For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Throughout the Bible, we hear a lot about the love of God, and we hear even more about the wrath of God. So how can we reconcile God’s love with God’s wrath? We go to the cross.
But, before we go there, let’s talk about God’s character. God is love. That is who He is. He doesn’t love in response to something good or worthy He sees in any of us. He loves us because that is His nature. God’s wrath, however, is not who He is. It is not His nature. His wrath is a just and holy response to the sin and evil in the world. Since the first sin of Adam and Eve, humanity has been sinful and in need of a Savior. And, yet, in our sinful state, God continues to love us and to pursue us our entire lives. If there were no sin in the world, there would be no anger or wrath in God. His anger is just His resolve that evil will not have the final word. J.I. Packer said, “ God’s wrath in the Bible is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger so often is. It is, instead, a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil.”
At the cross, we get a picture of God’s love and His wrath. God’s wrath is a response to offences by His creation against His holiness, and sin must be punished. Romans 3:27 says, “He (Jesus) became the propitiation (sacrifice) for our sins.” God’s perfect love for His creation sent Jesus to the cross to bear the punishment for our sin.
Most of my life, I have heard that grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve, and mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve. So, the cross is where God saved us from His own wrath by sending Jesus to be punished in our place. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves and what we did not deserve. It’s like the words of a familiar song, “Amazing love! How can it be, that You, my King, would die for me?” It’s hard to comprehend a love like that!
I love what I recently read by Colin Smith where he said, “Don’t ever get the idea that God loves you because Jesus died for you. No, it’s the other way around. Jesus died for you because God loves you. He loved you even when you were the object of His wrath! God so loved the object of His wrath that He spent the wrath on Himself at the cross. The outpouring of God’s wrath was the greatest act of love this world has ever seen.”
Just think about Jesus’ words on the cross, “It is finished!” He was saying that man’s debt for sin against a holy and just Creator was paid in full. He made a way for us to be reconciled to the Father by confessing our sin and professing Jesus as Lord and Savior. Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb. He rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of Father God waiting for Him to say, “ Son, go get your children.”
You may be wondering why God doesn’t just put an end to all the evil and suffering in the world. He will. There will come a day when God will say, “Enough!” He will judge every sin and do away with every evil once and for all. God’s justice will be perfect and every punishment will fit the crime. But when that day comes, the door of opportunity for people to repent of their sins and be saved from the punishment of those sins will also end. So God delays His final judgement on a sinful world while He gives more time for more of His creation to be saved.
When I leave this world, I imagine it like the lines of a favorite Michael Combs song: Jesus will meet me at Heaven’s gate and I will hear Him say, “Father this one’s with me. She’s part of our family. She’s just one of the reasons I died on Calvary. Father, welcome her in.”
What is it that you imagine when you think of seeing Jesus at the end of your life? (We ALL will see Him!)
It’s something worth thinking about!