The God of the Old Testament wiped out the world with a flood, sent plagues on the Egyptians, and commanded his people to kill the Canaanites. He revealed himself only to the Jews. In the New Testament, we are told that God is a God of love and that his followers were to go into all the world to tell others of his love. How can we say that the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament?
Two different Gods?
There is a caricature that the God of the Bible in the Old Testament was all law and fury and in the New Testament all gospel and warm fuzzies. As a result, some believe that God has grown softer on sin since Jesus came into the world.
That thought would be a hard sell for some in the New Testament. Try telling Ananias and Sapphira, both of whom fell dead at Peter’s feet for their deception, that God is soft on sin (Acts 5:1-11). Or tell it to King Herod, who was struck down for his pride (Acts 12:21-23). The New Testament gives ample evidence of God’s justice.
Also the Old Testament is not all law and fury. Some of the most beautiful gospel promises come from the Old Testament:
- “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
- “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
Simply, we do not see two different Gods in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Our God is just
Our God does not change. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
You may be asking, “Then why doesn’t he judge sin today? Isn’t he tolerating sin by not judging it?” The apostle Paul wrote to the congregation at Rome who seemed to have the same question: “Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgement will be revealed” (Romans 2:5). We risk looking at God’s patient grace and confusing it for tolerance. The people in Noah’s day did the same thing when Noah preached for 120 years about an impending flood, but no rain was seen. God is just.
Our God is patient
Then why doesn’t he judge the sinner now in this life? The Bible gives the answer: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Can you see his grace? God is giving us time to repent. God is giving us time to turn away from our sin and turn toward our Savior, Jesus, who loves us and gave his life up for us. God is giving us time to come home.
It is like the father in the parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-32). Though we have run away, the Father sits on the porch, watching and waiting for us to return. This is the patient love of our loving Father in heaven.
In both the New Testament and the Old Testament, God has always been consistent. God is not soft on sin. He is serious about salvation.
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