By John Foll
, written 8/21/2017 to 9/06/2017.
© Copyright 2017 John Foll
Will God be angry with sinners forever?
What does the Bible teach on this? In Psalms 103:9 KJV it says that God will not keep His anger forever. Regarding the future destruction that God will rain down on the earth, Jeremiah says, “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by His fierce anger. For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.” Jeremiah 4:23-28 KJV. Here God says that the whole land (the earth) will be made desolate and there will be no man left on the face of the earth, but He will not make a full end of it. God has promised that this great destruction of the earth will take place, He will not change His mind.
This prophecy of the world being destroyed and all of the cities being broken down, takes place when Jesus returns in the clouds with great glory, and all of the wicked are slain by the brightness of His coming (or the breath of His mouth). Isaiah 11:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8. On this day Jesus resurrects the saints and takes them back to Heaven with Him. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. We hope to present more on this and other last day events in future blog articles, so don’t get hung up on this.
Though God gets angry with the sinners of this earth, and brings down destruction upon it, He will not make a full end of it. This also lets us know that while God will punish sinners in the Lake of fire at the end, that He will not retain His anger forever, nor punish them forever. Jeremiah also says, “Behold, the whirlwind of the LORD goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the LORD shall not return, until He have done it, and until He have performed the intents of His heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it.” Jeremiah 30:23-24 KJV. When God performs His ‘fierce’ work of the destruction of the wicked by fire, it will be completed, and all of the lost sinners will have been destroyed or ‘slain’. It also says that in ‘the latter days ye shall consider it’. This is what we are doing now! We are in the latter days or the last days of this world’s history, and we are now considering that God’s fierce anger will soon rain down on the wicked, it will not burn forever, but when He performs His intent against this earth and sinners it will be completed, just as He said. He does not retain His anger forever. Another passage that teaches that God’s anger will not last forever is: “Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired; before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger come upon you. Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.” Zephaniah 2:1-3 KJV. ‘The day of the LORD’s anger’ is an expression denoting a specific time and length when God will bring down His punishments. In no way can it mean that it is forever, for it is ‘the day of the LORD’s anger;’ it is at a specific time and length, not an indefinite or an infinite amount of time. This is very important to understand!
The answer to this question of whether God will be angry forever is NO! The famous sermon by Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” given in Enfield, Connecticut July 8, 1741, is contrary to what Jeremiah, Zephaniah, and the Bible teach regarding God’s love, mercy and anger. Here is an excerpt from this sermon:
- It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long forever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: for “who knows the power of God’s anger?”
From point 4 of this sermon. https://www.blueletterbible.org/comm/edwards_jonathan/sermons/sinners.cfm
The falsehoods told about God’s love for humanity in this part of this sermon are beyond belief! Let’s start with the title of this sermon, ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’. The main point of this title and sermon was to put a dreadful fear in the ears of the listeners and to ‘scare them into being saved.’ What horror! At the end of this quote he said, ‘for “who knows the power of God’s anger?” While God does have a fierce anger against sinners that will be displayed at the end of time at the second coming, and later at the destruction of the wicked by fire, it is tempered with love and mercy now as we have already shown. God is longsuffering and merciful, and not willing that any should perish. 2 Peter 3:9. When mercy for this world has run out, Jesus will come back in the clouds of Heaven with great power and great glory! And after the judgement completes, the wicked will all then be destroyed. God’s anger with sinners has not been displayed yet in full force! Believe me, when God’s ‘fierce anger’ is poured out on this earth, you won’t have to hear a sermon on it, or read a blog article on it, because you will know! This event in time is what much of the Bible has been warning sinners against in one way or another! The ‘Day of the Lord!’ When this happens that will be it for all unrepentant sinners! This idea that God is always angry with sinners and ready to punish or torment them, and the eternal punishment of the sinners are both dreadful errors!
Jonathan Edwards makes it seem like God is always angry with sinners, and that *all should be in dreadful fear of Him. But the Bible teaches that ‘God’s mercy endures forever!’ as we have seen. Those who spend their time thinking about how angry God is with them for their sins, will probably never give their heart to Him all the way, nor ever serve Him out of love, and thus they may be lost, unless they change! Yes, this teaching can only bring out fear and can definitely lead to being lost, if it is dwelt on and dwelt on! But the Bible declares that perfect love casts out all fear. 1 John 4:18. Those who are a Christian out of fear are just as lost as the greatest sinner in the world, unless they learn to love God. But how can they learn to love Him if they hold this dreadful belief and dwell on it? See how important the truth on this is?
* We are not saying that people who are not right with God should not be afraid of Him at all, because fear and guilt of sin are the natural result of doing wrong, and because the loss of Heaven with all of its delights, and the loss of being with their saved loved ones will be a great tragedy; it is a tremendous loss to be lost! Those who are not right with God will eventually become afraid of the Judgement and the Lord’s fierce anger. But in no way does God’s anger go on forever with the unrepentant sinner! He has mercy on all of the lost and will cause them to die once they have paid for all of their sins. And we think that this error in belief can lead to other errors, where someone may try to make it too easy to be saved and not be lost once they give their heart to the Lord or become baptized, to avoid the consequences of being lost! It’s best to learn the correct beliefs about God’s love and the truth on salvation and not be deceived about this on any point.
Jesus said you must be born again to enter the kingdom of Heaven, John 3:3, 5. Those who are in fear of God are certainly not born again, so they cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven, until they learn to love God and stop fearing Him. There is no reason to be afraid of God, if people will just confess their sins, 1 John 1:9, and believe in Jesus, John 3:16. Then they will have eternal life. When this happens fully, they will be born from above, or born again, because they will have been forgiven and living by the Spirit, which is life and peace. Romans 8:6. It is those with unconfessed sins or those who do not believe that God loves them and has forgiven them who are afraid of God. Those who love God, He is their dearest friend!
* We are not saying that people who believe in the eternal punishment of the wicked cannot be born again and are lost. But we are saying this belief system can drag someone down and cause them to doubt that God really loves them, which can make them lost. We believe that there have been many Christians who have held this belief of the eternal punishment of the wicked, who were born again Christians and will be saved. But it is much better to learn and believe the truth on this, so that your soul can be at rest and serve God out of love instead of fear, with nothing to impede your love for Him or stop you from becoming His son or daughter. 1 John 3:1.
Jonathan Edwards also made this comment in this passage of the sermon above: “this almighty merciless vengeance.” He is trying to say that God (the almighty) executes merciless vengeance on sinners. This is in direct contradiction to the many passages of God’s love and mercy in the Bible, some of which we have already cited in this article! God’s mercy is everlasting! God’s mercy endures forever! He is NEVER merciless!
Jonathan Edwards also made the comment in this sermon that “neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them”. Apparently he has not read Revelation 20:10 of how the devil and his angels will be thrown into the lake of fire. At the final destruction of the wicked by fire, the devil and his angels will not be having a good time either; they will be in no position to be ‘gloating’ over lost humanity. Isaiah declares that Lucifer (the devil) will be ‘brought down to hell, to the side of the pit.’ Isaiah 14:10-17 KJV. The word ‘hell’ doesn’t exist in Hebrew, which Isaiah and the Old Testament were written in. This is talking about death! So Satan will be destroyed like all the other sinners too, in the lake of fire.
We mean Jonathan Edwards no disrespect but he is wrong. God will NOT retain His anger forever as the Bible declares, neither will He torture poor lost sinners in hell fire forever. Just won’t happen. Nope! However if the devil could have what he wanted, this is what we believe he would make happen. The prophet Jeremiah declares: “For the Lord will not reject forever, for if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness. For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men.” Lamentations 3:31-33 NASB. This text lets us know that God’s great love and compassion would take pity on the unrepentant sinners who were being punished for their sins, and would let them die once their punishment meets their guilt. Words cannot describe the great sadness of anyone being lost! This is not a pleasant topic to think about, the final punishment and the final destruction of the wicked. We cannot give a logical reason why the sinner chooses to be lost, or why God’ loves the sinner so much, they both are a mystery. The mystery of the lost sinner is a great sadness that we cannot penetrate nor understand, but the great love of God is a mystery that we want to study for all eternity! God’s love will never grow old to the saved! Listen also to what the prophet Isaiah says here: “Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD, nor remember iniquity forever; behold, look now, all of us are Your people.” Isaiah 64:9 NASB. It seems that Isaiah is pleading with God here not to remember the iniquity of His people forever. We believe he was asking for mercy, because he knew that God was merciful, and would not remember iniquity or sin forever. How do we know this? Don’t forget our earlier promise: “O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:1 KJV. Since it is clear that God is a merciful God, therefore He does not remember iniquity or sin forever! If God does not remember iniquity or sin forever, then there is an end to sin, and sinners will not continue in eternal punishment and sin; there will be an end to it. Do you believe the Bible’s many precious promises of God’s Love for mankind, and His perfect fairness and justice towards unrepentant sinners? Or ‘the accuser of the brethren’? Revelation 12:10.
(To Be Continued!)
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