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The Solemn Reality of God’s Wrath

Just as we cannot know Jesus as Savior until we have first come to terms with him as Judge, we cannot fully appreciate the goodness of God without an understanding of his wrath. But you will not hear much about the wrath of God from many pulpits today. Few home Bible studies will spend much time exploring the topic of wrath. Yet Scripture speaks more of God’s wrath than of his love. Considering that fact, shouldn’t it command more of our attention than we give it? Packer writes:


No doubt it is true that the subject of divine wrath has in the past been handled speculatively, irreverently, even malevolently. No doubt there have been some who have preached on wrath and damnation with tearless eyes and no pain in their hearts. No doubt the sight of small sects cheerfully consigning the whole word, apart from themselves, to hell has disgusted many. Yet if we would know God, it is vital that we face the truth concerning his wrath, however unfashionable it may be, and however strong our initial prejudices against it. Otherwise we shall not understand the gospel of salvation from wrath, nor the propitiatory achievement of the cross, nor the wonder of the redeeming love of God, nor shall we understand the hand of God in history and God’s present dealings with our own people; nor shall we be able to make head or tail of the blood of Revelation; nor will our evangelism have the urgency enjoyed by Jude—“save some, by snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 23 RSV). Neither our knowledge of God nor our service to him will be in accord with the Word.

The wrath of God [wrote A. W. Pink] is a perfection of the Divine character on which we need to meditate frequently. First, that our hearts may be duly impressed by God’s detestation of sin. We are ever prone to regard sin lightly, to gloss over its hideousness, to make excuses for sin. But the more we study and ponder God’s abhorrence of sin and his frightful vengeance upon it, the more likely are we to realize its heinousness. Second, to beget a true fear in our souls for God. “Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28, 29). We cannot serve Him “acceptably” unless there is due “reverence” for His awful Majesty and “godly fear” of His righteous anger, and these are best promoted by frequently calling to mind that “our God is an consuming fire.” Third, to draw our soul in fervent praise [to Jesus Christ] for having delivered us from “the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). Our readiness or our reluctancy to meditate upon the wrath of God becomes a sure test of how our hearts really stand affected towards Him (The Attributes of God, p. 77).

Pink is right. If we would truly know God, and be know of him, we should ask him to teach us here and now to reckon with the solemn reality of his wrath.

—J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1993), 156–157.

Posted 2009·01·13 by David Kjos
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Posted in: A W Pink · Fear of God · J I Packer · Knowing God · The Attributes of God (Pink) · Wrath (of God)

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