Did I get your attention with that provocative title?
Sometimes I wonder how much we have actually missed the truth of God because of our fallen nature and insistence on human wisdom. Of course I don’t have it all figured out yet either. I look forward to every day with the anticipation of seeing a new revelation of WHO God really is. Those revelations are found in Jesus because if we see Him we see the Father:
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (ESV)
Jesus told Pilot that He came to bring the truth:
John 18:37 Pilate said to Him, Then You are a King? Jesus answered, You say it! [You speak correctly!] For I am a King. [Certainly I am a King!] This is why I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the Truth. Everyone who is of the Truth [who is a friend of the Truth, who belongs to the Truth] hears and listens to My voice. (AMP)
What is the truth? The truth is the revelation of God. Jesus reveals the Father. Jesus shows us and demonstrates to us in person the nature and character of God. In our fallen nature we have missed who God is. Adam and Eve hid in the bushes from love. Fallen mankind has been doing the same ever since. Jesus is the exact representation of God:
Heb 1:3 He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power. When He had by offering Himself accomplished our cleansing of sins and riddance of guilt, He sat down at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high, (AMP)
So when we have any question about something that we read in the Bible we must look for Jesus. We must ask Holy Spirit to reveal to us Jesus in the passage. We must see the TRUE nature of God.
Back in October I wrote a series of posts about our fallen understanding of God. In Sons of Disobedience! I spent some time on this scripture:
Mark 3:5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (ESV)
I suggest you check out those posts for more details. In summary we discovered that the word that Jesus uses for anger is the same Greek word used for “wrath” in other places. I suggested that when Jesus reveals His “wrath” then we have seen God’s “wrath.” If Jesus is God and the exact representation of the nature of God then that statement must be true. Oh by the way, that is what is means to “believe” on the name of Jesus. Our fallen nature (fed by religion) has us seeing a wrong image of God (angry God) and our “believing” is seeing who God is as revealed by Jesus. Anyway, that same “wrath” word is in this scripture:
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (ESV)
The “wrath” of Jesus looks like someone getting healed and others running away to plot the death of Jesus. The Greek word for “wrath” means literally “engorged” and to “desire intensely.” Fallen humans in their fallen understanding have concluded that the “wrath” of God is a punishment. Actually the religious would say that the “wrath” of God is an intense punishment with torture and pain and agony and continuous suffering for ever and ever inflicted by God Himself. That ain’t Jesus! Just saying. Maybe we fallen humans with fallen wisdom and fallen understanding have missed the truth of a God revealed in the incarnate Jesus Christ.
So take another look at John 3:36. See the word “but?” That is an accurate translation. It isn’t a future thing. It is current and ongoing thing. So what is John saying?
What if the “wrath” of God is a good thing? What if the burning desire of God is Him chasing even those who insist on rejecting Him? What if the “wrath” of God is His furious pursuit of the lost? What if God is “engorged” with “intense desire” and His “wrath” is His expression of that desire? Paul says that God wishes everyone would be “saved.” John says that Jesus died for the WHOLE WORLD. What if we haven’t been reading this verse right? Let’s try a Lance Literal Translation.
John 3:36 Whoever sees and believes in the loving and good God as demonstrated by the life of Jesus is experiencing a timeless life because they are no longer running from the source of life, however if they absolutely refuse to believe in a good and loving God who loves them like Jesus demonstrates they can’t even “see” what timeless life looks like….but don’t fret….don’t worry….don’t despair…God will continue to pour out His intense love and compassion on those that fail to see. He won’t relent. He is very serious about pursuing and not giving up. (LLT)
Too much of a stretch? Again go back to what Jesus’ “wrath” looked like. We have to go there first. I understand that you can find verse after verse about a “wrath” of God in the Old Testament that could scare you to death. Remember that those who wrote those books did not have the luxury of seeing Jesus like we have. They didn’t have the Holy Spirit in them showing them Jesus like we have. They weren’t born again like we are. They couldn’t see the Kingdom of Heaven like a born-again child of God. They wrote from their perspective which is a fallen Adam. Yes, they recorded an inspired and accurate account but that doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit changed their pre-Jesus, fallen-Adam understanding. There were exceptions on occasion like Abraham and Abel but the fallen perspective is the majority. Jesus is the revelation of God mankind had been waiting for. Jesus is the liberator from a fallen nature. The power of the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the love of God and His eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven on this Earth today.
I believe that our “Spirit of Cain” is the dominate way of seeing the “wrath” of God. WE fallen thinkers are the ones that desire a “punishment wrath.” Think about it for a second. If someone came into your house and took your stuff and killed one of your kids, tell me that you don’t feel the spirit of Cain rise up. We want blood! Come on, this is a normal fallen human response. A Spirit of Christ response is very different. Jesus came to rescue all of us from the power of sin. Jesus came to deliver us from the fear of death. Jesus came to defeat the works of the devil. Jesus came to save us from our fallen nature. He came to bring “justice” which is to make things right. His justice saves all the parties even the “criminal.” They are a victim of a fallen nature, a fallen world and the works of the devil just like all of us.
When we begin to see with the mind of Christ we can “see” the Kingdom in action. We can see how “wrath” is a persistent pursuit of mankind. We can see that for some it feels like His intense love and it is awesome. For others that reject Him it feels like fleeing. The prodigal son comes to mind. Eventually everyone finds themselves at a decision point. They end up in the pig pen and have to decide if they want to come home or stay in the pig pen. The “wrath” of God will drive a person to a decision. It may include some serious time in the “reaping and sowing” to consequences place. Flee from the saving work of Jesus and keep drinking alcohol (like I did for so long) and you find yourself in jail (like I did) and losing your career (like I did) and paying a bunch of money to courts and lawyers (like I did) and being treated like a rotten dirtbag (like I was). That really sucked. I was running from the saving work of Jesus instead of embracing the love of God. Thank you Jesus for your “wrath” that brought me home. He never gave up. His love has delivered me from alcohol. His “baptism of fire” continually “burns away” junk in my thinking and believing. The Holy Spirit is soaking me and pickling me in the love of God over and over. I am beginning to “see” the Kingdom and it is beautiful.
I can’t convince you with a persuasive argument about the “wrath” of God. Only you and Jesus can sort that out. I can say that there is so much freedom when you begin to “see” God for who He really is and not some angry, bloodthirsty, impending-punisher, and condemner but instead see Jesus on His knees holding the woman’s chin and saying “I don’t condemn you.” That is who God really is, not because Jesus “appeased” the Father but because that is God’s nature and has always been His nature.
You bet Jesus will turn up the heat because He is very very serious about saving us all. He is opposed to the Pharisee. He is a liberator from religion. Religion will push back. So when He brings the “wrath” for some it will get pretty hot. For some it will require a change of mind. For some it will require a death to previous understanding. For some it will require a death of self. For some they will run the other direction. For some they will plot to kill Him. Still isn’t it awesome that Jesus doesn’t give up on us?
So maybe I might say now, with a new understanding, with the mind of Christ that we need more “wrath.” Maybe we need more of the “intense desire” of Jesus. I would have loved to be there when Jesus expressed His wrath. A dude with a withered hand got healed. That is pretty cool.
In the next post I will take a look at a couple of places in Romans where the religious love to hang out and declare “but look here it is, God’s wrath so we need to be very afraid.”