A recent article in the Illinois Baptist newspaper caught my attention:
“The Presbyterian Church USA chose not to include the song, ’In Christ Alone,’ in their new hymnal all because the song mentions the ‘wrath of God.’ On Christiancentury.org, Mary Louis Bringle, chair of the committee who made the decision, wrote that the song propagates ‘the view that the cross is mainly about God’s need to assuage God’s anger and that view could be harmful to future generations of worshippers.’”
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by such an article in today’s day and age. However, I did almost spit out the Cheerios I was having for breakfast as I read it.
We must understand what the Bible says about sin and about God and His wrath. When our first parents Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, they let sin enter into our world. We are all sons and daughters of Adam. In other words, we are all born into this world as sinners. Adam and Eve did not escape punishment for their sin either. They were going to die a physical death and they also died a spiritual death. The same holds true for us: we are all going to die someday and before we ever come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins.
We must also understand that God, the God of the Bible, is a holy God. He cannot tolerate sin. In fact, He hates sin and He must judge sin. We deserve God’s wrath for sin but God in His mercy and grace sent Jesus Christ to be the perfect sacrifice to take away the punishment and penalty for our sin. When Jesus was on the cross, He endured God the Father’s wrath for sin for us. I believe that shows amazing love and grace by God!
There is also further proof from the Bible that Jesus Christ endured God’s wrath for sin while He was on the cross. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane remember that He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” The cup that Jesus was talking about is referring to the wrath of God. Remember that Jesus also said while He was on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” He was quoting a psalm of David but in reality what was happening is that Jesus Christ was experiencing the wrath of God the Father at that very moment.
In John 3:36 it says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” In that passage, there is good news and bad news all at the same time. The bad news is this: if you reject the cross of Jesus Christ, then the wrath of God still abides on you, but you don’t have to remain in that condition. You can be saved. Saved from what specifically? The wrath of God. Here is the good news then: when you believe on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior the wrath of God is taken away from you and you are given eternal life. You are no longer under condemnation but under God’s grace. My friends, we must not sugarcoat the Gospel. We must speak the truth in love and not be afraid to offend people with the truth of God’s Word.
Justin Kinder is pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Braidwood, Ill.