America is on a disastrous search for a more inclusive deity. The downward slide of culture into immorality begins when we turn our back against God. Pastor Lutzer shares one of the most important messages ever preached on a most difficult doctrine. If we want a truly balanced view of God, how are we accounting for the wrath of God?
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us again today for this very important series, entitled, “The Eclipse of God.” If there were a subtitle it might be: “America’s Disastrous Search for a More Inclusive Deity.” The burden on my heart is for us to recognize that we have to turn back to God. And we need to be able to accept all of His attributes. Let me ask you a question. When is the last time that you heard a sermon on the wrath of God? It’s a topic we want to ignore. But when you open the Bible and look at Romans 1, you discover that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven. Wrath is a subject that is talked about from Genesis to Revelation. Now I know that this particular episode—we call it “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer” but I need to warn you that it might be just a little longer than that because at the end I’m going to be reading from one of the most important, influential sermons that has ever been preached in the United States. I want you to hang on because you’ll discover that this sermon might give you chills.
But let’s look at Romans 1. The Apostle Paul is saying that the wrath of God is revealed and I certainly don’t have time to read this passage. You probably know it well. He said that people suppressed the truth. He says they did not honor God but were thankless. They worshiped and served the creature not the Creator. And then three times he mentions that God “gave them up.” Actually the Greek word is very strong. It doesn’t mean simply that God withdrew His hand. It seems to say something more than that. It can be translated God handed them over. Now I’ve preached on this text but there is something that I saw in it the other day that I had missed. Oftentimes we say to ourselves the reason that God gave them over was because of their moral depravity. But if you think of it, the reason for their moral depravity is that God already had given them over. Let’s take this more slowly. Paul is saying that God gave them over to do all the things that are being done today in our society. And he mentions homosexuality. Later on he’s going to mention a whole catalog of sins, thirty-one sins; He includes us all, in effect, in that list of sins. But what the Apostle Paul is saying is that some of the things that we are seeing happening are the result of the fact that God handed this nation (or individuals) over to do the kind of evil that we see around us. You notice how important it is for us to understand that we are under the judgment of God. We’re born under the judgment of God. All of us are. And that’s why it’s so important for us to recognize that unless we come out from under that judgment by receiving Christ as our Savior we shall be intensely judged in the latter day.
Now all that to say this. There is a sermon that was preached in the United States and I think you already know what sermon I’m referring to. I refer to it as the most important message that has ever been preached and that is Jonathan Edwards’ preaching in Massachusetts on the topic of the wrath of God—”Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” It’s the kind of message you certainly will not hear today but I think we have to hear it. Oftentimes throughout the years I have quoted Jonathan Edwards in bits and pieces but finally I decided that I would actually read the entire message. I’m going to read a few paragraphs for you. He’s talking about the wrath of God. The one attribute that we oftentimes totally ignore. But what we must recognize is that God did not choose the attributes that He has. He is God. And if He’s a God of wrath all that we can do is thank God. Thank Him that He has provided a way of escape. And now we’re going to turn our attention to the most famous sermon that has ever been preached in America. I’ve referred to it—”Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” preached by Jonathan Edwards. Of course, today we could change that and say that God is in the hands of angry sinners. When Edwards preached this, he did it because he loved his congregation. And because of that love he wanted to warn them of falling into the wrath of God without the protection that they could receive through Jesus Christ. So he describes their situation as very precarious. Let’s read.
There is nothing that keeps a wicked man at any moment out of hell but the mere pleasure of God. Men deserve to be cast into hell so that the divine justice never stands in the way. It makes no objection against God using His power at any moment to destroy them. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering. And there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that it won’t bear their weight. And these places are not seen. And thus it is that men are held by the hand of God over the pit of hell. They have deserved the fiery pit and they are already sentenced to it and God is provoked by them.
I’m skipping the rest of this paragraph and going to the next:
The flames gather and flash about them and would lay hold on them and swallow them up. They have no interest in any mediator. There are no means within their reach that they can actually secure their own salvation. In short they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of. All that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will and forbearance of an angry God.
Well that sounds very hopeless, doesn’t it? But the sermon ends with this paragraph.
And now you have an extraordinary opportunity. A day wherein Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open. And he stands at the door calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners, a day when many are flocking to Him and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, the west, the north, the south. Many who have been miserable in their condition and their sins are now in a happy state. Filled with love toward God who saved them and washed them from their sins and His own blood. And they rejoice in the hope and the glory of God.
Powerful sermon, but let me ask you a question. Was he wrong? Just read about the wrath of God in the Bible and you’ll soon discover that God’s wrath is a part of His being. It’s a part of His attributes or I should say it’s one of His attributes. And you and I must recognize that we are standing in the presence of a holy God who is a consuming fire. But thankfully, Jesus Christ came to redeem us from our sins. I don’t know who you are but if you’ve never come to Christ, come right now. Receive His mercy, receive His grace because apart from Him, you will be destroyed.
The terrors of law and of God with me have nothing to do.My Savior’s obedience and blood hides all of my sins from view.My name on the palm of His hands eternity cannot erase.Forever there it stands a mark of indelible grace.
Jesus keeps us and saves us from the wrath to come. Thank you so much for being with us today next time we’re going to be speaking about the holiness of God. As for today you just go with God.