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!