1 Thessalonians 1:7-10
So that you were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.…
The most delightful and encouraging subject on which a sinner can fix his thoughts is the overflowing mercy of an offended God; but he will also often be thinking of the awful justice of the Being from whom he has received it, and the fearfulness of that wrath from which it has rescued him. Thus a longing after the coming of the Saviour, and an expectation of heaven, will ever be connected with the recollection of danger escaped and wrath incurred.
I. THE WRATH OF WHICH THE APOSTLE SPEAKS.
1. It is Divine wrath. Not the anger of a creature whose power is limited and whose duration is finite, but the displeasure of One who fills heaven and earth with His power, and eternity with His existence.
2. It is unmingled wrath; that is — judgment without mercy, justice without the least mixture of goodness. "They shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation."
3. It is provoked wrath. It was not the original inheritance of man. He who made us, loves us; He visits us every hour with goodness, and sends us in His Gospel the freest and most gracious offers of reconciliation. But if we reject a salvation which cost Him the blood of His Son, we provoke Him to anger, and stir up His wrath.
4. It is accumulated wrath. Every repeated act of sin increases it, and will aggravate our misery in eternity. "After thy hardness and impenitent heart," says St. Paul, "thou treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."
5. It is future wrath. "Wrath to come," and when we have borne it millions of ages, it will still be "wrath to come," no nearer an end than it was at first, nor easier to be endured. It is eternal wrath, lasting as the holiness of Him who inflicts it, and the guilt of the sinner who bears it.
II. THE WAY OF ESCAPE FROM THIS WRATH. The Apostle speaks of some who have actually escaped from it.
1. The deliverance from it is undeserved. It is true that they who have received it are a people who "have turned from idols to serve the living and true God;" but what led them to choose His service? No natural love. It was the power of the Word, accompanied by the Holy Ghost, which turned them. The deliverance, therefore, was not deserved by them, but was owing to the free and distinguishing grace of the very God whom they had long braved and hated.
2. Though undeserved, it is complete deliverance. "The wrath to come" can never touch those "whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered." They are as perfectly delivered from wrath as though it had ceased to burn, or they had ceased to deserve it.
3. Hence the deliverance is an eternal deliverance. The salvation of all believers in Jesus is an eternal salvation, making a final separation between them and all possibility of condemnation.
4. The author of this deliverance. "Even Jesus." It is certain that man cannot be his own deliverer. "No man can redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him." Neither can the angels, though they" excel in strength," help him. The eternal Son, the sharer of the Father's own omnipotence, proposed Himself as the Mediator between heaven and earth, and arrested the sword of justice. "He bare our sins in His own body on the tree." And now, in consequence of His obedience unto death, "all that believe in Him are justified from all things;" their liability to punishment is done away, and done away forever; they have "passed from death unto life." So that when "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven," they will lift up their heads with joy, and shout — "Lo! this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation!"
(C. Bradley, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.