An Angry God

by Tim Challies

“What makes you angry? We all have triggers, don’t we? We all have certain contexts and situations, certain affronts to our dignity or pride that stoke the anger within. I know a lot about anger, as Aileen can no doubt attest. When she and I talk about God’s grace in our lives, and evidence of it, she will often point this out—that God has mellowed me, taken away that anger that often bubbled within and occasionally boiled over. When I moved out of my parents’ home on the day I got married, I left behind a hole in the wall that I had punched in a fit of anger a few months before. At one of the first homes Aileen and I lived in I cracked a door frame when I tried to smash it shut, once more in a fit of stupid anger. My immature anger just sometimes boiled over and got me into trouble. I always felt like an idiot after acting out, but in the moment my anger got the better of me; I often surrendered to it. I am profoundly grateful that God, in his mercy, has blessed me and blessed my family by taking away much of the immaturity, the irrationality, the lack of self-control that caused me to lash out like an angry toddler. I still known what it is to be angry, but no longer tend toward violent reaction.

According to one dictionary, anger is a strong feeling of displeasure, a kind of belligerence aroused by a wrong. And from experience I can say it is equally likely that it is anger aroused by a perceived wrong. If someone truly wrongs me, I may well express anger and do so with some justification. If someone slights me or otherwise damages my pride, it may also cause me to act angry but with no justification at all. Anger is inherently reactive, awaiting a trigger and then waiting to react in accordance with my nature.

We have all met angry people, haven’t we? People who react to tough situations with anger and people who often act out in this anger. Such people may react in surprising, unexpected and terrifying ways. They act as they do out of emotion. Anger is not one of those enjoyable emotions. It may channel a strange, sick kind of pleasure for a moment or two, but like all sin, it very quickly loses its luster. There is something scary about seeing a person act out in anger. And the bigger that person, the more powerful his position, the greater the fear. If my three year-old gets angry and lashes out, I am bothered but not afraid. But if I were to become angry and act out in anger, she would rightly be terrified because of what I could, I might, do to her in my rage.

It is little wonder that man fears an angry God. If we believe that God is so much greater than we are, so much stronger, so much more powerful, and if we believe that God is capable of anger and wrath, then we have little choice but to fear him as a child may fear a parent. And, indeed, man’s history with deity, whether with the true God or with any number of idols, has often been a position of terror, seeking by deed or sacrifice to appease his wrath. And so often, I think, we confuse human anger with divine wrath, imposing our own sinful, irrational, emotional anger upon God’s just, perfect, holy wrath. No wonder, then, that we seek to appease him, to assuage our guilty consciences and to hope against hope that we may have turned aside his wrath for another day.

And here it strikes me just how different the wrath of God is from my anger, from what we see in most human anger. Charles Leiter has said it well: “God’s wrath is not a temporary loss of self-control or a selfish fit of emotion. It is His holy, white-hot hatred of sin, the reaction and revulsion of His holy nature against all that is evil.” God’s wrath is revulsion. It is not mere emotion and is not at all irrational. It is so much more than emotion. You may know what it is to feel revulsion. Some time ago I heard of a woman who, upon finding out that her husband had been cheating on her, immediately vomited. It was as if her whole body was so affronted, so repulsed by her husband’s sin that it acted all on its own. Revulsion may be our reaction to a lukewarm sip of water when we were expecting ice cold or piping hot. We spew it out, repulsed. And this is sin to God. God’s wrath is a holy reaction, it is a holy and white-hot hatred of all that is evil. This is a good and just and fair reaction to something that is absolutely, fundamentally opposed to God’s very nature. Sin is against all that he is and all that he wants us to be.

God’s reaction to sin is the good and necessary, the absolute best and perfectly just reaction. He will not act rashly in anger but will act justly in wrath. He willexpress this wrath against all sin. He must express this wrath against sin, because sin opposes all that he is as the perfectly holy creator of all that exists. How good it is, then, when we ponder God’s wrath, to know that his wrath has already been satisfied for those who trust in him. There on the cross, Jesus Christ took that wrath upon himself on behalf all those who were his own. There God required the just penalty due for that sin. And there the Father found perfect, eternal satisfaction for his wrath. And there you and I can turn our eyes and turn our hearts and trust and believe and know that Jesus Christ has paid it all.”

-Tim Challies,  http://www.challies.com/christian-living/an-angry-god

Resolved

I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
 
I will hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest, I will come to Thee.
I will hasten, hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, Jesus, greatest, highest, I will come to Thee.
 
I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.
 
I am resolved to follow the Savior,
Faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
He is the living Way.
 
I am resolved to enter the kingdom
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.
 
I am resolved, and who will go with me?
Come, friends, without delay,
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
We’ll walk the heav’nly way.
 
-Palmer Hartsough, 1896

Paul Washer Quotes

Paul washer quotes as recorded by Jesse Johnson.

“There are very few people who are known for evangelism, and yet who fall into the trap of liberal theology. It is very hard to get influenced by liberalism when you are out trying to win souls for Jesus.”

“I believe in the sovereignty of God over salvation, because I know that the conversion of a man is an absolute impossibility.”

“The doctrine of the sovereignty of God affects preaching in this way: every time, before you get into the pulpit, you ask yourself, ‘Lord, can these bones live?’ The answer: ‘only if you make them alive.”

“Many seminaries turn out good preachers who do not lead godly lives. There are so many people out there who are concerned about the preparation of the sermon that they leave behind the preparation of the man.”

“To help yourself in your devotional life, ask this question over and over again, ‘how does the death of the son of God lead to my forgiveness, and how is that seen here in this passage?”

“Pastors need to recover the lost practice of staying up late and getting up early for the purpose of prayer. There is a sense that in the evangelical culture we have let the charismatics steal our heritage. We get to those powerful passages on prayer and go into defense mode against the wrong teachings of the charismatics, rather than into extolling the virtues of all-night prayer.”

“A structured sermon is good, but don’t ever turn God into a propositional statement. Someone should write a book on the idolatry of expository preaching.”

[On the role of parents vs. the youth pastor in training children]: “God did not give you a child to turn his spiritual development over to a 21-year-old with mousse in his hair who thinks he is cool.”

“As a pastor, always do theology in the context of the local church.”

“Preaching should never grow dull. There is never a time where truths have already been explained, so the pastor runs out of things to say. Semper reformanda, so the truths need to be rediscovered every generation.”

“If a pastor studies a passage to figure out how to preach it, it will be a powerless sermon. If you labor over something to be preached, all that will happen is it will be heard. Instead, you have to ask: ‘What has this passage done to me?”

“Charismatics repeat the errors of the mystics. The problem with the mystics is that they were looking for the word of God in every place but the Bible.”

“Evangelism is why I exist. If everyone in the world was saved, you would never see me again. I’d move out to the mountains and be with my family.”

http://thecripplegate.com/paul-washer-on-homiletics/#more-1114

The Happy Walk

“Believers, if you would have an increase of happiness in Christ’s service, labor every year to grow in grace. Beware of standing still. The holiest men are always the happiest. Let your aim be every year to be more holy–to know more, to feel more, to see more of the fullness of Christ. Do not rest on old grace: do not be content with the degree of Christianity which you have attained. Search the Scriptures more earnestly; pray more fervently; hate sin more; mortify self-will more; become more humble the nearer you draw to your end; seek more direct personal communion with the Lord Jesus; strive to be more like Enoch– daily walking with God; keep your conscience clear of little sins; grieve not the Spirit; avoid arguments and disputes about the lesser matters of religion: lay more firm hold upon those great truths, without which no man can be saved. Remember and practice these things, and you will be more happy.”

-J.C. Ryle

Practical Religion, “Happiness”, 259.

http://jcrylequotes.com/2011/07/29/the-secret-of-the-happy-christian/

Greatest Evangelism Tool

“The critics of Christianity are many. And the point of our greatest vulnerability and the point of their greatest accusation is what we do. It is the scandalous conduct of Christians that fuels the fires of critics. It is the purity and godliness and virtue and righteousness of Christians that silences the critics. And so again I say, the single greatest tool of evangelism we possess is doing right, living right.”

-John MacArthur

as quoted by Kevin A. Pierpont on February 1, 2004 in a sermon entitled Flee And Follow – 1 Timothy 6:11 given at Higgins Lake Baptist Church, Higgins Lake, Michigan

http://kevinpierpont.com/188/flee-and-follow-1-timothy-611/

Learn Christ

“How do you learn how to walk differently from the world? How do you learn to fight the indwelling sin from which you’ve been saved? You learn Christ. Please, please, please don’t miss this: holiness, growth, and maturity in your Christian walk is enlarging your understanding of Jesus. If you want to learn how to please the Lord, if you really want to move the eclipse out of the way, you must learn Christ.”

-Rick Holland, Uneclipsing the Son, 93

God’s love and holiness

“God is love (1 John 4:8) and God is holy (1 Peter 1:16). He is neither more loving than he is holy, nor more holy than loving. God’s love is holy, and his holiness is love. He is holy love and loving holiness.”

“Love without holiness becomes a squishy sentimentality, and holiness without love becomes an unholy focus on keeping the rules.”

In Romans 9-11 “Paul pondered how a loving and just God could save Jacob but not Esau, and after wrestling with the issue he concluded that he could only bow before the mystery of God. God is both loving and just, though he could not explain how. Paul simply worshiped: ‘Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!’ (Romans 11:33).”

Michael E Wittmer, Christ Alone, 2011, pp 17-18