Today continues our series in Knowing God by J.I. Packer. To read more about our time reading together click here.
Alistair Begg has said, “Because God’s wrath is real, His mercy is relevant.” It is a quote that captures a right understanding of the character of God. His attributes are not merely various facets of God that we glimpse in a fleeting moment of display. Instead, each of the individual attributes combine together in a perfect and cohesive way to give us one God that we can know in a personal way. The reality is one cannot know God when they do not know His wrath.
This point alone seems to divide those who truly know God and those who truly do not know God. While the vast majority of people may claim to be followers of Him and yet they knowingly and willfully ignore this part of God’s character. By doing so they have dismantled who God is and created a God that they want to be, not that is. We are a culture We are a deceived culture; we deceive ourselves in thinking we know more about God than really do. The effect of not knowing about God is to also not know Him.
As Packer writes of God’s wrath in Knowing God, he captures the ignorance of God’s wrath masterfully and he brings our attention to two points that are meant to guide us into the reality of God’s wrath. First, he reminds us that God’s wrath is always judicial. God’s wrath serves a purpose as a response to sin. The wrath of God is not unmitigated, but instead is balanced by His love for people and holiness. Therefore, the wrath is always just.
Secondly, we are reminded that enduring God’s wrath is one’s own choosing. There comes a point in a believer’s life in which a person can either choose to obey God or disobey Him. In choosing to disobey it should be expected that God’s wrath will come . . . and prevail. It should never be unexpected when we endure God’s wrath.
With understanding God’s wrath comes one very important perspective that must find its way into our understanding. God’s wrath serves a purpose that is often overlooked: it is a discipline that is meant to lead people to repentance, redemption and restoration. God’s wrath is an act of love in which He is trying to guide people away from the darkness of sin and into the light of Himself. In conjunction with all of his other characteristics, God’s wrath is one grounded in His love for people.