From the American pulpit today one might easily conclude that the wrath of God is a fiction. No longer are churches of the land aflame with a lively sense of God’s anger against sin and sinners. Some churchmen still feel called upon to apologize for any stress on divine wrath, and many theologians are inclined to moderate or even to reinterpret it.

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The Bible speaks often of God’s intense wrath. If the Book of Revelation is from the pen of John the Evangelist, as evangelical scholarship has contended, then even the “apostle of love” warned of “the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Rev. 19:15). And Jesus, who had more to say about hell than about heaven, himself declared: “Fear him that hath power to cast into hell” (Luke 12:5). In this respect the Son of God confirms the uniform doctrine of inspired Scripture that God both disapproves sin and threatens sinners with eternal doom.

This doctrine that God’s moral excellence demands punishment supplies the principle on which the Bible doctrines of satisfaction and justification rest. That Christ was set forth as a propitiation in order that God might be righteous in justifying the ungodly (Rom. 3:25 f.) is not only Pauline theology, but the unitary standpoint of the New Testament, which is that redemption from the guilt and power of sin comes through the sacrificial virtue of Christ’s death. The Scriptures connect the salvation of men with the death of Christ, and to his death ascribe expiatory and propitiatory significance (Matt. 26:28; Mark 10:45; John 1:29). If pardon were possible without satisfaction, then Christ died in vain (Gal. 2:21). Mere “forgiveness” would not only leave the death of Christ ...

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