#8 (The “Great Escapes” Series)
"ESCAPE FROM GOD'S WRATH!"
INTRO: One of the subjects not preached on much any more is God’s Wrath, or the eternal reality of Hell. The reality of Hell is scoffed at today and many unbelievers mock Christians for talking about God's wrath and Hell. We are accused of being negative and preying on fear in the hopes of making followers. However, Christians do believe the Scriptures about Hell! Yet, most of our preaching and teaching centers not on the horribleness of Hell but on how to escape it! Therefore we are positive oriented. God's wrath exists only on those who refuse the grace of God and ignore the generous way out that Jesus Christ made for us ... it is not fear we appeal to but God's love for us that is the appeal! Yet the world mocks the wrath of God and God's avenue of escape!
ILLUS: A little Scottish boy wouldn't eat his prunes, so his mother sent him off to bed saying, "God is angry with you, watch out for His wrath!" Soon after the boy went to his room a violent storm broke out. Amidst flashes of lightning and peals of thunder the mother looked into the boy's room, worried that he would be terrified. When she opened the door she found him looking out the window muttering out loud, "My Lord, such a fuss to make over a few prunes!" – Source Unknown
There is no reason to be confused about God's wrath ... while it exists there is an avenue of escape that is readily available! Our focus is the absolute joy and the wonderful freedom that is open for all to escape God's wrath ... it doesn't need to be a problem for you, God has made an escape route for everyone that wants it!
PROP. SENT: The Bible clearly teaches that there is a wonderful gift that God has made available for us to escape the wrath of God, it is God's desire for all to escape this wrath and He Himself has made that escape possible, it is faith in His son Jesus Christ ... have you taken it?
I. PAST WRATH Rom. 2:5-6
A. Rebellion! 2:5
1. Without Christ as the solution for escaping God's wrath man only continues to store up more and more acts of rebellion ... and thus only incurs more and more guilt!
2. The only way to experience God's wrath is by failing to repent of sin and stubbornness in rejecting God's offer of salvation!
3. The heart of man without Jesus breeds condemnation! Man knows that he is guilty before God if he rejects the offer of Christ's forgiveness!
4. If there would have been any other way to escape God's wrath without sending Jesus God would have found another way!
5. Even the best of people without God sense their sinfulness and guilt when they are truly honest.
ILLUS: A man decided one day to play a joke on 12 of his friends; he sent them each a note that read as follows: "Flee at once, all has been discovered about you." To his shock he discovered that all 12 had fled the country within 24 hours of receiving that note ... their secret sins that no one knew about clearly made an impact, though the man who sent them thought of them as great people, he had no idea! – Source Unknown
6. We can hide our sins and guilt from others and maybe even try to hide them from ourselves, but we cannot hide them from God!
a. We need an answer that will take away the wrath of God.
b. This has been made possible through Jesus Christ!
B. Rejection 2:6
1. The tragic side of this reality of God's wrath is that there will be people who will experience God's wrath in spite of the fact that there is a way out, simply because they will reject God's offer of salvation and freedom from sin's consequences!
2. Rejection of God's offer leaves men and women under the sentence of God's wrath simply because sin has not been dealt with in their hearts!
3. This is what makes God's wrath such a sad thing; no one has to experience it, but many will because they choose to ignore the way out!
ILLUS: In 1829 a Philadelphia man named George Wilson robbed the U.S. mail, killing someone in the process. Wilson was arrested, brought to trial, found guilty, and sentenced to death by hanging. Some friends intervened in his behalf and were finally able to obtain a presidential pardon for him from then president Andrew Jackson. When George Wilson was told about the pardon he refused to accept it! The Sheriff was unwilling to hang Wilson with a presidential pardon, so he contacted the president about the prisoner's unwillingness to accept the pardon and to give him instructions about what he should do, execute him or not? The perplexed president turned to the United States Supreme Court to decide the case. Chief Justice Marshall ruled that a pardon is a piece of paper, the value of which depends on its acceptance by the person who it is given to. If the person chose to refuse it then it is no longer really a pardon! Therefore, the Supreme Court ruled that the pardon had to be accepted or the penalty still stood! George Wilson therefore was hanged, refusing the very pardon that could have set him free! This is the same thing about salvation through Christ, it must be accepted to be valid, though Christ has paid the price, we must accept it or the wrath of God will be ours. – Source Unknown
4. When we accept God's offer of pardon through Jesus Christ all our past sins disappear as though they never existed ... therefore there is complete and full pardon from God's wrath that will come upon the sinner!
a. In Christ we are fully cleared from all God's wrath!
b. We no longer need to feel afraid of God or fearful of our past sins ... we are free indeed!
II. PRESENT WRATH Eph. 2:1-10
A. Repentance 2:1-5
1. The Bible is clear that without repentance the ultimate consequence of sin is separation from God!
a. The man who chooses to exercise his freedom to ignore God's laws will one day have to face the consequences of those sins ... God's wrath!
b. This concept may be mocked today, but it doesn't negate its truth!
ILLUS: When a man decides to exercise his freedom to break a law God created called gravity and jumps from a tall building he may at first experience a great sense of freedom and elation (no boundaries in free-fall) but about half way down when he decides he doesn't want the final consequences he is not left with much choice ... at this point only some outside help will prevent it! – Source Unknown
2. For those who repent of their sins God offers outside help ... and a way of escape!
3. The joy of knowing that even at the present moment God's wrath no longer rests on you is tremendous.
a. In Christ there is now no condemnation to those who believe. (Rom. 8:1)
b. Where we were once the objects of God's wrath – we who were once not in Christ, now we are the objects of His mercy and love!
c. What a great joy to be free from the guilt of sin!
4. If you are in Christ you need NOT feel any guilt of previous sin, NONE AT ALL, you can hold your head up high and enjoy the salvation of the Lord even NOW!
B. Reserved! 2:6-10
1. We have been changed in Christ ... from objects of wrath, to objects of love!
2. We are no longer the same person we once were!
ILLUS: The great preacher and theologian Augustine was in Milan when God touched his heart and changed his life. He left his former life of license in sin ... he even had an illegitimate son. One day when he retuned home to his home area his former girlfriend saw him on the street and shouted to him, "AUGUSTINE, AUGUSTINE, IT IS I." He simply turned and said to her, "YES, BUT IT IS NOT I." He was no longer the creature of wrath he once was ... he was now a child of God. – Source Unknown
3. Some day God's fiery judgment is going to fall on those in their sins but this fire of wrath won't touch those in Christ ... why?
fire is sweeping across a large area there is little hope of survival if you are
in its path ... there is but one way to possibly escape! If you take fire and burn a circle
around the area you are standing in then when the fire gets to you it will not
have anything to burn and it will go around you! This is what happens to those who stand
at the cross of Jesus for salvation ... God's wrath against sin, His fire came
a. It is not by our works but by Christ's work that we can escape the wrath of God!
b. All we have to do is accept God's offer of salvation and the escape is ours!
III. PERMANENT WRATH 1 Thess. ; 5:9; Rom. 5:9; Rev. 4:1-11
A. Rescue! 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; Rom. 5:9
1. We are not only saved from God's wrath in the present world, but also the future!
2. Future judgment on sin and God's wrath is a biblical reality!
a. No matter that some churches today no longer believe in Hell ... it is real!
b. History is moving toward a point in time when all will be judged.
c. Those in Christ have already been judged in Christ's sacrifice, so with nothing left to judge we will escape this future wrath!
3. God has no desire for anyone to experience this wrath against sin. 5:9
4. We can be rescued from the future judgment by accepting Christ's offer of forgiveness today!
5. God's focus is on rescuing humanity, not on destroying it ... wrath only comes to those who reject the escape found in Christ!
ILLUS: A pastor of a church in Boston met a boy outside the church who had a rusty bird cage with several birds in it. He asked the boy where he got the birds, the boy responded, "I trapped them in my yard." The pastor asked the boy what he was going to do with those birds. The boy responded, "I am going to feed them to my cat!" The Pastor's heart went out to the birds and so he offered the boy some money to purchase the birds and the cage. The boy was perplexed, saying; "You don't want these crummy wild birds, they don't even sing, they're worthless." The Pastor however offered more money, finally the boy said o.k. The boy left and the Pastor took the cage out back of the church and opened the cage letting the birds fly free! The next Sunday he used the empty cage in a sermon to illustrate how Christ paid for our freedom, even though our enemy had trapped us and preserved us for destruction. Though destined for destruction, God offers to pay the price so we can escape! – Source Unknown
6. Being now justified by Christ ... we shall be freed from the future wrath! Rom. 5:9
B. Rapture! Rev. 4:1-11
1. "After this ... a door was open ... Come up here ..." 4:1
a. “After this” is a reference to the future ... after the present days of the church age are finished mentioned in chapters 2-3.
b. The "open door" is a reference to heaven opening for those who are redeemed, the escape of the redeemed from the coming wrath known as the tribulation!
c. "Come up" ... a reference to the catching away of the saints ... the rapture will enable us to escape the coming wrath of God on this planet ... we have not been appointed to wrath!
2. For those of us who are in Christ Jesus, who know the joy of our sins forgiven, the past cannot haunt us, the present cannot discourage us, and the future cannot cause us to fear! WE HAVE ESCAPED GOD'S WRATH, PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE!
a. What a joy is ours, we do not focus on God's wrath for it will not be our experience, salvation will be our eternal state!
b. How much we need to make this offer of escape to others!
c. Some day our final escape from God's wrath is going to take place ... and then we will only know great joy and victory through all eternity!
3. Why miss out on the best offer on this side of eternity? ESCAPE WHILE YOU CAN!
CONCLUSION: This is the truly "GREAT ESCAPE!" God's grace and forgiveness is so vast that we can escape His wrath from past to present, and into the future! This is truly "good news,'' the literal meaning of the term "Gospel!" The future is really ''LOOKING UP for those who know Jesus!