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If God Is Love, Then Why Does the Bible Talk so Much about Wrath and Judgment?

The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety.    

God’s wrath and judgment are functions of His love. We would not want a God who was not just. In fact, all of culture cries out for justice. The highest rated shows on television are what? They are crime shows: Law and Order, etc. We yearn for justice. A God who didn’t have wrath towards sin would not be a God of love. Because how could a God of love allow sin to go unpunished?

On the Cross we see the juxtaposition of God’s love and wrath met in one person, in Christ. It was poured out on Christ in Calvary. This is where God’s love and justice met in Christ. While God’s justice demanded a response to sin (because we want a God of justice) and His love provided the solution. The answer then, is to not just look at the Old Testament and say “oh, there is an angry God”. Look at the New Testament. You have to take them both together. And Jesus is the answer for God’s wrath. 

Where Do Wrath and Love Intersect? 

Where do wrath and love meet? 

When we ask this question, we seem to misunderstand both love and wrath. They are interconnected. God loves us, and God hates sin. Because of God’s holiness and pureness, whenever we sin, we have defiled ourselves and cannot be in the presence of a holy God.

The shock of even brushing against a holy God, sinful as we are, would simply kill us (2 Samuel 6:7). 

God wants to live in communion with us, but sin has created a gap between himself and us. 

Seeing this gap, God sought to bridge it. He unleashed his wrath, the outpouring of his righteous anger in reaction to the sin of man, on Jesus on the cross. Jesus chose to suffer the wrath for us to pay for the sin

In doing so, he has paid for the debt our sin has caused and allows us to dwell in the presence of God, if we choose to accept his gift. 

“But why did Jesus have to die?” we may ask. “Couldn’t God just simply sweep the knowledge of our sins under the rug and simply allow us to come into heaven?” 

We may even point to a parable like Matthew 18:21-35, in which a master relieves a servant of an enormous debt that no man could pay back. However, when we draw examples from stories like these, we forget that someone has to absorb the cost. 

Someone has to suffer because of the debt incurred. 

Even if God simply “let us into” heaven without someone having paid the debt for our sin, C.S. Lewis shows what exactly would happen if a hell-bound person entered heaven in The Great Divorce.

In essence, someone who has been corrupted by sin and has not received the cleansing grace of God would hate heaven. Lewis shows that sin corrupts, so that even in heaven people would never truly be happy in the presence of God.

He best summarizes this by saying the following: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice, there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”  

God’s wrath and love intersect at the cross. 

Although we have incurred a great debt, Jesus chose to absorb it for us, so we can avoid a fiery fate our sin has created for us. That we have chosen for ourselves.

To read more from this excerpt, see How Can I Explain God’s Wrath in the Bible as Loving?

Photo Credit: Rawpixel/Unsplash

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