“God did not appoint us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us in order that whether we are awake or asleep we might live together with Him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 Wuest).
While it is comforting to know that God has not appointed us to wrath, it’s important to know why God’s wrath exists at all. Romans 1:18-21 provides us with the answer to that question…
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:18-21).
Though many seek to justify their unbelief in a variety of ways, there is one motive that serves as the foundation for all others: “…even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks…” (NAS). The New Testament Gospel of John employs the metaphors of light and darkness to explain why…
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19 NIV).
These passages uncover an important truth. If we are able to convince ourselves that God doesn’t exist, then we are free to live however we wish without regard for the intent of the One who created us. The problem is that we must deliberately suppress the testimony of a creation that proclaims the existence of God in order to live in a way that presumes He doesn’t exist. This is what ultimately prompts us to “suppress the truth is unrighteousness” according to Romans 1:18.
One commentary completes our brief look at this topic with the following summation…
“God’s purpose is salvation, not wrath. The choice of verbs in v.9 is significant. In using ‘appoint,’ Paul indicates that God did not intend wrath for his creation. ‘To receive’ implies that humans must accept God’s salvation. His purpose will be fulfilled, but humans have the choice to accept the free and undeserved gift or to maintain their arrogant independence from God.
There is a paradox between God’s purposes and human choice. But two things are clear. First, God does not force persons to follow him. Second, ‘a predestination to wrath that operated independently of the responsible action of mankind in sinning and rejecting the gospel is as unthinkable as a predestination to salvation that overrules human responsibility or makes it ultimately of no account by operating through it.'” (1)
(1) Brower, K. E. “4. Watchfulness and Armor (5:6-10)” In Asbury Bible Commentary. 1102. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 1992.