I’m just reading through John’s Gospel here and am currently reading chapter 3. This chapter of course contains the great message of hope that “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV).
These words offer great hope and proclaim a glorious truth….that Christ died for sinners! What a wonderful Saviour! However, as I continue on in this chapter I read,
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17)
There are many Christians today who stop right here….at this verse. “God is love” they proclaim. They say all this talk about judgement and repentance is wrong because, well, God doesn’t condemn us He loves all of us!! But what is said as we read on in this chapter. Let’s look and see;
“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (3:18)
“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands. 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.” (John 3:35/36 ESV)
WOW!! How some of us today like to pick and choose what verses to believe in! The contrast between John 3:17 and these other verses is staggering. How can God say he didn’t send his Son into the world to condemn it but to save it and then say if we don’t believe we are condemned already?? That the wrath of God remains on Us!?
As I pondered this something dawned on me….if I were a tele-evangelist I would be saying “God has given me a divine word!!” Thankfully i’m not one so I can simply say I was struck by a new thought! That new thought is this;
Gods wrath is presented as being an attribute of God. God has no flaws, no faults so it must be a positive attribute as in this passage God’s love is paralelled with His wrath. God, in the very act of sending Christ, displayed his love for lost sinners. Christ’s first coming was not one of judgement but of redemption. Not condemnation, but salvation.
But within the same passage we are told that if we don’t believe in this Christ we stand condemned already, that God’s wrath remains on us. So, whilst Christ’s 1st coming was not an act of judgement, his 2nd coming will be! He has already come and fulfiled his mission of redemption for those who repent and trust in Him but he has not fulfilled the 2nd part….the part where if we are not in Him then we are condemned already and are to be subjected to Gods holy wrath. If Gods wrath was something to be ashamed of then why would John tell us about it in a chapter where he tells us about Gods love? I honestly think it’s because Gods wrath is to be seen as an attribute of God, much like his love, instead of being viewed as a flaw, a repulsive thing.
Why then do so many Christians seem embarassed about God’s wrath? Why do they try to apologise for it when unbelievers ask and criticise? Why are they ashamed of it? Because the reality is it should be quite the opposite! We should be unashamed and unapologetic of it! Gods wrath is totally just! Why? Because those who reject Jesus Christ reject the greatest act of love the God of all creation has ever displayed. “No greater love is there than this. That a man should lay down his life for His friends”
How much more we should love and treasure Christ than we actually do! What love is this that bled for me?! May i humbly submit that if we truly love Christ then we must be true to His word. We must not preach a half gospel. We must not add to, or take away, or sweep under the rug any of the attributes of God. We must tell men and women this truth; that Christ came as a gift of love to the world. That act in itself was not one of condemnation but without trusting Him and accepting this gift there is ONLY condemnation and wrath. Is this not biblical truth? Or do we suppress biblical truth to please people? To get people in to church? To get people to “like” Jesus? “liking” Jesus doesn’t save us….it’s loving Jesus….clinging to Jesus….trusting in Jesus.
So stop being embarassed about Gods wrath! Stop being ashamed of it! You cannot truly claim to love God, to love Jesus, if you deny this attribute. For if you do then we begin to slide down the slippery slop of making God into someone he is not, and that’s idolotary.
How can people ever see what a wonderful gift of love Christ was and is without first being made to see that they were condemned without Him!? Knowledge of the wrath of God makes the undeserved grace and love of God in Christ all the more precious and glorious! Just stop and think about that!