Tag Archives: God’s wrath

Hyper-love?

 

It is interesting that those who accuse us of a doctrine of “hyper-grace” don’t also accuse us of “hyper-love.”  After all, the whole understanding of the gospel is about the love of God.  Grace is simply the means God uses to act on His love.

But, of course, we are accused of going “over the top” about love, aren’t we?  I was recently in a discussion with someone who wanted me to admit that there are limits to God’s love.  When I wanted him to delineate those limits, he couldn’t.  He just wanted to be sure that I left room for God’s anger, wrath, and hatred.  Those things were important to him and I wasn’t talking about them enough.

Now, let me say at the outset that I see the anger of God in the Bible.  I see His wrath and even hatred.  But it isn’t pointed at individuals.  It is pointed at sin.

There’s a great story in 2 Chronicles 33 and 2 Kings 21about a man named Manasseh.  This man was king in Jerusalem after Hezekiah, his father, died.  He was very bad.  He led the people away from the Lord in ways others had not.  He even sacrificed his own children in the fire.  He shed innocent blood throughout Judah.  Eventually, the Lord sent the Assyrians to capture Manasseh and take him into captivity.

And God said He was angry.  In 2 Kings 21, God says that Manasseh had provoked Him to anger.  The Lord tried to reach out to Manasseh, but he wouldn’t listen.  So, with hooks in his nose, Manasseh went into bondage.

Now, how would it have helped for the prophets of God to come to Manasseh, while he was in bondage, to tell him how much God hated him?  Suppose they had told Manasseh of the wrath of God against him and the anger God felt as He looked at Manasseh.  Would that have helped?  Or would that have driven Manasseh farther away?

Instead, when Manasseh was suffering and broken, when his sins had brought him to the lowest place of his life, he cried out to the Lord.  For some reason, he thought God might hear him and forgive.  And that’s exactly what God did!  He not only forgave Manasseh, but He brought him back to Jerusalem and set him up again as king of Judah.  Amazing Love!

You see, that little story, hidden in the back rooms of Scripture, is not a story of the anger of God, but a story of the love of God.  It was love that moved the heart of God to send Manasseh into captivity.  It was love that moved the heart of God to forgive and restore Manasseh.  This was likely the most cruel and evil king who ever sat on Jerusalem’s throne, yet God loved him.  He abused and killed the people, even his own children, yet God loved him.  The love of God is greater than any sin and reaches out to any sinner.

Is that a love that’s too big?  Should we tone it down a little to make sure there’s room for hate and anger?  I don’t think so.  This is the love of God and it is as big as He is.

Maybe we should accept the term, “hyper-grace.”  If grace is the working out of the love of God for us, then it would have to be over the top, bigger than anything.  If grace proceeds from the love of God, then nothing can even pretend to balance it, counter it, or soften it.

Maybe hyper-grace is the natural result of hyper-love.

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Filed under Grace 101, heart, Relationship

The Father Himself

 

Grace 101

“Jesus loves me, this I know, but the Father wants to destroy me because of my sin.”  That’s what many people have been taught.  Somehow Jesus intervenes between us and the wrath God wants to pour out on us.  It’s a good thing we have Jesus to protect us from God.  That’s what they think.

But how sad is that?  And how wrong?  There is an anger, a passion, that builds in the heart of God because of sin.  He hates sin, there is no question about that.  But that’s why the Father sent the Son.  To destroy the power of sin over us and release us from sin’s influence.  In Jesus, the Father destroys sin.

Think about that for a moment.  Who initiated the whole salvation plan?  Who loved us from the beginning?  God has been on our side all along.

We commit theological error if we believe the Son does anything contrary to the Father’s will or even to the character of the Father.  Jesus said that He and the Father are One.  From eternity, Father-Son-Spirit have been One.  One mind, one heart, one motivation toward us.

The Christian gospel is not about the Son doing battle with the Father to protect us from the Father’s wrath.  The gospel is not about us narrowly escaping eternal punishment by hiding from God behind Jesus.  The gospel is about how much God loves us.  He loved us so much that He sent His Son to save us.

I think Jesus understood that the legalists of His and our day would get this mixed up.  So in John 16:27 He makes it very clear:

“The Father Himself loves you!”

But what about God’s wrath?  I know that if that topic were taken away a lot of preachers wouldn’t have anything to say on Sunday morning.  But God’s wrath is not against you and me.  God’s wrath is against sin.

Let me use a silly illustration.  Suppose you are holding some kind of homing transmitter that leads a missile to its target.  The missile is in the air, headed to the transmitter, ready to blow up everything in its target range.  Now, as long as you hold that transmitter, you are in trouble.  That missile is headed toward you.  All you have to do is drop the transmitter and get out of range.  But if you insist on holding it, the missile will get you.

Okay, God’s wrath is against sin.  He sent Jesus to separate you from sin, both your personal sin and the corporate sin of humanity.  If you refuse Jesus, then the wrath of God is headed your way—not to get you but to get sin.  If you want to be safe from the wrath of God, come to Jesus.

But listen: those who have come to Jesus are free from sin and have no reason to fear the wrath of God.  In fact, the wrath of God has nothing to do with believers.

And this was the Father’s idea from the beginning . . . because He loves you!

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Filed under grace, Grace 101, Grace definition, Legalism