath

  1. Eternal Wrath– Eternal separation from God – the final judgment for those who reject Christ.  This is going on now for those dead, and will go on into the infinite future.

 

  1. Eschatological Wrath– The outpouring of God’s judgment during the “last days.” (Revelation 6-19).  This wrath is yet to come.

 

  1. Calamitous Wrath – Such interventions as the Noahic Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, etc.

 

  1. Consequential Wrath– the natural results of bad choices.  Whatever we sow, we reap.  This reaping, though passive on God’s part, it still seen as God’s judgment, and wrath, on sin.

 

  1. The Wrath of Abandonment– this is being described in Romans 1, and how God judges individuals, groups, and nations.  We see this type of wrath happening in America today.

 

The wrath of God is an integral part of the Gospel but it is not revealed in the Gospel. Rather it is revealed in the facts of our experience as humans.

 

  1. Ungodliness: This refers to man’s offenses against God. Unrighteousnessrefers to the sins of man against man.

 

  1. Who suppress the truth in unrighteousness: Mankind does in fact suppress the truthof God. Every truth revealed to man by God has been fought against, disregarded, and deliberately obscured. Think about it, when is the last time you heard a good old fashioned sermon on sin? We hear about problems, illnesses, habits, hang-ups etc. but rarely if ever a sermon on sin.

 

God becomes a life coach, your granddaddy in the sky who is just waiting to lavish gifts and blessings on your life instead of the superlatively holy One.

 

  1. His invisible attributes are clearly seen: God shows us something of His eternal power and divine nature through creation, by the things that are made. He has given a general revelationthat is obvious both in creation and within the mind and heart of man.

 

Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God: The problem is not that man did not know God, but that he did know Him – yet refused to glorify Him as God. Therefore, mankind is without excuse. Instead of glorifying God we transformed our idea of Him into forms and images more comfortable to our corrupt and darkened hearts.

 

Nor were thankful: Man’s simple ingratitude against God is shocking. “I cannot say anything much worse of a man than that he is not thankful to those who have been his benefactors; and when you say that he is not thankful to God, you have said about the worst thing you can say of him.” (Spurgeon)

 

Professing to be wise, they became fools: Our rejection of God’s general revelation does not make us smarter or better. Instead, it makes mankind futile in their thoughts, and makes our foolish hearts darkened – and we become fools.

  1. The fact is once a man rejects the truth of God in Jesus, he will fall for anything foolish, and trust far more feeble and fanciful systems than what he rejects from God.
  2. This futility of thinking, darkening of the heart, and folly must be seen as one example of God’s righteouswrathagainst those who reject what He reveals. Part of His judgment against us is allowing us to suffer the damage our sinful course leads to.

 

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions: Paul wrote this from the city of Corinth, where every sort of sexual immorality and ritualistic prostitution was practiced freely. The terminology of Romans 1:24 refers to this combination of sexual immorality and idolatrous worship. The Old Testament, in fact, is replete with images of idolatry being equivalent before God as adultery.

 

Jude speaks of this in verse 4 of his brief epistle- the certain men who have crept in unawares have turned the grace of God into license.

 

John MacArthur on Divine Wrath: It is wrath against sin.  You knew that.  It’s not an uncontrolled, irrational fury.  God is not like a criminal who takes his vengeance out on the nearest person.  It is discriminated.  It is carefully pointed at the unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, asebeia and adikia.  What do these words mean?  “Ungodliness” and “unrighteousness.”

 

 

In Jude it says God is going to “come and execute judgment on all, and convict all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed.”  Three “ungodlies” in a row.  And then it says, “And of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”  Four in one verse, “ungodly,” not rightly related to God.

It refers to impiety toward God.  It refers to a lack of reverence, alack of devotion, a lack of worship.  And it leads to idolatry.  It views sin as a failure to reverence God.

Unrighteousness- When you are not rightly related to God and don’t reverence God properly, then your transactions with everyone else around you aren’t right, either.  And so ungodliness leads to unrighteousness.

All sin, you see, first attacks God’s majesty, and then His law.  And the reason – and I really believe this – the reason men treat men the way they do is because they treat God the way they do.  Ungodliness leads to unrighteousness.  People say, “Oh, what’s happening?  All the murders, and all the crimes, and all the horrible things that are going on.  Why is so man so inhumane to man?”  It’s because he is so unrelated to God.  All human relationships and all human transactions are corrupted.  And we’ll see more about that in the 2nd and 3rd chapter, as well as the remainder of the 1st chapter.

So, God’s wrath is set against sin.  Thomas Watson says, “Sin is to the soul as rust is to gold, as stain is to beauty.”  Sin in the Scripture is called a menstruous cloth.  It’s called a plague sore.  Joshua’s filthy garments were a hieroglyphic of sin.  And you know as well as I how God hates sin.

Interestingly, sin is the only thing God specifically and explicitly hates.

 

All men possess enough of the germs of divine truth and moral law to preserve them from hell, but they’ve halted the growth and development of those by the love of sin. And the wrath of God waits.

 

 

 

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