Biblegateway Verse of the Day

Man's Error, God's Wrath and His Love

By Benjamin H. Liles

          As I sit here thinking of how to title this article, and in the process of writing this, I feel whole-heartedly burdened for certain acts done in the name of Jesus. Here's an example: when someone says something like, "Will you ignore since it is none of your business and let them believe in madness or will you try to educate them(not force them)?" and the response back is, at the very end, "Education enough" isn't demonstrative of being like the Messiah. It actually shows a specific type of malice, even in my own view. And I gave that comment. Wow, great job, Benjamin! Right?

          I find it a humbling situation to have to go back, eat crow, and give a better response, attempting to correct my own mistake. It goes to show for sure that even a follower of Jesus the Messiah still sins. The thing is, however, it's not in the sense of doing it willingly. And I want to focus on what those willing sins are.

          While the Bible has primarily been written by the Holy Spirit of God for centuries and even millenia, it is still written by fallible men, written in their hand, their attitude and behaviors -- especially in their time -- for a certain people about how God sees His people, and how we are to respond. Some messages were better received, others weren't well received, and other messages just simply fell on deaf ears. Why?

          I think it's best for John, the disciple Jesus loved, to explain this. He writes, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:14-16, New King James). 

          He also goes on to say that "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:18-20, bold for emphasis). 

          Paul says to the church at Ephesus, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them" (Ephesians 5:11). In every age there have been those who desire nothing more than to make God a mockery, but in the end God mocks the one who mocked him. Case in point, the man who went by the nom de plume Voltaire was a staunch atheist -- criticizing Christianity, especially the Catholic Church (I'm not a strong advocate of this church), his home (actually his printing press) is now used as a place where Bibles were printed.

          There are those who sit in a religious capacity, making churches of their own, teaching theology that doesn't match the gospel the Bible teaches. How is that possible? Here in the States, where I reside, there's such a thing called the "Prosperity Gospel" where anyone can "name it and claim it." It's also known as the "Entertainment Model of Ministry." Or even the "Attractional Church Movement." But who exactly are they doing this to and for?

          Remember John's assessment in his gospel of Jesus Christ? "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his (works) be exposed." If we think on that and look at certain churches where the truth of the gospel is not readily obtained, they teach that "You can be a David," or "You need a Saul to become a David." How does that show the activity of Jesus in this day and age? But to prove His own point, Jesus said this, "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:4-5). 

          There are certain men and women, as well, who love hearing the sound of their own voice rather than sound doctrine. They have learned this "false" version that has been promoted for some time from men like E.W. Kenyon, and even more recently Kenneth Copeland, Todd White, Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore, to name a few. Others I'll mention quickly are Joel Osteen, Rob Bell (a practicing homosexual man), and Rick Warren. None of these names that I have just mentioned give the truth of what the Bible teaches. In fact, rarely do you see any one of them ever open a page of the Bible!

          Rather, it is being left to those of us, even myself, who desire the truth be known that yes, Jesus loves you, but God's wrath on sinful mankind needs dealing with. How can that come to happen if we don't have some form of godly sorrow over sin?

          There's a bit of an argument here, though: some in the so-called "Evangelical" camp who say God is a cosmic killer, sentencing His Son Jesus to the cross. But how do you punish sin without punishing the sinner? Does it make sense to put a stained, blemished spot literally on the spot demanding restitution for being what it is: a spot, a stain, a blemish? I'm phrasing it this way for a reason.

          There are Old Testament references, even in the Law, which state, "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats...the congregation of Israel will slaughter the animals (before nightfall)" (Exodus 12:5-6). Moses, being filled with faith, did all the things he did in his life looking forward to a promise God would yet fulfill. Does this word, "fulfill" ring something toward another Bible verse?

          Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17, Berean Study). Here's the thing, as well; if we are going to give Biblical. authentic, life-changing reasons as to why we ought to trust God, to believe Jesus is His Son is also in the ability He gave to the Messiah. "No one takes it from Me (My life), but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father" (John 10:18).

          Jesus did indeed die on the cross. If He had not, as those who follow Islam claim, then there's no reason that Christianity ought to or even need have the right to exist in the least bit. The ideal hinges upon the actions and words God put forth. He gave the Law, and in Him no word shall ever fail. The Psalmist declares, "Your word, O LORD, is everlasting; it is firmly fixed in the heavens" (Psalm 119:89). Isaiah records, "My word that proceeds from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and it will prosper where I send it" (Isaiah 55:11). Matthew records Jesus saying, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away" (Matthew 24:35).

          Either Jesus is lying, a lunatic, or a madman. But eyewitness accounts, shortly after His death lead to the astonishing conclusion that He indeed rose again, and ascended to Heaven. God put sin and death on display the day Jesus gave up His life. The only time God's wrath was on display was the Friday Jesus took His cross, bore our punishment as Isaiah describes (and it is there in the 53rd chapter), and is the only event in known history where God had Jesus crucified. But yet some say God is a monster? He did this so no one else in the human race would suffer His wrath.

          Here's a proper way to think of Hell: It's not separate from God, not in the least bit. David said this, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you" (Psalm 139:7-12).

          No, my friend, the truth of the matter is that Hell is a place of torment, where those who are placed will experience God's wrath eternally. There's a parable Jesus gives about the rich man and Lazarus. Where the dogs are licking Lazarus' wounds, that's an act of torment (see Luke 16:21). Did the rich man ever go to the aid of Lazarus here in these verses, or even after he was in torment in Hell still thinking of Lazarus as some sort of servant to him? (for full context see Luke 16:19-31).

          I'm going to leave this with a massive thought about sin, death, the cross of Jesus at Calvary, and why we need to be rid of our sinful ways and believing on Jesus for eternal life: There is an account in Matthew of a servant who was unforgiving. Peter asks Jesus how many times should we forgive those who sin against us. Jesus replies by saying, "I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!" (Matthew 18:22). Remember why it is said in the Lord's prayer, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" (Matthew 6:12).

          God will give to each man and woman their just reward, according to their faith. And this includes how forgiving they were towards others. Much more than that is where they put their belief, their trust. Do you trust Jesus is Lord? Don't take it lightly for we're not promised tomorrow at all. 

          The whole thought hinges upon forgiveness. We have an opportunity here and now as to whether or not we will hold on to selfish, sinful behavior, rebelling against God over our fellow compatriot. But if we hold unforgiveness in our hearts, how much more so should God keep forgiveness toward us? It's a very valid question here. There is in each of us, even a little grain of truth: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Let's up that ante: would you forgive a brother a debt where he owes you several large estates, while you only have the one estate? We all have our allotted share of talents, use them wisely to glorify God in Heaven. Where our hearts are, so is our reward. Where will yours be? Think on it.

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