Bible Studies/sin

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Question
Did God, through Christ, vent his wrath against us, against sin or against both and what bible verses support it. Thank you for talking my question

Answer
Dear Peter,

There are no Bible verses that support the idea that God was venting his wrath against sinners or against sin "in Christ," by which I assume you mean "through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross."

This is simple enough to determine in a basic way with a concordance. Look up every verse between Genesis and Revelation that contains the words wrath or anger, where God is the subject, and see if any of them also talks about the cross or the death of Jesus. To double check, you may also look up every verse in the NT that has the words cross, Jesus, tree/wood, die, died, death, blood, and, making sure that a verse is talking about the death of Jesus on the cross, see if any of these refers to the wrath or anger of God being expressed, assuaged, vented, or in any way dealt with through that event. You will not find one single direct hit in dozens and dozens of references. If you are astute, you may unearth an indirect connection between Christ's death and the wrath of God in Rom. 5:9, which reads, in context:

5:5...hope doesn't let us down, because Godís love is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 After all, didn't Christ die on our behalf at the moment when we were still weak, still godless? 7 If you think of it, a person would hardly die even for a person of integrity [traditionally: "a righteous person"] ó though for a truly good person one could possibly even get up the courage to die. 8 Yet God demonstrates his love for us, because Christ died for us when we were still sinners. 9 So we are now found innocent by Christís blood. And since that is true, it should be all the more obvious that we will be saved from Godís anger because of him! 10 After all, it was when we were enemies that we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son ó so it should be all the more obvious that weíll be saved by his life. (Rom. 5:5-10)

Paul's logic throughout the first eight chapters of Romans flows from the following theological principle: the person that lives in a way that turns their back on their Creator (Paul calls this posture "godlessness," Rom. 1:18) will inevitably end up living unjustly and destructively, and thus will stand in danger of facing God's anger/wrath if they persist in unrepentance and godlessness (see Rom. 1:18-32). Christ dies on behalf of all, so that all who repent and put their faith in him can be forgiven their sins without paying the Law's penalty:

21 But now Godís justice has been revealed apart from the Law, with the Law and the Prophets testifying to it. 22 This is the justice of God that is revealed through faith in Jesus Christ, to the benefit of everyone who believes. There is no distinction: 23 all have sinned and fail the glory of God. 24 Without cost, all are found innocent by his grace, through their redemption by Christ Jesus. 25 It was Jesus whom God put forward as a gift that makes amends through faith in his blood. This was to show forth Godís just judgment through the forgiveness of past sins 26 by Godís mercy. It was also to demonstrate Godís justice in this age, so that he may be seen to be just in finding innocent the person who has faith in Jesus. (Rom. 3:21-26)

Through Christís death on the cross, God accomplishes the expression of his mercy in the forgiveness of sins while at the same time fulfilling the just requirements of the Law. Christ fulfills the Law on behalf of us all, and Christ also pays the Lawís worst penalty on behalf of all, so that all who believe can be given credit for having fulfilled the Law, and can receive Godís free amnesty for breaking the Law. Christ's death achieves for us two additional blessings: (1) our reconciliation to God, that is, the turning of our hearts back to love and to right relationship with God from our former posture of hostility and enmity (see Zech. 12:10-13:1; Rom. 1:30; 5:10; 8:7; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Col. 1:21-23; Eph. 4:18), and (2) the indwelling and power of the Holy Spirit, who teaches us and energizes us to live reconciled with God and in conformity with his love and will (see Jer. 31:32-34; Ezek. 11:19-20; 36:25-27; Rom. 8:4-14; 2 Cor. 3:3; Gal. 5:16, 22-25).

4 That way the Lawís full acquittal could be given to us ó we who donít live in line with the flesh, but in line with the Spirit. 5 After all, those who live in line with the flesh think about the fleshís concerns, and those in line with the Spirit think about the Spiritís concerns. 6 And the fleshís way of thinking is death. But the Spiritís way of thinking is life and peace. 7 Thatís because the fleshís way of thinking is hostile to God. That way of thinking doesn't submit to Godís law. It just canít do it. 8 And those living in line with the flesh canít please God. 9 However, youíre not living in the flesh but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God is living in you. But if someone doesn't have Christís Spirit, that person doesn't belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, then your body may be dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life to you because of right living. 11 And if the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from among the dead is living in you, then the One who raised Christ from among the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life, through his Spirit who lives inside you! 12 So the conclusion, brothers and sisters, is this. We have no obligation to the flesh: we donít have to live in line with it. 13 Because if you live in line with the flesh, youíre going to die. But if you make the bad behaviors of the body die off with the Spirit, youíre going to live. 14 All of those who are led by the Spirit of God are Godís children! (Rom. 8:4-14)

Understanding this logic, played out in Romans 1ó8, letís now look again at Rom. 5:9-10, the only verse in the entire Bible that refers to a relationship between the death of Jesus and the wrath of God:

9 So we are now found innocent by Christís blood. And since that is true, it should be all the more obvious that we will be saved from Godís anger because of him! 10 After all, it was when we were enemies that we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son ó so it should be all the more obvious that weíll be saved by his life.

How does Paul say Christís death for us (the shedding of his blood, v. 9) achieves our status as innocent before God? By paying the Lawís penalty for destructive behavior on our behalf. If this is true, says Paul, itís all the more true that we will be saved from Godís anger (in future judgment) through him. Why is it more true ? Paul explains in the following sentence (v. 10). If God was willing to give the gift of his Sonís life on our behalf when we were still godless and unrepentant, clearly his life, given to us in the indwelling Holy Spirit, is going to save us from that future wrath, because, living obediently through the empowerment of the Spirit, we will be God-full, not godless, and we will therefore please our Creator, living and behaving in a way that fulfills the Lawís description of proper human conduct. Paul spells this out in detail later in Romans (re-read Rom. 8:4-14 above).
If this makes sense but youíre not sure how it relates to other passages about the death of Christ, I recommend digging into the subject by looking carefully at the two great OT prophecies of Isaiah 52-53 and Psalm 22. Ask yourself this question: whose deadly hostility does the figure representing Jesus encounter? Who rescues the figure from this hostility? Go from those two passages to Psalm 31. Answer the same two questions. From there re-read what Jesus and the gospel writers have to say (esp. Jn 1:10-11; 15:23-25), then go to Peter as quoted in Acts and as he wrote in his epistles (Acts 3:13; 4:25-27; 1 Pet. 2:19-25), then to Paul (1 Cor. 5:17-21; Col. 1:15-23).

Through all of this you will see a single consistent pattern. God gave his Son to us to express his mercy and make provision for our forgiveness by encountering the penal provisions of the Law on our behalf. It was we who were hostile and expressed our wrath towards God in the person of his Son. For an extended treatment of this subject, I recommend reading my essays at the Simple Gospel site, leading up to and including the essay entitled, "Who Killed Jesus?"

If you have specific passages that you would like my comments on, feel free to ask a follow-up question.

Webb Mealy

Bible Studies

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J. Webb Mealy

Expertise

Qualified to answer questions about the New Testament, including ones that require expert knowledge of Greek, New Testament History, and New Testament Theology. Particular area of expertise is New Testament eschatology (teachings on the end of the world), the Book of Revelation, and the Gospel and epistles of John. Questions about English translations--how they are arrived at, whether they are accurate, and whether there are alternative possibilities. Textual criticism.

Experience

Have taught the Bible and New Testament to lay people for 20 years. Translator of the Spoken English New Testament (www.sentpress.com), author of After the Thousand Years: Resurrection and Judgment in Revelation 20 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992). Senior Biblical Studies Editor, Sheffield Academic Press, 1990-1995.

Organizations
Instructor, Seminary of the Street, Oakland, CA

Publications
See my online publication, www.simplegospel.net, which gives an easy-to-understand but thorough introduction to the Christian Good News. See www.sentpress.com, home of the Spoken English New Testament, the most accurate available translation of the New Testament into natural contemporary English.

Education/Credentials
PhD, Biblical Studies, Sheffield, UK MA (Honors), Humanities, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY BA (Cum Laude), Religious Studies/New Testament, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA

Awards and Honors
Research Paper, "Tracing the Rise of Modalism in Rome," named best graduate paper of the year, Western Kentucky University, 1981

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