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Weekly Wisdoms for the week of December 23, 2019

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.

Are you seeking God's presence or His presents?

You can learn a lot about what you want simply by examining what you are praying for.

King David said, One thing I ask of the Lord ... (Psalm 27:4). He had just one thing that was important to him -- just one thing! Are you begging God for many things, or are you asking Him for just that one thing: ... that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple" (Psalm 27:4)?

In that psalm, David was praying that he would dwell in God's presence and seek Him. Notice that his prayer had nothing to do with getting more worldly things from God.

So, instead of begging God to give you more worldly things, pray that you would dwell in the house of the Lord, knowing that when you seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, ... all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).

When you seek God, He promises to take care of all the things you need! Start seeking God's presence, and He will give you His presents.

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