Is God A Loving Father Or A Strict Judge?

Q. Having researched the “emerging church” movement, I am left confused regarding the teaching of a ‘man friendly Gospel’ that these churches have adopted. Some theologians believe this is wrong; that God is a Holy God and man in his sinful state is God’s enemy. Also, Psalm 5 says God hates his enemies, but Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Why does He tell us to do this if he doesn’t love them himself? Finally, I have always believed that we mustn’t judge or condemn, yet this seems to suggest a ‘man centered approach’. These same theologians believe that the real Gospel preaches repentance and a making aware of sin; that the only way to God is through the ‘narrow gate’ by living a sacrificial life. I’m not sure what all this means anymore. Is God a loving father, or a strict judge?

A. You’ve touched on several important points here. First of all, everything changed at the cross. Read Ephesians 2:1-10 and you’ll see that although by our nature we were objects of wrath, God in the greatest manifestation of grace ever seen, saved us, gave us eternal life and raised us up to be seated with Him in the heavenlies. He did this not because of any merit or worthiness of ours, but out of the incomparable riches of His Grace. All we have to do is believe He died to save us and rose again.

Colossians 1:19-20 says at the cross God reconciled Himself to us and made peace with us through the death of His Son. Now man can only remain outside of His love by failing to accept His gift of grace. We who have accepted it are encouraged to love our enemies as an expression of gratitude for the love God has shown to us by saving us.

The interpretation of the narrow gate in Matt. 7:13-14 as referring to a sacrificial life is man’s idea, not God’s. It helps to understand that everyone on the road is seeking salvation. The broad road and wide gate accommodate all those who follow false religions or try to earn their own way. The narrow gate is by faith alone, asking the Lord to save us and then believing that He has (Matt. 7:7-8).

Jesus admonished us not to judge others (Luke 6:37) and Paul confirmed it. (1 Cor. 4:5). Paul also said not to let anyone judge us (Col. 3:16).

As for our relationship with God, He has given you the authority to become one of His children (John 1:12-13) to address Him by His most intimate name (Romans 8:15) and to come into His presence with freedom and confidence (Ephes. 3:12) Does that sound like a strict judge to you?

All that said, I’m not an advocate of the emerging church movement. By taking the emphasis completely off the need to be born again, this movement has kept many of its followers outside of God’s love and left them in the state of being objects of His wrath. Spiritually, they’re no better off than they were before joining the movement.

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