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Four Vindications for the Wrath of God - 41

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
February 5, 2023 7:00 am

Four Vindications for the Wrath of God - 41

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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February 5, 2023 7:00 am

Is God right in unleashing his wrath on the world-- Pastor Mike Karns continues his exposition in Revelation 16.

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Good evening to you. You are awake, right?

Okay. Well, John Calvin said this, quote, preaching is the public exposition of scripture by the man sent from God in which God himself is present in judgment and in grace. Faithful pulpit ministry requires the declaration of both judgment and grace. The Word of God is a sharp two-edged sword.

It softens, it hardens, it comforts, it afflicts, it saves, it damns. I've thought today, well, I thought all week about folks who've been attending in recent days who haven't been here long enough to pick up on our orientation and our philosophy of ministry. However, most people who are attracted here already have checked us out and they know that we're a word-centered ministry, but there's several ways about going about preaching the Word, but the particular approach that the elders, the pastors of this church have, is we believe that the best approach is expositional preaching. That is preaching through a book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and it keeps us honest. It keeps us, to the best of our ability, preaching the whole counsel of God. We're kept from extremes. Judgment is not a popular theme. It's not something I naturally would gravitate to, but because we're preaching through the book of the Revelation and we're in that part of the book where God is raining down judgment and wrath, if I'm going to expound the scriptures, how do I dodge that? How do I get around that?

I can't. So it keeps a man from extremes. It keeps him from avoiding subjects that he might be adverse to, he may think his people are adverse to, but it keeps us faithful to the Word of God. Someone said, well, the whole counsel of God, what do you mean by that? Well, we can't preach the whole counsel of God in every sermon, but if we're faithful to the text of scripture and preach through verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book, then we're going to give attention to subjects in proportion to what God has declared and determined that we need. So the fact that Pastor Barkman's preaching Sunday morning through the book of Jude and there's a heavy emphasis on judgment and wrath and we're in the book of Revelation and the subject is judgment and wrath doesn't mean that we're on a hobby horse. It just means that that is where God has directed us to be in our respective expositional assignments. So God's wrath as well as God's mercy must be preached. In fact, it is, I believe, upon the dark canvas of divine wrath that the splendor of his saving grace has its greatest display. We'll never appreciate the good news until we understand it against the backdrop of the bad news that we're sinners under judgment. The wrath of God is abiding upon us outside of Christ. Most of us have heard of Jonathan Edwards who was used to bring about a great awakening and probably his most famous sermon that he ever preached is sinners in the hands of an angry God. Very few people have ever taken the time to listen or not listen but read that sermon or find out where he preached that sermon from but it was an expositional sermon preached from Deuteronomy 32 and verse 35 and let me read that verse to you.

This is the authorized version, the King James Version. Vengeance is mine and recompense for the time when their foot shall slip for the day of their calamity is at hand and their doom comes swiftly and it is that phrase in that verse their foot shall slip in due time that Edwards picked up on and illustrated the perilous position of the lost and he stressed that those who were without Christ were dangling over the flames of hell like a spider over a flame. Well that kind of preaching is not popular in our day.

I don't need to tell you that. God's judgment is something that is not preached from very many pulpits in our day but I'm convinced that once wrath is removed or minimized you undermine the gospel and you weaken the message of the cross. You say well how is that? What is the message of the cross? What is the cross? The cross is the means that God has designed to save us from his wrath. Here people say well I've been saved and a good question to say and ask back is what have you been saved from?

What have you been saved from? Well that question has a number of correct answers but one of the answers to that question is we've been saved from the wrath to come and if there is no wrath then there's no need for a cross. There's no God to look to who's made provision for sinners in his son the Lord Jesus Christ. So the cross is a message of deliverance but you cannot understand the cross or right without understanding the message of wrath. So tonight I want to speak to you from the first seven verses of Revelation chapter 16 and in these verses I want to show you four validations for the wrath of God. Four validations of the wrath of God and what are they? They are number one the holiness of wrath, the vengeance of wrath, the justice of wrath, and the benefits of wrath and I want to show those to you in these seven verses.

The holiness of wrath, the vengeance of wrath, the justice of wrath, and the benefits of wrath. Let me read those seven verses again so we can get this in our minds. John is writing again he's giving us this revelation.

It's coming to us. It came to him in visions and he's simply telling us what he saw, telling us what he heard, and he was told to write these things down. And much of what he heard and much of what he saw he gives to us without commentary. He doesn't say well I saw this and it means this.

I heard this and it means that. It's just what he heard and what he saw. Notice again verse one, then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth. So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea and it became blood as of a dead man and every living creature in the sea died. Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying, you are righteous O Lord, the one who is and who was and who is to be because you have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets and you have given them blood to drink for it is their just due. And I heard another from the altar saying even so Lord God Almighty true and righteous are your judgments. True and righteous are your judgments. The holiness of wrath.

What do we mean by that? Well the holy character of God demands wrath. An essential part of God's moral perfection is his hatred of sin. God cannot be indifferent to sin. God can't ignore sin. Sin is an affront to a holy God.

A.W. Pink says the wrath of God is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin. Hebrews 12 29 tells us that God is a consuming fire. Psalm verse 7 verse 11 says he feels indignation every day toward the wicked. Now some in our day and some for a long time have tried to differentiate between the sinner and his sin and say well God hates the sin but he loves the sinner.

Well they may sound a little more palatable but that doesn't square with Scripture. Psalm 5 tells us that God is angry with the sinner every day. Not just angry about the sin that the sinner commits.

He's angry with the sinner every day. I think one of the reasons that more and more people aren't under conviction and aren't seeking after God is they've not been told the truth. Listen to how the Bible puts the good news right alongside the bad news. This is John 3 verse 36. First the good news. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.

There's no better news in all the world than that. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life. What about those who don't believe on the Son? And he who does not believe the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God abides on him. It abides on him.

It's hanging over him. It's with him everywhere he goes as he lives his life apart from the refuge from wrath, Jesus Christ. So we're looking at the first vindication of God's wrath and it is God's holiness. God's holiness. A love of holiness cannot be without hatred of everything that's contrary to it. God's anger is absolutely pure.

It is not contaminated by those things that make human anger sinful. When we think about God's anger, God's wrath, we're not to think of God is just tolerating man. He's being long suffering toward men but his temperature just keeps rising and rising and rising until the top blows off and then he pours out wrath.

No, that is a mis-caricature of God. Here is a definition of wrath. God's wrath is his steady, unrelenting, unremitting, uncompromising antagonism to evil in all of its forms and manifestations. Benjamin Warfield said, without wrath for sin, God would not be a moral being. God's wrath is his utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys. The fact that God is holy, separate from sin and sinners, tells us that God must be.

He has to be. Wrathful toward every and any manifestation of sin. Notice what the angels said about God's character in verse 5.

This is after the first three bowls of judgment have been poured out upon the earth. And I heard the angel of the water saying, you are righteous, O God, the one who is and who was and who is to be because you have judged these things. God is righteous. God is just. God is holy. And that's the explanation for his wrath being poured out. God will always burn in anger against sin. Stephen Charnick probably has written the best treatment on the attributes of God ever written, a wonderful two volume set. I had that series a long time before I read it.

It's slow reading, but boy, is it thorough and boy, is it impactful. This is what Stephen Charnick said about the wrath of God. He said, he can no more cease to hate impurity than he can cease to be holy. He can no more cease to hate impurity than he can cease to be holy. God has an utter hatred for all sin. That's the first vindication for the wrath of God.

What about the second? A second way in this passage that God's wrath is vindicated is his vengeance against his enemies. God's wrath is not only a holy wrath, but it is a vengeful wrath.

Notice verse two. So the first, talking about the bull judgment, so the first went and poured out his bull upon the earth and a fowl and loath them sore came upon the earth who had the mark on came upon the man who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. This wrath is being poured out upon those who are opposed to Christ, who have resisted his rule, who have bowed to the adversary, the enemy. They are the ones, as it says here, who have the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These are the recipients of his wrath. They are the people who bear the mark of the beast and they worship his image. Jesus said, others in the Gospels and in the Epistles have reiterated this, those who are not with me are against me.

There's no neutral ground. You are either for Christ or you are against him and God's wrath is vindicated in his vengeance. Now this is an interesting truth that is seen here. Notice with me verse six. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets.

Well, who is they? Those who are the enemies of Christ, the enemies of his church, the enemies of the saints. They have shed the blood of saints and prophets. And you have given them blood to drink, for it is their just due. Do you remember the martyrs that we saw under the altar in chapter six?

Let me remind you of that. This is Revelation chapter six. It says this, when he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried out with a loud voice saying, how long, O Lord, holy and true until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? Now these are the martyrs, those who gave their lives for the cause of Christ, and they are appealing to the holiness of God.

O Lord, holy and true, how long until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? Well, what answer came to these martyrs who were crying out for vengeance? Verse 11, then a white robe was given to each of them, and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who would be killed as they were was completed. So they were to wait. They were to be patient because God was going to execute vengeance on his enemies.

God takes this very, very personal. Saul of Tarsus found that out. He heard a voice. Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Who was he persecuting? He was persecuting those who were in the way, those who were followers of Christ. But he heard a voice from heaven.

Why persecutest thou me? And that's why we see the vindication of God's wrath here in his vengeance. God is going to exact vengeance upon those who have killed his servants, his prophets. And I think it's good for us to be reminded of the scriptures because we see injustice and we wonder, this doesn't seem right.

But listen to what we're instructed. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath, for it is written, vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord. Just as these martyrs who were under the altar were told to wait, that God would exact vengeance, God would require payment, just payment for the persecution that fell to his people, his prophets, his saints, his church. He'll do the same in every generation.

He'll do the same in every situation. We need not fear. So this passage here in Revelation 16 shows us that in part God's wrath is the answer to the prayers of his suffering people as they were praying to God there in Revelation chapter 6, those souls who were under the altar. It is the martyrs who are saying this. They're saying it is right, oh Lord, for you have promised to avenge us and now it is coming to pass.

God is bringing satisfaction to the saints and to the church as he judges his enemies. So again, we're looking not so much in this message as to how do we explain these boils and these sores and the water turning to blood and all the creatures in the sea perishing. My point tonight is not to get into that, not to answer the question, are we to understand that literally? Are we to understand that symbolically?

And if symbolically, what does it mean? We are confronted with the wrath of God and we need to have an apologetic for the wrath of God. We're going to learn something, I think, from this passage. Too often people are sheepish about it. They're embarrassed about the wrath of God.

We'd rather not talk about it. We think that it's unbecoming of God. It reflects poorly on God.

That is entirely wrong. And this passage is a correction to that kind of thinking. So God's wrath is being vindicated here, number one, because of his holiness. Number two, because of his vengeance.

Number three, how? Because of his justice. God's wrath is a holy wrath. God's wrath is a vengeful wrath. God's wrath is a just wrath.

Notice again verses five and six. This is the angels responding to the execution of their task. They've been assigned, they've come out of the Holy Temple of God. They've been assigned this responsibility to pour out judgment upon the earth. And as they're doing that, verse five says, John says, and I heard the angel of the waters saying, you are righteous, O Lord, the one who is and who was and who is to be because you have judged these things.

Verse six, for they have shed the blood of saints and prophets and you have given them blood to drink for it is their just do. Their just do. This is the justice of God.

It is their just do. It is what they deserve. And even in our fallenness and in our impurity and lack of perfect holiness, we have very little respect for the judicial system when we see injustice.

When we see someone who's committed to crime and the judge or the system doesn't acquit them, does not acquit them like they ought to have, but they get a pass and we say that's just not right. Well, if we are troubled by the evidence of injustice, what about a God who's holy and perfect in righteousness? God's not going to tolerate injustice.

There will be justice. Again, verse six, you have given them blood to drink for it is their just do. They're receiving payment for their sin, for their transgression. But notice again, verse seven, this is the angels. And I heard another angel from the altar saying, even so, Lord God almighty, true and righteous are your judgments. Or true and just, your translation may say, are your judgments. God's wrath is a just wrath. And only God knows how to dispense justice appropriately.

Left to us, we'd either be too soft, we'd be too hard, but God knows exactly how to bring justice, fairness, fair payment for any and all transgressions. So these bold judgments are extracting a just retribution for sin. And every sin must receive God's retributive justice. This is just wrath for violating God's law.

Verse six says, the wicked shed the blood of God's servants and therefore are given blood to drink. And that is a just payment. It is their just do.

It is what they deserve. The justice of God demands and insists on evildoers, lawbreakers being punished. The soul that sins, it shall die. Sin must be justly dealt with. And Paul argues in a salvific way in Romans chapter three, that the death of Christ on the cross is a manifestation, it is a demonstration of two things. It is a manifestation and a demonstration of his righteousness so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. The death of Christ on the cross is a manifestation, a demonstration of the righteousness of God and of the justice of God. God is a God of inflexible justice. He is no respecter of persons.

No one gets off soft, no one pays half payment. God is a God of inflexible justice. And if you ever question that, you ever doubt that, the only place you need to look is to Calvary.

Because that's the only place where God has dealt with sin sufficiently enough to grant any sinner acceptance before him. When the wrath that was due to us, the just wrath that was due to us was poured out on Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, God satisfied his justice in that way and therefore is able to deal with us in mercy and in grace. So we're looking at the vindications of God's wrath.

Not necessarily because I thought we needed to vindicate God. God is not in need of our vindication, but because the text affords the opportunity to speak to these things. So, a fourth way that God's wrath is vindicated in these bold judgments is in the testimony of the angel. The angel of water, as it says there in verse five, and the angel that is referred to there in verse seven, as they speak about the benefits of God's wrath. Again, God's wrath is a holy wrath, it's a vengeful wrath, it's a just wrath, it is a beneficial wrath. A beneficial wrath. The angels are not embarrassed by the manifestation of God's wrath, they're carrying out their assignment. How have they responded to this wrath of God? It is cause for praise, it is cause for worship. They break out, I heard the angel of the water saying, you are righteous, O Lord, the one who is and who was and who is to be.

Why? Because you have judged these things. Because you have judged these things, verse seven, and I heard another from the altar saying, even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments. God's wrath, it's beneficial. It's beneficial in that as we rightly understand it, it is cause for the church, the redeemed church, to worship God. It causes us to take sin seriously, to understand that sin deserves judgment, sin deserves just wrath, and we worship a God who didn't demand that wrath be poured out on us, but poured it out on his son that we might be called his children, that we might be redeemed.

That's cause for rejoicing, folks. Psalm 58 11, David says, surely there is a reward for the righteous, surely he is God who judges in the earth. He's God who judges in the earth, says David. So this wrath is a beneficial wrath in that it causes angels to worship and it ought to cause the saints of God to worship. We have committed sin with an open hand, with defiance, with a fist clenched toward God, and we deserve his righteous judgment. We deserve his wrath. But Jesus bore God's just wrath that was due us and thereby has delivered us from the wrath to come, 1 Thessalonians 1 10.

So the good news, the good news of the gospel is seen most clearly, most conspicuously against the backdrop of our sin and the just wrath our sin deserves. And what is that just wrath that our sins deserve? What would be justice if God were to meet out justice for our sins and our record of transgression, what would it be? It would be eternal separation from him for all eternity and a place confined where the fire never dies, where the worm never dies, in the torments of hell itself. That's what our sin deserves.

And you say, well then why am I not confined to that place? Because Jesus took your place. He suffered the wrath of God in your place. God set forth Jesus as a propitiation. Paul says in Romans 3, what is a propitiation? It is the removal of wrath by the offering of a sacrifice.

Jesus went to the cross and offered himself as a sacrifice that would remove the wrath of God from those for whom he died and only for those for whom he died. You remember what Paul said on Mars Hill in Acts 17 31, God has fixed a day, God has fixed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness. God has fixed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness. And so what do we say?

That's true. I don't know when that day is, but God has fixed a day. And if there's wrath hanging over every unbelieving person, the only way to escape that wrath is to flee to the only refuge God has given, the Lord Jesus Christ. So, this preacher simply exhorts you, flee, flee the wrath to come, flee to Jesus, go to him. Jesus came to save his people from God's wrath. John the Baptist warned of this wrath to come. I read to you from John 3 verse 36. The salvation in the Son is set in direct contrast to God's wrath. 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, not will be on him, remains on him. And if that truth would grip any lost sinner, it would keep him from sleep. It would agonize him.

It would torment him. And my prayer is that the Spirit of God will so exercise any in that condition this evening, that that would be what God does. That you'll have no sleep until you flee to Jesus.

Now, the wrath of God is not the main message of the gospel, but the gospel cannot be understood apart from it. Let me take you to Gethsemane. Jesus is in the garden. He is agonizing in prayer. He asks that this cup might pass from him. What cup was he talking about?

What was he agonizing over? The cup is the wrath of God. The wrath of God. There's no other way for wrath to be removed, but through the death of Jesus on the cross. There is no other way for wrath to be removed from you or me apart from the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. God's wrath remains on any who have not turned to faith in Jesus. And at the final judgment, God will separate those for whom Christ bore the wrath of God from those whom will bear that punishment for themselves. When the last moment comes, there will be two camps. There will be those for whom the wrath of God's been satisfied by Jesus Christ, and there'll be no punishment meted out for them because it was meted out upon Jesus, and they are pure.

They are accepted. Their sins have been forgiven, but there'll be those in this camp whose wrath is abiding upon them, and they will be separated from this group and from God and from Jesus forever and ever. So the only question to ask to end this message is which camp are you in?

Which camp will you be in on that day? Because that day is coming, that day of separation. Oh, to be found in the company of the redeemed. Oh, to be a blood-bought child of God. Oh, to be under the favor of God.

To know that God is satisfied with you because Jesus satisfied your sin death. The wrath of God was poured out on him, therefore it will never be poured out on you. I hear people say, well, God seems angry with me. Well, if you're a child of God, God's anger has been satisfied in Jesus.

Now, God might be displeased with you, as the father is displeased with his children who are disobedient. God may be chastening you, but God is not angry with you anymore. God is not wrathful toward you anymore. Is that good news, church?

That is good news. Jesus is not angry with you anymore. It would be wrong for him to be angry with you when he took out his wrath on Jesus in your place, right?

Jesus drank the cup to the bottom. He satisfied God's wrath. We have a wonderful message. The gospel is indeed good news. So, as we're getting into not just partial judgment, but full-blown judgment and wrath that God's going to pour out on this earth someday, I thought it would be appropriate for us just to pause and think about the vindications for God's wrath, God's justice, God's vengeance.

What else? God's holiness and the benefits that we see that come to the people of God, because Jesus has satisfied the wrath of God in our place. Let us pray. Father, how we thank you tonight for him who loved us and gave himself for us. How we thank you for him who bore our sins on Calvary's tree, who drank the bitter cup, satisfying the very wrath of God, the just wrath of God that was due us, that we never will face that wrath. Take this word, our God, Holy Spirit. Apply it to every heart as you know hearts to be. Bring honor and glory to our Savior. Exalt him in our hearts and minds. Whether we're lost or whether we're redeemed, I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-07 14:59:09 / 2023-02-07 15:10:58 / 12

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