I realize that the vast majority of viewers here at RedLetterLiving read the daily post but seldom go into the archives. In order to see where I am going with the blog you need to see where I have come from. On Wednesdays going forward I will be pulling up some of my most significant posts to show you how and why my spirituality has progressed over the years. There is nothing more significant to this travel than the book by Philip Gulley entitled If Grace Is True. For that reason, I am starting off this new “Revisit” series with a number of posts I did on the book back in 2013.
March 12, 2013
I’ve never experienced a God of wrath. I’ve heard such a God preached. I’ve read of such a God. I’ve encountered wrathful people who claimed to be acting on God’s behalf. I’ve even allowed such sentiments to tarnish my view of God. Yet, in the midst of all these distortions, I never experienced a wrathful God.
The God I’ve experienced is the God of Jesus—a God of unlimited patience, infinite love, and eternal faithfulness. Jesus described a God who waits long through the night, with the light lit and the door open, confident his most defiant child will one day realize his love and turn toward home. Jesus revealed a God who loves the unlovable, touches the untouchable, and redeems those thought beyond redemption. He said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9). My earliest experiences were with the love of Jesus.If Grace Is True – Philip Gulley & James Mulholland
I want to start off this mini-serious around the book by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland entitled If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person with a quote from the beginning pages. Being I buy most of my books from Amazon I can review a few pages to decide whether I want to purchase the book. When I read these words I knew this was a book I wanted to learn more from.
I must admit that most of my church experiences have not aligned with the assumption that God will eventually reconcile all souls back to him. Especially from my Protestant years, I was taught that I was to fear a wrathful God who would send me to an eternity of pain and suffering if I didn’t do what the church leaders told me to do. I was told to fear the power and wrath of God or risk eternal damnation. I was told that God only viewed me as worth no more than a piece of snot, but he loved me anyway.
I was told that all the bad things that have happened in my life was probably just God getting back at me for things I had done in my life. It was his retribution for not being perfect. But even with all this rhetoric about a vengeful God I, like the quote above, can’t say that I have ever really experienced a God of wrath. I have encountered wrathful people inside and outside the churches I have attended over the years. They insisted on telling me week after week that people like us, that is those who made a declaration of faith in the beliefs they espoused and attended their particular version of church were saved from God’s wrath but just about everyone else would not make the cut.
When I dared to go off on my own and study the words of Jesus without those fearful words being chanted in my ears I discovered a different God. Now I will admit that there are some words attributed to Jesus that I can’t yet understand (I will have to do another series on that topic) but the vast majority that I do presently understand is about a God of love. One who has an agape, that is unconditional and infinite, love for me and all those he created. With this new view of God I am beginning to align with Mr. Gulley’s notion that God will save every person. How he is going to do that is not up to me and my petty understanding of him. I just know that he is an all powerful God and if he loves us as the Bible proclaims, then he will eventually bring us all back to his fold.
I think this post was the first time I had talked about this book on this blog. By that time I had been about three years into what would be a five-year study about what the church taught about the words of Jesus. I was beginning to come to the conclusion that, as far as I was concerned, my perception of God and Jesus just didn’t align very well with what they were telling me.