Summary: This sermon was inspired by Jonathan Edward’s In the Hands of the Angry God; it gives an urgent warning to the lost to run into the arms of God’s grace through Jesus Christ.


“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?’” Matthew 3:7.

John reveals here two very important and clear truths in his rhetorical question to the Pharisees and Sadducees who wondered about his baptisms. And those same truths can be applied to unsaved men today. 1) There is a coming wrath and 2) unsaved men should flee from it.

Who are you? I don’t want to know your name, your title at work, your educational background, nor your accomplishments in the world. I don‘t want to know that you are the father of three children, nor if you have a wife or not. I don’t want to know your favorite food or favorite color. This question is a very difficult one for the natural man to answer when stripped of all his worldly (natural) identifications. The answer to the question, “Who are you?” is ultimately internal and spiritual in nature and, though he is a spiritual being, the natural man has no understanding of his spiritual nature. He has no point of reference, he doesn’t know who he really is because he doesn’t know or accept who his Creator is. Yet he longs and struggles constantly to define himself in the world, often with external attributes and pursuits that only appeal to his natural and worldly tendencies.

Hundreds of colleges around the world offer courses that attempt to answer the mystery of who man is while volumes of books have been written chasing after this same pursuit. Philosophers, educators, and scientists have looked under every stone of explanation and opinion while being certain to avoid looking to the Rock of Ages for the answer. Man has the mental capacity to split the atom, develop superconductors, send men into outer space, and to construct devices that can destroy the earth a hundred times over, but the quest to know himself remains a mystery by the unsaved man. The educated may flock to Sigmund Freud for an answer. The simple may careen to psychics, shrinks, spiritists, and soothsayers, but those who are wise, humbly go directly to the source of man, the Creator of man, the Word of God. Philosophies, false doctrines, trendy opinions, ideologies come and go like people, but the Word of God stands forever.

Many unsaved men define themselves around the false promise that success and happiness can be attained by working hard to buy the right kind of house, drive the right kind of car, or to retire comfortably in some tropical vacation spot. This thinking is directed towards the external and temporary nature of man while the internal man is neglected and masked by the preoccupation with the external. This promise is one of the devil’s greatest and most successful lies because a great many people are deceived by it as they work out the meaning of their lives. These labor and toil all their lives to find out this harsh truth too late. Many people climb the ladder of success and worldly happiness only to find that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

So, who are you? Stripped of your titles, down to your very essence, do you know who you are? If you don’t, God does. The Word of God describes who man is with unfailing clarity. The Bible does not stutter, flinch, blush, or tip-toe around its description of man. If you are out of Christ, you are the branches and chaff that will be burned (Matthew 3), you are a sinner (Romans 5:8), you are a slave to sin (Romans 6:6), you are presently perishing (I Corinthians 1:18), you are an aging bundle of dust, you are hollow, empty, spiritually dead, a living corpse acting on mere instincts and experience, you are hopeless and dismally lost. You are the object of God’s fierce wrath. You are in constant anguish and fear of death (Psalms 116:3); only those who are prepared to die are really prepared to live. The Bible proclaims loudly that the unsaved man is in serious trouble! He has been sentenced to eternal agony, misery, and pain. He is declared wicked before the relentless wrath of a holy and perfect God who cannot tolerate even the smallest sin. The unsaved man is hostile to God (Romans 8:7), he is obstinate toward God, he is rebellious toward God. By nature he hates God. A terrible conflict exists between him and God. God’s fury kindles at the very sight of him. Nothing he does is good in God’s sight, he is a despicable creature, not even his righteous acts can abate God’s fury against him one measure. The unsaved man is an enemy of God, he is a child of the devil (John 8:44). He is destined for hell. Yes, hell. The place seldom mentioned in today’s compromising churches, but mentioned often by Jesus Christ. So, who are you?

Friend, hell is the place of eternal punishment. The Bible has a great deal to say about hell, even more than it has to say about heaven. It is the place where the eternal dues of the unsaved will be paid to the holy God with which we have to do. It is a place of wailing, the blackest darkness, and gnashing of teeth. It is a place that anxiously awaits those who will be consumed by it (Isaiah 14:9), but since hell is never satisfied it’s consumption of unsaved men does not satisfy any need it has one bit. It is just forever voracious forever needing and craving more. It boggles the mind to think that the man who goes to hell is even insignificant to satisfying the smallest measure of the hunger of death and hell (Proverbs 27:20). The more men that go to hell, the more hell wants, never being satisfied. We see a picture of Hades in Luke 16. Hades is the temporary holding place for those who have died in their sins. We find out that the senses remain intact and operable in Hades, and the memory is most acute. The memory of the man in hell will incessantly mock and chasten him. He will remember every invitation made to him to come to Christ, he will remember every preacher that urged him to come to Christ, he will remember every Gospel tract, every television show, and every audio that pleaded for him to come to Christ. He will remember thinking he could escape the wrath of God. He will remember thinking the wrath of God was slack, that it was a joke, that it was merely an invention of certain men concocted to put fear into other men. Furthermore, his torment in hell will be intensified knowing that he could have, but never did address the issue of his soul and his eternal destiny.

The unsaved man will feel every degree of torment, agony and pain that is prepared for the devil and his angels. The punishment in hell will be at such a high degree as to appropriately torment the devil who is more powerful than man and is the father of all sin. How will the unsaved man be able to endure the punishment prepared for the devil and his angels? Man was never meant to suffer such unfathomable torment alongside the devil, but man will because he chooses to follow the devil rather than God. In Luke 16, the rich man in Hades begged for just one drop of water from the tip of Lazarus’ finger to soothe his burning tongue. Now when you get to the point where you cry out for one drop of water on your tongue to offer a mere second of relief on a pea size section of your tongue, you are in an unbelievably dreadful state. Go to your bathroom and turn on the water faucet. While the water is running think of all those who are now at this very moment suffering in Hades. Oh, what they would do to have only a drop of that water to provide only a second of relief on just a small portion of their tongue! What they would now do for just a second of the comfort you now experience on this volition side of death. Friend, they are now experiencing the pains of unquenchable fire from flames that emit no light (Jude 13). In addition, each occupant of hell has his own personal worm that eternally plagues him (Mark 9:48). The smoke of his torment will ascend forever and ever (Revelation 14:11).

Lets further relate the severity of hell to something we have experienced. Think of a sauna. When I go into a sauna there always comes a point at which I must immediately get out of it. Well, imagine yourself at the level of discomfort when you must immediately get out of it, but when you try to get out the door is locked, never to be opened again. Now, lets bring the analogy closer to the reality of hell. Imagine flames about you that are unquenchable and relentlessly hot. Now couple this with the worm, the darkness, the loneliness, the horror, the feelings of abandonment, the memories of refusing the key offered you before entering the sauna, the smoke of your torment rising up forever, and never having the relief of annihalation or obliteration. The only relief you may get is on resurrection day when you will be raised, judged to be condemned, and then thrown by the heavenly angels into the eternal lake of fire. Now this more closely resembles hell, but even this word picture doubtless depicts hell in a more tolerable light than it actually is.

Friend, hell is so bad that Jesus said it would be better to cut off an extremity filled with sin than to have your whole body thrown into it (Matthew 5:29, 30). Hell is so bad that the demons prefer any alternative form of punishment to it (Luke 8:31). It will be dreadful to experience God’s wrath for even one second, but this punishment is eternal. Hell is eternal. In hell there are no goals, plots, climaxes, resolutions that now characterize our earthly life now. We are creatures of expectation. We are always tending toward some climax, some goal. In hell existence is a constant drone of incessant pain, torment and anguish forever and ever. With the possible exception of Judgment Day, there will be nothing to ever expect, nothing to ever look forward to, but more torment forever and ever.

Forever is a difficult concept for us to grasp since we are finite and time-oriented creatures. If you emptied the Pacific Ocean, the largest body of water in the world, and piled it full of sand as high as Mt. Everest, the highest mountain in the world, you would have a pretty big sand pile. Now suppose you trained a bird to pick up one grain of sand every one million years. How long would it take that bird to empty that sand pile? A long time. But guess what? When the bird has picked up the very last grain of sand, you would not even have spent your first second in hell. God has created us in the midst of eternity, given us a definite beginning point and end point. This is how we identify time, but God is in eternity (or rather eternity is in God). Meditate on this a bit, but don’t let it drive you mad: God is in all time at one time. He is the Creator of time. There will be no end to this torment for those who do not fear the Lord (Proverbs 1:25-33). What an awfully severe, but true reality this is! Millions of people now living are dreadfully and tenuously in danger each day, each hour, each second of this foreboding reality.

Today, millions of unsaved people are constantly dangling over the voracious pit of hell readied to be cut off at any passing moment. The lake of burning brimstone is now expanding fast and wide beneath them. There is nothing between them and hell but the patient hand of God and a heavy gravity. It is now only for the patient hand of God that they do not fall this very instant. Hell is hungrily waiting to devour them at the very moment that God should remove His hand of patience and longsuffering from them. Yes, the unsaved man is dangling tenuously from a weak thread over hell; being just one heartbeat, one breath, one stroke, one act of violence, or one car accident away from the eternal wrath of our holy God. However, they don’t know their dangerous disposition because if they did know it they would no longer brazenly test the longsuffering and patience of God. Sadly, God’s patience will soon come to an end and the weak thread will be singed with the fire of His intolerance. They can’t see the danger ahead of them because it is invisible. It is spiritual just like the soul that will be tormented is invisible. To see the danger requires one to believe God’s word and His warning. God is under no obligation to preserve any man from eternal punishment in hell apart from the covenant of grace, which is expressed through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ.

Friend, if you do not know Jesus Christ you are in extreme danger. Again, I ask “Who are you?” If this truth frightens you, good, that means you are developing a healthy respect for the truth. The fear you are experiencing is the Spirit of God is pleading with you and warning you to FLEE TO CHRIST! If your soul is writhing at the awful preview of its destination FLEE TO CHRIST to be rescued from such an unimaginable fate! Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” This fear is a salubrious and wise fear because it is directed toward the consequence of your rebellion against our holy God. God created us with the emotion of fear so that it could be evoked when thoughts of sin and rebellion arise in our minds.

Right now, those in Hades are hopelessly crying out, “Why didn’t someone warn us of this eternal torment?!” Well, Scripture loudly warns those of us still living, if only people would believe the warnings! There are no atheists or agnostics in hell. Everyone in hell now believes and cries out and proclaims throughout all eternity that Jesus is Lord! Proclaim that truth now or later, but every soul will proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ for all eternity. Everyone who dies in his sins will eternally reside in hell, no ifs, ands, or buts. God is clear, He’s direct, He’s unambiguous, and He cannot lie. Repent and believe!

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The good news is that God wants ALL men to come to repentance and be saved, the bad news is that only a FEW will come to repentance and be saved (Matthew 7:14). This is why God in His un-covenanted (God is under no obligation to keep the unsaved alive) patience and grace allows the unsaved man to continue on living and breathing even though he continues to commit all manner of sins. He allowed the disobedient children of Israel to dwell forty years in the desert before exacting punishment on them; they did not repent. The unsaved should have no assurance nor security for one second of his life, yet he flatters and deludes himself into thinking there is no real and visible danger. He is constantly balancing on a tightrope over eternity at each moment awaiting a swift wind which will cause his foot to slip. It takes no measure of effort for God to cast unsaved men into hell just as it takes hardly no effort for us to step on a colony of ants.

Friend, if you do not know Christ, just consider how blessed you are to still be living! To still be breathing! For your blood to still be pumping! Christ is calling out to men now, but men respond with, “No, not now, later, after I’m married, when I’m older, after I have my fun, before I die I’ll come.” These responses come from a love for sin more than a love for God. Did you know that age is relative when it comes to eternity and facing God’s wrath? You can only measure how young you are against your death date, not your birth date. A person appointed to die at the age of 25 is old at the age of 15, and a person scheduled to die at the age of 99 is still young at the age of 50. The great fallacy with the above responses people give when confronted in the valley of decision with the reality of Christ is that no one but God knows their death date. That’s why 2 Corinthians 6:2 says that today is the day of salvation. If you are alive to read that verse, today is your day- not tomorrow, but today! You may be looking at your life and you see that you are not now in hell and you don’t see the hand of God sustaining you each passing moment, but do not be deceived- the pit is ready, the fire is now hot, the flames are now licking about those that are unsaved, and the devil is actively lobbying and striving for your immediate death. Nothing in all the universe can withstand God’s indignation. The mountains quake before him, the hills melt away, and the earth trembles at his presence (Nahum 1:5,6).

The unsaved man may look at his job, his possessions, his family, his health, and think well of himself, but what of all these if God should end his life now and he plunges down into hell now? What if He requires your life today? Will you go to work tomorrow, land the big bonus and still think well of yourself? No. Even the earth would not serve the unsaved man for one moment if not for the benevolence of God (Romans 8:22). The unsaved man is a burden to nature and it groans because it is subjected to his corruption. The sun and the moon must shine upon the wicked to give him light in which to carry out his sin, though it does so unwillingly. All of creation was made for man to serve God with, but it groans because sinful man forces it to serve contrary to its nature. Oh man, consider the danger you are in if you do not have Christ.

Who are you? Unfortunately, the reality is that you may be among those reading this who will be subjected to the misery, agony, and torment of God’s wrath for all eternity because you think somehow you will escape. You may think you are different from all those now being tormented, that you are in some way stronger than those who went down to hell. You may think you are slicker, slyer, wiser, smarter, more intelligent and crafty than those who went down into hell. Perhaps there are those of you whose hearts are so hard with pride and whose eyes are so dull of seeing that you cannot be moved for Christ. Perhaps you think God will bend His holy and perfect standard on Judgment Day and pardon you for your rebellion in the flesh. Do not be deceived! God is not mocked! God never deviates from His word, he never changes, He’s ever consistent, and His wrath will swiftly fall on those who are without Christ with so much force and fury that they will beg to be annihilated just to see relief from it. Their souls will shriek at the greatness and awfulness of His might.

There are those who have died only to find themselves immediately awakened into the terrible torments of Hades. They were people just like you and I. They lived on the same earth that we now live on, they breathed the same air we now breath. They had doubts, struggles, and thoughts like we now have. They may have put off embracing Jesus Christ, as many of us do. They are now in torment and many will join them if they do, or rather don’t do what they didn’t do; FLEE TO CHRIST and be rescued! Those that have died are now without any hope, but here you are on the volition side of death with the glorious opportunity to receive so great a salvation. What would these hopeless souls in Hades now give for one day’s opportunity such as you now enjoy! If the condemned in Hades could be given one more minute in this life I’m certain they would spend the entire 60 seconds on their faces pleading with God to forgive their sins through Jesus Christ.

Friend, if you have not come to Jesus Christ yet, the ground should immediately open beneath you and swallow you up. You should be immediately tossed into your assigned place in hell, never again to be in the thoughts of any person, never remembered by anyone, forgotten by God to be left all alone to yourself, your memory, and your torment. Now is the time to come to Jesus Christ and receive God’s free gift of salvation and allow Him to reign as the Lord and Savior of your life. Tomorrow may be too late. Once your life is over, and that could be within the next few minutes if God should choose to remove His hand from you, there is no more compassion, no more hope, no more pity, no more mercy, no more grace, only infinite gloom and doom. Jesus says, “I will tread them in mine anger and will trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my garments.” All of the heavenly hosts will witness this awful spectacle during which they will fall down and worship God being in total awe of His terrible wrath. He will be glorified in both His wrath and His mercy.

The brief and awful communication that will pass from Jesus Christ to the unsaved man is foretold in Matthew 25:41. These words are the most soul wrenching and fearful words in the entire Bible. “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” many will be shocked when these severe words are directed at them. Many of which will die knowing of Christ, but never knowing Christ (Matthew 7:21-23).

The picture Jesus paints of hell is most awful and frightening, but thanks be to God, there is GOOD NEWS! There is HOPE! There is the GOSPEL- the power of God to save! Thank God for His covenanted grace, for without it all of humanity would be cut off from Him to suffer eternally in hell alongside the devil and his angels. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” It is upon this verse that all of humanity should greatly rejoice. It is upon this act of God that all of human history pivots in a new direction and all of the heavenly hosts rejoice. 1 John 1:7 says, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” What a sweet truth that is! God proved His great love for us by sending His only begotten Son to die in our place. God gave His best to us, Himself. Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and now the dispensation of God’s salvation is great and available to every man and woman! Christ is calling out to sinners in a loud voice, “Flee from the wrath which is to come!” It is dreadful and foolish to reject so great and costly a salvation provided freely to us by God. It will be awful to see some rejoicing and singing at Christ’s glorious return to earth, while others will be mourning and wailing and gnashing their teeth for vexation of spirit.

Whether you are young, middle-aged, or old, hearken to these words. Know that if you are not born again you are going to hell to experience the wrath of God forever. The words of this tract will bring glorious salvation to some, but will doubtless bring the remarkable vengeance of God more heavily upon others since they have no excuse for rejecting Christ. Unfortunately, men’s hearts harden and their eyes dim at the point of making a decision for Christ because it is at this point that the devil works frantically to deceive their minds with doubts and lies. So, if you can run to God now, with all your strength run now! If you reject so great a salvation you will forever curse the day you were born and you will forever regret you didn’t FLEE TO CHRIST after reading this tract.

God’s attention is concentrated heavily on you during every second of your life. He misses nothing. You are the crown of His creation. He deeply wants the relationship between you and Him to be restored through His Son. He is so concerned that He made the first move and gave you His most precious gift, His only begotten Son. God stands ready to pity you, ready to forgive your sins, ready to replace your wicked heart, ready to make you pure, ready to reconcile you to Himself, ready to pour out His mercy on you, ready to give you life eternal, and ready to adopt you as a son and co-heir with Christ! Wow!

Do not reject God’s free gift of eternal life. FLEE TO CHRIST! Repent of your sins. Live the rest of your life as a worthy sacrifice to Him. Run for your life into the warm embrace of Jesus Christ. Die to the law of sin and death and be born again through faith into the wonderful grace of God.

So, who are you in God’s eyes? You are either the object of His wrath set for destruction or the object of His mercy set for heaven and eternal life. Choose today to follow Christ. Flee with haste to Jesus Christ from the wrath which is to come!