The Good News about Wrath

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It is no mistake to say that the love of God and the wrath of God amount to the same thing, described from different points of view. Both constitute an emphatic “No!” to that which endangers His creation. God’s evil-eradicating, death-destroying wrath is indispensable to the well-being of the universe. It is not a counterpoint to His love but a vital expression of it.

Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf comments: “Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.”

“To be truly good one has to be
outraged by evil and implacably
hostile to injustice.”
–Rebecca M. Pippert

The wrath of God is His firm opposition to all that is crooked, broken, oppressive, unjust, and evil. He loves people too much to allow them to be destroyed by sin. His deep hatred of sin is a reflection of the greatness of His love. He will go to any length, pay any price, and make any sacrifice to free people from this toxic poison of the soul.

This is the unmistakable message of the cross. The horrific death of Christ at Calvary reveals the intensity of God’s purpose to annihilate sin and rescue sinners. The Biblical record says that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).

In his article “Prayer: Rebellion against the Status Quo,” David Wells contends that we have sadly lost our anger, but fortunately God has not lost His. “The wrath of God is His opposition to what is wrong … [it] seeks the triumph of truth and the banishment of Evil.” It is God declaring: “No, not in my universe!”

It would be appalling if the Divine Lord flew into a rage without warning. But it would be equally appalling if He never got angry. The evil of this world is damnable, sickening, horrendous. Someone needs to put a stop to it.

Someone will.

The wrath of God turns out to be very good news. This love-inspired hostility to all things hateful and harmful gives hope to a world afflicted by the curse of sin.

“It is not evil that will have the last word,
but good; not sorrow, but joy;
not hate, but love.”
–R. J. Campbell

This is cause indeed for celebration.

–Jurgen O. Schulz
What Jesus Wished People Knew About God

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When God Got Nailed

Nailed

The Outrageous Story

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Nothing short of the extreme and strong and startling doctrine of the divinity of Christ will give that particular effect that can truly stir the popular sense like a trumpet; the idea of the king himself serving in the ranks like a common soldier. By making that figure merely human we make that story much less human. We take away the point of the story which actually pierces humanity; the point of the story which was quite literally the point of a spear…

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Any knowledge of human nature will tell us that no sufferings of the sons of men, or even of the servants of God, strike the same note as the notion of the master suffering instead of his servants… No mysterious monarch, hidden in his starry pavilion at the base of the cosmic campaign, is in the least like that celestial chivalry of the Captain who carries his five wounds in the front of battle.

–G. K. Chesterton,
The Everlasting Man

The Victorious Defeat

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What God Does

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Jesus Christ is what God does,
and the cross is where God did it.
–Frederick Buechner

GOOD FRIDAY

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AM I a stone and not a sheep
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy Cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon—
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

Christina Rossetti
(1830–1894)

Light out of darkness

awakening-light-meditation copyWe find God continually at work turning evil into good. Not, as a rule, by irrelevant miracles and theatrically effective judgments–Christ was seldom very encouraging to those who demanded signs, or lightnings from Heaven, and God is too subtle and too economical a craftsman to make very much use of those methods. But He takes our sins and errors and turns them into victories, as He made the crime of the crucifixion to be the salvation of the world.

–Dorothy Leigh Sayers
Creed Or Chaos?

Unstoppable love

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Through the cross,
God showed that
even killing God
cannot put God off
from relating to
and loving us.
He rose again to tell us.

–John Goldingay

Not a sword but nails

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Jesus did not come with a sword
in his hands; he came
with nails in his hands.
He did not come to bring judgment;
he came to bear judgment.

–Tim Keller

Did the Lamb succeed?

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Try this one on for size..read all of it. Under the old covenant when a man sinned he could have his sins taken care of by taking a lamb to the temple to be sacrificed. The priest representing God would inspect the lamb to make sure it was spotless and without fault. HE WOULD NEVER EXAMINE OR SCRUTINIZE THE SINNER ONLY THE LAMB.

If the lamb was perfect it would be sacrificed in place of the sinner to pay for the sin of the man who was guilty. The man would go away from God with a clear conscience….In the book of John, JESUS IS CALLED THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD. I guess the only question that remains is: did the Lamb do what He was sent to do or did He fail?

–Don Keathley

The ultimate surprise

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The Cross is the greatest
surprise in human history.
None of the religions
of the world could even have
thought of such a thing.

–John Ensor

Other orientation

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Christianity asserts that God is triune — that is, three persons within one God. From John 17 we learn that from all eternity, each person—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—has glorified, honoured, and loved the other two. So there is an ‘other-orientation’ within the very being of God. When Jesus went to the cross, he was simply acting in character. As C. S. Lewis wrote, when Jesus sacrificed himself for us, he did “in the wild weather of his outlying provinces” that which from all eternity “he had done at home in glory and gladness.”

–Tim Keller

Astonishing cross

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The Cross never finds
its rightful place
in a man’s heart
until it takes his breath away.
It becomes life’s supreme
and most bewildering
astonishment.

–F. W. Boreham
The Drums of Dawn

The magnificent defeat

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He compelled their dark achievements to subserve His end, not theirs. They nailed Him to the tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to His feet.

They gave Him a cross,
not guessing that
He would make it
a throne.

They flung Him outside the gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up all the gates of the universe, to let the King come in. They thought to root out His doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy. They thought they had defeated God with His back to the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God Himself who had tracked them down. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it.

James S. Stewart
(1896–1990)

Published in: on 06/24/2014 at 19:09  Leave a Comment  
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Only by Dying

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IF DEATH WAS TO be truly defeated, it was only by dying himself that Jesus believed he could defeat it. If he was to reach the hearts of men, it was only by suffering his own heart to be broken on their behalf that he believed he could reach them. To heal the sick and restore sight to the blind; to preach good news to the poor and liberty to the captives; to wear himself out with his endless teaching and traveling the whole length and breadth of the land—it had not worked because it was not enough. There had to be more. “He set his face to go to Jerusalem,” the Gospel says, and it was a journey from which he seems to have known that he would both never return and return always even unto the end of time and beyond.

–Frederick Buechner

Published in: on 04/17/2014 at 6:22  Leave a Comment  
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The only punishable offence

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Bookkeeping is the only punishable offence in the kingdom of heaven. For in that happy state, the books are ignored forever, and there is only the Book of life. And in that book, nothing stands against you.

There are no debit entries
that can keep you out of the clutches
of the Love that will not let you go.

bookeepingThere is no minimum balance below which the grace that finagles all accounts will cancel your credit. And there is, of course, no need for you to show large amounts of black ink, because the only Auditor before whom you must finally stand is the Lamb — and he has gone deaf, dumb, and blind on the cross. The last may be first and the first last, but that’s only for the fun of making the point: everybody is on the payout queue and everybody gets full pay. Nobody is kicked out who wasn’t already in, the only bruised backsides belong to those who insist on butting themselves into outer darkness.

For if our world
could have been saved
by bookkeeping,
it would have been saved
by Moses, not Jesus.

The law was just fine. And God gave it a good thousand years or so to see if anyone could pass a test like that. But nobody did — when it became perfectly clear that there was “no one who was righteous, no even one” (Rom. 3:10; Ps. 14:1-3), that “both Jews and Gentiles alike were under the power of sin (Rom. 3:9) — God gave up on salvation by the books. He cancelled everybody’s records in the death of Jesus and rewarded us all, equally and fully, with a new creation in the resurrection of the dead.

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And therefore the only adverse judgment that falls on the world falls on those who take their stand on a life God cannot use rather than on the death he can. Only the winners lose, because only the losers can win: the reconciliation simply cannot work out any other way . . . the kingdom of heaven is for everybody; hell is reserved only for the idiots who insist on keeping nonexistent records in their heads.

Robert Farrar Capon
Kingdom, Grace, Judgment
(emphasis added)

Fabulous forgiveness

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[God’s forgiveness] is neither a response to a suitable worthy confession, nor the acceptance of a reasonable apology. Absolvere in Latin means not only to loosen, to free, to acquit; it also means to dispose of, to complete, to finish. When God pardons, therefore, he does not say he understands our weaknesses or makes allowances for our errors; rather he disposes of, he finishes with, the whole of our dead life and raises us up with a new one. He does not so much deal with our derelictions as he does drop them down the black hole of Jesus’ death. He forgets our sins in the darkness of Jesus’ expiration. He finds us, in short, in the desert of death, not in the garden of improvement; and in the power of Jesus resurrection, he puts us on his shoulders rejoicing and brings us home.

–Robert Farrar Capon
Kingdom, Grace, Judgment

The blunder of bookkeeping

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In heaven, there are only forgiven sinners. There are no good guys, no uptight, successful types who, by dint of their own integrity, have been accepted into the great country club in the sky. There are only failures, only those who have accepted their deaths in their sins and who have been raised up by the King who himself died that they might live.

But in hell, too, there are only forgiven sinners. Jesus on the cross does not sort out certain exceptionally recalcitrant parties and cut them off from the pardon of his death.

He forgives the badness of even the worst of us,
willy-nilly; and he never takes back that
forgiveness, not even at the bottom
of the bottomless pit.

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The sole difference, therefore,
between hell and heaven is that in heaven
the forgiveness is accepted and passed along,
while in hell it is rejected and blocked.

In heaven, the death of the king is welcomed and becomes the doorway to new life in the resurrection. In hell, the old life of the bookkeeping world is insisted on and becomes, forever, the pointless torture it always was.

–Robert Farrar Capon
Kingdom, Grace, Judgment
(emphasis added)

The relentless love of Christ

The relentless love of Christ is evident each step of the way but it is best seen as he goes to the cross. The disciples boast, sleep, flee and finally deny, but he loved them to the end. He was betrayed but he loved the betrayer. He was abandoned but he loved those who abandoned him. When the ear of one of his captors was cut off, he restored it to wholeness. He was mocked and tormented and he loved his mockers and his tormentors. He was scourged and he loved his scourgers. He was denied and he loved his denier. He was crucified and he loved his executors. A thief appealed to him and was given the gift of paradise. And before anyone thought of asking for forgiveness he said, “Father, forgive them.”

-adapted from John S. Spong

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