The Covenant had to deal with the confusion of “the wrath of a gracious and loving God” early in its history. The question through which it came was this: Did Jesus die to appease the anger and wrath of God against our sin, or as the gift of a loving father to pay the price for us? The main argument was less the effect of Jesus’ death – all agreed that it saved us from hell and opened the door to eternity with God – and more the attitude of God. P.P. Waldenstrom famously argued that the God he worshiped was not an angry, wrathful God we should be afraid of but a kind and loving Father we should long for. The Covenant has viewed God through this lens of love ever since.
This means we Covenanters have a hard time with passages like this that show us God’s wrath. We will read an entire book of a prophet and only focus on the few verses that share God’s mercy and grace. Yet the bible is clear that God’s wrath is poured out on the sinfulness of humankind. Though we usually think of this as an Old Testament stance, it is the key point of much of Paul’s writing, including Rom. 1-3 which many say are the cornerstone of the entire New Testament.
What do you do with God’s wrath? Do you ignore it, focusing instead on a “nice” God who overlooks our sin and shows us mercy instead? Do you read it and get anxious about Him lashing out at His children, specifically YOU, for the sins in your life? Do you accept it as part of, but not all of, God’s personality and recognize that He is justified in His wrath, but also generous in His mercy?
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