June 30, 2022

How Does God View Anger?

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” Luke 3:7

“Dear Dr. Sala,” wrote a friend of Guidelines, “Being raised in the Baptist denomination, I always heard that people who did not meet the biblical requirements of being saved would burn in a literal hell after death and this would be a continuous burning forever and ever.  I still hear this in the church I attend today. But somehow, I can’t seem to understand why God would create this so-called eternal barbeque pit.  Once a person is dead and can no longer harm or hurt anyone, does God get some kind of revenge or satisfaction from seeing persons… suffer in burning anguish forever and ever?”

Though the writer didn’t express this, the same logic goes, “How can a God of love ever send someone to hell?” God does love you very, very much. The heart of the Gospel is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Few, however, know the verse that follows, “For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved!”

What most people don’t know, and especially those whose pastors major on the “God loves you” theme, is that “there are more references in Scripture to the wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness,” so says theologian Arthur Pink (Arthur Pink, The Attributes of God, p. 83).   I never cease to be amazed at the almost universal conspiracy of silence today when it comes to letting people know that God’s righteousness and justice also demands retribution for sin and wrongdoing just as it demands rewards for righteousness.

For a moment, ask yourself when you have heard these passages from the New Testament quoted or used as a text for a message: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18).  “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 5:6).   And says Paul, writing to the Colossians, “Because of these, the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:6).

There is an end to the patience and mercy of the Almighty, and that is when His wrath is vented.  The book of Revelation, in symbols and pictures, describes the outpouring of God’s wrath upon a generation that has denied His Son.

A final thought: For an Adolph Hitler who sent 14 million men and women to their deaths in the concentration camps of Europe, along with Stalin whose hands were stained with the blood of at least 35 million innocent victims, along with murderers, rapists, and criminals, to spend all eternity in the company of my own saintly mother, and the martyrs of the ages, is absolutely inconceivable.

The Bible says very clearly that the door of mercy is still ajar, that His wrath is not poured out indiscriminately on the weak or downcast, but that the sinful and wicked, regardless of their wealth or status in life, are the ultimate targets of His wrath.

Should a knowledge that God is not only a loving God but also a God whose patience will ultimately end, frighten us?  I would answer both yes and no.  Because I am His child, I have no fear whatsoever; but if I were outside the fold, and not God’s child, I would run to Him and plead for His mercy and His forgiveness today.

 

Resource reading: Revelation 16:1-21