Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday, Christ Went to The Cross To Absorb The Wrath of God Which We All Deserve

(A terrific sermon today by Rice Broocks at Bethel World Outreach in Brentwood, TN. The kind of message that feeds and stays with me all week, all month, all year. I never leave Bethel half asleep, as in church days of old. No, I'm wide awake and fully engaged. My heart is pierced to the quick.)


IF GOD WERE NOT JUST, there would be no demand for his Son to suffer and die. And if God were not loving, there would be no willingness for his Son to suffer and die. But God is both just and loving. There his love is willing to meet the demands of his justice.

God's law demanded, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" (Deuteronomy 6:5). But we have ALL loved other things more. This is what sin is---dishonoring God by preferring other things over him, and acting on those preferences. Therefore, the Bible says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) We glorify what we enjoy most. And it isn't God.

Therefore sin is not small, because it is not against a small Sovereign. The seriousness of an insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted. The Creator of the universe is infinitely worthy of respect and admiration and loyalty. Therefore, failure to love him is not trivial---it is treason. It defames God and destroys human happiness.

Since God is just, he does not sweet these crimes---our myriad sins of putting other things before Him---under the rug of the universe. He feels a holy wrath against them. They deserve to be punished, and he has made this clear: "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23) "The soul who sins shall die: (Ezekiel 18:4)

There is a holy curse hanging over us and all sin. Not to punish would be unjust. The demaning of God would be endorsed. A lie would reign at the core of reality. Therefore, God says, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them" (Galatians 3:10, Deuteronomy 27:26).

But the love of God does not rest with the curse that hangs over all sinful humanity. He is not content to show wrath, no matter how holy it is. Therefore God sends his own Son to absorb his wrath and bear the curse for all who trust him. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13).

This is the meaning of the word "propitiation" in the text quoted above---Romans 3:25. It refers to the removal of God's wrath by providing a substitute. The substitute is provided by God himself. The substitute, Jesus Christ, does not just cancel the wrath; he absorbs it and diverts it from us to himself. God's wrath is just, and it was spent, not withdrawn.

Let us not trifle with God or trivialize his love.

We will never stand in awe of being loved by God until we reckon with the seriousness of our sin and the justice of his wrath against us. But when, by grace, we waken to our unworthiness, then we may look at the suffering and death of Christ and say, "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the (wrath-absorbing) propitiation for our sins" (1John 4:10).

----John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die


Gerard said...

"Let us not trifle with God or trivialize his love."

And if we are so tempted may we remember the fate of the first trifler...

Farewel happy Fields
Where Joy for ever dwells: Hail horrours, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time.
The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less then he
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.

Webutante said...

Yes, the first trifler, the angel that brought mankind down by sneering at God's command and introducing doubt and distrust of God's motives and love into the human would be an impossible road back were it not for Christ's willingness to stand in our place.

Thank you for sharing this poetry.

jAne said...

Excellent post - worthy of another read a bit later today. <><

I hope your week begins with grace.


Jane, too said...

Thank you, Jane, and grace this week back to you too.

gcotharn said...

"This is what sin is---dishonoring God by preferring other things over him, and acting on those preferences."

How to know when pleasure is appropriate vs when painful discipline* is appropriate?

*b/c, no matter how I focus on having disciplined action be intriguing and inspiring worship, sometimes disciplined action is unavoidably painful to me.

How to know when rest is appropriate vs when more work is appropriate?

The answer, I guess, it the inner voice of conscience/spiritual inspiration tells us when certain things are appropriate. But I'm only guessing. This remains a quandary for me.

Anyway, after reading your post, I put the top quoted words into action during my workout: I kicked my tendency to ignore God, and I punched my tendency to ignore God, and - when stepping up - I stepped on my tendency to ignore God and reached out to God. So, the workout was a sort of worship, which was a good thing to experience.

Webutante said...

All good points you raise, Greg. And all things all of us struggle with daily, if not hourly.

I do think we learn the inwardness of sin and how it starts in our thoughts and mind before becoming manifest, as Jesus clarified many times, especially on the Sermon on the Mount.

A good place to start is the Big Ten, as in Commandments, and going from there. It's a long, long journey and none of us is anywhere near exemplary. I do believe the inner voice does tell guide us well and becomes more honed as we listen to it more and more, and less salient when we ignore it for years and decades.

So much more here, but this for now....