09 Sep Wrath Revealed
Read: Romans 1:18-20
Last Sunday Chad Ferrell preached a message from Romans 1:13-17 on “The Power of God for Salvation” and asked us to consider three questions: 1) Are we eager to proclaim the gospel? 2) Are we unashamed of the gospel? 3) Are we living by faith? This Sunday, Pastor Ken will preach a message from Romans 1:18-20 on the wrath of God revealed against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. As you prepare your heart for our corporate gathering, let these words from Tim Keller challenge you and further instruct your understanding of this passage of Scripture.
Verse 18 begins “For” (ESV). So verse 18 flows out of verses 16-17; Paul is showing us that the gospel is necessary not simply to make me happy, but because there is such a thing as “the wrath of God” that I face. Paul’s confidence, joy and passion for the gospel rest on the assumption that all human beings are, apart from the gospel, under God’s wrath. If you don’t understand or believe in the wrath of God, the gospel will not thrill, empower or move you.
What draws God’s anger is “godlessness and wickedness.” The first speaks to a disregard of God’s rights, a destruction of our vertical relationship with him. The second refers to a disregard of human rights to love, truth, justice etc, a destruction of horizontal relationships with those around us. It is a breaking of what Jesus said were the greatest two commandments: to love God, and to love our neighbor (Mark 12: 29-31).
Paul immediately anticipates the objection that people do not know any better. How can God hold someone accountable for not knowing a God they have never heard of? But in fact, everyone knows better, because they do know the truth, and suppress it. Romans 1: 21 goes so far as to say that all human beings, everywhere and in all times, “knew God.” They knew because God has made himself “plain to them … since [and in] the creation of the world” (v 19-20). Creation shows us that there is a God of “eternal power and divine nature.” We all know, regardless of what we tell ourselves, that there is a Creator, on whom we are utterly dependent and to whom we are completely accountable. We cannot know everything about God from creation— his love and mercy, for instance— but we can, and do, deduce that whoever created all this must be a being of unimaginable greatness. And then we suppress that truth.
This is a counter-cultural teaching. Christians, to whom God’s Spirit has shown the truth about the Creator, are often accused of being repressed— not truly being themselves or opening themselves up to the world as it really is. But Paul says that, naturally, we are all repressed, for as long as we hold down the truth that there is a Creator God. For as long as we suppress that truth, we will never understand who we are, or why the world is as it is. It is not acknowledging the Creator’s right to be Ruler that is repressive; rather, it is the self-suppression of living in denial of that truth.
Adapted from Romans 1-7 For You, by Timothy Keller
Song List for Sunday
- How Great Thou Art, Paul Baloche Arrangement
- Behold Our God, by Sovereign Grace Music
- Great are You, Lord, by All Sons and Daughters
- O Great God, Matt Boswell Arrangment
- Jesus, Thank You, by Sovereign Grace Music