The Greek word, εὐαγγέλιον, is coined “gospel” in the English language, and is defined as “good tidings.” In evangelical Christian circles, this gospel is often summed up by the frequently quoted John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” which presents God as a benevolent Deity. God loved humankind and his natural creation; thus, He sent His Son for us; and as long as we trust in Him, we are saved from the pits of hell and can enjoy eternity with Him. We are quick to gobble up the “loved the world” and “gave his only Son” portions of Scripture, but are quick to reject verses such as Hosea 5:8 – “I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs; I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them open,” as alluded to in this month’s feature article. In efforts to maintain the consistency of our fragile schema of a gracious and all-forgiving God, we either blatantly ignore unpalatable aspects of God portrayed in Scripture or apologetically acknowledge His bad behavior. However, denying God’s wrath necessarily truncates the magnitude of God’s love as fully realized in the gospel.
In this month’s feature article, Michael uses the Book of Hosea of the Old Testament to assert that as part of God’s cohesive nature, His wrath is a warranted response to man’s sinfulness. In the face of this reality and Romans 3:23, which states, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” man only deserves God’s righteous wrath in the lake of fire. Even what we deem to be “good” is in reality “unclean” and tantamount to “filthy rags” in contrast to the perfect holiness of God.1 Our understanding of “righteousness” is relativized, because we no longer know absolute righteousness and goodness due to our separation from God. In sum, we are at fault; we are fully deserving of God’s wrath; and we, in our finiteness and imperfection, cannot grasp the full extent of God’s holiness, and consequently, His wrath.
Upon reflecting on these truths, the only appropriate response is that of apostle Paul: Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?2 In response to the message of great tidings – that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, became the righteous requirement of the law, received the fullness of God’s wrath, and resurrected, so that we who believe are now justified – we can proclaim: But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!3 We who were once “children of wrath,” are now “alive” with Christ4; we who were once condemned are now “more than conquerors” through the powerful love of God.5 We are now able to see the full fruition of what God had said prophetically to Hosea: I will call them “my people” who are not my people; and I will call her “my loved one” who is not my loved one. I will say to those called “Not my people,” “You are my people”; and they will say, “You are my God.”6 It is only in meditating upon and embracing the wrath of God that we might “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”.7
1. Isaiah 64:6.
2. Romans 7:4
3. I Corinthians 15:57.
4. Ephesians 2:4-5.
5. Romans 8:31-39.
6. Hosea 2:23.
7. Ephesians 3:18.
Joanna studies Psychology and Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a true champion of the Myers-Briggs test despite her professors’ empirical evidence disproving its accuracy.