Is God A God Of Wrath Or Love?

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” – 1 John 4:10

Have you ever heard someone say, the God of the Old Testament is a God of anger and wrath and the God of the New Testament is a God of love? The fundamental problem with people who take this view is that they miss an important theological concept found in the New Testament; that God took out His wrath and punishment on His Son Jesus Christ instead of us. God’s wrath and punishment is found in the New Testament, but it is poured out on God’s own Son. Today, the idea of substitutionary atonement is being lost from the Gospel. Some want to believe that God just forgives humanity by forgetting about our sin or by pronouncing “I’m ok, you’re ok”, but that is not the Gospel at all. Even the great theologian, Richard Niebuhr, recognized this theological problem in America back in the 1930’s when he wrote, “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” Substitutionary atonement means that someone else paid the price of sin in humanity’s place. There is a huge cost to our sin. The anger of God was directed towards His own Son through His suffering and innocent death on the Cross. In other words, Jesus took the punishment for my sin. There is a price to be paid in the New Testament too, though some today miss it. On the flip side, because of Jesus’ substitutionary death we now receive what we do not deserve, God the Father’s merciful declaration of Jesus’ innocence and forgiveness is ours!

Yet, even in the Old Testament there are examples of God’s great love and mercy too, not just His wrath. One phrase that is quoted over and over again is God is a “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 4:31; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:5, 15; 108:4; 145:8; Joel 2:13). God time and time again relents from His anger when a man or woman of faith repents of their sins in the Old Testament. And this is true today. God is not one dimensional toward us, showing only love or only anger. God is our Father and just like our earthly fathers, we receive discipline when we sin and love and forgiveness when we repent. "The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." - Hebrews 12:6 

God bless,

Pastor Joel