For us, “We wanted to know who this God that we had pledged our life, that we had chose to follow, to obey, and to serve was?” We believed in God, but there were so many conflicting descriptions that we were totally confused as to what kind of God we were serving and/or what we should be doing to please him. One of the most confusing things for us was the idea that the God of the Old Testament was somehow different from the God of the New Testament. We have been taught that the God of the Old Testament was “a God of wrath,” which is in stark contrast to the portrayal of the God of the New Testament as “a God of love.” We will concede that there are many events in the Old Testament that appear to portray God as this “God of wrath,” but was this an accurate portrayal?
The Old Testament events have been used to show that God is this “angry tyrant,” who was always mad and full of wrath. He is portrayed by these events as a God who sits around waiting for mankind to sin so that he can pass judgment on him, punish him, and then condemn him to hell. According to some traditional teachings, committing any one sin was no different than committing any other sin, they were all treated the same regardless of how hard we tried to classify them based on severity. You see, under this rule, lying was the same as committing murder and the punishment was the same, condemnation. Because of this, many Christians believe that God demands that we live holy and do things righteous in order for us to receive from anything from God or even to get God to move in our lives. But again, is this an accurate portrayal?
“But we are children of God; that is why only those who have walked and talked with God will listen to us. Others won’t. That is another way to know whether a message is really from God; for if it is, the world won’t listen to it. Dear friends, let us practice loving each other, for love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God, and that they are getting to know him better. But if a person isn’t loving and kind, it shows that he doesn’t know God—for God is love” (I John 4:6-8 TLB).
According to this New Testament passage, “love is of God, for God is love.” It goes on to say that those who are loving and kind show that they are children of God and that they are getting to know God better because “love comes from God.” Is this “God is love” portrayal a more accurate one?
“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us” (I John 4:9-13 NLT).
The New Testament points out the fact that God loved us, the same people who earlier had earned his so-called wrath, so much that he sent his son, Jesus Christ into the world, so that we, the same people who earlier had earned his so-called wrath, could have eternal life through Jesus Christ. This New Testament portrait of a loving God certainly contradicts the Old Testament God of wrath. But which one is accurate one?
We know from a previous discussion that God says, “I am the Lord, I change not” (Malachi 3:6) and we summed up this passage to mean God has not changed since the beginning nor will he ever change in the future, which we know to be contrary to many popular beliefs. If our portrait of God portrays him as “a God of wrath,” then we need to ask, “When did he change?” We can ask the same “when did he change question” about the portrait that portrays him as “a God of love.” It would be more difficult to prove the Old Testament portrait of “a God of wrath” than the latter portrait, especially since we know that God ends up being this “God of love” and we know that God say “he changes not.” What God is today is what he had to be in the days past, and even had to be in the beginning. This means that somewhere along the way, we got a few things wrong about the God that we have pledged our lives to and who we have chose to follow, to obey, and to serve was. We hope that this commentary will help you with your portrait of God. We do however wonder though, “Could there be more that we have gotten wrong along the way?” This does make one ponder the possibilities.
We pray that this commentary will abundantly bless you, greatly inform you, and that you will be the better for having read them both. If blessed by this message, please share so that others may be blessed as well. Amen.
Enjoy your blessings - KW