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Underestimating God's Fierceness

Underestimating God's Fierceness

Many people have a skewed view of God as a result of pop culture, movie portrayals, and artists renditions. This distortion isn't much different than the prevailing views of God the Father and the Son held by many professing Christians. Much of the popular preaching and teaching about God in our day portrays him as a soft, mild-mannered Shepherd who doesn't see our sins through holy eyes but winks at them instead. This skewed view of God is unbiblical and it will result in millions of unrepentant people uttering, "Lord Lord" as they go into eternity without him. This is the scandal and eternal tragedy of underestimating God's fierceness. Romans 2:5

It's wrong to give people half-truths in any situation but intentionally leaving out all of the aspects of God's divine nature will cause people to believe they are going to heaven when in fact, they are in imminent eternal danger. Oftentimes in an effort to have people make a decision, the invitation is given to come forward, sign a card, or raise a hand as evidence of some sort of commitment to Christ. Moreover, the invitation is usually given on the premise that they will live the blessed life, they don't have to change, or that God accepts them based on works and half-hearted commitment. A gospel which merely says, 'Come to Jesus' and offers a marvelous new life, without convicting of sin, is not New Testament evangelism.

D. L. Moody wrote, "The Law stops every man's mouth. I can always tell a man who is near the kingdom of God; his mouth is stopped. This, then, is why God gives us the Law-to show us ourselves in our true colors." Romans 3:19

I can't count the number of times I've heard unfortunate statements such as, "He knows my heart." or "It's all under the blood." Oftentimes, this is the sentiment of a person who is comfortable continuing in blatant rebellion against the Lord while maintaining a lukewarm fondness for him in order to obtain heaven and avoid hell. They view God as a proud Grandpa type who will give them a performance-based attaboy or attagirl. In reality, if we preached the whole gospel to people, some would come to terms with the fact that God is holy, their hearts are wicked, and they are in desperate need of a Savior. To give people the false impression they are in and that they are safe for eternity without preaching repentance is wrong. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10

To make matters worse, many would be converts don't know what they are being saved from. They are never told about God's holiness and their wretched heart condition on account of which his judgment is coming. Many preach a seeker-friendly version of Jesus as the guy with the big blue eyes and soft complexion holding a lamb who desperately needs us to accept him. This false portrayal of Jesus belies the fact that he is coming back soon as a fierce Judge who will trample the unrepentant under his feet. It's a gross dereliction of duty if you only preach about the loving kindness and mercy of God and ignore his holiness and the winepress of his fierce wrath to come. A true shepherd will warn while the lying prophets and teachers say, "No disaster will come upon you." Jeremiah 23:16

In his excellent teaching series: Best of Revelation, James MacDonald describes the fierceness of a returning Jesus as follows:

"Allow yourself, not speculatively but based on God's word to picture Jesus Christ. One day you will stand before him and be hit the brilliance and radiance of his face and the brightness of his countenance. His eyes are like a flame of fire. Never think the purity of Jesus Christ means naivete. He's not soft or weak in any way. He is immeasurably strong. His eyes like a flame of fire is a picture of judgment." -Pastor James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel

Preaching grace apart from truth gives false assurance because a person doesn't see their heart as wicked, or as wicked as the other guy's. When children of wrath understand they are dead in their sins, the rich mercy of God is available to make them alive in Christ. It is truly amazing when we realize that righteous judgment is coming and we deserve it, but for the grace of God.

The Bible is replete with examples of people coming to terms with the fierceness of God and coming to repentance. This happened numerous times in the Old Testament. Even the citizens of the wicked city of Nineveh repented and were spared from the fierceness of God.

Jonah 3:8-10 Let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish."When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

Jesus entered into his public ministry and preached the coming kingdom and repentance. He warned the people in Judea and Galilee about fleeing the wrath to come. He spoke more about hell and coming judgment than heaven. In Jesus, we see all of the fullness, mercy, and love of the Father on full display. His message was never obscured by words of false assurance as he warned people about the fierceness of coming judgment. How then can we deviate from the hope of the gospel? Luke 13:2-5

I understand that preaching and writing about God's fierceness and coming judgments won't make for comfortable congregations and best sellers at the local Christian bookstore. Real shepherds are called to preach the gospel message in its totality and that leaves no room for compromise. We are called to make disciples, not count converts. The quality of disciples and not the quantity of converts is what matters. God help us stand as Jeremiah did and warn people about God's fierceness while they still have time to respond because it's a loving thing to warn people. Jesus is a loving Savior, merciful friend, and a soon coming Judge.

Revelation 16:5-7 "Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!"

Howard Green leads Concerning The Times, a Bible teaching and evangelistic ministry whose primary focus is proclaiming the gospel to the lost and exhorting believers through End Time Bible prophecy.