21 May 2014

God in our Real Life

by Frank Turk

Well.  Hello.

This is not the end of my hiatus.  It's sort of an update.

This last weekend, I was tasked to teach in Adult Equipping Hour from Jeremiah 25.  In doing that, I was tasked to talk about the Wrath of God.  You can hear the results in the link above.  Apologies to DJP for switching in that lesson between "Jehovah" and "Yahweh" when the text said "LORD;" you know that I know your preference there, and since I agree with it I reverted to form as the lesson unfolded.  I also apologize for butchering the names in 2 Cr 34.

However, it occurred to me in writing that lesson and thinking about it after teaching it, that if God is who He is, we have to deal with the wrath of God in our real life as Christians in a way more than affirming it as a theological category.

Is there still something called "the Wrath of God" evident in the world?

What does it have to do with people in general, but especially for those of us who are believers in YHVH and therefore in Jesus?

Do we diminish Grace at all by admitting that there is a wrath of God which ought to be respected and feared?

Can we make any sense at all out of Grace if the wrath of God is not in our vocabulary?

Why ask these questions today?

Discuss as you see fit.


Vinod Anand S said...

This is a very good question Frank. I haven't thought about this. Thank you for bringing this up.

Wrath of God reminds us who God is and reminds us His awesomeness, power, anger & intolerance towards sin and righteousness. Wrath of God enables us to appreciate Jesus's love and sacrificial death for us. It reminds us that we are still in this sinful world and we are not yet made perfect. It shouts to the entire world that He is the ruler of the entire universe (Recent Tsunamis). Without wrath of God, there is no need of salvation. Without wrath of God, there is no need to worship God. Without wrath of God, there is no need for the heaven. So the entire salvation process scripted in the Bible becomes a waste and an unnecessary one.

Mark Hanson said...

Clearly Abraham Lincoln a century and a half ago thought that God's wrath was clearly seen (against both sides) in the Civil War, and most since then have not dared to doubt him.

But in the absence of prophets, who announce God's specific wrath in advance, we can generally only see it in retrospect. Even then, it is not usually unambiguous or easy to see in the short term.

But if there is common grace, there is also such a thing as common wrath - the determination of God that sin shall not succeed in the long run.

So in something like the fall of Communism, we like to see God's hand, but it is difficult to determine from this vantage whether it was a specific judgment or a simple application of His common wrath ("the way he made the world and the people in it").

Webster Hunt said...

I thought about Romans 1 to answer your question about God's wrath evident in the world - where God progressively gives men over to their chosen sin. So thinking that way, the increasing worship of the creation worked out in the number of sexual deviations that are crying out to be called "good and right" seems to be a revelation of God's wrath against man, as He allows him to increase in his sin.

But even at the same time that He's giving man over to their sin, He gives them life, and breath, and food, and many have families that love them, jobs that pay the bills, so it's a paradox how at the same time His wrath is revealed in that way, He exercises a kind of goodness and grace toward them practically.

Knowing that God has not poured His wrath on His people even that way, a way which - for an unregenerate heart - looks more like a blessing than a curse, but has instead said "Be holy, as I am holy", and then has made us what we couldn't make ourselves is amazing! And how could it ever diminish grace to know that God would be perfectly right and good to have given us all the sin we ever wanted and then punished us in hell afterward, but has instead punished His perfect Christ to the full measure? Shouldn't it produce praise and worship and fear instead?

And because Jesus bore the wrath of God in our place when He became our sin bearer, there is no way we can understand grace without wrath, we can't have grace without it! Grace is God giving sinners a righteousness they do not deserve. Why do we not deserve it? Isn't it because we love sin instead? And since sin is the violation of God's own righteousness, what's the penalty for that? If it's not His wrath, then why in the world was Christ crucified? If He's not substituting Himself as my ransom, if He's not there on the cross bearing my guilt and my due punishment, then Christ's death was a futile exercise. It's a propitiation - a taking away of wrath, a real wrath that was on my head that was working out in real time before in that same real time that God made me alive again.