An Angry God?
“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is a sermon written by Jonathan Edwards that was first published on July 8, 1741, fully 282 years ago—but the church in America today still seems to be trying to apologize for such a message. There’s little to be argued over Edwards’ theology: the main basis of the sermon emphasizes God’s wrath upon nonbelievers after death, wherein they will go to a very real, horrifying, fiery Hell. Now there could be arguments over the difference between Hell and outer darkness, but the fact that nonbelievers will not enter Heaven is a tough one to dispute Biblically. The problem comes when we isolate our immeasurable God into one box of human emotion. When we present God in just one way, we do a disservice to our great God who cannot be fully understood by us.
“So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished.” (Hebrews 2:1-2)
The book of Hebrews has been described as a letter to Jews who had converted to Christianity as a reminder of the truths so that they would not fall away from their new faith, and it serves as a reminder for us so that we don’t fall away. Our God is a perfect God worthy of all praise. For Him to be perfect, He must be perfect in all things, including justice. Disobedience and violation of the law must be punished—that is justice. When we start to believe that our justice is better or more just than God’s, then we need to take a humble step backward and perhaps read through the final chapters of the book of Job. We should realize how truly blessed we are because our God is a God of great mercy and grace. Since we cannot obey the law perfectly, Jesus came as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. All we have to do is put our faith, hope, and trust in Him and this free, unearned gift of salvation is ours.
“For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,
‘In my anger I took an oath:
‘They will never enter my place of rest,’
even though this rest has been ready since he made the world.” (Hebrews 4:3)
This plan that God has laid out for us to enter his rest is much like a teacher standing before the class and giving them a test. Just after passing out the test, the teacher then turned to the board and preceded to write down every answer to the test. The teacher then said aloud to the class, “To get a passing grade, all you have to do is look up to me and find the answers on the board.” Now, is it unjust for those who choose not to look up toward the answers, those who would like to find and give their own answers, to receive a failing grade when they find their answers were wrong and the teacher’s were right? Of course not! The teacher gave the answers and told the students the way to pass the test! That’s what God has done for us. It’s a free gift and the plan has been laid out since the beginning of time, and the only way for there to be true love between man and God is if there is free will. It must be a choice to follow Jesus, to worship God, not a lack of options. And free will of course makes evil possible and makes it possible for people to choose not to turn to God. Don’t try to put God into a single box of human emotion. Our God is perfect through and through, and He is incomprehensible to our minds.
“I realized that no one can discover everything God is doing under the sun. Not even the wisest people discover everything, no matter what they claim.” (Ecclesiastes 8:17)
“‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’” (Isaiah 55:8)
“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” (Romans 11:33)
Worship God without putting Him into a box you’ve created!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.