INDEX TO ATTRIBUTES
Righteousness is the character or quality of being right or just” and was formerly spelled “rightwiseness,” which clearly expresses the meaning. God is totally righteous because He is totally as He should be. The righteousness of God could be succinctly stated as that which is all that God is, all that He commands, all that He demands, all that He approves, all that He provides through Christ in the gospel (Ro 1:16, 17-note). God is always righteous and His righteousness causes Him to always think and do what is right or act in perfect goodness in relation to His creation. He will always do what is right. God’s justice, love & mercy must be harmonized with His righteousness which cannot be compromised. As an attribute of God it is united with His holiness as being essential in His nature (Ps 11:7, Jn 17:25) The book of Romans emphasizes the righteousness of God and shows that God is righteous in His dealings with both sinners and believers. The righteousness of God is the starting point and the theme of the gospel message. God’s righteousness, rejected by sinning humanity, was perfectly fulfilled by Christ incarnate. It is imputed to the sinner who repents and believes in the Lord Jesus, and will be manifested in practical ways in the life of the Christian. The righteousness of God in one sense it speaks of God’s holy hatred of sin. In the early 1500s, Martin Luther sat in the tower of the Black Cloister, Wittenberg, reading (Ro 1:17-note). That expression ‘righteousness of God’ was like a thunderbolt in my heart,” Luther later wrote. “I hated Paul with all my heart when I read that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel.” Luther saw God’s righteousness as an unassailable obstacle to eternal life for he was deeply aware of his own sinfulness, and he knew because of it he was unacceptable to a righteous God. Therefore, as he read this verse he was seized with despair. But the second connotation of righteousness in (Ro 1:17-note): speaks of Christ’s perfect righteousness, which is imputed to the account of the believing sinner (Ro 4:24-note). When Luther understood this sense of the righteousness provided by God through the righteousness imputed on a believing sinner's account, he finally grasped the true meaning of the gospel, and this discovery set ablaze the Protestant Reformation.
Have you ever been around a child who asks the probing question "Daddy (Mommy), who made God?" This is a good question but one which is not easy to explain to a child. The answer of course is that God did not need to be made because He has always been, and as you can see the attribute of self-existence is closely related to His eternality and His self-sustenance (self-sustaining). Stated another way, God is not dependent upon anything else for existence but has eternally existed without any external or prior cause. God is the essence of life and the unending Source of self-sustenance.
The noun aseity (Latin derivation - a = from + se = oneself) literally means from oneself and so being from oneself and in philosophy describes that which has its existence derived from itself, having no other source.
The Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics and Philosophy of Religion says that aseity is…
God does not depend on any source for His existence and exists independently of any cause. God is fully capable of existing in isolation should He so choose. His self-existence is seen in the Name by which He revealed Himself -- Yahweh (See study of Jehovah), the One Who is the I am that I am (Ex 3:14-notes) God's self-existence is a profound mystery that cannot be understood by finite man but is a truth that renews our mind giving us comfort, assurance and stability. He is our self-existent sure, stedfast, stable Rock. God exists independently of all things and thus will always be there for His people. This truth undergirds the exhortation to believers to let our "character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said,
In Acts Paul alludes to God's self-existence (and self-sufficiency) explaining to the intellectually curious but divinely foolish pagan Athenians…
The psalmist speaks to God's self-existence declaring…
Other Scriptures which allude to God's self-existence include Ps 102:25, 26, 27; Isa 40:28, 29, 30, 31; Jn 5:26; Re 4:10
Spurgeon writes that
J I Packer writes that…
Ryrie writes that…
Paul Enns writes that…
Thomas Oden adds that…
Swindoll in his discussion of God's Name in Ex 3:13, 14, 15 explains that…
James Montgomery Boice has the following discussion of "I Am Who I Am"
|"If I were hungry, I would not tell thee." (Ps 50:12)
Swindoll writes that…
Spurgeon commenting on this verse writes
Sovereignty is defined by Webster's as supreme power especially over a body politic. It describes freedom from external control or of other controlling influences. God is the ultimate authority in every sphere and place. It follows that all creation is subject to Him and that all creation is answerable to Him. As an aside, what verb do you see in the word sovereign? "Reign" of course, and this verb captures the essence of this divine attribute. Our God Reigns!
Our God Reigns
How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him
The 1828 Edition of Webster's defines Sovereign as
Easton's Bible Dictionary says Sovereignty is God's
New Unger's Bible Dictionary says that regarding the Sovereignty of God, that
|The Sovereignty of God A. W. Pink. Here is an excerpt to encourage you to read the entire topic:
ILLUSTRATION OF God’s sovereign control. A two-year-old child in a stroller was rapidly turning his little steering wheel to the right, but he was going to the left, nonetheless. His direction was not determined by him, but by his mother; his steering wheel was not connected to anything that mattered. (From - When You’ve Been Wronged: Moving From Bitterness to Forgiveness by Erwin W. Lutzer)
Question: "What does it mean that God is sovereign?"
Also from Gotquestions:
Mark Hitchcock tells the following story…
Pastor Ray Pritchard writes…
List of sermons by Dr Pritchard that relate to God's Sovereignty
C H Spurgeon summarized God's sovereignty in his introductory remarks to his sermon on Divine Sovereignty…
Spurgeon on Sovereignty
|R B Kuiper relates God's Sovereignty to two ropes…
Martin Manser on the sovereignty of God - The fact that God is free and able to do all that he wills; that he reigns over all creation and that his will is the final cause of all things. This is often expressed in the language of kingship.
God is free to do all he wills
God is able to do whatever he wills
God cannot be successfully opposed
God rules and reigns
He is King
He is Lord of heaven and earth
His throne is a symbol of his sovereignty
God's sovereignty extends over all things
He is sovereign over creation
He is sovereign over human life
He is sovereign over the minutest details of life
He is sovereign in electing his people
He is sovereign in the life and salvation of his people
He is sovereign over the sufferings of believers
He is sovereign over world history
God is sovereign over all other gods and over demonic forces
God is supreme over all gods
Satan is defeated through God's sovereign purposes at work in Jesus Christ
|The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook writes that sovereignty is…
J I Packer - I do not intend to spend any time at all proving to you the general truth that God is sovereign in His world. There is no need; for I know that, if you are a Christian, you believe this already. How do I know that? Because I know that, if you are a Christian, you pray; and the recognition of God's sovereignty, is the basis of your prayers. In prayer, you ask for things and give thanks for things. Why? Because you recognize that God is the author and source of all the good that you have had already and all the good that you hope for in the future. This is the fundamental philosophy of Christian prayer. The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God's hand, but a humble acknowledgment of helplessness and dependence. When we are on our knees, we know that it is not we who control the world; it is not in our power, therefore, to supply our needs by our own independent efforts. Every good thing that we desire for ourselves and for others, must be sought from God, and will come, if it comes at all, as a gift from His hands. If this is true even of our daily bread (and the Lord's Prayer teaches us that it is), much more is it true of spiritual benefits. This is all luminously clear to us when we are actually praying, whatever we may be betrayed into saying in argument afterwards. In effect, therefore, what we do every time we pray, is to confess our own impotence and God's sovereignty. The very fact that a Christian prays is thus proof positive that he believes in the Lordship of his God. (Read full article Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility) -
SCRIPTURES ON SOVEREIGNTY
1Sa 2:2, 3, 1Sa 2:6-8; Job 42:2; Ps 50:1, Ps 103:19; Ps 115:3; Ps 135:6; Da 4:31, 32, Da 4:35; Isa 46:9, 10; Isa 14:24, 27; Isa 40:15, 25; Isa 43:13; Eph 1:11, 1Ti 6:15
God's sovereignty overrules every calamity. Let's take a brief look at His sovereignty over historical events. Did you know that two great leaders, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt, almost died before the World War II began? In December 1931, Churchill was struck by a car as he crossed Fifth Avenue in New York City. In Miami in December 1933, an assassin's bullet barely missed Roosevelt and killed the man standing beside him. Both leaders survived and contributed mightily to the defeat of Hitler. Why did they survive to lead their nations in this time of crisis? Because God was in control back then and He is still in control. God is sovereign over nations causing their leaders to rise and to fall (Da 2:21; 4:32, 33, 34, 35; 5:21). The prophet Habakkuk complained that it didn't seem right for God to use wicked Babylon to discipline Israel, but God assured him that this did not mean evil would triumph. God was in control and would one day bring about perfect justice
Dear brother or sister in Christ, rest assured that your times are also in the omnipotent, omniscient God's hands. No matter what may happen in this world, He is always in control!
This Is My Father’s World—
Oh, let me ne'er forget
The Most High Rules from The Joy of Knowing God Action To Take: Think of something in your life at the present time that disturbs you deeply, over which you have no control. Now consciously bow to God’s sovereignty in that area of your life and ask Him what Christlike qualities He wants to build into your life through that situation.
If anything in this world is the result of chance then God is not sovereign over all. Wilson Benton
Our sovereign God never lets so much as a shadow fall across our lives without intending it to be for his glory and our good. John Blanchard
If God were less than sovereign, man would be less than responsible. Since God is absolutely sovereign, man is wholly responsible to him. R. B. Kuiper
The essence of true religion is spontaneity, the sovereign movings of the Holy Spirit upon and in the free spirit of redeemed man. A. W. Tozer
Our duty is found in the revealed will of God in the Scriptures. Our trust must be in the sovereign will of God, as he works in the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives for our good and for his glory. Jerry Bridges
The true minister is not one by his own choice but by the sovereign commission of God. A. W. Tozer
The main reason why we should study the Bible is because it is our duty. God is our Sovereign, it is his Word, and he commands that we study it. R. C. Sproul
The kingdom of God does not exist because of your effort or mine. It exists because God reigns. Our part is to enter this kingdom and bring our life under his sovereign will. T. Z. Koo
A sovereign Protector I have,
From Jerry Bridges
From John Piper on the Sovereignty of God
In Praise Of Sovereignty (See other Our Daily Bread devotionals related to sovereignty)
Read: Psalm 103:15-22
In James Fenimore Cooper’s book The Last of the Mohicans, we become acquainted with a character named David Gamut. He is a devout Christian who delights in setting the Psalms to music and singing them no matter what circumstances life brings his way. Gamut believes that God can be trusted in crisis as well as in good times. He lives a life in praise of God’s sovereignty—His supreme power, authority, and control over the world.
The Bible tells us about another David, a flesh-and-blood person who was no stranger to unpredictable life circumstances and who loved to respond to God in praise: King David of Israel. He saw the giant Goliath fall by his sling, he was chased by the murderous King Saul, and he watched the nation of Israel rally under his own leadership. Yet in all these situations, David took time to write and sing psalms of praise to his sovereign God. For example, he wrote, “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all” (Ps. 103:19). David understood that in all circumstances we can worship and thank God for His care and control.
What are you experiencing today? A time of blessing or of testing? In any event, remember David’s example, and sing praises to God for His rule in our lives. - Dennis Fisher
Lord, shape my life as only You can,
Praise the Lord! Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! —Psalm 150:1-2
God Still Reigns
Read: Daniel 4:28-37 | Bible in a Year: 2 Kings 7-9; John 1:1-28
The Most High rules in the kingdom of men. —Daniel 4:17
There’s a story from the Eastern Roman Empire of a Christian monk who was horrified by the wickedness of the emperor. He prayed to God and asked, “Why did You allow that evil man to become emperor?” God replied, “Because I couldn’t find anyone worse!”
Daniel saw wicked kings reign over God’s people in Babylon. It must have been extremely frustrating. In time, the Lord dethroned each proud king, but He replaced them with others just as evil.
King Nebuchadnezzar, for example, exalted himself until God caused him to live like an animal for 7 years. When he regained his mind, he praised God as the one true Ruler (Dan. 4:28-37). But the cycle of evil monarchs continued. Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s descendant, mocked God and used the sacred goblets from the temple in Jerusalem during a drunken orgy (5:2-4).
We must remember that history is God’s story. He reigns when the politicians we vote for get into office, and He reigns when those we oppose get elected. God is sovereign over the rulers of this world (Dan. 4:17). We can trust Him to do what is right because His “works are truth, and His ways justice” (v.37).By Haddon W. Robinson
The Most High still rules over kingdoms of men,
The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord. —Proverbs 21:1
Behind The Throne
Read: Esther 1
[God] changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings. —Daniel 2:21
During my lifetime I have seen evil men rise to political and military power, make colossal blunders, and pass off the scene. Even good leaders leave a record that includes mistakes and weaknesses.
The first chapter of Esther shows us the pride of King Ahasuerus, head of the mighty Persian Empire. He hosted an elaborate festival designed to display his riches and splendor. After 7 days of partying, the king gave orders to his servants to bring Vashti, his queen, before the revelers so they could see her great beauty. But Queen Vashti refused to come, humiliating the great king of Persia (vv.12-18).
Ahasuerus was furious and sought counsel from the wise men of his kingdom. They advised him to remove Vashti as queen and “give her royal position to another who is better than she” (v.19). God used these unusual events to place a Jewish girl in a strategic position to preserve His people from destruction.
God’s name is not mentioned in the entire book of Esther, but the message in chapter 1 comes through loud and clear: God can bring good out of everything, even when flawed and mistake-prone humans are involved. He is the real power behind the throne. By Herbert Vander Lugt
We comprehend Him not,
The most powerful ruler is but a pawn in the hand of the King of kings.
We have access unto the Father (Eph. 2:18). Though He is sovereign, we can still approach Him as a child does a father (Luke 11:11–13, Rom. 8:15).
(Play wonderful vocal version)
God’s Work - God’s sovereign working out of his purposes in the affairs of nations and in individual lives. God predestines those who are saved (Rom. 8:28–29; Eph. 1:4–5). He does not stand on the sidelines, a helpless spectator (so to speak), until we, with our repentance and conversion, give him permission to do something. Unless our names were written “in the book of life from the creation of the world—(Rev. 17:8) we would not even make the motion of turning from sin. Predestination means that our salvation, from first to last, is God’s work. See also Election. The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook, Walter A. Elwell, Editor, (Harold Shaw Publ., Wheaton , IL; 1984), p. 354
Her Fiancé Drowned - A young woman named Anne Steele had encountered one trial and disappointment after another. Being a devout Christian, she continuously sought to praise God—even in sorrow. She was engaged to be married, and had looked forward to her wedding day with eagerness. The big day finally arrived and so did the guests—but the groom was missing. After about an hour of waiting, a messenger brought the tragic news that Anne’s fiancé had drowned. The sudden shock was almost too much for her, but after a while she regained her spiritual composure. Later Anne Steele penned the song that is still found in many hymnbooks:
Father, whate’er of earthly bliss Thy sovereign will denies,
I am not sent a pilgrim here,
The Good And The Bad
Read: Jonah 4
The Lord God prepared a plant [for] shade . . . [and] a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. —Jonah 4:6-7
The story of the rebellious prophet Jonah shows us how God desires to use both blessings and trials to challenge us and change us for the better. Five times in the book of Jonah it says that the Lord prepared circumstances for him—both good and bad.
In Jonah 1:4 we read that the Lord sent a storm. It says He “sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea.” After the mariners discovered that Jonah was the reason for this storm, they threw him overboard (1:15). Then God “prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah” to save him from drowning (1:17).
Later in the book we read that “the Lord God prepared a plant” to shade Jonah (4:6). Then we see that God prepared a worm to kill the vine as well as a scorching wind and sun to beat down upon him (4:7-9). These circumstances were used to reveal Jonah’s rebellious attitude. Only after that revelation could God directly confront Jonah’s heart problem.
As we face different situations, we should remember that God is sovereign over both the blessings and the troubles that come our way. He desires to use everything to build our character (James 1:1-5). He uses both good and bad to transform us and guide us on our journey.
The Maker of the universe
The Lord gives and takes away. Blessed be the Lord.
By Dennis Fisher
Transcendent is defined by the modern Webster's dictionary
The more Bibliocentric 1828 Webster's Dictionary defines transcendent as
Transcendence is a theological term referring to the relation of God to creation. God is “other,” “different” from His creation. He is independent and different from His creatures (Is 55:8, 9). He is higher than and surpasses in every respect His creation. He is beyond it and not limited by it or to it. This simple understanding of this awesome attribute makes it all the more humbling & praiseworthy that His transcendence never removes Him from intimate involvement in His peoples’ lives. Remember that our transcendent God is also the omnipresent God & is never farther than a prayer away.
God’s transcendence and immanence (see below) are both affirmed in Ephesians where Paul writes that there is…
Transcendence is the attribute of God in which He is described as distinct from His Creation while immanence is the idea that the creation is forever dependent on God, and He is always involved in it. Wayne Grudem writes the following in regard to God's immanence…
The Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms says that immanence is…
Read Ps 139 and you will observe that David readily accepted the the apparent "paradox" (to our finite minds) of a transcendent God Who is also near. He acknowledged God as One who fills the entire universe, yet saw the Lord as constantly, pervasively present with His servants. God is NEAR, observing every act, conscious of our every thought. God is TRANSCENDENT, far above the highest heaven. Yet God is also totally present in the saint’s "here and now", giving each of us His undivided attention! What an awesome God we are privileged to worship & serve.
God is in all and over all. Nothing has an independent existence that transcends Him, not even Truth or Love. God is the ultimate value. He does not set, for example, the standard of righteousness; He is the standard of righteousness.
What happens when man loses sight of God's Transcendence?
Transcendence - The attribute of God that refers to being wholly and distinctly separate from creation (although always actively involved in and with it as well). The declaration that God is transcendent means that God is “above” the world and comes to creation from “beyond.” During the medieval era God's transcendence was especially emphasized, as is evident in the architecture of the great gothic cathedrals with their high, arched ceilings that lift one's gaze upward. (Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms.)
Transcendence - That which is higher than or surpasses other things. What is transcendent is thus relative to what is transcended. God is conceived by traditional theologians as being transcendent with respect to the created universe, meaning that he is outside the universe and that no part of the universe is identical to him or a part of him. To think of God as transcendent with respect to time is to conceive him as timeless. Immanuel Kant believed that God was transcendent in the sense of being beyond the possibility of any human experience. Theologians have usually balanced an emphasis on God’s transcendence with an emphasis on God’s immanence within the created world as embodied in his knowledge of and action within that world. In the twentieth century some process theologians and feminist theologians criticized the claim that God is transcendent in favor of a view that sees God and the world as intimately united. (Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion)
Hampton Keathley writes that…
John MacArthur has an interesting comment on the transcendence of Jesus in John chapter 1...
What does it mean that God is transcendent? from Gotquestions.org (recommended resource)...
God is the definition of truth; He is absolutely true, and all truth accords with God’s actions. God is all that He as God should be and that His word and revelation are completely reliable. He is absolutely dependable, without falseness of any kind. God’s plan, principles, and promises are completely reliable, accurate, real, and factual. God is real not imaginary, vain and empty like the idols of the pagans, who represent a so-called god of their own vain imagination. Truth can be depended upon and does not fail, change, or disappoint and so practically God's promises are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus and His word cannot fail or disappoint. The practical aspect of God's unchanging truthfulness is that we can stand on His promises with full assurance of faith no matter how we feel, no matter how dire our circumstances. We can trust and rest on this great attribute of God, forever and forever. Amen. And since God is truth, He desires that those who would give a proper opinion of Him also be truthful in the words and deeds. (Ro 12:9). Scriptures on God is truth: Ex 34:6; Nu 23:19; Ps 19:9; 91:4; 100:5; 146:6; Isa 25:1; 65:16 Da 4:37; Mic7:20; Jn 17:17; 2 Cor 1:20; Rev 16:7.
Jesus proclaimed, “I am the truth” (Jn 14:6). His word to mankind is absolutely reliable and can be trusted implicitly. It means He will never renege on any promise He has made.
|Lewis Sperry Chafer writes that "Truth" is
Truthful by C H Spurgeon
What God Is Like by J. Hampton Keathley III
The Truth of God by Bob Deffinbaugh
The Truth of God by Thomas Watson (Scroll down)
Of the Veracity of God by John Gill
Let God Be True! from The Joy of Knowing God Action To Take: How much time do you give to reading and studying the Bible in an average week? If you have not already done so, build into your daily schedule some time to spend in God’s Word. Examine your life prayerfully for possible areas of dishonesty, then determine before God to correct them.
Wisdom strikes many in the modern world as an "abstract" idea, one which is difficult to define practically. Biblical wisdom however is to the contrary imminently practical, representing in its essence the practical skill for living successfully. Wisdom is the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding. As discussed below God Alone is the Source of this quality of wisdom, quite different from the best wisdom of fallen men.
James describes men's wisdom as
Paul, in describing the gospel, wrote that
Paul adds that
Paul goes on to explain to the Colossians that in Christ
And so it is fitting that Paul ended one of his prayers
Spurgeon - Our Creator is infinitely good, and his will is love: to submit to one who is “to wise to err, too good to be unkind,” should not be hard.
With Paul our eternal chorus will surely be
The Hebrew word for wisdom (chakmah) (see in depth sudden of Greek word for wisdom sophia)
Daniel a man of high esteem, who after receiving the answer to Nebuchadnezzar's dream
As noted God alone possesses wisdom in the absolute sense for
God gives His wisdom to those who fear Him for as the writer of proverbs say
J. I. Packer writes in Knowing God that
How is God's Omniscience (knows all things) compared to the Wisdom of God? In M H Smith's Systematic Theology we read that
Louis Goldberg sums up the practical aspects of this divine attribute
J I Packer says that…
Wrath is "the personal manifestation of God’s holy, moral character in judgment against sin. Wrath is neither an impersonal process nor irrational and fitful like anger. It is in no way vindictive or malicious. It is holy indignation—God’s anger directed against sin. God’s wrath is an expression of His holy love. If God is not a God of wrath, His love is no more than frail, worthless sentimentality; the concept of mercy is meaningless; and the Cross was a cruel and unnecessary experience for His Son." (Nelson's new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville: T. Nelson) (See also Holman Bible Dictionary)
Paul addressing even "religious" readers who may not be truly regenerate warns that
"because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Who will render to every man according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality (note: their deeds don't save them but are external evidence of internal regeneration), eternal life but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation." (Ro 2:5-8 - notes)
God is glorified in the display of His Wrath: In Romans 9 Paul asks the rhetorical question
"What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?" (Ro 9:22 - note) John MacArthur comments that in this section of Romans Paul
"gives two reasons for, although not a complete explanation of, God’s allowing sin to enter and contaminate His universe. The Greek term behind willing is much stronger than this English word connotes. The Greek word carries the idea of determined intent, not indifferent or helpless acquiescence. First, Paul says, God determined to allow sin in His creation because it gave Him the opportunity to demonstrate His wrath. God is glorified in displaying His wrath, just as surely as in displaying His grace, because both of those attributes, along with all the others, comprise His divine nature and character, which are perfectly and permanently self-consistent and are worthy of adoration and worship. Even God’s anger, vengeance, and retribution poured out on sinners are glorious, because they display His majestic holiness." (MacArthur, J: Romans 9-16. Chicago: Moody Press)
Pastor Ray Pritchard has a pithy title for his sermon on God's wrath (A Forgotten Doctrine: The Wrath of God), explaining that…
Sometimes the title tells the whole story. My sermon today is about the wrath of God. It is truly a forgotten doctrine, even in the evangelical church. I'll dare say that many of you have never heard a sermon on God's wrath—that is, not a full sermon devoted to this one topic. The reasons for this apparent neglect are not hard to find. Most of us would rather hear about love and grace. I know I would rather preach about God's grace. After all, to speak of the wrath of God makes us appear narrow-minded, judgmental, and God help us, fundamentalist. In an enlightened community like Oak Park, those aren't popular adjectives. And on another level, God's wrath is difficult to comprehend, so in some ways, this is a doctrine that is easy to overlook. The thought that nice people we know might someday go to eternal hell is so overwhelming—and so disheartening—that we'd much rather not think about it at all.
No Need to Apologize - Many Christians feel as if they have to apologize for this doctrine. Some think it a blemish on God's character. Others think that God's wrath is inconsistent with his love. Perhaps if you brought a friend this morning, you feel you need to say a word of apology after the sermon is over. Please don't! There is no need to apologize for God's Word so long as it is fairly and graciously presented. And I intend to be both fair and gracious in what I have to say.
Let us then consider the words of J. I. Packer: The fact is that the subject of divine wrath has become taboo in modern society, and Christians by and large have accepted the taboo and conditioned themselves never to raise the matter (Knowing God, p. 149).
True though these words may be, two facts stare us in the face:
The Bible says more about wrath than about love.
We may speculate as to the reasons behind those two facts, but no amount of reasoning can change the truth. The Bible is filled with warnings about God's wrath and about eternal judgment. I would not be a faithful pastor if I did not deal with this topic. God has made no secret of his wrath, and neither should we.
The Meaning of God's Wrath - Let's begin with a simple definition of wrath as one of God's attributes. It's important to get a proper definition because when we use the word wrath we tend to think of uncontrolled anger. While that may be human wrath, it is far from the truth about God's wrath. Here's a working definition: God's wrath is his settled hostility toward sin in all its various manifestations. To say it is "settled" hostility means that God's holiness cannot and will not coexist with sin in any form whatsoever. God's wrath is his holy hatred of all that is unholy. It is his righteous indignation at everything that is unrighteous.
Please note these distinctions. God's wrath is not ?
In fact, the Bible says in more than one place that God is "slow to anger" (Neh 9:17; Psalm 103:8). God never "loses his temper" the way we do. Wrath is God's "natural" response to sin in the universe. He cannot overlook it, he cannot wink at it, he cannot pretend it is not there.
Wrath is what happens when holiness meets sin!
Wrath is what happens when justice meets rebellion!
Wrath is what happens when righteousness meets unrighteousness!
Wrath is what happens when perfect good meets pure evil!
As long as God is God, he cannot overlook sin. As long as God is God, he cannot stand by indifferently while his creation is destroyed. As long as God is God, he cannot dismiss lightly those who trample his holy will. As long as God is God, he cannot wink when men mock his name. (For the entire sermon by Dr Pritchard see A Forgotten Doctrine: The Wrath of God - Romans 1:18, 19, 20)
|Baker's Evangelical Dictionary has this note on the "Wrath of God":
God is holy; He totally and completely distances Himself from sin, evil, corruption, and the resultant filth and guilt. He maintains His purity and rejects, fights against, and destroys that which would offend, attack, or undo His holiness and love. Hence, God's anger and wrath must always be seen in relation to His maintaining and defending His attributes of love and holiness, as well as His righteousness and justice. The emotion or passion that moves God to this maintaining and defending is expressed by the terms "displeasure, " "indignation, " "anger, " and "wrath." A consequence of his wrath is vengeance, punishment, and death. (Wrath of God - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)
Ray Stedman writes that
"It is the job of the prophet to reveal to us the character of God. The prophets unfold for us the divine attributes and each sees God in a different light. As you read through the prophets, therefore, you are seeing one facet after another, flashing like a diamond in the sunlight, of the mighty character and attributes of an eternal God. Now the attribute which the prophet Nahum was given to reveal was God's anger. There is no doctrine quite as repugnant to people today as that of the anger of God. This is one doctrine which many would like to forget. There are some who picture God as a kindly gentleman with a merry twinkle in his eye who cannot bear the thought of punishing anyone or judging anyone. Nevertheless, it was Nahum's task to unfold the anger of God and in this prophecy the God of Sinai flashes forth in awful fury, a God before whom man must stand silent and trembling. You cannot read this prophecy without sensing something of the solemnity of this tremendous picture of God." Read Nahum then read Pastor Stedman's full sermon click "Nahum: The Terrible Wrath of God"
Action To Take: List some specific unbelievers whom you would like to see trust Christ as Savior. Then begin to pray that God will give them a sense of His long-suffering and use it to bring them to Himself. Think of some recent occasions when you have been short-tempered with people. Go to them personally, ask their forgiveness, and express to them your desire to become more long-suffering.
Divine Wrath: Wrath is used with reference to both God and man. When used of God it is to be understood that there is the complete absence of that caprice and unethical quality so prominent in the anger attributed to the gods of the heathen and to man. The divine wrath is to be regarded as the natural expression of the divine nature, which is absolute holiness, manifesting itself against the willful, high-handed, deliberate, inexcusable sin and iniquity of mankind. God's wrath is always regarded in the Scripture as the just, proper, and natural expression of His holiness and righteousness which must always, under all circumstances, and at all costs be maintained. It is therefore a righteous indignation and compatible with the holy and righteous nature of God (Nu 11:1-10; Dt 29:27; 2Sa 6:7; Isa 5:25; 42:25; Jer 44:6; Ps 79:6). The element of love and compassion is always closely connected with God's anger; if we rightly estimate the divine anger we must unhesitatingly pronounce it to be but the expression and measure of that love (compare Jer 10:24; Eze 23; Am 3:2).
Divine Wrath Consistent with Love: Wrath or anger, as pertaining to God, is very much more prominent in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. This is to be accounted for probably because the New Testament magnifies the grace and love of God as contrasted with His wrath; at least love is more prominent than wrath in the revelation and teaching of Christ and His apostles. Nevertheless, it must not be thought that the element of wrath, as a quality of the divine nature, is by any means overlooked in the New Testament because of the prominent place there given to love. On the contrary, the wrath of God is intensified because of the more wonderful manifestation of His grace, mercy and love in the gift of His Son Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. God is not love only: He is also righteous; yea, "Our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:29); "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb 10:31). No effeminate, sentimental view of the Fatherhood of God or of His mercy and loving-kindness can exclude the manifestation of His just, righteous and holy anger against sin and the sinner because of his transgression (1Pet 1:17; Heb 10:29). One thing only can save the sinner from the outpouring of God's righteous anger against sin in the day of visitation, namely, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the divinely-appointed Redeemer of the world (Jn 3:36; Ro 1:16, 17, 18; 5:9). Nor should the sinner think that the postponement or the omission (or seeming omission) of the visitation of God's wrath against sin in the present means the total abolition of it in the future. Postponement is not abolition; indeed, the sinner, who continually rejects Jesus Christ and the salvation which God has provided in Him, is simply `treasuring up' wrath for himself "in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who (one day) will render to every man according to his works: … to them that … obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, … wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil" (Ro 2:5, 6, 7, 8, 9; 2Pe 3:10; Re 6:16,17; 16:19; 19:15).
God's anger while slow, and not easily aroused (Ps 103:8; Isa 48:9; Jon 4:2; Nah1:3)
Certain specific things are said especially to arouse God's anger:
For the greatest benefit from the following Scriptures, read the text, not passively but instead consciously and actively "interrogating" the text (interrogate with the 5W'S & H), making a list in your life journal of what the Spirit of Christ (Ro 8:9-note) teaches you (1Jn 2:27, Jn 14:26, 16:13) about God and about man. Obey any instructions or commands you encounter, as you allow the Holy Spirit to renew your mind and to "cultivate faithfulness" (NAS, Ps 37:3-see note). Then offer prayers and praise to your Father for graciously teaching you these profitable, eternal truths (cp 2Ti 3:16, 17-notes).
Ex 22:24; 32:10; 33:5; Nu 11:1,10,33; 12:9; 14:11; 16:20,21,45; 25:3,4,11; 32:10,11,13; Dt 6:14,15; 9:13,14,18-20; 32:21,22; Jos 7:1,26; 23:16; Jdg 2:12; 3:8; 10:7; 1Sa 28:18; 2Sa 6:7; 22:8,9; 1Ki 11:9; 16:2-13; 2Ki 13:3; 17:18; 22:13; 23:26; Ps 7:11; 69:24; 74:1; 76:7; 78:21,38,49,50; 85:3; 90:11; 103:8; 106:23,29,32; 110:5; Is 5:25; 9:17,19,21; 12:1; 13:9,13; 30:27; 42:25; 48:9; 57:16,17; 63:3-6; 66:15; Jer 3:12; 4:4,8,26; 7:20; 10:10; 17:4; 21:5,6; 23:20; 25:15, 16, 17,37,38; 30:24; 32:37; 33:5; 36:7; 42:18; 44:6; 51:45; La 2:1,3,6; 4:11; Ezek 5:13,15; 25:14, 15, 16, 17; Da 9:16; Ho 11:9; 13:11; 14:4; Nah 1:2,3,6; Mt 22:7,13; Ro 1:18; 2:5; Ep 5:6; Col 3:6; He 3:11; 4:3; Re 6:16,17; 14:10,11; 15:1,7; 16:19; 19:15
Averted by Christ -Lk 2:11,14; Ro 5:9; 2Cor 5:18; 5:19 Eph 2:14; 2:17 Col 1:20; 1Th 1:10
Is averted from them that believe -Jn 3:14, 15, 16, 17, 18; Ro 3:25; 5:1
Is averted upon confession of sin and repentance Job 33:27; 33:28 Ps106:43, 44, 45; Jer 3:12; 3:13 18:7,8;31:18, 19, 20; Joel 2:12, 13, 14; Luke 15:18, 19, 20
Is slow -Ps 103:8; Isaiah 48:9; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3
Is righteous -Ps5 8:10,11; La 1:18; Ro 2:6,8; 3:5,6; Rev 16:6,7
The justice of, not to be questioned -Romans 9:18,20,22
Manifested in terrors -Ex 14:24; Ps 76:6-8; Jer 10:10; La 2:20, 21, 22
Manifested in judgments and afflictions -Job 21:17;Ps 78:49-51;90:7;Is 9:19;Jer 7:20;Eze 7:19;Heb 3:17
Cannot be resisted -Job 9:13; 14:13; Ps 76:7; Nah 1:6
Aggravated by continual provocation -Nu 32:14
Specially reserved for the day of wrath -Zeph 1:14, 15, 16,17, 18; Mt 25:41; Ro 2:5,8; 2Th 1:8
Re 6:17; 11:18; 19:15
The wicked -Ps 7:11; 21:8,9; Isa 3:8; 13:9; Nah 1:2,3; Ro 1:18; 2:8; Ep 5:6; Col 3:6
Those who forsake him -Ezra 8:22; Is 1:4
Unbelief -Ps 78:21,22; He 3:18,19; Jn 3:36
Impenitence -Ps 7:12; Pr 1:30,31; Isa 9:13,14; Ro 2:5
Apostasy -He 10:26,27
Idolatry -Dt 29:20,27,28;32:19,20,22; Jos 23:16; 2Ki 22:17; Ps 78:58,59; Je 44:3
Sin, in saints -Ps 89:30-32; 90:7-9; 99:8; 102:9,10; Isa 47:6
Extreme, against those who oppose the gospel -Ps 2:2,3,5; 1Th 2:16
Folly of provoking -Jer 7:19; 1 Cor 10:22
To be dreaded -Ps 2:12; 76:7; 90:11; Mt 10:28
To be deprecated -Ex 32:11; Ps 6:1; 38:1; 74:1,2; Isa 64:9
Removal of, should be prayed for -Ps 39:10; 79:5; 80:4; Da 9:16; Hab 3:2
Tempered with mercy to saints -Ps 30:5; Isa26:20; 54:8; 57:15,16; Jer 30:11; Mic7:11
To be born with submission -2 Sam 24:17; Lam 3:39,43; Micah 7:9
Should lead to repentance -Isaiah 42:24,25; Jeremiah 4:8
The old world -Genesis 7:21, 22, 23
Builders of Babel -Genesis 11:8
Cities of the plain -Genesis 19:24,25
Egyptians -Ex7:20; 8:6,16,24; 9:3,9,23; 10:13,22; 12:29; 14:27
Israelites -Ex 32:35; Nu 11:1,33; 14:40-45; 21:6; 25:9; 2 Sa 24:1,15
Enemies of Israel -1Samuel 5:6; 7:10
Nadab, &c -Leviticus 10:2
The Spies -Numbers 14:37
Korah, &c -Numbers 16:31,35
Aaron and Miriam -Numbers 12:9,10
Five Kings -Joshua 10:25
Abimelech -Judges 9:56
Men of Beth-shemesh -1Samuel 6:19
Saul -1Samuel 31:6
Uzzah -2Samuel 6:7
Saul’s family -2Samuel 21:1
Sennacherib -2Kings 19:28,35,37
Sermons from John Piper