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It’s sometimes said that once you are justified God can never be angry with you again. This is true if by “anger” you mean “condemnation.” But as any parent can testify, deep love for one’s children does not eradicate righteous anger for their disobedience. Our anger, actually, can be for their good. The same is true of God and his anger toward us as his justified, adopted children.

John Calvin writes:

For the other side we see that God, while not ceasing to love his children, is wondrously angry toward them; not because he is disposed of himself to hate them, but because he would frighten them by the feeling of his wrath in order to humble their fleshly pride, shake off their sluggishness, and arouse them to repentance. Therefore, at the same time they conceive him to be at once angry and merciful toward them, or toward their sins. For they unfeignedly pray that his wrath be averted, while with tranquil confidence they nevertheless flee to him for refuge. (Inst. 3.2.12)

Rather than thinking God hates us when we don’t measure up or imagining that we can never do anything to upset him now that we are his children, I suggest we start using the phrase “wondrously angry.” God is always for us. But he can be “wondrously angry” with us when we defy him. In fact, he’s for us so much he will discipline us for sin and flash his wrath that we might be moved to repentance.


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50 thoughts on “Our Wondrously Angry God”

  1. This is issue cuts close to the bone for me.

    We preach God’s grace and free gift of justification. We preach it like crazy. But some folk in the flock started reading books like “the Gospel of Peace” by James Richardson and “the Naked Gospel” by Andrew Farley. Both books really push the idea that God is NOT angry with anyone and His wrath has been completely absorbed by the Cross. These books have some good points but are filled with enough half truths that they are misleading. A few folks began to not be able to abide the idea of God’s possible anger or even His displeasure. Forget about teaching something like the fear of the Lord!

    Long story short, I’ve seen the spiritual damage that an ‘anger-less’ view of God can bring. It can lead to moral license, it can lead to a flattened portrait of God and most ironically, it caused some people to get very angry at their pastors for not preaching exactly what they wanted to hear.

    Kevin, thank you for this post. I’d like to hear more on the matter.

  2. Aaron says:

    Textually, are we just appealing to Hebrews here (God disciplines those whom he loves)?

    That falls short of assigning an emotional state to God. I’m wondering what foundational texts Calvin and Kevin :) would use.

    Genuinely curious,
    Aaron

  3. Andrew says:

    Another popular blog is promoting the idea that God’s unconditional pleasure must be accepted and is the only thing that moves us to obedience. This is so unbiblical and contrary to so many texts I can hardly stand it. Though God’s love is unconditional his pleasure with us varies at times as we are faithful or unfaithful to him. Thankfully because of his love his anger does not consume us but even that becomes a “wonderful” tool to bless and sanctify us.

    Amazing Grace.

    Keep the light and heat coming…

  4. It is an interesting quote from Calvin. Being a Lutheran I am much more at home with the works of Luther, though I enjoy reading Calvin and learning other perspectives. Nonetheless, what are we to make of Psalm 5:5 that does indeed say that God “hates all evildoers”? It would seem to destroy the unhelpful and inadequate saying that “God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.” And might it not also suggest that, apart from Christ, God is in fact full of wrath and hate towards all people?

    Yes, we can and should walk in His ways and follow His commandments, but does such “walking” then merit us more or less favor before God? Has not Christ done this in full for us? What is more, does casting God as “wondrously angry” toward Christians (as if He somehow has a different anger toward nonbelievers) diminish the fullness of His wrath that believer and unbeliever alike deserve? And therefore also the fullness of what Christ has done equally for all people?

  5. Mitchell Hammonds says:

    Relax… oh you who love to threaten with the divine ‘whipping post.’ I find it extremely hard to believe that anyone can discern whether or not something we endure is God’s version of “taking us to the wood-shed.” We’ve all heard the rants of Evangelical leaders waling how God brought the hurricane or tsunami to punish the wicked. We can grieve God but this hardly a focal point in the Scriptures… at least for believers. I fully get what Kevin is saying but some of the posts hear seem to revel a bit in the idea of God’s anger falling on men.

  6. Andrew says:

    Mitchell,

    Who is reveling in the idea of God’s anger falling on men. It is no small thing to say God disciplines his children. In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul says some in the Church are dying because of it…but that God judges us (in time) that we might escape judgment (eternal). No one who has ever been there is flippent about God taking us to the woodshed but we do praise him for being a good and wise Father for it (Hebrews 12).

    If you want to sit under the teaching of those who deny that God gets displeased with Christians that is your decision but in the long run denying parts of the Scripture are simply harmful to individual believers and the Church at large. So I think Kevin’s post is a helpful corrective to some false teaching floating around and yes I am very thankful for it. Praise the Lord.

  7. Andrew says:

    Lucas,

    You said…

    “Yes, we can and should walk in His ways and follow His commandments, but does such “walking” then merit us more or less favor before God? Has not Christ done this in full for us? What is more, does casting God as “wondrously angry” toward Christians (as if He somehow has a different anger toward nonbelievers) diminish the fullness of His wrath that believer and unbeliever alike deserve? And therefore also the fullness of what Christ has done equally for all people?”

    The answer to your first question is no..a believer is accepted on the basis of Christ’s perfect obedience credited to him and recieved by faith alone. The Reformed understanding is that under the covenant of grace the already justified believer is under grace and does not relate to God on a merit system. God relates to believers as a Father to his children, nonetheless yes certain things we do please him and certain things we do displease and grieve him. The glorious fact of our justification does not change that.

    The answer to your second question is no. The believer is always deserving of God’s judgment and wrath apart from grace just like the unbeliever. But they are not under the law as a covenant of works they are under grace. A similar idea would be found in the formula of Concord. It affirms that believers should seek to do good works in the obedience of faith though none of those works is acceptable apart from Christ or could merit anything in themselves from God.

    A helpful place to study the Reformed view further would be to look at the Westminster Confession on line especially the chapters from justification on with a focus on the law of God and good works.

    Blessings.

  8. Steve Martin says:

    God is pleased with us, even before we start the day..because of Christ.

    Do you think He has a list and He is up there jotting all of our shortcomings down?

    Give me a break.

    Sin IS our condition. But we have a Savior who puts our sin as far as the East is from the West.

    Relax. Don’t heads towards Rome on this one. This is how the R. Catholics talk.

    YUK.

  9. Joe says:

    Quoting Calvin was nice – his reasoning seems logical – yet I’m with Aaron on this one. Where in the New Testament would you go to build your case best? I quickly think of passages on God’s discipline, displeasure, pruning, and grieving, but not on God’s anger toward the believer. Perhaps the word “anger” too quickly brings my mind to “condemnation,” which cannot be erased by a quick disclaimer.

  10. Stevie says:

    Moses said, “Show me your glory.” God answered, “I will make my goodness pass before you and I will proclaim the name of the Lord.”

    And this is what he proclaimed: “The Lord is slow to anger.” The anger of God is His charactar a charactaristic of his goodness. Slow anger is how a righteous God can extend mercy.

    Exodus 33-34

  11. Andrew says:

    Stevie,

    You might want to read Exodus 32 as well to get proper context. After the golden calf debauchery the Lord was so righteously angry at his covenant people that his anger burned against them and was going to destroy them (vs. 10). Moses interceded for the people reminding God of his covenant promises. The Lord determined to relent from his fierce anger and not completely destroy the people. But he did punish many telling Moses to have each man strap a sword to his side and go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor (vs. 27).

    Lest you think this is somehow OT stuff consider that Paul says in 1st Corinthians 10 as examples to us.

    Also don’t forget to take into account the whole of Exodus 34:6-7, “6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

    God is very much slow to anger and abounding in love…slow to anger however does not mean that he does not get angry!

  12. Andrew says:

    Joe,

    1 Corinthians 10:5 says that because God was not pleased with his people their bodies were scattered over the desert.

    The background for God being grieved with us in Ephesians is Isaiah 63 especially vs. 10. The result of griveing God’s Spirit is God fighting against his people rather than for them…

    1 Corinthians 11 speaks of eating and drinking judgment on ourselves but speaks of it in terms of redemptive judgment. That’s why I said above how amazing it is that when we are in Christ even God’s anger with our sin in the end is used to bless us.

    See also Heb 3-4 which warns the new covenant community about God’s anger over sin and unbelief by citing his anger against his people of Old. It uses the very real possability of God getting angry with us as a motivation to through off the deceitfulness of sin, and unbelief being diligent to enter his rest.

  13. Andrew says:

    Steve,

    Is the Holy Spirit a Roman Catholic then or was David not in Christ???

    2 Samuel 11:27.

    Or is the Holy Spirit urging us to do violate the gospel by trying to please the Lord and do good works here…

    “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[a] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” 1 Corinthians 1:9-10

    When you deny that believers in Christ can please and displease God (as well as do good works as you have in the past) you don’t simply stand against the Historic Protestent Confessions (including the Formula of Concord), you don’t stand against RC’s, you stand against God’s very clear testimony in the Scriptures.

  14. Mitchell Hammonds says:

    Andrew,
    Does the love of God fit anywhere into your theology? It seems the best place for a person to have any inkling of the love of God in your thinking is only at regeneration. After that point (whenever that is) God is on a tirade.

  15. Andrew says:

    Mitchell, of course I do.

    My posts make clear that I recieve the biblical teaching that the love of God as unconditional and unchanging…it is higher and deeper and wider than we can fathom and surpasses knowledge. Nonetheless God does get displeased with us. I recieve that teaching too. Kevin is right on when he says, that there is a vast difference between the condemning anger of God and the righteous anger of a Father who LOVES his children. This is a biblical distinction you are either unable to see or unwilling to accept. I even said that in God’s amazing love and grace the expression of his anger over our sin ultimately blesses us.

    I really believe you approach slandering God. I did not give you theology I gave you Scripture passages. Do you really think that his Fatherly anger is an unrighteous “tirade”? Do you really think his frequent warnings should be seen as inappropriate, some kind of mean spirited desire to threaten us with a whipping post?

    Do you have a problem with 1 Corinthians 10, 11, James 5, Hebrews 3-4, 10, and 12, Ephesians 5:6, Galatians 5:21???

    Whatever you want to say Mitchell your problem is with God not me. Deal with all his revelation, don’t pick and choose the parts you like. That is nothing more than fashioning an idol.

  16. Mitchell Hammonds says:

    Andrew,
    I said YOUR idea of God seems to be put forth that HE is in a tirade. I don’t have a problem with Kevin’s posts. My issue is with your constant focus- even on other postings- on everything but the love of God… so it seems. I don’t presume to know what God is like… and I definitely don’t know when a negative experience is a disciplinary action of God and nor do you.

  17. Andrew says:

    Mitchell…like I said, I’m not putting forth my ideas…I’m quoting Scripture. The question is can you affirm those Scriptures without hesitation? Do they fit with your understanding of God and his love.

    It’s not presumption to affirm his revelation in fact its the opposite. That’s what I want to see you do is recieve the whole counsel…don’t ignore parts that don’t fit your conception of love. Ask the Lord to help you understand love through the whole of his Word. If your understanding of love can’t accomodate the passages I sighted then you’ve got to wrestle with those together with your pastor. It is not only your duty but a spirtual act of worship to renew your mind (Rom 12) so that you can worship God in all he has revealed of himself in the Scriptures.

  18. Steve Martin says:

    Worrying constantly about whether you are making God angry or not because of your religious performance is a waste of time and energy.

    Then the focus is all on YOU. You are free in Christ. Christ is looking for people that are not self-conscious about their works.
    “When did we do those things?” “When you did it to the least of these you did it to Me.”

    Preoccupation with the self is the not the easy yoke that Jesus desires for you.

    And yes, this self-focused ‘how am I doing?’ attitude is very Roman Catholic.

    A great many Evangelicals might as well just go to Rome and forget about the radical grace that is the gospel.

  19. Andrew says:

    Steve you have strong opinions that ignore the Scriptures. God has instructed us to examine ourselves.

    1 Corinthians 11:31,”If we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.”

    I can only imagine how you would rebuke the apostle Paul for taking our eyes of Jesus. I think you would call him a Roman Catholic too.

    Engage in with the Scriptures in a meaniful way rather than dodging and weaving. Use Scripture with integrity.

    Like try taking into account what Jesus is actually teaching in Matthew 25. Can it really be said that Jesus is trying to teach that he seeks people who aren’t self concious about doing good works in that passage? Of course not. That’s not what the passage is about at all and he has already taught many times in Matthew the importance of sincere obedience in faith from the heart. AND HE HAS ALREADY GIVEN MANY WARNINGS AGAINST DEAD FRUITLESS FAITH.

    In Matthew 5 he told them to be salt and light and warned them about what happens to unsalty salt. In Matthew 7 he told them that every good tree bears good fruit and every tree that doesn’t will be cut down and thrown in the fire. He also told them that on judgment day there will be many who say Lord Lord who will be turned away because they were “workers of lawlessness”. Oh and he told them to be sure to put his words into practice less their house fall with a great crash. And in Matthew 21 he rebuked the people of Israel for fruitlessness and said he would give the Kingdom to people who would produce its fruit.

    Just bad exegesis man.

  20. Steve Martin says:

    “Be perfect as your father in Heaven is perfect.”

    Are you sure it is not you that is ignoring Scripture?

  21. Steve Martin says:

    This is the terrible thing about the inability to distinguish the law from the gospel and the effects of Biblicism.

  22. Brandon E says:

    Steve,

    I personally believe that God’s love towards His elect is unconditional, that the precious blood of Christ is our only basis for drawing near to God to receive grace, and that as believers in Christ our justification is assured and eternally secure and there’s nothing we can do to lose our eternal salvation–not because I conceive of salvation as a “business transaction” but because of His revealed promise and will (John 6:39-40; 10:28-29; Rom. 8:31-39; Heb. 13:5) and because the life-relationship between us and our loving Father who begot us through regeneration (John 1:12-13, 1 John 5:1; Rom. 8:16) is indissoluble.

    That being said, were the apostles being Romish, self-conscious and preoccupied with self (and teaching others to be the same way) when they said things like:

    Therefore also we are determined, whether at home or abroad, to gain the honor of being well pleasing to Him.
    For we must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done through the body according to what he has practiced, whether good or bad.
    Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; yet I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.
    -2 Cor. 5:9-11

    Therefore we also, since the day we heard of it, do not cease praying and asking on your behalf that you may be filled with the full knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
    To walk worthily of the Lord to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and growing by the full knowledge of God,
    -Col. 1:9-10

    Furthermore, brothers, we ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that even as you received from us how you ought to walk and please God, even as indeed you do walk, that you abound still more.
    -1 Thess. 4:1

    And now, little children, abide in Him, so that if He is manifested, we may have boldness and not be put to shame from Him at His coming.
    1 John 2:28

    I believe they said such things because they were preoccupied with Christ.

    So it’s possible to “be determined…to gain the honor of being well pleasing to Him” in a Christ-centered way, rather than a self-centered way. Wouldn’t you agree?

    It’s also possible to be “gospel-centered” in a way that is actually self-centered. A person can be far more for a doctrine of radical grace than they are being preoccupied with Christ Himself. Because the person has created for his or herself a standard of what it means to be “gospel-centered” and criticizes others for not meeting the standard, the self can hide behind this cloak and is given free license to work in an undercover way.

    Or, as Andrew notes, a person might cling to a particular understanding of God’s love in a way that cannot accommodate the whole counsel and full revelation of Him in Scripture. In this case the self with its concepts, opinions and tradition trumps Scripture rather than being informed by it.

    Yes, on one hand it is a serious problem if we become self-consciously discouraged or self-righteous about our performance. But there are problems on the other extreme as well, hence we should not be surprised to see that the Scriptures address them, too. This is why we need God’s light to shine on us wherever we are at, not to condemn us, but to expose us in holiness and love of the things in us that are disagreeable to Him, that in confessing whatever He is putting His finger upon, He might make His home in our heart through faith (Eph. 3:17).

  23. Andrew says:

    No Steve the problem is exegesis. My understanding of law, gosepl, and justification are in order brother. Your exegesis is poor. Yet another example of dodging the whole counsel of God by prooftexting out of context.

    What does Christ mean in that text? He is not talking about establishing righteousness by the law…he is calling his disciples to pursue a perfect obedience. They are children of God and they should seek by the help of the Holy Spirit to be like their Father by showing kindness even to their enemies. They are to pursue that perfection…not in order to be justified but to demonstrate their sonship in their likeness to their Father.

    Paul also calls us to pursue perfection THOUGH WE WILL NOT ATTAIN IT IN THIS LIFE AND OUR WORKS IN NO WAY CONTRIBUTE TO THE RIGHTEOUSNESS BY WHICH WE ARE JUUSTIFIED.

    2 Corinthians 7:1, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

    John does the same in 1 John 3:2-3, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”

    Phillipians 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or HAVE ALREADY BEEN MADE PERFECT, BUT I PRESS ON TO TAKE HOLD OF THAT FOR WHICH cHRIST jESUS TOOK HOLD OF ME.”

    Yeah…I’m sure Steve.

  24. Steve Martin says:

    The problem is that most Evangelicals do NOT take sin seriously enough and their anthrpology is Roman Catholic (‘we are not that bad, and with a little help we can get better’.

    All day long Evangelicals will talk (about others)about how we should do this and not do that, all the while they are doing the same things.

    “If you are angry with anyone you are a murderer.”

    No, many do not take sin seriously. They talk a good game but in reality they are prideful because they fail to see their bondage to sin. They look at sin as so much doggie stuff that we either avoid or step into. Sin IS OUR CONDITION.

    Just watch all the “good Christians” who break the traffic laws to and from church. They are all going the speed limit, right?

    It is a picture of the human condition. We want what we want and every now and then we will tip our hat to God.

    I’m not saying that these filks are not Christians or anything like that, but I am saying that there is a more excellent way and that is to put their trust in what Christ has done, is doing, and will yet do, and NOT focus on their performance. It really is liberating and why Christ dies for us (Gal. 5:1).

  25. Thomas Pujol says:

    I sincerely would like help with this…

    What do you do when it feels like God is angry at you all the time?

    I agree that it makes sense that God loves and accepts you, yet is angry sometimes, but every time someone has ever said to me, “God is pleased with you,” I just weep. I’m not totally sure why, but I think it is just a sense that God is always ‘wondrously angry’ at me. And that my attitude stinks, and my actions are even worse. I know I am loved and accepted in Christ, but I WANT to love Him better than I do, and seeing my failings to do this is hard at times.

    Tawmis.

  26. Let’s put this in a little different perspective. First, I think we can all agree that there are two definite choices that we human beings can have–to dwell in the Secret Place of the Most High (Psalm 91) or to not dwell in the Secret Place of the Most High. If we choose to seek God with everything we have and to love Him with everything we have, then He will be able to deal with the things that bring loss, death, and destruction into our lives. If we choose to not seek Him or to not love Him with everything we have, then His hands are tied because the choice is ours (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). By not seeking God or not loving Him, some Christians will live as if they were not Christians and they will see the same loss, death, destruction, and curses that afflict those who have never believed.

    One of our biggest problems is that what is presented as the gospel focuses on death and what happens when people die. This in turn causes some people to think that because they’ve accepted Christ, they can do anything they want to do because they’ll go to heaven when they die. Read John 10:10–the gospel is based on the life that is more abundant than the loss, death, and destruction that pervades our world. I’m thinking when we start teaching and encouraging people to get started on seeking God with everything they have and on loving Him with everything they have, we will see a huge change in Christianity. If I love God with everything I have, I am certainly going to do my best to please Him!

  27. Mitchell Hammonds says:

    If one mentions the grace of God bestowed on man irrespective of their performance then the default assumption is that the individual is attempting to excuse a “wild-life.” I think very few people actually believe that God’s grace means this.
    I once thought that all I needed was to love God with “All my heart, soul, mind and strength” and I believe I should. The problem, as I have come to understand it, is if I believe I actually pull this command off – I have cease to actually take the command serious. For if the commands by given God are attainable in this life why the death of Christ? I love God – but I’m not naive enough to think I love Him as I should. I serve God – but there is always room for improvement no matter how serious I am – come to think of it some days I’m not all that serious.

  28. Mitchell, you’ve asked a good question–why the death of Christ? Remember that, when Christ died, the veil in the temple was ripped apart from top to bottom? Here’s a metaphor that helps explain the importance of this event: In the Garden of Eden, when Satan scammed Adam and Eve into eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil (remember, they had only known good up until that moment and had never even touched the fruit until then), he “inserted” a dividing wall between God and the human race. That wall kept human beings from seeing the truth of God’s absolute love for them.

    When Christ died on the cross, he smashed that dividing wall into smithereens and made the way for the human race to become sons of God and to know Him as their Father. Through the new birth, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the baptism of fire, we are able to turn that potential into reality. We can love God with everything we have.

    I have spent more than 40 years seeking God for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom and loving Him with everything I have. By me doing these things, God has had an open door to deal with me in many areas of my life. Sometimes it has been difficult to face truth in my life, but I would always ask God to help me persevere through the cleansing. God is faithful and His love is absolute!

  29. Mitchell Hammonds says:

    Patricia,
    I appreciate the comment. I’m fully aware of the reason for the death and resurrection of Christ. My point in asking the question was to accentuate the idea that many think they can actually pull off what God demands of them in order to please Him. We obey some… but never fully.

    God demands that we love Him with our entire being… we can’t. He commands us to love our neighbors as ourself… we don’t. We should not worry – but we do. On and on the list goes.

    Sin is by far more than just individual acts we do/don’t do… it’s primarily a condition. We sin because of our condition and it is for this reason Christ died. Our reconciliation to God. Thanks.

  30. Mitchell, are you familiar with II Corinthians 5:17, 21? When Christ was on the cross, he became sin–when he died, sin lost its power to keep human beings away from God. When we are born again, we become the righteousness of God in Christ–the same spirit that made Christ the Son of God is created within us. We are a new creation–all things are new.

    But, a question arises then–what if I’m the same old person I was before I was born again? Here’s where the sticking point comes. When we are born again, all of the action is on the inside of us–the new birth does not deal with our actions, but it deals with our identity. Thus, unlike Christ, who never sinned, we have to deal with the results of living in unbelief. God knew that would be an issue, so He provided the way for us to overcome the “habits” of sin through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of truth) and the baptism of fire (Matthew 3:11-12). God’s purpose is help us overcome the loss, death, and destruction that Satan loosed on our world in the Garden of Eden.

    I think many believers are causing themselves and others a lot of grief because they focus on sin instead of on righteousness. Look at it this way, Proverbs 12:28 says there is no death in the pathway of righteousness–so if I am the righteousness of God in Christ, then I must have the ability to walk in its pathway and experience life, not death (John 10:10). I wonder who would know the how-to needed to do just that?

    One of the greatest lessons Job learned in his intense trouble was that he had been basing his faith on what he did rather than on God’s character. Likewise, our ability to overcome sin is not based on our actions, but on God’s faithfulness. This why we need to start taking some baby steps towards God and ask Him for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. As we seek Him, He will lead us to the place where our love for Him will abound and overflow to those around us.

  31. Mitchell Hammonds says:

    Patricia,
    We agree on some points but disagree on others.
    There is an “already” and “not yet” of the Christian life. My inner experience of the Christian life is not the measure as to whether I am a Christian or not. I am a Christian because I trust the promises of God that He is faithful to what He has/is doing. I may/may not always see/feel the reality of that. It is an objective promise from God that I have confidence in… not what I see/feel in my own life.
    For every sin I “overcome” there are a 1000 other sins waiting to surface… I don’t focus on my sin but rather focus on the Promise from God and believe He is the true “Promisekeeper.” I’ve lived long enough to know I don’t keep promises very well… and frankly neither does anyone else when it comes to “not sinning.” Thanks for the response though.

  32. Gary H. says:

    God’s wrath rests on those who are not “in Christ”.

    Is God angry with Jesus? No. Jesus’ righteousness and His atoning work are ours. For those of us “in Christ”, God sees us as he sees Jesus.

    Can God discipline us without being angry? Yes. Discipline is correction. The shepherd guides the sheep with his staff. He doesn’t beat the sheep with it.

  33. LW says:

    Do you have any scriptures for this wondrously angry God, that is not referring to condemnation?

  34. LW says:

    I only ask because I think that would make it more helpful for readers to study the issue on their own and see what conclusions they come. I agree with Kevin, but then it occurred to me that i’m not sure where in scripture it states that difference between condemnation and God’s anger toward His elect. I know of his discipline, I know of our ability to grieve his spirit.I’ve never had the thought, “God is angry at me.”

    It may be a helpful truth to know. I just need some scripture.

  35. Mitchell Hammonds says:

    Patricia,
    I would also add that Christ “sanctifies Himself” for us so that we may be sanctified in Him. I believe he does this, in part at least, to allow us to simply live without naval gazing about our day to day performance. This isn’t license but freedom to live and not have to chase pietism and what we feel around like a dog after his own tail.

  36. Steve Martin says:

    I am starting to learn (very slowly) that the grace of God is just never enough for some people.

    Yeah-butism is alive and well and those who would have us DO this or that as proof that we are in Christ (even though they rarely do this or that)will never give up their quest to show just how ungodly the ‘other guy’ really is.

    Well…I’m ungodly.

    Who did He die for, anyway?

  37. Andrew says:

    Hi Steve,

    You aren’t learning anything. You’ve believed that most everybody in your little circle don’t get grace for as long as you’ve been posting. You’ve also been accusing people of “yeah-butism” for as long as you’ve been posting rather than learning from others and developing a nuanced understanding of the bible.

    You are like a simplistic Arminian who refuses to emabrace God’s sovreignty because either God is sovreign and humans are responsible agents or else they are not. Period…case closed. You would be wise to study the history of theology and learn how the inability to hold sometimes difficult truths together is one of the chief ways men are led into heresy.

    The Westminster Divines took sin very seriusly. But they were also good theologians and had a nuanced understanding of the bible. After showing the perfection of the law they say…

    Q. 82. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
    A. No mere man, since the fall, is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.[173]

    Q. 83. Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
    A. Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.[174]

    Q. 84. What doth every sin deserve?
    A. Every sin deserveth God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come.[175]

    This is good biblical theology Steve. Go look up the passages cited and LEARN SOMETHING.

    I don’t think you even understand most of the discussions that you enter into. You don’t listen to responses or reckon with Scripture…you just repeat yourself and insult others as being Pharisees.

  38. Andrew says:

    Mitchel…

    You say…

    “accentuate the idea that many think they can actually pull off what God demands of them in order to please Him. We obey some… but never fully.”

    Mitchel…you haven’t read the Wetminster Confessin on good works and looked up the Scriptures like I asked you to have you??? Even if you are going to go Lutheran with Steve don’t follow Steve. The Formula of Concord affirms that believers are to do good works and he rejects this outright even though he claims to be a good Lutheran.

    The good works of believers are UNACCEPTABLE AND WORTHY OF CONDEMNATION BEFORE GOD IN THEMSELVES…THEY CANNNOT PLEASE GOD IN THAT RESPECT. In fact not a single thing we do is not tainted by sin the confession rightly affirms.

    But again God accepts the believers works done in faith not to establish their righteousness unto justification (that’s been done) but as a pleasing offering to him in Christ.

  39. Mitchell Hammonds says:

    Andrew,
    You and I simply disagree man! I’m really not interested in the WCF. Not everyone follows the WCF. Trust me Andrew… I have works I’m simply not going to list them for you or anyone else… they mean absolutely ‘squat’ when it comes to how I’m saved. You want me to admit to you what my works are… I have works… there Christ’s works.
    What is your beef with works… what must I admit to satisfy you that I’m justified and being sanctified? This is where it always ends… you judging to see if I measure up. I’ve done things (works) you’ve not even come close to performing probably but they don’t mean a thing. I’ve risked life and limb for other’s property and life… it doesn’t mean a thing as far as justification. They’re their for me to brag about and focus on (even in Christ)… but I don’t want to. Enough with works… I’ve spent 42 years focused on works and not once did I ever have assurance through them. You and I disagree. Call me a non-believer. I’d rather you leave it at that than listen to incessant focus on works.

  40. Andrew says:

    Mitchell,

    You took this comment section in a very negative direction by saying, “Relax… oh you who love to threaten with the divine ‘whipping post.’”

    My beef with you is not whether you measure up to anything. It’s that you constantly slander and bear false witness calling positions pharisaical and legalistic that are historic orthodox protestant Christianity.

    Above you said that some people think they can pull off pleasing God by their own works. Who has said that? Not me…not Kevin…I don’t see any posters saying that. You believe people are saying that because you do not understand the difference between trying to establish your own righteousness and the works done in faith that God accepts in Christ as a pleasing offering and nothing more.

    I realize not everyone ascribes to the Westminster Confession. I point you there as the best summary of this issue I know of. If you look into it and wrestle with the Scriptures you may not agree with every word but Lord willing you’ll understand that no one is putting forward a righteousness other than Christ’s…no one is saying true believers don’t sin every day…no one is saying most of the things you accuse us of saying. So stop.

  41. Mitchell Hammonds says:

    Andrew,
    Question posed to R.C. Sproul(who definitely holds to WCF): Do Christians have to have works to go to heaven.
    Answer: Yes… they just aren’t your works. They are Christ’s works. “Now That’s a Good Question” by R.C. Sproul
    I listen to probably many of the same people you do. I’m not a wild child looking to excuse a wild life. I’ve done your routine for many years… I’m not asking you to quit. I find it to be a vulnerable abusive state to be in. I happen to disagree with you on your militant presentation of the Gospel. Change your approach and you may gain an audience you don’t have now.

  42. Mitchell Hammonds says:

    “you do not understand the difference between trying to establish your own righteousness and the works done in faith that God accepts in Christ as a pleasing offering and nothing more.”
    That’s right Andrew and neither do you. They look exactly like an atheist would look doing them. Feeding the poor… giving this… giving that. It is amazing that you think so highly of yourself and your efforts.
    You act as if you are the only one who ever wrestled with these issues then spout your rhetoric as if you have found the missing key for everyone else to follow.
    If you know that not everyone subscribes to the WCF then why bring it up at every blog.
    Your testing me man… I mean really testing me.

  43. Steve Martin says:

    Atta boy, Mitchell.

    You called that exactly right.

    People will tell you all day long what you should be doing, when they pretty much ignore what they should be doing.

    Some people just love the religious project. Trouble is that it only brings despair or pride.

    That’s it.

  44. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Andrew, fwiw, Steve Martin is not a simplistic Arminian. He’s a Lutheran (if I recall correctly).

    Steve Martin made one statement that I took notice of:

    “The problem is that most Evangelicals do NOT take sin seriously enough”

    While some Evangelicals certainly don’t take sin seriously enough, it’s much more of a problem among Lutherans.

    For example, read this excerpt from Dr. Martin E. Marty, a Confessional Lutheran:

    “Think of Breivik, who was one of the 90,757,570 reported Lutherans in the world (as of 2005) and who must have been one of the 3,991,545 members of the State Church in Norway, which is Lutheran, as 79.2 percent of Norwegians are. It is hard not to be baptized and a registered member of that Church. Then think further; it is hard to picture that Breivik was anything but one of the 97 percent of the members who never shows up. That he caught many ideas from this religious [Lutheran] background is clear from citations in his monstrous manifesto and elsewhere.”

    Earlier, Dr. Marty posed this question:

    Q: “What do the following have in common? Anders Behring Breivik, killer of scores of innocents in Norway; assassins Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK) and Sirhan Sirhan (RFK); serial killers: Dennis Rader (Kansas, murdered 10); Charles Starkweather (Nebraska, 11); Jeffrey Dahmer (Wisconsin, 17); and Dylan Kiebold (Columbine, CO, 13).”

    A: “they were all Lutheran Christians.”

    P.S. Lutherans should take the plank out of their own eyes before criticizing Evangelicals about not taking sin seriously enough.

  45. Mitchell Hammonds says:

    Truth Unites and Divides,
    I belong to the “fund-a-gelical” movement and your comment about Lutherans is so far off it isn’t worth taking seriously. But as a fund-a-gelical I’ll say what not many will say. I’m sure Lutherans have there own issues (as all denominations do) but shallow thoughts about the realities of sin and the Gospel are not one of them. I’m Southern Baptist (not Lutheran) and I can tell you from where I sit the Evangelical community is severely lacking in their understanding of a great number of things.
    It’s good to know at least 3 individuals (yourself included) on GC blogs are just shy of perfect and able to talk to everyone else about just where they are lacking.

  46. Steve Martin says:

    T,U, and D,

    When it comes to individuals…you are right, anything goes in the Lutheran church as well as every other church.

    When it comes to our differing theologies, there is no question that Evangelicals do not understand the seriousness of our sin CONDITION. That’s why most Evangelical peachers try to use the law (‘what we do’)to try and make better Christians out of us.

    While Lutherans understand the problem to be one of life and death. Sin is so serious that there is NO FIXING US UP. We need to die. And be brought to repentance and forgiveness over and over again.

  47. Andrew says:

    Truth, I didn’t say Steve was a simplistic Arminian…I said he is like one in his inability to hold truths in tension such as (in the case of Arminians) human responsibility and divine sovereignty. With him (as it relates to this post) it is the fact that God accepts us through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and yet can still be pleased and displeased with our actions.

    Mitchell, our works do not contribute a single iota to our justification. No one will enter heaven by anything other than the perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to them and received by faith alone. RC Sproul was certainly talking from this perspective when he said what you quoted. This is the position of the Westminster Confession as well. However it then goes on to affirm that no one who is justified does not receive all other graces including sanctification. RC simply doesn’t make the Roman Catholic error of saying that the “other graces” and works done in our sanctification somehow contribute to our acceptance before God. This is basic Protestant doctrine Mitchell. And contrary to what Steve thinks (read the Formula of Concord yourself) both Lutheran’s and the Reformed have held that true faith will always express itself in repentance and good works.

    So no, I don’t think I have some magical key. I think you and Steve are on the fringe if not outside the pale of historic Protestant Christianity. I hope you won’t join Steve in imagining such a man as JI Packer is grace compromisers to be stood against together with the Pope. He shows as much arrogance as he does lack of understanding and misrepresents Lutheranism in many ways.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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