Wrath and Love

The awareness of God’s wrath makes us thankful for his loving act in Christ.

Suppose someone is told: “If God hated you while you were still a sinner, and cast you off, as you deserved, a terrible destruction would have awaited you. But because he kept you in grace voluntarily, and of his own free favor, and did not allow you to be estranged from him, he thus delivered you from that peril.”

This man then will surely experience and feel something of what he owes to God’s mercy.

On the other hand, suppose he learns, as Scripture teaches, that he was estranged from God through sin, is an heir of wrath, subject to the curse of eternal death, excluded from all hope of salvation, beyond every blessing of God, the slave of Satan, captive under the yoke of sin, destined finally for a dreadful destruction and already involved in it; and that at this point Christ interceded as his advocate, took upon himself and suffered the punishment that, from God’s righteous judgment, threatened all sinners; that he purged with his blood those evils which had rendered sinners hateful to God; that by this expiation he made satisfaction and sacrifice duly to God the Father; that as intercessor he has appeased God’s wrath; that on this foundation rests the peace of God with men; that by this bond his benevolence is maintained toward them.

Will the man not then be even more moved by all these things which so vividly portray the greatness of the calamity from which he has been rescued?

John Calvin

God Loves in Greater Power than Wrath

Though he sheweth a glorious power in his wrath in condemning men, yet he sheweth a greater riches of glory, of mercy and of all attributes else, in saving men and bringing men to heaven. The power that God will shew in glorifying his saints will infinitely exceed the power he sheweth in condemning wicked men. The power that love stirreth up is a greater power than what wrath stirreth up in God.

I will give you the reason of it: nothing commandeth power and strength more than love; it commandeth it more than wrath, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30). Doth God love thee? He loves thee with all his strength, as thou lovest him, and art to love him. “I will rejoice over them to do them good, with my whole heart and with my whole soul” (Jer 32:41); his love makes him to love them with all his strength, with all his heart. Now, when he sheweth forth the power of his wrath when he cometh to condemn men, yet let me tell you this, it is not with all his heart, there is something that regrets within him; for he considereth that they are his creatures, and he doth not will the death of a sinner simply for itself, for there is something in him that makes a reluctancy; there is not his whole power in this, though it be the power of his wrath. But when he cometh to shew forth his power out of love, that draws his whole heart; therefore you shall find in Scripture that mercy is called God’s strength, because when he will have mercy, all the strength and power of God accompanieth it. “Let the power of my Lord be great.” What to do? To destroy them? To do some great work for them? No, but “according as thou hast spoken,” saith he, “saying, The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy; pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of thy mercy” (Num 14:17). His mercy is there called his strength, because that love doth draw forth all the strength of God.

—Thomas Goodwin
Works, 1:337.

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