A SUBJECT IGNORED
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18
God’s wrath is not a subject most churches address. And of the few that do, some exclude teaching of God’s tender grace. Focusing on either one, while ignoring the other, distorts the Gospel and hurts any congregation. A right view of the character of God can only be attained when His wrath, and grace, are understood.
One of the reasons people prefer not to think about God’s anger is because of their experience with angry people around them. God’s anger is not of the human kind.
There are two New Testament words for wrath. One is ‘thymos’; meaning a panting rage. The other is ‘orge’; meaning something which simmers and ripens. ‘Thymos’ is used in the book of Revelation to describe the wrath of God that will be poured out one day in all of its fury. However, in every other instance in the New Testament, ‘orge’ is used. God wants us to know that he does not reach out to strike when He has been momentarily offended. He’s not temperamental. Instead, He’s longsuffering in nature, and while He waits, his anger simmers over a long period of time as He sees wickedness spread over the earth. His ripened anger will one day culminate in the eternal condemnation of all who have not trusted Christ as their Savior.
This all sounds pretty academic. Where’s the heart food in this for today?
Jesus’ death provided a way of escape from God’s wrath; both the panting rage and the simmering kind. My unrighteousness, the sin which deserved His full punishment and condemnation, went to Christ instead. He took God’s wrath in my place. Dressed in His holiness, I get to live in a tender, intimate relationship with His Father. I don’t have enough words to express what that privilege means to me.
Unrighteousness does suppress the truth. It encourages people to reject a God who tells them that they are sinners and need to repent. God’s people, dressed in His righteousness, love the Truth and are willing to listen to God regardless of how much it costs them personally. That small test is one way to tell whether or not I am God’s child. Am I truth lover or truth hater? Will I love the truth even when God’s wrath is the subject matter? May it be so.
Knowing that the full manifestation of Your wrath is still to come, I am compelled to tell the story of the cross to those still under the curse with even more urgency. Forgive my laziness, Father. Amen