By Elizabeth Prata
After salvation, I related to God from the beginning in an unusual way. Many people recommend reading John’s Gospel first because the Apostle of Love would ignite the seeker or the new believer’s heart with love for such a God as we have in return. God is love, is the approach.
As a person on the autism spectrum I don’t relate to the emotion of love in the same way as other people. I don’t have a relationship with my emotions that other people have. In fact, I’m unskilled at identifying the emotions I do have. This is called alexithymia. It isn’t a medical diagnosis and it’s not a disorder, according to health professionals. It’s just a condition some people have. So the emotional approach to a relationship with God wasn’t the path He laid out for me. I was like, ‘God is love, so what?’
I do have a strong sense of justice, as many high functioning autistic folks do. I thrive where there are very clear rules (the Bible is a relief!), strong logic, and a robust sense of fairness and justice.
Therefore God’s wrath for sin is very attractive to me. I often speak and write of it, and I look forward to the Day when He rights all wrongs. Injustice is an agony to me. Broken rules, unfairness, and chaos are upsetting. I was like, ‘God is justice?! HALLELUJAH!’
That God will enact His justice through a potent wrath that will strike the souls in heaven silent and will be infinite enough to torment sinners in hell forever does not bother me. It never did. It does bother me if a person won’t repent, or when they reject Christ. But the fact of the existence of holy wrath seems a logical counterpoint to His holiness and love. It’s a natural extension of His justice. Sin needs punishment. I am fully aware that apart from His grace, I’d be one of the people dwelling in hell forever, enduring the torment the Lamb pours out, and justifiably so. I was a terrible sinner. His wrath and justice for sin must be executed.
And far from the lovey-dovey hippie Jesus who hung out with sinners and would never torment these poor victims of satan, Jesus is the one doing the tormenting! Jesus is fully involved with His justice.
Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. (Revelation 14:9-10, cf Revelation 20:10)
But today people hardly speak of wrath at all. To do so invites scorn, ridicule, a peppering of questions and accusations, and rejection. I agree with the writer below. When I read Dustin Benge’s Twitter thread on wrath I was pleased to see this important topic addressed. Here is his thread-
God’s wrath is a foreign topic nowadays.
Even to mention God’s wrath is to evoke rejection by our hearers: “God would never be that harsh… I thought God was love, not wrath… Surely God wouldn’t send anyone to hell… Doesn’t God say that he loves sinners?” 1/7
Our problem with God’s wrath springs from the fact that we consider wrath in human categories rather than divine. That is, we conclude that God must be like us when he expresses his wrath, a morally monstrous and vindictive person who threatens, “You just watch out!” 2/7
But this is not the God of Scripture, for God’s wrath is in perfect accord with his perfect righteousness, holiness, and justice. God can’t be divided into various parts, as if he had multiple personalities. 3/7
Since God is both infinite mercy and infinite justice, this requires that every single one of our sins committed against his infinite holiness be punished. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). 4/7
While some divide God into a wrathful Old Testament “tyrant” and a benevolent New Testament “daddy,” a consistent reading of both Testaments discerns that the presentation of God’s wrath is wholly consistent throughout Scripture. 5/7
There is no greater portrait of divine love than when God poured his wrath out upon his beloved Son at Calvary. On the cross, God unleashed his holy fury upon our sin-bearer and substitute, Jesus Christ, who became for us “a propitiation by his blood” (Rom. 3:25). 6/7
God so loved the objects of his wrath that he gave his only Son that through his perfect blood he would make provision for the removal of his wrath. Christ so wholly satisfies God’s wrath that those who were once objects of his wrath are now beloved children. 7/7
To ignore the wrath because it makes a believer uncomfortable to talk of, or because he cannot ‘defend’ it, is doing the unbeliever an injustice. Unbelievers will suffer the wrath forever and ever. They are at risk at every moment of being cast into the fires of hell at their death, which may always come at any time. Jonathan Edwards preached,
O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.
This is a fact. Wrath is real. Many millions and billions are enduring it now. Please, dear reader, inquire of the Spirit to expand your mind to learn more about God’s wrath as the executing vehicle for His justice. We don’t want to focus excessively on love to the exclusion of the conclusion of the reality in front of the unbeliever. The unrepentant will live an infinitely long life in hellish eternity. And such were some of you- sinners dangling over the fires of hell before the grace of God took pity on you (and me) and rescued us through Jesus’ blood. Remember that, and talk of it.