The Wrath of the Lamb (T.F. Torrance on Revelation 6)

Revelation 6:12-17

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

(The following sermon excerpt comes from T.F. Torrance, 1959. The Apocalypse Today. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, pp. 47, 49.)

[O]n the Cross God pronounced his final and irrevocable No against all that is contradictory to His holy love. Once and for all God has poured out His complete judgment upon human sin, and now He will judge the world only by the Man of Calvary. Jesus Christ died for all men; therefore all men are judged in Him. He died for all men; therefore all are apprehended by God’s love in Christ, for God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. By this Man the nations will be judged. By this Man at last the children of lightrevelation will be divided from the children of darkness, for this Man is set for the falling as well as the rising again of many. God is even now putting mankind to the test of His sacrificial love…But that love is pledged to uproot all evil, and to destroy sin, and to blot out all darkness, and time runs out. The day is already approaching when holy love must consummate its purpose, and evil shall be no more, whether men will have it so or not…

The wrath of the Lamb! Who ever heard of a lamb being angry? What a terrible thought – the gentlest of all God’s creatures angry! It is the wrath of love, the wrath of sacrificial love which, having done the utmost for us and our salvation, tells us as nothing else could the certainty with which evil awaits its doom at the hand of God. The great men of this earth, the dictators, the decorated playthings of the devil, the mighty authorities of mankind may take counsel together against the Lord and against His anointed, saying: “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh” (Ps. 2:3-4). No man survives the laughter of God, but more terrible than God’s laughter is the wrath of God’s Lamb, the consuming passion of His holy love that wills to destroy all that is unloving and untrue. That is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah that is also the Lamb of Calvary. Before His power all the arrogant evil of the world shall soon become as dust under the chariot wheels of time, and the Lord God omnipotent shall reign for ever and ever.

Thank God that when the day of His wrath comes upon us, it is the wrath of the Lamb, for even in wrath God remains love. That is the Christian’s security and his final certainty for nothing can separate him from the love of Christ.

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3 thoughts on “The Wrath of the Lamb (T.F. Torrance on Revelation 6)

  1. Rick 7 November 2016 / 03:02

    If Christ died for all and if God’s love uproots all evils, destroys all sin, and blots out all evil, do all humans share the same eternal density?. If not, what are the different destinies and what determines who gets which destiny?

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    • Jonathan Kleis 7 November 2016 / 11:18

      Hi Rick, that’s a great question! Since you’re asking about what Torrance said, I’ll let him answer your question:

      “All this is not to say that a man may not suffer damnation, for he may in spite of all reject Christ and refuse God’s grace. How that is possible, we simply cannot understand: that a sinner face to face with the infinite love of God should yet rebel against it and choose to take his own way, isolating himself from that love – that is the bottomless mystery of evil before which we can only stand aghast, the surd which we cannot rationalise, the enigma of Judas. But it happens. Just as it is by the very breath God gives us that we sin against Him, so it is by the very being that a man is given in and through Christ that he may yet turn his back upon Christ and deny Him, and so shatter himself against the love of God that will not let him go just because it does not cease to love. But this does mean that if a man irrevocably chooses the way of his sinful self-will and suffers damnation, he does not and cannot go into non-being, disappearing into annihilation, for the Incarnation and death of Christ cannot be undone. The sinner cannot undo the fact that Christ has gather him into a relation of being with Him, and has once and for all laid hold of him in His life and death and resurrection” (School of Faith, pp.cxiv-cxv.

      As you can see here, it is precisely on account of the fact that Christ died for all that hell must be eternal. For those who reject him, there can be no end to damnation since they have been forever grasped by Christ in the incarnation. Moreover, this explanation is not out of sync with classic Calvinism which also places the responsibility of human damnation precisely on the sinner’s choice to reject God. Since all are totally depraved, all would choose, apart from grace, to reject the gospel. Torrance fully agrees with this.

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