The Wrath of God
An exposition of Romans 1:18-25. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 1, 2009.
It is not a popular subject. In fact it is decidedly unpopular! It is even offensive to modern ears. Harry Emerson Fosdick a leading figure in the American church at the beginning of the 20th century said in his popular book, A Guide to the Understanding of the Bible, that primitive man had a devilish concept of God. Noah’s God destroyed the earth with a flood. Abraham’s God was a bloodthirsty God who wanted human sacrifice. The God of Moses was the horrible God of volcanic fire, speaking from Sinai. But little by little as the centuries rolled on man’s concept of God improved. David’s God had some high ethical views though there were still primitive notions of calling down God’s wrath on your enemies. God was really improving during the time of the prophets. He now hated unrighteousness and spoke out against the oppression of the poor and other crimes committed by men. By the time of Christ we find the concept of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. This was a great improvement but alas Jesus still held to that repugnant idea of Hell.
Bertrand Russell said in his Why I Am Not a Christian, that there was one serious defect in Christ’s moral character – He believed in hell. The idea of a God of wrath and judgment is offensive to a great many people. Thus there are many who do not like the first chapter of Romans. As Paul introduces his message he begins with stating man’s sinfulness. As he outlines the gospel in chapters 1-8 he deals with three great themes: sin, salvation and sanctification. Our focus in chapter 1 is on man’s sinfulness and the fact that it is the object of God’s wrath. Our text is found in Romans 1 beginning with verse 18.
Text: Romans 1:18-25
I think it important to note that truth cannot be determined on the basis of whether a notion is popular or well accepted. Truth exists outside of us. It is objective rather than subjective. It is not a matter of what I want to be true but rather what is true. Second we must note that truth can and ought to be “tested.” Truth is reasonable and thus will withstand scrutiny. This is important because when we deal with something like God’s wrath we don’t want to believe it. We want to find an alternative understanding. But the question is not whether I like it but whether it is reasonable and consistent with what I know to be true?
Look at verse 18: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Paul make one thing very clear – God is a God of wrath or anger as some translations have it. But be careful – what is meant by “wrath?”
- Why is it God’s wrath is aimed at us?
- According to 1:18-20 we suppressed the truth.
- According to 1:21-23 we refuse to honor Him as God.
- Note the fruit our choices – God’s judgment 1:24-25.
Why does the Gospel matter? Why do you need the Gospel?
- You need the Gospel because of God’s wrath.
- God’s wrath is holy and just because He has plainly revealed himself yet you have refused to acknowledge the truth of who He is and you’ve failed to honor Him as God.
- In fact, you have chosen to worship and serve that which is not God at all.
The Bible says if you have not yet believed in/trusted the Lord Jesus you stand condemned. Why? Not because you’ve not “accepted Jesus” but because you are guilty. Because you’ve suppressed the truth, you’ve perverted the truth and thus you stand under His wrath without excuse.
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