In the Pastoral Epistles, the apostle Paul is passing the torch as the primary doctrinal voice for the church to a new generation of pastors and preachers in both Timothy and Titus. Paul anticipates the frailty of his life and senses the winds of change that are coming for the nascent churches with which he spent his life laboring for the sake of the gospel. A new phase of pastoral ministry is looming: a defense of the faith. That which was fresh and new and took the churches by storm in the first wave of apostolic preaching has given way to discontent and falsehood. Such is why Paul is adamant in his resolve to Timothy and Titus to keep the faith and hold fast to sound doctrine.
In the heart of man resides a hatred towards God. This is mostly due, I think, because of the grave misconception regarding God that portrays him a grumpy old man out to get them. Most think that God is merely a lion on the prowl, ready to pounce on you when you mess up. That he’s only concerned with hemming you in and keeping you line. He doesn’t really care about your happiness, so long as you act appropriately. But that is not the God of the Bible. the Bible tells us of “the glorious gospel of the happy God.”
In 1741, one of the most famous sermons in American history was published, that being Jonathan Edwards’s sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” For better or for worse, though, this sermon remains one of the most famous and widely recognized sermons of all time. Most of the time, though, it is misremembered and misunderstood. The only colloquial knowledge many have is the title and the fact that God is angry with us. It begs the question, then, is that really who God is?
We all have different relationships with our fathers. Some hate their fathers; others have fathers they adore. Some are absent; others are lovingly present. There’s beauty and brokenness in every home, especially when it comes to dads. Unfortunately, we’ve ascribed much of our own interactions and feelings and emotions we have for our dads to our Heavenly Father. But God is a much better, truer father.
The colloquial understanding of God is most often a caricature of who he really is. The “man upstairs” is seen as a vindictive old man with a long white beard who’s waiting with bated breath for you to mess up so he can punish you. There’s a vernacular sense that God is angry with us. But, as Scripture makes very clear, nothing could be further from the truth.