Tuesday, March 26, 2019
When the Gentiles sin, they will be destroyed, even though they never had God’s written law. And the Jews, who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life. Romans 2:12-16
The whole idea of the wrath of God and a coming judgment seems to fall into just a few categories these days, with people doing one of the following:
· Denial…the whole idea of God (if there is such a being) destroying people is relegated to the fruitcakes who wear signboards on a street corner proclaiming the end of the world. This is unbelief of the first degree.
· Detachment…putting-off any serious thinking about God’s wrath, as if shutting your eyes while you’re on the train tracks will make that 200-ton locomotive coming your way disappear; a more subtle (and dangerous) form of unbelief.
· Dilution…changing, ever-so-slightly, but nonetheless changing what Scripture says, in order to blunt the reality and harshness of sin’s ultimate result, death. This is perhaps a worse compounding sin than the previous two, as the Scripture[iii] declares that adding to, or subtracting anything from God’s Word is worthy of harsher punishment.
The entirety of unbelief is a study for a much greater length than our few minutes this morning, but the whole topic begs the answer to the question of why our culture seems to have dumbed-down the whole issue of consequence for sin.
Rev. Bob Kaylor, a United Methodist Pastor, offers an answer about bringing the church back to the basics of proclaiming Scriptural truth that gets right to the heart of humankind’s problem…sin. It is a reclaiming of Wesley’s most important question…do you desire to flee from the wrath to come?
This is about getting back to basics. How might the church become more focused if the first membership question was again, “Do you desire to flee from the wrath to come?” That’s the question that would change the church. It’s the question that changed 18th century England because the Methodist movement began working from the inside out in the lives of its people. The class meetings became something like AA for sinners—a place where struggling people got real and helped one another to grow in grace. It’s time for the church to recapture that humility and spirit. Only then will we make an impact on a broken, hurting world—the world that God is putting right.[iv]
I love that phrase, AA for sinners. It bespeaks a condition we need to hear over and over in a world currently governed by a watered-down and off-center mantra of “I’m OK – You’re OK”. Listen, if that were really the case, the world would not be a place of so much pain, tears, and sorrow. Jesus warned that God’s wrath is indeed the world’s future. To deny, detach, or dilute any part of that puts us on a par with the enemies of God. Hear Jesus’ take on this:
But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Matthew 3:7
Of course, the whole purpose of proclaiming the coming judgment is to sound the alarm that helps people avoid the judgment by trusting Christ. A sentry posted in a watchtower is not there to watch the enemy sneak-in the compound and slaughter the army; a sentry’s job is to sound the call to arms so the land can be defended. A sentry who sounds the trumpet of salvation is no enemy!
Let’s let Scripture’s call to all of us have the last word on this:
“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” Hebrews 3:15
[iii] Revelation 22:18-19