Love and Wrath: What God Wants
By Tami Dykes & Gina Cooks
It never fails to amaze us when listening to the camp of professing Christians who claim God is in control and sovereign but in the same breath say He is unable to do what He wants; He can’t save everyone He wants, He can’t work in our lives unless we have enough faith, He can’t move unless we declare, decree or claim, etc. They would be more honest to admit they believe God has limited control or is perhaps sharing control. What’s more amazing is that this sort of talk is leaking into solid churches, being preached by reformed pastors and embraced by Christians who seem to have a biblical understanding of salvation.
Lately, we’ve personally witnessed a lambasting of those who rightly believe God always does what He wants and wills, by a well-approved church leader who said: “It is unbiblical to think God does whatever He wants or wills…He can’t do whatever He pleases…He is subject to man’s free will and must allow their faith to be tested first…He didn’t want to send His Son to die but had no choice…” Looking around we see this is not so unique of a take. Many have applauded it. It’s not biblical, however, and may I dare say even dangerous.
We can’t really worship God if we don’t know Who He is; if we don’t have the truth about God. God says we are to worship Him in Spirit and Truth (John 4:24). Who is God and what does He do? Is He in total control, does He do what He wants and does anything or anyone thwart His plans or will?
Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”
Isaiah 46:8-11~ “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.”
“who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers, who says If Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited, ’ of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt, ’ and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them, ’ who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry, and I will dry up your streams, ’ who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt, ” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.” Isaiah 44:26-28
“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
“The Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts the way of the wicked.” Psalm 146:9
“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.” Psalm 103:19
“He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:15b-16
Not only is God sovereign, completely in control (these actually mean the same thing), and doing as He wants, our God is also incomprehensible and infinite.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
People want a God of their own making, one who thinks like them, who is just about love, meekness, safety, sympathy, and vulnerability. They want what’s comfortable and tolerant. They don’t want a God that actually WANTS to save only a few (Romans 9:16-18), satisfy His wrath (Ezekiel 5:13, Romans 9:21-23), or to judge the guilty (Romans 3:5).
Does God delight in the destruction of the wicked and desires for them to be lost to hell? No, Scripture says “’For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares the Lord God. ‘Therefore, repent and live’” Ezekiel 18:32. This displays the mercy of God- that He calls for repentance so the wicked can be saved and live for eternity.
Matthew 23:37 says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
This is the compassion of our Lord and the showing of his humanity, longing for something He ultimately chooses not to sovereignly intervene in because of His perfect will.
(Dr. John MacArthur explains more on this here: https://youtu.be/oGhFslv1HKo)
Truth is, God wants to display more than just His love and peace. He wants to display His mercy, forgiveness, and grace, as well as, His judgment and wrath. None of those attributes can be displayed unless sin and evil are allowed to be a part of the picture. God wants to display all of these perfect attributes and be glorified.
“Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another or common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,” Romans 9:21-23.
“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. Romans 9:16-18.
God does not cause evil deeds but He is certainly in control over all and allows it for good reasons.
Even Christians wrestle and we squirm with predestination, eternal hell, sovereignty, etc. We may find the word “why” slip out of our conscious and through our mouths only to quietly remember Job and repent, and perhaps repeating Job’s response to the Lord, ““Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth.” (Job 40:4)
We soon remember that God is not going to think like us. We know we need to change our thinking to be more in line with God’s, and because of the Scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit in us we can understand the thoughts of the Lord (1 Corinthians 2:16) even though we know we can never come close to knowing or understanding fully what He perceives, thinks or does.
Going back to the comments said by this certain individual I mentioned in the beginning, that God didn’t want to send His Son to die and that Christ really didn’t want to do that but did anyway, it seems this person has confused wanting to do something with enjoying something. Dare we say, Christ actually wanted to die for us? Did He not see that it was good and that He wanted what the Father wanted? “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
Jesus carried through in order to receive the joy ahead, by accomplishing what was the will of God. He endured temporary suffering, willingly and obediently, as the Father willed.
Did He enjoy the experience? No. The agony of being a sin-bearer and experiencing the alienation from and wrath of the Father for any amount of time almost killed Jesus before He got on the cross. “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.” Luke 22:44. Sweating blood is not a sign of someone that is enjoying something. Far from it. However, just because one doesn’t enjoy a particular thing doesn’t mean they don’t truly want it. The Godhead is always in complete union and agreement, so when the Father is pleased, the Son is pleased. God’s will is done.
“But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities. 53:9-10
Would we enjoy pushing our child out of the way of a car and getting slammed by it ourselves? Would that be a delightful experience? No. But we would choose that; we would want that more than the alternative. We would rather take our chances and die than see our child die. If we could intervene, we would. We could want something we didn’t really delight in. Now, let’s think about something on the flipside. A Christian parent has an adult child that is living in sin and refuses to repent. Is it joyous to have to distance themselves from their own child and not be in close fellowship with them? No. But, a true Christian parent who is obedient to the Lord will want to do as the Lord wants no matter what (2 Corinthians 6:14, 2 Thessalonians 3:14).
These two examples really do no justice to Who God is and why He does what He does, but hopefully, it helps somewhat to clarify the confusion of wanting something vs. enjoying something. They are not always the same thing.
Another concept this particular person believes; “God’s perfect will is not always accomplished….because He gives His children free will.”
This again puts God in the position of sharing control and power. Free will is something many people embrace and one Christians can be confused about.
GotQuestions.org puts it this way, “There is nothing in the Bible that teaches human beings have a free will, at least not in the sense of how many people understand the term free will. A common understanding of free will is that we can make our own decisions entirely free of any outside influence. This understanding of free will is not biblical, nor does it match reality. The Bible teaches that without Christ we are “dead in our trespasses and sins”(Ephesians 2:1). If we are spiritually dead, surely that impacts our decision-making. John 6:44 says that, unless God draws, no one can come to Christ for salvation. If the decision whether to trust in Christ is impossible without God’s “interference,” our will is not “free.” https://www.gotquestions.org/predestination-vs-free-will.html
God most certainly has a choice in all matters. He chooses who is saved and will choose to bless people however He sees fit. “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3
God is sovereign over all, meaning He is always in control, will not experience coercion, and will do what He wills to do, always. Just to add more to the mix, He can desire what we could never desire and He can have zero delight in what He actually wants… and those aren’t contradictions.
It’s dangerous to believe that God thinks the way we think. To believe He doesn’t want to exercise and put on display His judgment and wrath, is ignoring Scripture. To think that humans have free will and God must comply with it, is grossly mistaken and dishonoring to Him and His omnipotence and omniscience. He may not choose to exercise His control at times but He certainly will if He wants. We should find great peace in knowing that God is in complete control and will do as He pleases, doing what is good and perfect- all of the time. We should have great rest in knowing no one or no thing can thwart His plans.
Yes, we are responsible for our sins and to respond to what the Lord has offered us. We will go to hell because of our own sinfulness and will go to heaven because of His grace. Throughout it all, God sovereignly and perfectly reigns and moves as He wants, orchestrating everything according to His perfect will.
“For the LORD Most High is to be feared,
A great King over all the earth.
He subdues peoples under us
And nations under our feet.
He chooses our inheritance for us,
The glory of Jacob whom He loves. Selah.
God has ascended with a shout,
The LORD, with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
Sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with a skillful psalm.
God reigns over the nations,
God sits on His holy throne.”
Above is an article written by Tami Dykes, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, and you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford