YOU BROOD OF VIPERS! WHO TOLD YOU TO FLEE FROM THE WRATH TO COME?” Matthew 3:7
by William Gray
November 29, 2014
The wrath of God is coming! It is a fact revealed in scripture. It is stated in many places. The quote from Matthew Chapter 3 above is a quote from John the Baptist when he saw the Scribes and Pharisees coming out to him to be baptized. The truth of God’s Holy Word is set forth concerning the wrath of God to make certain that everyone knows that the wrath of God is coming. Indeed, the Apostle Paul writing to the church at Thessalonica in the very first chapter reminds them that “they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus “who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
The wrath of God will be poured out on all ungodliness at THE DAY OF THE LORD. It is not my purpose here to discuss the many eschatological views, but merely to state that it is an undisputed statement of holy scripture that at the day of the Lord the wrath of God will be poured out on all ungodliness. The Apostle John writes in Revelation Chapter 6 as follows:
“And the Kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb! For the great day of his wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15 – 17).
To be sure, there are many who disagree with this position. The unrighteous and ungodly do not agree. Many professing Christians who describe themselves as being liberal in their interpretation do not agree with this doctrine, and, finally, many professing Evangelicals profess to believe this doctrine, but they do not live as if they believe the doctrine. Nevertheless, it is a fact that is revealed in scripture. “The great day of God’s wrath is coming!”
Are we seeing the times that we live in at the present leading up to “the great day of His wrath?” Jesus himself said as it’s recorded in the 24th Chapter of Matthew beginning with the 37th verse,
“but as the days of Noah were, so also will be the coming of the son of man. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the Ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will be the coming of the son of man.”
What were the days like in the days of Noah? The Bible tells us what those days were like that Jesus references. It reveals in the 6th Chapter of Genesis, the book of beginnings, in the 5th verse as follows:
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts and intents of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5)
We should look around us and see what is going on, not only in our culture in America, but around the world. Can it be denied that it is growing worse almost daily? Almost daily we hear of some new revelation of the wickedness of mankind on the earth; multiple large banks conspiring to fix prices; politicians lying about the so-called “affordable care act” because they state that the American people are so “stupid” that they cannot understand and will not know; multiple lying and misrepresentations of the truth by many in Congress regarding the Affordable Health Care Act, which is neither affordable nor is it providing Universal Health Care! In addition, many in the Middle East are killing, destroying, maiming, and committing evil continually. Many in America are shooting children in schools, setting off bombs at public events such as the Boston Marathon, and other reprehensible, cruel, ungodly, and unrighteous acts.
Clearly, the Lord God has preserved unto himself, a remnant which is walking in righteousness by the grace of God and seek “those things which are above where Christ sits on the right hand of the father” and further seek to “set their affection on things above and not on the things of the earth”. Nevertheless, there have been multiple random acts of cruel and vile behavior which indicate that “all of the imaginations of men’s hearts are only evil continually”. Even professing Evangelical pastors are now denying the truthfulness of God’s Holy Word, some, to a greater degree then others, but there are many professing that “God did not create the heavens and the earth and all that is therein” in 6 days. They deny the truthfulness of the fall of man set forth in Genesis. They deny the truthfulness of the global flood and the salvation of Noah and Ham, Japheth, and Shem and their wives. Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said of such denials “It is really quite monstrous, and utterly illogical, to accept certain revelations [of scripture] and to reject others; that leaves us in the most impossible position of all.” I have personally heard Dr. Frank M. Barker Jr, pastor emeritus at Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Birmingham, Alabama, use the terminology that such people “declare that the Bible is only inspired [I]in spots and they are inspired to spot the spots”[/I]. Either way, it is shameful! A brief look at Romans Chapter 1:18-32 gives us the fact of the coming wrath of God and the reasons for it. This is truly a picture of life in America and many other places around the world in the 21st Century:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Roman 1:18-32)
II. THE WRATH OF GOD:
We immediately see that Paul wastes no time in getting to the fact of the wrath of God. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…” It is interesting to note that Paul uses the same terminology in describing the revelation of the wrath of God as he does when he’s talking about the revelation of the righteousness of God. What is the wrath of God? The term “wrath” or, “the wrath of God” is frequently misunderstood. It does not describe the same kind of wrath that we see in human beings. Frequently we see individuals in some kind of rage, a man out of control almost beside himself because of some provocation or perceived wrong. This is not the case with the description of “the wrath of God”.
Scripture consistently reveals that the term “wrath of God” means God’s hatred of sin. God hates sin, which is abhorrent to him because sin is opposed to God. All that is opposed to God is hateful to God. Everything that is in the realm of darkness and of sin and of Satan is opposed to God and is abhorrent to Him. What the wrath of God means therefore is God’s view of sin. What we see in scripture is that we are to be holy for God is Holy. The very character of God is that he is Holy! Because God is Holy, sin and unholiness is antithetical to God’s holy character. In the Holy Bible we see over and over again that you cannot have fellowship between light and darkness. Light and darkness simply do not mix! Light expels the darkness and causes it to flee. The Apostle Paul describes us as being “light in the Lord, wherefore, we should walk as light”. (Ephesians Chapter 5) In the same manner, sin cannot exist in the presence of God. The Lord God must deal with sin. He must show his hatred of it. It is part of his own holiness and his greatness and the glory that He should reveal his hatred of sin.
There are multiple references to the wrath of God in God’s Holy Book. It may surprise you to understand that God’s word reveals this concept of the wrath of God 10 times in this epistle to the Roman Church. The first reference is in Chapter 1 verse 18. The 2nd is in the Chapter 2 verse 5,.“But after your hardness and impenitent heart treasures up unto yourself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God”, and again in the 8th verse of the 2nd Chapter. Other references to the wrath of God are found in Romans in the 5th verse of the 3rd Chapter, the 15th verse of Chapter 4, and again in Chapter 5 verse 9. Paul had been saying in chapter 5 verse 8, “God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”, then in verse 9 he says, “much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through him”. Thus we are enabled to see the connection between the wrath of God and that glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the Gospel of Christ that saves us from the wrath to come! Jesus is the door. Just as the door of the Ark saved those who entered in, the door of Jesus, when we enter in by trust in the Lord Jesus Christ in repentance and surrender of our will to the Lord’s will, saves us from the wrath to come. We see the next reference to the wrath of God in Romans in Chapter 9 verse 22, and again in Chapter 12 verse 13. And finally, the last 2 examples are found in Romans in Chapter 13 verse 4 and 5. The reader may read these actual references for him or herself.
These references to the wrath of God are not limited to the book of Romans. Indeed, if you go through all of Paul’s epistles you will find that this concept that the gospel of God delivers us from the wrath to come is everywhere. A few references are First Corinthians Chapter 3; 2nd Corinthians Chapter 2 and Chapter 5. In Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians in the 2nd Chapter and the 3rd verse, we see him saying “among whom also we all once had our conversation (manner of life) in times past in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as others.” It is also in the 5th Chapter of Ephesians verse 6; and in the 3rd Chapter of Colossians verse 6 we see “because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience”. Everywhere in scripture we see that the wrath of God is equated with the “sons of disobedience”. Interestingly, in Ephesians, Chapter 2, Paul says we are all “children of wrath by nature”. Everyone, without exception, will experience the wrath of God unless… Unless what? Unless the Lord God saves them according to his sovereign grace through their hearing that great and glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit’s application of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our lives. This results in a turning from our sin, true repentance unto life (a true surrender of our will to the Lord’s will), and placing our trust in Christ alone for our salvation. Have you done that? Are you prepared to flee from the wrath of God? You cannot flee! You cannot run fast enough; you cannot hide; you cannot get away, unless and except you have received the pardon, freely given, of redemption through the precious blood of Jesus. He alone makes us accepted in the beloved. Only the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin and makes it possible for us to escape the wrath of God.
Look again at Paul’s epistle to the Church at Rome. In part we see that God has chosen to reveal “the wrath to come” and has set forth for our edification specific sins, on which His wrath shall be poured out. In part we see in Romans Chapter 1 verses 18 through 32 that “the wrath of God” is poured out against “all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness”. Another way to look at that is that they suppress the truth. They do not speak the truth they hide the truth. We see clearly in this first chapter of Romans that they have a knowledge of God and it is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. They have clearly seen and understood God’s invisible attributes, even his eternal power and God- head so that they are without excuse. Nevertheless, “they did not glorify God as God. They were not even thankful. Their foolish hearts were darkened and professing themselves to be wise they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man…” The absolutely terrible pronouncement is that God “gave them up”. He gave them up to uncleanness. He gave them over to the lust of their own hearts. “They exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forever Amen.” God gave them over to vile passions. Lesbians! “Women who exchanged the natural use for what is against nature” Likewise also the men “leaving the natural use of the woman burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
This description of homosexuality is a specific warning/revelation to all who will listen, of the evidence of the nearness of the Day of the Lord. For those who may be engaged in such activity, as well as others who are engaged in other ungodly and unrighteous acts set out in Romans 1:18-32, the good news is that God has prepared the door for your escape from the wrath of God. Repent and turn from sin and place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Call on the name of the Lord and be saved from the wrath to come. The fact, for it is a fact, that salvation is by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, is that God has given us great promises that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Do you realize that this is also evidence of the fact that there is no sin too Black, no sin too grievous, that God is not willing to receive those who repent from their sin (surrender their will to the Lord’s will) and place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for their salvation? Have you done that? If not, do so and be saved from the wrath to come.
In the remaining verses of the first Chapter of Romans, we see that there are many other sins that are described.
“They did not like to retain God in their knowledge; God gave them over
“to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting, being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil mindedness, they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventers of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful, who, knowing the righteous judgment of God that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve those who practice them.”
What a terrible list. All of these terrible ungodly, unrighteous, sinful things, but right there in the middle is “disobedient to parents”! This applies to everyone!
The offer is the same to all! All who will surrender their will to the Lord’s will and receive the gift of eternal life offered by saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can come to him! God cleanses them from all sin by the precious blood of Jesus, redeems them, and makes them accepted in the beloved and He adopts them into his family. No longer an outcast. No longer subject to the wrath of God, Jesus says, “Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Have you come in that way to the Lord Jesus Christ? If not, will you come? If you have come would you pray for all of those that you know who have not come, or who evidence the fact that they have not come? Pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would manifest himself unto them and that they would surrender their will to the Lord’s will and place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for their salvation and be saved from the wrath to come.
III. THE WRATH OF GOD -MOTIVATION FOR THE PROCLAMATION AND PREACHING OF THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST:
This great doctrine of The Wrath of God is the great motivation for going and telling others of Jesus. Let’s all be zealous to tell others of Jesus who is mighty to save (from the wrath of God). Paul says that it is his motivation to preach and teach the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Look at the connection or relationship between verse 16 of the first Chapter of Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” and the 18th verse of Chapter 1. Notice in verse 16 that the Gospel of Christ is God’s power unto salvation. This is the means of escape from the coming Wrath of God later revealed in verse 18. Verse 16 makes it clear that we don’t save anyone. Our job, indeed, our calling (for the call is to everyone), is to preach and teach the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. This call is not just for evangelists, or pastors, or those who preach to thousands! It is for you and for me and for everyone who names the name of Christ. We have the truth. We cannot be those who suppress the truth! We cannot “hold the truth in unrighteousness”. It is our calling to go and tell others of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit of God who actually applies the Gospel of Christ to those who are the called!
The great expository preacher of the 20th century, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his sermons on this particular section of the first chapter of Romans says this about Paul:
“[Here] he tells us why he preaches. This is his motive, the thing that sends him out and makes him travel over seas and continents, working day and night to preach this Gospel. This is the reason and the motive …This is the thing that Paul starts with. There is no mention here of any experience. He is not talking in terms of their happiness or some particular state of mind, or something that might appeal to them, as certain possibilities do – but this staggering, amazing thing the wrath of God! and he puts it first; it is the thing that he says at once. Here is the motive for evangelism; here is the thing that urged and drove this man: “for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…..
Paul is telling the church at Rome, beginning at the first of the chapter, that
“he is a bond servant of the Lord Jesus Christ and that he is called to be an apostle, separated, to the Gospel of God which [God] promised before through his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead. Through him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for his name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ.”
It is this Wrath of God that is the great motivating factor for Paul to go and tell others of this great and grand and glorious Gospel of God, the Gospel of Christ. Remember we are all evangelists. Why are we to be evangelists and to evangelize? It is to tell people to flee from the Wrath of God that is coming on all the earth. It is not to talk about the needs of the people and how to be a better father, mother, brother, sister, or any other particular need. It is not to talk to people about how much “fun” we have at our church. It is not because of the music. It is because of the Gospel of Christ applied by God the Holy Spirit is the only way to escape from the Wrath of God!
Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, that he had seen a “big poster outside a big chapel that I passed [recently] which said ‘Come and join us next Sunday evening. Come to our bright Sunday evening service. Come and have a good time with us – cheery music, bright music. Come and join us’. I, like Dr. Lloyd-Jones once heard a preacher invite people to come to the evening service “to have fun” and not to be worried because there would be “no doctrine at the evening service.” No doctrine? “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work.” No doctrine? That is utterly disgusting to Christian people! We must believe in the power of the Holy Spirit even as the apostle Paul did. Paul knew that everything depended upon the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit of God who warns men, not Paul; it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is the power of God unto salvation! That is doctrine! God’s Holy Truth! It is the Holy Spirit who applies that Gospel to the hearts of men and women. Whatever men may do or say, it is the business of each of us to preach the truth, while it is the Holy Spirit who does the application. Let us all be zealous to tell others of Jesus who is “mighty to save.” Let us be peculiar people, a people whom he purifies for himself, his own special people, zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14) This then is the motivation for Paul and it must be the motivation for each of us.We have all been called to proclaim the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. The urgency of the hour is to proclaim the glorious message of Christ that others might hear and that God might, in his mercy and in his grace, grant them repentance unto life and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that they too may escape the wrath to come!
Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we even ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen!
Your Servant and Brother in Christ,
Daniel (Bill Gray)
Exposition of Chapter 1 the Gospel of God – ROMANS page 342
Dr. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones’s Exposition of Chapter 1 The Gospel of God-Romans page 325