Friday, July 21, 2017

Worship Preparation Guide for Sunday, July 23, 2017

Worship Preparation Guide for Sunday, July 23, 2017
Sermon Text: Isaiah 63

A robust understanding of God’s wrath should lead us to worship.  Let me explain.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son” is a biblical truth we stand on, rest in, and gladly share with others when given the opportunity.  But there is more to God than just his love and mercy.  Much more.  God is more complicated that that. 

John 3:16 is followed by John 3:18 where we read, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

In Romans 1: 18 Paul says the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”.  The next paragraph declares, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Rom 1:18)

There is a dark side of the gospel.  The Bible is consistent in declaring the truth that men must be saved. But saved from what?  For salvation to actually be salvation requires that we must be saved from something.

We see the answer throughout scripture, but nowhere is it clearer than in Isaiah 63.  Salvation is rescue from the certain wrath of God against sin and the enemies of God’s purposes and people. 

The idea of God’s violent wrath and the vision of a warrior rescuer with the blood of his enemies spattered all over his clothing is foreign to our modern sensibilities, maybe even embarrassing.

But God’s wrath is not embarrassing to the writers of the Bible.  DA Carson wrote,   The biblical writers are not embarrassed when they treat the theme.  This is surely because, for them, the wrath of God is an entirely just and therefore admirable display of holiness as it confronts sin.  To be embarrassed by what Scripture so clearly and repeatedly sets out as belonging to the character of God when He deals with rebels is not the stance of sophistication and moral superiority.  Rather, it is the stance of arrogant disbelief.  What right does the creature ever have to be embarrassed by the Creator?  To disown the theme of judgment is to slouch toward the very first reported instance of doctrinal disavowal–the insistence of the serpent, “You will not certainly die” (Gen. 3:4).  Far better and wiser is it to see that the theme of God’s wrath provides, inter alia, another angle into who God is, into the blinding brilliance of His holiness (cf. Isaiah 6).  And this must end in worship.

How does the truth of God’s wrath lead us to worship? 

There are many ways this is true, but here are two for your consideration and worship preparation. 
First, the reality of God’s wrath and our careful consideration of that wrath will lead to a reverent fear of God.  God’s wrath is to be feared because each one of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and because of that sin we are justly condemned apart from Christ (Romans 5:1).  God’s wrath is to be feared because God promises eternal punishment apart from Christ (Matthew 25:46).

Closely related to this is a second reason God’s wrath should lead us to worship.  That wrath is satisfied in Christ.  This is the ultimate good news!  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).  Because of Christ, God can rightly call sinners justified (Romans 3:26).  God has done what we could not do, and he has done what we didn’t deserve.  Through faith in in Christ we are rescued from the wrath to come.  Charles Wesley rightly rejoiced in this good news in his hymn And Can It Be:
And can it be that I should gain 
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died he for me, who caused his pain! 
For me, who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be 
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Careful, prayerful reflection on Isaiah 63:1-6 will fill us with praise and thanksgiving for God’s grace that saves us from his just and holy wrath against sin. 

Careful, prayerful reflection on Isaiah 63:1-6 will fill us with love and heightened urgency to pray for and reach our family, neighbors, friends and community with the good news of Jesus – the only one who rescues from the terrible reality of God’s wrath. 

I am praying for you and I look forward to seeing you in church this Sunday. 

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