“The Wrath of God”
August 23, 2015
It was spring of my sophomore year in college (in Jacksonville, FL) and I had a bad case of spring fever. A group of friends was headed to the beach on one particular day, and I had a dilemma — “beach or class?” Sand and surf won out over desk and discourse.
The next week I walked back into class and everyone was unusually quiet. “What’s going on — why’s everyone so quiet?” I asked innocently. “Test today,” was the hushed response.
“Test? When did he tell us about that?”
“I’m outta here!” And I got up and left the class, knowing I was in no way ready to take that exam. I figured I’d make it up later.
But as I was to find out, ditching a class on an exam day is a vain attempt to forestall the reality of the looming event. You will eventually be tested and you will be found out.
There is a parallel (though much weightier) corollary in the spiritual realm. Judgment is coming. God will condemn sinners to an eternal judgment in Hell.
That is not a popular topic today. “God is love — my God would never send anyone to Hell,” is the common refrain of our day. That’s how books like the inaccurate Love Wins by Rob Bell get written and purchased and believed. Unbelievers don’t like to talk about God’s judgment and wrath; and truthfully, most believers don’t either. I looked through the books on my shelf on the attributes of God and as I looked at three different volumes written by A. W. Tozer, I could not find a chapter on the wrath of God. Twice I have preached series on the attributes of God and I could only find one sermon out of almost 40 sermons on the righteousness (judgment/wrath) of God — and that was more than 20 years ago. We don’t like to talk about the wrath of God. Yet, as we will discover this morning, the Scriptures have much to say about God’s wrath and judgment.
Today we leave the introduction of Romans and enter the first major section in Romans (1:18 – 3:20) — the section in which Paul expounds on the sinfulness of man. Let me just remind you of the context. Paul is writing to the Romans to solicit financial support for his evangelistic venture to Spain; but because they don’t know him, he writes about his understanding of the gospel. The entire book is about the gospel. And you can remember the major sections of the book with several words that relate to the gospel: sin, salvation, sanctification, sovereignty, and service. And 1:18 – 3:20 is that first section on sin. In these chapters, Paul is exposing every individual’s need for salvation and everyone’s inability to save himself. In 1:18-32 he demonstrates that unbelieving Gentiles are sinners; in 2:1–3:8 he illustrates that all Jews are sinners, and in 3:9-20 he explains that all men everywhere are sinners in need of salvation.
And in beginning this section on sin, Paul states the significance of our sinfulness — our sin is a problem because of God’s wrath. So in verse 18 he writes, “For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”
But before we look at what Paul has to say in these opening sections about the wrath of God as it relates to unbelieving Gentiles in Rome, I want us to have a framework for the biblical teaching about God’s wrath. This is unfamiliar territory for most of us. We don’t like to think about God’s wrath, and if we want to know about God’s wrath we will likely have a hard time finding someone who will say something biblically accurate about it.
So here is where we are going this morning. We want to begin with the basic biblical explanation of God’s wrath. And what the Scriptures teach is that —
The wrath of God is God’s only suitable response to sin.
Then we want to look at a number of realities about God’s wrath:
- The Wrath of God Defined
- The Wrath of God in the Old Testament
- The Wrath of God in the New Testament
- The Necessity of the Wrath of God
- The Wrath of God and the Believer
- The Wrath of God and the Unbeliever
- Conclusion: Some Implications from the Wrath of God
Download the rest of this sermon from Romans 1:18.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.