(Image courtesy of http://www.stylonica.com.)

Joyce Meyer wrote a book called God's Not Mad At You.

Gerald and Kathy Hovater wrote a song called "God's Not Mad At You."

Victoria Osteen (Joel's wife) wrote on Facebook: "God's not mad at you."

Every single one of these written works has been met with incredible acceptance and remarkable, positive feedback.  It obviously rings a cord with Christians who desperately desire to be
accepted by God, regardless of how many times we "mess up."

One anonymous reviewer of Joyce Meyer's book on barnesandnoble.com wrote: "If you're struggling over whether God loves you and working so hard to try to earn His love and acceptance, this book is for you. Highly recommend."

But oh how incredibly sad all of this is!  What a great deception!

I believe that we have lost the fear of God in our lives, that we have replaced the awfulness of God (Hebrews 10:31) with a teddy bear of hugs and kisses.  On the contrary, God is not safe - not at all.  C.S. Lewis writes in regards to Aslan, who symbolized God in The Chronicles of Narnia series, "Safe? ... Who said anything about safe?  'Course he isn't safe.  But he's good.  He's the King, I tell you."  What a beautiful, yet dreadful image.

But enough small talk.  Allow me to get straight to the facts.

John 3:16 states the following: "For God so loved [unconditional; agape] the world that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

But keep going and you'll read in verse 36: "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath [fierce anger] of God remains on him."

Whoa!  What?!  I thought God wasn't mad at me?!  And why does one verse say God loves me while another says His attitude is wrathful toward me?!  That's contradictory!

This is the danger in taking one verse or a few ideas from the Bible about God and summing them up in one phrase: "God's not mad at you."

On the contrary, there are two kinds of "man" talked about throughout the Bible and in this passage in particular.  First, you have carnal man.  This is sinful man before New Life in Jesus has been gifted.  Upon this man, God's wrath remains ultimately and eternally. God is mad at you, carnal man, of which all of us are or have been at one point.  In fact, His wrath has been on you since the beginning.

The second man, however, is the Christian.  This man has been saved by Jesus Christ, set apart as a chosen priesthood by God and for God, covered by His blood and no longer condemned (Romans 8:1-2, Ephesians 1:7).  To the the Christian, God's wrath has been removed "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:11-12).  To this man, God has gifted salvation, "once and for all" (I Peter 3:18).

For some more understanding, you should read the entire Bible.  Yes, even the Old Testament.  Throughout the Bible, we see who we are as humans and who God (as God) is.

For the sake of time, let's go back and look at John 3:14-15, the verses immediately before the beloved John 3:16.  "'And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.'"

Here's the scenario: In Numbers 21, the chosen people of Israel complained and spoke against God and Moses.  God, being a God of justice and being the One in charge, poured out part of His wrath on the people of Israel, releasing poisonous snakes throughout the camp.  The people cried out to Moses saying that they had sinned and wanted to be saved.  So Moses interceded for the people and God said, "Make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole.  Anyone who is bitten by a snake and looks at the pole will not die."  Thus, anyone who looked at the bronze serpent after they were bit did not die.

So what exactly happened?  And what does this have to do with anything?

Throughout the Old Testament, God's wrath was upon the Israelites because they were a rebellious people.  On several different occasions, God told Moses to, essentially, "get out of my way so I can destroy this people."  But time and time again, Moses would intercede for the Israelites and appease God's wrath.

The truth, then, is that God's wrath has remained on us for our sins from the beginning.  John 3:16 only makes sense in that context.  But while Moses' intercession as an imperfect man was only temporary, Jesus' perfect life merited eternal intercession.  That is the greatness of God's love and Jesus' atonement!

In a nutshell: God's wrath was on us (John 3:36), but because of His love (John 3:16) God raised Jesus up, that whoever believed in Him shall be saved (John 3:14-15) and be free from condemnation and the wrath of God (Romans 8:1-2).

God is still mad at us; that is, carnal man.  His wrath is still on every one of us, be not deceived.  But thanks be to God that just as Moses interceded for the Israelites so they were not destroyed every time they sinned, Jesus interceded for us, "once and for all," in Heaven before God so that "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25).  But this love does not change the fact that God hates sin and His wrath is on anyone who has not been saved through His Son.

All in all, to say that God is not mad at you is a lie.  Indeed, God is ferociously angry with us as a human race.  But thanks be to God that He saw fit to set apart a people for Himself with Jesus as their atoning sacrifice.

Oh God, let me never lose the awe and wonder of Your marvelous, saving grace.  Thank You, Jesus, that You take Your Father's wrath - wrath that was meant for me.