October 22, 2013

Thoughts from Mark

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36

The word translated as “wrath” here is the Greek word orge  (or-gay’ ), which means a natural impulse of desire; a reaching forth in excitement.  A part of this word’s definition means to reach forth in violent passion, justifiable ire or punishment.

Orge is translated exclusively in scripture to mean wrath or anger.  This is unfortunate since anger is but one aspect of the word.  It’s a much broader term encompassing one’s general feeling of excitement, energy and zeal toward another.

The reason for the Greek lesson is this: we have taken this orge and applied it’s wrathful and angry connotation to how God feels about unbelievers.  Too many believe that Jesus is a divine shield who protects us believers from the wrath of an angry God.  This belief comes in part from the misappropriation of this word orge.

Here’s an example: the term “emotional” has an accepted definition in today’s culture.  If we say someone is emotional, we are saying they are very fragile in their feelings, prone to sadness or crying.  This, however, is only part of the word’s definition.  The word, by actual definition, applies to all emotion.

There are two key elements to scriptural interpretation – root (original language) word and context.  The context of John 3 is a description of God’s love and salvation offered to mankind.  Jesus declares that He did not come into the world to judge the world, but to save it.  The angels at His birth declare peace on earth, good will toward men.

Blending the Greek and the context give us the needed help in understanding the wrath of God……

The Father’s love for the world is demonstrated in His son Jesus.  This love is freely offered and with it, the forgiveness of sin.  In Jesus, the Father shouts to all “Come to Me and I will give you rest!”

This is not a limited-time offer.  God is not a one-night-only revival tent preacher.  This love is consistently offered, paraded before us through His children, His creation, the very life and breath in us.  He is continually – night and day, every day – displaying and proving His love toward man.

This too, is orge.  What abides on man is the full extent of God’s excitement, energy and zeal toward him.

It is after ample and complete declaration of love toward man that God’s orge takes on a different tone.  After so much extravagance, so much investment, so much patience, His attitude toward the obstinate child turns truly wrathful.

What loving parent who after days, weeks, years of declaring a truth or principle toward a still-rebellious child does not get angry?  The time and energy put forth to bring the child into an understanding resulting only in futility.  A reaching forth in violent passion or ire is justifiable.

What?!  Are you saying that discipline in anger is justifiable?  Absolutely.  God has done it and will continue to do so.  Scripture is full – from Genesis to Revelation – of God’s loving zeal toward man turning violent.  This is full orge.  It is His unfailing love that validates His wrath.

Now, the whole of scripture still applies.  Be angry (orge) and sin not.  Yes, there is a righteous anger.  It is anger that does not seek revenge.  God’s wrath is another side of His love.  He will use all means necessary to bring a child into wholeness.  He is a good father who loves His child and He disciplines whom He loves.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: (Romans 2:4-7)

Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:22)

This is not a touchy-feely God with whom we are in relationship.  He is a strong and loving Father who wants sons walking in fullness.  Any well-raised child will tell you that it took both gentleness and strength from their parents to become who they are.  It’s no different as a spiritual child of our heavenly Father.

I am not a believer that God’s wrath is revenge for not believing.  I do not subscribe to hell being a place He sends disobedient people to burn forever.  I believe His wrath abides on us to bring us into a revelation of Himself.  He is most willing to use His full orge to bring us to belief.

I DO believe in hell.  Just as much as the kingdom of heaven is available both on earth and after our natural death, so too is hell.  Hell is life separated from relationship with our Father, now or in the life to come.  It is not a place of His choosing, but ours.  His decision is made.  His orge is upon all mankind.  He wants us ALL.

The orge of God is upon all mankind.  It is the Holy Spirit convicting the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgement.  He has already proven that He will stop at nothing to win us in His love.  And He is a secure enough Father that He is unafraid to show all sides of His nature to bring us to Himself.

Thank you for your abiding and complete love Papa.  May all your children see and receive you.

In love,