Church bulletins are great. They contain information the congregant will need during the week, such as which deacons are ‘on call’, who is going to staff the nursery next week, and what time the church supper starts on Wednesday. Some pastors include sermon notes, or a devotional.
The cover always contains a pretty picture and a lovely verse. The picture is always eye catching. One might see a meadow-covered mountain top or a close-up of a pretty flower. The verse is always likewise. Always. It’s encouraging, or it speaks of God’s love or a promise of God.
I’m irked by this.
Leave it to me to be irked by something pleasant, right? But just once I’d like to see a different kind of verse on the front of a bulletin, a verse that speaks of God’s wrath, or His justice, or something unpleasant. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” says 2 Timothy 3:16, so let’s not always focus on the verses that please us or encourage us. What about the verses that challenge us, or convict us, or make us think, or speak of an aspect of God that’s increasingly denied these days, such as His wrath?
Here is today’s entry:
Have you heard this statement lately? God is a gentleman, He would never…” and fill in the blank with whatever you think God is too gentlemanly to do, usually like overcome your resistance to the Holy Spirit and regenerate you anyway. However from this verse we see that our God is a God of wrath. His wrath is not only stored up for the Day of Judgment, or has exhausted itself on Jesus while suffering on the cross, or is solely a historical thing such as on the Israelites when they were carried off in war and captivity to Babylon. No. God is angry every day with sinners, He displays His wrath every day says Psalm 7:11.
In this Romans verse, Gill’s Commentary explains what Paul is saying
By “the wrath of God” is meant the displicency [aversion] and indignation of God at sin and sinners; his punitive justice, and awful vengeance; the judgments which he executes in this world; and that everlasting displeasure of his, and wrath to come in another world, which all through sin are deserving of, some are appointed to, God’s elect are delivered from…
Though the covers of church bulletins are always lovely and nice to look at, and the accompanying verse is always encouraging and sweet, the importance of balance can’t be overstates. Through this verse we are reminded of an aspect of God’s holy character, His hatred of sin. What better place to be reminded that God hates sin and is angry with sinners than at church, where one comes to repent, to hear the word, be strengthened in the Spirit to go out and be renewed in our Christ-like character? What better place to be reminded that those who aren’t saved yet dwell under a mighty sword of anger, and we should be merciful to them and share Jesus with them?
Gill asks and answers the question as to where this wrath is seen?
This is said to be “revealed”, where? not in the Gospel, in which the righteousness of God is revealed; unless the Gospel be taken for the books of the four Evangelists, or for the Gospel dispensation, or for that part of the ministry of a Gospel preacher, which represents the wrath of God as the desert of sin, the dreadfulness of it, and the way to escape it;
but this wrath of God is revealed in the law, it is known by the light of nature, and to be perceived in the law of Moses, and may be observed in the Scriptures, where are many instances and examples of divine wrath and displeasure; as in the total destruction of the old world by a world wide flood, the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt, the plagues of Egypt, and the several instances mentioned in this chapter.
I’m not thrilled with sin or wrath, of course, but I love my God and I love all His attributes. Even His holy justice will be something to behold, in solemnity (Revelation 8:1) and in awe (Habakkuk 3:2). We should not hide it or omit it from Christian and Gentile public consumption.