“If God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus, why are there still New Testament verses that seem to create a fear of punishment in the believer?”
I often have been asked questions like these, especially when I am discussing the goodness of God. I usually start my answer with these thoughts:
Even though I don’t understand everything, I do know that any God who would send His son to die for me is good.
Jesus was punished so I wouldn’t have to be. God’s anger for sinners was poured out on Him so, as a believer, I would not have to experience it. This is a core belief of the message of grace.
I must interpret “non-grace” verses through the lens of specific chapters in Paul’s epistles. (I have listed these below.)
As I interpret the will of God (creating my doctrinal beliefs) on specific topics, I find it crucial to understand the larger story of the gospel and the nature of God’s interaction with humanity. I seek to understand the following:
God’s original plan before the fall in Genesis 3
The nature of blessings and curses in Deuteronomy 28 – (More on this topic here )
The life of Jesus – He came to do the will of the Father
The phrase “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” – if it is on earth but not in heaven then it is not God’s will (i.e. sickness, poverty, disasters, etc.)
The Pauline epistles – these are the best explanation of what Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection
Here are, in my opinion, the seventeen most important chapters to help us build a solid foundation for our overall Bible interpretation:
I suggest devoting time to read, study, listen to, and meditate on these key passages of scripture. Doing so will help us understand:
The difference between the old and new covenants
The perils of focusing more on our behaviors than our beliefs
The priority of putting our faith in what Jesus has done rather what we need to do
The absolute defeat of Satan, sin, death, and separation from God (it has already happened)
The greatness of who Jesus is and what He has done
What we have, what we can do, who we are, and what we are to set our minds on
Even though we probably won’t at first understand the depth of everything we read, we will start to get a revelation for the anchor truths to help us interpret the rest of the Bible. We will find verses like these fueling supernatural empowerment into our lives (which we call grace).
“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3)
“(God) raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6)
“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” (Galatians 5:4-5)
“For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:10)
“Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:12-13)
Are these Bible chapters the seventeen most important in the Bible? I think so. What do you think?
For much more insight on this, listen to my podcast at the link below
For more on topics like this, listen to my podcast by clicking the link below.
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.