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Apr 29, 2009

The Wrath of God

I spoke on the subject of the wrath of God several years ago, and I was amazed that before I even got five minutes into the sermon, people began to get up and walk out. I made the mistake of telling them the subject I was speaking on before I preached it. They didn't want to hear it. They didn't want anything to do with that topic because they'd been beaten over the head with it so many times and for so long.

The wrath of God is one of those subjects that most of us are secretly disturbed by. Even people of the grace persuasion tend to graze over this topic, not sure what to do with it. It's especially frustrating when we see it mentioned in the New Testament. It's not as though there is no such thing as God's wrath because of Jesus. It's still talked about in several places after the resurrection took place. Most of us can't pinpoint where those places are because we've trained ourselves to emotionally graze over them when reading our Bibles. We've become experts in putting it out of our minds and promising ourselves to deal with it or think about it another day.

Even more interesting, are the people who actually feed on the wrath-verses. Their entire Christian existence is based on their fear of ever being at the receiving end of God's terrible wrath. It's the topic of grace that terrifies and frustrates these people. They rely on wrath to keep themselves in line. They love it. The moment anyone suggests a God of love and grace to these people they get angry, vindictive, and even fearful. They need their perspective of wrath because it's the power force they live their lives by. Grace seems pitiful and weak. Wrath has power and force. They honestly don't believe there is any power in grace whatsoever. I have found that people like this are actually attracted to wrath because it kills others. It gives people what they deserve. They like it because they hate people.

One gentleman interrupted me when I was speaking on the subject of love, so he could dispute what I was teaching on the heart of God. He was visibly angry because he wasn'thearing the gospel the way he liked it. It didn't come seasoned with fire and brimstone. The thing he had grown to rely on to motivate him to follow the rules was mysteriously absent from my words. This man attributed his recent life change to his fear of God's wrath and eternal hell. He even boastfully informed us that we were fooling ourselves if we thought love was going to overcome the evil in the world. It was sad. For this man, wrath was a threat from God. He feared God's wrath so much, that he straightened up and quit sinning.

What is the Wrath of Love?

Firstly, I want to re-term "The Wrath of God." I think that term has been abused and twisted so much that it brings up bad feelings for anyone hearing it. The Bible says that God is love and so the proper term that would hit the bulls-eye of our understanding would be "The Wrath of Love."

Already, when you hear it put that way, you can feel a different meaning peaking through the muck of past religion. It does not discount or diminish the wrath of God, but it defines it more clearly. It defines who that wrath is aimed towards and who it's NEVER aimed towards. That makes all the difference!

I have found that the wrath of love is as violent and awful as love is great and beautiful. Where there is love, there is wrath. As much as you love, you will have wrath on that same level. The two cannot be separated. They live in harmony with one another. They are essentially the same. Wrath is love and love is wrath.

I remember one summer, long ago, my father picked us up and took us to the mountains in my aunt's 1070's style camper. We went up to go camping together for the weekend. I didn't get to see my dad more than about one week a year, since he left us for another woman, so it was a special treat. Any time at all spent with him meant the world to me.

We were only there for one night. He called it "two days" because we drove up the first day and came back the second. I remember feeling like I'd been ripped off in the deal. I still recall sitting up late at night with him and giving him several scenarios in which to Darin Hufford barerespond to. We'd ask him, "What if a bear came out of the mountains and tried to eat us?" He would assure us that wouldn't happen, and then tell us to go to sleep. "What if a man came up to us and tried to hurt us? What would you do?"

His answer was more important than he knew at that time. We didn't need to be pacified with a stupid, "that will never happen" answer, and sent to sleep; we needed something much bigger. To an eight-year-old boy, this question held within it the very picture of my value. What did I mean to him? How much did he love me? Where did I stand on his priority list?

I remember waiting for the answer and secretly hoping it would be as gory and viscous as possible. In a tired voice, my dad said, "If that were to happen, Daddy would beat that man up so bad that he could never walk again. I'd probably kill him." He said, "Daddy won't let anyone ever hurt you like that."

Without a moment passing I darted back, "Then what about a bear? Would you kill the bear too?" His former answer wasn't OK with me, and he was beginning to see that. "Yes I would" he replied. "I would kick him in the teeth, smash his head, and beat him to a pulp."

Those were the words that both excited me, and comforted me. Thirty minutes later, I was safe and sound asleep.

The need for wrath

There is something in each and every one of us that NEEDS wrath on our behalf. From my earliest memories as a boy among boys, on the playground at school, we held imaginary competitions between our dads. The "my dad can beat up your dad" conversation was asDarin Hufford my dadnatural to us boys as climbing trees, playing mud-war, and dragging G.I. Joes behind our bikes. Every kid did it and every kid believed his dad was the strongest and the best. It must be that way. Each of us needed to know our dad could kick anyone's ass on the block. Even fictional characters like Superman or Spiderman couldn't stand against our dad. We needed to believe that. Something inside of us had to know we were safe with our fathers.

The wrath of God is NEVER pointed towards His children! It is ON BEHALF of His children.

A true understanding of the wrath of God should cause you to run to God, not from Him. He disciplines those He loves and He has wrath for those who attempt to destroy those He loves.

The wrath of God is your daddy being able to beat up every other daddy in the universe. You NEED to know that.

If a man broke into my home and tried to harm my wife and children, I can guarantee you this: he would experience the wrath of Darin in ways he'd never imagined in his worst nightmares. I promise you that he would die a very painful and slow death at my hands. This may sound unloving to you, but I assure you that it's the product of the strongest dose of love I've known in over forty years. My family is everything to me. The same drive within me that loves them, protects them.

It reminds me of Jesus warning anyone who would cause a child to sin. He says it would be Darin Hufford shouldersbetter for that person if they were tied to a millstone and thrown into the sea. In other words, he was stroking the love that existed within each and every parent standing there listening to him. He was speaking love's language. The language that parents throughout the world know all too well.

The next time you hear someone threaten you with the wrath of God, don't for one moment be fearful or apprehensive. It should never intimidate you. It should excite you.


Darin Hufford

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  1. Gravatar

    Thank you! Finally someone else who gets it! It is ALL about the LOVE!

  2. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    I'm glad to see that you get it too.

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    Jay Bramer

    Good stuff!!!

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    Clear, concise and to the point! More freedom to enjoy His best. Thanks Darin!

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    David Calcrin

    Darin, I'd be curious to know how you'd respond to this article in light of your comment about what you'd do if someone broke into your home and tried to harm your wife and children:

    Does it resonate at all with you?

  6. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    I think he is promoting heartless love. I'm glad he's not my father. This man would also think Jesus was wrong for his strong warning to anyone who would ever cause a child to sin.

  7. Gravatar

    Good post. Thank you. If fear and wrath is supposed to motivate us, what will motivate us in Heaven when there will be no other option then Heaven? Fear? Fear of what? There will be nothing to fear there. So all the fear and wrath motivated people will have to switch to love-motivation in the end. It's purely logical that love was always meant to be the ultimate motivation to everything we do. What a relief.

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    Rachel Liegghio

    What a relief!! Finally someone who doesn't dismiss, minimize or misappropriate this part of God's love. I'm continually moved and instructed by your knowledge and experience of Love, Darin. It challenges me to know and love more of Him. Thanks

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    That article at Jonathanbrink is philosophical garbage. Not protecting your family is not love it's self centeredness and the idea he is presenting is only one side to the character of Christ. To someone like that Jesus is a glorified Mr Rogers who would not harm a fly, the Jesus we see in scripture can't be put in that Box. Sometimes fighting back violently would be an demonstration of Christ Like behavior.

  10. Gravatar

    OH, and yes Darin...your article was wonderful. I am of the persuasion that love is not really love unless wrath is part of it. If I am not willing to lay down my life in defense of my family than I can say I love them till I am blue in the face but what I really am is a Coward.

  11. Gravatar

    Thank you for this Darin. Did anyone else hear a sigh of release come from their lips when they read this???

  12. Gravatar
    David Backus

    Lately I have been deeply engrossed in studying the apocalyptic events in Revelation. Lately when I find myself reading them, instead of fear and uncertainty, I find myself feeling so glad that they are in the Bible, that I can look forward to freedom, unhindered by man's despotic evil one day. This is something I used to challenge and question constantly. Now I have a great sense of peace, knowing my Father will take care of His own and loves us deeply.

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    Randy Liston

    Well there goes another brick out of the wall created by our upside-down thinking about the Father. With each brick removed from that wall we see Him clearer and clearer and are able to accept more of His aqmazing love for us. Thanks Darin for changing lives,one brick at a time and one person at a time.

  14. Gravatar

    A God who loves MUST hate. He loves children so He must hate abortion. God's hate for our sins was poured out on His Son for us. That is love.

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    I read the article listed above also and although I cannot go to the lengths he does "To strike back is to become the face of injustice" I cannot and will not condone practices such as waterboarding no matter what the justification is. The thing is, in matters such as personal responses to violence, we can talk and reflect upon what we would do and it doesn't mean a damn until we have been there. Give me someone who can talk honestly about their own real-life response and I'll listen but not from someone, who in the comfort of their own home, reflects upon a possible response.

  16. Gravatar

    i love the fact the Love of God motivates His wrath towards anything that destroys His children. ... this probably changes a lot about "the fear of the Lord" as we have been taught, too.

  17. Gravatar

    Hmmm ... I just read my entry above and just in case anyone is wondering it is in response to the blog entry referenced by David's comment above. Please note that it does not refer to Darin's blog entry. Just in case you are wondering I also took time out to comment on site also.

  18. Gravatar

    what is the balance between Jesus not defending himself journeying to the cross and Him saying a mill stone will be hung around those who lead children to sin? ... is it both love? one a sacrifice to save his children, one an attack against the criminal? ... what's the balance when the attacker is your own child? does love compel to put him in jail or does it compel to set him free? ... i've heard this before: the best place for a christian who is a molester is a jail cell with God, and the time for him to leave is when he has sorted out / processed through the serious junk / wickedness with God. ... where is the balance?

  19. Gravatar

    I think there is a difference in self-defense and the defense of others.

    Did Jesus really turn the other cheek the whole time? calling the pharasees "vipers" back then. Maybe no physical attack but a deeply psychological one!

    do we believe "sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me"?

    On the cross Jesus finally battled SIN for 6 hours.

    Love means "on the behalf of others"?

    If someone insults YOU, do you defend yourself? If someone insults your MOTHER, do you defend HER? but then again you shouldn't be trampled on ... Gee, this seems to change from situation by situation? ... What is the constant?

  20. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Ian you are so funny. I knew your comment was about the other article. I knew it because I know you. At first I was thinking it was about this article but then I saw who left the comment and I knew immediately it was about the other one.

  21. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Yes Vincent, it changes from person to person, from circumstance to circumstance. Love is not a vending machine or a computer. It's a person. It's different with everyone.

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    Yes, I am glad you brought this up. One of the turning points in my life was when I stopped looking in the bible for the "rule" for every situation realizing that I won't find the answer that way. Every situation and ever person's heart is different and only Jesus can discern the intents of the heart and only His Spirit can lead us to a correct response. GREAT POINT !

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    Kim Scott

    Hi Ian, I completely agree with you that you never know how you are going to respond to something until you are actually sitting in the middle of it. Typically if you where to ask me I would tell you that I would retaliate and hurt the person that hurt the one I loved. I had something terrible happen to my daughter whom I would "kill" for. I would have never dreamed that I would have reacted the way I did. In the end, my only concern was for my daughter and how she felt and what she needed. If I would have retaliated I would have not been able to be there for her the way that she needed me. This incident devistated our lives and I wanted to kill that person, but my love for my daughter covered that persons sin and allowed me to be there for her 100% with no hate hindering that love.

  24. Gravatar
    Kim Scott

    cont.... I will not say that it was always easy, there were moments when the thoughts of what I could do to that person were extremely overwhelming, but when I would look at her and think about all the pain she was in and realized that the only way to heal from this was to hold hands and cry together and love her through it. I didn't want her to put a bandage of vegence on it that would eventually fester and infect the wound. I say this from experience and know what it means to allow the perpitrator to continue to violate you through your anger and unforgiveness.

  25. Gravatar
    Kim Scott

    and I agree with you Jeff, I never once found the answer in the Bible...... I found it in the eyes of my daughter through love!

  26. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Now that your daughter has gotten through that episode, it's time to go back and kill that guy.

  27. Gravatar
    Kim Scott

    shhhhh!!!!!! don't out me! lol

  28. Gravatar

    Thank you Darin, that was kind of you to allay my fears about being misunderstood. And Kim, thank you for sharing your heart, I hope your daughter has recovered ... you sound like a great Mum.

    Just before Christmas my wife and daughter were assaulted by two young women in a city street. The attack was completely unprovoked, the intention appears not to have been to steal anything but just to dominate and inflict pain. My wife is 53 - I hope she doesn't read this :), small and totally non-violent. During the assault Sue placed herself between the aggressors and, by this stage, our daughter who had been knocked to the ground. She shielded my daughter and physically attempted to restrain the two women who eventually ran off. I was so proud of her. Her actions were instanteous and required ..

  29. Gravatar

    ... no thought. What drove her was the desire to protect. I bet many people have life experiences like this where they were called upon to protect someone else. What I would like to add is that since that incident Sue has not moved towards becoming a violent person. Her actions on that day were motivated from love. Unlike Jonathan's article she has not become "the face of unjustice" by striking back. I think that an external response, which may sometimes involve physical force against another person, needs to be viewed by the motivations of one's heart. A violent heart will express itself in violence to satisfy it's own lust to dominate and cause pain. A heart motivated by love may have recourse to violent action but it is in the service of others and often involves a high personal cost.

  30. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Beautifully put Ian. Thanks for this. It illustrates it perfectly.

  31. Gravatar

    Thanks Darin for clarifying on this subject! It is very timely. Just yesterday I got a call from a friend. We got to talk about the new influenza virus and she told me that she was wondering if this outbreak had a spiritual origin. She went on to say that maybe it was the wrath of God upon humanity b/c of all the inmoralities of our times such as homosexuality, etc. I was so shocked by her comment that I didn't know what to say. Now I know I can dismiss her comment as another up-side-down teaching of church she attends. Will it ever end? When will IC get its teachings straight?

  32. Gravatar

    Ian, your last double-comment was so beautiful. It's in such harmony with the article. I believe everything violent that Jesus ever did should be explained only this way. You said it all in just a few sentences on a small internet forum. Your comment is worth 25 books and 1000 sermons. I believe it's a key to unlock all the passages on God's wrath ever written. Your comment is a parable, testimony, and a Bible verse merged into one thing. Millions of people need a deliverance from wrong view of God's anger, wrath and fear of God. I am one of them and I thank you for another step towards the only everlasting Truth. I invite you for a coffee in Heaven. Or if you prefer tea, I'd love to make you the best tea you ever had. Michael

  33. Gravatar

    Awsome darin it makes me glad to hear you have the same view point as me on this issue.I always tell people that if someone was to take or hurt my daughter in anyway they would wish they had never made that choice, and I always get that look from them you know Russ the bible says to forgive them.. And I always look them back as make the point very clear my wrath is their forgiveness. lol

  34. Gravatar

    Hi Michael, thanks for the kind words. I'll take you up on your offer of a celestial Starbucks. I enjoy reading your comments on Darin's website and can see you are carefully constructing your house of faith - thought by thought.

  35. Gravatar

    This whole discussion made me cry. Oh the furious love of God..."He is not tame but He is kind".

  36. Gravatar
    Al Newberry

    You nailed it, Darin. I don't have children of my own, but I have worked with children my whole adult life--professionally for the past 12 years with emotionally disturbed kids. I can say without reservation that I love the children in my care. I get angry over the neglect/abuse they have suffered. I am also angered by a system which does not help them learn appropriate behavior but actually reinforces their negative behavior. Most of my kids won't be prepared to live in the world without ending up in prison. It angers me to no end, especially because I am in no position to change things.

  37. Gravatar

    Hey Darrin,

    I'm wrestling thru your writings here and what I've grown up with in the IC....How would you address Jn. 3:36 - He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. What does it mean for the wrath of God to abide on someone?

  38. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Mica, I basically see that as a choice that each person has. A person can chose to live in the world of grace or they can choose to live in the world of darkness. Some choose darkness. It's not necessarily "wrath" like we see in the Old Testament or the book of Revelations; it's darkness. It's also important to note that such a person as described in John 3:36 is a person who is NOT in the family. In other words, God's wrath is never towards His own children.

  39. Gravatar

    Hey Darrin,

    So are you saying that God's wrath does exist, just not again believers?

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  41. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    God's wrath totally exists. It's just not ever directed towards His children. It's always on behalf of His children.

  42. Gravatar

    Marvellous. I have for years been absorbed in the books written by an author that most Christians would not recommend because of the violence in them. There is often some very evil force at work (though I must say his later books are a bit more mellow). However, I know what has appealed to me; there is usually a theme of the power of love to win over evil. And often that love has to take a "wrathful" stand to protect the loved. Don't know why I am bringing that up here really, but it makes so much sense that God is love so His wrath is never directed towards His children, even in discipline I dare to say. Those whose earthly parents disciplined in wrath and called it love (to help you grow up right)find this hard to relate to.

  43. Gravatar

    This is something I struggle with. You remebered from your camping trip that you secretly hoped that your dad would give the most viscious and gory answer possible. Because of this hope/need, I find that I do tend toward the warrior side of God. All the while knowing that he does on my behalf, on the side of good, and on behalf of love. Its interesting though that you say people feel like theyve been beaten over the head with the fear of God's wrath. I dont fear God's wrath. I am His child. I feel that Ive heard God loves, God loves, God loves so many times that now when Im in the bible, I skim over it get to the "good part". Where God's clothes are "spattered with blood"(Isaiah 63). It's not necessarily that I think the lovey mushy part is weak. Its more like reading about the superhero

  44. Gravatar

    eating lunch verse the superhero fighting the bad guy. Its easier for me to connect to that than the mushy stuff. I wonder sometimes if thats a bad thing.

    On the subject of power. I love that God holds all the power. I have such pride in the fact that no one stands a chance against him and that he could just snap his fingers and things would go His way. I dont want the power for myself. I like that God has it. And it is part of the reason that I gravitate towards him. Power. Is that a bad thing?

    I dont know the answers to these questions. I would like guidance and I was hoping you might know the answers.

  45. Gravatar
    mrs,pamela kennedy

    and christ replied to them,the period of years of satan's power has been fulfilled,but other dreadful things will happen soon.and i was handed over to death for those who have sinned,so that they may return to the truth and sin no more,and so they may inherit the spiritual incorruptible,and righteous glory in heaven".

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