Christ Experienced Fury, Wrath, And Damnation - For You

Text: Isaiah 53:1-12

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen

There is a popular phrase that is used in evangelism in American Spirituality these days.  It is the term, “saved.”  It is common for an Evangelist to ask the question, “Are you saved.”  It is a question to discern whether or not one is a Christian or not.  However, this question begs us to ask the next question, “Saved from what?”  Indeed, “Christians speak of 'being saved,' but all too often don’t follow the phrase to its logical reply: ‘Saved from what?’”[1]

If I were to ask you this question tonight, “Are you Saved?,” I am sure that you would reply that you are indeed saved.  If I were to ask you the next question, “Saved from what?,” I am sure that many of you would say that you are saved from sin, death, and the devil.  This is indeed true.  However, there is also one more thing that we are saved from, and the answer might surprise you.  What is that answer?  The answer is that we are saved from God and His wrath.  Yes, saved from wrath. 

What is wrath though?  Wrath is the outpouring of anger and indignation.  It is punishment for a wrong.  It is a verdict against a wrong.  It is rejection.

This idea that we are saved from God’s anger, indignation, punishment, and rejection is a contested and popular idea in our day and age.  A recent popular evangelical pastor and author named Rob Bell is pushing against the idea of God’s wrath.  He recently stated,

“What is God like?  Because millions and millions of people were taught that the primary message is that God is going to send you to hell unless you believe in Jesus.  So what gets subtly taught is that Jesus rescues you from God, but what kind of God is that, that we need to be rescued from this God?  How could that God ever be good?  How could that God ever be trusted?  How could that ever be good news?”

On the other side of the extreme there is a church called Westboro Baptist Church that is led by Fred Phelps.  It is a fundamentalist church that can often be seen holding signs saying, “Thank God for 911; God hates America; The Jews killed Jesus; or Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”  This church is the church that has been in the news over the last couple of years due to their protesting the funerals of dead soldiers. 

With both of these examples, we can see an obvious problem; we find ourselves at an impasse.  If we embrace the teaching of Rob Bell, where God does not have wrath against sin, then God is not just.  If there is no wrath against sin from God, then there would be no demand for Jesus Christ to die on the cross.  If God does not have an issue with sin, then what’s the point of the cross?  On the other side, if God is totally wrath and He has no love then it would’ve been pointless for Christ to suffer and die.  Furthermore, if God is only wrath, where is our solution?  How hard do we have to try to get on God’s good side and avoid His heavy hand of wrath?   

So, who is right?  How do we solve this?

As we look to scripture we see that God indeed has wrath and a verdict toward sin.  God is an all-consuming fire and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.[2]  God’s attitude towards sin is one of anger and indignation.  God’s disposition isn’t a warm fuzzy feeling towards sin.  Sin deserves to be punished.  Paul says in his letter to the church in Rome that the wages of sin is death.[3]  The prophet Ezekiel says that the soul who sins shall die.[4]  In fact, one who has sin is under a curse.  This curse is God’s pronouncement of guilt.[5]  Sin makes a separation between you and your God; your sins have hidden God’s face from you so that he does not hear you.[6]  Yes, God does indeed have wrath.

You may ask though, “Can’t God just ease up and chill out?  Can’t God sweep this sin under the carpet, and ignore the errors?”  My friends, if He did do this, He would no longer be just.  God cannot relax His character; He cannot withdraw His punishment of sin for this would be unjust and unreasonable.  Otherwise stated, for God to be just, fair, orderly, and so forth, He has to release vengeance on sin.  To not do so would violate His very character of being a Holy, Just, Supreme, all-knowing God. 

This leads you and me down a difficult path.  How can we function with the knowledge of God being rightly angry with us due to our sin?  We can barely function when a neighbor, a friend, or a family member expresses anger towards us.  How will our conscience ever be at rest knowing that God curses sin?  How will we face the battles and struggles of life knowing that we are forsaken and reject?  How can we derive any assurance and comfort from God in this life when He is holy and we are not?  This leads us to fear, doubt, and uncertainty. 

The good news of the old rugged cross, this cross that we are focusing on during our Wednesday Night Lenten Services, is that at the cross there is a declaration that God’s wrath is not the final word for you and me.  You see, at the old rugged cross we have the end of God against us and the beginning of God for us.  Yes, at the cross, as our reading from tonight says, the Lord crushed the suffering servant.  Yes, Jesus was put to grief, His soul made an offering for sin.  This was the Father’s will, to crush the Son.  Did you hear this?  In Christ, God’s wrath was spent, not withdrawn.  It was the Father’s will to crush Christ, to spend His wrath, judgment, and vengeance upon Christ.  God does not withdraw His wrath thus becoming unjust but He spends it and unleashes it all upon Christ, our substitute.  Jesus, doesn’t cancel the wrath of God, but He absorbs it.  Christ on the cross experienced the full fury, wrath, and damnation from the Father and He did it for you!  This is the power of the old rugged cross for you.  Because of the old rugged cross, God’s wrath was satisfied upon Jesus for us, which means when we have Christ we don’t have to fear.  Because of the old rugged cross, the curse of sin has been satisfied.  No longer do our consciences have to be troubled spiritually speaking; Christ drank the poison for us and was damned for us.  Because of the old rugged cross, God will never leave us nor forsake us.  His face is towards us with favor and love because Jesus appeased and satisfied justice.

My friends you have been crucified with Christ, buried with Him in your baptism, established in Him, and saved from the wrath of God.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] R.C. Sproul, Saved From What?”, 11 March 2014.
[2] See Hebrews 10:31, 12:29.
[3] See Romans 6:23.
[4] See Ezekiel 18:4.
[5] See Galatians 3:10 & Deuteronomy 27:26.
[6] See Isaiah 59:2, 64:7.

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