Also, it is worth noting that the Scriptures are replete with reminders that the Lord is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Psalm 86:5, 15, 103:8, Joel 2:13). God is not a hothead. He is not a cosmic boss who throws tantrums when something does not go exactly the way he likes. He is slow to reach the boiling point. This is part of his graciousness, forbearance and patience with our wickedness, and yet, the Scriptures state that God is “a just judge” and one Who is angry with the wicked every day. But who are the wicked? The Scripture is talking about you and me, apart from Christ.
“The preaching of divine wrath serves as a black velvet backdrop that causes the diamond of God’s mercy to shine brighter than ten thousand suns. It is upon the dark canvas of divine wrath that the splendor of His saving grace most fully radiates. Preaching the wrath of God most brilliantly showcases His gracious mercy toward sinners,” writes Dr. Steven J. Lawson (Tabletalk, February 2014, page 28), senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist church in Mobile, Alabama, founder of OnePassion Minstries and a teaching fellow of Ligonier Ministries. “Like trumpeters on the castle wall warning of coming disaster, preachers must proclaim the full counsel of God. Those who stand in pulpits must preach the whole body of truth in the Scriptures, which includes both sovereign wrath and supreme love. They cannot pick and choose what they want to preach. Addressing the wrath of God is never optional for a faithful preacher — it is a divine mandate.”
“Tragically, preaching that deals with God’s impending judgment is absent from many contemporary pulpits. Preachers have become apologetic regarding the wrath of God, if not altogether silent. In order to magnify the love of God, many argue, the preacher must downplay his wrath. But to omit God’s wrath is to obscure his amazing love. Strangely enough, it is merciless to withhold the declaration of divine vengeance,” Lawson continues. “Every preacher must declare the wrath of God or marginalize his holiness, love and righteousness … It is only when we recognize the reality of God’s wrath against those deserving of judgment that we find the cross to be such glorious news. Too many pulpiteers today boast in having a cross-centered ministry but rarely, if ever, preach divine wrath. This is a violation of the cross itself.”
“It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health,” Jonathan Edwards wrote (Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, 1741). “Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it.”
Suppose I am an upper-middle-class American who is indifferent toward Christianity or any sort of theism. If I am inculcated with “GOD IS NOT ANGRY” every day on my commute from my cushy office in downtown Orlando back to my 3,000-square-foot home in Heathrow, why should I visit GraceOrlando.com to find out what kind of claim this is? Why do I need to go to that church, or any church, for that matter? Of what do I need to repent? After all, “GOD IS NOT ANGRY.” So it must not matter what I do. I can go my way and God can go his way, minding our own business, living our separate lives. God can go on drinking imported beer and I will choose to drink domestic beer. Neither is morally wrong, it’s just a personal preference.
Let’s take it a step further and suppose I am a person who is actually hostile toward Christianity or any sort of theism. I might snicker at that billboard, observing how aptly the Bible-thumpers have rendered their own worldview obsolete. Expecting someone like me — content to sleep-in the Sunday mornings that I am not playing 18 holes — to take the initiative to visit the website to learn more, much less darken that church’s postmodern doorstep, is giving far too much credit to someone whom the Bible says cannot and is not seeking God (Romans 3:10-14).
Because the Bible teaches, (Romans 1:18) “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth,” and (Ecclesiastes 3:11) “he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end,” we know that no person can escape the latent, albeit ever-present, intrinsic knowledge that there is a holy God that is indignant toward our sin. No one needs a billboard to tell them that God is or is not angry, because he has imprinted his law in the soul of each person who is alive in his world (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It is only by God’s grace that this ineluctable awareness and vulnerability to God’s law can be modified from a device of our destruction to an instrument of our glorification.