A God of Wrath or A God Without Wrath?

Wes  —  June 7, 2017
  • Sumo

There are many people with an unhealthy view of God. Some people believe God is an angry tyrant with unreasonable expectations for mankind, ready to strike people dead at any moment. They believe His primary characteristics are wrath and fury. While it is sad people feel this way, it is equally heartbreaking that others believe the God of the Bible has no rules or expectations for mankind and will punish no one. We must have a balanced and biblical understanding of God’s character.

Are We ALL God’s Children?

Where I think a lot of the confusion begins is with the idea that everyone is a child of God. When people begin with the premise that God’s relationship to humanity can best be described as a parent-child relationship, they are bound to make many false assumptions. They build their theology on the idea that God feels about every single person the way a loving parent feels about his kids.

There is just enough truth in that premise to make it sound biblical. It is true that God loves every single person. He loves even the most notorious sinner. And the apostle Paul borrowed the words of a pagan poet to say, we are all the “offspring” of God (Acts 17:28). But Paul was not saying all humanity is part of God’s “family.” In fact, he was urging people to repent, because of the coming judgement (Acts 17:28-31).

The Bible does not teach that we are all God’s “children.” It does not describe the relationship between God and humanity as a parent-child relationship. In fact, it describes the relationship between God and humanity more in terms of a King and His enemies.

A King Who Loves His Enemies

It would seem logical for a parent to give his life for the sake of his children, but that a King would give his life for his enemies seems preposterous. Yet that is the story of the Bible; that is the story of the gospel.

God’s chosen people (Israel) had joined humanity in rebellion against Him; but instead of sending a destroyer, God sent a Savior. He sent His Son not to kill, but to be killed. That is a love that truly baffles the mind.

The apostle Paul wrote it this way in Romans 5:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 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. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, He is telling us to do exactly what He did for us. The triune God of heaven paid the highest possible price to reconcile His enemies to Himself.

It dilutes the power of the gospel to begin with, “We’re all God’s children.” We must begin with, “We are all loved by God, in spite of the fact that we have been engaged in a rebellion against Him.”

Children of God Through Christ

Furthermore, the Bible teaches that only those who accept the Kingship of Jesus are given “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). If everyone is already a child of God, then what kind of a relationship is created by becoming a Christian?

When a person becomes a Christian, he or she is adopted into God’s family. The relationship changes. God sends “the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ (Galatians 4:6). When we become Christians, we are looked at and loved differently than we were before.

This is the power of “reconciliation.” And that’s what the Good News of Jesus Christ is all about.

Who Is God?

If we are going to love Him, live for Him, worship Him, and bring the lost to Him, then we must understand who God is claiming to be. He is not claiming to be an angry tyrant who wants to destroy everyone, nor is He claiming to be a fairy godmother.

He is the Great I Am. He is the Ancient of Days. He is the Almighty. He is the sovereign King who reigns on high. He cares about His honor and His glory. He loves mankind more deeply than we could possibly understand, while His wrath against rebellion burns more deeply than we could possibly endure.

God doesn’t want anyone to perish; He wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:8-9). “But the day of the Lord will come…” (vs. 10). He is coming to judge.

He will treat His children like His children and He will treat His enemies like His enemies. Now is the time for reconciliation. Now is the time for repentance. “Now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams