Category Archives: Love and Anger of God Series

The Wrath of God Impersonalized

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A great disservice we have done for the hearts of men is to impersonalize the attributes of God.  God is no longer angry at people, just angry at sin.  His fury is aimed at Satan for deceiving you and placing “strongholds” on your life, more than His fury is headed for you.  It is almost as if sin (if talked about at all) has become an entity of itself, divided from the human heart.  It is talked about more as something unfortunate that happens to us, rather than something that we nurture and cherish and willingly act upon.  Uncomfortable as it may be, we need to stop impersonalizing sin and the wrath of God.

Romans 2:5 “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed.”

God will not pour out wrath on some abstract embodiment of “sin” but on sinners.  If we don’t recognize this, we will not “foul… to the fountain fly” saying “wash me Saviour or I die.”  If we don’t personalize sin as the overflow of our own hearts, and the wrath of God as headed directly at us, we will also impersonalize the cross.  We need to understand wrath, to understand the purpose of Jesus’ death, which leads us to the next point to follow in this article: We need to understand God’s wrath in order to understand His love.

Is God’s Anger Warranted?

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Is the creation of Hell a cosmic overreaction?  Is God simply temperamental?  Or as some portray Him, does God have multiple personality disorder, deciding one day to deal retribution and the next day changing His mind and giving forgiveness instead? 

Everywhere today people are saying:

“Didn’t God make us this way?  If so, what gives Him the right to Judge us?” 

 “I thought that God loved everyone no matter what they’ve done, and that He would forgive every person.” 

 “How can a good God send people to Hell just because they don’t believe in Jesus?”

 “God loves the sinner, He just hates the sin.”

This is the result of today’s “Christians” grossly misrepresenting the God of the Bible, and frightfully often creating a God in our own image.  In addition to this the sinfulness of man has been so downplayed in modern preaching that God’s judgement on mankind seems to be completely unwarranted.  Charles Spurgeon had it right in his day and preached a message that we need to hear more of, that: 

“…Sin intrinsically and in itself demands and deserves the just anger of God, and that that anger should be displayed in the form of a punishment… It is impossible, absolutely, that sin can be forgiven without a sacrifice. God must be just, if heaven falls. If earth should pass away and every creature should be lost, the justice of God must stand, it cannot by any possibility be suffered to be impugned. Let this, then, be fully established in our minds.”

So we must ask: Does the sin of man deserve the anger of God?  So much of this question is tied up in other questions: What rights can man claim from God?  And what right does God have over man?

Had God not chosen to create man, man would never have come into existence.  We owe our life, our bodies, our breath, and every human function that we have to God.  Without Him, we could not see, feel, think, move, smell or hear.  Without Him, we would never know what it meant to enjoy a created thing, such as the sun setting over the mountain, an eagle soaring, a fish jumping on a serene lake, or the embrace of a loved one.

Mankind alone was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).  He has bestowed upon man unique abilities to think- for example the gifts of reasoning, growing in knowledge, and using our imagination.  He has given us a conscience, a moral compass that reflects back to us the character of God.  We were created with eternity in our hearts (Eccl 3:11), and with a soul that endures after the death of our mortal bodies. 

God was not obligated to create us, or to make us eternal beings.  He graciously chose to include us in His great story, and to teach us truths about His glorious nature through creation, His Word, and ultimately through the life of Jesus Christ, God coming in the flesh.  He did not have to reveal Himself to us, and He did not have to come here to be mocked, scorned, and crucified.  He chose to.

When we really understand who He is, and what He has freely done for us, the question should not be “How can God be so heartless, and unfair, so as to send people to Hell?” but rather “How could, and why would God let any of us fallen creatures enter in to His heaven?”

We are God’s creation.  That means that He is in control, He is our Lord and Sovereign, and He has the right to do with this earth as He pleases.  Thank God, that He has been active in this world as a patient, righteous, loving, merciful Father, as we will discuss further in later sections.  But I want you to see that man has no right to complain and strive against the very God who gave him life, provides for his every need, and gives an abundance of pleasures we take for granted.  “If He should set His heart to it and gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to the dust (Job 34:14-15).”  Shall man complain against the God who keeps him breathing?

Isaiah 45:9-12 “Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots!  Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?  Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labour?’”  Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: ‘Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?  I made the earth and created man on it, it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.”

What does God think about man’s complaints that He should not have “made us this way” or that He deals with us “unfairly”?  He thinks it is absurdity.  God owes nothing to sinful man, other than retribution for our sins, while man owes to God what he cannot and will not give: His life.

Now that we’ve established this, we can address the question of whether or not man has given God just reason to be angry. 

How should we respond to a God who would not only create us, but surround us with beauty, give us companions, reveal Himself to us, and ultimately die for us?  We should love Him with all of our whole hearts, minds, soul and strength.  We should consider that nothing on earth is as valuable or desirous as pleasing such an awesome God.  Our entire lives should be consumed by seeking to know Him more, and anticipating the day we could meet Him more than any other day on earth.   

But what does the average person’s life look like?  He goes “astray from birth, speaking lies (Psalm 58:3).”  Man is filled with longings for self, and spends all of his energy finding ways to promote self, indulge self, and honour self.  As he gets older he gives credit to self for his accomplishments and deals blame to others for his failures.  God is far from his mind.  “None is righteous, no, not one, no one understands; no one seeks for God (Romans 3:11).”  His delights are in the things of the world and the lusts of the flesh, and his mind is so set on attaining this that God has been shoved out of it. 

Should I be more frank?  Look around.  Turn on your television.  Open a magazine.  Walk down the hallway of a high school.  Is the common person rich in good works, kind to others, and living in heartfelt devotion to the God who made him?  Or are you more likely to see shameless sensuality, adultery, drugs, homosexuality, cursing, abortion, and the more subtle sins of gratuitous living?  Walk into the science class.  Are they giving glory to God for His majestic works, or rather puffing themselves up in vain imaginations about a collision of nothing that conveniently created everything?

Man has not responded to God with loving commitment to Him, but rather has compartmentalized God into a little box that you only need if life gets really bad.  We would rather have God dead, buried, or silent, than have to conform to His standards or give our lives to Him. 

That’s not fair!” you say.  “There are lots of unreligious people who do plenty of good things.”  Well, that might be true, but why are they doing it?  If they have not submitted their lives to Jesus Christ that means they are rejecting Him as their Lord, and all their good works are in vain.  Everything that is not done in faith, or done for His honour and glory is sin (Romans 14:23), because it fails to acknowledge God as the one worthy of our works and as the only one that could contribute any goodness in to hearts or to this world.

Some may look nice on the outside, but what lies within?  The Bible says that the unbelieving heart is “evil (Hebrews 3:12).”  It says that “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God (John 3:18).”

You think it is an overreaction and unfair for God to send good people to Hell just for not believing in Jesus.  What you haven’t understood is that there is no such thing as good people.  In Mark 10:18 Jesus said “No one is good except God alone.”  How can any person who refuses to live for His creator, and the one who died for Him, be called “good”?  How can you say “just for not believing in Jesus?”  Rejecting God’s Son, and ignoring His life, His death, His word, and His call for you, is the greatest offence a man can give to God.

Hebrews 12:25 “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking.  For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.”

Hebrews 10:29 “How much worse punishment, do you think will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God?”

God has every right to be angry at all who refuse Him.  A spurned husband or wife will be outraged, as well as broken hearted and deeply grieved by the spouse who left them for another lover.  Would you say “Who does that man think he is?  His wife is her own person, free to make the choices she wants.  He has no right to be angry with her.” 

Well God has created us, loved us, and provided for us, and yet we pay Him no heed and say: “He has no right to be angry with us.”

I hope dear friends that I have helped you to see that God has every right.  Not only does He have the right, but by the necessity of His nature He must punish all sinners for their rejection of Him and their crimes against Him.  What He is under no obligation to do is show mercy.  I need to end with some scriptures that give a glimpse into the heart of God, and the hope that is His loving kindness.

Jesus: “Go and learn what this mean, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.  For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew 9:13).”

Ezekiel 33:11 “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked would turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die…?

The Love and Anger Of God Part 2

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*Warning: It is quite likely, as with many of my articles, that if this is the only one you read you will have a skewed idea of how I feel and think.  If offended, strange though as it seems, I’d request you to continue reading as I post.

How Angry Is God?

And Why Has This Attribute Nearly Disappeared?

As stated in the introduction the Bible makes it clear that “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day (Psalm 7:11 ESV).”  Psalm 5:5-6 states the seldom quoted and intensely controversial words: “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evil doers.  You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”

It seems to me these verses are not controversial based on any type of inconsistency or rarity in the word of God.  Simply consider the way that Jesus Christ is coming back: “…with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2Thessalonians 1:7-8).”  Or consider the future cries of those on whom this day of Judgement comes, as they call out to the mountains and rocks saying: “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 (Revelations 6:16)?”

I witnessed to a man the other day who was quite certain that the Old Testament God was a God of wrath, and the New Testament God was a God of love.  The guilt of this erroneous belief falls on the multitudes of professing believers who portray Christianity this way.  They speak as if God was and maybe is a God of justice and wrath, but Jesus was all love and mercy.  But who is coming back with a sword in his mouth (Rev 19:15)?  Who is coming in the clouds to inflict vengeance?  And did they not cry out “hide us from…the wrath of the Lamb?”  We know from scripture that the precious Lamb of God, who was slain, is none other than Jesus Christ.

If the Bible is not unclear nor does it make rare reference to the hatred, wrath, anger, justice, and like qualities of God, then why have these qualities been shunned among professing believers and the general public?  Well, a culture that promotes only listening and believing those things which make you feel good about yourself, does not jive very well with a God who exposes your sin, unworthiness, shame, and guilt.  It especially does not sit right with them that the outcome of what they consider a life well lived could be for God to send them to Hell.  That spot may be reserved for murderers or rapists, but certainly not for them.

“How can God be angry with us when we are all basically good people?” some might say.  Or even “God isn’t angry at us, because He loves everyone just the way they are.”  Though these statements might sound nice, they are far from Biblical.  People everywhere are making a god in their own image, a god who does not exist.

About three years ago I read through the book of Revelations and was profoundly impacted that these were real events that were coming upon real people.  The words of this book produced in me an unwavering conviction that men and woman everywhere must be warned about the coming Judgement of God.  It caused me to “note…the kindness and severity of God (Romans 11:22).”  It seems fitting for me to share a poem I wrote after finishing the book of Revelations.

Judgment Day

In his eyes are flames of fire,
The wicked wail and I admire
Christ who’s coming with a sword
Handing out the due reward.

To few he grants eternal life
Those dressed in white, His bride, His wife.
Those beloved and chosen ones
Who share God’s treasure, His own Son.

But tribulation and distress
For those who cherish wickedness
Wrath and fury coming near
For although warned, they would not hear.

God who is gracious sent them plagues
To turn them from their wicked ways
But although scorched and crushed and shamed
They refused to repent and cursed God’s name.

They beg of mountains “fall on us, hide us from his face!”
But there’s no pardon for their sin, they receive no grace.
They seek to die but death escapes them
‘Till naked they stand so that Christ may condemn them.

Hark! He’s coming in the clouds
Tune your ears to hear the trumpet sound
The earth is ripe and His sickle swings
He gathers the elect underneath His wings,
And casts away into the winepress of wrath
All evildoers who walk the broad path.

Glory be unto the Lord, He will have His way!
He is coming soon and won’t delay
His Great and Glorious Judgment Day.

Fear and tremble all the earth
Dear Christian warn them with weeping
For us who have the second birth
Let not Christ come to find us sleeping.

To summarize this and answer the question “how angry is God?” let me say this:  He is angry enough that Jesus warned “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Hell (Matthew 10:28).”

The Love and Just Anger Of God

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Introduction

“The love of God in our culture has been purged of anything the culture finds uncomfortable.  The love of God has been sanitized, democratized, and above all sentimentalized…” – D.A Carson in “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.”

In our culture the love of God is often exalted above the Holiness, Justice, and Righteousness of God.  Most Christians are comfortable enough to tell unbelievers that God loves them, but not to tell them that He hates sin.  The love of God has been so emphasized, and diminished to human standards and imaginations, that even many Christians cannot answer questions such as: “How can a loving God send anyone to Hell? “ or “If God is loving why is there so much suffering in the world?”

As much as the “love of God” is preached from pulpits, we lack foundational understanding about what the Biblical love of God truly is.  Not only this, but the lack of preaching God’s equally as great and worthy attributes, gives us an imbalanced view of God’s character and frequently causes men to distort the gospel.  The “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, so simply accept Him into your heart,” gospel, is directly related to men’s feelings that telling people about sin and Hell is unloving.  In his book “If God is Good” Randy Alcorn accurately states “If we imagine it unloving to speak of Hell, we imagine Jesus to be unloving.”

The cross is about love and justice.  When justice is left out of the message, the gospel is incomplete and powerless to save anyone. 

On the other side, there are many Christians who embrace “Reformed” theology, who like me are concerned and at times agitated by the misrepresentation of God as a God of love only, and man as a creature deserving of that love.  When a Christian discovers that popular teachings are erroneous, it is so common and natural to swing as far away from that way of thought as possible, until you end up at the total opposite extreme.  For example, a person irritated by the “sentimentalized” gospel might de-personalize God, making Him seem like a God far-off and hesitant to draw near to sinful people.  Where one man overemphasizes the love of God, he will preach almost exclusively that God is “angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11).”  While one preacher makes it so easy to come to Christ that a sinner needs no sorrow over sin nor willingness to commit their life to Him at all, another preacher overly stresses that the way is so hard and so narrow, you cannot come ‘till you have unceasingly agonized over sin and made certain that this reluctant God is actually letting you into Heaven.

It has been my experience, reading the Bible, that every attribute of God is way beyond human capacity.  He is extreme in every way.  What I mean is this: He is not extremely just and angry, but only a little bit loving and merciful.  Nor does His love overcome Him so much that He lays aside or forgets that He is also extremely just and righteous.  So here is my attempt to think Biblically and preach accurately about the love of God.  To truly do this requires a foundational understanding about the anger and justice of God.