Friday, July 8, 2016

The Quality of God’s Wrath

The quality of wrath is seen in that it is divine, and of God. Nothing is like it in the present world. His wrath is different than anger expressed by humans, which has the taint of sin. His wrath is righteous always and complete. He does not lose His temper.[1]

There is no capriciousness or irrationality in God’s wrath. It is the only way a holy God could respond toward evil. God cannot be holy and not be angry at evil.[2] Habakkuk says of God, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13 ESV) Habakkuk describes the eyes of God as too pure to view evil. For him God was holy and therefore cannot tolerate wrong.[3]

Twice Jesus chased the money changers and sacrifice sellers from the Temple. He was angry that they made His “Father’s house a house of merchandise” and “a robber’s den” (John 2:14-16; Matthew 21:12-13). They had dishonored the house of God and Jesus was angry. Jeremiah recognized the righteousness of God’s punishment, saying, “The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word; but hear, all you peoples, and see my suffering; my young women and my young men have gone into captivity.” (Lamentations 1:18 ESV)[4]

Even in our fallen society, there is outrage against perceived injustices of the world. It is often viewed as an essential aspect of the goodness of humanity. There is an expectation that people will be outraged by injustices and brutality. God is perfectly outraged against these injustices with a “holy fury” all the time.[5]

[1]. MacArthur, 1991. 62.

[2] Ibid. 63.

[3] Barker, Kenneth L. Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. Vol. 20. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999. 314.

[4] MacArthur, 1991. 63.

[5] Ibid.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Revelation of God’s Wrath

Illustrated throughout Scripture the wrath of God has always been revealed to sinful humanity. The first revelation of the wrath of God was seen in the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit the curse of death was conferred on them and all of humanity. Even the earth was cursed. In the time of Noah, God revealed His wrath through the flood and drowned all of humanity except for the family of Noah. The wrath of God was revealed against Sodom and Gomorrah by “brimstone and fire.” The wrath of God was revealed against the army of pharaoh when they were drowned in the Red Sea. The curse of the law reveals the wrath of God against every transgression of the Israelite and as part of the sacrificial system of the Mosaic covenant.[1]

Paul says in Romans 5:15, “For if many died through one man’s trespass” indicating that because of the sin of Adam all now die. In verse 16 he calls death a judgment which came about because of the transgression of one man, the first man, Adam. And again in verse 18, Paul says that the “one trespass led to condemnation for all men.” Universal human death is one revelation of the wrath of God.[2]

Misery and widespread pointlessness are also revelations of the wrath of God against human sin. Consider the words of Paul in Romans 8:20: “the creation was subjected to futility.” In a fallen world sufferings are inescapable. The long labor of a farmer may be erased by flood or drought just before the harvest. Creation was subjected to the futility of sin or “slavery to corruption.” (Romans 8:21)[3]

Another way God’s wrath is revealed against human sin is the ruin of human thinking and behavior. After Paul gives a description of man’s ungodliness and unrighteousness in Romans 1:19-23 he says in verse 24, “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.” God’s wrath is revealed against mankind by giving man “up to be more sinful.” Paul repeats this thought in verse 26 “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,” and again in verse 28 “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,”[4]

[1] MacArthur, John F., Jr. Romans. MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1991. 64.

[2] Piper, John. Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life. Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2005. 269.

[3] Ibid. 270.

[4] Ibid. 270-271.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What is the Wrath of God

Often when one thinks of the word wrath, images brought to mind are those of an individual who is red faced and overrun with rage. Packer notes that his dictionary defines wrath as “deep intense anger and indignation.” Anger he says is defined as “stirring of resentful displeasure and strong antagonism by a sense of injury and insult.”  The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defins wrath as “exterme anger.” Jonathan Edwards sees anger and wrath as two different words. Wrath is expressed in the torments of hell and sinners will “bear the fierceness of his wrath.”[1] He describes wrath as having “glowing flames,” “black clouds,” and “great waters that have been dammed for the present.”[2] John Stott says there is a close relationship between God’s holiness and God’s wrath. It is a holy reaction to evil.[3]

Packer calls the wrath of God, His action in the punishment of sin. “It is as much the expression of a personal, emotional attitude of the Triune Jehovah as is His love to sinners; it is the active manifesting of His hatred of irreligion and moral evil.”[4] It is possible that the phrase “the wrath of God” may refer to the future manifestation of this hatred on “the day of wrath” from Romans 5:9. But it may also refer to “present providential events and processes in which divine retribution for sin may be discerned.”[5]

There are several Hebrew words that illustrate a “highly personal character” that are used in the Old Testament as a description of God’s anger. Frequently used of God is hārâ which “refer to burning with fury, and is frequently used of God.” The word hārôn used exclusively to describe diven anger which means “a burning, fierce wrath.” Qâtsaph means bitter and often refers to God as in Deuteronomy 1:34, “Then the Lord heard the sound of your words, and He was angry and took an oath saying.”  Often linked with jealousy is the word hemâh which can also refer to a venom or poison. Psalm 7:11 says “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.” The word indignation is zā,am has the meaning to foam at the mouth.[6] The wrath of God when focused against sin is in close relation to His holiness and justice. There His wrath may defined as, “God’s wrath means that he intensely hates all sin.”

[1] Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards. Vol. 2. Banner of Truth Trust, 1974. 8.

[2] Ibid. 9.

[3] Stott, John R. W. The Cross of Christ. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2006. 105.

[4] J. I. Packer Knowing God. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1973.. 139.

[5] Ibid.

[6] MacArthur, John F., Jr. Romans. MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1991. 65.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Wrath of God

If you were asked to describe the attributes of God, you might begin by stating “God is love.” You might even speak of His goodness, His mercy, His grace, or maybe even His justice. But rarely would does anyone think of His wrath. J.I. Packer states, “The modern habit throughout the Christian church is to play this subject down.” He goes on to say that the subject has become taboo in modern society and Christians have accept this taboo and never bring the subject up.[1]

John MacArthur states that any idea of a wrathful God is contrary to the wishful thinking of fallen humanity and can be a stumbling block to many Christians. Evangelism today focuses primarily on the abundant life in Christ, emphasizes the joy and blessings of salvation, and focuses on the peace with God that faith in Christ brings. These are certainly benefits of salvation, but the truth of God’s judgment against sin and the participants in sin must also be heard.[2]

One might even be surprised to discover how often the Bible speaks about the wrath of God. A. W. Pink writes that if one were to study a concordance, one would see that there are “more references to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness.”[3] It should not be surprising that God would hate all that is opposed to His moral character, because He loves all that is right and good and conforms to his moral character. His wrath directed toward sin is in close relation to His holiness and justice.[4] C. F. Henry notes that the concept of divine wrath is offensive to modern man but to negate or erase that concept is to violate the teaching of Scripture and ignore the moral nature of God.[5] The question one might ask is how the wrath of God would be important to the plan of salvation.

[1] J. I. Packer Knowing God. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1973. 134.

[2] MacArthur, John F., Jr. Romans. MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1991. 59

[3] A. W. Pink The Attributes of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006. 75.

[4] Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004. 205-206.

[5] Henry, Carl F. H. God, Revelation, and Authority. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1999. V2, 39.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What is the Truth?

Recently I read the book Christianity’s Dangerous Idea by Alister McGrath. The dangerous idea was that all Christians have the right to interpret the Bible for themselves. McGrath questions who has the authority or right to interpret the Bible.

In a conversation I have had recently, I quoted scripture and was told that taking scripture out of context was ineffective. I noted the assumption was that within context the verse I quoted would mean something different than when I quoted it.

The response was similar to McGrath’s in that everyone has their own interpretation and view. True enough. But is every interpretation and view correct. The responder also made the point that interpretation was given to everyone by the Spirit of God. I have difficulty believing the Holy Spirit would teach a differing view of scripture to different people. There has to be a correct view of the Truth of God which comes from scripture.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Image Of God

Describing the image of God is not an easy task.  Wayne Grudem defines the image of God as such “The fact that man is in the image of God means that man is like God and represents God.” (Grudem 1994)
Many theologians have attempted to specify one characteristic of man or few that can be seen as the image of God.  “Some have thought that the image of God consists in man’s intellectual ability, others in his power to make moral decisions and willing choices. Others have thought that the image of God referred to man’s original moral purity, or his creation as male and female (see Gen. 1:27), or his dominion over the earth.” (Grudem 1994)
The Hebrew word selem is translated “image” while demut is translated “likeness.”  These two words can be seen as synonyms of each other.  “When found together, as in Genesis 1:26; 5:1, 3, selem and demut make a theological statement about human nature, affirming that we bear a “likeness-image” to God. Like God we are persons, with an emotional, moral, and intellectual resemblance to our Creator.” (Richards and Richards 1987)  John J. Davis says “It is this image and likeness that completely distinguishes man from the animal kingdom.  He alone has the capacity for self-consciousness, speech, and moral discernment.” (Davis 1975)
The image of God cannot be pinpointed to one characteristic, but to several that reflect the God.  It is that image that separates man from the animals.  It is because of this image that we can love, think, and make good moral decisions.  It is from God that man has creativity and a spiritual nature.  The image of God is not a physical reflection of God, but it is a reflection of the characteristics that cannot be seen.  It is the similarities between God and man that should be considered the image of God.


Davis, John J. Paradise to Prison. Salem: Sheffield Publishing Company, 1975.
Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.
Richards, Larry, and Lawrence O. Richards. The Teacher's Commentary. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1987.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Does “day" mean a 24 hour period or ages?

Wycliffe Bible Commentary states that it is not correct to think of a day as a 24 hour period of time.  It is the premise of the author that because the sun and moon are not created until later, that the measurement of time has not begun.  He believes that a day is referring to a day of God and not to a day measured in hours and minutes.
Stephen Schrader in the KJV Commentary tells us that the word day has been used in three different ways in Genesis.  In Genesis 1:5, 14, 16, and 18 it is used as a twelve hour period of light.  The other two ways are a twenty-four hour period and in Genesis 2:4 the entire creative week.  The phrase “And the evening and the morning were the first day” indicates to the author that the word used here is a twenty-four hour period of time.
Kurt Strassner in Opening Up Genesis ponders the questions “What is God like? Where did we come from?  What are we here for?”  He believes the answers come from the first two chapters of the Bible which span just seven twenty-four hour days.  He solidifies his stance on the twenty-four hour days, by discussing evolution.  One reason he gives for his stance against evolution is that the Bible gives us no reason to believe that the day in question is anything other than a twenty-four hour period.  He notes that while it is true that Peter says in 2 Peter 3:8 that a “day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day,” Genesis 1 says over and over that “there was evening and morning,” which is indicative of one day as opposed to a millennium.
There really has been no question for me as to whether the day in Genesis refers to a 24 hour period of time or not.  I agree with Strassner and Schrader that it does refer to a 24 hour period of time.  I don’t think the Lord God needed an entire day to create all of creation.  As far as the argument that we cannot call it a day because the sun, moon, and stars had not been created yet; if God calls it a day then who are we to argue.  Ultimately it seems a bit ludicrous as well but if it took God six thousand years to make the earth and then He rested as an example to us, do we then rest for a thousand years?