God Was Not Angry With Saul of Tarsus, Nor Is God Angry At You Or The Taliban!

Has God ever been angry at you? Could He get angry at you if you do the wrong thing?

How about God being angry at the Taliban? Surely, He’s had it with the recently released “Taliban Dream Team”? Isn’t God ready to destroy them for all the mass killing they have done?Is God Angry?

Talking about destruction, are you ready to have your misperceptions about an angry God blown up? Some might say “Oh, yes!” Then there will be some who say, “No way! I know I am totally right in my world view of God. I know all my doctrines, traditions, teachings are totally accurate. Don’t you mess with my religious paradigms.” If your response is the latter, please stop reading.

Let’s see if Saul of Tarsus’ encounter with Jesus blows holes in our mindsets about an angry God.

Saul of Tarsus’ actions should anger God

  • destroyed, ravaged, harassed believers (the church)
  • exceedingly enraged against Christians
  • punished believers
  • murdered and agreed to killing many believers
  • compelled believers to blaspheme Christ’s name
  • persecuted the church, known as the Way
  • imprisoned men and women, and beat them
  • was extremely zealous for his traditions and God
  • believed he was obeying his God and doing the right thing

See any similarities when it comes to the Taliban, Al Qaeda, dedicated terrorists?

God’s Response

What was God’s response to Saul’s raging actions? Beat him up? Reject him? Doom him to hell? Have nothing to do with Saul until he repented his brains out?

For some reason, I had this picture that Saul got knocked off his donkey by that bright light, as he traveled to Damascus. Maybe it was from a cartoon or an illustration about this story? Anyway, with that image in my imagination, I read into this Damascus Road story a violent interruption by God.

To my surprise, there is no donkey mentioned in Paul’s account! It is just a brilliant light surrounding Saul, and he then falls to the ground. So much for an angry God!

Paul believed in an angry God

Now remember, Saul’s upbringing included doing many sacrifices to keep God happy. Hey, kind of like the heathens appeasing all their pagan deities with their sacrifices! Hmmm.

As far as Saul/Paul was concerned, he and God were on the same page. You blow it, you don’t follow the one true God, you pay. Hence, Saul’s ravaging anger and destruction.

But God had a good plan for Saul/Paul. God knew who he really was, what He had made in His image. And God knew the perfect timing to awaken Saul to His unconditional love for him and Paul’s true identity. No wonder Paul would later pen, “nothing can separate us from the love of God…!”

Misguided zeal

Paul gained greater clarity – “they have a zeal for God but not in accordance with knowledge.” (Rom 10:2) My, what zeal Saul had for his ‘god’. Of course it was a vindictive zeal. Boy, was he off! God is not vindictive, and never has been.

Saul’s vindictive zeal came out of self righteousness! Saul of Tarsus had been totally ignorant of God’s righteousness, and was good at establishing his own. (Rom 10:3)  After all, he followed the letter of the law to the “T”.

What knowledge?

Now, what is this “knowledge” of which Paul speaks?

Knowledge in the face of Christ Jesus! (2Cor 4:6)

Hey, remember, that Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father…No one knows the Father except the Son…the Father and I are One…the Father who dwells in Me does the works themselves…the Father tells Me what I should say…If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also…”

Saul thought he knew God. But he didn’t because He didn’t know Jesus. It was only when Jesus showed up that Saul/Paul finally began to know the One true God.

Did Jesus ever pour out wrath on anyone while He walked this earth? Nope. Have you ever pondered how nonviolent Jesus was?

Somehow we forget that Jesus was showing us exactly who the Father God was. We still like to impose man’s misunderstanding and limited view of God in the Old Testament onto who Jesus displayed God to be.

God did speak in various times and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days He gave His final word about Himself, and us, through His Son. (Heb 1:1-3) We must look to Jesus, and Jesus only, to see who God really is!

No longer judge according to the flesh

If we truly understand Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”, then we would no longer judge anyone according to the flesh. Jesus said, I judge no one. (Jn 8:15) Paul said, in light of the reconciliation that happened at the cross, they too, no longer regard anyone according to the flesh. (2Cor 5:16)

God and Jesus were not angry with Saul. They did not judge Saul according to the flesh, nor do they judge anyone that way. Even so, God and Jesus are not angry at the Taliban. And God and Jesus are not angry at you either. In fact, the One true God is not angry at anybody!

Dig In

  • God knows how to arrest everyone’s attention to get them to see the truth about His love and acceptance. If He did that for Saul/Paul, wouldn’t He do it for the “Taliban Dream Team”? Wouldn’t He do it for everyone? After all, God is impartial.
  • God loved the world. And He still loves the world. If violent behavior is not beyond God’s love, then why would we think anything else would be either?
  • God is Love. Love bears all things – even our misunderstandings of Him. Love endures all things. Love never fails. Truly love won at the cross. There was no ‘God anger or wrath’ at the cross, only reconciliation. (2Cor 5:19) Any anger that you think was there is man’s own anger. We were ‘enemies’ (Greek – hostile) in our minds. (Col 1:21) Ditch the anger mindset about God – it is a lie.
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8 responses to “God Was Not Angry With Saul of Tarsus, Nor Is God Angry At You Or The Taliban!

  1. Great article and thank you for sharing.

    Question: How would you equate the angry God mindset to those who believe God will not answer any prayers because of unrepentant sin?

    • Great question!

      Indeed, there is a direct connection to having an angry God mindset that causes a fear of God – which will jade our prayer/relationship with Him.

      A mindset that God will not answer prayers because of unrepentant sin, means those who believe this would have to deny several truths stated in scripture:

      Jesus and God totally dealt with sin:

      1) The Lamb of God who takes away (Greek lifts up, removes) the sin of the world (Jn 1:29)
      2) God does not remember sins and lawless deeds anymore (Heb 10:17)
      3) Your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake (1Jn 2:12)
      4) Even though we were enemies in our mind…He has reconciled us in the body of His flesh through death, to present us holy and blameless (Col 1:21)
      5) When we were helpless and weak, Christ died for the ungodly, while we were still sinners Christ died for us and justified us by His blood, when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through His death, through whom we have received the reconciliation – hence sin taken care of! (Rom 5:6,8,10,11)
      6) There is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death.
      7) God saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. (2Tim 1:9) This means our sinlessness was secured before man ever sinned! Jesus came to manifest this truth. (2Tim 1:10)
      8) Sadly the ‘fallen man gospel’ focuses on sin – repent of sin to get saved, continue to repent of sin to stay save and maintain right standing with God. This weak religious gospel denies the fullness that happened at the cross!

      The true meaning of repentance:

      1) Repent (in the Greek) means to change your way of thinking
      2) Biblical repentance has nothing to do with asking God to forgive us of any sin. God forgave everyone of all sin, without us even asking Him to!
      3) Repentance has nothing to do with weeping over sin, and feeling bad about sin.
      4) God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we be holy and without blame before Him in love. We need to repent/change our minds about when we were chosen!
      5) There are many things we need to change our mind about when it comes to knowing who God really is!

      Access, relationship, and union with God through Jesus Christ

      1) The former commandment/law was annulled because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect. But a better hope (through Jesus) was brought in through which we draw near (Greek – expresses extreme closeness and immediate imminence) to God.
      2) Therefore – having boldness (Greek – confidence, freedom of speech) to (Greek – literally, “motion into which” implying penetration/union) enter the holiest (Greek – “likeness of nature with the Lord”)…let us draw near with a true heart…having our conscience sprinkled clean from an evil conscience. (Heb. 10:19,22) This passage shows the absolute abandon we have to come before God, be with Him, be in Him – free of any guilt or fear, knowing we have been totally cleansed even in our conscience. So to think we have to repent of sins before our prayers would b e answered negates this wonderful truth. Of course it doesn’t negate it, but those who believe that are deceived, believing a lie, and have no clue of Jesus’ precious work of absolute reconciliation and restoration.
      3) He was delivered up for our iniquities, and was raised because of our justification. (Rom 4:25) If Jesus had not been raised from the dead we would not have been justified = declared righteous. This means we are righteous, there is nothing we have to do to get anymore righteous. There are no sins to ‘repent of’.
      4) By God’s will we have been sanctified through the body of Jesus Christ once for all. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified. (Heb. 10:10,14) Again, this sanctification was done by Jesus alone. There is absolutely nothing we can do or need to do to be sanctified or get more sanctified! Therefore, there is absolutely nothing hindering our prayers or conversation with God. The only hindrance is lies many believe that we still have to clean ourselves up in order to be heard by Him.

      When Paul talked about praying, he said nothing about needing to ‘repent’, or God won’t answer your prayers. All he said was be anxious for nothing, have a heart of thanksgiving, and let your request be known to God. Simple, yet powerful. The result of that kind of praying is the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds! (Php 4:6,7) Now who wouldn’t want that!

      Sorry I got kind of ‘long-winded’! My how religious mindsets keep us from God and the intimacy He longs for with us!

  2. Brenda Erickson

    What about verses about God’s wrath?

    Brenda

    • Another great question! Thanks Brenda.

      There are verses in scripture that talk of His wrath. But if we don’t see the bigger picture through the appearing of His Son, understand the cultural influence, consider the context, realize that the forming of civilizations came forth out of murders (for another post!), man’s projected anger onto God hence misunderstanding who He really is…then we will easily believe God is angry and God still has wrath to pour out on some folks.
      Isn’t it interesting to consider that all men are created in His image and His likeness, yet we think He has made some for wrath? Sounds like a scary schizophrenic God!

      Many don’t realize that the Greek meaning of wrath – ‘orgḗ’ – also means passion. It comes from a Greek word that means ‘to teem, to swell’ – implies not a sudden outburst, but rather fixed.

      So if we ponder His wrath as being a passion that is swollen and fixed – not volatile and venting – then when we look at ‘wrath’ verses we will sense His eternal unconditional love. He just cannot give up anyone, He does not want to condemn anyone. He came to save and restore.

      In our retributive mindset of how we do justice (not God’s way at all!) we say there must be punishment for wrong. With this mindset comes a form of anger and wrath – a meting out. Jesus said, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” (Jn 12:47) Jesus also said, “The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” (Jn 5:22) Then Jesus says, “As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” (Jn 5:30)

      So what is the Father’s will? God sent His Son not to condemn the world but the save the world through His Son. (Jn 3:17) By the way, some translations use the “’might’ be saved”. ‘Might’ is not part of the Greek meaning of saved and ‘might’ is not even a word used in the original Greek. Religion likes to make qualifiers and contingencies. 🙂 If we do something, then He will do something. No. He did it all! It’s free! We just receive.

      Let’s look at a ‘wrath’ scripture in the light of His passionate wrath/passionate eternal love.

      “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (Jn 3:36) Sounds scary! Looks like some go to hell and suffers His wrath forever. What a loving God!

      By inserting more Greek understanding of this verse it is essentially saying – The one persuaded in Jesus possesses/holds eternal life (i.e. ‘the quality of God’s life now)’; on the other hand, the one who refuses to be persuaded will not experience (see, “to see with the mind” -i.e. spiritually see) life – nevertheless/however the passion of God stays/abides/remains on him.

      The Greek for ‘on’ is “upon”, naturally looks to the response (effect) that goes with the envisioned contact, i.e. its apt result (“spin-offs,” effects). So this would mean God’s wrath of fiery passionate love remains on those who refuse to be persuaded of His unconditional acceptance and love. God’s love is still upon them with the hope of its effect to cause them to repent (to change their mind) and receive His love.

      Since His love is eternal and David even said – “if I make my bed in Sheol/hell, even there You are” – then who are we to say how or when this being persuaded by His love should happen?

      Man makes God angry. God is compassionate, kind, full of peace and joy, delighting in mercy (in fact has enclosed all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on ALL – Rom 11:32), does not take into account a wrong suffered, rejoices with the truth (His Son and what He came to show us!). In light of His beautiful characteristics it is amazing how we want to put anger and wrath in the mix!

      In spite of my long answer, I hope you and others who read this will replace ‘wrath’ with ‘passion’, and also process those troubling ‘wrath’ verses in the light of Christ Jesus. If Jesus is not our filter for interpretation then we will continue to believe lies about God and live in a fear-filled gospel.

  3. You are a heretic, a false prophet, because a Gospel that removes the fundamental need for a Savior -removes the eternal seriousness of our offenses before God and their great consequence unless a Savior would rescue us – is not the Gospel. The wages of sin is death. You will be held accountable for these false teachings. James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

    Now please don’t tell what that actually means in the Greek.

    • Thank you for expressing your view.

      I assure you, I take seriously the teaching of the word of God. If the word/teaching is centered on Christ Jesus, Who is God’s final word (Heb 1:2), and all interpretation flows through the fullness of His incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension then the Good News will be one overflowing with life, hope, faith, love, and unspeakable joy. But if fear and guilt result from any so called gospel then that ‘word’ is not coming from the one true Jesus and His Gospel.

      Perhaps this post on God encountering Paul with love and grace, not anger and retribution, was not clear enough?

      I’m sorry if I did not make it clear that Jesus is the Savior of the world and that God was in Christ when He reconciled the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them. (2Cor 5:19) That is why He is not angry with us. His anger was poured out on sin, not us. Even though those in that day thought Jesus had failed, spectacularly Christ’s sacrifice did remove the sin of the world. (Jn 1:29 Heb 10:10,12,16,17)

      If Christ Jesus took away sin, then how would there still be “the eternal seriousness of our offenses before God”? God’s focus is not our offenses (since He totally dealt with them), but His focus would be for us to realize the complete forgiveness (Col 2:13), reconciliation (Col 1:19) and restoration Jesus brought by becoming flesh. Would not the ‘seriousness’ be someone’s refusal to freely receive His gift of grace

      I found it fascinating that God’s response to Saul’s killing (which is a sin) of believers was not ‘death’, but a calling and sending of Paul to preach the Gospel of grace. (Acts 9:15 26:16) Paul’s encounter with the Jesus the Savior would not fit your “wages of sin is death” implications. In addition, regarding sin and death, we need to consider 2Cor 5:14 – “While we were still dead in our sins, God made us alive together with Christ…” – this happened on the cross 2000 years ago. Then we have to try and grasp that this actually happened before that – the Lamb of God was slain before the foundation of the world!

      Seeing that Paul’s offenses were not God’s focus we need to see what was the point of the Damascus Road encounter? Paul explained that the Gospel he preached was not according to man – he neither received it from man, nor was taught it, but through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Part of that revelation had to do with Paul realizing that it pleased God,, who had separated him from his mother’s womb, to reveal His Son in him. Here’s Paul grasping the mystery and the miracle that Jesus was in him while he was in the womb and even while he was killing believers. Stunning! Then in turn Paul was called to preach Christ among (Greek – inside, within – sorry, I just had to add the Greek here since among is not an accurate translation) the Gentiles. Paul’s gospel was to tell the Gentiles Christ was in them! (Gal 1:11-16)

      I agree with you that there is a fundamental need for a Savior, and of course there is only one Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The world may not realize it has a fundamental need, but God knew it did. That is, a fundamental need to be reconciled to their Creator and Heavenly Father. Oh to understand why God so loved the world and gave His only begotten Son…not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him be saved (Greek – sozo – save, heal, rescue, preserve. Just had to add this Greek too, as I think most do not understand the fullness of the word ‘save’ as used in the Bible. I sure didn’t.)

      Please know there is no ‘removing of Jesus’ by me. Jesus is the only Savior – the one who heals, rescues, and preserves. Oh what fullness of Him in the Gospel – this is what makes it truly Good News for all!

  4. Why the scriptures on hell? The oft preached lines “Depart from me I never knew you.”

    I never knew you? That’s a long time. And where do you suppose this person is departing to…Cleveland? Which would be a hell all it’s own.

    I get it and I agree with you in part. Christ came to seek and save the lost, his payment is large enough for the sins of all humanity. But if the reciever of the gift refuses the gift do they have the ability to enjoy the very gift they refused? Wouldn’t that make Jesus a liar? “No one gets to the father but through me.” The NTI (Nancy Tegue Interpretation) would read. “Everyone eventually gets to the father through me. In this life or the next.”

    Your Gospel is wonderful but it’s not complete. Always ask yourself when writing, Why. Why is this good news? So that we may simply live in the fullness of Christ here on earth? Incomplete. That’s still about us. What is the goal? Why are we here?

    If you and I were stranded on a raft I.e. The kids from Titanic. And a rescue boat came our way that would be good news. We would be saved. Your writings are wonderful but they focus solely on the rescue boat and it’s amazing size and amenities. Balance your writings with what we need to be rescued from. Why are we in the water? What put us there? What keeps us there? Can we choose not to be rescued? Can the rescue boat rescue us even if we don’t reach for the perfectly tossed ring bouy?

    Behold I stand at the door and knock. NTI version.

    “Behold I stand at the door with the master key. In comin in whether you want me to or not.”

    • There are certainly scriptures on hell. In my growing understanding that God’s love is eternally unconditional then ‘hell’ seems to be a merciful provision God has provided for those who continue to refuse His unconditional love and acceptance.

      You are absolutely right that if a receiver of a gift refuses the gift then he forfeits the enjoyment of that gift. I agree, they will not even have the ability to enjoy it. And I agree with you that no one can come to the Father except through Jesus. He did everything that needed to be done to restore us to the Father. We receive it by faith – plus it is His faith anyway – He persuades our heart of truth. We have no faith on our own. So it’s all Father/Jesus/Holy Spirit that gives to us freely.

      Hell – can’t think of a more miserable place to be than continually being loved and valued, but not wanting to be. Kind of like the elder son who would not go into the party because he was angry that his wanton useless brother could have a big party put on by their welcoming non-condemning father.

      Your reference to “I never knew you” is in an interesting context. Jesus was saying “I never knew you” to those who prophesied in His name, cast out demons, and did wonders in His name. (Mt 7:22,23) Any relationship with Him is not by what we do, even seeming good spiritual things – but by what He did, without anyone one’s permission I might add!

      You have great questions by the way.

      Why are we here? What is the goal? Why is this good news?

      When I first started hearing messages about the fullness of the Good News, I had lots of questions and lots of “yeah but”, “well what about this”, “what about that”? “How come I never heard this before in my 60+ years of going to church!” It took much study, reading and rereading scriptures, trying to grasp that His love and the work of Christ Jesus was way bigger than I had ever grasped.

      So – why are we here?

      Because, He wanted us and because God is Love. Pure love is naturally shared and given away freely. Love cannot keep to itself. Love at its core is relational. The essence of The Godhead is relationship, and a mutual relationship at that! God just had to share this love. The only way He could do that was to design receivers of His love to be those in kind, in likeness. That is the wonder of our true identity that began before time began. (2Tim 1:9,10)

      You ask “what is the goal?”

      Not sure if you mean ‘what is our goal?’ or ‘what is God’s goal?’

      Our ‘goal’ would seem to be that “we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13)

      Perhaps another goal would be like Paul’s – “to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of him” (Php 3:12) Jesus got a hold of Paul because He knew Paul’s true identity. Paul was in wonder about that truth and he pressed on to grasp it more. Amazing!

      Maybe this one is God’s goal for us. He wants us to realize (by revelation) that we are complete in Christ Jesus (Col 1:10). To discover we were made to have a joy-filled and loving relationship with our Maker and that we have always been loved by Him. (Jer 31:3) When we grow in that understanding then we will truly love ourselves and in turn love our neighbors as ourselves. Just can’t love ourselves or others unconditionally until we receive His unconditional love. So we are back to “receiving”! Personally as I have grasped this more and more it has enlarged my heart to love others more (even strangers). The lure to be judgmental or critical has waned as I see the incredible value in people who are made in His image – even if they do not know that yet.

      Why is this good news?

      Maybe Jesus said it best when He read out of Isaiah in the synagogue (Lk 4:18-19) and concluding “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk 4:21) How could He say this, He hadn’t even died for mankind yet?! In addition, I find it intriguing and enlightening that Jesus left off the last part of Isaiah’s prophesy. This is the part that religion likes to cling to – ‘the day of vengeance of our God’. (Is 61:2b)

      A quick comment on your great Titanic/rescue boat illustration. We can be ‘in the water’ because of poor choices, abuse by others, trauma that brings disillusionment, anger, fear. We can also refuse the perfectly thrown life ring – wanting to stay in our bitterness and anger, or even wanting to stay in all our self-righteous efforts. But if I am grasping “of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (Jn 1:16), then I picture that life ring is still floating nearby within reach. He lets us choose. We are always welcome because love endures all things, love believes all things, and love never fails.

      Regarding the standing at the door and knocking. I like C.S.Lewis’ description of the door to hell. The lock is not on the outside – where He locks us in. But the lock is on the inside. We can lock Him out. But He is always knocking. Some will find His persistent knocking annoying and some will be offended by it. Then there could be some dumbfounded that He still wants them and some will finally be persuaded by His full persuasion of them and open up to receive all the goodness that was there all along.

      One more thought on hell. David said, “Where can I flee from your presence? If I make my bed in Sheol/hell even there you are.” (Ps 139:7,8) Since Jesus fills all things and all things hold together in Him (Col 1:16,17) then looks like He is right smack in the middle of hell too. Hey, maybe that ruins Lewis’ “door lock” illustration. But Jesus being everywhere is consistent with His eternal unconditional love.

      Thank you for your sincere thoughtful comments. I value the challenges.

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