FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 19, number 32, July 30, 2020
“whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” -Romans 3:25
Today, more than one hundred people are gathering in Nashville (due to COVID-19 many more are following the meeting by live streaming it) for a meeting of Vanguard Presbytery, a new Presbyterian denomination committed to the Scriptures, the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus to disciple the nations. What is the message which must be preached by the evangelists and pastors of Vanguard Presbytery? In the context of the United States at this present time, as we are in moral free fall, living a replay of the French Revolution, minus the Guillotine, what is the message our country must hear? What is the Biblical content guilty sinners must grasp in a saving fashion?
Here is it, my friends. They must know unequivocally that our God is a consuming fire, that He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In His just wrath He casts sinners into a Christless hell where they remain in conscious torment until the day they appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give account of every single deed they have done in the body, whether good or bad, where they will be judged by the righteous, omniscient, Holy One who will give them their just due. The ungodly sinner will then be cast into the lake of fire, the second death, hearing the most dreadful words imaginable, “Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, into the everlasting fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” God will deal out retribution, just desserts, to those who do not know the Lord Jesus, to those who did not obey Him on earth, who refused His countless overtures of grace to them. They will suffer the eternal penalty away from the presence of God’s glory. This is an unspeakable, unimaginable horror. The ungodly sinner will take up residence in the habitation of the devil and his minions, a place where the fire is never quenched and the worm never dies. They will no doubt remember the many times they heard preachers or evangelists or close friends urging them to believe the gospel, but they chose not to repent and believe. They will beg God for another chance but there is no second chance in hell. The goodness of God, made manifest times without number on earth, meant to lead the ungodly sinner to repentance but rejected due to stubbornness, will be the catalyst for the stored up wrath and vengeance of God to be poured out on that awful day. The eyes of the damned which gazed upon vile and wicked things on earth, will look on unspeakable horror in hell. The mouths of the condemned which blasphemed God and brought destruction and misery to so many, will be the means by which they will cry out for mercy, but no mercy will come to them. The God of grace does not hear the prayers of the damned. The hands which used instruments to rip babies from the wombs of their mothers will reach up helplessly for a hand from the only Savior who could draw them from hell, but He will not reach down to them. It will be too late for that. The feet of the vile which were quick to run to perversion and misery will seek to run from God’s hell fire judgment but their feet will be stuck, as it were, in cement. There is no hope in hell for the damned for God is angry with the sinner every day.
But why such wrath? Why judgement, hell, the lake of fire? After all, isn’t it true that God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, One who abounds in loving kindness and compassion? Isn’t He in the forgiveness business? Isn’t that what God does? Yes, of course God is all of these things, but He is also absolutely holy and just. To not hold people accountable for their iniquity, to look the other way at their transgressions, would be a complete violation of His character. Those two men—who invaded Dr. Petit’s home in 2007, beat him with a baseball bat, tied him, and threw him into the basement while they proceeded to rape his wife and two teen aged daughters, finally putting them out of their horror by murdering them—were convicted and brought before the judge for sentencing. Now what would we think if the judge said, “I am feeling very merciful today. Let’s forget the whole thing. You men are free to go.” You rightly would say, “That is unfair. That is unjust. The judge is guilty of a great travesty of justice.” Likewise, the guilty must be punished and we are all guilty before the holy God of Scripture.
But my dear friends the wrath of God has been satisfied. Jesus is the propitiation by His own blood (Romans 3:25). We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:1-2). God’s love is manifested by sending His Son to be propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10). In other words, the righteous, just God who will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, who is angry with the sinner every day, is placated, appeased by the death of His Son. Therefore God remains a just judge. He sent Jesus who did not sin to become sin on behalf of all who trust Him, for all who believe in Him. He not only satisfies His own justice but He also makes His people positively just and righteous. He gives to them an alien righteousness, that is, a perfection which comes from outside of themselves.
But how does God satisfy His justice, how does He placate His just wrath against sinners? Paul tells us that God the Father sent Jesus to become sin on our behalf. That is, Jesus took upon Himself all the sins of all His people in the world. Your murderous bigotry and bitterness, your lustful and licentious fornication and adultery, your prideful and opulent neglect of the needy, your bloodthirsty and deceitful acquisition of power and prestige were all placed on Jesus. For those several hours on the cross at Calvary, the Lord Jesus labored in isolation, completely cut off from His Father with whom He had enjoyed perfect fellowship for all eternity. When He cried out in despair, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me,” the Lord Jesus uttered words of supreme devotion and trust. He was looking for succor from His heavenly Father, but His cry for comfort was met with silence. When Jesus was looking for relief He found none. The cry for grace and deliverance was met with hatred, wrath, and vengeance. It is hard even to put into words what the Lord Jesus experienced. It sounds like sacrilege to say it, but if the Father abhors or hates the man of bloodshed and deceit (Psalm 5:6), and if God placed all the sins of His people upon His Son, then we can rightly and reverently say that the Father detested, hated His Son for those several hours at Calvary.
And what does this mean, my dear friends? If you are in Christ Jesus, then the enmity, the separation from the Holy One, is taken away. His wrath has been poured out on Jesus so that you no longer must suffer the sure and certain judgment of hell. It means that God’s wrath has been satisfied, that the blood of Christ, made possible by His death, has appeased the just condemnation of God. It means that God is for you, that He will never leave you nor forsake you. If God is for you, and He surely is, then what difference does it make if others are against you, if others despise or reject you? Your spouse may have left you for someone else, your children may have rejected you and the faith, your company may have terminated your job due to the latest round of downsizing, but you are in Christ Jesus. God could have spared His Son the pain and horror of Calvary but He chose to have Him die. Will He not therefore freely give you everything you need to live in this world? Has He not bestowed every spiritual blessing upon you in Christ Jesus? Don’t you now realize that you can argue the greater to the lesser—If God has wrought this great work of salvation in your life, then can you not trust Him for tomorrow’s needs and fears? Can you not wait upon Him to supply your every need according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus?
This glorious truth, however—the wrath of God satisfied—does not come universally. It is a propitiation applied to those who have faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:26). Do you have saving, propitiating faith? Have you surrendered to Jesus? Have you called on the name of the Lord of mercy and grace? If not, then you must do so, for failure here means you are still living under the just condemnation of God and you are headed to hell, as sure as the days of June are long.
My dear friends—this is the only message that brings liberation and joy. This is what we in Vanguard Presbytery must preach to a crooked and perverse generation, our generation. This is what every preacher must preach. Preacher, is this your message? Are you preaching the cross? Are you glorying in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, to which this world is crucified to you and you to the world? Those before us have preached it, and many following us will do the same.