Today there is a clear tendency among Christian leaders to suggest that God’s character does not include anger and then defend themselves by trying to explain away the Scriptures that attribute it to Him. This may be understandable from the world’s point of view, but in the light of the full revelation of God in the Bible it is completely false.
Some ministers and Church leaders I have known who are attempting
to re-make God in their own image would be better advised to try and make themselves over in the image of God.
Before I go any further I wish to state that this article is based heavily on the thoughts of A.W. Tozer as well as my own.
I believe that the current teaching of so many that refuse to accept the doctrine of the wrath of God is part of a larger pattern of unbelief that begins with their doubt concerning the truthfulness of the Christian Scriptures.
If one of these teachers begins to question the inspiration of the Scriptures a logical progression seems to follow: from then on he judges the Word instead of letting the Word judge him. He will determine what the Word should teach instead of allowing the Word to determine what he should believe.
Why do Christian leaders insist on taking their salaries when they actually deny what God clearly says in the Scriptures? The ethical thing would be to walk out on the Christian faith and put it behind them along with other outgrown toys and discredited beliefs of childhood, but many do not even have the ethics or the internal fortitude to do this. As A.W. Tozer said, “He kills the tree but still hovers pensively about the orchard hoping for fruit that never comes.”
When we realise that the Holy Spirit speaks of the “wrath of God” about three hundred times in the Bible, we are correct in concluding either that this is a truth about God, or it is falsehood. If we have valid information from some outside source proving that anger is unworthy of God, then the Bible is not to be trusted when it attributes anger to God.
And if it is wrong three hundred times on one subject, who can trust it on any other?
The Biblically literate Christian knows that the wrath of God is a reality, that His anger is as holy as His love, and that between His love and His wrath there is no contradiction.
He also knows (as far as fallen creatures can know about such matters) what the wrath of God is and what it isn’t.
It is not vindictive, capricious or illogical – this is in direct contrast to those who ignore His anger and wrath.
To understand God’s wrath we must view it in the light of His holiness and purity. God is holy and has made holiness to be the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe.
Sin’s temporary presence in the world only shows this to be the case. Whatever is holy is pure, healthy and separate from everything else; this is what God was teaching Israel right through the Old Testament. Evil is a moral sickness that must end ultimately in death.
Since God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness – separate and pure – whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure.
Wherever the holiness of God confronts unholiness there is conflict. This conflict arises from the irreconcilable natures of holiness and sin. God’s attitude and action in the conflict are known in the Bible as His anger.
In order to preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. When He arises to put down destruction and save the world from irreparable moral collapse He is said to be angry.
God’s Wrath = Preservation
Every wrathful judgment of God in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation.
The holiness of God, the wrath of God and the health of His creation are inseparably united. Not only is it right for God to display anger against sin, but my own finite, mortal mind finds it impossible to understand how He could do anything else.
God’s wrath then is His complete intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys. He hates sin just as parents hate the leukaemia or terminal disease that would destroy the life of their child.
God’s wrath is His reaction by which moral degeneration is checked and the health of the creation maintained. When God warns of His impending wrath and exhorts men to repent and avoid it He puts it in a language we can understand: He tells them to “flee from the wrath to come.”
He says in effect, “Your life is evil, and because it is evil you are an enemy to the moral health of My creation. I must wipe out whatever would destroy the world I love. Turn from evil before I rise up in wrath against you. I love you, but I hate the sin you love. Separate yourself from your evil ways before I send judgment upon you.”
The Holy Spirit
I make no apology for using the thoughts of A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) for this article from which I receive nothing in this life.
It is clear to me, as well as to many others, that the Holy Spirit was speaking to Tozer as he taught the Word of God 5 decades ago. In many ways he was a prophetic voice, because now, in 2013, his comments about the Church and its leadership are so clearly seen to have come to fruition.
My aim is not to try to
emulate him as to provide for you the wisdom given to him by the Holy Spirit. His great strength was no doubt due to his complete reliance on the Scriptures and the Spirit speaking through them. We can do no better than to listen and act on them in this age of apostasy.