Sins Taken Away
Behold Jesus, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! (John 1:29)
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says, "God gave us the good work of reconciliation. This work is to tell people that 'God was in Christ on the cross reconciling the world to Himself and He is not charging anyone with sin because of it.' He has given us this message of reconciliation. We beg you on behalf of Christ, 'Be reconciled to God.'" The message of reconciliation is for everyone. God has reconciled all people to Himself, however this scripture makes it clear that people must be reconciled to God. Mutual reconciliation is required for salvation.
This begs the question, "Why do people need to be reconciled to God if their sins are taken away and God is not charging (imputing) them with sin?" Sin is not the primary issue of salvation, relationship is. Jesus said "eternal life is knowing the Father and the Son whom He sent" (John 17:3). Before the cross sin was a barrier to knowing God and entering into a relationship with Him. Reconciled means God repaired His relationship with mankind & that He is making relationship with Himself fully available to all. God did everything He could to make mutual reconciliation possible. Our only part is to be reconciled to Him, which is to simply trust Jesus. People do not need to "turn from sin," as is falsely taught, to be saved. Sin is taken away. There is nothing to turn from. How can God require you to turn from something that is not there?
Jesus "took away the sins of THE WORLD" (John 1:29). "Jesus came to earth to take away sins" (1 John 3:5). "Jesus came in the flesh to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26). Notice that the last two talk about how Jesus came in the flesh, past tense, to take away sins and that sin was "put away" by "the sacrifice of Himself." It is obvious by those scriptures when He took away sin. He took away sin at the cross where He sacrificed Himself. Jesus taking away sin is not a future event but a past event. Any other explanation means Jesus did not "take away the sins of THE WORLD" because they still have sin now and they will have it later when they are judged. Thus sin was never at any point taken away for the world.
The world is the world. "God so loved the world" does not mean "God only loved those who would receive His love." No, He loves us all. Likewise He took away the sins of the world all at once on the cross when "God was in Christ" and Jesus "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." I'm not saying people have salvation if they don't receive it. I am saying that God does not impute sin to anyone in this life. He reconciled the world to Himself, meaning He did everything He could do on His part. That was His loving & wise choice so people can have no spiritual barrier in receiving what He offers.
Storing Up Wrath
Romans 2:4 says, "the kindness of God leads you to changing your mind (repentance)." God isn't pouring out His wrath on the lost but instead He is pouring out His kindness so that they might change their minds about Him and trust Him. It is those with hard hearts who refuse to change their minds to trust Christ who store up future wrath for themselves (Romans 2:5). People store up wrath for the day of judgement. It does not say God is bringing wrath to them currently. He wants all to come to trust Jesus and He draws them with His grace which is His loving-kindness.
1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 speaks of the Jews who "killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets," who "are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men," who "drove Paul and His co-workers out, preventing them from speaking the gospel to Gentiles." Because of these people's perpetual rejection of Jesus and their opposition to others hearing of the good news about Him the scripture says, "The wrath did come upon them for the end." The wrath is "the wrath to come" earlier spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 1:10. In other words "they stored up wrath for themselves for the day of judgment (the end)." Referring to this approaching future day of wrath Revelation 11:18 says, "The Lord's wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged."
"He who trusts in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not trust the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36). John said this before the cross when mankind was still under the law. God charged people with sin and poured out wrath while the law was in effect. On the cross God abolished the law and reconciled the world to Himself. Alternately the word "abides" is sometimes translated as "waits." Considering that most of the references of God's wrath in the New Testament speaks of "the wrath to come," it can be fair to translate this as "the wrath of God waits on him." Coupling this with what Romans 2 says we can potentially take this to mean that the wrath of God waits, is stored up, for those who reject Jesus.
God's wrath regarding mankind is past tense & future tense. He expressed wrath before the cross, He expressed wrath on the cross, and He will express wrath at the judgment. He stores up wrath for those who have yet to trust Him. In His kindness He attempts to draw people to Himself so they will be spared from the wrath to come. "The Lord is patient, not wishing for anyone to perish but for all to change their minds to trusting Him" (2 Peter 3:9).
Children of Wrath?
The term "children of wrath" in Ephesians 2:3 doesn't mean children of God's wrath. The scripture was talking about how they "indulged in the desires of the flesh and of the mind." In doing those things they produced wrath (anger, destructive & harmful behavior). Ephesians 5:6 & Colossians 3:6 say "the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience." Jesus spoke similarly in John 8:44, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father." Likewise children of wrath/sons of disobedience do the desires of their "father," wrath. They are harmful and destructive, they have no respect for God. Romans 2:8 also talks about those who "obey wrath." His wrath is coming and will arrive at judgment for those who reject Him as Father.
God's Wrath Against The Unrighteousness of Men
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18). Notice this does not say His wrath is against the men but against that which the men produce (ungodliness and unrighteousness). God seeks to deliver the abused and the abusers from harmful actions. Acts 3:26 tells us, "God raised up Jesus and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways." Paul is a perfect example of this, he suppressed the truth but he was rescued from the wrath to come by Jesus (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
"Jesus came in the flesh to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26). Jesus put sin away for everyone. He does not count sins against anyone in this life in order to make relationship with Himself fully available to everyone. Those who trust Jesus have their sin taken away permanently and God will never be angry at them (Isaiah 54:9-10). God will never have anger or wrath towards His children. Those who reject Jesus have God's wrath "stored up for them" & their sins are taken back out at judgment. "Blessed are the people whom the Lord will by no means charge with sin" (Romans 4:8), those people are His beloved children.
The Truth About Sin- A brief post that summarizes what I talk about here.
Judgment In Light of Sins Taken Away- Looks specifically at the judgment scene in Revelation 20.
Psalm 5 in the Light of The Messiah- Speaks about the way God looks at the world after the cross