‘In Christ alone’ (Stuart Townend and Keith Getty) is a fine Christian song.
But what about the words that stick in the throats of many:-
Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied.
Please don’t tell me you won’t sing these words because you unwilling to think or speak of God’s wrath, and wish to sing only of his love. The song as a whole does a great job in exploring the various dimensions of Christ’s death and resurrection. …
For years, scholars have debated whether God’s wrath, as taught in the New Testament is personal or impersonal. That is to say, whether ‘wrath’ is some that can be ascribed directly to God, describing something of his hostility towards sin, or that it merely describes the inevitable consequences of sin, the misery and self-destruction that it brings.
Writing in Aspects of the Atonement, I. Howard Marshall, finds the following points ‘decisive’:-
1. To allow that sinners bring calamity upon themselves does not exclude the idea that the calamity is not from God. …
It is often assumed that the picture of God in the Old Testament is that of a wrathful despot, while the God of the New Testament is nothing but love.
This is seriously mistaken. Not only does the OT have much to say about God’s love (see, for example, Deuteronomy 7:7,8; and Hosea 3:1; 14:4), the NT has rather a lot to say about god’s wrath. Let Roger D. Campbell summarise for us:-
It is a well-worn cliche to attempt to separate the sin from the sinner, and to say that God hates the former, but loves the latter.
As with most cliches, there is an important measure of truth here. We can certainly say that God hates the sin, and yet loves them in the sense that he reaches out to the worst of sinners with the offer of grace and forgiveness.
1. What does it mean? God’s wrath is his ‘resolute action in punishing sin’. It is the active expression of his hatred toward irreligion and moral evil. ‘The wrath’ (Rom 2:5; 5:9) may refer to the future ‘day of wrath’, or to ‘present providential events and processes in which divine retribution for sin may be discerned’ (such as the action of the law in stirring up latent sin, Rom 5:20; 7:7-13, and the role of the magistrate in sentencing criminals, Rom 13:4f.) God’s wrath is the expression of his justice, Rom 3:5
The idea of divine wrath has pretty much become taboo in modern preaching and evangelism. It is not considered polite to mention it in public. But here I would like to give it an airing, and consider it in relation to the teaching of the Bible, in relation to God’s character as revealed in Scripture, and in relation to his mercy.
1. Biblical teaching
The Bible throughout teaches that there can be no truce between God and sin.…