Chapter 1: 18-23
“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.“
Last week we spoke about living by faith. This is one of those things that is easy to say but hard to learn and to appreciate.
Over the past year, some things have gone on in our home life that drove my wife and me to the Lord and to each other. When you want to live by faith and you place your life in His hands, then God will put you in places that give you no choice but to live by faith, to learn to trust Him in the darkest of times and to know His provision, His presence and His peace. I will tell you that the journey has been fraught with a lot of frustration because things did not go the way I hoped, and there was a lot of emotional pain. At times I felt alone, at times I lost hope, and at times I was very angry with God. But God is compassionate, God is merciful, God is kind and God is long-suffering with me, and with you if you let Him.
God wrote Psalm 103:14 “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”
In this article we are going to talk about a very uncomfortable subject for any pastor or Christian to talk about; God’s wrath. Even as I am writing, I can feel the apprehension. Who wants to talk about this? No one. It is not a nice subject; it is, in fact, a touchy subject and even more so today where we have removed most of the harsh consequences of real-life from all around us. Parents tolerate insults and wanton disobedience. Children grow up slower and slower; adulthood seems to take forever to come on. And, for a lot of parents, they like it that way; they want to feel needed, so the longer their kids stay kids, the better for them. For way too many parents, their only friends are their kids, and they can’t imagine life without them.
How many times have dangerous criminals been through the system because someone decided that life sentences were too hard, unless you were the victim, and the death penalty was only for the one being murdered?
No one loses in sports anymore. Everyone is congratulated. No one fails in school anymore; we push them through, afraid to damage their fragile self-esteem, not realizing that when they get to the real world, they will have to perform or be jobless. But don’t worry; we have welfare for that. I am astonished at how easy it is for able-bodied young men to get money from the government without working.
So, when we begin to talk about God’s wrath, it is almost a foreign concept to many around us. Many kids in the church have never had a thorough thrashing by a parent because of bad behavior; they have had timeouts and no cell phones. But most do not experience the wrath of Mom and Dad anymore. Sadly, many of our churches no longer follow through with church discipline; the removal of fellowship and exclusion so God can straighten people out. We are afraid that others will leave and then our numbers will be down.
- The Wrath of God, verse 18
Paul tells us after he talks about the Gospel, about the wrath of God. The persons who reject the grace of God are then subject to His wrath. There is a Ying to the Yang. God is good all the time, even when He is executing His wrath. Many Christians know John 3:16 by heart; they can repeat it in their sleep, but just 20 verses later, the same John 3:36 says this, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
The wrath of God abideth on those that reject Jesus as Savior. You can trust in Jesus and have eternal life, or reject Jesus and have eternal wrath; the choice is yours to make. Hell is real. It was not primarily designed for man, but now it is. According to Matthew 25:41, Hell was first made for the Devil and his angels; but now, rebellious man will find a place in there as well.
When we read in Luke 16, we find that in Hell the rich man was awake, aware, able to recognize Abraham, a man he had never met. He was tormented in the flames and he had the full use of his mind. He was not dying in the sense that we think of the dead being lifeless and unfeeling. Rather, he was able to feel every last part of God’s wrath. Let us consider that maybe this account was about someone that was alive in Jesus’ time, then we can deduce that this man has been suffering for 2,000 years with an eternity left to go. God hates ungodliness; and most, if not all ungodliness begins with arrogance, the idea that I am above God’s rules, or worse, I try to deny that God is real, making myself God. I then am answerable to no one, or so I think.
Everyone is invincible until they die. How many people cheat death, so to speak, then one day death calls their bluff.
God extends grace, God extends kindness, God extends mercy and He offers forgiveness. But these, when rejected, end in His wrath. I have heard some say that God is not a loving God if He made Hell. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are born going to Hell. God set the rules for us not to go to Hell, knowing it would mean the death of His only begotten Son. Then He sent Jesus anyway and poured out His wrath on Him so you would never have to know what God’s wrath was. But in your arrogance, you took God’s kindness for granted; now you call God unloving.
- The Reality of God, verses 19-22
The evidence of God is everywhere. He put it in us and all around us. It takes a special kind of person to deny God’s existence; they are called fools (Psalm 14:1). In verse 21 of our text, these people who deny God’s existence are called foolish-hearted and futile in their thoughts. God goes on to tell us that there is no excuse for denying God. Simply none. Not one. The very complexity of the world around us cries out that there is a God, a Creator, a Doer who did it all. God tells us in verse 20 that His invisible attributes are clearly seen: His power, His glory, His majesty, His beauty, His intelligence, and on and on we can go.
But, like Lucifer, mankind has become arrogant and full of themselves; they, like Lucifer, want to be God. But that job is already taken. They try to explain away God, take Him out of the equation, and all they do is spin nonsense and lie to people. They make us out to be animals who are just in existence because we are smarter than all the other animals, as opposed to the deliberate God who made people who reflect the image of God and His moral attributes. We know sin is wrong.
Let me ask a simple question or maybe two; if we are just the smartest animals, why is murder wrong? We don’t arrest lions for killing zebras; and if a dog is known to be dangerous to humans, we kill it. Why? If you are not strong enough to defend yourself against a dog, then, by the laws of evolution, you should die; you are not the fittest in the fight. Why is it wrong to cheat on your spouse? If you are a healthy man, nature says spread the seed, get out there, get as many pregnant a possible; that is what animals do. And, the men often fight over the girls; so if a guy has a girl you want and you can beat him, you get her. This sounds ludicrous because we have a built-in moral identity from God, as a reflection of His image. These things are wrong because God is moral, and He has instilled moral codes in us.
One does not need to be saved to understand right and wrong; it is a fruit of being created in the image of God. In contrast to being fools, those of us that are saved, those that bow to Jesus, are called wise.
Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
- The Need for God, verse 23
Man needs something to worship. We are designed to worship someone or something. So, we have ‘Mother Nature’ and we have Buddhas, we have idols of all kinds, both human and non-human. We have money as a god, sex, fame, nature, the climate, and on and on we can go. People will worship anything as long as it is not Jehovah God. You know that even the Devil does not deny God; he may not worship Him right now, but he knows better than to deny God. Some even worship the Devil. I once saw an interview with a man who called the Devil beautiful and loved worshiping him. He knew exactly what he was doing and was not ashamed of it.
Look around you; there is religion everywhere; man needs a god. And, when we reject the God of Heaven, we go looking for other gods. There are plenty of them. Man-made philosophies that make us feel so special and tingly all over, until we wake up in Hell. Oh yeah, that little thing about God’s wrath. AC/DC had it right a few decades ago; many like them are on a highway to Hell. Some know it and seem not to care; others are illuminated by their own light or the light of some man, and they will be astonished that they are in Hell. They will actually argue with God and try to make a case for their acceptance into heaven, but to no avail.
But no matter how you get to Hell, before you get into the Lake of Fire, the end for all Jesus rejectors, see Revelation 20:11-15; ALL will take the knee before Jesus and acknowledge Him, and Him alone and God Almighty. This acknowledgement will come too late to alter eternity, but it will come.
Are you wise or a fool in God’s sight? Are you fearing the Lord God of Heaven, or do you worship another? Are you a child of God, saved in Jesus, or are you a subject of God’s wrath? The choice is yours. God has done all He will to secure your salvation; the rest is up to you. Then, once you are saved, God can, through the Holy Spirit, begin to form Christ in you.
Galatians 4:19, “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.”
God bless you,
Pastor Sean Gooding
Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church