For nearly 25 years, I have interviewed prospective students for our program. One of the first questions I ask is, “How can we help you?” Some of the typical answers I get are: “I need to get off drugs,” “I have no purpose,” “I’m in trouble with the law,” “I’ve got an anger problem,” “I can’t get along with others.”
These are all important concerns and need to be addressed in due time, but they pale next to another matter—God’s impending judgment. As incredible as it may sound, never once has a man or woman responded to my question by saying, “I am condemned by God. How can I escape his wrath?”
This ignorance or indifference to our sin plight seems to be the overall spiritual state of the population in general. Whether churched or unchurched, few people are even remotely aware that they are but a breath away from an eternity in hell.
The other day I was searching the internet for some of the most frequently asked questions by Americans:
• How can I lose weight and keep it off?
• What’s the weather going to be like?
• When is dinner going to be ready?
• Is that what you’re wearing?
• Why do men lose their hair (yeh, what’s up with that?)?
So many of the questions with which we are preoccupied border on the inane if not the ridiculous. But that’s not all.
A quick glance at some of the daily headlines will also reveal the pathetic shallowness of our culture:
• “Scandal, Scandal: Madonna Reminisces”
• “How Free Sperm Donation Works”
• “Support for ‘Bald Barbie’ Swells”
• “Giant Paper Airplane Takes Flight”
• “Etch-A-Sketch Stock Soaring”
What does the Word of God say is the primary crisis facing us? It is not AIDS or the threat of nuclear war or radical Islamic fundamentalism or world hunger or health care, urban decay, education, the environment, or our national debt. These are all important but not ultimate.
It has to do with God’s judgment. The Apostle Paul declares: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men ” (Rom. 1:18).
This is not a very popular subject. In fact, talk of God’s wrath is unintelligible to most. Why? Because we have so little comprehension of God’s unbounded holiness and righteousness. We have little understanding of his majesty and sovereign power. To loosely quote John Piper, “God rests lightly on the minds of most. He is not felt as a weighty concern.”
The Bible reveals to us that we have scorned and rebelled against the infinitely glorious Creator of the universe. We have besmeared his great name and squandered his gifts. As such, we are now objects of his wrath and subject to his almighty, merciless damnation.
Consequently, escaping his wrath must be the chief business of our lives. This is the question with which we must concern ourselves. The ministry of John the Baptist is telling confirmation of this. Speaking against the sinfulness of his generation, he asked, “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” (Luke 3:8)
It is time for us to wake up.
I am deeply troubled about the overall state of the church today (let alone the world). I am worried that we are missing the true head-line story of the Bible as reflected in our songs, sermons, and prayers. Pragmatism and relevance seem to be the engines that drive us.
My question is this, What could be more practical than the subject of God’s wrath? The ultimate source of our guilt, anxiety, insecurity, and stress is our sin and the condemnation awaiting us. More than anything else, we need forgiveness. This is the grand cure-all.
And this is where the good news of the gospel comes in.
Jesus Christ bore our sin in his body on the cross, absorbing God’s wrath against us. “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 2:2). He “was delivered up for our offenses and was raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). “Therefore, . . . we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Amazing grace!
“I am not ashamed of the gospel,
because is it the power of God for the salvation
of everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16)