His Wrath Makes His Love Even More Beautiful

Years ago (before Facebook, Twitter or blogging existed), I used to send out group emails in which I addressed a variety of Christian topics. At one point I warned against a popular evangelism and discipleship program that distorted the Gospel so horribly that non-Christian groups were adapting it to advance their false teachings.

As you can imagine, I received tremendous pushback from many of my friends. The email that made the greatest impression on me came from a dad of one of my close girlfriends. He very forcefully defended the program, but not with the Word of God. Instead, he praised it because it emphasized God’s love and never mentioned His wrath. This an complained that he had heard fire and brimstone preaching all his life, and therefore he appreciated teaching that excluded all such negativity.

I felt disappointed by that man’s rejection of balanced Biblical teaching. But the email he sent reminded me that even professing Christians can fashion God into their ideas of how He should conduct Himself. And I admit that I’d prefer God to lay aside His wrath and concentrate on making me happy and comfortable. I suspect you share my preference. After all, most of us equate love with happiness and comfort rather than with wrath, don’t we?

In my last essay, I wrote about the Father’s love for us, basing my thoughts on John 3:16:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (NASB95)

It’s indeed a beautiful verse — arguably the most beloved verse in the entire Bible. How wonderful that the Father loves us so profoundly that He sacrificed His only begotten Son to keep us from perishing! Ironically, we can get so caught up in the splendor of this verse that we forget to ask ourselves some questions about it. Those questions need to be asked and answered if we want to really see the beauty of the Father’s love.

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The Father Started It

Typically, Christians connect salvation exclusively with Jesus. That connection makes perfect sense because Jesus is indeed our one and only Savior. Revelation 5:11-14 depicts Him as the object of angelic worship in heaven, and Colossians 1:13-23 unmistakably teaches that the entirety of creation revolves around Him because of His work on the cross. We rightly exalt Him for taking our sin upon Himself and applying His righteousness to us. As the old hymn says, “Hallelujah — what a Savior!”

Jesus, however, didn’t effect our salvation independently of the other two Members of the Trinity. Therefore, we ought to spend some time thinking together about the Father and the Holy Spirit in Their parts of saving us. So let’s begin by focusing on God the Father, shall we?

Most of us can quote John 3:16 by heart, properly understanding its message that Jesus died for us. We may have even recognized God the Father in these treasured words:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (NASB95)

Usually we read this verse with the emphasis on the Father’s love for us, which is certainly the emphasis Jesus intended when He spoke those words to Nicodemus. Love motivated the Father to provide His only begotten Son in order to atone for sin, and we have every reason to praise the Father for such a powerful demonstration of love. If anything, this verse illuminates the character of the Father, showing us the amazing depth and vastness of His love! How tragic it would be to gloss over this point!

Yet it would be equally tragic to stop at this point.

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It Takes A Trinity To Save One Sinner

Have you ever thought about the role each Person of the Trinity plays in your salvation?

Yes, we’re going to get into some theology for the next few posts, and many of you probably don’t regard theology as light summer reading. I get that. People at the community pool will ask what you’re reading on your phone, and when you answer they’ll back away as if you have COVID. Can’t we evaluate Ed Litton or talk about the controversy over women’s roles? At least those topics are popular right now. The Trinity and salvation, in contrast, seems awfully dry and academic.

But before you decide to take a vacation from my blog, consider the possibility that you might actually grow in your appreciation of God’s loving care in bringing you to Himself. Over the past two years, I’ve meditated on the way each Person of the Trinity works in my salvation, only to feel deeper wonder the more I think about it! This point of theology is anything but dry and academic!

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