[styled_image size=”medium” align=”left” link=”#” icon=”none” lightbox=”yes” alt=”Image Description”]http://cometochrist.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/medium-loveandangerofgod.jpg[/styled_image]
“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.