The wrath of God

by "Unknown"

God did something immeasurably great to free people from their guilt, sin and condemnation in accordance with His holiness. But they have the freedom to accept, ignore or simply refuse this offer of God. This is everyone's own decision. But Scripture clearly says: "On such remains the wrath of God (John 3:36).

There's no agreement here that says: "Take care of yourself, I'll take care of myself, and everyone leaves the other alone". The word in Philippians 2:10-11 remains valid, that in Jesus' name every knee must bend and every tongue must confess him as Lord, voluntarily and with joy or involuntarily.

The wrath of God remains on those who reject his gift of grace. God's wrath is not comparable to man's; it is a wrath that works justice and must not be underestimated for that very reason. His anger leads to judgment. Just as his love in Christ runs through all the Greek scriptures, so does his anger toward sin and the wicked who reject his love.

Some people seem to take God's anger lightly, to shrug it off with a shrug, so to speak, for them it is a negligible quantity. But beware of that (Hebrews 10:31).

But since – despite the many historical examples – God's wrath often seems to us to remain a very abstract concept, we can perhaps illustrate his greatness and decisiveness with the example of the person of Jesus, who suffered God's wrath in order to free those who trust him from it. Jesus' life was, as it were, a prism that presented us with God's judgment of wrath in his person and in his suffering. His death and the way he died on Golgotha were expressions of God's wrath; this helps us to recognize what God's wrath is, how serious he should be taken!

This may be incomprehensible to many; they may see in the offering of the Son as a sacrifice an unimaginable act; the Bible itself calls it a mystery (1 Timothy 3:16). There is no explanation here by human standards, in philosophy, in jurisprudence, or in anything similar, but only in God and in his love and grace for sinful people. But one can also see in it how impossible it is to be justified before God without ransom and sacrifice.

Furthermore, in Jesus' suffering, God reveals his attitude to and judgment over sin. Jesus suffered death »for sin«, for the sin of many (Isaiah 53:11; 1 John 2:2)! Jesus knew that his death would be an outstanding judgment of God, and though he approached death directly and without evasion, the nature of death made him fight (Mark 14:32-34; Luke 22:44). But he died this judgment death for us who believe in him; he is our Passa (1 Corinthians 5:7), the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29; 1 Peter 3:18). Through Jesus our sins are not »swept under the carpet«, but atoned for and taken away as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Through him we have righteousness and forgiveness; the Greek word for »forgiven«, which is used again and again in the Gospels in connection with Jesus, has two words as linguistic roots which together have meaning: »take away«.

Golgotha, the «stauros» – reproduced mostly with cross, also with stake or similar – that is the ultimate punishment for sin, the greatest revelation of the wrath of God against godlessness and malice of man. This wrath is not an automatic wrath, nor is it comparable to human vindictiveness. We can only begin to understand it when we see that God gave His beloved Son to deliver us from His wrath of sin and wickedness.

Jesus died for us and God was justified and at the same time became our justifier (Romans 3:26). Here something happened before which man can only stand with empty hands, but in these empty hands of faith he can receive the amazing grace so desperately needed, yet in complete harmony with God's righteousness. It can be said that Jesus averted God's wrath from us; but he did more than that: he took him completely upon himself, so that for those whom he saved there was not the slightest trace of this wrath left. What then should, could or must they do themselves, through their own achievements or works, in order to be saved?

Here we can see what divine love is (1 John 3:16; Romans 5:8)! We should bow before this amazing grace by bowing before God the Father as well as before the Savior sent by Him (Philippians 2:10).

Perhaps these remarks may help us to take seriously the wrath of God so seriously taken by God himself that he gave his own Son to save believers from the coming wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10). But each person remains free to make his own decision. But: ... if the righteous are saved only with difficulty (by the mission and offering of the Son as a redeeming sacrifice), where will the godless and sinner remain? (Translation by Bruns). May God's grace not be offered to us in vain!


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