Recently, I’ve been noticing a backlash against trusting in the love of God. The argument goes something like this, “those Christians just believe God loves them and then they go about their business as if nothing else matters. They have totally abolished the wrath of God and His vengeance against sinners.”
The above, unfortunately, non-hypothetical statement has a number of wrong assumptions that lead to the wrong conclusions.
First of all, since when did the wrath of God and the love and the grace of God become two opposing factors within Christianity?
Secondly, the concept of wrath in a Biblical sense is quite different from how we envision wrath.
Thirdly, where did we get the idea that somehow God is angry with us and can hardly wait to pour out His vengeance against us? All three of these propositions are false and yet they are propagated throughout much of the church.
There is a truth in the statement I quoted and that is we believe God loves us. If you didn’t believe God loves you then why be a Christian? What is the point of being a Christian if we don’t believe in the grace of God that “saves a wretch like me”?
What do these critics believe a Christian should believe in if not love? Is it works, striving harder, surrendering more, penance, or ritualism? Do they believe that God is a wrathful God who only responds with kindness to humans when we appease Him or make the appropriate effort to please Him?
I know, I’m asking a lot of questions, but they are important for a follower of Jesus to think through. Honestly, many of the people who are offended with our continual teaching and preaching about the unmerited love of God have simply not thought it through regarding what is the alternative.
1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love and then verse 9 explains how love works in a practical way. “In this the love of God was made manifest amongst us, in that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.” And verse 10 gives us our appropriate response to such love, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins.”
Jesus did not die so that the Father could love us; He died because the Father loved us. Sin separated us from God and God came looking for us to invite us home again. This is the whole point of the Bible. The problem is we have been enslaved by the world of sin, Satan, and death. So, the great question is how do we become free from such power to reconnect with God?
The answer is we don’t? But that doesn’t mean we are left to wither away within our sin and rebellion. At the cross God broke the power of Satan, the principalities and powers of Scripture. We were given freedom from Satan’s strangle hold on us and the result was simply that we were reconnected to the Father through the love of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father.
Look at these verses from Colossians chapter two,
13“And when you were dead in trespasses and the un-circumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses,
14 erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.
15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.”
Redemption is not about how much we do for God, it is about an amazing, undeserved, abundant love that was poured out, and still is, upon us because we are loved. Paul makes it clear we were dead in our sins, but God made us alive when He forgave us “all” our sins. If you are dead in sin but your sins are forgiven then how much did you do to have those sins forgiven? Nothing!
This is a gift of love from the Father through Jesus and impressed upon our hearts by the Spirit. Now all those old sins and failures that Paul calls the record, “that stood against us” was erased by God. All the legal demands of the law that pointed out our failures and sins and condemned us for them was erased at the cross. That record is gone, erased, and cast into the deepest part of the sea never to haunt us again.
Acts 2 tells us, “ Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus.” (verses 19, 20)
Luke, who wrote Acts, tells us repent of your sins, trust God with your life and your sins will be wiped out (erased away). If your sins are wiped out they can’t come back some time in the future to condemn you. God doesn’t work that way. He’s not playing games with our lives like a game of hot potato where one minute you are saved and another moment you are lost.
When God promises us that whosoever believes in Him shall have eternal life you can take that to the bank. Salvation is a gift that was poured out at the cross where Jesus died for us in the fact that the hold of sin upon us, and the world was broken. We were given freedom to have our eyes opened and see sin for what it is and the joy of running into the arms of Jesus.
My salvation is not gained because God’s anger at me was erased because He poured it out on Jesus. God is not angry with us, instead He longs for us to allow Him to be our Father and be open to His precious gift of love and forgiveness. Since the very definition of God “is love”, then why do we so quickly jump to the conclusion that He is the angry vengeful one?
Listen, if you believe your sins are “stacked up” in Heaven waiting for God to go over them and pick your life apart longing to find un-confessed sins in order to keep you out of the Kingdom, then you don’t know God. You have a view of God as stern and a harsh judge.
When you read the Prodigal Son, is that the view of God you receive? Do you see the Father going over all the sins of the prodigal before He allows him back into the house? Does He make the son bow down to Him in the street and pour out the list of sins he committed since he left home?
No, the Father runs to the son and wraps his arms around him and holds him tight with tears running down His face because His son who was lost has come home.
God loves you and wants you to know His love. Please, don’t allow yourself to be fooled into believing that God is an angry God with vengeance on His heart for all your sins. Your sins are the past, forgiven and forgotten when you put your heart and your trust, into the hands of Jesus.
You are loved unconditionally and totally. You are the apple of God’s eye. You are His child.