God’s Wrath Revealed
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. NKJV
The head of the department of evangelism for a major denomination in America said, “We don’t need to evangelize the people of the world who have never heard the message of salvation. We only need to announce to them that they’re already saved.”
Some years ago, an article in The Times of London reported that fourteen church study groups in Woodford looked at the Old Testament psalms and concluded that eighty-four of them were “not fit for Christians to sing” (“Psalms Chosen from New Testament” [23 August 1962], sec. 1, p. 10). They reasoned that the wrath and vengeance reflected in those psalms was not compatible with the Christian gospel of love and grace. John Mac Arthur Commentary
Paul is determined for us to know that before we can understand the grace of God we must first understand His wrath, that before we can understand the meaning of the death of Christ we must first understand why man’s sin made that death necessary; that before we can begin to comprehend how loving, merciful, and gracious God is we must first see how rebellious, sinful, and guilty unbelieving mankind is. MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Romans 1-8
Wrath is not a bad thing. God’s wrath comes from His holiness and His sense of justice. Because God is holy and perfect, nothing that He does can ever be wrong. God is good and merciful. He does not reward us according to our sins, but is gracious to us. Yet God is holy and if He is truly holy He cannot allow sin to go on without judgment. We would not think a judge good who allowed murderers to go free.
In the passage this morning we find the primary reason for God’s wrath. We often think of God’s wrath primarily wicked things they do to one another. And although that does sadden God’s heart, yet man’s primary sin is against God. When man is in a wrong relationship with God, then man cannot help but be in a bad relationship with one another.
In the text this morning Paul tells us that God’s wrath is because of two things in mankind. The first is ungodliness while the second is unrighteousness. The first involves man’s acknowledgment and worship of the only true God. The second involves man’s disobedience to God’s righteous demands. Let us look this morning at the first of these as why God’s wrath is revealed against man.
I. They suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
A. How do they do that?
1. katechein (NT:2722) here does not signify to hold, but to hinder; and that the place: should be translated, who through maliciousness hinder the truth; i.e. prevent it from taking hold of their hearts, and from governing their conduct. (from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Biblesoft)
2. Peter refers to these as being willingly ignorant. 2 Peter 3:5
a. “In order to stop these Christ-like proceedings of the Waldensians, the fourth Lateran Council, A.D. 1215, and the Council of Toulouse, 1229, forbade laymen to read the Bible either in the language of the people or in the Latin, and the Council of Tarragona, 1242, bound the prohibition on the clergy also.” Armitage, History of the Baptist p 360
3. They refuse any evidence of the true God and only accept that which is contrary to God.
a. Evolution as taught in biology textbooks can be conclusively demonstrated to be impossible and only 17% believe that evolution as taught in biology textbooks is true. Yet our schools continue to teach it for the simple reason that the only other intelligent conclusion is God.
B. Because what may be known of God is manifest in them,
1. God made man in His image.
a. Man writes philosophy books and considers the stars, and eternity, something that no animal is capable of.
b. Every day humans put their lives in danger to rescue others that they do not know. What species of animals will do that.
c. Humans believe that they are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights. What group of monkeys do that.
d. Man has the knowledge of good and evil. From an early age children have a sense of right and wrong.
C. For God has shown it to them.
1. Romans 2:14-15 (NKJV)14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)
a. No civilization ever was without rules, laws, that basically reflect the law of God.
b. The code of Hammurabi
2. A disease left Helen Keller as a very young girl without sight, hearing, and speech. Through Anne Sullivan’s tireless and selfless efforts, Helen finally learned to communicate through touch and even learned to talk. When Miss Sullivan first tried to tell Helen about God, the girl’s response was that she already knew about Him—just didn’t know His name (Helen Keller, The Story of My Life [New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1905], pp. 368-74). MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Romans 1-8
II. His invisible attributes are clearly seen
A. For since the creation of the world
1. At any given time, there are an average of 1,800 storms in operation in the world. The energy needed to generate those storms amounts to the incredible figure of 1,300,000,000 horsepower. By comparison, a large earth-moving machine has 420 horsepower and requires a hundred gallons of fuel a day to operate. Just one of those storms, producing a rain of four inches over an area of ten thousand square miles, would require energy equivalent to the burning of 640,000,000 tons of coal to evaporate enough water for such a rain. And to cool those vapors and collect them in clouds would take another 800,000,000 horsepower of refrigeration working night and day for a hundred days.
2. The US. Natural Museum has determined that there are at least 10 million species of insects, including some 2,500 varieties of ants. There are about 5 billion birds in the United States, among which some species are able to fly 500 miles non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico. Mallard ducks can fly 60 miles an hour, eagles 100 miles an hour, and falcons can dive at speeds of 180 miles an hour.
3. The earth is 25,000 miles in circumference, weighs 6 septillion, 588 sextillion tons, and hangs unsupported in space. It spins at 1,000 miles per hour with absolute precision and careens through space around the sun at the speed of 1,000 miles per minute in an orbit 580 million miles long.
4. If the sun’s radiated energy could be converted into horsepower, it would be the equivalent of 500 million, million, billion horsepower. Each second it consumes some 4 million tons of matter. To travel at the speed of light (ca. 186,281 miles per second) across the Milky Way, the galaxy in which our solar system is located, would take 125,000 years. And our galaxy is but one of millions.
5. The human heart is about the size of its owner’s fist. An adult heart weighs less than half a pound, yet can do enough work in twelve hours to lift 65 tons one inch off the ground. A water molecule is composed of only three atoms. But if all the molecules in one drop of water were the size of a grain of sand, they could make a road one foot thick and a half mile wide that would stretch from Los Angeles to New York. Amazingly, however, the atom itself is largely space, its actual matter taking up only one trillionth of its volume.
6. Except to a mind willfully closed to the obvious, it is inconceivable that such power, intricacy and harmony could have developed by any means but that of a Master Designer who rules the universe. It would be infinitely more reasonable to think that the separate pieces of a watch could be shaken in a bag and eventually become a dependable timepiece than to think that the world could have evolved into its present state by blind chance. MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Romans 1-8
B. Being understood by the things that are made,
1. The argument from cause and effect is one logical argument for the existence of God. As everything that exists must have an adequate cause, so an all-powerful and intelligent God is an adequate cause to explain the universe. The Scripture identifies that “cause” as the creative power of God King James Version study Bible. 1997, c1988 (electronic ed.) (Ro 1:20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
2. Psa 19: 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world.
C. Even His eternal power
D. And Godhead,
E. So that they are without excuse,
III. Because, although they knew God,
A. They did not glorify Him as God,
B. Nor were thankful,
C. But became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
1. Professing to be wise, they became fools,
2. changed the glory of the incorruptible God
3. into an image made like corruptible man
4. And birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Men are judged and sent to hell not because they do not live up to the light evidenced in the universe but because ultimately that rejection leads them to reject Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit “will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment,” Jesus said; “concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me” (John 16:8-9). But if a person lives up to the light of the revelation he has, God will provide for his hearing the gospel by some means or another. In His sovereign, predetermined grace He reaches out to sinful mankind. “As I live!” declared the Lord through Ezekiel, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezek. 33:11). God does not desire “for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). He will give His elect the privilege of hearing the gospel and will bring them to Himself. “You will seek Me and find me,” the Lord promised through Jeremiah, “when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).
Because the Ethiopian eunuch was sincerely seeking God, the Holy Spirit sent Philip to witness to him. Upon hearing the gospel, he believed and was baptized (Acts 8:26-39). Because Cornelius, a Gentile centurion in the Roman army was “a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people, and prayed to God continually,” God sent Peter to him to explain the gospel. “While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message,” and they were “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:2, 44, 48). Because Lydia was a true worshiper of God, when she heard the gospel, “the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14). MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Romans 1-8