Saturday, November 22, 2008

Romans 1:18-32 - Why we Need the Gospel Part 2

Last week I gave you a brief overview of Romans1:18-32. This week I will deal with verses 18-23. There will be another post that follows dealing with the remaining verses.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

The Wrath of God:

Wrath is God’s anger directed toward sin. It is determined holy indignation, not emotional or uncontrolled. God is perfect in His wrath just as He is perfect in His love. God’s wrath is an expression of His holy love. If God is not a God of wrath, His love is no more than frail, worthless sentimentality; the concept of mercy is meaningless; and the Cross was a cruel and unnecessary experience for His Son. Wrath is essential. When this is realized, we understand that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31), that He has the power to save and destroy (James 4:12), and He is to be feared, because He has the power to destroy both body and soul in hell (Luke 12:4 and Matthew10:28). He perfectly hates evil, and He perfectly loves righteousness. In evangelicalism today, this is forgotten. After all, what are we saved from? God’s love? No, we are saved from God’s wrath (Romans 5:9). The Puritan Thomas Watson said, “Is God so infinitely holy? Then how unlike to God sin is…No wonder, therefore, that God hates sin, being so unlike to Him, nay, so contrary to Him; it strikes at His holiness.” Wrath is the only logical response that a holy God could have toward sin and evil.

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

God’s wrath is being revealed because we do not honor Him as God, we do not give Him thanks, and we have exchanged the glory that belongs to Him and are giving it to idolatry. What Calvin observed long ago is still true today: the human heart, is an idol factory. Ken Sande wrote, “An idol is not simply a statue of wood, stone or metal; it is anything we love and pursue in place of God, and can be referred to as a ‘false god’ or a ‘functional god.’ In biblical terms, an idol is something other than God that we set our hearts on (Luke 12:29; 1 Cor 10:6), that motivates us (1Cor 4:5), that masters or rules us (Ps119:133), or that we serve (Matt. 6:24)”. A.W. Tozer said, “Idolatry begins in the mind when we pervert or exchange the idea of God for something other than what He really is” Have you replaced God with something or someone else? Is your idol health, wealth, pleasure, prestige, sports, education, success, power, YOU?

Hopefully you are giving consideration to how this works in your life. There is a lot of application that we could get into here. I trust the Holy Spirit will convict.

I want to briefly touch on how this applies to worship. Does your worship honor God, give Him thanks and give Him glory, or is your worship centered on you? The self esteem gospel made popular by Robert Schuller is going strong in many churches today. Worship has been reduced to whatever can be done in order for people to feel good about themselves. The result of this kind of worship can be found in the seeker sensitive, emergent, and liberal church movements today. Hymns have been replaced with music that has little or no theological substance. Preaching has been reduced to topical sermons about things that are important to the “Community”. Missions have been reduced to digging water wells in Guatemala and building restaurants in the Sudan. The gospel message is non-existent and replaced with old, new age philosophies. Glory, honor and thanks to God have been given over to glory, honor and thanks to self. We get what we want and we certainly will get what we deserve.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “The chief end of man is to glorify God (Lev 10:3, 1 Chron 16:24-29; Psalms 148; Romans 15:5-6), and for him to fail to give God glory is the ultimate offence.

Is there any hope? The hope is found in verses 16-17. "The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." Our only hope is that the righteousness God demands from us would be freely given to us, namely, God's own righteousness, to be received by faith. You may have this now because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, who paid the debt so that everyone who believes in him might be saved.

English Standard Version Study Bible
New American Standard Bible
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Kittle and Freidrich)
Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (Rienecker and Rogers)
Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XIX
McArthur New Testament Commentary Romans 1-8


Morris Brooks said...

If God is holy then wrath must be His response to sin for His holiness leaves Him no other option. In fact, as the Holy One, wrath is His legitimate, natural, and reflexive response to sin.

Where are the watchmen in today's church, warning of the wrath to come?

reformedlawless said...

A little plain-speaking would do a world of good just now. These gentlemen desire to be let alone. They want no noise raised. Of course thieves hate watch-dogs, and love darkness. It is time that somebody should spring his rattle, and call attention to the way in which God is being robbed of his glory, and man of his hope.

Charles Spurgeon