God’s anger and atonement

Throughout history people have questioned whether or not God is really angry about sin?  And Bible-believing people question what it means that God’s wrath is revealed against sin.  Some say that when Paul talks about the wrath of God being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Romans 1:18), he isn’t talking about a personal, divine wrath.  God is love, right?  He is a forgiving God, right?  He is supposed to be good, isn’t He?  If God is not angry about sin then he is anything but good.  If God does not judge unrighteousness then call Him anything but loving.  God is infinitely angry about sin because He is infinitely good and infinitely loving and infinitely righteous and just.  It is only because God is love that he judges unrighteousness and ungodliness.  It is only because God is good that he is personally and actively angry about sin.  Many speak of a gospel that removes any language of God’s wrath or gives any sense that He is personally hostile against evil or that He punishes sin.  Instead, if His wrath is even mentioned, it is said that when the Bible speaks of God’s wrath it is referring to a natural principle of cause and effect that is built into the universe.  Does sin have natural consequences?  Yes – no one can deny that fact.   But is that all the Bible means when it talks about God’s wrath upon sinful mankind?  C.H. Dodd was one of the leading proponents of this particular view on God’s wrath that says it is just a natural outworking of sin’s consequences.  He wrote that God’s wrath refers not to ‘a certain feeling or attitude of God towards us, but some process or effect in the realm of objective facts.’  What he was saying in essence was that God has no personal response to sin.  I don’t see how anyone could read the Bible and think that God’s wrath is merely a natural process or effect.

Take Exodus 12 for example…to say that God has no personal wrath against sin is not a very good explanation for what happens in Exodus 12.  Do you think the Egyptians thought that God’s wrath was just some type of impersonal consequence to their sin or some natural outworking of a principle of cause and effect built into the universe?  I wonder if you can imagine tucking your children into bed tonight and then being startled awake sometime around midnight.  You get this feeling that something just isn’t right and so you go and check on the kids only to find your firstborn is dead.  Then you hear the commotion out in the streets and find out that the same terror has fallen upon your neighbors.  Then, as the commotion becomes greater, you realize that the entire community has been affected by this.  Then you find out that the entire country has been affected.  Can you really tell me it would occur to you that this is just an outworking of a natural principle of cause and effect that is built into the universe?

I’m sorry, but God went to great lengths on the night of Passover to make it very clear to the people of Egypt and their Pharaoh that He was NOT happy with them.

You see the reason the Gospel is good news is because there is first some very bad news – The wrath of God is coming (Colossians 3:6).  And we are all by nature children of wrath – deserving of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3).  If God is not angry about sin, then who needs atonement.  Is it any wonder that in a day where the bad news of God’s wrath against sinners has been stripped from the good news of the gospel so many have seen fit to ignore the necessity of the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ.

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