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The Wrath of God

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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March 11, 2022 12:01 am

The Wrath of God

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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March 11, 2022 12:01 am

Since God is holy, He cannot be neutral toward sin. Today, Steven Lawson looks at the nature and necessity of God's wrath and the many ways it is shown in Scripture.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind, The Wrath of God. Well, that's startling, isn't it?

Hard to imagine. And for many, it's something that we don't even want to think about. This week, Dr. Stephen Lawson has explored many of God's attributes, His goodness, His grace, His love. As hard as it is to comprehend, the wrath of God is a good and righteous attribute as well. It showcases His mercy towards sinners. We come now to our last session on the attributes of God, and we come to the wrath of God. I think we can say that it seems like we've barely begun to study these attributes of God, and we know that there's still yet so much more of God to learn.

But I think this has been a good introduction for us and a refresher and a reminder of these distinguishing qualities that are in the character of God. No study of the character of God would be complete without this study of the wrath of God. The wrath of God is an expression of His holiness. The wrath of God really is by necessity of His holiness because God is infinitely pure. And because God hates sin and loves righteousness, God cannot be neutral towards sin. There is in God a settled, determined indignation against all that is unholy.

There is divine wrath that by necessity must react against all that does not conform to the purity of His holiness. I think of the wrath of God as really like a black velvet backdrop. When I met my wife, and it was time for us to be engaged, I went to the jeweler. I went into this store in downtown Dallas. It was up on a high floor in a high-rise building and walked into this room, and the jeweler pulled out a diamond. This diamond looked okay to me.

It was a carrot, and I was somewhat pleased with it but not wowed with it. And then he did this. He pulled out a black velvet backdrop.

Wise man. And he slid that black velvet backdrop under this diamond. And there must have been overhead a hundred lights. And it was as though every light in that entire room was just sucked through the diamond because of the black velvet backdrop. And that diamond now suddenly looked like it was on fire, like it was alive. It was ready to leap off the counter.

What made the difference? It was the black velvet backdrop that caused the diamond to glow so brilliantly. Well, so it is, the black velvet backdrop of the wrath of God. When we take His love, and we take His foreknowledge, and we set it on top of this black velvet backdrop, it causes the love of God to burst forth and to shine and for us to sing amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, because wretches deserve hell. Wretches deserve judgment.

Wretches deserve what this black velvet backdrop would represent. So as we come to this subject on the wrath of God, it's necessary in order for us to be excited about the grace of God, that we do not receive what we deserve. We are given what we do not deserve. It causes our hearts to leap out of our chest as we study the love of God. If you tell me God so loved me, and I did not know the bad news, and I did not know about this, I would probably almost just yawn and say, so what? But if you tell me that I'm under a curse and that I'm condemned that the wrath of God abides on sinners every moment of every day, and then you tell me the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, you just got my attention, and I'm not walking, I'm running to the cross.

I am fleeing to the Lord Jesus Christ to enter into His saving wounds and enter into His receiving arms. Now this study on the wrath of God, and it will be intense, and it will be focused, but it is a necessary part of God's holiness, and it also serves to cause us to cherish the grace and the love and the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. This word for wrath in the Old Testament, there are many words that are translated for wrath. I'm not going to bother to pronounce them all in the Hebrew language, but let me just give you some of these definitions, just to give you a feel for what this word wrath means.

I mean, sometimes we think of it as just like, well, I guess someone lost their temper or something, or someone got angry. This word wrath is an extraordinary word. It means to become heated up, to burn with fury.

It's how it's used in Numbers 25 verse 3 towards idolatry on the part of God. The word refers to a burning, fierce wrath, God's anger burning against Israel when they worshiped the calf. The word means to be bitter, as God who was fierce in His bitter anger toward ungodly nations, Zechariah 1 15. The word is also used with connotations of venom and poison, meaning it's fatal, it's lethal when it is unleashed. The word is used synonymously with fury. In fact, in the Bible, the word is often used of the flaring of the nostrils of an animal who is so furious as it's ready to charge that the animal will begin to... intense anger and fury being ready to be unleashed by Almighty God, as sinners will be in the blazing hot oven and furnace of His wrath. When we come to the New Testament, the word means a fury that reaches a fever point, a fever pitch. God never loses control of Himself. When man becomes angry, he can enter into a time of anger where he loses control of himself.

God never loses control of Himself, and that's what makes this so scary. It is so calculated. It is so right. It is so holy. It is so necessary. Another word was used of man's breathing violently when pursuing an enemy in great rage.

I think we have the idea. There's other words that I could share with you. It's a very manifest word with many different words in the Bible, almost as if you're holding up a diamond and no one side of the diamond can really capture the whole of it. And there are many cuts that make the circumference in the round, and God's wrath is so multifaceted and so multi-layered and so intense towards the wicked that even no one word captures the whole. What are categories of God's wrath? One, there's His abiding wrath, that right now the wrath of God abides upon sinners. Romans 1 and verse 18 says, for the wrath of God is poured out upon sinners.

It is abiding upon sinners. Right now it's hovering over the head of sinners, ready to be unleashed like a violent thunderstorm at any moment. Jonathan Edwards captured the imagery of this in that sermon, sinners in the hands of an angry God, as though at any moment the wrath of God would be poured out like a dam break. Right now His mercy is holding back His wrath, but the more that His mercy holds back the wrath, it's as though the river is building and building and building and the pressure is intensifying and intensifying.

The longer that it's held back and when at last that dam of mercy gives way, the wrath of God will come like a tsunami upon sinners and drown them and overwhelm them. What a picture this is, that God is angry with the sinner. Psalm 5 verse 6 says, the Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. In the previous verse, you hate all who do iniquity. God must because He is a God of wrath. Psalm 7 in verse 11, God is a righteous judge and a God who has indignation every day. God is preparing to judge the sinner and He is ready now to judge the sinner. That's why in Psalm 2 verse 12, the psalmist says, do homage to the son.

The King James says, kiss the son, lest he become angry and you perish in the way, for his wrath may soon be kindled. This abiding wrath of God. Romans 1 18 that I quoted earlier, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. This is a serious this is a serious thing. That wrath is already now abiding over the heads of sinners.

What must they do? Just die and it will be unleashed. Second, not only abiding wrath, but catastrophic wrath. There are individual times in human history when God brings severe judgment upon the human race and it is an expression of His wrath. That is exactly what took place in Genesis 6 and 7 when God caused a flood, a literal flood, but of His wrath to drown the whole world and save but Noah and his family and Sodom and Gomorrah and Genesis 19, 24, the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah, brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.

Can you imagine that? It was raining fire and brimstone and sulfuric acid and as it fell upon people, it just literally consumed them. They became like shish kebabs and just were burning to death before they then went into the eternal fire. God sent the plagues and death to Egypt and struck dead the firstborn of Israel. It was a judgment of God and of His wrath and on and on we go. Even droughts and famines that God sent throughout human history, it was a severe judgment of God because they would not hear the Word of God and because they killed the messengers who brought the Word of God.

God brought the hammer down hard and rightly so. And I want to say we are a nation ripe for judgment as we have been flaunting the Word of God. Third, there is consequential wrath which is God's wrath revealed in the principle of sowing and reaping. And when sinners sow their seeds of immorality and impurity and all kinds of licentiousness, there is a reaping. And that reaping comes as an expression of wrath as there are expressions of the AIDS disease and all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases that are spreading about those who do that which is not natural and men after men and women lusting after women. And there is a consequential wrath of God that comes down upon those who violate His Word.

Do not be deceived. Galatians 6, 7, God is not mocked. Whatsoever man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. Isaiah 8, 7 said, For they sowed the wind and they reaped the whirlwind. That is God's consequential wrath.

It is brought on by flagrant disobedience by an individual, by a culture, by a society, by a nation. There's a line in the sand that God draws across which you may not go any further without reaping the consequences. Fourth, there is abandonment wrath. God's wrath also expresses itself when the sinner after repeatedly rejecting the knowledge of God and the gospel of Christ is abandoned by God and turned over to the pursuit of his or her own sins.

It's a terrifying thing when a man is turned over by God to his own sins and God will no longer bring influences to bear upon that life. Proverbs 1, 24 speaks of this wisdom calling out in the streets. I called and you refused.

I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention. You neglected all my counsel and did not want my reproof. I will also laugh at your calamity. I will mock when your dread comes. When your dread comes like a storm and your calamity like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you, then they will call on me but I will not answer. They will seek me diligently but they will not find me because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord.

They would not accept my counsel. They spurned all my reproof so they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be sated with their own devices. What did Hosea say about Ephraim, God through Hosea?

Ephraim is joined to idols. Let him alone. Turn out the lights.

The party is over. Romans 1 verse 24, because when they knew God, they did not receive Him as God. They rejected the knowledge of God. Verse 24, therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. Verse 26, for this reason, God gave them over. That's abandonment. God gave them over to degrading passions.

Women exchanging the natural function for that which is unnatural, lesbianism. And then in verse 28, and just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind to do those things which are not proper. There is no way back to God when God abandons a person, a culture, a nation.

You want to go in that direction? And God says, I'll give you a shove in that direction and you may go the way of your own choices. Fifth, there is eschatological wrath. That means the wrath of the last days. That means the wrath surrounding the final hour of human history immediately preceding the return of God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. That last time in history is known as the great day of God's wrath, the great day of the wrath of the Lamb. And they will run into caves and say, fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb for the great day of the wrath has come and who is able to stand. What a day that will be as Jesus comes back. You know the Hallelujah Chorus is in Revelation 19 as all of heaven is rejoicing that finally the wrath of God is being poured out. The martyrs under the altar of God crying out, how long, oh God, how long until you avenge our blood as if to say, they took our blood.

God, you take their blood. That day will come at the second coming of Jesus Christ. That door will open in heaven and there will be a white stallion that will come out of that door and Him who sat upon it is faithful and true and out of His mouth comes a sharp two-edged sword and on His garment it is stained with blood and it is not the blood of Calvary, it is the blood of His enemies. It is inescapable as He comes back and He will tread down the nations with the fierce wrath of God the Almighty. When He comes back, there will be a display of wrath like this world has never seen.

The global flood in Genesis 7 will seem like a Sunday school picnic compared to the fury that will be unleashed in the last day. But sixth and finally, there is eternal wrath. There is the wrath of hell. There is eternal fire in hell. Hell is a place of eternal fire. There will be the torment of the damned.

They will long for just one drop of water to touch the tip of their tongue. There will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. There will be a holocaust that will go on forever and ever and ever as sinners are thrown into the furnace of His fury and into the oven of His rage as He will pour out His wrath. He will say to those on His left, apart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.

These will go away into eternal punishment. Revelation 2014, then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

I cannot conceive of a more terrifying imagery than drowning, yet never drowning, yet ever drowning in a lake of fire. I said this was the last wrath, but there is one other wrath. There is redemptive wrath. It's Jesus upon the cross as He bore our sins, suffered the wrath of God for you and me.

But you and I would never be subject to the condemnation and to the wrath of Almighty God. So strong was this wrath upon Calvary's cross. Thousands of men had been crucified. Only one suffered the eternal wrath of God upon that cross. So great was it Jesus cried out, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me as He suffered the torment of the damned in that three-hour period of time from noon until three o'clock in the afternoon as He bore my sins. He pulled the veil of darkness over the entire universe, and the whole universe went black as He suffered in our place upon the cross. Great is the wrath of God. Every soul will either be damned in hell or will be pardoned in Christ, but eternal wrath will be poured out upon every person for their sins. For we who are the elect, that wrath was poured out upon our representative head, the Lord Jesus Christ, as He suffered in our place so that you and I would never go to the lake of fire.

To an unbelieving world, the wrath of God seems unreasonable. And yet, as Dr. Stephen Lawson said today, the dark canvas of God's wrath best displays the splendor of His saving grace. We're glad you joined us today for Renewing Your Mind as we wrap up Dr. Lawson's series, The Attributes of God.

We've aired only five of the messages from this series this week. The entire series, though, covers sixteen attributes, including God's mercy, His goodness, and His holiness. We'd be happy to send you the two-DVD set for your donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries. You can make your request online at, or you can call us with your gift at 800-435-4343.

Today is the last day we're making this offer available, so be sure to contact us soon and reserve your two-DVD set. Again, the title of the series is The Attributes of God by Dr. Stephen Lawson. And again, to order, just go to or call us at 800-435-4343. Our goal is to help you understand what you believe, why you believe it, how to live it, and how to share it. We do that through daily messages that reveal the glory of God against the backdrop of culture, philosophy, apologetics, ethics, and church history. You'll find an archive of past Renewing Your Mind programs, plus articles, videos, and daily Bible studies when you download our free app.

Just search for Ligonier in your app store. When we understand God's attributes and see Him for who He really is, then we naturally want to live in a way that honors Him. Next week, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson joins us to explain the basics of the Christian life. We hope you'll make plans to join us beginning Monday here on Renewing Your Mind. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-24 01:39:42 / 2023-05-24 01:47:52 / 8

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