The wrath of God

John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

One of the things that I’ve heard people – including preachers – say to encourage other people is “God isn’t mad at you!”  I’ve heard this said as a broad statement meant to reach all people – believer and unbeliever alike.  It’s a nice thought, but it’s just not true, at least as a general statement for all.  While God is a God of love, He is just as much a God of justice, and because He hates and will judge all sin, He will judge all sin with very great wrath (Romans 1:18).  In Psalm 7:11 it says this (in the King James Version): “God is angry with the wicked every day.”  Then listen to these words from Nahum Chapter 1: “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.  The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.  His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.  He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers.  The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before His indignation?  Who can endure the heat of His anger?  His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by Him. The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.  But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries. and will pursue his enemies into darkness.” 

Surely these are sobering words, particularly to those who would think they can live life with no thought of God, who think they can rebel against His Word with impunity.  But then think about what Jesus endured on the cross. His suffering there, although dealt out my men, was in actuality God’s great wrath against sin poured out through men on His only begotten Son.  Here Jesus suffered as a substitute and bore the just penalty for the sin of the whole world.  Read Isaiah 53, a prophesy of what Christ endured under the wrath of a holy God.  Read the crucifixion account in each of the gospels.   It was on the cross that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).”

So, if you want to know what God thinks of sin, look at the cross. If you want to know what God thinks of your sin and my sin, look at the cross.  But as you look, remember that this is what Christ has done for us.  He satisfied the just demands of a holy God by bearing God’s wrath on our behalf. He could do this because He had no sin. It was for our sin that He suffered and died.  And it was to save us from the just punishment that a holy God Who will most certainly pour out on all sin and all sinners in one way or the other. He will either judge it by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for you if you will receive it as His awesome gracious gift, or He will judge it by pouring out His wrath on you personally, if you will not receive the forgiveness and righteousness that Christ has made possible for you.

As the prophet Nahum said, “Who can stand before His indignation?  Who can endure the heat of His anger?” Of course, the answer is no one can but Christ alone, for only Jesus, the omnipotent One, could bear the wrath of God for the sins of the whole world – and rise again.  But if you don’t accept this, if you will go your own way and reject the gospel, then Jesus says this to you in the words He gave to Nicodemus over 2,000 years ago: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God (John 3:16-18).”  So, what will you have? Will you bear the wrath of God against your own sin – forever – or accept the forgiveness Jesus provides because He mercifully and graciously bore the wrath of God on your behalf. It’s your choice – and you will most certainly make one choice or the other, for there is no other way. 

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