PC (USA) Dislikes God's Wrath, Wants Re-write to God's Love and Ultimately Rejects Praise Song
In Christ Alone lyrics
You may have heard that a major denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), had asked Keith Getty and Stuart Townend to change the words to this beloved song from "Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied" to "as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified."
When the authors refused, the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song by a 9 to 6 vote decided to exclude the song. Thank God for the 6 sensible ones but alas they were in the minority.
Recently, I posted this quote from Randy Alcorn on my church's Facebook page:
"Doesn’t our main objection to Hell center in the belief that we are far better than we really are? We may accept in theory that we’re sinners; we may even be able to list some of our sins . . . but we do not even begin to see the extent of our evil in the sight of an all-holy God."
Now a church's Facebook page is not usually a place for debate but for information to be shared about the church for those who are members and friends and those who are curious about the assembly. However, a liberal Christian that I know, not an atheist now, just had to post a rejoinder. He interpreted the statement as Alcorn, and thus me, stating that God loathes people. Really? I'm sorry, but the Gospel's good news is dependent on the bad news. If you want God to express love, He has to satisfy His wrath on sin some other way. The way He chose was to pour that wrath on His Son on the cross. Both God's love and His wrath on sin are taught extensively in the Scriptures.
In order for a person to accept the help of a lifeguard, he must believe that he is drowning. The bad news of drowning (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23a) precedes the good news of saving (Romans 6:23b; John 3:16-17). There is no greater love that God has for man than that which is demonstrated by pouring out His wrath, not on man who deserves it, but on His Son (i.e. Himself, when you think of the Trinity) who doesn't. So the wrath of God is satisfied and the love of God is magnified.
Without the wrath of God being satisfied, you cannot have God's love magnified. In fact, just the opposite happens. If there is no "bullet" for Jesus to take for us, then there is no hero who died so that another may live. By doing so, God gets to be true to His holiness and justice while also being true to His desire to express love, extend grace and mercy. If there is no wrath of God on sin then there is no need for a Savior to lay down His life in love. Without God's wrath (the bad news), there is no good news (the love of God shown by Jesus' substitionary atonement). Ironically, then, the PCUSA committee is not seeking to magnify God's love but to minimize and trivialize it.
The wrath of God is spoken of again and again in the New Testament.
John 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.”
Romans 1:18: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness
Romans 2:5: But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God
Romans 3:5-6: But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?
Ephesians 5:6: Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Colossians 3:6: Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience
Revelation 14:9-11: Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
The word "propitiation" explains the payment that Jesus made for the sins of mankind. He took our place, making full payment, satisfying the wrath of God in full by putting it upon Himself.
Romans 3:21-26: But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Hebrews 2:17-18: Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
1 John 2:1-2: My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
And thanks to John the Apostle, the link is shown between God's love and the propitiation (or as the NIV puts it, "the atoning sacrifice") of the Son.
1 John 4:9-11: In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
Note 1 Peter 3:18: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit
Isaiah 53:4-6: Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all
v. 8 states, "For the transgressions of My people He was stricken."
and vs. 10-12: Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.
Pointing back to the sacrifices for sin offered under the Law, Paul challenges the Ephesians:
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma (Ephesians 5:2).
This is why Luke can say in Acts 4:12: Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Liberals don't like to talk about sin, God's wrath on sin, judgment to come and Jesus as the only way but this is the very reason that He is THE way, THE truth and THE life, no man comes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6). He is the only one who died as our substitute and rose again so that we too may rise from the dead and be reconciled to God forever.
We should then obey the call of Christ found in Mark 1:14-15: "Repent and believe the Gospel."
- that would be the whole Gospel, the bad news (our sin deserves the wrath of God because His holiness and justice demands it) and the good news (that because of God's great love, He sent His Son to take that divine wrath on Himself, satisfying it, so that all who repent and believe in Him will have eternal life and escape the judgment of Hell and the Lake of Fire).
Anything less minimizes God's love no matter what the Presbyterian Church (USA) may like to believe.
The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.