The Cross: God’s Love or God’s Wrath

For those who believe in God and trust the Bible as God’s revelation of Himself, the population of the world is divided into just two categories, i.e. those who will spend eternity in God’s presence and those who will not. Let it be said from the onset, this column is not anti anything, but rather is meant to shed light on the Bible’s most bedrock teaching.

Perhaps the most widely known and memorized verse in all the scriptures is found in the Gospel of John.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever (whosoever) believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16

The context for this statement by Jesus summarizes His conversation with Nicodemus. Jesus is explaining to Nicodemus how to obtain everlasting life. Three times in the third chapter of John before the 16th verse Jesus uses the term ‘verily, verily’ or ‘most assuredly’. This is translated from the Greek amen meaning a most certain and infallible truth. John 3:16 then is a summation of man’s opportunity for the salvation offering or the acceptance of God’s gift. Recall that the word ‘for’ summarizes the preceding statements.

The word ‘so’ in John 3:16 is a measure of magnitude. Synonyms include much, exceedingly, or vehemently.

The phrase ‘His only begotten Son’ confirms the deity of Jesus. The term ‘whoever’ signifies that the opportunity for everlasting life is universal and offered as a gift to all mankind. He ‘gave’.

The term ‘believe’ is much more than intellectual assent. The word is from the Greek pistis and synonyms include faith and trust. Individuals are required to place their total trust for eternal life on the vicarious death of Christ while recognizing their own total impotence to earn such status.

The word ‘life’ in the term ‘everlasting life’ means eternal life with God and begins for true believers the instant they place their trust for that life in the person and work of Christ.

The alternative to everlasting life is ‘perish’ from the Greek apollumi which means destruction or destined to eternal death. In no way does ‘perish’ indicate cessation of being. Physical death never ends man’s existence.

Those who take lightly or reject God’s free gift will have chosen to face God on their own merits.

The Israelites were given similar freedom of choice.

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God…to keep His commandments…Therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…”
Deuteronomy 30:15-19

Those who choose to reject God’s gift of mercy and grace will experience His wrath which is required due to His innate attribute of justness.

“Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment…will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he has sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace…It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Hebrews 10:28-31

As the Easter (pascha, or Passover) season approaches, all mankind is reminded that Jesus Christ was the Passover ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’!

The efficacy of Christ’s vicarious death was affirmed by His glorious and undisputable resurrection from the grave!

And though the Passover Lamb was humble and obedient to His Father even unto death, His humility will turn into power. Many have difficulty equating a humble and gentle Lamb with wrath.

“And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men…the mighty men…said…hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
Revelation 6:15-17

The Lamb of God will return to earth as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah to reclaim and restore all that He paid for on the cross.

Have a deeply meaningful Passover and a glorious celebration of His resurrection!

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