Wrath and Mercy -

"None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."
- Romans 3:10-12

“We are stiff-necked, rebellious, and ungrateful. Free, unmerited grace is our only hope to be otherwise.”
- John Piper, Spectacular Sins, p. 93

“Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him…”
- Isaiah 53:10a

“Jesus, the servant of whom Isaiah spoke, was crushed for us; therefore, if we believe and turn from our sins, we are not crushed. We have been rescued from deadly peril and endless pain. But as we get farther from the day we were rescued, do we remember what we were saved from? Do we remember that we should have been crushed by God’s wrath? Do we realize that, from our perspective the cross is the greatest injustice there will ever be? The Perfect One crushed in the place of sinners? And do we remember that there will be a divine judgment when God’s wrath will be revealed (Romans 2:5)? Hell teaches us about the fear of the Lord.”
- Edward Welch, When People are Big and God is Small, p. 123-124

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now; Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars; We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow; We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm; In all the universe we have no place. Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm? Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars we claim Thy grace.

If when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near, Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine; We know today what wounds are; have no fear; Show us Thy Scars; we know the countersign.

The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak; They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne; But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak, And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.
Edward Shillito (1872-1948), Jesus of the Scars

A while back I had the privilege of listening to D.A. Carson at Western Seminary (www.thespurgeonfellowship.org). Dr. Carson’s message was on suffering and evil, and since he was speaking primarily to pastors his efforts were aimed at building and reinforcing a pastoral theology of suffering and evil. The question of suffering and evil is a moot point when everything in the world is rosy. As long as things are going our way and the vestiges of a fallen creation are held at bay, then suffering and evil are relatively inconsequential. The rub comes when our world begins to unravel. It’s then we begin the blame and accusation. Several years ago I read John Gerstner’s, The Problem of Pleasure, and found his argument compelling. He turned the classical theodicy argument on its head. Theodicy argues for God’s goodness in spite of the existence of evil. Gerstner (and Chesterton before him) asked why sinful humans experience pleasure in a fallen world. This is a very important question. I’m afraid that for many of us, we have become accustomed (even desensitized) to grace. We’ve come to expect God to act in munificence and we’ve forgotten His wrath and judgment rightly directed to sinners. God is graciously withholding His hand of judgment for now, but a day is coming when the full measure of His wrath will be unleashed. A sober assessment of God’s wrath and judgment rightly deserved by sinners will sober us. Understanding wrath helps us understand mercy. Understanding our state outside of Christ will bring deep and pervasive humility. Understanding the righteous judgment God has rightly leveled against us is only averted through Jesus Christ will change how we interact with one another. Dr. Carson urged pastors to give greater attention to the wrath and judgment of God lest mercy and grace become commonplace.

I’m sobered by God’s wrath once directed towards me and grateful for His mercy averting that wrath through Christ.


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