Tuesday, September 9, 2008

2 sides of the coin

“Look, O LORD, and see!
With whom have you dealt thus?
Should women eat the fruit of their womb,
the children of their tender care?
Should priest and prophet be killed”

Lamentations 2:20

“19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse's bridle, for 1,600 stadia.”

Revelations 14:19,20


Here we see two different pictures of God’s wrath being poured out on people. In Lamentations we see God’s wrath poured out on His people in Jerusalem. The writer was expressing his sorrow over the loss of this great city and the people that it represented. Because of their unfaithfulness and unwillingness to repent God’s wrath was poured out on them. This wrath was far worse than the wrath of any dictator or invading conquerer. It was the wrath of the Lord. It was so bad that women were desperate enough to eat their own offspring. Jeremiah 19:9 says that it is because of the stress of the invasion that they are brought to this despicable act.

And yet this was still God’s wrath poured out on this temporary world. How much greater in the eternal realm.

John writes in apocalyptic style that God’s wrath is like a wine press outside the city gates. A wine press is a device in which grapes are placed and then either slowly crushed by a flat plate or trodden under foot. Juice then flows out of it. In this wine press blood flows out for 1,600 stadia or almost 184 miles. That picture is scary. It completely wipes away the “nice”, “peaceful” pictures of God sitting atop clouds and blessing his people. Instead it shows a picture of a righteous and holy God incensed at the sin of man.

In today’s Christian circles, hell and God’s wrath are not popular topics. People cry out “We don’t want to scare people into loving God.” This is largely a push against the old hellfire and brimstone preaching. But if we are to be teachers of the “whole counsel” of God then we have to preach both sides of the coin for both are products of the Gospel.

On one side we have the notion that God is loving and gracious and that in Him we have the fullness of satisfaction and eternal blessing.

On the other side Christ became our propitiation which means that He paid the price that it costs to appease God’s wrath on our behalf so that we no longer have to suffer the consequences of our sin. Namely God’s wrath and eternal suffering in Hell.

Both are true. Both are key components of the fullness of Gospel.

If we preach solely Hell and wrath than we breed God fearing people devoid of joy.

If we preach solely God’s blessings and fulfillment as adopted children of God than we create joyful people who don’t feel the weight and consequences of their sin.

To be faithful teachers I think we have to be committed to both. For there is no need for grace apart from the consequence of God’s wrath. The greater the consequence the greater the grace.

Preaching both has the potential to create a people secure in the grace of God, thankful for there salvation and living passionately so that others will come to know the same grace.


Some questions I need to answer:

How do I get these messages across to the High School students that God has placed under my care?

What words need to change?

How do I take it down to their level of understanding without compromising the truth?

What are some other ways of communicating these truths besides preaching?

How are these truths affecting me and my actions on a daily basis?