Summary: There is a growing belief that God does not need to punish people for sin and that His wrath is directed specifically against all the ungodly behavior and unrighteousness of humanity that is damaging them, hurting them, causing them to sin against each other, and anything contrary to His nature.
There is a growing belief that God does not need to punish people for sin and that His wrath is directed specifically against all the ungodly behavior and unrighteousness of humanity that is damaging them, hurting them, causing them to sin against each other, and anything contrary to His nature. It is believed that Jesus became sin, rather than becoming a sin sacrifice, and paying the penalty by taking upon Himself the punishment of God’s wrath against sin.
The sacrificial death of Jesus was not to appease an angry, wrathful distant deity somewhere way up there in the sky who uses pain, sorrow, suffering, or sickness to punish people. The Bible tells us that God doesn’t want or need sacrifices (Jer 22:23). It is fallen human beings who need them.
The Cross is the plan of God from before the foundation of the world to bring reconciliation of the universe, making peace in all things and redeeming humanity from being lost and remaining in the grip of the enemy, and their sinfulness, by casting down the principalities and powers that enslave and oppress them (Col 1:9).
On the Cross, God, the Father, punished human sin on Jesus, God the Son. The Father received this sacrifice and accepted it (Isa 53:10–12). The Cross is not an experience for Jesus alone (John 14:8-11). The Father was with Him and never rejected Him (John 8:29; 16:32). He didn’t turn His back on Himself. It is fallen human beings who rejected Him (Isa 53:3–5). While on the Cross, Jesus quoted from the book of Psalms when He said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” which would be understood by any Hebrew to be about the promised Messiah. Jesus, once again, confirmed He was the Messiah (vs 22:1-31).
Jesus died as a substitute, bore the sin and guilt of every human being, was sacrificed for their forgiveness and died in their place (Isa 53:4-5, 10; Rom 3:23-25; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 2:17; 9:26; 1 Jn 2:2). He willingly experienced the full consequences of sin that would have happened without His sacrifice.
The Cross was not about man’s sacrifice to God, but God’s sacrifice to man. It was the ultimate revelation of love that God Himself took the shame and corrupting power of death into Himself and did away with it.
The Cross is the centerpiece of the Triune God’s plan for all creation because it is the glorification of Jesus and reveals what true endless love is (John 12:23). It is the highest revelation of God and the focal point of everything, and the lens through which all else can be seen because it is the wisdom and the power of God, who is love (John 3:16; 1 John 14:8). When a person looks at Christ on the Cross, they are seeing God, the Father, in Christ revealing His love and mercy and pouring out forgiveness on the entire world for their salvation (Zech 12:10; 1 John 3:16; 2 Cor 5:18; Col 2:9; Heb 1:3). There is no hope for anyone apart from the Cross.
Contrary to much humanistic teaching on the subject, the wrath of God is not some sort of divine child abuse or an angry, vindictive, temper-tantrum of a deity who didn’t get their way so that fire and brimstone must be poured out as punishment on a wicked world. Rather, it is God’s reaction and resistance towards sin. The Cross is the wrath of God.
It is an absolute truth that God is love, but His love is not some sentimental, touchy-feely emotional infatuation that tolerates evil so that all people can just get along with each other. It is absolute truth that God desires to give only the best to His people.
Because God is love, He does not delight in executing His wrath on sin. Understanding the nature of God’s love reveals that He does get angry at those who do things against others (including Himself) that hurt or cause suffering (See Matt 21:12; Mk 1:15; Jn 2:15). However, anger is not judgmental indignation. Jesus is the Creator God, Lord of the Universe, and absolutely holy and just.
The Bible reveals that the wrath of God is actually an expression of His love (See Jer 10:24; Ezek 23:1; Amos 3:2). It is always regarded as the natural manifestation of the holy and righteous nature of God, and His just and righteous indignation against sin, and the sinner, because of their transgression. It must be maintained under all circumstances and at all costs (See 1 Peter 1:17; Heb 10:29; Num 11:1-10; Deut 29:27; 2 Sam 6:7; Isa 5:25, 42:25; Jer 44:6; Ps 79:6).
The Bible says that there is only one thing that can save a sinner from the outpouring of God's righteous response against sin, and that is placing their wholehearted trust in Christ Jesus: