We find a similar wording here in the letter to the Thessalonians. I will read a quote here :
For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
Again some might be fearful that God is still very upset with man and will have a time that we should all look forward to when everyone will PAY. Jim where do our minds begin to settle when we are concluding this to be true?
Our minds get pushed back into the very fear Christ removed us from, which is the same reasoning, the same perceptions, the same basis of living that keeps the whole world in bondage. And part of that is always waiting for some kind of retribution, whether we feel it’s deserved or undeserved. Let me read that verse from 1 Thessalonians 1:10 again:
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which (or WHO) delivered us from the wrath to come.
…who delivered us from the wrath to come! It’s interesting to note, though, that most translations render the phrase in the present tense: who delivers us from the wrath to come. I know there are many people who like the sense of finality in the past tense delievered, as in having been done once for all, but apparently, the message the Thessalonians needed to hear was that the son of God, Jesus, would deliver them from whatever was to come. In their case, there was much concern over the coming day of the Lord, as if somehow they had missed it. Now, there are many Christians who think any mention of the day of wrath, the coming judgment, the day of the Lord, and so on, needs to be followed up with an intensive and decisive study as to exactly what it is referring to … but then, how is it that the writer of this letter seemed more interested in simply reaffirming their confidence in Christ based upon who they truly were rather than running down the path many of us take? Listen:
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5
In the midst of a letter that is so often used to scare believers regarding the coming judgment the truth that we have nothing to fear was not only mentioned, it was highlighted, emphasized. In Christ, we have already been delivered, rescued from the wrath of God, and in the face of whatever is to come our way, Christ delivers us from it in the most real way — even when it appears just the opposite.
But what about “until all is accomplished?”
For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Matthew 5:18
What about the passing of heaven and earth? How does the reality that we are surrounded by this present heaven and earth affect how we are to view the coming judgment?
There’s this aura surrounding the words of Jesus — I think it’s the color red, you know, from the ink used in some versions — and it keeps us from seeing anything beyond our modern-day superficial imaginations. I mean, I understand the perception because that’s how I used to see it. I would look for those words in red and give them a higher place … because if Jesus said them, I was supposed to recognize that these were the things he expected me to live by. Right? And by me saying this, please don’t take it as if I don’t think that Jesus’ words are important. It’s just that I slowly discovered that by accepting his statements at face value that I was overlooking a lot of his real intentions in having said them the way he did to the people he addressed at the particular time he spoke them. I’m sure that can come across to some as if I’m trying to twist his words to my beliefs, but I can assure you that if you examine not only what he said but also the affect it had upon those who heard him, it might just cause you to question the usual interpretations as well as the difficulties you’ve had with some of those statements.
Take, for example, Jesus’ statement about how the Law remains in effect as long as heaven and earth still stand. You know the last time I checked, heaven and earth don’t seem to have passed away yet … so, are we still under the Law according to Jesus? There are many who people regard Paul as the most heretical false apostle of Jesus to have ever lived for having taught that because we are under God’s grace, we are no longer under the Law. You see, we keep insisting that the world would have to end in order for everything to be fulfilled in Christ, especially in view of his words about the passing away of heaven and earth. However, this is only a conundrum — that is, a puzzle needing to be solved — according the those who belong to the world that is passing away. Consider how Paul referred to this very same truth:
Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. Romans 7:1-4
You see, while the husband’s death would free his wife from the law that bound them, she would also be free from it if she were to die. According to the fleshly mind, that’s not a real option. And I suspect that there are a lot of religious people who are ticked off because God said he was going to deliver us from this present evil world. However, having died to the Law through the body of Christ, we’re not bound to the fleshly mind, are we? According to the same reality, Jesus did not have to mean that all could not be fulfilled as long as heaven and earth remained standing because all is fulfilled in the new creation. We were removed from the realm, the domain, the bondage of heaven and earth by having died with Christ and raised to new life in him. For us who are in Christ, heaven and earth has already passed away. We belong to God, to the kingdom of his son … and that’s why according to all appearances that we are considered aliens and strangers in this world.
In 2 Thessalonians Paul is again speaking to believers when he says:
“This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed– for our testimony to you was believed.”
Jim with such a large portion of scripture dedicated to a coming wrath of God , how much do you think those in the believing church today are being tempted to shift their attention on anger and wrath and away from Christ and Him crucified? How does this take away the picture of Gods love?
Now, I’m not going to tell you that for the Thessalonians or the believers in Jerusalem there wasn’t something dreadful coming their way when Paul wrote his letters, but for most of us today, we have such little comprehension of what they were going through at that time … nor what came upon many of them. Believers in Christ were being rounded up and tortured because they didn’t give into the pressure of the world around them. In A.D. 70, a Roman army totally destroyed Jerusalem, and if the account of the historian Josephus is to be believed, something very strange happened that might easily fit the descriptions of the coming wrath against the enemies of God … for those who stood against Jesus, Peter, and the rest — and I’m specifically talking about the religious leadership — many of them lived to see the total annihilation of their corrupt system.
However, for those who were in Christ … they had nothing to fear because even if the body was destroyed, the new creation they had been made could not be touched by the things that can kill. And it is to those in Christ that the message of no longer needing to be afraid of the coming wrath actually meant something. Today, many Christians seem to use these Scriptural references in order to support their own prejudices and hatred rather than finding comfort in the reality that God would somehow make everything right, that God was actually working everything together for our good.
How many of us are STILL hoping God will take vengeance against our enemies? I mean He did say “Vengeance is mine I will repay”. Also : ” God is the Avenger in all of this”. Now I know this idea was popular back in Davids day but, what are doing with this type of understanding now that the new has come? Didn’t Christ say LOVE your enemies and pray for those who persecute you? He might had well said “love your enemies now because God doesn’t and it will be the only merciful thing you can do before He blows them to smitherines someday!” lol
We can so easily be pulled away from simplicity in Christ from a host of considerations like what you’ve stated. But, once again, if we were to trace Paul’s statements to their conclusions, we couldn’t help but notice that they simply don’t end up in the same quagmire of confusion that most Christians get stuck in. While Paul admonished the believers to love their enemies, we can get so stuck in what we think Paul said that we’re too busy judging our enemies that his conclusions sound absurd. I mean, we’ve got our standards and morals to consider! And then we justify loving our brother by the same logic.
Here’s the real question: Could the judgment seat and the cross really be connected? The judgment seat and the cross are like flip-sides of the same coin. It’s not like there’s some Roman-looking judgment seat waiting for us where God will figure out what He’s going to do with us. It was done in Christ on the cross. Everything revolves around the finished work of Christ. The only difference in the future — from our perspective — is the matter of appearance. We will then be seen exactly as He has already made us in Christ. What we see will eventually match exactly what we are. It doesn’t match now, but that doesn’t change who and what we are now … but it sure doesn’t look like it or feel like it.
Both Paul and John made reference to things as they WILL be seen for the purpose of making it clear the reality of what is true about us even though we can’t see it. The “judgment seat” was alluded to in the two Corinthian letters because those believers had gotten so caught up in making judgments based on the senses of the fleshly mind. His use of the judgment seat was to make the point that you see so well in David’s desire to be judged by God rather than man. And as you said, the judgment has already been made so that we can stand CONFIDENT before Him … and not in INSECURITY as in standing before man’s judgment. The Corinthians were also forced to consider that some of their other teachers may have been misleading them. It would become more obvious to them each time they listened to the fleshly wisdom and human motivations being dished out by those impostors.
Yep, there were impostors among them purposely trying to mislead. If you read all the way through 2 Corinthians Paul says these “ministers of righteousness” were nothing less than Satan’s ministers, aka, ministers of sin. Yikes! Huh? That’s why Paul sounded harsh in some of the things he was saying.