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Weekly Wisdoms for the week of December 3, 2018

Watering down God's wrath dilutes God's love.

In an effort to make the Gospel more seeker-friendly, some Christians avoid talking about God's wrath, anger, and hatred toward those who have sinned against him. By watering down the wrath of God such people cheapen and diminish the love of God.

Such a faith void of God's wrath was characterized in the early 1900s by a movement called Protestant Liberalism. In 1937, H. Richard Niebuhr, professor at Yale Divinity School, gave this description of Protestant Liberalism's theology: "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through a Christ without a cross."

As Niebuhr pungently demonstrated, eliminating God's wrath minimizes the cross, which is the ultimate manifestation of God's love (see Romans 5:6-8).

Because God is holy, perfect, and sinless, he deserves all glory, honor, fame, praise, and exaltation. However, when we sin—and every one of us sins—we insult God's holiness. Sin is fundamentally an offense against God, and so he hates sin and punishes all who sin against him (see Psalm 78:19-21, John 3:36, Psalm 5:5, Isaiah 13:11, Psalm 7:11).

The Apostle Paul, in Romans 1:18-19, describes the ubiquity of God's wrath: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them" (see also Romans 1:18-31).

So, if we all are godless and wicked, deserving of God's wrath, how can he accept us? Does God say, "Well, at least you're making progress"? Does he grade on the curve: "You're better than average, so I guess I'll give you a passing grade"? No. God can't forgive like that because his holiness and justice demand that perfect satisfaction for sin be made.

Instead, what God does is this: He sends his son, Jesus Christ, to bear all our sins so that our sin is paid for by Christ. What an amazing act that the very one who you hated, scorned, reviled, and scoffed at is the same one who took upon himself the death penalty you deserved, and because all your sins are placed on him God declares you righteous. That's good news!

If you don't realize that the bad news is that you, because of your sin, are an enemy of God who deserves the death penalty, then you won't realize the full magnificence of God's love for you expressed through Christ suffering the death you deserved. Because the bad news is worse than you think it is, the good news is better than you think it is.

A person who can't submit to authority has no business being in authority.

Romans 13:1-2 says, Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

It is clear that submission to authority is a key requirement for being in authority. Rebelling against authority is rebelling against God because God has instituted that authority. God will not bless someone who rebels against Him. Thus, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience (Romans 13:5).

Furthermore, the Bible instructs you to obey your leaders and submit to their authority (Hebrews 13:17). This means that even if you disagree with your pastor, you ought to submit to him out of respect for God.

Therefore, submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men (1 Peter 2:13). Submit yourself to authority because a person who can't submit to authority has no business being in authority.

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