Wrath Is NOT One Of God’s Attributes

Wrath Is NOT One Of God’s Attributes October 17, 2019

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:7-8

Every time I point out that God is Love, and quote the verse in the New Testament that affirms this truth, someone will invariably try to counter this by saying, “Yes, but God is also wrathful!”

But, is God wrathful? Is that who God is?

Let’s see.

First of all, whereas we have several verses in the Scripture that affirm that God IS love, and that love is one of God’s most enduring character traits, we have zero verses of Scripture that say that God IS wrath.

Love is God’s nature. Not only that, love is identified as being so analogous to God’s nature that the author of 1 John actually says that God IS love. Not that God is loving [though God is loving], and not that God sometimes chooses to respond with love [though God does that, too], but that God actually IS love.

Think about that. [I’ll wait].

Not only this, but we also have other verses where this same love of God [who is love] is expounded upon ad nauseam:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35-39

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:4-7

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:14-19

So, to summarize:

*God IS Love

*Nothing will ever separate us from God’s love

*God’ love higher, wider, longer and deeper than anyone could ever fully realize

*We should strive to comprehend this love that surpasses knowledge (which means we should experience it for ourselves)

And we haven’t even mentioned Paul’s opus on the qualities of love expounded upon in 1 Cor. 13 [the Love Chapter] where we learn that love:

*Keeps no record of wrongs

*Is patient, kind, and humble

*Is greater than faith or hope

*Will never fail or come to an end

Furthermore, if wrath was one of God’s character traits and attributes, then why isn’t it listed under the Fruits of the Spirit which are directly related to the nature of God imparted to us as we remain in relationship with God?

For reference, here are the Fruits of the Spirit:

*Love

*Joy

*Peace

*Patience

*Kindness

*Gentleness

*Self-Control

Where’s the wrath? I mean, if these are attributes of the Holy Spirit – who is God – then why isn’t wrath one of them?

[Hint: Because it’s not an attribute of God]

Also, have you ever wondered why there is not a “Wrath Chapter” in the New Testament to balance out all this “Love” talk?

Hmm….

Well, ok, let’s be fair. There ARE verses in the Bible that speak about the wrath of God. I admit it.

However, I think it’s more than possible that those verses are projections and assumptions the writers had about God that were later corrected by Jesus and the Apostles.

For example, my friend Steve Kline wrote an excellent little post a few years ago about this very thing and I think it’s worth quoting now:

“The conception among most Christians is that God is angry
with us and that if we don’t repent then He will pour out His
wrath on us…Yes, we have sinned horribly against God. We
denied him…For that, we must repent if we want to enter the
kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, eternal life.

“…But, for those that don’t repent, is it God’s wrath that will
be poured out on them? Or, is it the lies and the violence of
the unrepentant themselves that will come back on their own
head? Throughout the Bible, we see that the pit the wicked dug
they themselves fall into. Or, the snare that evil people set they
get caught in themselves. And, in the depictions of Satan (for
example, Goliath and Haman), he is almost always killed with
his own weapon.”

“The repentant have become merciful, blameless, and purified.
And, to the repentant God shows Himself as such. But, to the
unrepentant, the crooked (in Psalm 18), God makes Himself
seem tortuous. It seems to them like God is vengeful, spiteful,
and vindictive, pouring His wrath out on them. However, in
reality, it is their own lies and violence that are coming back on
their own heads.”

This is a key insight—from the Scriptures—that we need to take seriously.

The wrath of God is quite often something experienced as the fruit of one’s own actions rather than as the direct action of God against the unrighteous.

So, it’s not exactly “God’s Wrath” being poured out as much as it is the very natural principal of reaping what you sow.

Notice that God is always the one warning us about these consequences in advance and urging us – in love – to turn back and escape the destruction that awaits us down the road.

So, the next time you hear someone remind you that God is a God of wrath in response to your statement that “God IS Love” you can confidently assure them that Jesus reveals to us a God who is pure love inside and out.

Remember: “God’s love endures forever” – [As found in: 1 Chronicles 16:34; 16:41; 2 Chronicles 5:13; 7:3; 7:6; 20:21; Ezra 3:11Psalm 100:1; 100:5; Psalm 106:1Psalm 107:1 ; Psalm 118:1; 118:2-4; Psalm 118:29Psalm 136:1-26; Jeremiah 33:11; etc.]

**

Keith’s next book, “Jesus Undefeated: Condemning the False Doctrine of Eternal Torment” releases Nov. 9, 2019 on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brad Jersak.

 

Are you an aspiring author? Keith is leading an Author’s Academy starting Nov. 4. Learn how to become a full-time author and crack the code for building your platform and marketing your books online. Details HERE.

Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife are returning to El Paso, TX after 25 years, as part of their next adventure.

 Keith’s Podcast: Heretic Happy Hour Podcast is on iTunes and Podbean. 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Nimblewill

    “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
    I’m somewhat amazed that you didn’t highlight this from the verse in Ephesians.

    Dr Lloyd-Jones has said, that ‘there is no more staggering statement in the whole range of Scripture than this’. Ephesians 3:19.

    and this…………………There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

  • Herm

    Keith, Disqus has judgmentally done it, again. If highlighting myths of Man over the truth of God is the reason “Pending” is automatically invoked we’ll never be able to tell the difference. Who is responsible for this algorithm?

  • Rudy Schellekens

    My compliments, Keith, you have outdone yourself! “Well, ok, let’s be fair. There ARE verses in the Bible that speak about the wrath of God. I admit it.
    However, I think it’s more than possible that those verses are projections and assumptions the writers had about God that were later corrected by Jesus and the Apostles.”

    Really, Keith? SO, as I read through the last book in the Bible, and it speaks of the wrath of God, that is just made up? The prayer to “…avenge the blood of the saints…” and the clear statement later on, in answer to that prayer, “their blood is avenged…” all that stuff about the wrath of God is… made up??

    All written by the same person who wrote so eloquently about the love of God in his gospel and his three letters (I know, you probably will argue against that) – you still tell me that there is no wrath with God?I believe you just tossed out a baby, Keith, with all that bath water.

    I suggest you spend some time reading TDNT, VOL I, starting at page 25. It speak s of the meaning of the word AGAPE and its cognates. The interesting thing I learned from reading that, is the fact that AGAPE is better translated as “commitment, a total commitment.” It removes some of the emotional content that you seem to attach to the word. When God is described as ‘Love,” what we need to see is not the warm fuzzies, but the fact that God has committed Himself to His creation, us humans. Or, as the Psalmist says, “Who am I, in all this splendor and greatness of this universe, that God cares about ME?”

    And God’s commitment to humans is clear from page 1 to the last page of your bible (mine ends at page 1378). Even when humans walk away from God, He is still there, with open arms, ready to take us back. Even when we thank the idols for what God has provided for us, God will take us back. He warns us, time and again. But there is a consequence – discipline, the counterweight, almost, keeping “love” in balance.

    I don’t know if you have kids, Keith. I have two amazing sons, of whom I am extremely proud. They are responsible, loving, caring husbands and fathers. Dedicated to their work, with a great work ethic. They would give their life for their wives and kids, without a second thought. But with all of that, when discipline is needed, it will happen. Fair. Warned. Patience. But in the end…

    With God – fair. Patient. Warnings. Please to return. More patience. But at the right time, He will ‘discipline.’ “The great and terrible day of the Lord” is referred to with reason. When God’s patience is full, the promised discipline will follow. Wrath? Good word. But with measured judgment, not wild and flailing. But there, nonetheless.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I don’t think you can just wish away God’s wrath in this way, but if God is love then every other aspect of God must boil down to love.
    God’s wrath against the oppressor is the wrath of the mother bear defending her cubs, God’s wrath at our sin is the wrath of the parent at children who have run out onto the road and nearly got themselves killed. In a similar vein someone said (I forget who) that if we have locked ourselves in the dark and locked out God we will hear him as a he rattles the door and rocks the house to its foundations to get us out, and think it wrath, but it is love.

  • DJ

    I agree with Rudy: God IS wrathful. The Cup of Wrath section of Revelation is only one example. (Compare that with the Cup of Wrath section of Jeremiah.) So is the destruction of Babylon in Revelation (a section we might be tempted to skip because, if we ask what nation has made the merchants of the world rich, we might not like the answer).

    How does that mesh with God as love? Perry Yoder puts it well, summarizing the prophets as saying, “States which operate and promote injustice must be transformed into justly working ones or be destroyed.” This is love, for freeing the oppressed is love.

    How can a society be destroyed and yet God love the members of that society? Perhaps we need to reflect on God’s view of victory as compared with society’s. Society tells us that victory means security, comfort and wealth. But Jesus’ victory didn’t look like that. Nor did Stephen’s or Paul’s. And let’s face it: the myth that justice means everyone gets to achieve our standard of living– a standard of living that when applied to only 3% of the world’s population already exceeds the carrying capacity of the planet– is fictional at best, and arguably inherently oppressive as we ravage the world’s resources to maintain a lifestyle that provides us more than our share. Justice means we’re going to have to give something up. No one wants to hear that that is what love looks like. My 5-year-old, when told he must share, has the same reaction. No one wants to admit that their prosperity and comfort relies on systematic oppression in the name of capitalism, and that their participation in the system makes them complicit in that system.

    This view that God is love, warm and fuzzy, denies the justice teaching of the Old and New Testaments. God loves us, and sometimes love means discipline. Fear does indeed have to do with punishment, and we should live in such a way as to not require punishment. THAT is love.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I think we think that God’s love is all warm and fuzzy and niceness if we are the rich rather than the poor, the oppressors rather than the oppressed. Mary the mother of Jesus celebrated the love of God in bringing down the mighty from their thrones, and sending the rich away empty. God’s love will not allow the oppressor to be ever unrepentant and the poor ever undelivered, and if you are the one oppressing the poor his love can definitely look an awful lot like wrath.

  • Triggerman1976

    “Where’s the wrath?”
    Being revealed—present tense BTW—from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. (Romans 1:19ff)
    It is God’s love for his own holiness and righteousness, something that men are supposed to embody as “imagers of God”. Failure to properly image the God whose image you bear invites his wrath.
    It is faith in Christ, and repentance, and the works of faith in faith, through what Christ wrought on Calvary, by taking the place of one rightfully condemned that he redeems all who believe in him…what the rest of 1 John 4 speaks of.

  • Richard Aahs

    Thanks Keith.
    It is the recognition of the “God IS Love”, that helps us understand the religion of Jesus. The ultimate faith experience, total and complete trust in “God is Love”. That faith experience is knowing that one is not separated from that “God is Love”. This truth is the truth that sets one free.

  • Middie Wood

    Love is one of the most misused words in our language, and I don’t mean the oft repeated Greek definitions. Love is to truly seek the other’s highest good. God invites us to know and gives us our highest good. Himself, His Son, His Spirit. I know this love and it is hard, because the Old Man rebels against the joys of worship and adoration, it hurts his pride. I know, in my own life the reconciliation of God’s Holiness, Love and Righteous Anger and it is Jesus Christ, Him crucified.

    O Jesus, Jesus, dearest Lord!
    Forgive me if I say,
    For very love, Thy sacred name
    A thousand times a day.

    O Jesus, Lord, with me abide;
    I rest in Thee, whate’er betide;
    Thy gracious smile is my reward;
    I love, I love Thee, Lord!

    I love Thee so I know not how
    My transports to control;
    Thy love is like a burning fire
    Within my very soul.

    For Thou to me art all in all;
    My honor and my wealth;
    My heart’s desire, my body’s strength,
    My soul’s eternal health.

    Burn, burn, O love, within my heart,
    Burn fiercely night and day,
    Till all the dross of earthly loves
    Is burned, and burned away.

    O light in darkness, joy in grief,
    O heaven’s life on earth;
    Jesus, my love, my treasure, who
    Can tell what Thou art worth?

    What limit is there to this love?
    Thy flight, where wilt Thou stay?
    On, on! our Lord is sweeter far
    Today than yesterday.

  • Desperate Ambrose

    In a nutshell: Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    If God is Wrathful,
    Then the More Wrathful I Am, the More Godly I Must Be!