Let me state: I approach the subject of trying to describe God with fear and trembling. How can the finite even attempt to explain the infinite? How can the creation ever attempt to explain the Creator? We will never know God exhaustively due to His infinitude. The only hope we have is to think biblically and rightly about what we can comprehend about Him. This brief essay is written from my desire for people to understand who God is, rightly. It is written for those who want to walk the better way. The following quote by A. W. Tozer is one of the most sobering in this area: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Is God an angry God, who just wants to destroy people in hell? Is God a loving, merciful God who would never punish anyone in hell? Your instant response to these questions is what you know about God. Whether right or wrong, it shapes the way you live. Most people say God will never punish someone in hell for eternity but that He is merciful and will forgive everyone no matter what. This is called ‘idolatry’ and is one of the oldest sins there is. This shows the importance of properly understanding the one true God through proper doctrine. If we don’t understand the one true God rightly then we don’t worship the one true God. We worship an idol we have formed in our mind. The dilemma is this: How can a just God just overlook sin? He cannot. That is why we need to look at the attributes of God (His infinite wrath and mercy) to get a biblical picture of who God is.
In order to prevent people from forming a wrong view of God, I want to look at three of the attributes of God in order to give us a scale on which to view God. In this scale there will be two sides: one being the Wrath of God and the other side being the Mercy of God, with the scale being grounded on God’s infinite existence. This is just a scale to help us apply these attributes, so it cannot be taken too far.
If we just have one side of the scale our view of God becomes very one side and this creates an inappropriate view of God; however, I do believe that the understanding of wrath must come first in order to appreciate more fully the attribute of mercy. As we look into the Old Testament scripture we see a verse that demonstrates His kindled anger. Numbers 32:13 says, “So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness for forty years, until the entire generation of those who had done evil in the sight of the Lord was destroyed.” This anger is kindled in God through His people’s disobedience against Him. They where faithless in the trust of their God and this brought about their disobedience. One may say, “Yes, but that is the Old Testament. What does that have to do with an American in 2010?” We have to remember the God who created all does not change (Psalm 90:2). We see in Psalm 78:58 that He is angry towards sin. A lot people in America do not understand this side of God properly. They cannot imagine someone being punished for eternity for blasphemes and stealing, yet this shows a lack of the understanding of Gods justice. Which we will discussed next quarter. But the anger of God against sin is very real and drives unbelievers to see their need for a way out. A man must see himself lost and the hand of God bearing down upon him with great weight if he will ever flee to a Savior.
A definition of mercy is: a sinner getting something he or she does not deserve, a pardon. A scripture that helps us understand God’s mercy is Exodus 33:19, “And He said, ‘I myself will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’” God has given us the promise that we will receive his mercy. We must come on His terms as He providentially awakens us to the condemnation which results from breaking His law. Some people view God in the above picture as a God of infinite mercy who will just look over sin and let everybody into heaven. This is not viewing God in the context of scripture. If He was merciful without anger against sin He would not be Just. Here is a good way to think about this practically. If this type of thinking was implemented today there would be total anarchy in all our towns, states, and countries. Why? Because they would be no law to govern the way we live; however, this is not the case. We see from scripture that God is Just, for His Anger and Mercy work in unison to bring Glory unto to His majesty.
Another scripture that will help us understand His mercy is Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’” The first question one may ask is, repent from what? The God of all creation created all things and set up certain guidelines, or moral laws, by which we should function (do not lie, steal, kill, take His name in vain, etc.). Breaking these laws brings about sin against this Holy king. This is why repentance is needed. If left in our sinful state, God’s anger will burn against our sin. In this verse, we see God commanding repentance for transgressions against His laws, for God is merciful in giving us a way out of our transgressions through repentance. But people are so rebellious that if he gave 100 ways out people would want 101.We see that either God’s holy anger is satisfied by punishing sinners for their sins for eternity, or His holy mercy is glorified if a person repents and believes in Jesus Christ as Savior.
His infinite Anger and Mercy
Both of these attributes of God are infinite, that is to say they do not have an end. A.W. Tozer says, “To say that God is infinite is to say that He is measureless. Whatever God is and all that God is, He is without limit.” This is foundational in our understanding of God as infinite: He is without limit. If a person does not experience the grace of repentance he will experience God’s anger for eternity. This is called Hell. God will infinitely exercise the attribute of His anger on them. The person who experiences the grace of repentance and trust in Christ will experience mercy for eternity. This is called Heaven. God will either infinitely exercise the attribute of His Mercy or the attribute of His Wrath on human souls for eternity. Please examine yourself with scripture to understand which one you will receive.
 A.W. Tozer Knowledge of the Holy pg 1