Summary: God of Wonders, Pt. 3
YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE (ROMANS 1:18-23)
A family received an important recall notice that says:
“The Creator of mankind is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units, code named Adam and Eve, that has resulted in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed, ‘Subsequent Internal Non-Morality,’ or S-I-N.
Symptoms include: loss of direction, foul vocal emissions, selfish behavior, depression, fear and aggression.
The manufacturer, who is not at fault, is nevertheless providing a repair service, free of charge, to correct this SIN defect. The number to call is P-R-A-Y-E-R. Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN by pressing R-E-P-E-N-T-A-N-C-E. Next, download J-E-S-U-S into the heart.
Warning: If you continue to operate your human unit without correction, you void the manufacturer’s warranty. This is because you expose the human unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list. For free emergency service, call on J-E-S-U-S.
DANGER: The human units not receiving this recall action will eventually be scrapped in the furnace.
The wrath of God is not a subject for fainthearted and progressive minded modern man. It is not central to the gospel but it is inseparable from the gospel. The Greek word for “wrath” occurs 12 times in Romans and 36 times altogether in the New Testament. Jesus’ wrath was mentioned merely three times but the display was significant. Once, His “wrath,” translated as “distressed,” was directed at the Pharisees who were watching to see if He would heal on the Sabbath day (Mark 3:5). Another time, He revealed that whoever rejects the Son would experience God’s wrath (John 3:36). On the last occasion, he warned of a dreadful day in the future accompanied by great distress and wrath (Luke 21:23)
The wrath of God, however, is central to the writing and theology of Paul, who uses two thirds of the Greek word “wrath” in the Bible, or 21 of the 31 times the word. For Paul, the wrath of God is not a future event, but a present reality. He said, “The wrath of God IS being revealed from heaven” (v 18). However, he distinguished the “wrath of God” from “the day of God’s wrath” (Rom 2:5), the future great day of the LORD that the prophet Zephaniah colorfully referred to, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers (Zeph 1:14-16). This double time fulfillment – present and future - of God’s wrath is consistently taught in Paul’s writing; so much so that readers will have to note its tense. Even so, Paul insisted that God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 5:9). Wrath, therefore, is a present reality of a future event due to the consequence of sin and the choice we make. Wrath is more than anger; it is rage, fury and indignation at man’s sin of unbelief and stubbornness in rejecting the gospel.
Why is future wrath revealed in present time or hastened to this point? Whom is His wrath directed upon? What is God so angry about?
The End is Sure
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness (Rom 1:18)
A criminal appeared before a court. He readily recognized that the judge was a defense attorney that he had on previous trials. His joy, however, was turned to sorrow when he heard the judge say to him, “When I was your defense attorney, I defended you, but now I am no more an attorney. Now my work is to render justice. I shall listen to the witness and then I shall make a right judgment according to my oath as a judge.”
The end is sure for ignorant, sinful man, and Paul is not referring to an isolated act of sin, but man’s catalogue of sins – hence, the word “all godlessness and wickedness.” The two words “godlessness” and “wickedness” are never mentioned together in the same breath except on this occasion and in this verse. In fact, the single charge of either “godlessness” or “wickedness” by itself was serious enough. The joint mention of these two words emphasizes the summation, the magnitude and the gravity of man’s sins.
Judgment came in Noah’s time upon the same kind of people for this very reason.
The word “wickedness” in verse 18 also describes the people God’s judgment rained down upon in the days of Noah, according to 1 Peter 2:5. To no one’s surprise, Genesis 6:5 says, “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” and Genesis 8:21 says that “every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.” As in the days of old, man today is up to his neck and wicked to the core in sin. Man is spiteful to His Creator and wicked to his fellow man. So God is not arbitrary or subjective in the revelation of his wrath, from the Greek “apocalupto” for the word “revealed.” He is not uninformed, unfounded or unreasonable in His judgment.