Stephen Rees at the Aberystwyth Conference 2003
THE WRATH OF GOD IS REVEALED AGAINST ALLUNGODLINESS OF MEN.
I want to talk to you about God and his character. I want to show you one truthabout him, that he hates evil in every form – greed, lust, violence, falsehoodand so on – everything that is not 100% straight. God created a world that wasfull of beauty, love and purity. God is appalled when he sees ugliness andselfishness. These things make him angry, and he is determined to punish thesethings. Do you believe that God is angry and implacably opposed to those whoare tainted with sin. Sinners are in urgent danger – do you believe this? Godis burning with pent-up fury against those who carry on in sin and that fury isgoing to break out one day in disaster against every sinner.
Maybe you are coming here because of your parents or friends, and never beenpersonally rescued from a life of sin. Do you believe that the anger of God isover you now, hanging like a mountain that would crush you. Do you think I amtrying to scare you? Is it that urgent or simple? Can you believe that Godwould cut your life short? Is there not another side to the story? "Thegrass is green and the sun shines and I go to church every Sunday. Other peopleare not quaking and crying and asking what they must do to be saved. It can’tbe as simple as you say." Yes it is. God actively hates every sin and ifyou are living as a sinner lives – selfishly and lyingly and worldly – thenGod’s hand is lifted up to smash you and put you in hell. His anger will oneday break out against you and send you off to endless misery.
I can’t convince you that that is true. If you shut your mind against it thereis nothing I can do, but I can make sure that you are left with no illusionsabout God and his anger. I am going to start at the beginning of the Bible andwhat we find is on every chapter and page of Scripture. It all says that Godhates sin.
Start at the beginning in Genesis 3. Our first parents sinned against God. TheLord spoke solemn words of condemnation to them both. That is what God broughton them. He greatly increased their pain; they began to grow old and die. Thewhole human race was returning to dust by an array of diseases. This is God’sdoing, for it is what sin deserves. He drives them away from the tree of lifeand sends them out from the Garden.
God then puts a curse on Cain, and in the time of Noah a judgment comes on thewhole world, only eight were saved. Think of the Tower of Babel – wrecked byGod. Think of Sodom and Gomorra – fire and sulphur rained down upon thatcommunity. Or consider the exodus and the judgments on Egypt. Or read of thegiving of the law at Sinai. "I the Lord your God am a jealous Godpunishing your sins . . ." How terrible were the judgments that fell onsinners. Follow them through the wilderness and see the judgments that camedown on them. Only two reached the promised land. All the rest died in thewilderness.
Read the book of Joshua and the judgments of God that rained down on the sinfulpeoples of Canaan. Then his own people suffered the same punishments. The samejudgments came upon the people as they defied God and worshipped Baal – allthrough their history. God is angry with the wicked every day. He will preparehis flaming bow. Read through any of the prophets concerning how solemnly Godhates and punishes sin. That is what God does, ruining the nations of theearth. All 16 books of prophecy speak in the same way. From Genesis to Malachisearch and you will discover that the God of the Bible hates sin and has swornto punish it.
What then of the New Testament? John prepares the way for the coming of theLord. How strong his language. Every tree not bringing forth good fruit will becast into the fire. Is the Lord Jesus any different? He speak of plucking theright eye rather than go to hell with both. His hearers were facing a horrificjudgment, worse even than Sodom. How often he gave great warnings. God’s angerand judgments are spoken of frequently by the Lord Jesus and his apostles. Thewrath of God is being stored up. We haven’t begun to see the wrath yet. Thereis this burning fury against sinners and the dreadful punishments he willrelease against them. The apostle Peter speaks the same things too, as doesJohn in his book of Revelation. The cowardly and the unbelieving and those whopractise the magic arts will be destroyed.
So this is the one verdict and judgment on sin. Do you believe in the God ofthe Bible? Then you must believe this. What can rescue you?
1. Your own guilt has to be recognised and acknowledged. The ugly things youthought and said and done – somehow they must be blotted out and removed.
2. Your evil nature has to be dealt with. If you are a proud or adirty-minded man then you are still on the road to hell. You cannot be savedfrom God’s anger without being saved from sin. You need to become a new personto fight against sin. How you can you make yourself a new person? It isimpossible.
3. God’s way has to be recognised. Do you want to be rescued from sinitself? Do you want this God? If you do then there is a way. God has made adecision that cost him everything. God has taken a decision to love thesesinners, the very people with whom he is most angry. He sent his own dearloveable Son into the world. He joined himself to the human race. Then Godvented all his pent-up anger against human sin on Christ! All of it was pouredout on Christ. Of all the creatures in the universe he had most reason to hatehe joined to the One he had most reason to love. He treated his Son has anenemy that we might be treated as beloved children
If you come to God tonight you will find that God is ready to love you with apure saving love. He will join you to himself and make you a part of hisnature. God is love. It rescues us from sin itself. "Flee from the wrathto come!" cried John the Baptist. Behold the Lamb of God who takes awaythe sin of the world.
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