The Bible teaches that before being brought to Christ, Christians are “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). Does that mean God hates His people before they are converted? Today, W. Robert Godfrey addresses this challenging question.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: We're at Ligonier's 2021 National Conference, and this week I'm joined by Ligonier's chairman and one of our teaching fellows, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey. Dr. Godfrey, does God hate Christians before they're regenerated?
DR. ROBERT GODFREY: That's a very interesting question. It's a question that I think goes in several different directions because on the one hand, we think of Ephesians 2 where Paul says we were all children of wrath. Well, that's an expression of the fact that outside of Christ, God is angry with us. We are sinners. We are unreconciled to God. And in that sense, it might well be appropriate to say that God hates the unregenerate.
On the other hand, in Ephesians 1 Paul says in love He predestined us, so there's a kind of duality to God's relationship with us. As sinners apart from Christ, we are the objects of His wrath. But He has already determined from eternity that we'll not remain that way, that He will, in time, send the Holy Spirit to apply the work of Christ to us that we are regenerated and live for Him.
We find that expressed in the Psalter in an interesting way in Psalm 145:9, where the psalmist says God loves all that He has made. So, there's a general benevolence that we've always talked about towards all the creation. Creation, after all, is what God made good, and therefore there is something lovable in it from its created state, but in rebellion it evokes His anger, but in love He has a plan to solve this. And it reminds us that our God is a great and amazing God and that sometimes questions can't just be given a yes or no answer, that they require bringing together various aspects of biblical revelation to try to capture as much as we can the whole picture of God's attitude, and therefore, how we're to think about God. We are to think of Him as just, as righteous, and as angry with sin but also as One who is loving towards His own and has a wonderful plan of redemption through Christ.
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