Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďIS JESUS ANGRY WITH SINNERS?Ē

 

Some years ago, I was observing a pastor asking questions to a person after an evangelistic service in which he had preached a very strong and thoroughly Biblical gospel sermon, a rarity these days. At one point, I overheard him ask the person who sought his counsel, ďIs Jesus angry with you?Ē That person nodded yes. Afterwards, I asked the pastor why he posed that question to the person seeking his counsel, and he responded by telling me something I have observed myself in the years since that occasion. Almost everyone I have ever talked to who comes from a Roman Catholic background, with very few exceptions, responds in the affirmative when asked if Jesus is angry with them.

Corresponding to this same issue, the pastor also pointed out to me that when he was simultaneously translated into Spanish while preaching, he was careful to insist that his translator avoid using the Spanish word Jesucristo. When he uttered the words ďJesus Christ,Ē his translator, at his direction, used the Spanish pronunciation of Jesus or Cristo instead of Jesucristo. When I noticed and asked about that, this pastor indicated to me that he was of the opinion that a false notion of the Savior was so deeply ingrained into Spanish-speaking people with a Roman Catholic background that use of Jesucristo would invariably result in them unconsciously resorting to the Christ of Roman Catholicism instead of the Christ of the Bible in their thinking.

With these two factoids in hand, I began to apply myself to a discovery of a great tragedy afoot in the evangelical and independent Baptist world that we live in. Decisionism is already taking a terrible toll on churches.[1] The late Dr. B. R. Lakin used to say that 75% of those attending Bible-believing churches were lost. Dr. A. W. Tozer felt that one in ten in evangelical churches was not born again. In addition, W. A. Criswell, the famous SBC pastor of the huge First Baptist Church of Dallas, said he would be surprised to meet 25% of his members in heaven.[2]

Additionally, I fear that on top of the ravages of decisionism are the all too often undetected consequences of latent Roman Catholic dogma among those who are supposedly reached with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Allow me to unfold this issue in four easy to follow steps:

 

First, THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CONFUSION ABOUT THE SAVIORíS ANGER

 

Though you are unlikely to find any formal declaration of the Lord Jesus Christís anger toward sinners should you look for it in Catholic publications, what is more important than what the Roman Catholic Church formally declares is what those who are subject to Roman Church teachings learn. That being true, a surprising number of people I have talked to over the past fifteen to twenty years of Roman Catholic background, especially those from Latin America and the Philippines have indicated their understanding that Jesus Christ is angry with sinners.

Why would the Roman Catholic Church lead people to believe that Jesus is angry with sinners? There are two likely explanations: First, since the Roman Catholic Church preaches a works righteousness scheme of salvation, it follows that confusion concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ would naturally follow. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the pantokratwr, meaning All-Powerful, even though only one of the ten times the word is found in the New Testament uses it in connection with Him.[3] The other nine times the word is used with God the Father in view. I suspect that one explanation of their application of the term pantokratwr to the Savior has to do with Romeís legendary confusion about all things prophetical. They are portraying as grim and stern at present One who will not be so until He comes back to earth in power and great glory. More on this later. A second reason for teaching that Jesus is angry with sinners is related to Romeís centuries old distorted desire to exalt the virgin Mary beyond what is found in the Bible. Though Jesus alone is the Redeemer, and there is only one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, First Timothy 2.5, Rome insists on asserting that Mary is the co-redeemer with Christ, and that while Christ is the Mediator, Mary is the Mediatrix.[4] Thus, in their effort to persuade individuals concerned about their sins to seek safety, refuge, and salvation in the Virgin Mary, Rome has successfully portrayed the Lord Jesus Christ as being angry with sinners.

 

Next, THE BIBLICAL REALITY OF CHRISTíS PRESENT SESSION

 

Nothing is clearer in the Gospel record than the purpose of the Lord Jesus Christís mission that resulted in His incarnation, earthly ministry, crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension back to His Fatherís right hand. In Luke 19.10, the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, told us the reason for all that He said and did: ďFor the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.Ē To that end, please take note of the Lordís attitude toward the sinners He encountered: Time constraints prevent me from turning to each passage, though I will mention where each of the incidents I refer to can be found:

#1  The Lord Jesus Christ conversed with a Samaritan woman who had been married five times and was living with a man she was not married to. Found in John chapter 4, the Lord Jesus was cordial to her and obviously not angry with her.

#2  The Lord Jesus Christ was teaching in the Temple courtyard early one morning when a woman taken in the very act of adultery was brought before Him. A thorough reading of John chapter 8 shows that though He in no way condoned what the adulterous woman did, He was not angry with her, as indicated by both His actions and His speech toward her.

#3  Our Lord was dining in a Phariseeís house when a woman the Lord acknowledged to be guilty of many sins approached, stood at His feet weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment. What we read in Luke chapter 7 convinces me that He not only was not angry with her, but she knew He would not be angry, which is why she felt bold to approach Him.

#4  In Matthew chapter 15, we read of a woman of Canaan who came to Jesus when He was near the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Not only was He not angry with that Gentile woman who sought Him out to help her daughter, but praised her faith and cast the demon out of her child.

#5  The demon possessed people, throughout the Gospel accounts, from the maniac of Gadera to Mary Magdalene, where we learn in Mark 16 Jesus had cast seven demons out of her, though they were possessed by foul spirits, seemed to detect no anger in Jesus directed against them.

#6  Neither the blind man, the lepers, the thief on the cross, nor the tax collectors experienced anything like anger from the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, He called one tax collector, known to us as Matthew, to be one of His Apostles, Luke chapter 5, while the other tax collector, Zacchaeus, was chosen to be His host for a meal and pronounced that this day salvation would come to his house, Luke 19.

Examine the Gospel record carefully and you will find the Lord Jesus Christ to display anger toward only one kind of person, rather than sinners as a whole. Who were those Jesus was angry toward? Not sinners in general, and certainly not toward those who committed such terrible sins as adultery, fornication, and theft. We know that on two occasions He drove the moneychangers out of the Temple, John 2.15, and Matthew 21.12. However, not one moneychanger lost an animal or any money because of our Saviorís actions; they were only hurriedly relocated outside the Temple. There is no indication in the Gospels that He was angry with anyone when He drove the moneychangers out. However, there were those He vigorously rebuked repeatedly throughout His earthly ministry, openly displaying His scorn. Scribes and Pharisees were labeled repeatedly by Him to be hypocrites.[5] Therefore, the only categories of sinners the Lord Jesus Christ ever displayed anger toward were those who were religious hypocrites.

Add to that the tendency of children to gather around Him. How many ancient pictures reflect the common understanding given to us by the Gospel accounts that children loved being around, and were not in any way put off or uneasy in the presence of the Savior? I submit to you that the children could perceive that Jesus was not angry toward sinners.

The same case can be made now that Jesus has risen from the dead following His crucifixion and burial, and has ascended to heaven to the Fatherís right hand on high. Is it not still His desire for sinners to come to Him? Of course it is. Is it not still His desire to save to the uttermost all that come to God by Him? Of course it is. Is there anything to be found in Godís Word that would suggest His attitude toward sinners has changed since His ascension to heaven? Every post-resurrection appearance and occasion where He spoke to someone found in the New Testament, be it Jesus appearing to His Apostles and followers shortly after His resurrection, to Stephen as he was being martyred by stoning, and even to His harshest enemy, Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians, reveals to us a Jesus who is not angry with sinners.

Thus, Jesus in His present session in heaven over these last two thousand years exhibits the same attitude toward sinners He has always displayed. Why did Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus love Him so? Why did Mary Magdalene love Him so? Why did the children love Him so? How did He treat His own Apostles, even after they failed Him and disappointed Him? Sometimes He was sad. On occasion, He was disappointed. He even rebuked sharply a time or two when it was needed. However, will you find anger? No. He was not angry then, and He is not angry now.

However, that is not to say He will not display anger in the future.

 

Third, CHRISTíS ATTITUDE TOWARD SINNERS AT HIS SECOND COMING

 

The Lord Jesus Christ is God. Passages too numerous to mention here today attest to His deity. One attribute of God, and therefore an attribute possessed by the Lord Jesus Christ, is long-suffering.[6] However, what is long-suffering? Long-suffering is not the characteristic of never punishing wickedness, but the characteristic of delaying punishment to provide opportunity for mercy and grace to be put on display.

For thousands of years God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ have been long-suffering, first in providing a means for sins to be atoned (which is to say covered) from Godís sight by the blood of bulls and goats. Then, from the time of our Lordís birth and continuing until this present time, our Lord Jesus Christís long-suffering had made the repentance and salvation of many sinners possible. However, there is coming a time when the Lord Jesus Christís long-suffering will end. There will come a time when His willingness to hold in abeyance His commission to judge the wicked will hold back no more. There will come a time when the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world, will exhibit another facet of His personality, that He is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

When comes the day the Lord Jesus Christ returns to this wicked and Christ-rejecting world, when the last of Godís elect has been harvested by responding to the gospel of Godís grace through faith in Jesus Christ, He will assemble His mighty host, He will mount His beautiful white horse, heaven will open, and He Who is called Faithful and True will return to this earth and will, in righteousness, judge and make war, Revelation chapter 19. What will be His attitude toward sinners when that great day arrives? We are not so much told as we are shown. I read from Revelation 19.11:

 

11     And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

12     His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

13     And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

14     And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

15     And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

16     And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

17     And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;

18     That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

19     And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.

20     And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

21     And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

 

Finally, WHY CHRISTíS ATTITUDE TOWARD SINNERS IS SO IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND

 

From the time He was born in Bethlehem until this present day, evidence is abundant that the Lord Jesus Christís attitude toward sinners, with few exceptions, is not one of anger but of compassion, looking upon sinners as sheep having no shepherd, Matthew 9.36. He was not angry at Jerusalem, but wept over the city He knew would turn against Him and call for His crucifixion, Matthew 23.37. Contrast the attitude of our Savior with what the Word of God reveals about God the Father. Psalm 7.11 reveals to us that He ďis angry with the wicked every day.Ē This, and the fact that our God is a consuming fire, Hebrews 12.29, explains why Jesus was emphatic when He told His Apostles that ďno man cometh unto the Father but by me.Ē It is only when the sinner is reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ that Godís disposition toward the sinner is so changed, so completely altered, that instead of pouring out His wrath upon the sinner He adopts the sinner as His own child. Until then, there is simply no place where any sinner can flee for salvation but Jesus Christ, the only Savior of sinful menís souls, who is not angry with sinners, but bids men to come unto Him.

Do you grasp the significance of this reality? Understand that Jesus actually saves sinners from the wrath of God. The Son of God saves repentant sinners from the wrath of God the Father. Thus, the sinner who would be saved from his sins flees from an angry God, who rightly and justly demands punishment for sins committed against Him, into the arms of a compassionate Savior, Jesus Christ, Who provides payment to God for that sinnerís sins on Calvaryís cross.

Keeping in mind that no sinner is saved unwillingly, and no sinner is saved against his volition, ask yourself what sinner would flee from the wrath of an angry God into the arms of an angry Savior? No sinner, which is why the Roman Catholic Church distorts the truth to shunt sinners to Mary.

 

Oh, my friend, you need to know almost as much about the Lord Jesus Christís personality as you know about His power in order to be saved from your sins. You see, unless you know that He is a compassionate Savior that He tenderly and lovingly extends to you the opportunity to respond to His call to be saved, it is not likely you will ever respond to Him.

There are many sinners in the world today who know Jesus is strong to save, who do not know Jesus is compassionate to save, is tender to save, is merciful to save, and is gentle to save. However, He is all of those things to save anyone who will come to Him, though He will not always be. There will come a day when everyone who will be saved is saved, when all the elect have responded to gospel preaching, and then will Jesus stand from His throne on high, signaling that He has had enough of the delays, is now fed up with the excuses, and will put up with the lost no longer. From that moment forward, Jesus will no longer be gentle to the lost, tender to the lost, compassionate to the lost, because His long-suffering will have run its course. He will be done with it, and His anger will be shown in His shocking and final judgment of those who remain undecided, and those who procrastinate, and those who refuse Him.

So, is Jesus angry with sinners? Not yet, He is not. Not yet.



[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 which draws a lost sinner to Jesus Christ for justification and regeneration, and changes the sinnerís 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] R. L. Hymers, Jr. and Christopher Cagan, Preaching To A Dying Nation, (Los Angeles, CA: Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles, 1999), pages 42-43.

[3] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 755.

[4] Stuart P. Garver, Watch Your Teaching: A Comparative Study of Roman Catholic and Protestant Teaching Since Vatican Council II, (Hackensack, NJ: Christís Mission, Inc., 1973), pages 99-100.

[5] Matthew 6.5, 16; 15.7; 16.3; 22.18; 23.13-15, 23, 25, 27, 29; 24.51; Mark 7.6; Luke 11.44; 12.56

[6] Exodus 34.6; Numbers 14.18; Psalm 86.15; Romans 2.4; 9.22; 1 Peter 3.20; 2 Peter 3.9, 15



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org