Question: Aren't there two copies of the wrath of God for sin? What I mean is, since Jesus absorbed the full wrath for the elect (those who would believe in him) how is it possible that the elect are still born under God's wrath and condemnation which was all poured-out and absorbed by Jesus 2000 years ago? My theory is there are two. The redemptive wrath was poured out on Jesus for the elect, and only when the elect believe Jesus already endured the full wrath of God for them, paying for their sins already. Then the second copy of the exact same wrath for the exact same sins is canceled, and the person who believes is therefore saved. Is this heretical, or untrue, or what?

I think it's true, though, because if it's not, the whole concept of receiving salvation by faith makes no sense. If we say that Christ paid the price for our sins, in order to be saved you must believe and trust that he did that for you. This would indicate that even though Jesus suffered God's wrath for the elect already, the same exact wrath must still be there for the elect to be saved from when they trust in Jesus… but I think it would be a copy… because he already absorbed God’s original wrath 2000 years ago. (Male, under 18, USA).

Answer: Greetings friend. This is an amazing question from a person your age! Please consider a career in theology or philosophy… because you are way ahead of the curve! Postulating a copy of God’s wrath is certainly a creative way to test when and how certain of the redemptive elements occurred… but relax. This is not heretical… and I appreciate your humility here. It’s just not necessary to have a copy. You see, your model assumes that God limits himself to linear time when dealing with us. But this sells his omnipresence short. So, let me give you a brief overview of how God relates to time, and then we’ll discuss your issues.

If time were created along with everything else in the universe (which is my view), then “before" creation, God was atemporal. Time did not exist… but God did… so God just existed timelessly. But from the moment of creation onward, God had to relate to his creation in time, so he became temporal for our sakes. But we cannot think of that as a limit. First, I believe that God still transcends time… but when he engages it, he is omnitemporal. God exists in all time at the same time. If this is not true of God, then he would not be omnipresent, omniscient nor omnipotent… and that would be no God worth having.

So, even though we live our lives in linear time — and even though Jesus shed his blood on a date and time — and even though we receive Jesus at a point in time — God has no limits on when he works his end of the redemptive process. This is why God doesn’t need any copies of his wrath to dispense at the “appropriate time.” We merely partake of the same wrath that God established up front.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love (Ephesians 1:4, NIV)

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, (2 Timothy 1:9, NIV)

[Christ] was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
(1 Peter 1:20, NIV)

These verses show that God dealt with me, you and Jesus before you and I were even created. Note also that the wrath of God is implied in redemption (or what else are we redeemed from?)

So — and from the perspective of a God who experiences all time at the same time — God created the cosmos—Adam fell—I fell—you fell—Jesus died—I was saved—you were saved… all at the same instant. You and I don’t experience it that way because we are “stuck” in linear time… and being stuck in time was part of Jesus’ condescension. But in spite of him dying on a certain date in history, every person who was ever saved — and no matter who, when or where — were saved through the Savior, Jesus Christ.

This is why I was impressed with your insight that we might need two wraths… because that’s the felt-effect of redemption. When the timeless God applied wrath upon this whole age, it did not touch anyone … not, that is, until their moment came (Rom. 3:23). But when it did touch them, it was the same wrath that God released at first. It’s just that the people who were the objects of that wrath proved that they were worthy of it at a later date.

The “fix” for God’s wrath works that way, too. Although Jesus shed his blood at a particular point in time, this was the pre-ordained and global remedy to assuage God’s wrath.

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
(Hebrews 10:8–10, NIV, emphasis mine)

Now, I think we are from different backgrounds, so please note two potential differences that impact these ideas: I do not subscribe to limited atonement… but I do subscribe libertarian free will. So, when I read that Jesus’ body was sacrificed “once and for all,” I see Jesus Christ as sacrificed for all humanity and in all time… and this makes redemption available to all… although all are not saved… because God forces Christ on no one. Instead, we must be proactive about our part in redemption — we must receive Christ personally. If we apply Jesus’ blood to the lintels of our hearts, God’s wrath will surely pass us by.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— (John 1:12, NIV)


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