In the context, this verse reveals the threat of God on the unbelieving Israel, and their punishment to come. But it still applies to the unbelieving world today. Their destruction is sudden and unexpected, for anyone walks on a slippery ground always exposed to fall. When they fall, they fall suddenly, without warning. If they haven’t fallen so far that is because of God’s grace. But, when the appointed time comes, He will let go His saving grip, and will not hold them up on the slippery places. The weight of their unbelief is enough to take them down into the endless pit.
The message of the Christian gospel is this, everyone in the world is headed for the eternal hell to be punished forever for their sins. The verdict is made when you arrived on this planet. The divine Judge has already ruled, the gavel has come down and you have been condemned and sentenced to hell because you were born as an unbeliever. However, there is an eternal heaven for those who escape from the punishment of God. How does one escape hell and get to heaven? There is only one way to escape from the hell and enter heaven. It’s not by your morality, it’s not by your virtue, and it’s not by your philanthropy, not by your ceremonies, rituals, or religious activities. The only way to escape from the wrath of God is by believing in the person and the finished work of Jesus Christ. The gospel is broad enough to include the worst sinner, the most wretched, corrupt person who believes; and it is narrow enough to exclude the most moral religious unbeliever. “Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him” (Eph 5:6).
The wrath of God
The gospel message begins with a statement about the wrath of God. God’s wrath is an expression of His opposition against what is wrong. It is his displeasure towards evil. The ultimate condemnation of man is announced in Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth.” Though they knew the truth about God, they refused to believe in Him. It is the specific act that provokes the divine wrath. We read in Revelation 11, v15 to v20, that God’s wrath is personal. God’s wrath is certain, and no power can stop it; no appeal can be made. His judgment is sure; even the dead cannot ever escape His judgment. His judgment is fearful, final and permanent. And, His wrath is right; there is no question of God’s judgment in heaven; The response from the heavenly beings is praise and worship.
People have no difficulty accepting that God is a God of love; but they have a great difficulty in believing how God can be a God of anger, a God of wrath, a God of fury, and a God of terror. “God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day.” (Ps. 7:11). The prophets spoke often of the wrath of God, the judgment of God. “The land is scorched by the wrath of the Lord of Hosts, and the people are like fuel for the fire” (Isaiah 9:19). “Look, My anger —My burning wrath —is about to be poured out on this place, on man and beast, on the tree of the field, and on the produce of the land. My wrath will burn and not be quenched” (Jeremiah 7:20). “Their silver and gold will be unable to save them in the day of the Lord’s wrath” (Ezekiel 7:19). These are only few passages, but the Old Testament is filled with the announcement of God’s wrath. In all of the scripture the more fierce exposure of God’s wrath we only find in the New Testament, at the Cross. God is actually furious, as we should understand the Greek text of Romans 1:18. Were the Lord not graciously slow to manifest this anger fully (Num. 14:18), no sinner could live for even a second. We will never understand the profound reality of God’s love until we comprehend His wrath.
The way to escape from God’s wrath
The escape from God’s wrath is not for those who become more religious. It is not for those who try harder to be good. It is not for those who live morally, those who turn away from certain evil behavior. Salvation is for people who abandon all of that self-efforts to earn their way, and put complete trust on the person and the work of Jesus Christ. In the simplest sense, believing in Jesus the son of God. There are so many people in this world that say they believe in God, and believe in Jesus. What God, and what Jesus? What they believe about? But their belief is not based on the truth of the scripture. Their understanding of God, their understanding of themselves, sin and salvation is warped by the false doctrines. The faith they have is meaningless and won’t be able to deliver them from the wrath of God.
Foundational Truths of Christian Faith
When the reformation happened around the 16th century, there were five solas that the reformers identified to clarify the essential gospel truth.
- Sola Scriptura
There is only one divine revelation, Scripture alone. There are no other revelation such as Ex Cathedra by Pope, or the church edicts and councils by the Roman Catholic Church, for those are not divine, inspired, and authoritative revelations.
- Sola Christus
There is only one savior, Christ alone. There is only one mediator, Christ alone. Mary is not a co-redemptrix, only Christ. There is salvation through no other person, on account of no other person’s intervention or intercession, whether priest, bishop, or Pope.
- Sola Gratia
Salvation comes by divine grace, God’s “unmerited favor,” and not as something offered, exchanged, or sacrificed by the sinner. Salvation is a gift, an unearned blessing from God for Christ’s sake. There is nothing that we can contribute towards our salvation; it is pure monergistic -God alone effects our salvation.
- Sola Fide
It refers to the teaching that justification is received by faith alone, without the need for good works on the part of the believing individual. Good works are not the means by which salvation is attained; neither are they required nor accepted by God for granting salvation, rather good works are the evidence of saving faith.
- Sola Deo Gloria
This teaches that all glory is due to God alone, since salvation is accomplished solely through his will and his action. Not only the gift of the all-sufficient atonement of Jesus on the cross, but also the gift of faith in that atonement, created in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit, is the sole work of God.
True religion Vs false religion
There are only two distinct religions in the world, even though, you see thousands of religions on the surface; the true religion of God, and the false religion of Satan in various forms. These two religions have two philosophies and two assurances leading to two different ultimate destinations. The true religion, which God has revealed in Scripture, declares that salvation comes by grace through faith in Christ, without works; and the false religion which declares, that salvation comes to man by his own effort, by his own achievement, by something he does – some morality, some religiosity, some ritual, some ceremony, or some behavior. God’s true religion is the religion of divine accomplishment leading men to heaven. Satan’s religion is the religion of human achievement leading men to hell.
The stern warning
The scripture is crystal clear of the human responsibility of believing. If you do not believe you will be condemned, you will be held responsible for your demise. You will bear the full weight of judgment if you refuse to believe. On the other hand, if you believe, Christ affirms that “everyone who believes in him will have eternal life” (John 3:15). Bible says in 1 Cor. 2:9 “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”. We must also not forget that in His treasury of unfathomable power, he has stored terror far more greater than we could imagine, for those who rejects His gift of salvation through faith in Christ.
Today is a Day of Mercy; now you have an extraordinary opportunity, in which Christ has flung opened the Door of Mercy wide, and calling out to you to repent of your unbelief and believe in Him. Now is the time of God’s favor: you may put your trust in Christ and cry out for Mercy. But, when once the Day of Mercy is past, your most mournful cries and screams will be in vain; you will be completely lost and thrown away into the misery. “Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them” (Ezekiel 8:18).
Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. R.C. Sproul, Dr. Mark Dever
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson