God's Word teaches that God's righteous wrath or fierce anger burns against sin and unrepentant sinners, while also teaching that God simultaneously has a deep love for sinners and desires their salvation. This is crystal clear and undeniable throughout the pages of the Bible.
Over the years I have come across many professing Christians who deny the clearly taught truth of God's wrath against sin and unrepentant sinners. They say that God is only love and that He has no such wrath or anger toward anyone. This kind of sentiment is prevalent among emergent, progressive, liberal churches and "Christians" of today. Among these so-called churches and professing Christians man's reason and feelings seem to be what are worshipped in the place of the God of the Bible. It's as if they feel they can be the judges of God and His Word and determine for themselves what is and isn't true. There is a lot of twisting of clear and essential truths of the Bible amongst those circles. There is a lot of casting of doubt on God's Word. There is a lot of skepticism of historic, orthodox Christian doctrine. Just like with that old serpent Satan, the question amongst them is, "Has God really said that? Come on, we can't really believe that."
The opposite of that kind of attitude is a humbling of one's self under the plain and simple teaching of God's Word, like a little child that trusts his/her parents. If God clearly teaches something in His Word, who are we to try to change it's plain meaning? God warns that there will be severe judgment on those who add or take away from His Word-Rev.22:18-19.
I venture to say that most of those who question and cast such doubt on clear truths taught in God's Word do so because they have not had a genuine conversion experience. They have not truly seen their wickedness in the light of God's holiness and have not cried out to God in humble repentance and faith in Christ. And because they have not truly been born again their understanding remains darkened. They continue to remain enemies of God in their minds despite having a form of godliness and being "religious".
I say "most" who question God's Word are still lost because there may be some true believers who sincerely struggle with certain biblical truths at times. But eventually God's clear truth prevails in their hearts and they humbly receive it and move on in their walk with the Lord.
God knows the difference between those two kinds of professing Christians.
Below I am sharing two short articles from the gotquestions.org site. The first deals with the truth of God's wrath as taught in the Bible. The second deals with the topic of propitiation. I am including the article on propitiation because it is closely related to the topic of God's wrath, and in light of a recent thread on the atonement of Christ. The word propitiation shows up multiple times in the New Testament in reference to Christ's atoning sacrifice(Rom.3:25; Heb.2:17; 1John2:2; 1John4:10). It will not take long for any new believer to learn (if they are unaware) that the word propitiation means satisfying or appeasing God's wrath. One can look at any dictionary to quickly learn that.
"Question: "What is the biblical understanding of the wrath of God?"
Answer: Wrath is defined as “the emotional response to perceived wrong and injustice,” often translated as “anger,” “indignation,” “vexation,” or “irritation.” Both humans and God express wrath. But there is vast difference between the wrath of God and the wrath of man. God’s wrath is holy and always justified; man’s is never holy and rarely justified.
In the Old Testament, the wrath of God is a divine response to human sin and disobedience. Idolatry was most often the occasion for divine wrath. Psalm 78:56-66 describes Israel’s idolatry. The wrath of God is consistently directed towards those who do not follow His will (Deuteronomy 1:26-46; Joshua 7:1; Psalm 2:1-6). The Old Testament prophets often wrote of a day in the future, the "day of wrath" (Zephaniah 1:14-15). God’s wrath against sin and disobedience is perfectly justified because His plan for mankind is holy and perfect, just as God Himself is holy and perfect. God provided a way to gain divine favor—repentance—which turns God’s wrath away from the sinner. To reject that perfect plan is to reject God’s love, mercy, grace and favor and incur His righteous wrath.
In the New Testament, Jesus’ teachings support the concept of God as a God of wrath who judges sin. The story of the rich man and Lazarus speaks of the judgment of God and serious consequences for the unrepentant sinner (Luke 16:19-31). Jesus said in John 3:36, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on Him." The one who believes in the Son will not suffer God’s wrath for his sin, because the Son took God’s wrath when He died in our place on the cross (Romans 5:6-11). Those who do not believe in the Son, who do not receive Him as Savior, will be judged on the day of wrath (Romans 2:5-6).
Conversely, human wrath is warned against in Romans 12:19, Ephesians 4:26, and Colossians 3:8-10. God alone is able to avenge because His vengeance is perfect and holy, whereas man’s wrath is sinful, opening him up to demonic influence. For the Christian, anger and wrath are inconsistent with our new nature, which is the nature of Christ Himself (2 Corinthians 5:17). To realize freedom from the domination of wrath, the believer needs the Holy Spirit to sanctify and cleanse his heart of feelings of wrath and anger. Romans 8 shows victory over sin in the life of one who is living in the Spirit (Romans 8:5-8). Philippians 4:4-7 tells us that the mind controlled by the Spirit is filled with peace.
The wrath of God is a fearsome and terrifying thing. Only those who have been covered by the blood of Christ, shed for us on the cross, can be assured that God’s wrath will never fall on them. “Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him!” (Romans 5:9).
Question: "What is propitiation?"
Answer: The word propitiation carries the basic idea of appeasement, or satisfaction, specifically towards God. Propitiation is a two-part act that involves appeasing the wrath of an offended person and being reconciled to him.
The necessity of appeasing God is something many religions have in common. In ancient pagan religions, as well as in many religions today, the idea is taught that man appeases God by offering various gifts or sacrifices. However, the Bible teaches that God Himself has provided the only means through which His wrath can be appeased and sinful man can be reconciled to Him. In the New Testament, the act of propitiation always refers to the work of God and not the sacrifices or gifts offered by man. The reason for this is that man is totally incapable of satisfying God’s justice except by spending eternity in hell. There is no service, sacrifice or gift that man can offer that will appease the holy wrath of God or satisfy His perfect justice. The only satisfaction, or propitiation, that could be acceptable to God and that could reconcile man to Him, had to be made by God. For this reason God the Son, Jesus Christ, came into the world in human flesh to be the perfect sacrifice for sin and make atonement or “propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).
The word propitiation is used in several key verses to explain what Jesus accomplished through His death on the cross. For example, in Romans 3:24-25 we see that believers in Christ have been “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed." These verses are a key point in Paul’s argument in the Book of Romans and are really at the heart of the Gospel message.
In the first three chapters of Romans, Paul has made the argument that everybody, both Jew and Gentile alike, is under the condemnation of God and deserving of His wrath (Romans 1:18). Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). All of us deserve His wrath and punishment. God in His infinite grace and mercy has provided a way that His wrath can be appeased and we can be reconciled to Him. That way is through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ, as the atonement or payment for sins. It is through faith in Jesus Christ as God’s perfect sacrifice, foretold in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament, that we can be reconciled to God. It is only because of Christ’s perfect life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection on the third day that a lost sinner deserving of hell can be reconciled to a Holy God. The wonderful truth of the Gospel message is that Christians are saved from God’s wrath and reconciled to God not because “we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The only way for God’s wrath against sinful man to be appeased and for us to be reconciled to God is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way. This truth is also communicated in 1 John 2:2; “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” An important part of Christ’s saving work includes deliverance from God’s wrath that the unbelieving sinner is under, because Jesus’ atonement on the cross is the only thing that can turn away God’s divine wrath. Those that reject Christ as their Savior and refuse to believe in Him have no hope of salvation. They can only look forward to facing the wrath of God that they have stored up for the coming day of judgment (Romans 2:5). There is no other propitiation or sacrifice that can be made for their sins.
These are a few other clear scriptures that teach the truth of God's wrath against sin and sinners:
"...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power."-2Thess. 1:7-10
"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The Lord will judge His people." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."- Hebrews 10:26-31
"God is jealous, and the Lord avenges; The Lord avenges and is furious. The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies; 3 The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, And will not at all acquit the wicked. The Lord has His way In the whirlwind and in the storm, And the clouds are the dust of His feet. 4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, And dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither, And the flower of Lebanon wilts. 5 The mountains quake before Him, The hills melt, And the earth heaves at His presence, Yes, the world and all who dwell in it. 6 Who can stand before His indignation? And who can endure the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, And the rocks are thrown down by Him." Nah.1:2-6
"God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day."-Psalm 7:11
"The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity."-Psalm 5:5
"I will execute great vengeance on them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I lay My vengeance upon them."-Ezek. 25:17