QUESTION: Why does the Old Testament give the impression that God is harsh and unloving, but the New Testament reveals God as loving and merciful? – D.S.

ANSWER: Often people make judgments about the Bible without ever picking it up and reading it. These judgments are passed on to others and believed. It is man, and not the Bible, who needs correcting. We must discover the Bible for ourselves. Blood has been shed for the freedom to have the Word of God in our hands. Yet it is said that most Bibles remain unopened and unread.

There is a great deal of inaccurate teaching about the Bible, portraying a different God in the Old and New Testaments. Too many people talk about the God of wrath in the Old Testament, and a God of love and peace in the New Testament. But God is the same throughout the Bible.

The Old Testament tells us the God is holy and pure, and He punishes those who rebel against Him. But the New Testament tells us the same thing. In fact, some of the strongest warnings about judgment in the Bible come from the lips of Jesus in the New Testament (Matthew 7:14).

In the same way, the New Testament certainly stresses God’s love and mercy. In fact, it gives us the greatest proof that God loves us: He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die in our place, and by His grace we can receive His salvation (Romans 3:23, John 3:16).

But the Old Testament also tells us repeatedly about God’s love for us: “I have loved you with an everlasting love ... with loving kindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3).

The Bible will always be the center of controversy, but it is still God’s love letter to us.

– This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.

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