John 3:36The Message (MSG)
34-36 “The One that God sent speaks God’s words. And don’t think he rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces. The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away—a lavish distribution of gifts. That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that.”
In the last post I talked about John 3:36 and more with regards to the “wrath of God.” I don’t know if I convinced you or not but I suggested that the “wrath of God” in the context of this verse is a good thing. Actually I would suggest that God is good and only gives good stuff. How about that?!?! You only give what you have. God is good. God is love. He can’t give what He isn’t. (Well of course He is God and all things are possible but…) Still practically God gives good stuff. He is light not dark. He is truth not lies. He is life not death. He is good not evil. And most importantly, God is all about relationship. He says stuff like this:
1 Timothy 2:4Amplified Bible (AMP)
4 Who wishes all men to be saved and [increasingly] to perceive and recognize and discern and know precisely and correctly the [divine] Truth.
He also says stuff like this:
Rom 2:4 Or are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering patience? Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change your mind and inner man to accept God’s will)? (AMP)
So ask your “inner man” would God be mean and angry to someone who He really loves and wants to see saved from themselves? If a baby is crying because they are hungry do you spank them until they stop crying? Would you run over your kids with a truck to teach them the finer lessons of avoiding the street? If your son had a broken arm, would you bang it with a baseball bat so they would know not to break their arm again? Come on, really, do I need to keep going? We know in our “inner man” what the “will of God” is and His will is to rescue us from our fallen condition. His will is to set us free from our junk. His will is to reveal His true nature to our fallen understanding. His will is to bring His intense desire (wrath) so that even the complacent will be moved. He brings the full revelation of His character (wrath) to the hard-hearted to pierce their titanium shell with His intense love. This is our God. Don’t believe me? What God would hurt one of His kids when He just climbed down from the cross? What God would become a man, give up His glory, give up His divine power, become a servant, become a servant that washes men’s feet, let men capture Him, let men beat Him beyond recognition, let man kill Him the same way they would kill the most horrific criminal, and be raised again on the third day to breathe His own Spirit into His children? You don’t have to think very hard. The answer is there.
We have to remember that Jesus came let us harm Him so we would be saved from harming ourselves. He didn’t come to save us from God harming us. God is not sitting in Heaven waiting to pounce on mankind so that He can finally horrifically punish us for making mistakes as fallen humans when He made us that way in the first place. Come on! God is in the reparation business. God is in the reconciliation business. God is in the restoring business. God is not in the punishment business…WE ARE! Want to know angry, punishing wrath? Look around. Watch the news. Watch what humans do to humans. Fallen Adam gives birth to a Cain who kills his brother. We project that fallen dysfunction on a loving God who dies to prove His love. How sad.
Still God doesn’t give up. His desire for us is intense and intentional. He turns up the heat to get our attention. When we run away we run into the darkness. When we run from the love of God we find some serious hardship. When we leave the arms of our Father we fall into the arms of fallen mankind. When we give to the bank of hard knocks we get smacked in the head. We do it over and over again when Jesus is standing there waiting to pick us up, dust us off and restore us to His love.
OK, I could go on and on for hours but how about I give you another example of how we have missed God when it comes to wrath?
Rom 2:5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (ESV)
For the religious this is one of those “proof texts” about how much God is going to torture the “unsaved” when they get to hell. Don’t worry however, Paul goes on to explain in the next few verses what he means.
Rom 2:6 He will render to each one according to his works: (ESV)
OK, that is self-explanatory right? Remember the word “He” for later. Go back to the beginning of my diatribe above. Does God give what He doesn’t have? Can a good God give an evil gift? I’ll let you chew while we move on:
Rom 2:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (KJV)
Yay! I can hear all those “good” people out there cheering. Don’t forget however to see through relationship. “Good” is loving one another and loving God. That was the intent of the law. It is what Jesus demonstrates. Oh by the way Jesus fought evil with good and Paul tells us to do the same. So let me ask you again…does a good God give an evil gift?
Rom 2:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; (KJV)
“Obey” in these verse is a translation of a Greek word that really means to “refuse to be convinced.” That sounds like really bad stuff. Look close…did God give it?
Rom 2:10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: (KJV)
So what it the point? I really want you to listen to your “innermost being” and ask yourself, did God bring anger and punishment and hurt and torture and everlasting torment in these verses? OK, I will bail you out so you feel better since I know what your “mind of Christ” is telling you since we have the same one. Check out verse 6 in another translation:
Rom2:6 that shall yield to each man after his works; (Wycliff)
See the difference? The word “that” appears instead of the word “He.” In the Greek the word is most often translated as an impersonal “what” or “which.” I hope you are jumping up and down now because you see it but just in case let me “lead” you a bit.
God’s judgement makes things right. Check out this post. He is in the restoring business. Just like the prodigal son story, sometimes restoration takes a detour. Like that story the Father doesn’t put the son in the pig pen but the son finds himself in the pig pen. That is what this passage is about. the “wrath” in verse 5 is the “wrath” we bring upon ourselves. This isn’t the “wrath of God” like the John 3:36 verse. This is our internal “spirit of Cain” kicking rocks and uttering curses and “murdering” our neighbor. This internal, self-generated wrath is of a fallen nature. This is the stuff that Jesus came to set us free from. God’s “judgment” is His personal involvement in making things right. He does it with a revelation of Jesus. He does it through His intense desire through the Holy Spirit. Sometimes people run away and it looks like verses 8 and 9. It looks like tribulation and anguish and all that bad junk. Listen, think about the last time you yelled at a co-worker. Did you “feel better” after it happened? I bet not. If you are born again then the Spirit of Christ in you loves that person and your spirit of Cain showed up instead.
Jesus sets us free from all that bad stuff. Instead we get to live from an “eternal” or “timeless” life. We get to live in glory and honor and peace. When we are not free, when we are still living like a fallen Adam, when we are living with a “hard and impenitent heart” and fail to submit to the love of God we are destroying ourselves from the inside out. We are investing in a bank of anger and malice and rage and hurt and un-forgiveness. We are making payments to the offense trust fund and we should expect a big payout of offense. We jump into the pig pen and roll around with the pigs. It is nasty and hurtful. Fallen man wants angry and mean “wrath.” When we invest in fallen man we get fallen man “wrath” in return.
You decide. Again I can’t convince you with a post. You have to ask yourselves. I pray the Holy Spirit has used me to at least put a crack in all that human wisdom you’ve received over the years. I am in the same boat. God is still teaching me. Praise God for Jesus that He gave me the ability and desire to listen.
2 thoughts on “Storing up wrath!”
Lance, I am enjoying your posts and like you I am re-thinking a life time of egocentric teaching. I appreciate these two posts about ‘wrath.’ I love the true emphasis of the character of God which is Love. I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea that exists in the Eastern Church that the fire that we have all been taught in the west is the “anger” of God is in fact the consistent expression of his nature of Love. For those who receive it that Love heals and nurtures, for those who reject it that Love becomes irksome, painful, and burdensome. Makes a lot of scriptures fall into place eh?
Thanks man. And thanks for the support you are giving to the “dear friend” you mentioned in your most recent post.
Stephen, Thanks for the comments and support. God is moving. I don’t know if it is “new” or just “new to me” or “He has been waiting” or whatever. I see so many things that are coming into alignment. Our little group thousands of miles apart is one of those things. What is He going to do with some hungry people such as us? That is a good question. I can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow. I see us meeting and working together in person soon. Come on! Yay God! He is amazing. Lance