The Wrath of God

Magic: the Gathering is one of the popular tabletop games in modern times. If you’re familiar with the history of Magic, you may know that some of the earlier cards alluded to Christian motifs. While most of these cards only vaguely reflect in the game what the real-life counterpart represents, there is one notable exception in which the card reflects exactly its real-life counterpart. That card is show below.

Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

The wrath of God, according to the Bible, destroys:

Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,
To lay the land desolate;
And He will destroy its sinners from it.

Isaiah 13:9

This raises an important question: why is God angry?

The answer is also given by the Bible:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness

Romans 1:18

God is angry toward the unrighteous, ungodly, wicked, and evil. In other words, God is angry toward sinners. Not a childish, temper-tantrum anger but the kind of anger born out of a desire for justice.

The Bad News

Here’s the bad news: if you’ve ever done anything evil, you are, by definition, an evildoer. Since God is just, his wrath abides on you and your punishment will be realized when you die. The place where justice is delivered eternally is called Hell (Revelation 21:8).

How do know if you’ve committed evil? You need only look at God’s law, summarized in the Ten Commandments. For example:

  1. Have you ever loved yourself more than God, dishonored God, or disrespected God?
  2. Have you ever dishonored your parents?
  3. Have you ever murdered or hated someone? (Jesus said that to hate someone is to commit murder in your heart.)
  4. Have you ever stolen something?
  5. Have you ever committed adultery or lusted after someone? (Jesus said that to lust after someone is to commit adultery in your heart.)
  6. Have you ever lied?
  7. Have you ever envied someone or their possessions?

Jesus, who is the incarnation of God, said that all of God’s commands can be summarized like this:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Matthew 22:36-39

If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll have to agree with Paul, one of the Bible writers, when he wrote this:

There is no one righteous, not even one.

Romans 3:11

Since the punishment for unrighteousness is Hell, the situation is quite bleak for sinners. But this bad news is not the only news I have to share with you. There is good news.

The Good News

In Greek, the word “gospel” means “good news”. In the Bible, the gospel refers to the good news that God made a way for sinners to be rescued from His wrath. In other words, God made a way whereby we could be righteous despite our unrighteous deeds.

How did he do this? God came to earth as a human, Jesus Christ, to live the perfect life we were supposed to live and take upon himself the wrath that we deserved. This happened when he died on the cross. Then, he was raised from the dead to prove that he was victorious over sin and death. The Bible describes this great act of love this way:

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Romans 5:6-9

The word “justified” means “made right with God”. How, specifically, is someone made right with God? Paul, the writer of the book of Romans, continues:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. … Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Romans 10:9-13

In the Bible, the word “faith” comes from the Greek word “pistis”, which means belief. Christians believe that they have no hope of saving themselves, and that Jesus Christ actually lived, actually died, and actually rose again — for them. The result of belief in the gospel is that God’s wrath is removed and eternal life is granted instead. As Jesus said:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

John 3:36

At this point, you either believe you are in need of God’s rescue from the penalty of your sin, or you do not. If you have just begun to believe this, please connect with me so that I can encourage you in your new journey. If you do not believe this, then perhaps one of the articles I’ve written below will be of interest to you.

If you have any questions about what you have just read and wish to talk further, please contact me and I would be happy to correspond.

Common Responses

Shut up. No one cares.

This is incorrect. Many people recognize that they are sinners and in need of a savior, such as myself. Moreover, if it is true that sinners are doomed to Hell until they repent (acknowledge they are sinners) and believe the gospel, then sharing the hope found in Jesus Christ is the most loving thing I could possibly do. My life is truly wasted if I am not sharing the gospel. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:16, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”

No religion has a monopoly on the truth.

This is the standard response of religious humanists — usually those who are agnostic or only “privately spiritual”. Keyword being ‘humanist’. A humanist is someone who believes, ultimately, that truth originates in the human mind and not outside of them. And is not the human mind finite and fallible? Then how can the humanist trust their conclusions? Humanism is an epistemological dead-end. We have knowledge because an infallible, omniscient being (God) has implanted knowledge in minds, and he has given us plenty of knowledge through revelation. The question is, will you hide from that knowledge or you will consider its implications?

God is a relic of ancient times and people like you cling to this mythology in an effort to shield yourself from reality.

This is the standard response of the secular humanist — usually those who are atheists. Sometimes they will say that religion is a cancer on society. We have to ask then, if religion is so cancerous, why did the human race evolve to have such a propensity toward religion? Apparently it has a tremendous value in fitness. Sometimes they will say that it is outdated in our age of scientific advancement. But is science not a study of the natural world? Then how does it refute anything supernatural? Moreover, I find it strange that secular humanists say that science disproves Christianity when many of the basic philosophical assumptions behind science, such as a the uniformity of nature, can only be justified within a theistic worldview.

The Bible is a myth. Science and archaeology has proven that it is a collection of fables.

This is basically the same answer as stated above, in a different way. The secular humanist is appealing to science and archaeology, both of which their worldview cannot make sense of unless they borrow presuppositions from Christianity. It’s quite awkward, really. Anyway, countless volumes have been written on the historicity of scripture. The manuscript evidence demonstrating that it was successfully transmitted over the millenia is enormous. The consistency of its message, despite being written by dozens of authors over thousands of years, is amazing. I’m not here to hold your hand. Open up the Bible and start studying it for yourself. If you have a particular question about the Bible that you sincerely would like to discuss, I’m happy to discuss it with you.

The God of the Bible is atrocious. He commanded genocide and permitted slavery.

Note the assumption: “I know what true morality is, and I am going to judge the Bible according to that morality.” How do you know what true morality is if you are just highly-evolved pond scum? I would argue that you cannot justify objective moral precepts apart from God, therefore this kind of humanist argument shoots itself in the foot right out of the gate.

Yes, God did command the genocide of certain evil people (e.g., the Amalekites). The Bible is quite clear that he is just, which means that evildoers will be destroyed. Likewise, you will receive the same justice as did the Amalekites if you do not repent and believe the gospel. If that bothers you, then the problem isn’t that God is unloving or mean, the problem is that you have a wrong view of your awful plight.

As for slavery — the slavery permitted is not the slavery that you and I think of. “Manstealing,” a prerequisite for chattel slavery, was punishable by death in the Old Testament (Exodus 21:16). It is forbidden in the New Testament as well (1 Timothy 1:10). Most slavery in the Old Testament refers to indentured servitude, which could be done to pay off debt. Only in very rare circumstances could anyone be kept as a permanent slave, and this was not without reason given the constant threat of war and societal fragility. Take a long pause before you try to view ancient people you may know nothing about through modern, Western eyes. Indeed, much of the societal luxuries we experience today, such as equal rights for women, are precisely because of Christianity’s influence over civilization.

I am not evil! I have never done anything to deserve Hell.

You believe this because you do not have the same standard of goodness as God. God’s standard of goodness is himself — perfection. Your high view of yourself stems from your low view of God and sin.

A good, omnipotent God would not allow evil to exist.

This objection, known as the “problem of evil”, assumes that God does not have a sufficient reason for allowing evil to exist. The Bible says the exact opposite. Everything, including evil, will serve the ultimate purpose of demonstrating his glory. Specifically, he defeated death when died on the cross and rose from the dead. Eventually, all suffering will be wiped away and all will be made new (Rev. 21:1-4). This story arc, in which a protagonist overcomes an antagonist, is present in every story we care about it. It is embedded in the fabric of who we are as humans, because we are part of that story.

The Christians I have known are hypocrites. I used to go to church and the people were awful.

That might be so. I am a hypocrite in countless ways, so please don’t look at me as a great example of goodness. Christianity isn’t about following Christians, it is about following Christ. The church is not meant to be a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners. It is supposed to be a place where broken people — especially people who recognize their brokenness — go to encourage one another and worship the God who can mend us and will make all things right one day.

There are so many versions of Christianity and they all disagree with one another.

First, there actually are very few major versions of Christianity. Within those major versions there does exist denominations that usually only differ with one another over minor doctrines. Regardless, it should be obvious that that which is highly-valued is going to have many counterfeits. The Bible warns in countless places of counterfeit Christianity (false teachers) and gives countless tests for recognizing them. Just because someone counterfeits a dollar bill doesn’t mean we can’t know what a real dollar bill looks like, no? The truth is that objections like this (and most others I’ve listed) come from people making excuses. Despite their intellectual pontifications, most hide from Christianity not because of what they don’t know but because of what they do know. Sure, parts of the Bible are hard to understand. That doesn’t change the fact that the basic message is very simple and its consequences very dire.

Christianity is boring. I want to have fun.

Everyone is a pleasure-seeker, because God is also a pleasure-seeker (Psalm 115:3), and we are made in his image. The difference between you and me is not that you like pleasure and I don’t, the difference is that you believe the lie that the greatest pleasure is found outside of God. The exact opposite is true. If you want to maximize your pleasure, become a Christian. As Psalm 16:1 says, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The consequence of Christianity is not sacrifice of pleasure. It is the sacrifice of self. This is painful, no doubt, and I will be the first to admit that I have my own bastions of selfishness that may not be fully uprooted and destroyed until I leave this earth. But the pursuit of true pleasure is worth it not just on this earth but also because God’s children have eternal pleasure waiting for them in his eternal kingdom, the greatest of which is communing with God himself — the paragon of beauty and perfection — in his presence, without distraction from sin and selfishness.

These things make sense. I believe.

If this is the first time you have believed that you are a hopeless sinner in need of God’s forgiveness, and that Christ died on the cross for you and then rose from the dead, then you are now a Christian. It is really that simple. As a result of your faith, God has given his spirit to indwell you and sanctify you. You will still fail, but he will always be there to forgive you and help you. Find a community of other believers (a church) to enjoy the fellowship of other who love God and love others. You will now cherish the word of God, therefore read your Bible frequently and memorize it. You will desire to talk to God, therefore pray to him constantly. You have a great journey ahead of you, and it will not be easy. Christianity is not easy, but it is worth it. Please contact me because I would love to help you get started.