21 September 2022

Wrath Revealed


In Romans, Paul presents his gospel to the churches in Rome, a message about God’s righteousness and wrath for both Jews and Greeks.

Dark Sky - Photo by Victor Rodriguez on Unsplash
In 
Romans, Paul details the gospel, and he declares that it is the “power of God for salvation.” Due to humanity’s sin, two forces are at work in the world - righteousness and wrath. In his Son, God has provided the solution to mankind’s desperate plight, one that is available to all men through the “faith of Jesus Christ.” - [Dark Sky - Photo by Victor Rodriguez on Unsplash].

In the gospel, these two forces are revealed. Every man will experience one or the other - righteousness or wrath - depending on how he responds to the gospel.

  • (Romans 1:16-19) – “For I am not ashamed of the good news, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, both to Jew first, and to Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is being revealed from faith for faith; even as it is written: But the righteous man from faith will liveFor there is being revealed the wrath of God from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in unrighteousness possess the truth.

The “righteousness of God is being revealed from faith for faith.” This translates a present tense verb and signifies the ongoing process of this unveiling.

RIGHTEOUSNESS AND WRATH


Whenever the gospel is declared, the “righteousness of God” is unveiled. This becomes evident when Jews and Gentiles respond to it in faith. Thus, there is a present aspect to the “righteousness of God.”

At the same time, “wrath” also is “revealed”; only, against all “who possess the truth in unrighteousness.” Thus, two processes occur whenever the gospel is proclaimed, and they affect Jew and Gentile alike and in the same manner.

The “wrath upon ungodliness” is the negative counterpart to the righteousness of God. Anyone who embraces the gospel, whether Jew or Gentile, is empowered to receive salvation, but “wrath” falls on everyone who rejects it, whether Jew or Gentile.

Elsewhere in his letters, Paul links this “wrath” to the final judgment, but here, he describes its present aspect. The very sins practiced by and delighted in by those who reject the gospel prove that, even now, they are under “wrath.” Their very sins constitute “wrath from heaven”:

  • (Romans 1:22-25) - “Professing to be wise, they were made foolish and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of a corruptible man, and of birds and four-footed beasts and reptiles. Wherefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto impurity to dishonor their bodies among them, who indeed, exchanged the truth of God for the falsehood, and rendered worship and service to the creature rather than to the Creator.”

SIN


God has handed over rebellious humanity to the very sins for which it lusts, even though sinners “acknowledge the righteous sentence of God, that they who practice such things are worthy of death.” Ignorance is not an excuse; men and women know full well that they violate the righteous demands of God.

Humanity wallows in its idolatrous sins because of the “wrath of God,” sins that demonstrate humanity is under “wrath.” This is the plight of all men, both Jews and Gentiles, and this reality is demonstrated especially in mankind’s embrace of idolatry, worshipping anything and everything except the one God who created all things.

And sin is the Great Leveler. Jews and Gentiles alike fall short of righteousness, and therefore, both stand under the just “sentence of God.” Everyone is “inexcusable” because of sin. Jews and Gentiles stand or fall before God on the same basis.

FUTURE WRATH


Without divine intervention, and regardless of race, everyone stands condemned, whether “within the law” or “apart from the law.” Without exception, every rebellious man and woman will experience condemnation on the coming “day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”

And this must be so since “there is no respect of persons with God.” His righteousness demands equal treatment before the law for Jew and Gentile alike.

On that day, God “will render to each one according to his works.” Now, Paul stresses the future aspect of “wrath,” and elsewhere, he links that “day of wrath” to the day when Jesus arrives “from heaven” - (Romans 2:16, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Since believers have been “declared righteous through his blood,” they also “will be saved through him from the wrath.” Although already they have been “set right,” “salvation” is actualized in the future. Likewise, sinners who refuse the offer of salvation will suffer the everlasting and final consequences of their decision on the “day of wrath.”

Death” for all men is the universal consequence of sin, whether “saved” or not. This is the common and desperate plight of every man. However, for all those who believe the gospel, condemnation for sin becomes a thing in the past, and right standing before God is a present reality. Though death still awaits them, they will be saved from “wrath,” but they will not endure the “day of wrath.”

But for all those who continue to “possess the truth in unrighteousness,” not only must they face death, but afterward, the “wrath of God” on the ominous final day of His wrath.



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