This is the title to a famous sermon Jonathan Edwards preached in 1741 that has been observed to define much of the Great Awakening revivals in the early American Colonies. Fortunately, revelation is progressive, because just from looking at the title alone, I have to agree with the sinners part, but not the angry God part. I hope I don’t ruffle your feathers, dear reader, but here’s why.
First of all, the sinners part. Yes, it’s true, we’re all sinners saved by grace. With the recent passing of Billy Graham, those that spoke of him always mention his humility and how he constantly reiterated his need for Jesus. I agree — we need Jesus. In my thoughts, my words, my spending, my driving…. I need Jesus. I’m not perfect. Be that as it may, I’d like to share a verse with you.
Genesis 1:27 & 31—So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
I think we would all agree that we’re created in His image. And after He created us, what did He say we were? Not only good, but very good. Did you ever notice that little word “very” in verse 31? I only did so recently. So it’s like we have God’s DNA in us. Our very essence is good.
Now, of course, that got blown out of the water when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. Their lack of trusting in a good, good Father brought sin into our linage. (thanks guys) So when we look in the mirror we can say, yes, we absolutely need Jesus to restore us back to the Father and wipe away our sins. But we can also say we’re made in the image of Almighty God Himself, Who is perfect. We are His perfectly designed masterpieces.
Now let’s get to the second part of this sermon title—the angry God part. Where did this come from?
Most of us look to the Old Testament to find His anger and I’m not looking to get into a full-fledged theological debate, but taken in context, don’t all parents get upset with their kids sometimes? Especially with the free will He so generously bestowed upon us. He didn’t create robots; He created kids (in His image). Notwithstanding, as many of us know, our kids don’t always make the best choices.
But even more than this, let’s look at the New Testament. Many say Jesus came as our brother to protect us from this angry Father. Yet, when you search the scriptures, we see that Jesus was the exact representation of His Father (Col. 1:15—“the image of the invisible God”). He even said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
Matthew 11:29 tells us that Jesus was meek and lowly of heart. So if He’s the same as the Father, then the Father is meek and lowly of heart, right? When we see Jesus allowing the children to come to Him, or healing all the sick, this is exactly what Father would be doing—they’re the same. (John 5:19-20)
Jesus weeps over Lazarus (Jn. 11:35) and has such compassion for Jerusalem, His people (Luke 13:34). Where did He learn this from? His Father. He is the expressed image of God. Father wanted to reveal Who He genuinely was to His kids on earth.
John 14:6—“ I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but by me.”
Jesus came to restore back our relationship with the Father. He came to show us God’s not some big angry judge in the sky looking to bonk us on the head for every single thing we do wrong. No. Father wants to hold us in His arms and touch us, even as Jesus allowed a woman of dishonor to wash His feet with her perfume and hair (John 12:3). Father God, just like Jesus, is gentle, loving, and compassionate.
I believe a newer version of this sermon could be entitled—“Sinners in the Hands of a Loving Father.”