Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE TERROR OF THE LORD”

Second Corinthians 5.11

 

There is a monumental struggle that I am engaged in to see you converted. I study and prepare, I pray and preach, I seek to persuade and exhort, and all for the purpose of seeing you come to Christ. Others in our church do their part as well. From where you sit, it may sometimes appear as though there is a tug of war between you and the preacher, to see who is going to win this contest of wills, to see whose will shall prevail in this great struggle. If you see all of this effort as a struggle between the preacher and you, or between the pastor and you, then you are entirely mistaken. This matter of getting you converted is not a struggle between your will and my will. Not at all. In decisionist churches, the struggle is between the sinner’s will and the pastor’s will, or between the sinner’s will and the visiting preacher’s will.[1] However, that is because Charles Finney was not a genuine gospel preacher, and he did not see the issues properly. Therefore, what he did, which was wrong, others copied him in doing, giving us the present sad state of affairs in so many churches all over America. Not, however, in this church. What you need to realize is that there very much is a tug of war going on. However, the two who are currently pulling in opposite directions are not you and me, but you and the Holy Spirit. You, the sinner, are pulling in one direction, and the Holy Spirit of God, Who is working to convince you to give it up, to stop resisting, to yield to God’s will for your life, to come to Jesus, is pulling the other way.

I will admit, I certainly understand how tempting it is to be a decisionist preacher. You see someone you love, lost and in rebellion toward God. You do not want to see your loved one die and go to Hell, so you try to persuade him. And if you have an incorrect understanding of conversion, if you do not clearly see that conversion is a miracle, if you have given little thought and consideration to the fact that with the heart man believeth unto righteousness (meaning you can’t force anyone to get saved), then a preacher will try manipulating sinners to make professions of faith, will try pushing sinners to pray to receive Jesus. In short, decisionists try to make happen what they want to happen, instead of waiting on God.

My friend, you will not be converted until you want to be converted. However, you do not want to be converted. The Bible teaches that you are God’s enemy and that you are in rebellion against Him. The Bible teaches that you are fouled by sin, and you are a stench in God’s nostrils that needs to be cleansed. As well, the Bible teaches that your thinking is so corrupted by your sin that you are blind to the truth. Your sensibilities are so dulled by the deadness of your soul that you are unafraid, and unconcerned, and unaffected by your situation, and by your danger, and by your future. God has chosen to deal with sinners like you by means of the preaching of His Word, so preaching is what we give you. Some people would say that teaching is a more effective way of communicating. That is fine. They can say what they want to say. However, God has chosen preaching, and God blesses preaching.

To show you that this struggle of wills is not a struggle between you and me, but rather between you and God, I want you to look at Second Corinthians 5.20: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” The Apostle Paul is here reminding the Corinthians that when they came to Christ under his preaching, it was actually God pleading with them by Paul. This resulted in Paul saying to sinners, in essence, “we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”

Therefore, the struggle is not correctly seen, and is not correctly presented, as a struggle between you and the pastor, or between you and the preacher. It is a struggle between God, Who is not willing that you perish, between Christ, Who gave Himself to ransom your soul, and a defiant, deluded, dead in trespasses and sins lost person . . . you.

These things said; let us now look to our text for tonight, Second Corinthians 5.11. When you locate that verse, please stand for the reading of God’s Word: “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”

Notice that Paul clearly stated that his objective as a gospel preacher was to persuade men. Make no mistake about the fact that my goal is to see your thinking toward God changed, to see your thinking toward your own sin changed, and to see your thinking toward Jesus changed, changed enough that you will act. Our desire is that you are persuaded to actually embrace Christ, that you will simply come to Jesus and be saved. There is motivation that Paul had, and that the co-laborers who traveled with him had, that you have likely not seen or heard about. The evidence is clear that what motivated Paul to preach as he did was something the Corinthians were unaware of and apparently had not considered even after they had become Christians.

Notice the opening phrase of our text. Paul writes, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord.” He is saying here, because we know the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. Because we truly understand the fear of the Lord, we persuade men. You may be thinking, “I know that already. That’s nothing new.” To be sure, there is nothing new in the Bible. However, consider again whether you have personally seen what this verse really says before you discount it as old news. We are now looking at this verse from a different perspective than we did this morning.

Paul is not referring, here, to the fear of God. He is not, here, making mention of the things God will do to you if you are not saved. This is a statement about what Jesus will do. My friends, the Apostle Paul, and his men did everything they could to persuade sinners to come to Christ, in part, because they knew what the Lord Jesus would do to those who rejected Him. It is about that that I would like to preach this evening: The terror of the Lord Jesus Christ. What is Jesus going to do to you, my friend? Have you ever thought about that?

Consider two things:

 

First, CONSIDER THE REASONS FOR WHAT JESUS WILL DO TO YOU

 

During His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ was so kind, so tender, so gracious, and so very friendly. He was the friend of sinners. He was attractive to little children. He was the healer of the afflicted. He was the cleanser of the lepers. He fed the hungry and wept when His friend suffered death. The only display of anger He ever exhibited was toward religious hypocrites and those who made His Father’s house a house of merchandise, though it must be pointed out that He was clearly displeased on one occasion, when His disciples prevented little children from coming to Him. However, Jesus is not angry with sinners.

The transformation of this tender and compassionate Jesus by the Roman Catholic Church into an angry Ruler is a great crime. It completely misrepresents Him, and deters sinners from coming to Him for salvation, cleansing, and life. You must understand that Jesus is not angry with you, that He is receptive to sinners like you coming to Him, and that should you come to Him you will be welcomed, you will be received, and you will not be turned away.

However, there is coming a day when the Savior’s attitude will change, and I have spoken to you about this before. There will come a time when those who will be saved have all been saved, when those who have benefited from His saving sacrifice will have benefited already. Then it will be time for vengeance. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”[2] The question is, for what will Jesus seek vengeance against sinners once all opportunity to be saved has passed?

First, my friend, Jesus left heaven’s glory for you. He set aside His regal garb, turned His back on the glories of heaven and the adoration of angels, and became a man, for you. And not just a man. He became a poor man, a downtrodden man, for you. He left the pristine environment of heaven and dwelt among wretched sinners, for you. How have you responded to that? Now you understand why He will seek vengeance against you.

Next, Jesus suffered unimaginable indignities for you. He was falsely accused of wrongdoing. He was arrested for no legitimate reason. He was illegally tried and convicted by false testimony three times in one night before sunrise. He was stripped naked and beaten. Men laid hands on the Lord of glory, mocked Him with a crown of thorns, defiled Him, struck Him with their hands, and plucked His beard from His face. Paraded through the streets of the city. He endured all that for you. How have you responded to that? Now you understand why He will seek vengeance against you.

Jesus then suffered the cross for you. Can you imagine the Son of the living God being nailed to a cross? Can you envision the Roman soldiers ridiculing Him, the Jewish leaders ridiculing Him, the two thieves on their crosses ridiculing Him? However, that is not the worst of it all. Worse than that was when He took upon Himself all your sins. Even that is not the worst of it all. The worst of it all was when God poured out His wrath on Him, Jesus suffering all the pent up rage God had for all the sins of men of all time. How have you responded to that? Now you understand why He will seek vengeance against you.

When Jesus does to you what He will do to you, it will be because of your transgression of God’s Law, your sins against God, to be sure. And your grieving and quenching and resisting of the Holy Spirit, of course. However, there will be an element in His punishment of you that will be directly the result of His great love for you scorned, of His humiliation for you discounted, of His sacrifice for you spat upon. Now you understand why He will seek vengeance against you.

 

Next, Consider WHAT JESUS WILL DO TO YOU

 

What He did during His earthly ministry, culminating in His suffering and bleeding and dying, Jesus did for you. The Just for the unjust, that He might bring you to God. However, Paul and his co-laborers were aware of what Jesus will do to you after you die. How serious must your sins be, how great must your crimes be, how horrible must your offenses against the Son of God be, that with fierceness and anger He will do these things to you:

First, Jesus determines who goes to Hell. At least, that is what Revelation 1.18 seems to suggest. Turn there and read it with me: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Jesus certainly has the keys of death. He raised up Lazarus from the dead. He raised up Jairus’ daughter from the dead, as well as others. Therefore, having the keys of death seems to indicate that Jesus determines who lives and who dies, who is raised from the dead and who stays dead. Scripture verifies this conclusion about what having the keys of death means. In like manner might Jesus be seen as the One Who determines who goes to Hell. After all, salvation from sins is a matter of coming to Jesus, is it not? Moreover, Who is better qualified to know Who He knows than Jesus, Himself? Some will try to enter heaven, but Jesus will tell them to depart and will say that He never knew them. Therefore, my unsaved friend, Jesus will put you into Hell. In addition to the sins you’ve committed against God, and in violation of God’s Laws, you will have to contend with the things the Lord Jesus Christ did for you, which you have to this point ignored and discounted.

As well, Jesus will judge you at the Great White Throne judgment. Turn to Revelation 20.11-15 and read with me:

 

11    And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12    And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13    And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14    And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15    And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

When you die, Jesus will determine that you go to Hell, if you do not know Him as your Savior, if He does not know you. Then, after something more than a thousand years in Hell, you will be delivered to the Great White Throne for judgment. It says in verse 12, that John saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and that you will be judged out of those things which will be written in the books. However, the One actually sitting on the Great White Throne will be the Lord Jesus Christ. I say this because in John 5.22, Jesus said, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” Because of that, I think verse 11 is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is His face from whom the earth and the heaven will flee. Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine the expression on the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, Whose eyes are flames of fire. What anger. What rage. What vengeance He will exact upon you. What punishment He will pour out on you. Look up, please. Throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity, you will have burned into your conscious memory, never to fade over time in the least, His fierce countenance and His last words to you: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

 

What a great tragedy it will be that the One Who suffered so greatly for you will make you suffer such unimaginable torment. How pitiful it will then be that the One Who was for you the Lamb of God that could have taken away your sins, the One Who bled and died a ransom for your soul, will be the One Who determines you for Hell and Who will determine the severity of your eternal horror in the lake of fire. What terrible irony it will be. What great tragedy it will be. What horrible waste it will be. Jesus would have been so gracious to you, so kind, so tender, so satisfying to your soul, so friendly to your heart and mind. However, your refusal of Him will change all of what could have been, what might yet be, into stark terror, into unending fright, into never-ending burning.

It is this knowledge of the terror of the Lord, on top of the fear of God’s wrath, that motivated Paul so powerfully, that so strongly moves your pastor to do what he does to urge you to come to Christ.

Please come to Jesus.

Please avoid this needless tragedy.

Please concern yourself with the welfare of your own soul.

Please come to Jesus now.



[1] Decisionism is the belief that a person is saved by coming forward, raising the hand, saying a prayer, believing a doctrine, making a Lordship commitment, or some other external, human act, which is taken as the equivalent to, and proof of, the miracle of inward conversion; it is the belief that a person is saved through the agency of a merely external decision; the belief that performing one of these human actions shows that a person is saved.

Conversion is the result of that work of the Holy Spirit that draws a lost sinner to Jesus Christ for justification and regeneration, and changes the sinner’s standing before God from lost to saved, imparting divine life to the depraved soul, thus producing a new direction in the life of the convert. The objective side of salvation is justification. The subjective side of salvation is regeneration. The result is conversion.

[2] Romans 12.19


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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org