The Dark side of the Gospel
The Dark Side of the Gospel (Romans 1:18-20)
When God's holy love collides with our unbelief the collision is wrath. Calvin stated of God that "in a marvellous and divine way he loved us. . . . " More recently, Brunner claimed, "The wrath of God is the love of God in the form in which the man who has turned away from God experiences it." God's holy love requires wrath. The Bible clearly expresses the reality and the validity of God's wrath.
We Should Face the Reality of God's Wrath
Biblical Christians cannot avoid the reality of divine wrath. The reality of wrath came upon those who "killed the Lord Jesus" (1 Thess. 2:15). God's wrath remains on those who reject Christ (John 3:36). Salvation is rescue from wrath (Rom. 5:9). What is the nature of God's wrath? Wrath is a personal reaction of God, not an impersonal consequence of sin. God's wrath is not vindictive, violent, and malicious anger. It is even above human righteous indignation. God's wrath is the dark side of His rejected love. Wrath is God's personal reaction against sin.
The immediacy of God's wrath is both now and in the future. It is now being revealed but will also be revealed at the end (Matt. 3:7). The qualify of God's wrath is not so much dramatic and supernatural as it is quiet and continual. Wrath appears in God letting us have our own way in sin (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). The inescapability of God's wrath is expressed through Scripture (Rev. 6:16-17).
God's wrath is not indiscriminate anger. He projects His wrath at definite objects: impiety and immorality. God directs His wrath at man's irreverent neglect of Himself. Only after that is His wrath directed at immorality or misconduct.
But is God fair in His wrath?
We Should Feel the Validity of God's Wrath
Is God fair in expressing wrath toward all impiety and immorality? Does each person have sufficient evidence of God's requirements to avoid wrath? What of those who have no Bible or Christian witness, which is much of the world?
There is a sufficient revelation of God to all people at all times to warn of His wrath and hint at His love. This is the general revelation of God in nature and conscience.
Availability marks this general revelation of God. It is "among us," in our very midst. Everywhere we look God reveals Himself. Intentionality distinguishes this general revelation. God intends us to see His footprints in His world. Visibility characterizes this general revelation. In creation, God's invisible qualities "have been clearly seen." The world around us and the conscience within us shout the existence and nature of God.
Rationality, religious experience, cosmic design, and conscience all present God's existence and nature. Only willful suppression keeps us from seeing Him in all things.
What does nature show us about God? Nature shows us God's eternal power. We should see an eternal One behind everything. But nature also shows us the divinity of God, that is, the total of all His attributes and perfections. Every person on earth could know these things about God without ever seeing a Bible or hearing a sermon. Thus under God's wrath "men are without excuse."
But we have more than nature. On Calvary, we see God turning His wrath on Himself! At the cross, love and wrath collide in the person of Jesus Christ. He absorbed and displayed God's wrath. How can we escape if we neglect so great salvation?