Filtering out the wrath of God
Filtering out the wrath of God
You’ve not been feeling well and you see your doctor. What a relief to be told that with some rest and some medication you will soon be feeling better. Imagine, however, that your doctor is wrong. Suppose that you actually need major surgery. The sooner you find that out the better. Mistaken diagnoses can easily prove fatal.
They certainly did in Old Testament Israel. There were prophets in Israel who in their day were immensely popular with the people. They had a large following and were very influential. But the judgment of history is that they were false prophets. Why? Because their diagnosis of the situation facing the nation was completely and fatally wrong.
They were at pains to assure the people that they had nothing to worry about. Even though they were sinning grievously against God things were going to work out just fine for them. “Peace, peace”, they cried (Jer.6.14). But it was all nonsense. God was very angry with his people – justly angry. And when they refused to repent and return to him he punished them with just severity.
Let’s think now about ourselves. Are things really all that bad with us? I mean in relation to God. Do we have any need to be anxious about meeting him – as one day we shall? There are lots of people who are quick to assure us that we have nothing whatsoever to worry about. They are persuaded that God is loving (which he is) and that that’s all that there is to be said about it. “How can a God of love send people to hell?” they ask. Granted we are far from perfect. But neither are we so bad as to merit such a thing as the wrath of God.
The all-important question is this, however: is their diagnosis correct? Let me answer by taking you to the cross of Calvary.
One of the most popular hymns in today’s church is In Christ alone by the British hymn-writers Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. A decision was recently taken to exclude this hymn from the soon-to-be-published hymnal of one of our mainline denominations. The reason? A reference in it to the wrath of God. Permission had been sought to change the lyrics from, “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied”, to, “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified”. When the authors refused permission, the denominational committee responsible for the new hymnal voted to drop the hymn.
Much ado about nothing? Far from it. The hymn as it stands takes us right to the heart of what happened when Jesus died. He died as a substitute for sinners. He bore our sin and suffered, in our place, the punishment that was justly ours. And that in turn throws a flood of light on the real state of things between ourselves and God. Why did Jesus Christ die for us? Because only through his death could we be delivered from the wrath that our sins deserve and enjoy instead God’s pardon.
When a serious medical condition is correctly diagnosed we take whatever steps are necessary to get well again. Do the same with regard to God! If the day when you eventually meet him is to be the happiest day of your life, you need to take refuge in the Saviour whom he has so lovingly provided. His wrath is indeed a terrible and eternal reality. But in Christ you will be perfectly and forever safe.
Grace Baptist Church
777 W North Street
Carlisle, PA 17013