THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL (34) THE DOCTRINE OF THE WRATH OF GOD (Romans 1:16-32)
During the Sunday service, Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh continued preaching from the Book of Romans. The title of her sermon was ‘The Doctrine of the Wrath of God’. Her main text was taken from the Book of Romans chapter 1. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest n them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore, God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Rom 1:16-25)
The wrath of God is God’s view or sin; God’s hatred of sin; God’s punishment of sin! The word ‘wrath’ means justified anger, and hatred; a passion that leads to punishment. God is Holy! God is Love! God protects His Glory! God hates anything that tries to destroy His holiness, Love and Glory! God hates sin! God’s wrath against sin is a manifestation of His jealous love toward His people! Therefore, to protect His glory and His people, God must punish sin! God created hell where the devil, the demons and all unbelievers will be forever. The unbelievers, the sinners, the children of darkness, will perish when God punishes sin! Understanding the doctrine of God’s wrath against sin will make you wiser. As a doctor I know that the right diagnosis leads to the right, successful treatment. Wrong, superficial diagnosis leads to wrong treatment and possibly death. The Gospel is power because it reveals the wrath of God. The Gospel also reveals the imputed righteousness of Christ received by us thru faith. Both this righteousness and the wrath of God were manifested at the Cross of Calvary. Both are revealed in Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit! You cannot argue with unbelievers about the wrath of God or the salvation in Christ. They need God’s revelation. The word revelation means an unveiling; removing the cover and expose something behind it. Darkness and blindness are removed. The light of God must shine upon the object. “Once I was blind, but now I see…” This is called revelation! The natural men hate this doctrine. They imagine that God is a God of love who will not punish anybody. Paul introduced the doctrine of the wrath of God against sin from the first chapter of Romans. The preaching of the wrath of God is foundational in preaching the Gospel. All evangelism must start with preaching the sinfulness of sin, and God’s wrath against it. Never start with man’s needs. Always start with God and His glory! Many Christians ignore this doctrine. They say they believe it, but they deny it in practice. Many preachers ignore it too. They fear that people will leave their churches. But truth must be preached!
The wrath of God has been revealed and manifested in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. For example, God destroyed all people during the flood, leaving only Noah and his family. God confused and scattered the people at the tower of Babel. King David, a man after God’s heart, was punished for committing sin. King Nebuchadnezzar was humiliated for his pride. The people of God were sent to exile, in Babylon, for seventy years, because they refuse to submit to God. The Prophets and the Psalmists warned men about God’s anger against sin. Knowing God’s wrath will help us to repent of sin. God’s wrath is to be feared. It proves the difference between the Creator and the creation! May the fear of God that leads to wisdom and worship descend upon us! This is all for God’s glory! Only in the Book of Romans, the idea of God’s wrath against sin appears ten times: Rom 1:18; 2:5, 8; 3:5; 4:15; 5:9; 9:22; 12:19; 13:4,5. The wrath of God is just. God is the Creator and the Judge of all! God’s anger is not selfish, or erratic. God never ‘loses His temper’ like men do! God is always right! “God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day” (Ps 7:11). God has satisfied His wrath against sin at the Cross! Jesus died to fulfill the law: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23)As believers we do not fear condemnation. We cannot go to hell. A believer may backslide for a time, but he will surely repent before his death. God punishes sin even in a believer. It is called ‘chastisement’. But he cannot ‘lose heaven’. Salvation is an eternal sure gift of Grace! We should remember that one day, we shall stand before Christ, the King and the Judge of the universe who shall judge our deeds, our works. “For we must all appear before the judgment (Bema) seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10). That is why we desire to do all things to God’s glory!
HOW IS THE WRATH OF GOD REVEALED FROM HEAVEN?1-In the universal human experience of physical death! Death is a manifestation of God’s wrath against sin! Every man dies, the believers and the unbelievers. Spiritually, there is Death in Adam, and Eternal Life in Christ! “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification” (Rom 5:12-16). But for the believers, death has lost its sting, terror and power. “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor 15:55-57). Because of the Cross, God has removed the sting of the snake called death. Death is a defeated toothless enemy. Death is not a master anymore, but a servant! In Christ, death has become your servant! Death serves you by opening the door to heaven!
2-In the Vanity of life! Vanity is excessive pride, big dreams that leads to something useless, to total disappointment! “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:20, 21). Life is hard! Life is ‘not fair’. People work and suffer to get rich and then they die. Once they die, they cannot take money with them. “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Ecc 1:2). Only God plants hope in futility! For the believer, there is no vanity for at the Cross, vanity is redeemed! “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). As children of God, we are children of purpose! We have a reason to live and to die! Our purpose is to give glory to God and to become like Jesus!
3-In human degradation! On the natural, without the purifying and restraining power of the Holy Spirit, sinners are getting worse. Old unbelievers are full of regrets, torments, and bitterness. We, the believers, hate, fight and conquer sin! We want to please God who warns us against sin and who chastises us as a Father disciplines His son. This is love! For the believers, like with old wine, life is getting sweeter with age. In all things we give thanks to God! My praise belongs to You! Worship the Lord!