Knowing God: The Righteousness and Justice of God.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. (Psalm 89:14)

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. (Psalm 103:6)

The Lord is righteous, he is in her midst, he will do no unrighteousness. Every morning he brings his justice to light; he never fails, but the unjust knows no shame (Zephaniah 3:5).

Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? There is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is no one besides me (Isaiah 45:21).

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions and is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, holy, wrathful and loving. The Bible also says that God is just and righteous.

All of God’s attributes are in harmony with each other. They do not contradict each other. Therefore, the attributes of God provide the student of Scripture a multi-faceted perspective on the person and work of the One, True God.

To proclaim God is loving is not contradicted by also saying He is a God of wrath. To proclaim God is wrathful does not mean He is not the God of love. What counterbalances these two particular attributes are the Lord’s attributes of justice and righteousness. Therefore, we may initially conclude that God’s wrath is a just and righteous wrath and that God’s love is a just and righteous love.

Psalm 19:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.” The word righteousness, from the Hebrew word sedeq, means accuracy, or that which is correct and right. It is doing what is right according to a standard. Righteousness is synonymous with honesty. Justice, from the Hebrew word mispat, literally means to make a decision in a court case. We may conclude that God renders decisions regarding the punishment of sinners in an accurate, correct and righteous way.

Theologian Charles Hodge writes, “The word justice, or righteousness, is used in Scripture sometimes in a wider and sometimes in a more restricted sense. In theology, it is often distinguished as “justitia interna,” or moral excellence, and “justitia externa,” or rectitude of conduct. In Hebrew it means, in a physical sense, straight; and in a moral sense, right, what is as it should be. It  means rightness, that which satisfies the demands of rectitude or law.”

Dr. Hodge continues by saying, “When we regard God as the author of our moral nature, we conceive of Him as holy; when we regard Him in his dealings with his rational creatures, we conceive of Him as righteous. He is a righteous ruler; all his laws are holy, just, and good. In his moral government He faithfully adheres to those laws. He is impartial and uniform in their execution. As a judge he renders unto every man according to his works. He neither condemns the innocent, nor clears the guilty; neither does He ever punish with undue severity. Hence the justice of God is distinguished as rectoral, or that which is concerned in the imposition of righteous laws and in their impartial execution; and distributive, or that which is manifested in the righteous distribution of rewards and punishment. The Bible constantly represents God as a righteous ruler and a just judge. Notwithstanding all the apparent inequalities in the distribution of his favours; notwithstanding the prosperity of the wicked and the afflictions of the righteous, the conviction is everywhere expressed that God is just; that somehow and somewhere He will vindicate his dealings with men, and show that He is righteous in all his ways and holy in all his works.”

To say God is holy refers to who God is by nature. To say God is just and righteous refers to what God does on the basis of His holy nature.

Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon comments, “Man’s injustice shall receive retribution at the hand of God. Mercy to His saints demands vengeance on their persecutors, and He will repay it. No blood of martyrs shall be shed in vain; no groans of confessors in prison shall be left without inquisition being made concerning them. All wrongs shall be righted, all the oppressed shall be avenged. Justice may at times leave the courts of man, but it abides upon the tribunal of God. For this every right- minded person will bless God.”

Take time today to thank God that He is just and righteous. We may not always understand why things happen the way they do, but we can rest assured that God will do what is right.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Knowing God: The Love of God, Part 4.

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions and is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, holy, and wrathful. If, of all of God’s attributes, the one which often solicits the most controversy and debate is God’s wrath, then it could also be argued that the attribute of God which is most often misunderstood is His love.

As we have already noted, God’s love is a holy love. It is also a self-sacrificial love of the will. It is not a love like human love which tends to be self-centered, emotionally driven and inconsistent.

God’s love is also a multi-faceted love. This means it is not a love which is singularly directed but rather has multiple objects. We will look for the next couple of days at four biblical examples of God’s love.

First, there is God the Father’s love for the Son. Four times in the Gospel of John the apostle speaks of the love of the Father for the Son: John 3:35; 5:20; 15:9-10; 17:26.

Second, there is God the Son’s love for God the Father. This statement of truth is found in John 14:31.

Thirdly, there is God’s providential love for all which He has created. While the Hebrew and Greek words for love are not specifically used, God’s act of creation, and His subsequent sustenance of the same, is an example of His love.

Fourth, there is the benevolent, magnanimous love God has for rebellious sinners. This is the love of which most frequently speak of knowing and which is taken from John 3:16.

Finally, there is God’s love for the elect. This is a particular love. It is a choosing love done before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6; Titus 1:1-3). It is a love which actually saves.

We witness this electing love of God for Israel. In Deuteronomy 7:1-8 the text reads, “When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the LORD would be kindled against you, but thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire. “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

We also witness this electing love by God for the church. Romans 9:6-18 says,” But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.”

Dr. Don Carson comments that, “The striking thing about these passages is that when Israel is contrasted with the universe or with other nations, the distinguishing feature has nothing of personal or national merit; it is nothing other than the love of God. In the very nature of the case, then, God’s love is directed toward Israel in these passages in a way in which it is not directed toward other nations.”

The same can be said for the elect comprising the church of Jesus Christ. Believers in Christ can claim no special merit in order to earn or possess the love of God. God chooses to love some and to leave others to deserved and divine judgment.

Ephesians 1:3-5  says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” 

This love by God generates the most debate and is the most controversial. Yet, it is biblical and therefore true. We are believers in Christ due solely to God’s sovereign and electing love which existed before the foundation of the world.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, take time today to thank God that He chose to set His love upon you. Think about His love.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Knowing God: The Love of God, Part 3.

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions and is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, holy, and wrathful. If, of all of God’s attributes, the one which often solicits the most controversy and debate is God’s wrath, then it could also be argued that the attribute of God which is most often misunderstood is His love.

As we have already noted, God’s love is a holy love. It is also a self-sacrificial love of the will. It is not a love like human love which tends to be self-centered, emotionally driven and inconsistent.

God’s love is also a multi-faceted love. This means it is not a love which is singularly directed but rather has multiple objects. We will look for the next couple of days at four biblical examples of God’s love.

First, there is God the Father’s love for the Son. Four times in the Gospel of John the apostle speaks of the love of the Father for the Son: John 3:35; 5:20; 15:9-10; 17:26.

Second, there is God the Son’s love for God the Father. This statement of truth is found in John 14:31.

Thirdly, there is God’s providential love for all which He has created. While the Hebrew and Greek words for love are not specifically used, God’s act of creation, and His subsequent sustenance of the same, is an example of His love.

Dr. Don Carson explains the, “Lord Jesus depicts a world in which God clothes the grass of the fields with the glory of wildflowers seen by no human being, perhaps, but seen by God. The lion roars and hauls down its prey, but it is God who feeds the animal. The birds of the air find food, but that is the result of God’s loving providence, and not a sparrow falls from the sky apart from the sanction of the Almighty (Matt. 6). If this were not a benevolent providence, a loving providence, then the moral lesson that Jesus drives home, via that this God can be trusted to provide for his own people, would be incoherent.”

Fourth, there is the benevolent, magnanimous love God has for rebellious sinners. This is the love of which most frequently speak of knowing and which is taken from John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, ”John 3:16 may or may not be the most familiar verse in all of Scripture, but it is surely one of the most abused and least understood. The verse is so well known that the reference alone is thought by some to be a sufficient proclamation of the gospel. Arminians extract the phrase “God so loved the world” from its context and use it as an argument for universal atonement, meaning Christ’s death made redemption possible for all. More extreme Universalists push the same argument even further. They claim the verse proves that God loves everyone exactly the same, and that all will be saved—as if John 3:16 negated all the biblical warnings of condemnation for the wicked.”

Dr. MacArthur continues by stating, “To think like that is to miss the point completely. The immediate context gives the necessary balance: “Whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (v. 18). Surely, that is a truth that needs to be proclaimed to our generation with at least as much passion and urgency as the message of God’s love and mercy. Moreover, John 3:16 does not focus on the extent of the atonement; the verse is a statement about the magnitude of God’s love. Here is a profound wonder: God loved “the world”—this wicked realm of fallen humanity—so much that He sacrificed His only begotten Son to pay the price of redemption for all who believe in Him.”

Next time, we will see the final type of love which Scripture mentions: God’s love for the elect. Until then, ponder the various ways in which God has chosen to love you. Have a blessed day in loving and knowing God.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

Knowing God: The Love of God, Part 2.

“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.” (John 3:35).

“For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.” (John 5:20).

“but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.” (John 14:31).

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions and is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, holy, and wrathful. If, of all of God’s attributes, the one which often solicits the most controversy and debate is God’s wrath, then it could also be argued that the attribute of God which is most often misunderstood is His love.

As we have already noted, God’s love is a holy love. It is also a self-sacrificial love of the will. It is not a love like human love which tends to be self-centered, emotionally driven and inconsistent.

God’s love is also a multi-faceted love. This means it is not a love which is singularly directed but rather has multiple objects. We will look for the next couple of days at four biblical examples.

First, there is God the Father’s love for the Son. Several times in the Gospel of John the apostle speaks of the love of the Father for the Son.

John uses the word agape in John 3:35. The word ἀγαπάω (agapao) is a present active verb. It not only means to be self-sacrificial, but also to take pleasure in and have an appreciation for. Jesus makes this statement within the context of His dialogue with Nicodemas.

John also uses the Greek word phileo in John 5:20 which means to have affection for. The word φιλέω (phileo) is also a present active verb. It is a love based upon an interpersonal association. God the Father takes pleasure in and has an interpersonal relationship with God the Son. This statement, also by Jesus, is spoken in the context of Jesus’ healing of the paralytic man by the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-16) and His subsequent discussion with the Jewish leaders who criticized Jesus for healing the man on the Sabbath (John 5:17-21).

Second, there is God the Son’s love for God the Father as explicitly stated in John 14:31. The word for love which Jesus uses is ἀγαπάω (agapao) and is in the present active form. Not only does God the Father take pleasure in and possess an appreciation for God the Son, but the same can be said for God the Son towards God the Father.

Jesus makes this statement during the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17) with His disciples. This is done during the hours immediately preceding His crucifixion. Jesus’ obedience to Father’s will and commandment demonstrates the Son’s love for the Father.

Jesus reiterates this truth of loving obedience in John 15:9-10 which says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

Jesus also acknowledges this love the Father and Son have for each other in His High-Priestly Prayer. John 17:26 says, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Dr. Don Carson writes, “This intra-Trinitarian love of God not only marks off Christian monotheism from all other monotheisms, but is bound up in surprising ways with revelation and redemption.”

We must not overlook Jesus’ statement to His disciples in John 14:22-24. “Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”

Jesus’ love for God the Father was demonstrated by His obedience to the Father’s commandment (John 14:31). So also should be our love for the Father and for the Son. If we claim to love God, then obedience to His commandments is evidence of that profession. See I John 2:29, 3:1-9; 10-12; 16-23; 4:7-11; 20-21.

Have a blessed day in loving and knowing God by being obedient to Him.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

Knowing God: The Love of God.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (I John 4:7-11).

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions and is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, holy, and wrathful. If, of all of God’s attributes, the one which often solicits the most controversy and debate is God’s wrath, then it could be argued that the attribute of God which is most often misunderstood is His love.

One book I discovered by a noted biblical theologian is entitled The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. The author, D.A. Carson, is concerned that the love of God is so often distorted in order for people to make it something less offensive to the fallen and sinful human mind.

Dr. Carson writes, “We live in a culture in which many other and complementary truths about God are widely disbelieved. I do not think that what the Bible says about the love of God can long survive at the forefront of our thinking if it is abstracted from the sovereignty of God, the holiness of God, the wrath of God, the providence of God, or the personhood of God—to mention only a few nonnegotiable elements of basic Christianity. The result, of course, is that 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. This process has been going on for some time. My generation was taught to sing, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love,” in which we robustly instruct the Almighty that we do not need another mountain (we have enough of them), but we could do with some more love. The hubris is staggering.”

The Bible teaches that God’s love is a holy love. It is not a sentimental emotion which turns a blind eye or a deaf ear to sin and the sinner’s rebelliousness. Rather, in I John 4:8, which is in harmony with John 3:16, God’s agape love is a self-sacrificial love of the will. It is not a love which denies the reality of sin but rather recognizes it, calls it for what it is, and has done something about it in and through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

God’s love is in keeping with what the Apostle Paul mentions in I Corinthians 13:4-8a. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

God’s love for sinners is a patient love. It is a kind love, while never being envious, boastful, arrogant or rude. God does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but He rejoices in the truth.

God demonstrates this love by loving sinners who deserve His wrath. Romans 5:7-10 says, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

But is God’s love for sinners, as under attack as this truth is nowadays because not many believe in sin anymore, the only example of the love of God? Is there more to be found in the Scriptures? I believe so!

Take time today to thank God for His love for you. Take time to express your love for Him based upon His love for you.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Knowing God: The Wrath of God, Part 2.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18).

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions, He is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign and holy. However, of all of God’s attributes the one which often solicits the most controversy and debate is God’s wrath.

Notice the present tense verb phrase is being revealed. God’s wrath is not just a future event (Revelation 14 & 19) but a present reality. Theologian Charles Hodge explains that there are three manifestations of God’s present wrath: “the actual punishment of sin,” “the inherent tendency of moral evil to produce misery,” and “the voice of conscience”

The Apostle Paul also explains in Romans 1:18 that God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness belonging to and originating from sinful mankind. Ungodliness is a lack of reverence for, devotion to and worship of the One, True God. Ungodliness reflects the sinner’s defective and adversarial relationship with God (Jude 14-15).

Unrighteousness is the result of ungodliness. It is a lack of conformity by thought, speech and behavior to the person and truth of and from God. It is a life lived in rebellion against God and His Word.

Unfortunately, rather than repent sinful mankind seeks to suppress God’s truth in their unrighteousness. As Dr. MacArthur explains, “Although the evidence from conscience (Romans 1:19; 2:14), creation (Romans 1:20), and God’s word is irrefutable, men choose to resist and oppose God’s truth by holding fast to their sin (cf. Psalm 14:1John 3:19–20).”

Commentator Robert Haldane states, “The wrath of God … was revealed when the sentence of death was first pronounced, the earth cursed and man driven out of the earthly paradise, and afterward by such examples of punishment as those of the deluge and the destruction of the cities of the plain by fire from heaven, but especially by the reign of death throughout the world. It was proclaimed by the curse of the law on every transgression and was intimated in the institution of sacrifice and in all the services of the Mosaic dispensation. In the eighth chapter of this epistle (Romans) the apostle calls the attention of believers to the fact that the whole creation has become subject to vanity and groaneth and travaileth together in pain. This same creation which declares that there is a God, and publishes his glory, also proves that he is the enemy of sin and the avenger of the crimes of men.… But above all, the wrath of God was revealed from heaven when the Son of God came down to manifest the divine character, and when that wrath was displayed in his sufferings and death in a manner more awful than by all the tokens God had before given of his displeasure against sin.”

To deny the wrath of God, as many Christians even do, is to attack and deny the very nature of Jesus Christ’s substitutionary atonement on the cross on the sinner’s behalf. The purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection was not only to provide redemption, justification and reconciliation on behalf of sinners, but also to satisfy the holy and righteous wrath of God toward sinners. There is one particular word which describes this truth and that is the biblical word propitiation.

Dr. MacArthur comments that, “Crucial to the significance of Christ’s sacrifice, this word (propitiation) carries the idea of appeasement or satisfaction—in this case Christ’s violent death satisfied the offended holiness and wrath of God against those for whom Christ died (Isaiah 53:11Colossians. 2:11–14). The Hebrew equivalent of this word was used to describe the mercy seat—the cover to the ark of the covenant—where the high priest sprinkled the blood of the slaughtered animal on the Day of Atonement to make atonement for the sins of the people. In pagan religions, it is the worshiper not the god who is responsible to appease the wrath of the offended deity. But in reality, man is incapable of satisfying God’s justice apart from Christ, except by spending eternity in hell.” (Cf. Leviticus 16; Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1; Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:7-11).

Therefore, even in this brief explanation regarding the wrath of God, we can see that the truth of God’s wrath is crucial in understanding the depth of God’s love for sinners. The wrath of God does not contradict God’s love but rather gives greater significance to His love in sending Jesus Christ.

Take time today to thank God for sending Jesus Christ to take your place and receive on your behalf the wrath of God. If you have not repented of your sin and trusted Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, do so immediately in order to no longer face the wrath of God.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing God: The Wrath of God!

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18).

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions, He is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign and holy. However, of all of God’s attributes the one which often solicits the most controversy and debate is God’s wrath.

Dr. James Montgomery Boice comments that, “Today’s preaching is deficient at many points. But there is no point at which it is more evidently inadequate and even explicitly contrary to the teachings of the New Testament than in its neglect of “the wrath of God.” God’s wrath is a dominant Bible teaching and the point in Romans at which Paul begins his formal exposition of the gospel. Yet, to judge from most contemporary forms of Christianity, the wrath of God is either an unimportant doctrine, which is an embarrassment, or an entirely wrong notion, which any enlightened Christian should abandon.”

In the Old Testament, there are more than twenty words used to refer to God’s wrath.  There are close to six hundred important passages on the subject. These passages are not isolated or unrelated to each other but present a consistent understanding that wrath is part of God’s character. God wrath is one of the most important themes and events of Scripture.

  1. I. Packer says, “One of the most striking things about the Bible is the vigor with which both Testaments emphasize the reality and terror of God’s wrath.”

 

Arthur W. Pink wrote, “A study through a concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God than there are to His love and tenderness.”

 

Wrath is God’s holy displeasure and righteous vengeance against sin. There are two main words for wrath in the New Testament. One is thymos, from a root that means “to rush along fiercely,” “to be in a heat of violence,” or “to breathe violently.” The other biblical word for wrath is the Greek word orge meaning divine punishment based upon God’s angry judgment against someone. Orge means “to grow ripe for something.” It portrays wrath as something that builds up over a long period of time, like water collecting behind a great dam or a ripening peach which is ready to burst forth with flavor and juice.

Please notice the two preceding adjectives describing God’s displeasure and vengeance against sin in Romans 1:18 are the words holy and righteous. God’s wrath is never, ever sinful. His wrath is a holy wrath, a righteous wrath. It is a wrath which is in keeping with the sinlessness of His character.

Additionally, God’s wrath should never be likened to a person “blowing their top,” “being out of control,” or “losing one’s cool.” Rather, God’s wrath is a settled opposition against the sinner because of their sin. Along with this settled opposition comes the solemn promise of judgment.

Dr. John MacArthur writes that God’s wrath, “is not an impulsive outburst of anger aimed capriciously at people whom God does not like. It is the settled, determined response of a righteous God against sin (cf. Psalm 2:5, 12; 45:7; 75:8; 76:6–7; 78:49–51; 90:7–9Isaiah 51:17Jeremiah 25:15–16John 3:36Romans 9:22Ephesians 5:6Colossians 3:5–6).”

Theologian John Murray says in his exposition of Romans 1:18 that “wrath is the holy revulsion of God’s being against that which is the contradiction of his holiness. Before all else, as Christians, we confess that we ourselves justly deserve the wrath of God save for Christ’s mercy alone.”

Pastor and author D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, “Grace is favor shown to people who do not deserve any favor at all… We deserve nothing but hell. If you think you deserve heaven, take it from me, you are not a Christian.”

Take time today to thank God for sending Jesus Christ to take your place and receive on your behalf the wrath of God. If you have not repented of your sin and trusted Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, do so immediately in order to no longer face the wrath of God.

More to come!

Soli deo Gloria!

Knowing God: The Faithfulness of God, Part 3.

The Scriptures clearly teach the faithfulness of God. For the believer in Christ, to have faith, or to believe, means to trust, depend, commit and to worship one object and one object alone. The sole object is God, in the person and work of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. It stands to reason that if faith means to trust, depend, commit and worship God, it is because He is trustworthy, dependable, committed and worthy of worship.

The following categories are but a small sampling of what the Scriptures say about God’s faithfulness.

  • Faithfulness is part of God’s character (Isaiah 49:1-7; I Corinthians 1:1-9; I Thessalonians 5:24).
  • God’s faithfulness is biblically declared to be (1) Great (Lamentation 3:23); (2) Established (Psalm 89:1-2); (3) Incomparable (Psalm 89:8); (4) Unfailing (Psalm 89:33; 2 Timothy 2:13); (4) Infinite (Psalm 36:1-5); and (5) Everlasting (Psalm 119:90; 146:1-6).
  • God’s faithfulness is the believer’s confidence in prayer (Psalm 143:1).
  • God’s faithfulness should be proclaimed to all (Psalm 40:1-10; 89:1).
  • God’s faithfulness is revealed in His (1) Counsels (Isaiah 25:1); (2) in man’s afflictions (Psalm 119:75); (3) In fulfilling His promises (I Kings 8:1-20; Psalm 132:1-11; Micah 7:1-20; Hebrews 10:1-23); (4) In keeping covenant (Deuteronomy 7:1-9; Psalm 111:1-5); (5) In carrying out His judgments (Jeremiah 23:1-20; 51:1-29); (6) In rejoicing before God (Deuteronomy 14:26).
  • Believers are warned to not wander from God’s faithfulness (Deuteronomy 29:18).
  • God will faithfully remove liars and deceivers from His presence (Psalm 101:7).
  • God will faithfully punish the irreligious (Jeremiah 10:25).

As theologian and author Arthur Pink observes, “Scripture abounds in illustrations of God’s faithfulness. God is true. His Word of Promise is sure. In all His relations with His people God is faithful. He may be safely relied upon. No one ever yet really trusted Him in vain. We find this precious truth expressed almost everywhere in the Scriptures, for His people need to know that faithfulness is an essential part of the Divine character. This is the basis of our confidence in Him. But it is one thing to accept the faithfulness of God as a Divine truth, it is quite another to act upon it. God has given us many “exceeding great and precious promises,” but are we really counting on His fulfillment of them? Are we actually expecting Him to do for us all that He has said? Are we resting with implicit assurance on these words, “He is faithful that promised” (Hebrews 10:23)?”

Great Is Thy Faithfulness is a popular Christian hymn written by Thomas Chisholm (1866–1960) in 1923 with music composed by William M. Runyan (1870–1957) that same year. The phrase “great is thy faithfulness” comes from the Old Testament Book of Lamentations 3:23. Mr. Chisholm wrote the poem about God’s faithfulness over his lifetime.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Chorus
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside
.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Knowing God: The Faithfulness of God, Part 2.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23.

The Scriptures clearly teach the faithfulness of God. For the believer in Christ, to have faith, or to believe, means to trust, depend, commit and to worship one object and one object alone. The sole object is God, in the person and work of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. It stands to reason that if faith means to trust, depend, commit and worship God, it is because He is trustworthy, dependable, committed and worthy of worship.

Theologian and author Arthur Pink writes, “Unfaithfulness is one of the most outstanding sins of these evil days. In the business world, a man’s word is, with exceedingly rare exceptions, no longer his bond. In the social world, marital infidelity abounds on every hand, the sacred bonds of wedlock being broken with as little regard as the discarding of an old garment. In the ecclesiastical realm, thousands who have solemnly covenanted to preach the truth make no scruple to attack and deny it. Nor can reader or writer claim complete immunity from this fearful sin: in how many ways have we been unfaithful to Christ, and to the light and privileges which God has entrusted to us! How refreshing, then, how unspeakably blessed, to lift our eyes above this scene of ruin, and behold One who is faithful, faithful in all things, faithful at all times.”

Have there been times in your life when you have doubted the faithfulness of God? Have there been occasions, few or many, when you struggled to trust, depend, commit and worship Him? Was it because of illness, yours or someone else’s? Was it because of the loss of a job (or potential loss), the ending of a marriage, or a wayward and disobedient child?

Arthur Pink continues by saying, “There are seasons in the lives of all when it is not easy, no not even for Christians, to believe that God is faithful. Our faith is sorely tried, our eyes bedimmed with tears, and we can no longer trace the out workings of His love. Our ears are distracted with the noises of the world, harassed by the atheistic whisperings of Satan, and we can no longer hear the sweet accents of His still small voice. Cherished plans have been thwarted, friends on whom we relied have failed us, a professed brother or sister in Christ has betrayed us. We are staggered. We sought to be faithful to God, and now a dark cloud hides Him from us. We find it difficult, yea, impossible, for carnal reason to harmonize His frowning providence with His gracious promises. Ah, faltering soul, severely tried fellow pilgrim, seek grace to heed Isaiah 50:10, Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”

If you’re struggling right now, apply the words of Isaiah 50:10 to your own life and circumstances. Call upon the LORD and begin to rely upon He who is faithful.

Soli deo Gloria!

Knowing God: The Faithfulness of God.

“The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24.

“…if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:13.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” – Deuteronomy 7:9.

“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:9.

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. God’s attributes are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

Thus far we have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions, He is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign and holy It is safe and  biblical to say that God’s holiness is His most significant attribute God. In fact, God’s holiness impacts all of His other attributes.

Therefore, we can correctly conclude that God’s self-existence is a holy self-existence. We can also conclude that God’s decision or decrees, along with His glory, omniscience, omnipresence and sovereignty are all impacted by His holiness. The same can be said of God’s faithfulness.

The Scriptures clearly teach the faithfulness of God. For the believer in Christ, to have faith, or to believe, means to trust, depend, commit and to worship one object and one object alone. The sole object of faith is God, in the person and work of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. It stands to reason that if faith means to trust, depend, commit and worship God, it is because God is trustworthy, dependable, committed and worthy of worship.

As one theologian writes, “[The] faithfulness of God is of the utmost practical significance to the people of God.  It is the ground of their confidence, the foundation of their hope, and the cause of their rejoicing.  It saves them from the despair to which their own unfaithfulness might easily lead, gives them courage to carry on in spite of their failures, and fills their hearts with joyful anticipations, even when they are deeply conscious of the fact that they have forfeited all the blessings of God”

For the Christian, our salvation and sanctification is not based upon our faithfulness. It that were the case, we would be most miserable and always wondering if we have been faithful enough to become acceptable to God. This is the plight of those who base their religion upon their own works of righteousness. Thankfully, our salvation and all subsequent blessings are based upon God’s faithfulness to keep His promises.

Psalm 119:89-90 says, Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.”

Thomas Manton (1620–1677) was an English Puritan clergyman. He was a clerk to the Westminster Assembly and a chaplain to Oliver Cromwell. Regarding God’s faithfulness in Psalm 119:89-90 he writes, “These words contain a truth which is—(1) Asserted; and (2) Represented by a fit and lively emblem, thou hast established the earth, and it abides. He had before said, ‘Thy word is settled in the heavens:’ now he speaks of it as manifested in the earth. There the constancy of God’s promises was set forth by the duration and equal motion of the heavenly bodies, now by the firmness and immovableness of the earth. God’s powerful word and providence reaches to the whole world, this lower part here upon earth, as well as the upper part in heaven. That in all ages God ever showed himself a true God, and faithful in all his promises. It is his mercy to make promises, but it is his faithfulness and truth to fulfil them.”

Psalm 36:5-7 says, Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

Take the time today to consider how many ways God has been faithful to you throughout the years. Make a list and then take the opportunity to thank God for His faithfulness.

Great is Thy faithfulness,                                                                                                                O God my Father,                                                                                                                        There is no shadow of turning with Thee.                                                                           Thou changes not,                                                                                                                         Thy compassion’s, they fail not                                                                                                   As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness,                                                                                                         Great is Thy faithfulness.                                                                                                  Morning by morning new mercies I see.                                                                                  All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.                                                                      Great is Thy faithfulness,                                                                                                         Lord, unto me

Soli deo Gloria!