Summary: Tenth in a series on the attributes of God focusing on God's goodness.
Knowing God Series #10
“Our Unsafe but Good God”
I. The nature of God
II. The Attributes of God
A. God is infinitely GREAT in His ability / capacity
B. God is infinitely PURE in His morality
God is infinitely good in all His relationships
1. God is HOLY
He is infinitely separated from all that is contrary to His own moral character and law.
He expects and enables all His children to do the same.
2. God is RIGHTEOUS / JUST
God perfectly and continually conforms to His own standard. He expects and enables all His children to do the same. He is Holy and we are to be holy. He is Righteous and we are to live righteously. The Theological terms associated with the possibility of us being holy and righteous are “justification” and “sanctification”. Get a hold of the notes from the past several messages to explore more on the subject.
Today I want to tackle a most sensitive subject. Contemporary Christianity tends to ignore this aspect of God’s character even though it is mentioned nearly three times more than any other subject in the Bible. In times past, the wrath of God rang loud and long from America’s pulpits.
Jonathan Edwards a preacher/theologian in the 1700’s played an important role in the First Great Awakening in the colonies with his 1741 sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of and Angry God” The vivid imagery contained in that message so moved people that all through the message people cried out, “What shall I do to be saved?”
God’s wrath and anger naturally flow out of His infinite purity. Given the fact that He Himself is infinitely separated from all that is contrary to His own moral character and law (holy) and that He perfectly and continually conforms to His own moral character and law (Righteous / just), it follows that He would have some sort of reaction to anything that does not conform to Him and His standard. C.S Lewis characterized Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia as not safe but good. Our God is definitely not safe but He is good. There are three basic reactions to evil or impurity in His world.
3. God is wrath / Anger
Old Testament Terms
The Old Testament uses some 20 different terms expressive of God’s anger or wrath occurring some 580 times in the Old Testament. Many of the terms come from some physiological manifestation such as snorting through the nose, burning. These terms are translated by words like wrath, anger, fury, burning indignation, hot displeasure. The cause of God’s anger always has to do with a reaction to the evil practiced and perpetuated by His creatures. The expression of His anger varies and it is clear that He does not execute punishment for evil behavior quickly. He is described as slow to anger. He is so long-suffering that it wasn’t until every man’s heart became evil continually that He employed a worldwide flood to execute judgment.
New Testament Terms
The New Testament translates this word by either anger or wrath. It means to be puffed up, excited; a natural impulse, temperament , disposition. Other terms associated with this root “orge” are used to indicate “a strong desire.”
1 Tim 3:1 desire to be an elder
1 Tim 6:10 longing for money
Heb 11:13-16 Those who longed for a city whose builder and maker was God.
This term comes from a root which means smoke or steam. The New Testament translates it by anger, wrath or indignation. Other terms associated with the root word indicate an emotionally charged thinking process
Matt 1:20 Jospeh considered what to do concerning Mary
Matt 9:4: 12:25 Jesus knew their thoughts
Heb 4:12 Word able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart
As can be seen the two terms are similar in meaning and are used interchangeably. Both terms are used to describe God’s anger and anger in men. Both terms are used describe a godly anger or an ungodly fleshly anger. The morality of the emotion is not indicated by the word itself but by the intent or motive of the person and the outward expression of the emotion.
Any significant difference in meaning between these two terms lies in their expression.
Orge - is a more deeply settle settled emotion.
Thumos -- is a more on the spot reaction or flare of emotion.
The English words wrath and anger appear 412 times in the Old Testament and 64 in the New. It is obvious that it is a significant topic of discussion. If you combine these with all the other translations and the subject appears nearly 600 times.
The nature of anger
We consider anger an emotion. Most emotions arise through a thought process. We think about something that triggers or stirs the emotion or something happens to us or around us that sparks an emotion or a thought that incites an emotion. Since God does not possess a physical body yet experiences or feels anger, we must assume that anger is not primarily a physical feeling but a soul response that may affect our physical bodies.