Safety From The Wrath Of God
“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Romans 5:9)
Back in the great passage of God’s indictment against sinful man, Romans 1:18-3:20, we saw the wrath of God revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. We caught a glimpse of the fate and destiny of all men apart from Christ, a fate that ultimately will culminate in eternal separation from God. The Christian’s justification, their right-standing with God purchased and obtained by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has saved us from the judgment of God that results in an eternity spent in Hell.
But here in Romans 5:9, those wonderful words much more show us that there is, well, much more in view here! Being now justified, that is, being that we are already justified and are already saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. What wrath is this? This seems to refer to a future wrath of God, a wrath as of yet unrealized. This isn’t the wrath of a holy God against unrighteousness in a general sense, it refers to a specific outpouring of the wrath of God. Not only are we saved from the wrath of God being meted out against a sinful world, we are saved from all the coming wrath that will be poured out.
“Then said [John the Baptist] to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Luke 3:7, emphasis added)
What exactly is the wrath to come? We know that all who die apart from Christ will face the Judgment of God at the Great White Throne mentioned in Revelation 20:11-15, is this the wrath to come? The term wrath is not used at all in connection with this final judgment where the lost will be banished forever from God’s presence. No, we see them standing before the Throne of God as they are judged from the books recording the events of their lives (Rev. 20:12). There seems to be no outpouring of God’s wrath at this time, only judgment. The Second Death, the time in which those who have rejected Christ will be cast into Hell, could not be the day of wrath (Romans 2:5) to come, could it?
“And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17, emphasis added)
It is interesting to note that nowhere in the Bible is the Day of God’s wrath or the wrath to come, though referred to often, said to be fulfilled until we come to the Book of Revelation and the events of the Great Tribulation. No fewer than 10 times is the outpouring of the wrath of God mentioned in Revelation in connection with the Tribulation events, the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in Glory being the final time in Revelation 19:15. If there is some other occasion to which all of the previous mentions of the Day of the Wrath of God are referring, I do not know what it could be.
Not Appointed To Wrath
“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
The Apostle Paul wrote more in his First Epistle to the Church at Thessalonica concerning End Time events surrounding Christ’s return than in any other letter. One thing he made clear was that those in Christ would be delivered from the Day of Wrath to come. Describing the Rapture of believers before the Tribulation begins, Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to comfort one another with these words (5:18).
Saved From Wrath Or Through It?
Although, in my view, I believe that verses such as Romans 5:9 and 1 Thessalonians 1:10 make it clear that the Christian will in no way endure even a single moment of the Great Tribulation, I recognize that others have interpreted these passages differently. The suggestion has been made that, rather than taking the Church out of the world in a pre-Tribulation Rapture, God would make His own people safe during the coming Tribulation. I see several problems with this explanation, a couple of which I would like to touch on briefly:
“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:13-17, emphasis added)
Though there will be some who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ who will be on Earth during the Tribulation, it seems much more likely that these are people who come to Christ after the Tribulation begins rather than believers from the Church Age who remain. If we are set to endure hunger, thirst, scorching heat, and tears of anguish during the Great Tribulation, how can we comfort one another with the notion of Christ’s Return for us? Secondly, if we will endure such hardships during the time of the Wrath to come, how can it be accurately said that we will be saved from it or through it? If we understand the true magnitude of the horrific events of the Great Tribulation, then the only way we can take comfort is to know that we will not be here!
“And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;” (Revelation 6:15, emphasis added)
As the judgment of God’s wrath begins to be poured out, there is no distinction made over who is affected. There is no “canopy” set over anyone, sheltering them from the effects of God’s wrath. No one is seen here being saved through this judgment as the Sixth Seal is opened. Certainly, many survive and even the 144,000 person Jewish Remnant, who will be sealed, are present at this time, but we see no evidence at this point of anyone being in Christ and being saved through the time of God’s wrath.
One of the benefits that believers living now have, one of the things we have in Christ, is that we will be saved from the wrath of God, even the wrath of God to be poured out during the Tribulation period. Once a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, they will no longer endure God’s wrath on a sinful world. We may suffer difficulties and hardships, calamities that are the result of the sin-stained world we live in, but God’s wrath poured out in judgment on sinful flesh is not something that the Christian is subject to any longer. For those in Christ who live in the time when the Great tribulation begins (and it could begin any day), the Lord will deliver them from that hour by taking them up to forever be with Him. This is another wonderful benefit that we have in Christ!
To God goes all glory. In service to him,