Like Button

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What About Wrath?

One of the attributes of God that is repeated over and over in Scripture is His wrath. Okay, enough of that. Let's move on.

The topic is largely one ignored today. Many deny it. Of the rest, many ignore it. Of the rest, many prefer not to speak about it. It is unpleasant. Okay, enough of that. Let's move on.

The wrath of God is one of the popular tools of the anti-theist. Oddly enough, they are either complaining that He's too wrathful or complaining that He's not wrathful enough. He's bad because the Bible says He ordered the execution of an entire group of sinful people or He's not powerful enough to strike me dead on the spot for blasphemy. Poor God. He can't win. So, hey, that's enough of that. Let's move on.

No, let's not. You see, the Bible believes in the wrath of God. The Bible isn't quiet about it, ignoring it, ashamed of it, or unwilling to talk about it. Indeed, it is a prevalent topic in the pages of Scripture. So, we have to ask, if God is good and God is wrathful, how do we put that together? What's good about God's wrath?

First, remember that God's wrath is not the same as Man's wrath. James wrote, "The wrath of man does not achieve the righteousness of God" (James 1:20). God's wrath, then, does achieve the righteousness of God.

Further, it's not quite accurate to call wrath an attribute of God. It is actually more of a response of God. It is the product of His own perfection, a necessary outcome of His own Holiness, the correct result of His Justice. Quite simply, God hates sin. And as a result of His own Holiness and Justice and perfection, He is willing to display His power and wrath on vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. God's wrath, then, is the proper response to sin, to the violation of His Holiness. It is right and good as just such a response. And the better we understand His Holiness, Justice, and perfection, the better we will see and appreciate that fact.

The Bible uses God's wrath for another excellent purpose.
It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Heb.9:27).

"I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:5).

"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36).

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Eph 5:6).

Do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God (Rom 2:3)?
Are you seeing a common theme? The Bible in general and Jesus in particular repeatedly uses the wrath of God as a warning instrument. "Don't go there! You won't like the consequences!" It is a CAUTION sign on sin, a red tag on the things that will bring about God's wrath. It is designed to keep us from straying into the minefield of sin. And that is a good thing.

We don't like God's wrath. It's a scary thing. Or, as the author of Hebrews put it, "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb 10:31). The right response to this unpleasantness is not to deny it or ignore it or even minimize it with silence. The right response is to repent and to encourage others to repent. The right response is to recognize with joy the perfections of God that demand such wrath when they are violated. The right response is a healthy fear of God that produces holiness. That's what's right with God's wrath.

No comments: