Saturday, July 3, 2010
The Wrath of God
Today, we are going to see how the wrath of God is revealed to all mankind. We have heard many sermons on the love of God, the mercy of God, or the grace of God, but we will see another attribute of God today; it is God’s wrath. Today’s sermon is called “The Wrath of God”.
I. What is the wrath of God? (v. 18a)
It seems that no one wants to hear about this particular divine attribute of God. It is just as much an attribute of God as His love or His omnipotentance or His unchangeable nature. God’s wrath is not the idea of a mere man losing his temper; it is God’s hatred of sin and immorality. Because God is so holy, he cannot but hate sin and bring judgment against those who practice sin. We have a church world today where many of those who say they preach the Gospel seem to leave out the fact that God must punish sin, that there is an eternal penalty measured out against all who have not received Jesus as Lord and Savior. Remember that wrath is not the idea of uncontrolled anger or a temper tantrum of a mere man; God’s wrath is a settled, determined righteous anger against the offensiveness of sin. It seems that Paul’s sharing of the gospel message began with an introduction to that all mankind is under the wrath of God. If you remember in our witnessing training we went through that there is the bad news/good news approach to the Gospel. Paul made sure that this church understood that the reality that all men are lost and under the wrath of God then he would show them the way of escaping the wrath through Christ. We cannot truly understand and appreciate the love, mercy, and grace of God until we see the righteousness demands of God against sin or the fury of His anger against evil. We cannot appreciate His forgiveness or the great love of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ if we cannot see how detestable sin, evil, and immorality is in the eyes of God. We cannot have the understanding of God’s gracious love through Christ if we do not know His hateful wrath against sinful men. God perfectly hates evil just as much as He perfectly loves righteousness. The fullness of the gospel message is most clearly seen when we show what scripture reveals about the spiritual nature of man (spiritually dead) is condemned by the righteous wrath of God; the Good News of the Gospel is more fully appreciated when we all understand that God wants to save us from our sinful nature (which incurs God’s judgment against us) through His Son, Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty of our judgment. Jesus met the righteous demands of God’s Law through his sinless sacrifice of His shed blood and life on the cross. When we just simply show that God’s wrath is against sin but God’s salvation from sin and judgment can be found through faith in Christ. The scripture reveals in John 3 both the salvation and the wrath of God. It says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” and it says in v. 36 of that same chapter, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him”. The revelation of God’s wrath helps lost man see more clearly see the need of God’s salvation and forgiveness. A sinner will not seek out Jesus as Savior if he does not know that he is sinful and his sin is what condemns him. The wrath of God is basically defined as God’s hatred of sin and the fact God must punish sin. Sinful mankind is condemned and under God’s wrath but God has made a way of escape through Christ.
II. Where and How is it Revealed? (v. 18b)
God’s wrath is revealed from heaven. Our holy God has revealed it from His holy Heaven. The word ‘revealed’ here in the Greek gives us an idea that it means it is being constantly revealed. We can see in the Holy Scriptures that God has revealed His wrath time and time again. From Genesis, we see that when Adam and Eve sinned, that immediately after their sinful disobedience of God’s command, God pronounced on them the sentence of death. It was not just on Adam and Eve, but on all their descendants (that’s us, all mankind) and the earth was cursed right along with them. We can also see God’s judgment upon the whole world in the Great Flood; God’s wrath was seen as judgment fell upon all humanity in a world-wide deluge that drowned all humanity except for eight people (Noah’s family) God saved in an ark. We can also witness God’s judgment against the city of Sodom and Gomorrah, upon the first born of Egypt and the drowning of Pharaoh’s army. If we look at the ‘curse of the Law’ and how we see in the sacrificial system in the Mosaic Law, that the untold millions of innocent animals killed and blood shed. That in all of those animals killed and bled it all revealed man’s sinfulness and unrighteousness but it pointed to the only One whose blood and death would save us from our sin and condemnation. In the death of Christ, we can see God’s wrath was also revealed. Jesus, God’s Son, while on the cross took upon Himself, God’s wrath for us. Jesus took upon Himself the sin of the world and bore the full effect of God’s wrath on the cross (2 Cor 5:21 –“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”). That penalty that God demanded for our sins, Jesus met on our behalf. God hates sin so much and His wrath demanded that its penalty be met that He chose to allow His only Son to be crucified and killed on our behalf. This was the only way fallen humanity could be redeemed from the curse of sin.
So, we see that God’s wrath has been revealed and it is still being revealed, and will be revealed especially in the End Times. Sometimes it seems that the wicked still prosper and prevail but it just seems that way. We must remember that the wicked will not escape God’s wrath. Here on this earth they may bribe, escape, or fool the justice system of this world, but God’s wrath and judgment will have no loop holes for the wicked to escape (Rev 20:12-13,15 – “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire”). God’s wrath has, is, and will be revealed.
III. What is the verdict of God’s wrath against? (v. 18c)
It is against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Ungodliness are sins against the very Person of God and unrighteousness are sins against God’s will. That just shows that we are simply sinful in all that we are and do. Sin taints and corrupts anything we do. So that any human attempt to span the divides that sin separates us from God always fails. Nothing worthy that we do as humans on this earth can accomplish salvation and acceptance by God. Rom. 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, no, not one” and 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”; our sinfulness means that we lack the means to truly reverence God, it means that we have a faulty personal relationship with God. If we have a wrong relationship with God then our actions will reflect that in unrighteous living towards God and our fellow man. Sin attacks the Person of God and His righteous Law. God only hates sin. He does not hate people but only the sin that they do. Sin will always bring about the wrath of God for our holy God must punish sin. Unrighteousness is so much a part of man’s nature that every person has a built in, natural desire to suppress and oppose God’s truth that we can’t save ourselves and that only God can save.
Today, we have seen that God’s wrath is against unsaved, godless mankind. We understand that God is so holy that sin and sinners are not allowed in His presence. We know through scripture that God is holy and just and because of that He hates sin and must therefore punish the sinner. But this brings us to the truth of scripture that God is love and because he loves mankind, He has provided a way of salvation through the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross of Calvary. The Bible wonderfully puts it this way, God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The Grace in Which We Stand
The work of salvation has been accomplished only by Jesus Christ, by His death and resurrection. It is our faith in Christ, what we know and believe about Jesus from the scriptures, that has changed us from sinner to saint. That salvation that God chose to reveal to us, has changed our condition from the condemned nature of a sinner to that of an accepted child of God. It is Jesus Christ alone that has made this possible. It is nothing we have done, it is awesome power of God through Jesus Christ that has saved us. It is God's grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone that has saved us. Today, we will explore “the grace in which we stand”.
I. Justified (declared righteous) v. 1a - “Therefore, having been justified by faith”.
The term “justification” means to be declared righteous. How is it that we who are unrighteous (sinful) can be declared righteous? Well, a good clue to this is that it says here that we are declared righteous by faith. We are declared righteous by our faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior. The reason I know this is that the word “therefore” here in verse 1 is referring to something that Paul has already mentioned previously. And if we look at chapter 4, in the final verses we can understand how we are justified by faith. The whole chapter talks about how Abraham was justified (declared righteous) by his faith in the promises of God (Rom. 4:3 - “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” and 4:9 - “For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness”). Abraham put his faith into the revealed plan of salvation God showed him in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:8 - “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand”). We just like Abraham are justified when we put our faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. If we look at the final verses of chap. 4 we can understand that better, 4:20,22-25 - “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God; And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification”. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Is 53:4-5 says this about Christ, “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed”; this shows the work of justification by Christ's death. Dr. John MacArthur wrote in his commentary on Romans, that through the work of justification by Christ: “God credits the believer's sin to Christ's account, He can credit Christ's righteousness to the believer's account. God could not have justly credited righteousness to Abraham had not Abraham's sin, like every believer's sin, been paid for by the sacrifice of Christ's own blood. Before the cross, the believer's sin was paid in anticipation of Christ's atoning sacrifice, and since the cross the believer's sin has been paid in advance”. This is how we are justified (declared righteous), by faith in Jesus' finished work of salvation. “Faith is never the basis or the reason for justification, but only the channel through which God works His redeeming grace. Faith is simply a convicted heart reaching out to receive God's free and unmerited gift of salvation”. ---John MacArthur.
II. Peace with God. v.1b - “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.
Because we are justified by faith, we can now have peace with God through Jesus Christ. This peace is something we possess at the very moment we put our faith in Christ. This peace comes from the fact that we are saved and justified in Christ. The fact of the matter is that when we were lost sinners, we were hostile and against God; we were enemies (Rom 8:7 - “the carnal (sinful, fleshly) mind is enmity (hostile) against God”. Because we have been justified by Christ, we now have peace with God. We are now reconciled to God by Jesus Christ, v.10 - “when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life”. Jesus took upon Himself the full force of God's fury on the cross, that we as sinful humanity should have deserved. Because of our sinfulness we were against God, we were His enemies and undeserving of His grace and mercy he showed us through His Son. All of us who trust in Christ as Lord are no longer enemies of God and under His wrath, we are now at peace with Him through Christ (Col. 1:19-22 - “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight”). Being reconciled to God will bring peace with God. Because we are justified by faith, the immediate consequence of that justification is peace (reconciliation) with God. This peace or reconciliation has been made forever between the believer and God. We are eternally at peace with God. We cannot fall out of favor with God because we saved, justified, and reconciled because of what Christ has done in our behalf, by His death and resurrection.
Christ not only brings peace to the believer but “He Himself is our peace (Eph. 2;14)”. The knowledge that we have peace with God should strengthen our assurance that we are eternally secure in Christ.
III. This grace in which we stand. v.2 - “through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
from what we have looked at, we can understand that because we have been reconciled to the Father through trusting the Son we have access into that grace in which we stand. Before we put our faith in Christ, sin denied us access to God. Sin would prevent us from ever enjoying the presence of God, from ever hoping to have salvation, and from ever having a true relationship with Him. The believer can now approach God because of what Christ has done for us. Our standing (our position) with God has changed through Christ. Once unrighteous but now righteous in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21 - “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”). This standing in the grace of God never changes even though our circumstances on this world change daily our position of salvation in Christ does not change. Nothing can change it, nothing can take us out of God's hand of salvation (John 10:28-29 - “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand”). The grace in which we stand shows us the completeness and fulfillment of Christ's salvation (Phil. 1:6 - “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”). The act of saving us, of keeping us saved, and completion of salvation is solely in the hands of the One who has provided that salvation. We are incapable by our strength or our will power or by our good works to save ourselves; we do not have the strength or power to do so. It says in 5:6, “when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly”. We are utterly and totally and completely dependent on Christ to save us and to keep us saved. Once we are standing in the grace we can never leave that place. What we can do is begin to live and operate in grace. Another thing we can do is to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God”. The hope that we receive from being in God's grace is not a wishful hope of this world but that know so assurance of hope in God. Knowing that once we are in His grace through faith in Christ, we are eternally in His hand of grace. It says in Col. 1:13, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed (transferred, translated) us into the kingdom of the Son of His love”. By awesome power of God through the saving power of Christ we are now declared righteous in Christ, reconciled to the Father, and permanently standing in God's grace. Now that should be grounds for us to glorify and rejoice in our God. But the question I want to leave you with today is this, are you standing in grace today? Do you have the joy of knowing the God of this universe through a saving relationship with His Son Jesus Christ? If not, today you can enter into His grace through faith in Christ.