One of my favorite Christian songs is by Keith and Kristyn Getty, called “In Christ Alone”. It’s a beautiful hymn that has the gospel message, and exalts our Lord Jesus. There’s one particular stanza in the song that really catches my attention:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.
We often forget about the wrath of God. While God has many attributes about which He tells us in Scripture, the church today tends to focus primarily on God’s love. I find that most Christians don’t like to talk about God’s wrath. Of course, wrath is a logical result of God’s attribute of justice. Again, this is an aspect about the gospel that many Christians are either ignorant or don’t want to discuss.
But the fact that God is just is why the gospel means “good news”. Because God is just, He must punish sin. God is not some cosmic grandpa who simply overlooks sin because He’s a “nice guy”. While it’s true that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), He nonetheless must punish sin because that is the definition of justice. Scripture makes it clear that He will punish everyone’s sin.
How does He punish a Christian’s sin, you might ask? We often hear that God will forgive our sin if we have personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Yet, as someone has rightly said, everyone has a personal relationship with God. Some will be forgiven for their sins (Christians), while everyone else will experience God’s wrath as punishment for their sin.
However, even Christians’ sins are punished. The good news is that Jesus willingly took this punishment on Himself, and gave us His righteousness. Romans 5 puts describes this clearly:
“6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
We were saved from God’s wrath, His just wrath that we deserved, because of the blood of Christ. God’s wrath was poured out on Christ on the cross. Moreover, He did this for us while we were His enemies! Now that is good news!
As the Getty’s point out in their hymn, we live because of the death of Christ, a death that came because of God’s wrath. Again, this is the good new of the gospel. As the Getty’s go on to point out, sin’s curse has no grip on us, for we have been bought with the precious blood of Christ:
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
Given this good news, may we do as Hebrews 12 commands:
“1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”