The Wrath of God :: By Sean Gooding

John 3:35-36

35 “The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in His hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever rejects the Son will not see life. Instead, the wrath of God remains on him.”

A few weeks ago, I wrote about our Gracious God, and He is. One of the hardest things to deal with as a Christian and indeed more, I think, as a Pastor, is that we have to teach about the whole person of God and not just about the parts that we like. Everyone loves the ‘loving God’; we all love that God loves us and provides for us. We all love to talk about Heaven, and even when we know that people have not been in any kind of relationship with Jesus, we are apt to say ‘rest in peace’ when they die. No one wants to think of a friend or an acquaintance suffering in Hell; we just don’t want to go there. We try to block it out of our minds.

I think of people who committed suicide, some of them looking for a bit of peace, only to wake up in Hell in a worse state than they would have been living. I think of the men who sang a lot about Hell being a party only to get there and realize there was no joy, no laughter, not even a smile, just torments. I can’t imagine the shock as atheists entered Hell and realized that God is real. I teach about Hell because it is in the Bible; Jesus taught about Hell, and so did many of the writers of the New Testament and the Old Testament.

The Father’s Love, verse 35

This is what we all like to preach about. Jesus’ love. God’s love. Love, love, love, and more love. This makes us feel great. We live in a world where a lot of people do not truly feel loved, and we can see them respond to being loved. God the Father loves Jesus, and he has given all things into His Son’s hands. Jesus created all things.

John 1:1-3 “In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was at the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.”

Jesus will judge all things one day, and Jesus is the sole author and provider of Salvation, John 14: 1-6. When we share the Gospel, we tell people how much God loves them; we quote John 3:16, Romans 5:8. God showed us His love; He demonstrated His love to us in that while you and I were sinners, Christ died on the cross for us. He, who knew no sin became sin for us. He took my sins and your sins, and He bore our just punishment on the cross. It should have been me nailed to the cross; it should have been me with the sword jabbed into my side; it should have been me with the beatings and the spittle on my face. It should have been me bearing my own sin, but no; God loved me so much that He sent Jesus to be my sin-bearer, and He loved you so much that He sent Jesus to be your sin-bearer. And in Him, when we believe in all He has done for us, we are gifted eternal life by God the Father.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We love the last part of this verse – the gift of eternal life; we get to live forever. And even though we may have to suffer pain and even die here in this life, we have this comforting rest, this soothing salve that we have eternal life in Jesus with God the Father. Soon, none of us that know Jesus will suffer or hurt, our tears will be wiped away, and we shall never worry again.

But any of us that have had loved ones die, especially those that we know did not make any kind of commitment to the Lord that we know of, their memory kind of haunts us. We know that we will never see them again and that they are not in comfort; they are not resting in peace, and they have landed on the wrong side of God’s love, by their own choice.

The Father’s Wrath, verse 36

Man, we do not like to think about that! We love the lovable God. We love the giving God, the one that is nice and kind, gracious and merciful. But we do not like the wrathful God. Many modern churches avoid talking about God’s wrath; they do not mention Hell, and they rarely talk about the cross unless it is Easter. Just last week, my dad mentioned that he had watched a prominent preacher on TV speak for about an hour and never open a Bible. Those that do use the Bible avoid the passages about Hell like the plague. They do not talk about the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

Luke 16:19-25There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lifts up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

“And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”

This is one of the clearest teachings from Jesus about Hell. Here the rich man in consciousness has memories and is able to talk; so all of his cognitive functions are good, and he is in torment in flames. By the way, he is still there some 2,000 years later. Some may argue that this was a parable, but one would find it hard to identify one other parable where Jesus used a name. It is very possible that the people listening actually knew both of the main characters. By the way, Abraham was also alive and well, and the rich man knew him even though he had never met Abraham nor seen him.

Further on in the Bible, we run into Revelation 20:11-15:

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Here is another very vivid view of Hell and the judgments that will come on those that reject the free (to us), loving gift that Jesus paid for in His own blood – the free offer that God extends to us because He loves us. Well, that is not love, you may say; He is coercing us into salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is not coercing you; He is giving you the choice and the consequences that come with free will.

I read just a day or so ago a quote from C.S. Lewis that basically says there are two kinds of persons on earth – the ones who say to God, ‘Thy Will Be done,’ and the ones to whom God says, ‘Thy Will Be Done.’ Sin has to be paid for. We understand the concept of justice. You and I are sinners. No one that has children ever had to show them a seminar on how to lie, a video on how to rebel, and how to ‘talk back.’ No, these things come naturally because we are all born sinners; it is our nature. Sin requires God’s judgment and justice. So, in His loving way, God sent His son Jesus, who came willingly, by the way, to die for us.

God poured out holy justice on Jesus for sins He did not commit so that He can declare us innocent and give us a righteousness that we do not deserve. God did not send people to Hell; they are born going to Hell. He offers them a way not to go there. If they refuse the way, they have accepted their place in Hell and will be under God’s divine justice, God’s wrath forever. Jesus went freely into captivity, freely into a ‘trial,’ freely up the hill of Golgotha, and allowed mere men to nail Him to the cross, all the while keeping thousands of eager angels at bay.

Matthew 26:53Are you not aware that I can call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?”

This is a hard topic to deal with, but Hell is just as real as Heaven and needs to be talked about. Real people that we know, that we love, that we see every day, that we eat with at lunch and wish a goodnight at the end of each workday are going to go the Hell because they rejected Jesus. That simple and that true. They do not go to Hell because they are sinners; we are all sinners. They go to Hell because they rejected God the Father’s free gift of eternal life.

It is my prayer and my desire that all men respond to God’s grace, but some will only respond to God’s wrath. Lord, help me to be at the edge of Hell trying to give people one last chance, may they have to pass me praying for them not to get there, and may our churches constantly smell of smoke as we camp at the gates of Hell even to rescue just one more from her grasp.

God is a loving and merciful God, but He is also a wrathful God. We cannot have mercy without wrath; a God who has no wrath is not merciful; there is nothing to fear. Only a God capable of wrath can extend mercy. I am under His mercy in Jesus; what about you?

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

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