Series: The Radical Call of Jesus
Message: Radical Implications
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Daily Walk: Japhet De Oliveira
Refresh: Open with prayer. Read or listen to Psalm 105:23–25.
Read: Revelation 15:5–18:24 (ESV). Re-read in the English Standard Version for new insights or questions.
Reflect: I return to again to N. T. Wright’s practical illustration to explaining wrath, outlined in Revelation for Everyone. It will likely take today and tomorrow to process this—so be patient.
I was cycling down the road one day when I came up beside my former tutor. I had studied the New Testament with him some years before, and was now engaged on some early work towards my doctorate.
“How are you getting on?” he asked. “How’s it going?”
At that stage I was up to my neck in Romans 1.18— 3.20. Readers of Paul will know that this passage is mostly about God’s wrath against all human wickedness—in other words, against all of us. ‘
“Actually,” I confessed, “I’m having a hard time with wrath.”
“Aren’t we all!” he replied cheerfully, and cycled off.
I think I know what he meant. We would all much rather live in a world without wrath. We would all much rather imagine a God without wrath. In fact, a substantial part of mainstream Western Christianity has imagined just that—and has followed through on the consequences. H. Richard Niebuhr, one of America’s most famous twentieth-century theologians (and brother of the even more famous Reinhold Niebuhr), once memorably described the message of much ultra-liberal Christianity: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” Pretty damning, that. We might have preferred a “gospel” like that, but it certainly isn’t the one we’ve got.
And it certainly doesn’t match the world we’ve got. That’s the problem. In any family, school, business, country—in any organization or system of whatever sort—there will be deep problems. Things will go wrong. Human pride, greed, fear or suspicion will take over. Unless it is spotted, named and dealt with, it will only get worse. If it is allowed to flourish unchecked, it can even be hailed as a new way of living (pp. 141-142).
Recalibrate: If you had designed the plan of salvation, what would it have been?
Respond: Pray for wisdom.
Research: Read N. T. Wright’s commentary on chapters 15 and 16.