1. The Fury of God: If God is Love, Why Should We Care About His Fury?

Today we’re beginning a study on the book, The Fury of God. I’ll be honest—this is charting new territory for me in a number of ways. First, I’ve never taught this material as a “study.” I’ve preached it from the pulpit and I spent a couple years writing, editing, and polishing the book. I have not, however, sat down with any class to really wrestle through the material in a study format. Further, I have never lead a study like this online. So we’re embarking on this little adventure together!

That said, let me set some guidelines to help you get the most out of this weekly study of the Fury of God. First, you’ll want to read one chapter each week before engaging in the study. If you haven’t read the introduction to the Fury of God I’d encourage you to go grab an e-copy and read it straight away. Second, you’ll want to be prepared to engage each chapter in the comment section below. You don’t have to read the book to engage this material, but it will certainly help fill in some gaps along the way.

Why should we study God’s fury?

Why is it important for Christians to focus on God’s fury? The Bible says that God is love. Shouldn’t we start with God’s love? Isn’t that the most important aspect of God’s being? Isn’t it better to emphasize his love rather than his anger and wrath? As important as God’s love may be, the Bible tells us that,

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. –Proverbs 1:7

Why does the Bible say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge? Shouldn’t it say that the love of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge? For some reason the Scriptures tell us that the starting place for knowledge (and wisdom) is not in a comfortable place with God, but rather in an uncomfortable place. What if I told that the best place to learn about the magnificent love of Christ was not in studying his love, but rather by studying his wrath? Would you believe me?

I contend in The Fury of God that,

We cannot truly understand God’s love until we fully understand his fury.

Have you ever read the parable of the moneylender? In Luke 7:40-43, Jesus tells Peter the story of a moneylender who had two debtors. One of his debtors owed him five-hundred denarii and the other owed him fifty. Both of them got to a place where they simply could not pay off their debt. The generous moneylender decided to cancel both debts. Jesus’ asks Peter, “…which of them will love him more?” Peter’s answer? “The one, I suppose, for whom he canceled the larger debt.” Jesus confirms, “You have judged rightly.”

One of the problems we face in the church today is that we are overemphasizing the love of God at the expense of the fury of God. This approach actually results in a diminishing of our comprehension of the debt that Christ paid on the cross. In the book, I challenge readers to visit their local Christian bookstore and start counting how many books are focused on the love of God. Then I challenge them to compare that number with the number of books on God’s anger.

Back when I was writing the book I actually took the time to do this on ChristianBook.com. I typed “Love of God” into the search criteria and got 6,858 results. Get this: Two years later that number is now up to 8,676. Then I typed “Anger of God” into the search criteria. Back when I wrote the book I got 310 search results. Today I got 367. The evangelical church machine continues to crank out materials on the love of God while failing to highlight God’s wrath.

How Valuable is the Cross?

How valuable is the cross to you? To ask it another way, how much has Christ really saved you from? Has he erased fifty, five-hundred, or five thousand denarii worth of debt? How much did you owe him? You see, we can’t answer that question until we understand what, precisely, Christ’s blood actually paid for. One of the beauties of studying The Fury of God is that we discover the magnificence of the cross in greater and greater degree. When we see what God hates, the value of the cross is magnified infinitely.

Discussion Questions for Further Study

  • How valuable is the cross to you?
  • Do you fear the Lord?
  • Have you ever studied the anger, wrath, or fury of God?
  • I list five reasons to engage this study in the book, can you think of any others?
  • Was there anything you read in the introduction that you agreed with?
  • Was there anything you read that you disagreed with or weren’t sure about?
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