Grace 101


So let me ask you a question: Is God angry about your sins?  You know, the ones you did in the past.  Or maybe the ones you continue to do.  Is He angry with you?  Are you in danger of facing the wrath of God?

It is interesting to realize that churches that are mostly filled with believers are the ones who hear most about the wrath of God and His anger toward our sin.  Churches filled with people who know little or nothing about salvation or a relationship with Jesus rarely hear about God’s anger toward sin.  So the ones who are still in their sins are not taught about God’s concern with sin, while those whose sins are fully forgiven are taught to be afraid of God’s wrath.  Doesn’t that seem a little backward?

I have met many believers who are afraid of God. They believe that He is still angry with them, that He would zap them joyfully if not for the intervention of Jesus.  They don’t want to get close to God and can hardly pray without all kinds of confession and bargaining and pleading for mercy.  They feel themselves teetering on the edge of condemnation, barely saved.

Why do they feel this way?  Because someone is constantly pointing out their sinfulness and shame.  No, it isn’t the Lord.  It may be the preacher or the teacher or Christian friends.  And, almost always, there is the insinuation that God is angry.  Maybe, they hear, if you change your ways and ask forgiveness, He will overlook your sins—this time.

Well, if you look into the box of the gift of salvation, you will find something that isn’t talked about as much as it should be.  You will find that your relationship with Jesus has fully reconciled you to God.  The good news of the gospel is that the Father sent the Son to bring the salvation we needed.  In fact, the Father sent the Spirit to bring you and me to the Son so that we could be saved and forgiven and fully reconciled to Him.  That means there is no one left to be angry with us.  The Trinity was in this together because of Love.

This is important.  Not only is it wonderful, it is important.  You and I stand in the presence of God who loves us.  We may come boldly into His presence, even joyfully.  We do not need to be afraid.

But what about our sin?  What about the things we continue to do?  Well, God still hates sin; and, as I have explained before, He does so because He loves us and sin hurts us.  He will work against sin in our lives and call us to right living.  All of that is true.  But He is not angry with His children.  He loves us.

You see, for many of us, anger suggests rejection.  We get the idea (sometimes through the simple words of the sermon) that if we do something wrong, we just might get kicked out of the club.  God will reject us.  I once heard a man tell a group of children that God hated cheaters.  So, the logic must go, if one of the children cheated in the competition, God must hate him.  How sad and how wrong!  I might suggest that God hates cheating because of how it hurts people, but He doesn’t hate the people who come to Him.  And He will never reject anyone who belongs to Jesus.  Never.

Abraham was called the friend of God.  Abraham came to God in faith, faith that is used as an example for us.  Those of us who come to God through faith in Jesus are God’s friends.  Fully reconciled.  No longer enemies.  And whatever barrier there was between us was destroyed by His initiative.  He did it because He loved us and He wanted that reconciliation.

So come to God with peace in your heart, trusting in His love.  There is nothing to fear.

1 Comment

Filed under Grace 101

One response to “Reconciliation

  1. prairiemom

    I think those of us who grew up under retaliatory punishment and a parent’s withholding of love for bad behavior have a hard time differentiating God’s wrath from God’s loving discipline of His children. I know this has been true for me. Though it is taking a long time, God is gently teaching me the difference.

    I love Hebrews 12:4-12, that tells me that I am a child of God, and He will discipline me and keep me when I sin, that He loves me enough as His daughter to not just sit by while I continue to sin. And although I may feel pain in the discipline, it is evidence that I am a legitimate child, one whom He cares deeply about. I will admit, I am afraid of the Lord’s discipline. I have received it enough to know that it is painful, just as those scriptures say, but how much more painful to have a neglectful father who doesn’t care what I do or a wrathful one who disowns me the moment I mess up? In the past, I was one of those believers you describe who feared God’s wrath. Now I am afraid of God’s discipline, but in a completely different way, just as my kids are afraid that they will lose privileges or have a time-out if they make bad choices, but they are not afraid that I will stop loving them or will do something to retaliate against them just because they misbehave. Just as my kids trust me and their dad because we set boundaries for them and then keep them, I am learning to trust God all the more because of His faithful discipline of me (and He knows I need plenty!). I think it is so important for churches/teachers/ preachers to not confuse God’s wrath on those who are not in Christ with God’s loving discipline of His children.

    I know I was under God’s wrath when I was without Jesus. I think it is so important for people to realize that. After all, who needs grace or a savior if there is nothing to be saved from, right? And how much more grateful we are for His gift if we know that He has rescued us. But you are so right in pointing out how we are no longer under that wrath or condemnation. We are children, with all the rights, privileges, and joy that our adoption entails (including the discipline to keep us safely in His will). Even so, I do slip back into the defeated mindset from time to time (force of habit?), and I really do appreciate this great reminder. Thankyou.

    (Sorry for leaving such a long comment. Bad blog etiquette, I know).

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