The Wrath of God
Tim Temple

Introduction

In this lesson we come to that aspect of God's character which is called the wrath of God . We've talked about some other aspects of God's nature which are much more pleasant to deal with and much more acceptable, if you will, to people, but we cannot talk about God and Who He is and what He is like without talking about the subject of the wrath of God.

The wrath of God is a subject that most people, even many Christians, don't want to talk about. It just doesn't seem like our concept of a loving God. It doesn't seem right in our world today to talk about something that is as old-fashioned as a God of wrath. However, if God is the kind of God that we have come to know that He is from our study thus far—holy, righteous, just, sovereign, and omniscient—then for Him to do nothing about sin and rebellion would be worse than the policemen and the firemen who stood by while crime or a fire is taking place. If we understand God properly, we have to understand that He is a God of wrath. Even though it is not a very popular subject today, we are going to think about the wrath of God as one of His holy, righteous attributes. As we do, we are going to follow somewhat the same pattern that we followed in our other studies.

We are going to think about three things. First, the definition of the wrath of God, then a description of the wrath of God that the Bible gives us, and then third and most wonderful of all, the fact that there is deliverance from the wrath of God.

Righteous Retribution Against Sin

Since there is so much misunderstanding about this subject of the wrath of God, it is important for us to get a clear understanding of the definition of the wrath of God. What are we talking about anyway, when we talk about the wrath of God? The essence of the definition is this: The wrath of God is His necessary, just and righteous retribution against sin. That is the way that it is defined in one of the more commonly used theological dictionaries. The wrath of God is the necessary, just, and righteous retribution against sin.

In order to understand that definition clearly, it is important for us to notice each of the adjectives in this definition. It is necessary , it is just , and it is righteous . In other words, if God is just and righteous, then wrath is necessary. He cannot be a just and righteous God without doing something about sin and rebellion. The wrath of God is necessary. The wrath of God is just as much a part of His nature as is His love and mercy and goodness. Let me tell you something today: Christianity would make no sense if there were not the aspect of God's nature known as the wrath of God.

In order to understand this definition more fully, to put some flesh and meat on that skeleton of a definition, let's do some elaboration on the definition. As I have said, most people prefer not to talk about the wrath of God. I think with non-Christians it is because it is terrifying. Even subconsciously, if they allow themselves to think objectively for even a brief time about the possiblity of there being a God of wrath, it is a horrifying thought; and so non-Christians just put it on the shelf and try to keep it in the subconscious and not to even let it surface there any more than they possibly can.

We have found, all of us probably, in conversations that most Christians don't even want to talk about the wrath of God. How long has it been since you have heard a sermon about the wrath of God? We have touched on it in some of our other studies, but it is not a subject that is preached about very much. If you listen to Christian radio and television programs, as you should, it probably has been a long time since you heard anybody talk very much about the wrath of God. The reason for that is, I think, that we don't really understand righteous wrath. We associate wrath with anger, and when we think about that, we think about someone who throws a fit or someone who tries to get even with somebody who has done something wrong to them. Most Christians think, “That just doesn't fit my picture of a loving God Who has revealed Himself to me,” so they balk at the subject of the wrath of God. They are not familiar with righteous wrath.

We are familiar with something that we humans call righteous indignation, and we know that there are those times when we can get angry about something and we are right to be angry. There is a place for anger. Anger is not a sin in and of itself. The Scripture says, “Be angry and sin not,” and the clear implication of that is that it is possible to be angry without sinning in the midst of that. However, anger is a perfect setup for sin, and it is very easy, even if we are righteously indignant about something, to step over into the sin that is involved in anger and retribution and those kinds of things. Even if we understand what righteous indignation is, it still doesn't come close to the righteous wrath of God.

Warnings About God's Wrath

Interestingly enough, the Bible mentions the wrath of God more times than it does the love of God. Can you imagine that? God does not leave us defenseless. God does not leave us without warning about the subject of the wrath of God. In fact, it is interesting to notice that of all the teachers and prophets whose words are recorded in the Bible, Jesus talked about the wrath of God more than any other speaker in the Bible. So, we cannot put this on a shelf and put it out of our thinking.

For example, we read in the Old Testament book of Nahum, chapter 1, beginning in verse 2:

Nahum 1

2God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.
3The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
4He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth.
5The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.
6Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.
7The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
8But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.

Even though it is tucked away in an obscure little book in the Bible, this is a perfect example of the wrath of God, because you notice that Nahum, the prophet, didn't pull any punches in describing the wrath of God. He talks about how terrible it is, but at the same time, in the very next verse after describing the terrible wrath of God, he says in verse 7:

Nahum 1

7The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

This is a verse that is very often quoted by Christians. In fact, I wonder how many Christians realize what is written in the six verses before that blessed promise. Verse 8 goes on to remind us that even though He is good and a stronghold in the day of trouble, make no mistake about it, He will, “with an overrunning flood make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.”

God's Goodness Includes His Wrath

Yes, God is a God of love, and we have talked in our previous studies about the fact that He does know those who trust in Him. He knows us intimately, and it is a knowledge surrounded by His love, but at the same time, He is also a God of wrath against sin and wickedness.

Ironically, a part of God's goodness is that it includes His wrath upon all that is not good. In fact, you see, if there were no wrath of God, there would be no need for our salvation. If there were no wrath of God, there would be nothing for us to be saved from. Why do we talk about our relationship with God in terms of salvation anyway? We talk about it in terms of being saved. Now, if there is no wrath of God, what is there to be saved out of? Why is there any need for salvation from anything?

You see, the wrath of God is an essential, integral part of our understanding of Who He is and what He does. God could just look the other way, and let anybody who wanted to come to Heaven with nothing to be done about sin, but what would that be? If God just let anybody into Heaven—and of course you know there are many people who think that is the case—do you know what we would have? It wouldn't be Heaven. It would be this all over again. It would just be this life with all the sin and all the problems that sin produces. God wouldn't be a God of love if He did that. That wouldn't be Heaven, that would be at best, just another earth, and really it would be Hell.

Examples of God's Wrath

We see the same thing in the New Testament. We tend to associate the wrath of God with the Old Testament, and we think about it as an old-timey idea, but Paul wrote a letter to the Christians who were living in Thessalonica. The Thessalonians were concerned about the very thing that we are talking about. They were concerned that maybe the Lord had already come back for Christians and that they had been left behind, and so Paul wrote to them and told them, “Look, if you had been left behind, you would be right in the middle of the wrath of God, and you must not know anything about the wrath of God. Let me tell you about the wrath of God.” In the first verses of II Thessalonians, chapter 1, he says that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to appear on earth once again. Then beginning in verse 7, he says:

II Thessalonians 1

7And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8[Notice this] In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9Who shall be punished with [notice] everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

This is the same Apostle Paul who wrote, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus the Lord.” This is the same Apostle Paul who wrote to these very same people, the details of that wonderful day when the Lord Jesus Christ will appear in the air and catch those of us who are still alive at that time up together to be with Him, and will catch our loved ones who have died, out of the grave, and we will together be reunited with them and with the Lord, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Paul wrote beautiful things about God and about His salvation, but He didn't pull any punches when He said, “When Jesus Christ comes, He will come in flaming fire taking vengeance on His enemies.” He didn't hesitate to tell us that those people will face everlasting destruction from the presence of God.

Listen, it is like the old song says, “You can't have one without the other.” If you don't like to talk about the wrath of God, then you can just forget about talking about the love of God, because they are both essential parts of His character.

The history recorded in the the Old Testament and the New Testament is full of examples of God's wrath. The first example of it, even though it is not the kind of wrath that we tend to think about, was when He banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. When did He do that? After they sinned, after they rebelled against Him, after they took Satan's advice instead of God's advice. God knew that it would be too complicated for them to live in that place. There would be too many problems arise, and He banished them from that beautiful place that He had created for their use.

Years later, when men began to band together to rebel against God, they came to the place where they said, “Let us build a tower that will reach up into Heaven.” Those people were not just talking about building an observation tower. They weren't talking about building a tower with which they would be able to see their enemies coming. Literally, in the Hebrew text, what that says is that they were building a ladder by which to go into Heaven. God exercised His wrath on mankind by confusing the languages. The reason why we have to have our joint Spanish and English worship service translated is because of God's wrath upon mankind. God doesn't hesitate to bring great difficulties and great problems into the lives of those who reject His instructions.

Another example is the flood in Noah's day, in which God wiped out the entire population of the world, except for Noah and his family. It was God's wrath poured out directly upon human beings.

Many years later, after the earth had repopulated and the people had again become rebelious against God, God brought ten famous plagues upon Egypt. You remember those terrible plagues. Interestingly enough, if you studied through those things that God did to Egypt, you will find that each of those things made light of something that Egypt worshiped. They worshiped the Nile river, and so He turned the river to blood. They worshiped all kinds of things. They worshiped even frogs, and so God said, “You like frogs? Let Me show you frogs,” and He gave wall-to-wall frogs. Can you imagine what that would be like?

The interesting thing about that one is that when Moses came and said, “Pharaoh, are you ready to repent,” Pharoah said, “One more night. Tomorrow I will repent.” There is a famous evangelistic sermon that has made the rounds all through the years, the title of which is, “One More Night With the Frogs.” Why do you suppose he put off averting that plague of God until tomorrow? Today is the day of salvation. God's wrath can be averted, as we will see in a few minutes, but God brought all of these terrible plagues, and those were plagues that were real problems to living, individual human beings.

The book of Revelation describes a time in the future that we have come to call the Tribulation period, when He is going to bring that same kind of terrible turmoil and trouble upon the human race because of their rebellion against Him. The bulk of Revelation is built around describing that period.

Then the Scripture is abundantly clear on the fact that eternity will be a place of damnation and punishment and burning fire for those who do not accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

The Description of God's Wrath

Those things all had to do with the definition of the wrath of God, but to understand it better, the second thing we want to think about is the description of God's wrath that is given to us in various places in Scripture. The first aspect of God's wrath is that it is deserved . We talk about God's wrath and we think about how terrible it is for people to have to go through the wrath of God, but the Scripture makes it very clear that God's wrath is not like a baby throwing a temper tantrum, or like a father just reaching the end of his patience and exploding against his family—those kinds of human anger and wrath and dissatisfaction that we see—but rather the Scripture presents the wrath of God in terms of a judge who hands out a sentence that is deserved by the criminal. That is always the context of the wrath of God.

God's Wrath for Those Who Deserve It

Our problem is that we just read isolated passages here and there that describe the wrath of God and we don't look at the overall context, but the Scripture always speaks of the wrath of God in the sense that it is deserved by the one upon whom it is poured out. The Bible speaks repeatedly about this kind of punishment. In the New Testament book of Romans, chapter 2, verse 5, Paul wrote:

Romans 2

5But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

There will not be one person in Hell who doesn't deserve to be there. There will not be one person who goes through the Tribulation on the earth before Hell ever starts, who doesn't deserve to go through that. Romans, chapter 1, verse 18, says:

Romans 1

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness…

If you have a clear conscience before God this morning, you have nothing to worry about with the doctrine of the wrath of God. If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have nothing to worry about with the wrath of God. If you have not trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you had better think very carefully about this, because Romans, chapter 1, verse 18, also says:

Romans 1

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

The reason that God's wrath is poured out on some human beings is that God has made it possible for all human beings to know about Himself. As we studied the book of Romans a year or two ago, we saw that even though every human being has a God-given ability to understand God; and even though God has revealed Himself in ways that every human being can see and would have to conclude that there is a God—He mentions specifically the rising and the setting of the sun, and the creation all around us—there are those that hold down that truth, who refuse to accept the truth that God reveals about Himself. Those are the people on whom God will pour out His wrath.

I want to say this carefully, and I hope that you will not misunderstand me. If you are bothered about the wrath of God, you may very well misunderstand me, but I want to tell you that every person in this room today who does not accept Jesus Christ as Savior is completely worthy of the wrath of God; and if you die without accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior, God will pour out His wrath upon you. Why is that? Because in this lesson the Gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ has been made as clear as I know how to make it. If you have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and you have not accepted Him as your Savior today—I'm not saying this because I am the one who has told you about the plan of salvation; I am telling you on the basis of the Word of God—if you hold down knowledge that you have been given of the truth of God's righteousness, God will pour out His wrath upon you. I don't say that to scare you, but I say that to make you think. You are a candidate for the wrath of God if you have not trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, having heard the truth of the plan of salvation.

At the same time, it is important to notice that in Luke, chapter 12, verses 47-48, we're told that even though it is punishment, no one receives more than he deserves:

Luke 12

47And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
48But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

A person who has never heard of Jesus Christ is still responsible because God has given His God-consciousness to every human being. In studying the book of Romans, we saw that as an individual follows up on that God-consciousness, God takes the responsibility for getting more truth to that person.

Very often people say, “What about people who were born in countries where there is some other religion that is predominate, and they never hear about Jesus Christ?” My answer to that is that the sun comes up in those countries too, doesn't it? Those people can see creation around them, can't they? God says that every human being has the message that God has put in the heart of every human being—the ability to understand in the sun coming up and the sun setting, the earth rotating on its axis, flowers growing, trees growing, human reproduction. As people look around at God's creation, God has designed them so that they can realize that there is a God.

You and I don't have to worry about what happens when a little child is born in a Hindu nation or in some other nation where another religion is predominate. That person indicates in his heart—may not say it aloud, God sees the heart—and God knows that individual in that backwoods of the Amazon jungle. God knows who that person is, and God takes the responsibility for seeing to it that that person hears about Jesus Christ. He may send a missionary or bring that person to a place where the Gospel is being preached. However He does it, it is God's responsibility.

That is why it is so important that if you or I are called to go the the Amazon jungle or whatever God calls us to do, we had better do it, because God has people who need to hear the message. God knows who they are and where they are and God takes the responsibility to get the message to them. That is why God can say without blushing, “I am going to pour out my wrath on those who hold down the truth in unrighteousness.”

God's Wrath Delayed

There is a second characteristic of the wrath of God, and it is one that is also very practical. We said the first characteristic of the wrath of God is that it is deserved . The second characteristic is that sometimes—not always, but sometimes—it is delayed . Sometimes we get very upset because of the way evil people seem to keep getting away with their evil. Why does God let people keep getting by with their sin, not getting caught or sometimes if they get caught not being punished? Is God not aware of these people who molest children and it can be proven that they did it and yet they get some kind of probated sentence? Is God not aware of those kinds of unfair situations? Yes, He certainly is. But make no mistake about it, people like that are only adding to what we might call their sin account. Talking to people who don't respond to God's revelation of Himself, in Romans, chapter 2, verse 5, we read:

Romans 2

5But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

It is easy to forget, particularly when we look at situations like that, that this life is not all there is. God doesn't settle all of His accounts at the end of the month or at the end of the trial. God sometimes waits until the end of this life to settle His accounts. He makes that very clear.

The Certainty of God's Wrath

David expresses the same concept in Psalm 7, verses 11-12:

Psalm 7

11God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
12If he [that is, the wicked] turn not, he [that is, God] will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.

This picture of judgment is of an archer pulling back his bow, in verse 12. The more the target sins, the farther back He pulls the bow; and the farther back He pulls the bow, the deeper the arrow is going to go when it does hit. You think you are getting away with sin? Let me tell you something: If you are sinning and God hasn't done anything about it yet, and you're refusing to confess that sin because somehow you think you are getting away with it, all you are doing is adding to your sin account. All that you are doing is giving God more time to draw the bow back farther, and when His wrath comes—it may be in this life—when His discipline comes, the worse it is going to be.

Don't trifle with sin. Don't think that just because you sinned and haven't gotten caught yet, that the consequences are never going to come. Because you go on with that sin, don't dare think that the consequences are going to be lighter when they do come, because part of the principle of God's wrath is that sometimes, for His own perfect reasons, He delays that wrath, and for the Christian He delays that discipline. Even though our sins are taken care of from the wrath of God, He disciplines His children, for the same principle applies there.

The longer He waits, the farther He is pulling back the bow. It is God's purpose that you confess that sin right now. It is God's purpose that you confess the minute He convicts you of it, and that will be about one minute after you do it, if you are a true believer in Jesus Christ. The longer you wait, the bigger your sin account is going to be. Don't be envious of the wicked that seem to have it so good. God just hasn't released His bow yet. When He does, you sure won't envy them.

No wonder John the Baptist preached in Matthew, chapter 3, verse 7, “Flee from the wrath to come.” In Hebrews, chapter 9, verse 27, we read:

Hebrews 9

27And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

There will be no second chances, no reprieve, no probation, no community service, but judgment. “God is long-suffering and not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” but sooner or later, life comes to an end and so does God's patience. Romans, chapter 2, verse 4, says:

Romans 2

4Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Do you know why you're sinning and getting away with it? It is because God is being good enough to you that maybe, by His grace, you will repent of that sin before His wrath and condemnation has to fall on you. The goodness of God is designed to bring us to repentance. Many people interpret God's forbearance as approval of their sin, or at least as unconcern. Maybe God hasn't noticed. But listen; you are only one heartbeat away from eternity, and if your heart stops after one more beat or after a hundred more beats, and you stand in the presence of God without accepting His provision for salvation from sin, you will have a tremendous price to pay.

Actions That Demand God's Wrath

The wrath of God is described in Scripture as deserved and delayed , but there is a third aspect of God's wrath, and that is that it is demanded . I am using that term simply because it begins with “d,” and so do all of the others. It may not be the best word for what I am trying to express, but what I mean by that is that the Scripture tells us that there are people who ask for God's wrath by their actions. There are people who demand the wrath of God.

Some months ago we studied through Romans, chapter 1, very carefully, and in much detail. We are not going to look at all of these verses today or analyze them as we read them, but I want you to notice this basic passage of Scripture that has to do with the wrath of God. We usually think of the wrath of God as some future, flame-filled event, when God will bring fiery justice on the evil doers. As we have just been seeing, that is a very definite part of God's wrath, for we have seen some passages that speak of it in exactly that way.

This passage here in Romans shows another unique aspect of God's wrath that takes place even before that—an outpouring of God's wrath that takes place in individual lives and on societies in this life. As we look through these verses you will see they show a steady progression downward on the part of human beings.

Romans 1

21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

They just kept getting lower and lower in the things they put in places of worship. Then it goes on to talk about one downhill run and then another, but the common denominator that runs through this whole passage is that over and over again we read that as things got worse, and as God's people insisted on building their lives around things that were more and more debauched, God simply gave them up to their own desires. Look at verse 24:

Romans 1

24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

The verses around this talk about the sin of homosexuality as clearly as it could ever be asked to be discussed. After more downhill, God gave them up to their own desires. Please look at these verses with me:

Romans 1

25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Skip on down to verse 28:

Romans 1

28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

If we insist on our sin, if we demand to live in a way that is rebellious to God, God will grant our wish. God will give His wrath, because His wrath is the answer for sin and rebellion and debauchery. Let me tell you something: The homosexuality and its attendant sexually transmitted diseases and division of people within our nation, is a judgment of God upon our nation. It is not that God is going to judge our nation because of those things; it is that our nation is already being judged with those things.

The same thing is true of the rampant disrespect for life—crimes of abortion, murder, euthanasia—that we are practicing in our nation these days. They are a part of God's wrath being poured out on us. Generation after generation have said, “More and more. We insist on doing it our way. We don't want to do it God's way; we want to do it our way. We don't want to have to worry about birth-control. We want to be able to just do away with babies that we don't want. We don't want to worry about old people and all the problems they cause. We want to be able to do away with those people when we are ready,” and God said, “All right, I will let you do it.” Look what has happened to our nation. God let us do it, and look what it has brought. It is only going to continue to bring more of the wrath of God.

The Solution to National Problems

Listen, the solution to our problems as a nation is not—now muster all your grace about what I am about to say—the Republican contract with America. That is not going to solve the problem. It may tighten some screws here and there; it may do a little housekeeping here and there, but the only solution to the problems in America is for men and women to turn to Jesus Christ as Savior, for those who have come to Jesus Christ as Savior to turn back to Him in obedience and submission, and to influence those around us to do likewise, because what we have in our nation today is the wrath of God. Only a return to righteousness will be able to do anything about the wrath of God. All that we are doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the back of the Titanic.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be careful who we elect, and that doesn't mean that we shouldn't support our elected officials as they try to make adjustments and try to get things more right, but don't kid yourself that that is going to solve the problem. That may make life a little easier to bear, but the only thing that is going to make a real difference is for you individually to turn back to Jesus Christ if you are walking away from Him, and for you individually to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior if you haven't done so already. All of us must tell as many as we can this truth. That is the only way that all of these problems are going to be solved.

Deliverance From the Wrath of God

We have thought about the definition of God's wrath, and a description of God's wrath, but there is a third and last thing that we need to understand about the wrath of God, and that is, praise God, there is deliverance from the wrath of God. I hope you realize that the wrath of God is real. The wrath of God is more real than most people want to admit, but it is not inevitable. It can be avoided. God's justice and God's righteousness demand that sin be paid for. He can not be just and righteous without sin being taken care of, but His mercy, which is also a part of His character, provided a substitute to take that punishment for us. It doesn't mean that God just decided to forget about sin. It doesn't mean that things got so bad and such a majority of the human race got so bad that God said, “What can you do anyway? Let's just let it go by.” No, no. God is a just and righteous God and sin had to be dealt with, and so God poured out His wrath on His Son. Look at Romans, chapter 5, verses 8-9:

Romans 5

8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, [listen] we shall be saved from wrath through him.

That is exactly the subject that we are talking about. When Jesus Christ died for our sins, God was pouring out His wrath on Jesus Christ. Let me tell you, God is going to pour out His wrath on somebody. God poured His wrath out on Jesus Christ for you, but if you don't believe that then God is going to have to pour His wrath out on you. It is as simple as that. God's wrath will be poured out.

In a setting like this, there are many people who will say, “I am already saved, so none of this applies to me.” But this does apply to you if you have a sister, brother, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, neighbor, or fellow worker who is not saved. God has entrusted us with this information. Information about His wrath and the information about His deliverance from wrath.

Our Responsibility to Witness

It is not possible for us to ever know about this happening, but wouldn't it be terrible—because I think it will happen—if someone stood in Hell and said, “You know, I sat at the desk next to so and so for twenty years and He never said a word to me about Jesus Christ, and look where I am now.” They will not be there because you didn't tell them. They will be there because they held down the truth that you may have given them, but what if you didn't give them that truth? They will be there because they may have held it down some other way, but I believe there are going to be people in Hell that do not need to be there, because we in some way contributed to their holding down of the truth.

Somebody is going to say, “You know, I went to family reunions, saw that guy every year, and he never said a word to me about Hell. He never said a word to me about Jesus Christ.” What a terrible burden on your conscience. You are not going to be able to save your relatives, your neighbors and your co-workers. Only God can do that, but you and I are responsible for getting that message out to them.

God may speak to you and say, “I want you to witness to your friend, your relative, your co-worker.” If God wants you to do that, He will convince you of that, and you won't be able to get away from that conviction. You don't need to worry about going out and grabbing people on the street by their coat, unless God leads you to, and He may lead you to. Wait for God to lead you, but don't kid yourself; He is going to lead you to do that sooner or later, and probably a lot more often than you really are willing to admit. When God burdens you to witness to someone, you had better do it, because God is going to get that message to that person. Then it is up to that person whether he accepts it or not. You can't save them, but you can get the message to them. Listen carefully for God's voice as you think about the subject of the wrath of God.

In 1829 a man in Philadelphia by the name of George Wilson robbed the U.S. mail, and he killed a man in the process. Wilson was arrested and brought to trial, convicted, and received the death penalty. He was sentenced to hang. Some friends intervened on his behalf, and they were finally able to persuade the governor of Pennsylvania to give him a pardon. When Wilson was informed of that pardon, he refused to accept it. He said, “I'm guilty. I killed a man, and I deserve to die. I do not want a pardon.” The sheriff, however, was unwilling to hang a man who had received a pardon, so it went through the courts all the way to the Supreme Court, and finally after deliberating the case very carefully, Chief Justice John Marshall made a ruling. The ruling was this: A pardon rejected is no pardon at all. Even after he heard that ruling, Wilson steadfastly refused to accept the pardon, and on the day that he was hanged, that pardon from the governor, unaccepted, was lying on the sheriff's desk. God forbid that anybody here today, or anyone to whom you might be able to witness, would face the wrath of God while the pardon that God has offered lies unused on the desk.

Conclusion

Arthur W. Pink, a Bible scholar of previous decades, wrote this: “The wrath of God is the perfection of the divine character upon which we need to meditate frequently. First, so that our hearts may be duly impressed by God's detestation of sin. We are ever prone to regard sin lightly, to gloss over its hideousness, make excuses for it, but the more that we study and ponder God's abhorrence of sin, His frightful vengeance upon it, the more likely we are to realize its heinousness. Second, to beget a true fear in our souls for God. Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29). We cannot serve Him acceptably unless there is due reverence for His awful majesty and godly fear of His righteous anger. These are best promoted by frequently calling to mind that our God is a consuming fire. Third, to draw our soul in fervent praise to Jesus Christ, for having delivered us from the wrath to come. Our readiness for our reluctance to meditate upon the wrath of God becomes a sure test of how our hearts really stand affected towards Him.


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