I wrote this after reading Psalm 85. My writing is very casually written, often on my phone, but I hope it blesses someone in the world today.
Half of the good news of the Gospel is that the eternal wrath of God is coming for all who do not know Christ as the Lord God Almighty.
We ought to let that thought hang in the air a moment before hearing the other half of the good news. The Gospel is only good news because of the terrible situation we are all in without it. The situation we are in is that all humanity is doomed. But we usually make fun of people who talk like that. Or we just unfollow their Instagram feed. We want the good feelings that come with calling ourselves Christ-ians without listening to Christ, who himself points us to the to the parts of the Bible that aren’t enjoyable to hear. Like a physician telling us we have terminal cancer, we’ve been given a bad report about our situation, and we want to put ear plugs in our ears and ignore it. So we say we believe in God, but we don’t read his Word. The topic of God’s wrath and hell is not popular. It doesn’t sell well. It doesn’t get millions of Facebook likes. It’s not marketable. So we tend to pick verses of Scripture that cheer us up, or sound poetic, and hide the verses that are sobering and offensive. By the way, this is why they killed prophets – they offended. But if we ignore the whole council of the Bible, what God do we think know? The god we picked, with the scriptures we liked and understood? In other words, the god we made up for ourselves in our heads? Even demons believe there is a God. What makes us think we know God in a way that guarantees our eternal salvation? Most people believe that they are good enough, or that God is simply gracious enough that even if they got some things wrong, either God will show understanding when they meet him face to face, or if he isn’t just gracious, that he isn’t a God they want to believe in anyway. But what makes us think God will be gracious to us? He is gracious, but why, and when? What makes us think that God needs us to believe in Him for him to be real? What if the Bible is simply true? What if pleading ignorance when we meet our maker is not something He accepts? What if we can do nothing to remedy the situation but are helpless without God-given faith? All of this is in fact what the Bible teaches! There is nothing we can do to remedy our situation except knowing Christ. Do you know that you know Him? We doubt that hell (which God made) is coming for us all because it seems too harsh to be true. But what if it’s exactly what’s coming? We can ignore it, or we can be angry at God for being too hard on us; we can pretend we are evading his wrath it by being good people. We can gather around ourselves instagram accounts that say things we like. But the Bible says none of us are good enough. If you’ve never felt and understood this kind of hopelessness, you’re not truly a Christian, and according to God’s Word, you’ll never see God until you do. We’re in desperate need of him. This is the first half of the good news. We shouldn’t think we’ve understood the Gospel until we’ve understood this.
The next half is the part everyone is happy to proclaim. God the Son came to earth as a man to unite God and his people, lived the righteous life we could not, died to pay for the sins of his people, and rose to life making a way for everyone who trusts in him to also rise and live forever. This is grace, and it’s also half of the Gospel. So many simply want to share grace without sharing precisely why it’s gracious. We’ll never know grace until we know about God’s good and holy wrath toward (our) evil.
I don’t share this because I think it makes a popular story, in fact it’s a foolish story to those perishing, and the power of God for those who believe. I share this because I’m convinced the Bible is true – even the parts that are a little frightening, disturbing, or off putting. Truth is stranger than fiction, and the Bible is truly strange. I share this out if conviction to share, like Ezekiel, despite that no one wanted to listen to him. I share it because the truth has been so life giving and freeing and I want others to have that too.
We’re saved by His grace through faith alone. It doesn’t depend on our will or exertion. So we can rest assured in His saving power to keep us forever, because our faith didn’t start with our goodness, it started with our evil and God’s gracious intervention. And only can we fully understand that grace, and be overwhelmed with thankfulness, when we know exactly what we have been saved from. An offer is extended to by God to trust in Jesus alone, Jesus’ goodness, and not our own, to be spared from the justice we deserve, and be given the eternal grace we don’t deserve.
God willing, someone will be blessed by this today.
How has the *full* gospel message helped you understand wrath and grace?