Categories
Gospel Love of God

Is God Angry in the Old Testament But Loving in the New Testament?

From my experience, non-Christians (and some Christians) sometimes assert that God is a monster in the Old Testament but somehow loving and Fatherly in the New.

Robin Schumacher over at CARM.org explains:

Non-Christians sometimes assert that God is portrayed in the Old Testament as a cruel and ruthless deity that indiscriminately orders the execution of seemingly innocent men, women, and children, or directly carries out their deaths by various means. Such a God, the argument goes, in no way represents the loving Creator or Father figure that the New Testament offers, and should in no way be worshipped or venerated. However, a closer examination of Yahweh in the Old Testament refutes the charge of the Creator being a tyrant and instead reveals a righteous, patient, merciful, and loving God who does indeed mirror the picture painted by Jesus and the rest of the New Testament writers.

I highly recommend reading the article.

Go on. Check it out.

But there’s another aspect to the discussion that is oft overlooked.

God is a jealous God and will protect all whom are His

Exodus 34:14 explains, “you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” God is speaking to His people with whom He has established a covenant (see Exodus 34:10).

God protects His own and woe to those who oppose His people.

Folks see God as a vindictive and horrific monster. I can understand that false perspective.

Leviticus tells us, “Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.”

God is jealous for His name; He desires His name to be praised and adored among His people and all who do not will be judged.

You will not understand this until you recognize the Old Testament is written from an insider perspective;

people who are God’s people see the Old Testament as an expression of God’s love for them

The New Testament expresses the same idea. God loves His people; God loves His people so much, He gave His only Son to die for all those who believe in Him. And for those who don’t revere His name and believe in Him will perish.

This is the greatest expression of love, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The whole of the Old Testament testifies to this, and the New Testament explains it.

Both Testaments possess this single truth:

Hell is eternity in the presence of God without a mediator. Heaven is eternity in the presence of God with a mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.1

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!

References
1Eternity Without a Mediator by Tim Challies

Categories
Glory of God Gospel

If God is Good, Why is there Evil, Pain, and Suffering?

It’s the age-old question. “If God is good and all powerful, why is there pain, suffering, and evil in the world?”

All kinds of evil, pain, and suffering you go through can color the lens by which you approach this question.

Loss of job, cancer of any stripe, death itself, financial debt, watching friends or family suffer, floods, homelessness, orphans, the list can go on and on.

We do not think much about pain and suffering, until, that is, pain and suffering affects us personally.

Pain and suffering only makes us sit up and listen when it’s personal.

So when we go through a traumatic experience of any sort, we ask, “If God is good…” We think, “God can’t love me and he can’t be all powerful since he’s letting me go through this!”

There is a myriad of answers to the question of pain: God brings pain in our lives for His glory, to teach us, to mold us into someone better, to help others, among many other possible answers.

But the most important thing that we must remember when pain becomes personal:

We are not left alone in our suffering

Scripture tells us that Jesus, Who is God by the way, was tempted in everything that is common to man:

Hebrews 2:17 “Therefore, He (Jesus) had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”

During a hurricane, which tree feels the full force of the storm?

The tree which never falls but stands firm until the end.

Jesus stood firm to the end–the end that is death–even the death of the cross being forsaken by the Father. He did this so that WE would never be forsaken, but fully and gloriously accepted and loved by the Father. Jesus is the one in whom we must trust because He has gone through the greatest pain and suffering anyone has ever gone through–standing firm to the end.

Jesus did this for us and in our place. To the end.

You are not left unto yourself, that is, if you trust Jesus. Trust Jesus and rest in His finished work on the cross.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

Categories
Love of God

A Gospel Reflexion On The Love of God

God created mankind in the image and community of the eternally existing Trinitarian God (Genesis 1:26) producing an inherent need and desire for “community” displayed in love by loving God with our whole being and loving others as ourselves (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37-39). God created us so that we may know Him. His creative work of mankind was the act of drawing near to us which was an act of love When God acts, He acts in love because God is love.

“…God’s nature is the grammar of God’s will, which is a Wittgensteinian way of saying that God’s being and acts are one. God is love (I John 4:8) – that is the defining divine perfection – and God is love from tip to toe. God’s only power is the power of love, in which there is no domination, coercion, or violence. Such is the imminent perichoretic, self-giving, non-rivalrous love of the Trinity, economically embodied in the cross (and, as Luther said, crux robat omnia). ‘Omnipotence,’ T. F. Torrance urges, ‘is what God does, and it is from His ‘does’ rather than from a hypothetical ‘can’ that we are to understand the meaning of the term. What God does, we see in Christ …” (HT: Curt).

Likewise, God’s love is what God does, and it is from His ‘does’ rather from a hypothetical ‘can’ that we are to understand the meaning of the term. What God does, we see in Christ. P.T. Forsyth explains,

What ought we say about the love of God? In the cross, God’s love for himself, his name and his authority, and his love for his creatures, is taken up and met in one action wherein God exhibits the very nature of his being as unconditional Holy Love. That’s why not only is the doctrine of the Trinity necessary to make sense of the atonement, but the atonement is necessary to reveal the Trinitarian fellowship of God. The Holy Love that defines the perichoretic life of the Triune God has, by the grace of the Father in the action of the incarnate Son and by the mission of the Spirit, overflowed freely towards those outside of God’s community that creatures may enter into the Holy Love communion that the Triune God has ever known and spoke creation into being for participation in.

In Jesus Christ, God has shown not only that he does not want to be God without us, but that he does not want us to be without him. And in the action of the Holy Spirit, the Triune God is present and active among us to hear and answer our prayers, to sustain us in all the happenings of life, and to continuously bring home to us afresh the good news of the Father’s sanctifying action in Jesus Christ, guaranteeing our inheritance, and empowering us to live in the reality of being ‘holy and blameless’ before God (Ephesians 1:4).

We must not think of ourselves higher than we are. We possess nothing special, nor do we offer any benefit to God for God to choose us. Deuteronomy 7 explains, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping [His] oath…” We are God’s treasured possession; not because of anything good we possess but because God loves us. And God loves us because He loves us. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

This great love with which God loves us can not truly be experienced without our setting love upon others. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21). I believe C. S. Lewis says it well,

“When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. Insofar as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.” – Letters of C.S. Lewis (8 November, 1952)

“… May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. … May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. … The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, 3:5, 2 Corinthians 13:14).