Thursday, October 15, 2015

When love includes hate

I had a Twitter interaction this week. With an opening like that, you know how the rest of this is going to go.

There are Christians on Twitter who tweet verses about God's love. This is fine and great. I do that too! But there is an overemphasis in social media on God's love, and rarely presentation of our personal sin, or His wrath, or the world's curse or death, or hell. Yet Jesus spoke more of hell than heaven.

As the writer at Bible.org stated,
It may be worth noting that in Deuteronomy 28 (and following), the blessing section (28:1-14) is a great deal shorter than the cursing section (28:15-68). 
Speaking only of hell or wrath isn't good either. God is a balanced and perfect God, and speaking of any and all of His attributes is always fruitful. But the excessive focus on "love" is, well, sickeningly sweet to me. Presenting only the 'good' attributes like love to the world, gives the world a picture of a Holy and Sovereign God as needy and wimpy.

Here is how the Twitter conversation went. I saw this tweet being re-tweeted by someone who I follow and follows me:


So I replied with this from Revelation 19:11,



And she valiantly and staunchly tweeted back:



She didn't even tweet back a verse of love, but instead chose to deliberately cut out the part of the verse that says He makes war and judges. Those attributes are not so popular, and they get very little airing on public forums like Facebook, comment sections, and Twitter. So I answered:



And there was no reply.

I had heard a Phil Johnson sermon this weekend that I enjoyed. (What Phil Johnson sermon ever isn't to enjoy? :) Here is the part where Pastor Johnson was explaining how an overemphasis on Jesus' love diminishes even the holy attribute of His love to a man-centered false notion of love that is far from the truth. Here is Pastor Phil Johnson:

Love Not The World
Now this is vital, because there are a lot of people who want to make the principle of love a kind of ethereal goodwill that is strewn about indiscriminately on every conceivable object. In fact, in the culture of American Christianity, if you include the mainstream denominational groups and everyone in our society who uses the label "Christian," I think it's fair to say that the prevailing notion of Christian charity in society at large is an idea of love that is always benevolent, always congenial, always positive about everything. 
I hear this all the time. Years ago, when I first began to investigate and catalogue the Christian resources on the Internet, I made a large list of links to other Christian Web sites. And in order to keep them all straight in my own mind, and in order to help Christians who might not be very discerning about doctrinal dangers on the Internet, I classified my links to other web sites Web sites according to their doctrinal soundness. So there's large a category of links I have labeled helpful, and then there are other categories called "Bad Theology" and "Really Bad Theology." And then a few years ago I found I had to add a category called "Really, Really Bad Theology." And I've annotated every link on those pages to help explain why I categorize them as bad.
And to this day, nearly every week of my life, I get e-mail messages from people who are convinced that it is inherently unloving to label anyone else's ideas bad theology. And they write me to chide me for posting my disagreements with other Christians' doctrine on the Web. 
But the love that is called for in the New Commandment is not a vague, indiscriminate congeniality. Real love for the truth necessarily involves hatred for error.
Real love for God includes hatred of error. One error is the gauzy exclusive focus on Jesus-as-boyfriend, "in love" with His bride wearing a wrath of braided daisies and never the Crown of many diadems. Here is where the rest of the Revelation 19:11 verse takes us. To verses 12 and 13:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

The picture of Jesus than the one where He is smilingly depicted as sitting among the disciples among a field of, um, daisies is the one that social media and immature Christians exclusively present. The picture of Jesus as a bloody, judging, sin-avenger? Not so much.

Both pictures are true. Always tweeting, showing, describing, or even living, one picture of Jesus exclusively and not the entirety presents a false God.

John MacArthur's sermon "Why the World Hates Christians, Part 1" also urges us Christians to speak of Jesus and His holy attributes of wrath, sin, judgment etc. It's important. Don't neglect putting them out into the world, he said, because it's sin if we don't. Here is Pastor MacArthur:
The world will hate you if you “start identifying evil as evil. We don’t want to do that. Let me help you. The Pope is evil. He is from the Kingdom of Darkness. He is anti-christ. Anyone who would say atheists are going to heaven, is anti-christ. Jesus said you will die in your sins and where I go you’ll never come because you believe not on Me. Not only do you need to believe on god but on Jesus Christ.

Homosexuality is evil. Gender identity tampering is evil. Adultery is evil. Fornication is evil. Lying is evil. Pride is evil. Self-centeredness is evil. Self-righteousness is evil. That’s why they killed Jesus, because He said their religion was evil. … 
John 7:7 says that the world hated Me before they hated you, because I testify of the world that its deeds are evil. If we don’t SAY that, we’re sinning. You can say it in love, but it has to be said.
Call evil what it is: evil.

We must love and talk of the attributes of God that the world hates to hear about, such as judgment, hell, wrath, and sin. If we don't, who will?


11 comments :

  1. https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/sermon/knowing-god/
    Mary

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  2. Hi Mary,

    Thanks for the link. It's helpful when commenting and offering a link to share a short sentence about what it's about. People are more likely to click on it if they know that it is, say, "Alistair Begg preaching at Truth for Life and he says... blah blah blah... that is related to this post." Thanks!

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    1. Thank you for that suggestion. You are right! Mary

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  3. Hi Elizabeth,
    Exodus 34:6-7 came to mind when I read the first Tweet. ".....and yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished."

    Thank you for all you do to exhort, encourage and warn us.

    Kris

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  4. I can give you an example of how "God is love" has been excessively abused and misrepresented by the "preachers" of today. I heard Whoopi Goldberg say, to the effect, that since God is love, then she thinks she is OK and will go to heaven after all. No concept of the truth whatsoever.

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    1. That's so sad! Before I was saved at age 43 I"d heard many times that "God loves me". I thought, well, if God loves me I must be OK and I'll be going to heaven. It's the conviction of sin, His judgment for itl and the wrath that convicts! Telling people that Jesus loves them only allows them to sink into self-satisfaction.

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  5. When I was a pagan, I clung to the idea that Jesus was only all about love and nothing else. I believed that Jesus was this hippie type liberal guy who only taught love and acceptance and that's where it stopped for me. I refused to see anything else. As a new Christian, I understand where a lot of people are coming from on this...and when it comes down to it, many people don't want the Jesus that's in the bible, they want only the "love message" and that's it. When you tell some of these people that Jesus said "the way is narrow" they revert back to the "but Jesus is accepting and loving of everything" stance. I'm learning a lot about Jesus that I never knew before. I'm working to entangle myself from these old beliefs.. and they did run quite deep.

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    1. Thank you for your testimony. May the Lord bless you on your growing walk with Him.

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  6. Adam4d has a neat graphic along these lines, and might be a good thing to share on social media. It's called, God is Love - Love is NOT God. Here's the link: http://adam4d.com/love/

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! I like Adam Ford's stuff, and that cartoon is exactly right. It's a good one. Thanks for the link.

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  7. When someone truly experiences the love and grace of God, they will also come face to face with the depravity of their sinful ways and their need of God. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah comes face to face with God in all his splendor, majesty and grandeur and says "Woe is me!" It is impossible to know Gods love and grace but then not realize how sinful you are. I would question whether that person has truly encountered God's love and grace.

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