Wrestling with God’s Wrath

“The Wrath of God.”  Just say the phrase and I guarantee you people will cringe.  I know I do. If there is any attribute of God that no one wants to talk about its His Wrath. Maybe some people want to…hose weird people on the news that give Christians a bad name by thumping their Bible and taking pleasure in telling people they are gonna burn in hell.  But for most of us.  The wrath of God is at best an uncomfortable topic and at worst a source of fear.  But if we will look beyond our surface gut response, if we will wrestle what the wrath of God really means,  we will be shocked to find something incredibly important, significant, satisfying, and helpful. 

But first let’s ask the question: why do we respond so negatively to talk of God’s wrath? First, it seems to go against the picture of God in the New Testament.  John 3:16 says, “For God so LOVED the world…”  And we mistakenly think that God’s love and His wrath are incompatible. Second, God’s wrath goes against the spirit of the age we live in that desires everyone to seek after what happiness looks like for them.  “I just want you to be happy” and “Find you bliss” are the cries of our culture.  A god who could get mad about what we are doing runs counter to this cultural instinct. Third, some think that God’s wrath means that God is angry at them and is constantly punishing them.  This is a sad and dangerous idea because it makes God and His wrath the source of evil in the world.

Some people even go so far as to say that the God’s wrath is an Old Testament idea from the time of the Law; but in the New Testament the love of God replaced his wrath just like grace replaced law. Such extreme ideas fail to notice both the love of God throughout the whole Old Testament and the wrath of God mentioned in the New Testament.  Its right there in Romans 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven…”

But if we look closely at this passage in Romans we will find that the wrath of God is a part of His Love.  We will find that the wrath of God is actually a comforting doctrine that helps answer one of the most pressing questions many people have about God, namely, the problem of evil.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Ask anybody who is struggling with faith and this questions lies at the bottom.  It is one of the difficult questions to ask.  And Humans have been asking it for as long as there have been human.  The oldest book in the Bible is Job, a 42 chapter investigation into why bad things happen.

Unfortunately, most people answer the question with some form of “God is mad at us” and “we deserve it.”  These answers seems to run counter to the God of Love as revealed in Scripture and through Jesus.

But look closer at Romans 1:18, and see what ELSE the verse reveals about the Wrath of God:   “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”

What does it say the wrath of God is revealed AGAINST….not people but on ungodliness and unrighteousness.  God HATES sin.  God’s WRATH is against sin. Why? Because sin causes death.  Paul says in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death.” Death is what sin pays out.  Death is what sin produces in our lives.    When we seek sin, we find death.   That is why God hates sin.  That is why God’s wrath is a part of God’s love.   God loves us so much that He made a way for us to be free from the death-causing, enslaving, evil-producing path we have chosen for ourselves.

You see, God’s wrath is one part of the answer to the problem of Evil.  God is as mad about sin and death and evil as we are.  In fact, He is more mad than we are at all the evil sin pain and death.  And He is actively working to free us from sin and to destroy sin forever.

That is the Gospel in a nutshell.  That is why its good news.

 

 

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