• The Wrath of God

    Posted Sep 7th, 2018 By in Pastor Brian's Blog With | Comments Off on The Wrath of God

    In Romans 1:18 Paul moves on to the topic of the “wrath of God.” It’s a delicate topic, to say the least, and one that is often avoided at best and decried at worst; in the context of discussing the gospel and the message of Christianity it is often left out, deemed either irrelevant or unnecessary. To speak of God’s wrath can paint an unflattering picture of God, some would suggest. It’s far better, we are told, so stick to the more central message that God is love.

    But while it’s true that God is love, —there’s actually a verse that says that—the proximity of Paul’s mention of God’s wrath to his thesis statement (1:16-17) and to his explanation that the gospel is God’s power on display because it offers an alien righteousness to unrighteous sinners is fascinating. The proximity simply cannot be overlooked or passed over. In other words, if for Paul the idea and concept of God’s wrath is not part of his gospel, it is so closely linked to it that it must be taken up in the next breath. Either one of those, it would seem, makes it integral to any discussion about the message of Christianity. Furthermore, his treatment of God’s wrath is so

    There is another place God’s wrath is revealed: At the cross.

    closely linked to his thesis that he uses the explanatory conjunction (for 1:18) to link it with the thesis statement. It’s not just that it’s the next topic to be covered, in other words. It’s a topic that is linked to the previous topic. The thought goes something like this: I am eager to preach the gospel (1:15). Why are you so eager? Because I am not ashamed of the gospel (1:16). Why are you not ashamed of it? Because it is the power of God to salvation (1:16b). How is it powerful for salvation? Because in it God extends to sinners an alien righteousness (1:17). But why do we need God’s righteousness found in the gospel? (1:17) Because his wrath is being revealed from heaven (1:18).

    In other words, the gospel and God’s righteousness found in it are the means by which we escape the wrath of God. God is angry with sin and its consequences. He will not turn a blind eye to rebellion, which is what the human race is engaged in.

    The word “gospel” is a word that means “good news;” and this is at the heart of God’s good news and what makes the gospel good news. The gospel is good news because even though God’s wrath is being revealed against unrighteousness and unbelief he makes a way to escape that and avoid it and be delivered from it.

    There is another place God’s wrath is revealed: At the cross. The cross of Jesus Christ is the most pointed manifestation of God’s love and the most pointed manifestation of his wrath because on the cross God was judging and cursing and pouring out his wrath on his righteous and innocent son who took our punishment in our place. God made him who knew no sin to be sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

    Simply put we cannot understand the cross without an understanding of God’s wrath and anger about and toward sin. Simply put, we cannot understand the gospel without understanding

    God’s wrath; and this, it would seem, is the reason why Romans 1:18 begins with the hugely important word for linking this topic so closely to his unpacking of the gospel.

    When we talk and think about God’s wrath then we are utterly thankful that we escaped it through our faithful Savior.

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    Pastor of New Life La Mesa Presbyterian Church in San Diego, CA.

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