The Love of God or the Love of the Wrath of God?

Oh friends, I must say, my life was rocked today as I read the words written by Gary Amirault in a recent email!  Gary Amirault runs the Tentmaker.org website, which I promise I will link to as soon as possible.  For 13 years now I have been ardently studying and being enveloped in Reformed theology, particularly from a Baptist perspective.  Rather than drag this out, I will cut to the chase.

I have read and taught and explained the sovereignty of God from Romans 9, the famous story of Jacob and Esau that Paul tells.  He says:

(Rom 9:11)  For being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him who calls,
(Rom 9:12)  it was said to her, “The elder will serve the younger.” [493]
(Rom 9:13)  Even as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” [494]
(Rom 9:14)  What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? May it never be!
(Rom 9:15)  For he said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” [495]
(Rom 9:16)  So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy.

From what I learned from the “great teachers of the Reformation” was that God’s sovereignty allows Him to elect whomever He wills, but also, in concert with His sovereignty is His holiness.  The holiness of God was so center-stage that a whole group of people, that Reformers (of old and today) hold in such high esteem, this group known as the Puritans.  One of the main teachings of the Puritans was the desperateness of our existence and that we must flee the wrath of God and eternal hell and run to God in heaven.

Now, I believe we must flee to God, because it is right and it will go well with us if we do.  But, the fear that was instilled by the Puritans, especially, caused many people to kill themselves because they could never measure up!  Fear has never saved even one person!  That aside though, what rocked me was the following.

Reformers, those of Reformed (Calvinist) theology today, but also all those of Arminian theology (almost everyone else  who believes in Christ) look at these verse, especially verse 13, and spar over God’s sovereignty and man’s will, as if this is the most important thing in all of Christianity.  I know this because I have been in both camps for many years!  The problem is that they BOTH miss the point of the story.  It is not about man’s will, nor about God’s sovereignty AT ALL!!!!!!!!  It is about a God who loves His creatures, those created in His image and the blessings that He has for ALL MANKIND through Jesus.  If you insist on making Romans 9:13 into God’s sovereignty versus man’s free will, do me and everyone else in the world a BIG favor.  STOP IT!!!! Stop teaching that heresy and stop it RIGHT NOW!

I know you may be offended by my directness, but I am hoping it will save you years of anguish, as I have suffered.  Why do I, can I say this?  Because, if you will read the whole story of Jacob and Esau (Gen 25-36) you will discover what I have discovered, though it has been right in front of me all the time.  God does not hate some people and love others.  He is not capricious (impulsive, arbitrary) with His love.  It has everything and only this to do with:  At the end of the story of Jacob and Esau we see God taking care of Esau.  He took great care of Esau. He showed His great and enduring mercy on Esau, which is a picture of the mercy He shows to us all.  God loved Jacob the conniver and deceiver but Jacob was humbled before God at Peniel.  After this incident, Jacob saw Esau in a different light, just as we are to see the light of the story.  Jacob said to Esau, “For I have seen your face, like seeing the face of God;  and you are pleased with me.”  God had different plans for Jacob and Esau.  Part of the plan was to have Esua as Jacob’s enemy for a season to bring Jacob to maturity.  Would Jacob have said this about someone under God’s curse, His wrath, His impending eternal torment?  Of course not.  What Jacob saw was the depth of God’s mercy and His endless love for His children, His creation imaging Him.  Can you imagine such a love as this?  Dare you imagine such a love as this?  Would a love like this rock your theology to its core?  Would a love this powerful and magnificent shake your foundation so much that your focus would change from “God is love, BUT He is also just and demands holiness” to merely “God is LOVE?”

Please, take some time to really think through this situation.  We have all been taught that Esau was bad and Jacob was good.  Evil versus righteousness.  God loves some but not others.  That is NOT the story of God’s redemption of mankind.  Would God take such good care of Esau only to let him languish in eternal conscious torment forever?  Not my God, and certainly not the God of the Bible, and certainly not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, AND ESAU!  Would God merely have mercy on the unbelievers in this life that they can at least experience a decent existence for 70 years, but then torture them for all eternity?

I have put in the excerpt from a very long (23 page) email from Gary Amirault here so you can read a few other examples he gives.  Enjoy and let me know if and how God has impacted you with this revelation.

From Bible Matters, email, The Best Bible Translation:

Dark Light or True Light

Let us look at a few verses of Scripture through two different sets of eyes. One set is the Pharisaic, legalistic, tradition-laden mind which is quick to use the Scriptures to condemn others while pardoning themselves. The other mind has been renewed by the Holy Spirit. The traditionalist, who likes to sit on the judgment seat, will read 1 Samuel 2:6 and point out that God kills. The person whose eyes are anointed with the Living Word will point out that after “Gods kills” the same sentence reads “and makes alive again.” They are given the revelation that God sometimes uses death the way an anesthesiologist might use a drug to put one under for the patient’s benefit.

The Pharisaic mind will concentrate on “I wound” in Deuteronomy 32:39 while those governed by the Living Word will focus on the last part of that very same phrase, “I heal.” The mind governed by the Living Word has come to understand that God’s harsh measures are but a means to bring healing and restoration.

The judgmental one will see “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated,” (Rom. 9:13) and use the verse to prove that God hates some people even as they are born. According to some theologians some people are born to be eternal enemies of God destined for an eternal burning incinerator. Love filled eyes will go to the end of the Jacob and Esau story and find God took good care of Esau. And after Jacob, the conniver and deceiver whom “God loved” was humbled at Peniel after his wrestling match, he saw Esau in a different light: “I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.” (Gen. 33:10) (Oh, that modern Israel and modern Jews could learn this by the Ruach Ha Kodesh, the Holy Spirit!) Suffice it to say, God blessed both Jacob and Esau. He simply had different plans for them. Part of God’s plan to bring Jacob to maturity was to have Esau as his enemy for a season.

The tradition blinded believer will see the story of Sodom’s destruction in Genesis as the ultimate expression of God’s eternal wrath. Sodom, to them, represents the grossest of sinners. Yet love-filled eyes will see that the self-righteousness of those who condemn Sodom was twice as ugly to God as was the sin of Sodom. In Ezekiel chapter 16, God said the sin of Jerusalem, the city of God’s priests, a type of modern Christians who are to be a “royal priesthood,” was far more repugnant to him than the sins of the Sodomites. As a matter of fact, according to Yahweh, the sins of Jerusalem, the priesthood of the “chosen people” JUSTIFIED the people of Sodom. (Ezekiel 16:51, 52) It would be good for all Christians to read this chapter regularly to help stay humble. Sodom, according to Ezekiel will one day be restored to her former estate and be given to Jerusalem as a daughter.

A law-minded, legalistic person’s eyes will always be looking for the worst in people. They will create in their own minds a God of wrath and judgment. This god will be hypocritical, just like themselves. Their minds cannot see God’s mercy except for themselves and those in their inner circle – a circle which is usually very small. A legalist (and Judaism, Christianity and Islam are full of them) will place a God of judgment, wrath and punishment upon the throne of judgment instead of the Slain Lamb which takes away the sin of the world found in Revelation 5:6 (see also John 1:29). The law-centered heart is quick to judge; quick to force God’s hand; quick to put a glistening sword into God’s hands to justify their own murderous hearts. But the Christian who is filled with the love of God reads, “Mercy shall triumph over (exalt over, have victory over) judgment.” (James 2:13)

The Pharisaic mind which floods the three monotheistic religions is short-sighted – it can barely see anything, and yet it is quick to kill – it kills both foe and friend alike. At the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, far more Jews were killed at the hands of other Jews than at the hands of the Romans. (See Josephus’ “War of the Jews.”)

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3 Comments

Filed under God's Love, Mercy, Understanding the Bible, Universal salvation

3 responses to “The Love of God or the Love of the Wrath of God?

  1. I have my troubles in life, like anyone. But I could not get through them without the hope in a God who is good. A god who in the end loved both Jacob and Esau. A God who is working out a plan for all of us and for the destruction of sin itself (but not the peope).

    • Nicole,
      Thanks for the response and your encouragement. Reaffirmation from others of God’s love and the hope we have in Him is always wonderful to hear. My main goal for my writings is to bring light and life to others by explaining in simple ways that God loves all His image-bearers, people like you and me. God is the only one that can give us the strength we need to carry on in this life. Keep pursuing Him, keep loving Him, keep hoping in Him and He will bring you the healing you need for every moment. Praise be to Him always!

      In Christ,
      Craig

  2. Pingback: saved from hell | Bipolar Christianity

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