Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. If you're quick tempered, your flaring nostrils get going right away. But if you're slow to anger, what do you do?
You close your mouth and you breathe through your nose slowly. The phrase means this, you can make God mad, but you really have to work at it. He is slow to anger because he wants you to repent. Because he has pushed away anger and because he's brought compassion near, he wants you to repent. He wants you to wake up. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author and theologian, J.D. Greer.
I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, if there's one aspect of God's character that most people wish they could erase from the Bible, it's got to be the wrath of God, right? In fact, the doctrine of hell is one of the most common answers people give when asked why they don't believe in God. But today, as we continue our powerful teaching series called The Name, Pastor J.D. explains that God's wrath isn't just something we need to accept.
It's actually a fact that we can and should rejoice in. Grab your Bible and a pen and let's join Pastor J.D. as he teaches from Exodus, chapter 34.
The setup is this. Moses asked God, God, let me see your glory. And so God says, Exodus 33 19. Yes, Moses, I will make all my goodness.
That's a key word pass before you. And I will proclaim before you my name, the Lord. There are six things in those two verses that I want you to see that we can learn about the wrath of God. The first one is very simply that God's wrath exists. So the first thing we see is very clearly God's wrath exists.
You can't deny that. You'd have to deny your whole Bible. Number two, we see that God's wrath is an expression of his goodness. In this passage, he wants to bring us to heaven and heaven can only be heaven if there's no sin there. I mean, think about the ways that heaven is described, things that we long for. It is a place where there is no pain or crying. Like, oh, I want to be there, right?
How many times has my sin caused somebody else pain or caused them to cry? All right, there is a place where you don't have to lock the doors. Well, the only way you can not lock the doors if nobody's ever tempted to steal. So when somebody says to me, well, why didn't God just destroy all? If there really was a God, he would destroy injustice.
My question is always, what if he started with you? If God decides that he's going to get rid of all evil tonight at 12 o'clock, which of us is going to be here at 1201, right? God's holiness means his love means that he cannot tolerate sin because he loves us and it's love toward us gives rise to an anger towards sin. He loves his purity.
He loves creation. One theologian said it this way, God's anger is his unrelenting, uncompromising and steadfast antagonism towards evil and injustice in all of its forms. So we see that God's love grows out of his goodness. Third thing we see is that God's wrath often consists in letting us experience the consequences of the choices that we make. God's saying, okay, so you get a college student that's like, oh, I just want to drink beer with my friends and I'd better be in hell than be in heaven and going to church. You have no idea what you were saying because essentially hell is where you say, God, this is what I want.
I want you gone. And God says, as you wish, it's the fruit of allowing sin to grow unchecked in you. God's final statement of judgment in the book of Revelation is to the people he says, let him who was unjust be unjust still. In other words, that's the path that you choose as you wish. Hell is God giving you what you are asking for.
Here's how Lewis summarizes it. In the long run, the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question. What are you asking God to do? You asking God to wipe out our past sins and at all costs to give us a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? That's exactly what he's done at the cross. Are you asking him to forgive them? They will not be forgiven.
To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is precisely what God does. In the end, there are only two kinds of people. There are those who say to God, thy will be done. And there are those to whom God says, thy will be done.
Hell is you telling God, I don't want you in my life. And God simply saying, as you desire it. Number four, we see in this passage that God chose to let his love overcome his wrath.
In other words, God's mercy is greater than his wrath by a factor of 250 times. Now here's the other phrase that says he is slow to anger. God felt two rightful emotions when he saw us in our sin. The first rightful emotion was anger. And the second rightful emotion was compassion. And sovereignly of his own free choice, he chose to bring one close and push another away.
He didn't have to do it that way. God was fully justified when he felt wrath for our sin. He would have been fully justified to push us away forever, but he chose to push away that wrath. And he chose to bring compassion near.
It's one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. And just so you don't take it for granted, Peter says the angels are still confused by it. Even when my kids sin, they're still my kids. This passage in Romans says that our sin and rebellion made us God's enemies. Not like his enemies or his disobedient confused wayward children. It says our sin made us his enemies. So God choosing to push anger away and bring compassion near was not like me wanting to see one of my kids be free of dishonesty because I loved him. His choosing to push anger away and bring compassion near would actually be like me choosing to love and adopt into my family an ISIS member who beheaded my daughter. You say, oh, no, no, we're not that bad.
What about all of our good works? I've told you before, it's kind of like, imagine that an ISIS soldier really did behead one of your kids. But imagine that one of these ISIS soldiers later is in a foxhole with another ISIS soldier and this other guy has forgotten to bring his lunch and he's hungry. So this one ISIS soldier shares his lunch. He takes what he has and divides it in two. That's a genuinely generous act, right?
It is. But it's hard for you to call that act good because the whole mission that these guys are on is so evil that even their good works are cloaked in the shroud of evil. Does that make sense? You and I, we look at good works that we do and they are genuinely good, but our whole lives are spent in rebellion against God. Living for our glory instead of his. Living with ourselves as our authority and rejecting his authority. Our rebellion killed Jesus and that shrouds even our good deeds in a cloak of evil. So there is no greater wonder in the universe that the angels can comprehend and that the apostle Paul feels like he can't describe than the love of God for you and me.
Which brings me to number five. We can escape God's wrath only through Christ. We can escape it only through Christ. I pointed out the very first week that there's a contradiction in verse seven. Contradiction is this.
He keeps steadfast love for thousands. He forgives iniquity and transgression and sin, but he will by no means clear the guilty. And I explained that the contradiction is this. If God will not clear the guilty, then whose sin is he forgiving?
I mean, right? Because guilt and sin are the same thing. So if he won't clear the guilty, how could he be forgiving anybody's sin? It's a contradiction.
And the people who read that in the book of Exodus said that's a contradiction. Those two things cannot be, but we understand that God resolved the contradiction in Christ. Because in Christ, God laid on Jesus the penalty for our sin.
He didn't clear the guilty. God punished sin to its fullest measure on Christ so that he could forgive us on Christ's behalf. The way Isaiah says it, I love the imagery is that God laid on Jesus the sin, the iniquity of us all. Here's how I illustrate that to my kids.
Sometimes things that help kids help adults too. I'm like, okay, so let this Bible represent sin. I know it's kind of weird because it's the Bible, the law. So this represents our sin. I was like, your sin separates you from God. And no matter how close you try to get to God, it's always between you and God. It doesn't matter if you don't ever think about God at all and you're not religious at all, it's still between you and God. And if you try to pray every day and you read your Bible and do your best, it's still between you and God. So what God did with Jesus is he laid on Jesus the penalty of our sin and Jesus died and put it away so that there's nothing now that separates me from God. That in him, I am fully forgiven, not because God just is in a good mood, but because Jesus has put away my sin forever. So now the Bible says that Jesus stands as an advocate before the throne of God on my behalf.
Advocate means lawyer. Means he stands there and pleads with God for us. And I used to, I told you, I never, that never really brought me that much comfort because my image of Jesus standing as my advocate before the throne of God was always basically Jesus standing right there by God the Father. And when I would sin, Jesus, God would be like, all right, Greer's done it again. And Jesus would be like, oh, wait a minute, come on, come on, let's give him another chance. I mean, he's not that bad of a guy.
He's trying hard, a little misunderstood, but God please you owe me. I mean, I went and did the whole death thing. So could you just like, just give him another chance. And God would have that lightning bolt and be like, all right, I'll give Greer another chance.
And then, but they never brought me comfort because I knew, I knew there were certain things that I just would do and then I'd mess up and do it again. And I knew that God would be like, one time God was gonna be like, all right, no, no, no, Greer has done it for the last time. He's at like 918 on that one. And we're way past the 70 times seven thing, prepare for wrath, right? And so here was gonna come and Jesus was gonna be able to prevail, but it's, listen, Jesus does not stand before the throne of God and ask God to give me a second chance. In fact, Jesus stands, pardon the sacrilege and the way this is gonna sound, Jesus stands before the throne of God and says, father, you may not punish JD for that sin because you punish me for it. And it would be unjust for you to bring two penalties for the same sin. And because Jesus paid it all, there is no condemnation that is left for me in Christ because he has taken it away in entirety. You see, we wanna minimize the wrath of God because it makes us feel safe, but there's something in your heart that will never let you minimize the wrath of God. And you may never have come to terms with this, but God stamped that into your conscience.
You know there's condemnation. This is Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer and a message titled By No Means. We'll be right back with the rest of our teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to share a little bit about our new resource this month. Our current study in Exodus answers the most ambitious question that any of us could ever ask, who is God? We've all got ideas about God, but which ones are true?
And can we really know the essence of who God is? We're learning that God is both more awe-inspiring and more intimate than we could have ever imagined. And we have the ability to embrace that intimacy and communicate with the living God through prayer. So we thought that our new resource this month should help us grow in this most important discipline. It includes a bundle of three short books designed to boost your prayer life by giving you fresh ideas. Each chapter takes a passage of scripture and looks at how it can influence how we pray for a specific issue.
Give us a call at 866-335-5220 or go online to jdgreer.com and get your book bundled today. Now let's get back to today's teaching. Once again, here's Pastor JD. What's the first thing Adam and Eve felt after they sinned? They felt naked and shamed.
Shame because they're naked. Now, truth is I've told you they were actually naked before they sinned, but their nakedness didn't bother them. Why didn't it bother them?
If you don't know this and you've been at this church for like five years, my feelings are really hurting now because I've said this like a hundred thousand times. Why did their nakedness not bother them? Because they were clothed. They had the sense of being clothed in the love and the acceptance of God.
And that's all that mattered to them. But now having been stripped away of the love and the acceptance of God, they felt naked and exposed. So what do they do?
Well, it's a permanent image given to you. What do you do when you feel naked if you're a normal person? Told you if you show up at like Walmart, you have a problem sleepwalking and you wake up and you're buck naked in Walmart, what do you do? You go find clothes.
You don't shop while you're there. Because there's something that wants to be clothed. The human heart feels the sense of condemnation. And so we're looking for exoneration.
We're looking to be clothed again. What's fascinating is when you see somebody who doesn't believe in God or is not a Christian, figure this out. The playwright, Arthur Miller, who wrote Death of a Salesman, in his biography, he said, you know, he said, I quit believing in God when I was in college. And I thought that when I got rid of God, I would get rid of guilt. He said, but I've realized I've spent my entire career as a writer trying to get people to say that I was okay and that I was not going to be condemned, essentially.
He said, I realized that all I did was switch the person. What I used to look for in God, that approval, I now look for in other people, but I've never been able to get rid of the guilt and condemnation that just plagues my soul. It is a permanent part of the human condition. God has put that in your heart and you cannot deny it. And when you come to Jesus, listen, what you do is he takes that subconscious feeling of guilt and he makes it conscious. And then he says, though the voice that condemnation whispers in your soul is accurate, I'm going to speak a louder word over that voice.
And I'm going to say it is finished. It is to summarize Tim Keller. It is that though we are more wicked and guilty than we ever imagined, we are also more loved and accepted than we ever dared hope because Jesus paid it all. Martin Luther, Keller's just ripping off Martin Luther. I rip off Keller, Keller's off Luther, Luther goes all the way back to Jesus. So stop judging.
All right. Martin Luther, the way he said it was this, he says, the voice in our heart and our heart speaks condemnation. And the voice is true. The voice is accurate, but God and the gospel speaks a louder word. And where sin says, you are finished. Jesus says it is finished because he has delivered us from our sin. God's wrath is overcome in Christ. Number six, we see that God's wrath comes slowly but surely. We see that God's wrath comes slowly but surely.
Those of you with your Hebrew Bibles, you also noticed this phrase where it says, I'll just give it to you. The phrase translated slow to anger is literally long of nostrils. Now you say, well, how, when you were reading this in your Hebrew Bible during your quiet time, you're like, how does that mean slow to anger? Great question.
Hebrew is such a call for language, so much more colorful than English. And what happens when you get angry? Your nostrils flare. If you're quick tempered, your flaring nostrils get going right away. But if you're slow to anger, what do you do?
You close your mouth and you breathe through your nose slowly. The phrase means this, you can make God mad, but you really have to work at it. He is slow to anger because he wants you to repent because he has pushed away anger. And because he's brought compassion near, he wants you to repent, he wants you to wake up. The apostle Peter says that one of the things that characterizes the human race is we twist what God intends to be a space to repent.
And we confuse that for the absence of God's anger. Peter's example in 2 Peter 3 is the flood. God told mankind that because of the wickedness, he was going to destroy the world in a flood. And then he waited a hundred years. And during that hundred years, everybody said, oh, you're crazy, Noah. Well, yeah, there's going to be a flood. It's like a hundred years ago. Are you still on that stupid, you know, and when the flood actually came, just like God said it was a hundred years later, only the gladiator and Hermione Granger were able to be saved. Right?
And Peter then says, Peter says, here's what happens at our day. People say, where is the promise of his coming? You Christians still talking about Jesus coming back? Seriously?
When are you going to get over that gig? I mean, he's going to come back on a white horse. Oh yeah, that's going to happen. He's just gonna come right through that cloud on a white horse with all the, yeah, that's right. And other fairy tales. And I bet you put your tooth under your pillow at night and there's a tooth fairy. Yes.
Would you give up that stupid racket? And God says, do not let what I intend to be mercy and space for you to repent. Do not confuse that with my absence. The flood came, I will return. In fact, the proof of it is that I raised Jesus from the dead and throughout the book of Acts, whenever they talk about the resurrection, that's always the first thing they say with it. We always think the resurrection just means that Christianity is true.
It is. But what it also means is that God's judgment is sure. And that God has given us a space for you to repent. And he wants you to wake up.
Don't confuse his slowness to anger with his absence. Even now you look at the plagues, right? Think about the plagues. They got progressively worse. It was like God's voice just kept getting louder saying, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up.
Is that happening to you? Several years ago, I got out of seminary. One of the first jobs I was able to secure was a job in landscaping. I worked with this crew that, let's just say, did not all go to seminary. Let's just leave it at that. And there was one guy on the crew. He was six foot six. His name was, we called him Ivan. I don't even, that wasn't his real name, but it looked like Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. And so we called him that. And that dude would cuss. I mean, that dude had a mouth on him. And I mean, I don't cuss, but it was, I mean, stuff he put together was creative. And I was like, wow, that's some brilliance there.
But one day, I'd been there about two or three weeks. He let out a string of expletives that invoked the name of God. It was the filthiest thing I'd ever heard. And I just got filled with this sense of like holy rage. I felt angry. And I was filled with the Holy Spirit. And I walked up to six foot six Ivan in the middle of everybody. And I said, Ivan, one day you're going to stand before God. And the last thing you want when you stand before God is to have a record filled with you cursing God's name that way. And then the Holy Spirit totally left me.
I'm done. Literally, I turned and I walked away. And I heard, I heard his big old feet coming and he stood in front of me and he stopped and I looked up at him and he said, say that to my face again. And I said, well, this time a little more humbly.
I kind of walked through what it meant to be in the judgment of God. And then it was the weirdest thing, y'all just inexplicably, at least I thought inexplicably, he gets emotional. And he said, last week I went to the doctor and they have diagnosed me with skin cancer, skin cancer. He says, and I'm scared, man.
I'm going to be honest. And now you're talking to me about the judgment of God. Every break we had that day, we talked and toward the end of the day, we're on our last break. And my back was to this like field, probably a hundred yards across. And he was standing in front of me and we were talking about judgment and gospel and mercy. And, and all of a sudden as we're talking, I see his face get really like confused and he just takes off running across this field.
I'm like, I don't know what's going on. So I turn around, I chase him, follow him. And then I see what he sees. He's seen, while we were talking about a hundred yards away, there's this car had come through an intersection and went through a stop sign and the cars tried to avoid each other and they hit and one flipped over.
And there were a couple of guys that had ran off the side of the road. We're trying to push over this car cause well, they, they weren't budging. He gets there. He just hits it.
I mean, just a huge guy just hits it. And you just see this car just turn, flip over. And it was, y'all, it was one of the most gruesome things I've ever seen.
This kid that had just been, part of him has just been mangled underneath this car, just, you know, comes up and, and they called EMS, called the ambulance. And, and he and I had to stay there cause we were witnesses to the accident and stayed there for like two hours. And for the first 20 minutes, we just stood there in silence.
And he never looked at me. He was just staring kind of at this scene. And then he sort of speaks out on the other side of his mouth. And he says, skin cancer, you kind of randomly talking to me about the judgment of God. He said, I see a kid who either died or might die. Or he said, JD, do you think God's, you think God's trying to speak to me?
I said, no, man. I think God's screaming at you. And I think, you know, that he said, I do. And we talked, we talked the next day, two, three days later, I had the privilege of leading him to faith in Jesus Christ.
I share that because I feel like maybe it's not as dramatic for some of you, but I think probably for some of you, the same thing is happening. And if you're paying attention, he's speaking to you and he's starting to scream at you and the voice is getting louder. And what it's saying is you've got to wake up. You've got to repent. The Lord is not slow concerning this promise, but he's not willing that any should perish. He wants all to come to a place of repentance.
Don't confuse this, this season of mercy. Don't confuse it with God's absence. The last person who wants you to experience the wrath of God is God. God took your place.
He absorbed the wrath for you, but he's not going to force it on you. Strangest Supreme court case I've ever heard about. Read about it this week, 1833 United States versus George Wilson. George Wilson was a man who committed a series of crimes. And for those crimes, he received the death penalty. But because his crimes were politically motivated, the sitting president at the time, Andrew Jackson, decided he was going to pardon George Wilson and everybody that was a part of it, gave him a full and complete pardon. The warden brings it down to George Wilson and George Wilson says, I will not receive the pardon. We don't know his motivations.
Maybe he just felt like he believed in his cause or whatever. And the warden says, what do you mean? I've got your pardon right here. He says, I refuse to receive. He fought it in court. I will not receive the pardon. It went all the way to the United States Supreme court. And in 1833, the United States Supreme court made a decision.
One of the oddest ones I've ever heard. They said, a pardon is only good if the person to whom it is issued receives it. A pardon is an agreement between those who are extending justice and those who are receiving justice. And it is not valid unless it is received.
It is received. And George Wilson was executed in 1833 with a pardon for his full release, sitting on the warden's desk. I don't know where the Supreme court got the idea. I don't know how they came up with that, but I do know maybe it came from understanding what God has done for us in Christ is that he has paid for your sin. He has issued that pardon. And the tragedy is that some of you are going to go into hell and face the wrath of God with your sins paid for.
The last voice you might hear as you step off earth into hell is the voice of Jesus saying, you don't have to do it, but he won't force it on you. You have to receive it. You have to receive it. Have you ever received? Have you ever repented of your sin and received Christ as Lord and savior?
If you have, has it transformed your life? How could you and I understand this part? And how could we understand wrath and mercy and not just always be talking about it to people saying it's been paid. It's been done.
It's finished. All you got to do is trust and receive it. Do you know that you've repented and trusted Christ? If not, you could do it into a very simple prayer. God, I've lived in rebellion against you, and I'm sorry. I surrender to you right now. And I receive you as my savior. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me in Christ's name.
Amen. If you just prayed that for the first time and truly gave your whole heart and life to Jesus, then welcome to the family. The next step is to keep growing in your faith. So let me encourage you to find a local church that will support and teach you. And then let me point you to the free Bible study resources on our website at jdgrier.com. This ministry is made possible by friends like you who come alongside us with financial support so that people across the country and even around the world can hear this teaching on the radio and web. Join that mission when you donate today and ask for the Five Things to Pray bundle as our gift to you. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.
Or give and request the set online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Join us tomorrow when we'll begin the final message in our teaching series called The Name. We'll see you right back here Wednesday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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