Written by Amanda


Why We Need to Look at the Wrath of God

A few weeks ago, my kids and I studied Rembrandt. Really, it was just a fabulous excuse to make a mess with our paintbrushes. We read a few books from the library on his life, looked at the pictures of his paintings, and let all that be our inspiration for our own creations.

Rembrandt was famous for his ability to give his subjects life and personality. He was a master at highlights and shadows—of personality catching the light in dark rooms. He was known for his sharp contrasts, the way even painted skin could glow with life against a pitch background. His use of dark shadows pushed his subjects right off the canvas as though, if you looked closely, you might see the skirt finish swooshing or the smile finish forming.

Rembrandt’s paintings aren’t a perfect analogy for the wrath of God (God isn’t dark, not a single part of Him). But maybe it’s in pulling out the big harsh words like anger, wrath, and fire and brimstone—a deep contrast to our understanding of His lovingkindness—that we see the fullness of His majesty and grace. We can’t understand our salvation unless we know what we’ve been saved from. We can’t understand the power of Christ’s blood unless we understand it as a covering.

It hard to look at the moments of God’s justifiable anger poured out in the Bible, and it’s not exactly nice to think of hell’s fire. In some ways, I’d like to cut those parts of my faith out and stick to the grace message. But all by itself, that’s a shallow message. When we look at the wrath of God, we become keenly aware of not only how God cannot abide our sin, but also the power of the blood of Jesus to serve as our covering. Instead of just looking at the shore, we peer out into the vast beyond of God’s love, that it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). When our pictures of God are missing the depth of contrast, then we miss His grace and mercy shimmering life-like across the canvas of our lives.

In refusing to look at what our sin does to the Father’s heart and forgetting the final judgment that awaits sinners, we can grow stagnant as believers. We can lose that urgent fervor to share the gift of salvation. Our own joy of salvation can become lackluster. We can miss the holy fear of God that leads to wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). We would rather people like us in this life than risk their hatred to save them for eternity. We can worry more about how the church is perceived than actually doing what the church is meant to do.

We would content ourselves with a shallow faith and a fluffy grace rather than walk out trembling onto the depths of the great salvation we have been given.

If I am honest, I cringed when this attribute of God landed in my assignment pile. But even in my feeble attempts to write on this topic, it’s forced me to look long and hard at myself. This woman who would one thousand times over prefer to focus on grace and love and sunshine and happiness is testifying to the renewed joy of my salvation in remembering what I have been saved from. I am struck by the power of Christ’s blood to stand between me and what I really deserve and declare me not only clean, but a co-heir with Christ.

Here is the simplicity and the beauty of the Gospel message: By the confession of our faith in Christ, we are covered by His blood. Wretched sinners though we may be, Jesus’ blood stands between us and God’s wrath and it renders us clean. It erases our debt. It purifies us. It allows us to approach with boldness the throne of God.

Boldness before God. Us. The wretched sinners.

May we never cease to be struck with awe by the greatness of our salvation. Amen.

Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones You have crushed rejoice.
Turn Your face away from my sins
and blot out all my guilt.
God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not banish me from Your presence
or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore the joy of Your salvation to me,
and give me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways,
and sinners will return to You.
Psalm 51:7-13

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Amanda is a law enforcement wife and a homeschooling mom to three. Her family has called Reality Church of Stockton home for three years. When Amanda’s not pulling her toddler off the bookshelf or explaining to picky eaters why vegetables need to be eaten, she enjoys iced lattes, bird watching, and deep conversations. She lives clinging to the hope she has in Christ that in spite of all her short-comings, she shall be called an overcomer yet. You can also find her writing her broken stories on her blog at Amanda Conquers.