16. During a sermon broadcasted by RadioEvangelo* I heard Francesco Toppi say ‘God is not an avenging God but a God of love’; is that true?




* RadioEvangelo (GospelRadio) is an Evangelical Radio which belongs to the Assemblee di Dio in Italia (ADI), that is, the Italian Assemblies of God.


First of all, it must be said that those words spoken by Francesco Toppi [former president of the Italian Assemblies of God] during that sermon are confirmed by the following words he has written in his book titled A Domanda Risponde [He answers questions]: ‘The idea that God is an avenging God, ready to judge and to condemn, is a purely human idea and it is the heritage of a superstitious and pagan conception [of God]. It reveals the absolute ignorance on the part of those who don’t know their Creator and Saviour’ (Francesco Toppi, A Domanda Risponde, vol. 2, Roma 1993, page 186).

Secondly, it must be said that what he stated is false because our God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is also a God who avenges, that is to say, He is also an avenging God. This is what both the Old and the New Testament state very clearly:

In the Old Testament. God says in the law: “Vengeance is Mine” (Deuteronomy 32:35 – NKJV) and also: “As surely as I live forever, when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgement, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me” (Deuteronomy 32:40-41 – NIV). Therefore, Moses says: “Rejoice, O nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies ….” (Deuteronomy 32:43 – NIV). There are many other passages of the Old Testament which in one way or another state that God takes vengeance: among them I want to mention this one which is written in the book of the prophet Nahum: “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath” (Nahum 1:2 – NIV), and also this one which is written in the Psalms: “O Lord, the God who avenges, O God who avenges, shine forth” (Psalm 94:1 – NIV).

In the New Testament. There are particularly two places where God is presented as an avenging God. The former is in the Gospel according to Luke, where Jesus stated: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-24). The latter is in the first epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, where the apostle states: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6).

Therefore, as you can see, the Scripture attests in an eloquent and powerful way that our God is an avenging God who takes vengeance on His adversaries. If it were not so, how could the Scripture state that God is righteous? Therefore, vengeance is necessary to God in order to show His righteousness, which is very high. We are glad to have a God who not only is a merciful God but also an avenging God; we are glad because we know that He will execute judgement upon those who wrong us, both believers and unbelievers, by returning their wickedness upon their own heads. Of course, God sometimes gives them (those who wrong other people) time to repent of their sins, but if they don’t repent God will definitely punish them.

Let no one deceive you, God avenges both believers and unbelievers. He is the Righteous One, to Him be the glory now and forever. Amen.

I want to say something else. Today many preachers love to speak only about some of the virtues of God, that is to say, about His love, His goodness, His faithfulness, His mercy and His compassion, and they never speak about His righteousness which God manifests through His vengeances, which are often immediate. For instance, Ananias and Sapphira were put to death by God immediately, the reason was because they had lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11). King Herod was struck down by an angel of God (and he was eaten by worms and died) when the people of Tyre and Sidon shouted ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man!’; the reason was because Herod did not give praise to God (Acts 12:20-23). Obviously, the reason why these preachers do not speak about the vengeances of God is that they do not want to frighten the listeners: believers must not fear God, they must not tremble at the thought that God can punish them immediately, even by putting them to death (if that is God’s will), because of some sins they have committed, because of their rebellion, because of the stubbornness of their hearts!! No, believers must think only of the love of God, of His compassion, of His mercy!!! So these believers who heed these preachers form a very personal idea of God, which is the idea of their pastor they love to listen to. Consequently, when these believers, who are used to hearing only about the love and mercy of God, meet a believer who speaks also about God’s vengeances, they think that he is a believer who is superstitious and paganized by strange ideas!!

Brothers, let no man deceive you with vain words, search the Scriptures diligently and you will see that God is an avenging God.