The Wrath to Come
So John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
[Luke 3:7 NET]
There are a good many people who want to flee from wrath, but are not willing to give up that which draws down the wrath upon them. When a godless man becomes sick, and it seems as though he may die, straightway he begins to look about for some way of flight from the wrath that he feels hangs over him. He sends for a minister or for some good man. He has his long neglected Bible brought from his parlour ,table and laid beside his bed. He will find refuge from his peril, if he can. He wants to have the Bible read to him: perhaps there is some virtue in that which will shield hint. He wants the minister to pray for him: he has heard that a good man’s prayers will save a soul. He wants to be baptized and to receive the Lord’s Supper: he hopes that these holy ordinances may somehow shelter him from the wrath. All the while he has not really thought of trying to unload the burden which is crushing him. He is carrying his sins unconfessed and unforgiven. He has no true sense of sinfulness, no realization of God’s holiness or of his own debt to him; he is simply terrified, and is trying to flee from the impending wrath. If he gets well again, he will very likely return to his old life and live on in sin as before, proving the insincerity and worthlessness of his repentance. If he were asked, “Who warned you to flee?” his answer could not be “Love for Christ,” or “A sense of my guilt,” but “Fear, the terrors of death and eternity.”
It was a very proper question, therefore, which John asked the multitudes who came to him desiring to be baptized. The only flight that saves is away from sin, to Christ. No man is saved who carries his sins with him in his flight. The door of the refuge is wide enough to admit the worst penitent sinner, but not wide enough to admit any cherished sin.