The Just Wrath of God
[See www.BibleQuery.org/Doctrine/WrathOfGod/WrathOfGod_Outline.doc for an outline the audience can fill in.]
Who first said this: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath."? (John the Baptist) Who was the first to echo John's words? - Jesus (Matthew 23:33)
As people attempt to accommodate the Gospel to fit modern society, there is one aspect that just does not seem to fit the mold. As a matter of fact, it sticks out like a sore thumb. — the wrath of God. Of course, we should not be trying to accommodate the Gospel to people's perceptions, but even among Christians who already know that, there can be a reluctance to tell the "embarrassment" of God's wrath. It should neither be embarrassing nor out of place in our theology or our preaching.
1. Where does wrath Fit in Your Sharing the Gospel?
Romans 1:18-19; 2:2; Jonah 3:4; Nahum 1:2-3; Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7; John 3:36
Balance with: James 2:13; Romans 5:10;11:22; Isaiah 1:18; 48:9; Psalm 103:8-10; 145:8-9,13,17
The wrath of God. What do you think of when you hear those words? For some Christians the phrase makes them uncomfortable. Some think it of outmoded theology of man, no longer relevant today. Some think of hellfire and brimstone preachers, who in popular memory, teach little of God's love. Are those the only two choices, to be extreme or else be embarrassed to mention it? I hope not.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:28 "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Jesus is saying to have a fear of God. Don't we want to teach what He teaches?
God wrath should not be absent nor out of place in our theology or our evangelism, but it should have its proper place. My point today is not to give a hellfire and brimstone sermon, but to teach from many passages the proper place of God's wrath for our testimony.
For everyone who has either shared the Gospel at least once or had the Gospel shared with them, was God's wrath or great anger mentioned? If you have not mentioned this every time you share the Gospel, that is fine, because the Bible's examples do not mention this every time either. But with some people, particularly religious people, this was mentioned. If you have never mentioned this, or even worse, if you cannot mention this because you do not see how this fits in with telling people about Christ, this message is especially for you. I hope that after this message you will be better at sharing the whole Gospel. Whether this knowledge will make you more "successful" in people coming to Christ, I do not know, but that is not the issue here. The goal is to more accurately proclaim to people the truth. If you are a non-Christian hearing this message, maybe somebody told you about the Gospel before, they neglected to tell you about this aspect. My point is not to sell you on the Gospel, or to scare you into believing with extreme threats, but in a way without exaggeration, to tell you honestly what the Bible says about wrath and Hell.
Paul, in Romans gave one of the most systematic descriptions of the Gospel. He starts out in Romans 1:16 by saying that He is not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God. Almost immediately afterward, in Romans 1:18, Paul begins with "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven (not from men) against all godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness."
If Romans is a book telling us all about the good news, doesn't it seem very strange that Paul starts by talking about the terrible news of God's wrath? Why would he do this? I believe the reason is that, The Good News does not seem as great if we do not understand all the bad news.
Most people today hear Christians say that God is love, but many do not hear the flipside: God also has great wrath. When they do hear about it, they do not take it seriously, because God's wrath, as they understand it, must not be true, because it would not be just. However, God's wrath is just, and when we see both that God's wrath is very great and just at the same time, it gets very scary.
We are going to take a quick look at four topics: just how good is man, how do justice and wrath harmonize, how is God's wrath at work, and our situation.
2. How Bad Are All of Us
Romans 3:9-18;23; 7:14-25; 1 John 1:8-10; Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:3
Balance with: Psalm 139:14; Romans 7:14-25
On the whole, is mankind more good or more bad? Most humanists, as well as Confucianists, say that man is basically good. However, let's look at the historical record. War is a terrible thing, and an unjust thing, with many peaceful adults and kids being killed. In the last 3,000 years, how many years do you think there are of potential peace? (wait for answers) The answer is at most 100 years. Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus, the Prince of Peace was born. This fact seemed unnoticed by most armies. Since Jesus was born, how many years how many years were potentially free from war? (wait for answer) At most, 40 years. What is the last year of potential peace? (149 A.D.)
Let's look at our priorities. We are trying to cure every kind of rare disease, yet in the late 20th century, 12 million kids per year die of vaccinable diseases. We have the vaccines. How can this be?
So how bad are we? People are not as bad as they could be. Demons may be that way, but while people are totally depraved, we are not "utterly depraved". Even Hitler, it was said, was kind to his pet dogs. Everyone is not equally bad, and everyone is not bad in the same way. The rich man in Luke 16, was unselfishly concerned that his five brothers did not end up in torment as he did. We do have some good in us, at least compared to Idi Amin, but that is not the point. The point is that, compared to God, we have no good in us that is pleasing to God. Hebrews 11:6 says that "without faith it is impossible to please God."
Romans 3:9-18;23 says what we look like from God's perspective. Please turn to it now. ...
Profoundly fallen in _____________, ______________, ________________
Romans 1:18,22; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11; John 12:39-40 Romans 2:5; John 8:37; 2 Thessalonians 2:12; Romans 2:5
We are profoundly fallen in mind, will, and heart.
Proverbs 20:9 says "Who can says, 'I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin'?
Proverbs 16:25 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death."
1 Corinthians 1 shows that the message of the cross is foolishness to the wise of this world.
We are ________________________ and ________________ in God's eyes
Isaiah 4:4; 64:6; James 1:21; Proverbs 30:12 Hosea 9:10; Psalm 53:1; Nahum 1:14 Revelation 22:11
Not only are we bad in intellect, will, and heart, our discerning of evil is, how shall I say it, less than perfect. Consider the following quotes
"I do not consider Hitler to be as bad as he is depicted. He is showing an ability that is amazing and he seems to be gaining his victories without much bloodshed. "
Mohandas K. Gandhi - remark to Rajkumari Amrit in May, 1940
"Knowing of your congregation's deep involvement in the major social and constitutional issues of our country is a great inspiration to me" U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale in a letter of reference - for Rev. Jim Jones (of later Jonestown infamy) on 12/2/1978.
We do not even see our own sin.
Fallen - intellect, will, heart, and we do not even realize it.
We are vile and filthy in God's eyes. A key point that is easy to miss, is that these verse are NOT just saying our sins are vile and filthy. They say we are vile and filthy. When someone uses foul language and says it accidentally "slipped out", how did that foul thing get inside in the first place?
We are _______________ in sin and __________________ of sin
Ephesians 2:1,5; Romans 6:21,23; 7:6 Romans 6:20,22; 7:14,23; Galatians 3:22,23; Luke 4:18
We are dead in sin and prisoners of sin. How can we be both? We are like a condemned prisoner awaiting execution. The judge has said, today, you are a dead man.
We need God's ______________, _______________, and ______________
Matthew 6:12,15; Mark 2:7; Hebrews 10:4; 1 John 1:9; Acts 15:9 John 3:36; Acts 5:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17
We need God's forgiveness, cleansing, and life.
Does God blame us for Adam's sin? No, according to Romans 5:13, Ezekiel 18, and other passages. Yet all Adam's seed are cursed with His nature, leading to certain condemnation. If Christ only forgave us of our sins on the cross, that would not be good enough. He need cleansing for our nature too. Christ also opened the way for that on the cross too.
At 11:40 on April 14, 1912 the Titanic struck an iceberg. 1,500 people died and the ship went 2 miles under the ocean.
Prior to this, a deckhand on the Titanic told a passenger, "God himself could not sink this ship." 4/10/1912
Here is an analogy. We were born on the ship Titanic. Nobody can blame us for where we were born. Christ comes by in a boat to rescue us. We can consent to have Christ rescue us or refuse. If we refuse, when the ship sinks, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Did we sink because a) we were unable to swim 300 miles NW to Canada, b) we were aboard the Titanic, or c) we refused Christ's offer. The correct answer is, they are all true aspects of the same answer. Do people go to Hell, because of their sinful actions, their corrupt nature, or their rejecting Christ? The correct answer is: all the above. They are all true aspects of the same answer.
3. What of God's Justice?
Some think the idea of Hell an unjust, inevitable certain destiny of the non-elect. It is not unjust. It is also not inevitable for anyone. Yet for God, for whom all times are the present, a person's free choice of rejecting Him and going to Hell was just as certain to God after he made the choice as it was before the world was created.
This may be difficult to understand, so consider two examples. We can read in the history books what George Washington did two hundred years ago. Our knowledge did not force him to make his choices. If someone could go back in time, to say Antarctica 200 years before George Washington, and read the same history book, that would not restrict Washington in any way. To greatly over-simplify, there is an incredibly detailed history book in heaven written by the one who saw all times before there even was time.
In our second example, let's ask a strange question. When the leaders decided to crucify Christ, since God is not the author of evil, and God does not desire sin, God was not the cause or blame for their choice. How many minutes before their decision was it when God first knew of their choice? Psalm 22 mentions Jesus' death, and it was written about a 1,000 years earlier. Titus 1:2 says this salvation was promised by God before the beginning of time. In Acts 2:23 Peter says Jesus was handed over by God's set purpose and foreknowledge. For that matter, Ephesians 1:11 says that God "works out everything in conformance with the purpose of his will."
So these men acted freely, but God knew their heart and their actions were made a part of His plan.
God's judgment is ____________, ____________, and _______________
God's judgment is impartial, appropriate, and delayed
Impartial means that God is not only fair to some, but He is does not show favoritism in judging from Romans 2:11. All sin is punished fairly, but all sin is not punished the same. For example, in the Old Testament Law, there was often one punishment for unintentional sin, and another for willful and defiant sin. Romans 4:15 and 5:13 show that sin is not counted where there is no law, and the purpose of the law was to highlight sin. 2 Peter 2:21 shows that those who know more, and reject, have more punishment than those who know less.
Of course all ignorance is not innocent. One can wish to find knowledge and be ignorant of it. One can also deliberately close their eyes and be ignorant.
Why does God not allow evil in heaven? Think of it this way. I do not allow bugs and snakes in my house. I am not always successful, but I try to keep the ants and roaches out. God has the write to keep dirty creatures out of His house too. Apart from God's washing and sanctifying us, that is what we are. If children have been playing in the mud, they need to be washed off before I let them in my house. If they refuse to be washed off, they don't come in the house. How much more stringent are the rules of a Holy God about His house.
We have not yet seen the main part of God's wrath and justice. We have temporary injustice today. Temporary injustice is compatible with God's justice because all will be set right on Judgment Day.
Why do God's ways not always make sense to us. I think the book of Job has part of the answer. We can read the book of Job and understand what went on in heaven, but we should not forgot that Job had no idea why this was happening to him. He could see no earthly purpose for his sufferings, because indeed there was no earthly purpose. His sufferings glorified God in heaven, and only at the end was Job satisfied as he saw a bit more of the total picture.
Martin Gardner was the former editor of the Scientific American Magazine. He wrote an interesting book called the The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener. From the perspective of a non-religious agnostic, he had an interesting conclusion: if you believe in justice, you have to believe in an after-life.
In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus mentioned the Galileans Pilate had killed and mixed their blood with their sacrifices, and the ones on whom the Tower of Siloam fell. It was false to say it was justice that it happened to these men and not others. Rather, as Luke 18:7 shows, sometimes God's justice is delayed.
Yet God can have special generosity
Yet God can have _______________ __________________
Matthew 20:1-16; Romans 9:3-7; Romans 9:13-14
Does God have equal love and generosity to all? Let's see what scripture shows. Matthew 20 is the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Different ones worked a different number of hours, and all received their agreed upon pay: one denarius. The ones who worked longest grumbled, because they did not received more than the ones who only worked one hour. The landlord had his reasons for generously paying the same to all who were willing to work the entire day, but the workers did not see the landlord's reasons, and sometimes neither do we. Anyway, God was fair but not equitable. Everyone did not get equal pay for equal work. God kept His promises to the workers, and nobody got short-changed. However, seeing as the landlord had the right to spend his money as He saw fit, He was more generous to some than others.
Romans 9:10-15 talks of two twins: Esau and Jacob. Even though both learned the truth from their parents, Esau was godless, and Jacob was a deceitful schemer. God would have been just to abandon both of them. Yet God showed a special mercy, (and I think mercy is an important choice of words here), and extra compassion to Jacob and not Esau. Did Esau get a rotten deal? No. Romans 9 is clear: God is just to all, but He does not have to show as much mercy to all. So God's justice is impartial, but His justice does not limit Him being generous as He wishes.
Likewise, in Acts 9 all of the companions of Saul of Tarsus saw the light, but only Saul heard the voice. All of the men had the opportunity to learn what God told Saul, but certainly that was a special mercy toward Saul.
1 Timothy 2:4 shows that God does not desire any to perish. Do you need a special mercy from God? Is there someone you know who has all the knowledge they need, they have completely made up their mind, and they have rejected Christ. God would be just to never give them another opportunity to repent as long as they live. Perhaps they are in need of special mercy. God is not required by justice to give it too them, yet Micah 7:18 says God delights to show mercy. Perhaps you need to be bold, and boldly ask God in prayer for special mercy for this person.
So it seems like we just ought to ask for this special mercy for everyone in the entire world. However, 2 Peter 2:21 and John indicate otherwise. 2 Peter 2:21 says of some "It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred commandment that was passed on to them." In John 15:22-24, Jesus indicates that the sin of the Pharisees was greater because Jesus came to them and they rejected him in person.
Some years ago, I was sharing the Gospel the morning after some people in my dorm took a guy out to get him drunk for the first time. They did not seem too concerned, until I shared 2 Peter 2:21 with them, and then one guy got mad at me. He said that if I knew this, then why was I sharing with him?
We are to share the gospel freely, without trying to judge other's chances of future repentance. Nevertheless, occasionally in sharing the Gospel I use this verse just so the listener can understand the importance of his or her response to opportunities to hear God's word.
All who ______________________________________
John 3:36; 8:24; Acts 4:12
So how do people get under God's wrath? John 3:36 says that All who reject Jesus remain in God's wrath. Given our sinful acts, our sinful nature, and our lack of spiritual life, we need Jesus. As John 8:24 and Acts 4:12 show, we have no hope except through Jesus.
What about those who never heard? The Bible is clear about one thing: God is just to all. All who are saved are saved through Jesus, and none are saved who reject Jesus. However, can God save anyone if they never heard of Jesus' name? Well, God can do whatever He wants. He saved Abraham, Job, and the other Old Testament saints, and nothing prevents God from being just and fair today.
4. How Severe Is God's Wrath?
4. How Severe Is God's Wrath?
Ephesians 2:3; Isaiah 5:25; Psalm 89:46; Romans 2:5-8
Certainly the most severe aspect of God's wrath is Hell and the Lake of Fire. What do you think of when you think of the Lake of Fire? What do you teach others about Hell?
Many Christians stress that some of Hell's torments may be self-inflicted. Imagine someone who lives on earth full of sin: be it lust, greed, craving for alcohol, drugs, and so forth. Imagine that after a person dies their sinful addiction not only remains, but grow to consume every conscious thought. Worst of all, they are fully aware their craving will never be satisfied, that it will be this way forever, and were given the opportunity to escape, and as Jonah 2:8 says, they forfeited the grace that could be theirs. Hell can be thought of like a zoo, or a wild preserve, for all eternity, others can see what those were like who rejected God.
All of the preceding may be true, but it is only part of the picture. Hebrews 10:31 says, "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God".
It is a _______________ thing to ___________________________________
Hebrews 10:31 Isaiah 6:5; Revelation 1:17; Psalm 50:1-6,22;
Contact with a Holy God by us sinful creatures is a fearful prospect. When Isaiah say a vision of the Lord in Isaiah 6:5, his first response was not "Praise God", but rather "woe is me", an acute sense of his own sin. In Revelation 1:17, the first thing John did when Jesus came to give John this wonderful revelation, was to involuntarily fall down as though dead.
God's wrath is not just passive, but active. Psalm 50 shows that God comes and deliberately destroys with fire, pestilence, and other terrors. People are actively thrown in the Lake of Fire in Revelation 20:15.
Ten times in the gospels Jesus mentioned Gehenna. Gehenna was an actual physical place, the Valley of Hinnom, just outside of Jerusalem. It was in prior times the place where infant sacrifice was practiced. In Jesus' time it was a huge garbage dump. They would throw the garbage there, but after a while the bugs, rats, and smell would become so foul, they would set it on fire. Jesus' term "Gehenna of fire" in Matthew 18:9, is apt to show that Hell is sort of a cosmic trash-dump.
Is Hell unjust? Norm Geisler has an interesting comment on this. He says, "Hell is the most glorious of all Christian doctrines, for it proves that man is truly free." Think about this. Man has been allowed freedom to rebel enough against the infinite God to deserve eternal torment." To me, Hell is the horrible place, where man's freedom to choose to be separate from God, drifts away in the justice of its consequences.
Hell is not the only way God's wrath is unleashed. As judgment for sin, Adam not only received curses, but the curses passed to his descendants. We are born cursed, and we have pain, suffering, temporary injustice, and death in this life. Death does not prove God blames us or charges us for Adam's actions, because dogs and cats die too, and they are not charged with sin. Nevertheless, death proves we bear consequences in this life for Adam's actions.
After the fall, Adam and Eve were not allowed to live in an unfallen creation. Romans 8:19-22 shows that creation itself was corrupted, as a more fitting place for corrupt man. Why do tornadoes and other natural disasters kill people? John 14:30 and 1 John 5:19 show that Satan is the prince of this world, and the whole world is under his control. Nature is a glorious testimony to God's character, but it too bears consequences of sin. We can see in nature lessons of our own foolishness.
Chuck Swindoll gave an example of how Eskimos kill wolves. They take some whale blubber, stick a knife in it, and leave it out in the woods to freeze. The hungry wolves come and lick the blubber. When they get to the knife, they taste blood - their own. They savagely keep licking, craving the blood, until they are dead. Sin can be that way.
Sheep are not very bright animals. If someone were to put a collar of barbed wire around their neck, that would irritate their neck so much, they would go against a tree, and rub and rub and rub.... until dead. Isaiah 53:6 says we are like sheep that have gone astray. Thanks for the compliment! — but true.
So, through nature, our nature, and the teachings on Hell, we can see how God's wrath is expressed. Now let's look at other aspects of God's wrath in the Bible.
1 Thessalonians 2:16 shows that God's patience has limits.
God's _____________ has _____________
1 Thessalonians 2:16; Genesis 15:16; Revelation 10:6
In Genesis 15:16, God told Abraham he would inherit the land, but not yet, because the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure. Revelation 10:6 sounds almost impatient, when the angel says, "there will be no more delay."
In Isaiah 48:9 God says that for His own name's sake, He delays His wrath. Yet Psalm 2:5,12 shows that when it comes, God's wrath can flare up in a moment.
Can wrath be both slow and delayed, and yet flare up in a moment. To understand the answer, let's look at Romans 2:5. It says that people are storing up wrath for themselves. Charles Hodge compares man's storing up wrath with water being stored behind Hoover Dam. Such a great quantity can be stored, and yet nothing comes out the other side. However, when all the floodgates are opened, such as surge comes out that it can sweep unsuspecting people away.
God's wrath burns like fire in Psalm 89:46. All of us, prior to being saved, were by nature objects of wrath in Ephesians 2:3.
One of the more unusual characteristics of wrath is that punishment for one sin is often more corruption. Turn to Romans 1:24 and 28. Notice that some of their depravity was punishment for their past depravity. An engineer might call this a positive feedback loop. A psychologist might say wrath has neurotic effects. A mathematics major might say wrath is a descent toward a singularity. A pre-med student would say wrath is cancerous. We can all say that God's wrath is serious.
God not only examines people's hearts, but God also hardens them, as Romans 9:16-18 and Exodus 9:12 show. Yet the first time the Bible mentions Pharaoh's heart as actually hard, Pharaoh hardened it himself in Exodus 7:22. One punishment of continued sin is that God hardens people's hearts, like a potter hardens clay, fixed in the shape it was last in.
In Revelation chapters 14 through 18 God's wrath is pictured as an insanity-producing wine. Is Hell a place of insanity. Who knows if people are sane when they are thrown in, but it is hard to imagine them being sane after they are there.
Here are some other Christian's descriptions of Hell.
"Hell is the penitentiary of the moral universe." (J.S. Wrightnour)
The wicked in hell shall be always dying but never dead." (Thomas Watson)
"When the world dissolves, all places will be hell that are not heaven." (Christopher Marlowe)
'Too late' is written on the gates of Hell
To believe in heaven but not in hell is to declare that there were times when Jesus was telling the truth and times when he was lying." (John Blanchard)
Hell is the end of second chances
The greatest and the hottest fires that ever were on earth are but ice in comparison of the fire of hell. (Thomas Brooks)
"He shall have hell as a debt who will not have heaven as a gift."
And finally, "It is never true to say that something 'hurts like hell.' Nothing hurts like hell." (John Blanchard)
In summary, God's wrath is expressed as suffering in this life, curses, corruption of man and nature, and eternal punishment. Like water behind a dam, it can be stored up, has limits, and can flow suddenly. Like a cancer, it can be in part its own punishment, in this life and the next.
5. How Desperate is Our Need for God's Mercy
5. How Desperate is Our Need for God's Mercy
A key mistake we can make about God's wrath is that it is without cause. Ezekiel 18 shows that we guilty for only our own sins, not another's. Romans 2:14-15 tells us that even unbelieving pagans sometimes do the right thing, following at least part of God's law written on their conscience.
However, while we all, theoretically, could live a sinless life, none of us do. I tried to come up with an adequate illustration of how desperately we need God's mercy but I did not do too well. See what you think. Here is what I came up with.
We do not have as good a chance as...
A midget going one-on-one in basketball with Yao Ming with a step-ladder
A man surrounded by millions of flesh-eating army ants with a half-empty can of RAID
A man swimming in a school of piranhas with a fish-cleaning knife
The man who stirs up a big hornet's nest but has a fly swatter
The pilot of an airplane with two sheared-off wings who finds an instruction manual
A jumper in mid-fall with a broken bungee cord who has some thick rubber bands
The previous situations, bad as they are, offer more hope than we have. Perhaps I did not do too good showing how hopeless our situation is, but here is the best analogy I can come up with.
We are a swimmer who ignored the sign that said "Danger - sharks, no swimming" We are soon to be face to face with a pack of great white sharks, but we are not unequipped. No sirree!
We are covered with our own self-righteousness, like a black wet-suit. It makes us resemble a tasty seal.
We have all our past sins, which hide our smell by coating us as with fish-blood.
(Sharks can smell blood from over a mile away.)
With our current desires and actions we are wildly splashing around.
We do have our good intentions as a small pocket-knife, but we recently sharpened the blade.
Finally, if we attend church regularly, we a gun that still works when wet. It is a water-pistol.
Finally, if we attend church regularly, we have an old harpoon gun, which might be able to take out one of the sharks, except that it is not loaded.
What we could really helpful right now would be for a rope ladder from a helicopter to appear, so that we could climb out. But God saw us, and God provided this ladder. However, given our terror, we cannot even grab the rope. What we really need is for someone else to jump into the water with us, and grab us. Who would ever do that? Only Jesus Christ.
We are without _______ ___ ______ _______
Ephesians 2:12; Romans 3:20,23
Let's summarize all this. Ephesians 2:12 says we are without hope in the world. Romans 3:20 says no one will be declared righteous in his sight by our serving the law....
However, when there was no hope, God sent Jesus Christ to be our sure and certain hope.
Not only was there no hope, but God's wrath at our sins is incredible. Even apart from our external deeds, equally severe is God's condemnation of who we are, and the sinful nature at the center of our lives. God's wrath was so incredibly strong, that to meet the demands of God's justice, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to suffer agonizingly, and die for our sins. Jesus did not deserve to die, but He died unjustly, with God's foreknowledge and even plan, to satisfy the greater demands of God's just wrath towards us.
Romans 4:18 says when Abraham had no hope, due to his age, He believed God's promise to provide him with a son. Romans 5:20 shows that though we were as hopeless as Abraham, we can believe God's promise of His Son to pay for our sins. Acts 4:12 and John 14:6 show, in a positive way, that Christ is not mankind's hope; rather Christ is mankind's only hope. Hebrews 10:28-31 shows, in a negative way, that if someone dies rejecting Christ, they truly are without hope.
2 Corinthians 5:5 says God confirms that Christ is our certain hope this by giving us the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing what is to come. Thus Christ is the only hope and certain hope for all mankind.
Christ is the ________ ________ and ________ ________ for all mankind
Romans 4:18; 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 2:16; Acts 4:12; John 14:6; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Hebrews 10:28-31
Did Christ die, in some sense, for everyone? What about those who go to Hell? Christ's hope did not seem so certain for them. Let's ask these questions a different way. First, will there be anyone in the Lake of Fire who can say, you cannot blame me for rejecting the Gospel of Jesus dying for my sins, because He did not die for my sins. You cannot blame me for trusting my idol, my religion, or Mary as my co-redeemer, because I knew I needed a redeemer and I knew for certain that Christ's gift was not sufficient or even good for me. — of course not. 1 John 2:2 says "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." Titus 2:11 says "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."
_____________________________ of the whole world
Titus 2:11; 1 John 2:2; Hebrews 2:9; John 3:16; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 4:10; John 5:34
A few non-Christians might try to take the previous verses and conclude that if Christ's gift is universal and certain, then everybody will end up in heaven. If not, then can those in Hell blame it on a) God's predestination, b) God's limited ability c) God being unjust, or d) none of the above. I believe the answer is d), because the real answer, because they despite their corrupted nature, despite their suffering, despite the temporary injustice they endured, the responsibility for rejecting Christ is solely theirs. This is worthy of God's wrath, but this does not surprise God, for Psalm 139:16 says that all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. God knew beforehand everyone who would accept God's gift, and those who would, as 2 Peter 1:1 says, "deny the Lord who bought them." In John 17:9 Jesus says He does not pray for the whole world, but for those the Father has given Him. Thus Mark 10:45 teaches, Jesus gave his life as a ransom for many.
Yet, _________________________________________ for many
2 Timothy 2:10; Psalm 139:16; John 17:9; Ephesians 5:25; John 10:11-18; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 4:10
Hebrews 3:13 says to encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today. Within the period of time we can call "today" God sincerely offers salvation for all people. There will be a future time that is not called "today", when the need for salvation for the elect, and the offer of salvation for the non-elect, will both become non-existent. God knows all before we were born, God works, in and out of time, to make everything a part of His plan, but these facts do not detract from our responsibility, and our opportunity.
In John 5:40 Jesus told the Jews "you refuse to come to me to have life." God's wrath is severe, but God does not give us any guilt but our own. But our own guilt is sufficient to condemn everyone, however. If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, it is good to consider the consequences of doing so, but do not forget to also consider the consequences of not doing so. If you are a Christian with a faith to share, remember we are not trying to sell people on the Gospel, but to give them a true picture of the Gospel. I did not spend much time today on any one scripture, and some of my views could be wrong. But if nothing else, I hope I have challenged you to take the Bible verses in the outline, and study them that you may better understand and share just how rich is the gift of salvation offered to all.
People often ask the question "Why would a loving God allow people to go to Hell." Perhaps more people should be asking the flipside of that question, "Why would a just and holy God allow or even want anyone to go to heaven?" God is full of wrath, but thank goodness James 2:13 says that mercy triumphs over judgment.
Let us pray and thank God for His mercy.
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by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.