Sermon Overview & Prayer: "Ponder His Wrath"

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Revelation 15-16
PRAYER POINTS

"Ponder His Wrath" - CJ Mahaney

These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer.

“In order for the gospel to make sense, we must expect and fear the wrath of God. But for the wrath of God to be expected and feared, we must despise sin as an offense against God. But for sin to be despised in this way, we must know and love God as supremely pure and holy and righteous. So, for the sake of your authenticity as a Christian, and for the sake of your joy…think on the wrath of God.” (John Piper)

We must not avoid the topic of God’s wrath. Only those who are aware of God’s wrath realize their need for God’s grace.

PRAYER: Lord God, I acknowledge that as your infinite love and mercy leave me in confounded awe, so likewise does your wrath and judgment leave me in terrifying dread. As I prayerfully ponder your great salvation, remind me of that which I am being saved from, so that my every moment–every thought and desire, every word and deed–is lived gratefully and worshipfully in the shadow of the cross.

“Closely related to God’s holiness is his wrath, his holy reaction to sin. Scripture speaks of the wrath of God in high-intensity language, and it is important to note that a substantial part of the Bible’s storyline turns on God’s wrath. No doubt, God is forbearing and gracious, yet he is also holy and just. Where there is sin, the holy God must confront it and bring it to judgment, especially given the fact that sin is not first against an external order outside of God; it is against God himself.” (Stephen Wellum)

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, when I am tempted to question wrath and judgment as inconsistent with mercy and grace, take me to verses from God’s Word that declare your holiness, righteousness, and justice. Grip my heart with the truth that you are perfect in all your ways. Instill in my heart an awareness that the greater mystery is not your wrath and judgment, but your grace and mercy toward sinners like me.

Our ignorance of God’s holiness and our familiarity with sin might leave us thinking that this judgment is “too severe.” But, Scripture informs us otherwise. In chapter 16, verse 6, we read: “It is what they deserve.” This is just judgment from the Holy One against those who persist in rebellion against Him refusing to repent. This judgment is “true”, not excessive; it is consistent with the sin done against a holy God.

PRAYER: Father, in a world that cries out for justice, please expose in my heart any temptation for self-righteousness, as if I am less deserving of the judgment I might pass on others. Remind me of the truth that God’s wrath is the appropriate and proportionate response to the wickedness of sin. Let me never minimize the sinfulness of sin, lest I at the same time I diminish your holiness.

This certain, final, and irreversible judgment has been delayed because He is: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Exodus 34:6-7) “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you that for reasons I will never fully comprehend, you have so delayed your return and your wrath to a time that has enabled me to be saved. Thank you! Knowing that so many remain lost and without hope, lead me to opportunities for planting and watering the seeds of the gospel, that the harvest might increase. May the light of my love for you, for holiness, and for others draw many out of darkness into repentance and faith and into salvation from your wrath, while there is still time.

The redeemed throughout the ages sing to the One who drank in full the cup of God’s wrath. Jesus did this so that those who trust in Him and treasure Him above all might never have to experience the wrath of God described in chapter 16. Jesus suffered the wrath of God in our place on the cross to atone for our sin because the righteous judgment of God, the wrath of God, had to be poured out either on Christ or on you and me.

PRAYER: O Lord, in light of this awesome portrayal of wrath and judgment...of mercy and grace, may I never read John 3:16-18 the same way again. “For God so loved the world,  that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” 

Suddenly and unexpectedly we read in chapter 16, verse 15: “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” The garments of righteousness are necessary to attend the marriage supper of the Lamb.

So we must stay awake spiritually and reject the world’s seduction because Christ will come unexpectedly.

PRAYER: Father, help us, by your grace to live lives worthy of the gospel. Keep us from compromise, and hence, from regret. Keep us in a path of righteousness for your name’s sake. And Lord, thank you that “through many dangers, toils, and snares, we have already come. Tis grace that’s brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home.”

“It is vital that we face the truth concerning his wrath, however unfashionable it may be, and however strong our initial prejudices against it. Otherwise, we shall not understand the gospel of salvation from wrath, nor the propitiatory achievement of the cross, nor the wonder of the redeeming love of God. Nor shall we understand the hand of God in history and God’s present dealings with our own people; nor shall we be able to make head or tail of the book of Revelation.” (J.I. Packer)

PRAYER: Father in heaven, we ask that the Holy Spirit would continue to open the eyes of our hearts to the wonder and hope of the glorious return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In whose name we pray, AMEN!

 

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:
We continue in Revelation with a description of the seven plagues and the seven bowls of God’s wrath, each giving the church a unique perspective into how God glorifies Himself through judgment, as well as salvation. Together, these chapters expound upon five key themes: the character of God’s judgment, the reason for God’s judgment, the delay of God’s judgment, God’s salvation from His judgment, and the imminence of God’s judgment. Through these chapters, our Lord helps His people better understand His holiness in light of our sin, gifting us an even deeper understanding of the cross of Christ and an even fuller joy in the character of our Savior.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. In Revelation 15 and 16, we notice five distinct themes (see summary). Which of these themes were you least familiar with before the sermon or what stuck out to you about a theme from the sermon?
  2. The wrath of God is weighty and relevant, yet not an essential attribute of God: “God is not wrath in the same way that God is love”. What does he mean by this distinction, and why is it important?
  3. In this sermon, C.J. spent quite a bit of time talking about the garden of Gethsemane as well as the cross of Christ. Why would it be important to read about the judgments of God within a full view of the cross?
  4. C.J. likened the events of Christ’s judgments before His second coming to a man throwing traffic cones at oncoming cars to warn them of an imminent and deadly car pile-up just ahead. How would this picture help you explain the mercy of God in judgment to a non-Christian who struggles with the idea of God’s wrath?
  5. Because God’s judgments in the world are intended to draw sinners to salvation from His final judgment, a major application of this sermon would be to joyfully join Him in this gospel mission. What contexts has the Lord placed you in which you can most naturally share the gospel with others (work, school, neighbors etc.)? Who specifically do you have in mind that you could share with, in the next week or month, this gospel of God’s salvation from His ultimate judgment?