Always in Love?

In a recent issue of The Banner I read that God sometimes speaks in judgment, “always He speaks in love.” This statement troubles me. Does God always speak in love? Doesn‘t the very word “judgment” deny that claim?

Implicit in the word “judgment” are the concepts of acquittal and condemnation. If the judgment is “not guilty” one is acquitted, if “guilty” one is condemned.

As Judge, God manifests both love and hate. “Jacob have I loved; Esau have I hated.” Peter was acquitted; Judas was condemned. In the final judgment, the sheep, the objects of God’s love, will be acquitted; the goats, the objects of His wrath, will be condemned. God‘s judgment upon His people is always in love; His judgment upon the impenitent is always in wrath. Even before the final judgment God sends “trumpets of judgment and bowls of wrath.” In the bowls of wrath we have an awful demonstration of the holiness of God manifesting itself in wrath upon the impenitent. God’s blessing upon His people is a revelation of His love for them; God‘s curse upon the wicked is a revelation of His wrath upon them. We cant call the latter love, can we? Except that it demonstrates God’s love for His own holy Being. His love for His own holy Being calls for His wrath upon the impenitent sinner. Not thus to manifest His wrath would spell His denial of His own holy Being. God cannot deny Himself.

The prevailing emphasis today is on the divine attribute of love, and that out of proportion to or perhaps in ignorance of the divine attributes of holiness and justice. We may not blot out one attribute of God with another attribute of His. Unless we have a wholesome fear of God and a deep sense of His holiness, we are likely not to refrain from walking in the counsel of the ungodly, nor from standing in the way of sinners, nor from sitting in the seat of the scornful. There is a freedom of relationship with the world today that is freighted with danger. Today, many Christians arc not afraid of walking in the counsel of the ungodly, nor of standing in the way of sinners, nor of sitting in the seat of the scornful. I need but mention the feeling at home with the Sunday sports program, with the movie stars, at the liquor bar, with the drug addicts, with the sexists, with the homosexuals, in the movie house, in the dance hall, in the gambling den. They seem to think that they do not love God less than they formerly did, but that they only love the world more than they did. Under the cloak of Christian liberty and of the cultural mandate, they are integrating the world with the church thereby gaining, so they seem to think, an expanding concept of the love of God.

Rather than compromising, God tells us to put to death our members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience (Col. 13:5, 6). “For this ye know of a surety, that the fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolator, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:15). Does this judgment always reveal love? Does this say that God always speaks in love?

Do many of us today not have a perverted sense of love, a love that minimizes sin as if sin is no more sin? To the extent that we love the Lord we are to forsake the world. Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we are to live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world as Paul admonishes Titus to do.

We need to hear again in no uncertain terms about the wrath of God going out against that which is contrary to His holiness. “The wrath or displeasure of God is not to be compared to human anger. It is not a passing emotion. It is constant. For God’s anger is the reaction of the holiness of God against the wicked that trample under foot the glory of His name and refuse to give Him thanks. God is holy. And His holiness is the divine virtue according to which He always seeks Himself as the only Good. He seeks His own glory also in the creature. And when the creature refuses to give Him the glory that is due unto His name, God’s holiness reacts against that creature in wrath. Nor is His wrath merely against sin, and not against the sinner. Some like to make this distinction. God is displeased with sin, but He loves the sinner. But this is a pure abstraction, quite contrary to the teaching of Scripture. God’s wrath is not directed against sin, but against the workers of iniquity. Punishment is not inflicted upon sin, but upon the sinner. It is not sin that is cast into hell are, but the ungodly that commits sin.” (H. Hoeksema, The Triple Knowledge, Vol. 11, pp. 221-222.) To emphasize this more frequently than is done, should be a great deterrent to the license now practical.

Yes, God’s judgment upon His people is always in love, but God’s judgment upon the ungodly is in wrath. The wicked are the targets of God’s bowls of wrath. “He that believeth in the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). The judgment of God implies acquittal for those in Christ. Here the love of God comes to the fore. The judgment of God implies condemnation for those not in Christ. Here the inevitable wrath of God upon the impenitent sinner comes to the fore.

Judgment, yes. Always in love? No. Oh, that every reader of these lines may, by sovereign grace, escape the wrath of God. How wonderful to be the objects of God’s love now and forevermore!