The world has two enormously different views of God’s wrath and sin.
- The main view taught today is from Greek philosophy where God is detached and unapproachable and Jesus needed to suffer and die to appease God’s wrath intended for us.
- The Biblical view is God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit greatly loved us before the foundation of the world (Eph 1). Our lovingly Father, angry at sin, sent His son Jesus to overcome that sin to bring us into a relationship with Him as His adopted children.
Love in Action
God’s wrath is not the opposite of love, but an expression of His love in His willingness to do whatever it takes to stop the sin leading to our destruction.
Baxter Kruger (one of my favorite theologians) gave a powerful lecture on how the view of sin changed by looking at how Athanasius described God’s view of sin in the 300s with how Jonathan Edwards described God’s view of sin in the 1700s.
The vast difference is a tragic.
Athanasius of Alexandria (c 296-373) was a renowned Christian theologian, a Church Father, and had a leading role against the Arians in the First Council of Nicaea.
It was unworthy of the goodness of God that creatures made by Him should be brought to nothing through the deceit wrought upon man by the devil; and it was supremely unfitting that the work of God in mankind should disappear, either through their own negligence or through the deceit of evil spirits.
As, then, the creatures whom He had created reasonable, like the Word, were in fact perishing, and such noble works were on the road to ruin, what then was God, being Good, to do? Was He to let corruption and death have their way with them? In that case, what was the use of having made them in the beginning?
Surely it would have been better never to have been created at all than, having been created, to be neglected and perish; and, besides that, such indifference to the ruin of His own work before His very eyes would argue not goodness in God but limitation, and that far more than if He had never created men at all. It was impossible; therefore, that God should leave man to be carried off by corruption, because it would be unfitting and unworthy of Himself.
Now fast forward to the 1700s. Jonathan Edwards was a preacher, theologian, and missionary to Native Americans. He is considered to be America’s most important theologian.
Jonathan Edwards’ Description
The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.
Jonathan Edward’s view makes me ill. Worse yet, is the Calvinist teaching that God’s wrath toward man is pacified by Christ but only for the elect. (Christ Appeased God’s Wrath for the Elect). Look at the distorted teaching about God’s wrath and who He died for:
“Christ died for the unbelief of the elect so that God’s punitive wrath is appeased toward them” (What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism)
Jesus died to overcome sin for the world (John 3:16) not just the elect.
Jesus Christ did not go to the cross to change God; he went to the cross to change us. He did not die to appease the Father’s anger or to heal the Father’s divided heart. Jesus Christ went to the cross to call a halt to the Fall and undo it, to convert fallen Adamic existence to his Father, to systematically eliminate our estrangement, so that he could accomplish his Father’s dream for our adoption in his ascension…(Baxter Kruger)
God’s wrath is toward sin not the sinner. He is furious with the sin disease that infiltrated man from the inside out live causing chaos desolating the God’s plan. There is no deed he can take that is not motivated by enthusiastic love.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. -Romans 5:8
His love does not leave us because we are sinners. God’s divine love vigorously fights things that destroy us. We are involved in a remarkable, marvelous love story!