Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. - Hebrews 10: 28-31 (NIV)
In Paul's second letter to his protege Timothy, he warns him that a time is coming when the church will seek out leaders to tell them what their itching ears want to hear. That this is your best life now. That we no longer need worry about sin and the enemy. That God wants to see you rich beyond the dreams of avarice. He also warned him that men will not even tolerate sound doctrine. They simply will not put up with it. Beloved these days are here. The seeker friendly and purpose driven heresies have been like acid, eating away at the foundations of solid doctrine. The compromises after compromises have resulted in a watered down gospel spoon fed to a consumer driven customer base who are sold on the notion that you can live your life like hell and still go to heaven. The latest compromise comes from the Presbyterian Church (USA). Do not so quickly dismiss this just because it has come out of the more recently liberal denomination. There were still over two million members of this church in 2011. This despite the fact that they have abandoned the literal translation of the Bible and feel Christianity should give into science in certain doctrinal areas.
The latest compromise however deals with the song "In Christ Alone." This hymn was first released in 2001 and since has been covered by popular Christian artists Natalie Grant and The Newsboys. It seems that the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song (PCOCS) had a problem with the following lyric:
"Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied."
The PCOCS had contacted the writers of this hymn, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend to ask permission to change the "offending" lyric to "Till on that cross as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified." The writers refused and the PCOCS removed the song from the hymnal of the Presbyterian Church. Seems the concept of the wrath of God didn't sit well with the liberal denomination as it is anathema to the thinking within the seeker friendly models of church growth.
So, what is the big deal? Why should we as God-fearing, Bible believing Christians care? Exactly how important is the wrath of God to the Gospel message? Beloved - it is the core of the Gospel message. Wait a minute preacher, isn't love the core message of the Gospel? Or grace? Not without wrath to counterbalance. Not without wrath to illuminate. Not without wrath to understand. A gospel that has love but not wrath is merely a sugar coated fantasy cooked up by dying men who desperately want to hold onto the things of darkness while appearing to be in the light. A gospel that sells grace without wrath is one that promotes living in our sin, dying in our sin, and then discovering what the wrath of God means when it is too late. The problem with the "friend of God" generation is that we lose sight of the Savior. I did not need a friend - I needed to be saved. Yes it is great that we get both with God but without understanding the Savior upon exactly what is our salvation based? Because without the wrath of God there is no need for a Savior.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! - John 1: 29 (NLT)
John the Baptist first words upon seeing Jesus was not "Look! The motivational speaker who takes away our feelings of inadequacy!" Nor were those words, "Look! The self-help guru who will show us how to live more extravagantly!" No beloved, Jesus Christ came to take away the sins of the world because the wrath of God was all we had coming and all we deserved until He did.
So, with all due respect to the Presbyterian Church, let us turn to the Word of God for matters of doctrine, not the whims of man who has been recreating God in his own image since time began. Because it is not just the PCOCS. Last week we wrote about the pastor who replaced the bread and wine elements of communion with skittles and iced tea. The month before that it was Pastor Hilliard soliciting donations from his flock to replace the blades on his helicopter and promising a "transportation blessing" for everyone who sent him $52. Last year we were examining the inanely heretical Circle Maker teaching millions to pray petulantly to God. Next week it will be something else. Because these are the times Paul was speaking to Timothy about. The reason why a false teacher like Joel Osteen exists is that 45,000 people turn up each week to hear about how much God wants to make them rich. At the end of the day however, no one will escape the wrath of God and no one can deny His Word.
The key verses today should give us all pause. In the days of Moses all it took was the testimony of two or three witnesses to be put to death. How much more severely do you think someone should be punished for trampling the Son of God underfoot? Jesus Christ hung on an old wooden cross, beaten and bloodied, until He died. He took this punishment because it was ours. We deserved it. The wages of our sins was death. He lived a sinless life yet took our punishment because the wrath of God stored up against us was so mighty. Yet the Presbyterian Church finds it so offensive to consider that they removed it from the hymnal? How dare we trample underfoot the sacrifice of Calvary! The next line in the key verses ask how severely someone should be punished for treating as unholy the blood of the very covenant that sanctified them! Jesus Christ did not serve skittles and iced tea at the Last Supper! Dear God, who do we think we are? The key verses continue by asking how severe the punishment should be for those who insult the spirit of grace? Preaching grace alone insults the Spirit of Grace. Preaching the love of God without preaching about His wrath insults the Spirit of Grace. Remember beloved what God Himself has said. It is mine to avenge. I will repay. The Lord will judge His people. I will simply finish with the concluding words from today's key verses:
It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. A dreadful thing.