I find one of the most difficult areas of preaching and teaching about God is how to communicate his wrath and his grace so that sinners know God is primarily for us and not against us; that he wants what is best for us and goes to great lengths to show it. Ebenezer Erskine’s sermon, “the sure and solid grounds of Faith’s assurance” is a great example of a demonstration of how to show God is not only an enemy but merciful and kind.
so long as we conceive God to be an implacable enemy, our prejudice and enmity against him will remain and while enmity against God stands in its full strength, against it is absolutely impossible we can have any trust or confidence in him; instead of drawing near to him with full assurance of faith, we flee from him like our first parents, under the awful apprehensions of his wrath and vengeance: but let us once be persuaded that he is a God of love, grace, pity, and good-will in Christ, then, and never till then, will we put our trust under the shadow of his wings (Ps 36:7). And, therefore, to break the strength of our enmity and prejudice, and so to conciliate our trust in him, he is at the greatest pains imaginable to persuade us, that he bears a hearty liking and good-will toward us in Christ. And there are more especially these three ways God takes to convince us of his good-will toward men upon earth.
1. By solemn proclamations and declarations of his mercy and grace. e.g. Exodus 34:6-7 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty
2. By solemn oath. e.g. Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.
3. As if his word and his oath were not enough to convince us of his mercy, love, and good-will toward us, he hath given the most convincing and practical demonstration of it that was possible for God to give, and that is, by giving himself; in the person of his eternal Son, to be incarnate, or manifested in our nature; yea, to be made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted. O how great is this mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh! Without controversy, great and unsearchable is the mystery of love and good-will that shines with a meridian bistro in an incarnate Deity. If God had not loved us, and borne such a hearty desire after our happiness and salvation, would he even made such a near approach to us as to dwell in our nature, when he passed by the nature of angels? Yea, he was not content to become one with us in nature, but he goes further, and becomes one in law with us; he puts his name into our debt-bond, and becomes “sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” e.g. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.