A lot of people say, “I can not believe in a God who would condemn someone to Hell. I can’t believe in a God of wrath. I can only believe in a God that loves me. I mean look John 3:17 even says that God did not send His son to condemn the world. See, Jesus didn’t come to condemn!” Okay, yes it is true that John 3:17 says that Jesus did not come to condemn but when you read the very next verse, it says, “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned (we like this idea, but what about this the next part), but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” It is true that Jesus didn’t come to the world to condemn it because even before Jesus came, the world was already condemned. John 3 verse 36 parallels this same idea by saying, “Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Before Christ came, the world was already condemned and the wrath of God was on it. Why? What people do not understand is that God’s wrath flows from His love for justice and righteousness. God has a standard of perfection, a standard of righteousness and it is in the very just nature of God to make sure that His standard of perfect righteousness is upheld justly. God’s wrath isn’t ill tempered or sporadic, it is a determined wrath, which flows from God’s love for truth and the standard. God’s wrath is a kind of settled opposition. We were all created by God. He gives us life, He provides us with all we need. We owe Him. We should dedicate everything to Him but we want to go live our own lives our own way. We want to be our own masters. That is law breaking and God is opposed to us until justice is upheld. Until the fitting punishment for the transgression is carried out, God’s love for justice will be expressed in His wrath as He carries out perfect justice and it is because God is righteous that we can guarantee that the punishment will be fit for the crime. Well what is the punishment for sin against God? Eternal condemnation. You may say, “Woah, woah, woah! You can’t be serious? Is this a joke? You’re saying that if we even commit one sin against God, that the result is eternal condemnation? I thought God was perfect in justice. Well that does not sound just at all! The punishment does not seem to fit the crime!” Well we need to remember that the degree of punishment does not correlate to the sin but rather the degree of punishment directly correlates with who is sinned against. If you were to grab a chair and hit me over the head, then you will feel the wrath of me (which wouldn’t be that… wrathful) and your punishment would probably be to put the chair back. But if you were to grab a chair and hit your boss over the head, then you will feel the wrath of your boss and the authority he or she has and your punishment would probably be that you will get fired. But if you were to grab a chair and hit Barack Obama over the head, then you will feel the wrath of Obama and his authority and your punishment, well you’d probably never been seen again so who knows what would happen to you. So you see, in each instance the act was the same but the degree of punishment differed because the degree of punishment does not correlate with the sin but rather the degree of punishment directly correlates with the person sinned against. Well in the case with God, who is perfect in His righteousness, when we sin against Him, we will feel the wrath of God and His authority. God is an infinite God thus (God being perfectly just) will pour out an infinite punishment. Because God is eternally righteous, our just punishment is eternal condemnation. In the eyes of a God whose righteousness causes him to not be able to stand in the presence of sin, condemns you as a lawbreaker and God is justly opposed to you until the debt of eternity is paid. See, God’s wrath isn’t crankiness. God’s wrath arises out of a love for truth. It arises out of God’s intrinsic love for righteousness and justice, the foundation of His throne. So we just looked at the reality of God’s wrath, His love for truth and righteousness, being on creation already but then the text continues and says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son.” For most of us when we read this verse we go, “Wow, can you believe that? God loves the world and the world is so big, like there are like 7 billion people in the world and they are all included. Man, God’s love is so big!” And we place the emphasis on the vastness on God’s love but is that where the proper emphasis should be placed? Because here’s the thing: when you look at all of John’s writings (that is the gospel of John, his three letters and the book of Revelation), we see that the word “World” (The Greek word Kosmos) is used over 100 times. And out of all those verses in only about 5 times is the word used in terms of size. For example, John 21:25 John says that Jesus is many other signs but if someone were to write all of them down, the world itself could not contain the books so obviously in that context the world refers to the size of the world. But every other time John uses the word ‘World,’ it never refers to the bigness of the world but rather the badness of the world. Thus when we read John 3:16, our response should not be, “How could God love such a huge world?” But rather, “How could God love such a fallen world?” Yes, the world is fallen and unlovable but God does. Why? Because we need to realize that God’s wrath isn’t just fueled by God’s love for righteousness, but it is also fueled by God’s love for us. Think of how you would feel if you were to see a loved one ravaged by hurtful sin. How do you feel? Are you indifferent? If you were to see your closest friend sink deep into drug abuse think of how you would feel? Hopefully, you will be furious. Everything in you would want to smack them around and say, “Don’t you see what this is doing to you? Can’t you see what is coming about in your life? Don’t you see how you are ruining your life?” Well if humans have the ability to feel fury at a loved one’s sinful digression, how much more fury does a perfect, holy God feel watching men and women created in His image being ravaged by sin.
Just because God was angry at sin and needed to punish sinners, it didn’t negate the fact that He furiously loved you and me! Anger does not have to oppose love. God is angry. He is furious because there is a cancer in his creation and that cancer is sin. That cancer is evil and he wants to eradicate it. He must deal with it, he can’t just be tolerant. He loves us, He wants us to be pure, sin is a destructive cancer that does nothing but harms us so God wants to get rid of it but He can’t get rid of it without destroying us in the process because we are sinful to the core. Don’t you see. God looks down on us and knows we are in pain, He knows we are in distress, He knows that and the cause of all our problems are sin and His Just Wrath is the only way to resolve us of our sin but in our current condition, if God were to pour out his just wrath, we would be destroyed with it. So we see God is in a predicament. The love of God will not allow man to be destroyed and yet the justice of God cannot allow sin to flourish. So what happens? “For God so love the world, that He gave His only son, that whoever should believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” We so often forget that it was Jesus who said these words. It is Jesus is speaking with Nicodemus saying, “This World has fallen. This world is sinful. You have turned your backs on me, you have rejected me, you have disobeyed my commands thus you have rebelled against me. God would be perfectly just to condemn every single one of you for sinning against Him. God would be perfectly Just in setting the world on fire for its wickedness and watch it burn and as a matter in fact wrath is already upon you. Wrath is already upon you so the natural consequence of you living you life apart from God will be being apart from God for eternity. But, despite all that,” and remember this is Jesus talking, He says, “God moved by His love, chose to send me to die, so that I can be your substitute and open a way for salvation. So that the full wrath of God could be pour out on me in order that the full love of God could be poured out on you.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son,” Jesus spoke those words knowing full and well that He would have to die for sinful mankind…
Jesus did not have to do this. God was not obligated to be gracious. He would’ve been perfectly Just to allow sinful mankind to burn in hell for sinning against His righteous reign, God did not need you, God does not need you to feel worth, God is autonomous, God is self-sufficient, within the Trinitarian God head is perfect love and relationship… So why? The more I think about it, the more I wonder, if God was not obligated to be gracious why did He? It’s not like there is anything you can produce for God. It’s not that God thought that you were cute, or smart, or athletic like God really cares about our ability to perform when He was the one who created you and your talents. Then why? I really can’t think of any other reason other than God Loves You.
And this is how God shows His love… He sent His Son, who stands in as a sinless substitute. To rightfully bear the blame for sin, one must first be sinless, so He did. He lived a sinless life all the way to the cross where God’s wrath was satisfied as it was poured out on his Sin. All the punishment sin was due, all the punishment sin deserved was poured out but at the same time, God’s love was satisfied because if we place our faith in Christ to be our sinless savior and substitute, we will be given Jesus’ righteousness and be able to gain full access to the love of God with no fear of condemnation. On the cross, we see the love of God meet the wrath of God as God simultaneously becomes the just and the justifier, the giver and receive of wrath so that those who believe in the name of Christ for salvation will be able to receive eternal life.