The wrath of God has come upon them at last (1 Thess 2:16)


In our ongoing series on the wrath of God, there is an important scripture we have not yet looked at. It’s this one: For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. … [Read more...]

Why Did Jerusalem Fall?


Ever had someone come up to you and say, “Why do you think Jerusalem fell in AD70?” That’s probably never happened to you. But it speaks to the circles I move in that I get asked this question a lot – probably because I have lately been writing about the wrath of God. If you missed it, the story of Jerusalem’s fall is as follows: The Jews rose up against their Roman occupiers in AD66. In AD68 the Roman general Vespasian was sent to quash the Jewish rebellion. In AD69 Vespasian returned to Rome to become the new Caesar and in AD70 his son Titus besieged and utterly destroyed Jerusalem. The … [Read more...]

What is the “Coming Wrath”?


“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” When John the Baptist said this to the Pharisees and Sadducees, what did he mean (see Luke 3:7-8)? What is the coming wrath? And is this something we should be concerned about? Some commentators say John was referring to the destruction of Jerusalem. The venerable Victorian Adam Clarke says the coming wrath refers to “the desolation which was about to fall on the Jewish nation for their wickedness.” But this doesn’t square with what Paul said to Gentile Christians: They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve … [Read more...]

Jesus and the Wrath of God

blood-stained cross

Are you familiar with the hymn In Christ Alone? Do you know this hymn is not hundreds of years old? It’s not even 20 years old. In Christ Alone is a very modern hymn. It was written in 2001 by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. I mention this hymn because it has these wonderful lyrics: Till on that cross as Jesus died The wrath of God was satisfied For every sin on him was laid Here in the death of Christ I live “Wait a second, Paul. Are you saying God poured out his wrath on Jesus? That sounds twisted.” I agree that there is something dreadfully wrong with the picture of a father … [Read more...]

The Bible is not a Rule-Book


Imagine it’s your wedding day. You’ve had the ceremony, and you’re starting to relax when the minister hands you a gift, a thick book of Marriage Rules. “Read this,” he says. “The secret to a happy marriage is found within.” You open the book with interest. Inside you discover many rules and guidelines: “Be honest, be kind, always tell the truth, listen well, keep your promises, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ freely forgive, don’t covet your neighbor’s wife,” and that sort of thing. Initially you think, This is gold! I want a successful marriage, so I will do everything this book … [Read more...]

The Wrath of God in the New Covenant


This is the third post in my series on the wrath of God. To see how well you have been paying attention, I want to ask you a question: In the new covenant, what is the connection between sin and wrath? Answer: There is none. Yes, I know the Bible has many scriptures showing how God is angry with sin and judges sinners, but all those scriptures come before the cross. Jesus changed the game. His sacrifice was the once and final solution for sin. So when I see cranky Christians protesting at gay rights parades and trumpeting on about the judgment of God, I want to tell them, “Didn’t … [Read more...]

What Provokes God’s Wrath?


As we saw in our last post, the wrath of God is a reaction to something – but what? In the old covenant, God reacted to sin. He had to. God cannot be God and let sin go unchecked. But Hebrews 9:26 tells us the sacrifice of Jesus is the once and final solution to sin. As the hymn says, “On the cross where Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” That’s a reference to God’s wrath against sin (see Rom 8:3). Because of Jesus, God will never be angry with your sin again. Isn’t that a stunning thought? I’m not saying God has made friends with sin or that sin doesn’t grieve him. I’m saying … [Read more...]

What about God’s Wrath?


The other night my little girl was on the toilet when she started yelling. “There’s a spider!” Normally, I would encourage my kids to face their fears and deal with spiders on their own but I could hear panic in my daughter’s voice. Poor kid. Stuck on the porcelain throne she was in no position to deal with a terrifying spider. Time for Daddy to be a hero! I charged into the bathroom like a grizzly bear. “Where is this terrible creature that dares to frighten you, sweetie?” She pointed and I saw a tiny black spider on the floor. I pretended not to see it. Then I planted my foot on it as … [Read more...]

Grumble and Die? (James 5:9)


If you went to Sunday School you probably know that the Israelites grumbled in the wilderness. And you may also know what God did to them when they grumbled. He slaughtered them (see Ps 106:25-26)! “So let this be a lesson to you, children,” says the historically-minded teacher. “You grumble, you die.” What a frightening thing to hear, especially if you are a child. Will God really kill us if we grumble? “Oh, no Paul. That’s so old covenant.” Okay. So how do we read this verse which is found in the New Testament? Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The … [Read more...]

First Adam vs Last Adam


Universalism and inclusionism are twin towers built on the same foundation, which is this:When Adam fell, he took all of us with him. We had no choice in the matter. If Jesus only saves those who meet certain conditions – those who repent, believe, etc. – then first Adam is greater than last Adam. Since that cannot be true, then Jesus must save everyone.If you think everyone will end up in heaven saved, you are a universalist. But if you think everyone is already saved, then you are an inclusionist. Since I am neither, I am often hit with the two-Adam argument, which goes like this:Just as the … [Read more...]

Faith is a Rest


The gospel declares God’s grace comes to us through faith. So if you wanted to undermine the gospel, there are two ways you could do it: 1. attack grace – put price tags on it or obscure it by referring to grace as a “doctrine” 2. attack faith – either make it a work or diminish it, belittle it I usually talk about grace but today I want to talk about faith because grace without faith is worthless: For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. (Heb 4:2) The gospel … [Read more...]

Everybody Responds


In the film The Wedding Singer, there’s a scene that captures the story of God’s relationship to us. A waitress called Julia is preparing for marriage but she’s marrying the wrong guy. We know it and eventually Julia begins to realize it too. What she doesn’t know is that the right guy is closer than she thinks. He’s a singer who works the same weddings where Julia waitresses. This guy is crazy about her. He thinks about her all the time and he’s torn up that she’s chosen the wrong guy. But everything turns out fine in the end. On an airplane ride to Vegas, the man who sings at weddings … [Read more...]