Yesterday I wrote a post on God’s wrath. It needed to be said.
But in telling others about God, we don’t lead with God’s wrath. People need to first hear that they are loved unconditionally before we address the issue of sin. We assume wrath comes before grace, but that is not the biblical way. God’s first and last word is always grace. Until we have been assured that we are loved and forgiven, it is impossible to address our sinfulness correctly. We will operate out of our own resources, trying to get God to like us by our own efforts to change. God’s first word is always grace, as Barth said. Only then can we begin to understand God’s holiness, and ours.
When we speak of the wrath of God, we imagine that God is irrationally full of rage, ready to “make heads roll” because he is so livid. In the same way that God’s love is not a silly, sappy feeling but rather a consistent desire for the good of his people, so also the wrath of God is not a crazed rage but rather a consistent opposition to sin and evil. God hates sin, we say (not the sinner, however), but even then, the idea of God hating something seems beneath him. We have a difficult time with the concept of God’s wrath and judgment and condemnation because our only examples of these things are so negative.
The solution to the problem is in understanding that in the Bible the wrath of God is pathos and not passion. The Anchor Bible Dictionary explains the difference:
the wrath of Yahweh is portrayed somewhat differently from human anger in the Hebrew Bible. In some respects this is essentially the difference between “passion” and “pathos.” Passion can be understood as an emotional convulsion…and…a loss of self-control…. “Pathos” on the other hand, is an act formed with care and intention, the result of determination and decision.
The wrath of God is not like human wrath, which is a reckless and irrational passion. God’s wrath is mindful, objective, rational response. It is actually an act of love.
Wrath is a necessary reaction of a loving and holy God, a good and beautiful God, to evil. God’s wrath is a temporary and just verdict on sin and evil.
In the 80s the word “awesome” became THE word to describe something, anything cool or great or new or better. I used it (like) a lot.
But not anymore. Only God is truly awesome. What produces “awe?” Awe promotes fear and terror. Awesome says, “Watch out!”
Just look at Isaiah 40:10-26 to see the awesomeness of God!
When we are gripped by God’s greatness, His awesomeness runs like a river of joy through the very center of your being.
No, not the anniversay of this blog…my anniversay of marital bliss with my wife Jennifer. OK, it hasn’t all been bliss, but more than not!
I couldn’t have done better. And she certainly didn’t have to marry down…but I’m grateful to God that she did!
That's my girl!
Here’s today’s set list of music at the Awakening Service at FCC. This will be linked to The Worship Community.com blog where other worship bloggers post their setlists.
Here’s what we did:
Let Everything That Has Breath
I Will Follow
Commissioning of our Haiti Mission Team
The Power of Your Name
Message: How To Make Your Marriage Better
Hungry (I’m falling on my knees)
Because of Your Love
Prayer is communicating with God in both directions. He talks; we listen. We talk; He listens. Listening, however, should always take priority. As we hear His leading, we must willingly and joyfully obey.
An article printed and distributed by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) describes as “anti-choice” the position that “human life begins at conception.” It says that the prochoice position is, “Personhood at conception is a religious belief, not a provable biological fact.”
It is uncertain when human life begins; that’s a religious question that cannot be answered by science.
If there is uncertainty about when human life begins, the benefit of the doubt should go to preserving life. Suppose there is uncertainty about when human life begins. If a hunter is uncertain whether a movement in the brush is caused by a person, does his uncertainty lead him to fire or not to fire? If you’re driving at night and you think the dark figure ahead on the road may be a child, but it may just be a shadow of a tree, do you drive into it or do you put on the brakes? Shouldn’t we give the benefit of the doubt to life?
Medical textbooks and scientific reference works consistently agree that human life begins at conception. There are simply too many sources to cite! I have dozens that cite life begins at conception. They state not a theory or hypothesis can certainly not a religious belief–every one is a secular source.
1 John 4:8 is clear: GOD is love.
And if God IS love then we can replace the word “love” in the so-called “love chapter” of 1 Corinthians.
So…for those of you who don’t know God or have a misunderstanding of God’s character, here’s who I believe He is…
God is patient. God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God is not rude, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.
God’s holiness is not some abstract character trait to be admired like a fine painting or an antique car. What God forbids as sin He does because He knows us and loves us. Every time God says, “Don’t,” what He really means is “Don’t hurt yourself.” When we choose to sin, we choose to suffer.
Jesus faced a difficult situation in the garden of Gethsemane. He asked his Father to remove his “cup” from him. The cup represents the things that are forced on us in life. We all must ask, What is my “cup”? What aspect of your life makes it difficult for you to trust God? Were you hurt by a divorce? Have you suffered loss? Are you unable to find a life partner and struggling with the prospect of lifelong singleness? Have you experienced the death of a loved one? The death of a dream? The loss of a business? The loss of some physical capacity?
A “cup” is anything that we struggle with accepting as our lot in life. And our cup is usually the thing that makes it difficult to believe God is good.
Thomas Smail’s interpretation of what Jesus was going through in the Garden of Gethsemane is helpful:
The Father that Jesus addresses in the garden is the One that he has known all his life and found to be bountiful in his provision, reliable in his promises and utterly faithful in his love. he can obey the will that sends him to the cross, with hope and expectation because it is the will of Abba whose love has been so proved that it can now be trusted so fully by being obeyed so completely. This is not legal obedience driven by commandment, but trusting response to known love.
So when I encounter a world full of earthquakes and child molesters, airplane crashes and meth-addicted moms, I don’t try to force myself to say all is well. I say, “Jesus trusted his Abba, and I will also trust in the God I know to be good.”