Glad Tidings of God: No. 3

Romans 1:18  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 7
It may be asked: "Why speak of God's wrath in connection with glad tidings? "Just this: it is the fact that God's wrath against sin has been revealed that makes the revelation of God's righteousness necessary. God's righteousness revealed in the gospel is the door of escape from infinite and eternal wrath, for it is by God's righteousness that the sinner is justified through faith in the Lord Jesus. The gospel addresses itself to those who are exposed to divine wrath, and hence the necessity of speaking of the revelation of wrath, in order that those who are under it may be awakened to a sense of their danger, and see their need of deliverance which the gospel brings.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." (Rom. 1:1818For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Romans 1:18).) In these words the truth comes out as to what the nature of God is toward sin. His nature is against it. He can deal with it only in unsparing judgment. He cannot pass it by. His wrath from heaven is revealed against it, revealed alike against all ungodliness in the Gentiles, and unrighteousness in the Jews, who had the truth, but held it in unrighteousness. The moment sin, in whatever form, no matter where or in whom, is brought face to face with God, His holy nature can only be against it. And it is because Jews and Gentiles—all men—-are alike involved in sin, against which the wrath of God from heaven is revealed, that the righteousness of God, on the ground of the blood-shedding of Jesus, is revealed in the gospel on the principle of faith, and to faith, thus opening the door of salvation to all who believe.
Let us look a little at the expression, "wrath of God revealed from heaven." Again and again in the. Old Testament we see God's wrath, but never, I think, the same as here. We see His wrath in sending the flood and destroying the world of the ungodly; again, when He confounded the tongues at Babel; again, when He delivered Israel, and the hosts of Pharaoh were swallowed up in the sea; again, when Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and all pertaining to them, went down alive into the pit; and the two hundred and fifty princes were consumed by fire coming out from the presence of the Lord. And so we might go on and state a multitude of cases of a similar character. But all these were only the display of God's governmental wrath in His ways and dealings with men in this world. When evil became bold and defiant, God dealt with it in His government, putting a cheek upon it by earthly judgments.
But now it is no longer a question of God's government, on the earth: it is a question, of His nature, for God is now acting according to what He is, and not merely putting a check upon evil in a governmental way. Of old, God dwelt in the thick darkness. His hand was seen in His governmental ways and dealings with men, but He had not revealed Himself in the fullness of what He is in His own nature and character. But now. God is revealed.. He no longer dwells in thick darkness. The veil is rent. The whole truth has come out. We see this in the cross. There we see what God is, and in the light of His presence we see what man is, and what sin is. We see what He is in His nature toward sin, and what" He is toward the guilty sinner who bows to His truth. By the cross the truth is revealed that " God is love" in providing a sacrifice for the guilty. But the same cross also shows that the only thing in His nature toward sin is wrath.' And here it is not merely governmental wrath displayed in earthly dealings with men, but it is wrath according to what He is in His holy nature against sin—wrath from heaven. " The wrath of God is revealed from heaven," &e.
But how is this seen in the cross? It is seen in the cross, because God there had to say to sin according to His own majesty, and the holiness of His own nature. When Christ was made sin on the cross, God forsook Him, and the sword awoke against Him who was Jehovah's Fellow. There never was anything like it before, nor will there ever be again. At the river Jordan, the heaven opened upon Him, God anointed Him with His Spirit, and proclaimed His delight in Him; tempted in the wilderness, and an hungered, an angel ministered to Him; on the mount of transfiguration, the voice of God from the glory-cloud declared Him His beloved Son; in Gethsemane, sweating as it were great drops of blood, in view of drinking the dreadful cup, an angel strengthened Him. Thus all along the earthly path of ministry, and up to the hour when He was made sin on the cross, He was in the enjoyment of uninterrupted communion with God, His Father. On the cross all was changed. There all was darkness—waves from beneath, and waves from above—unmingled wrath and judgment His portion, and His cry, " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" More than anything else this shows what sin is as measured and dealt with by God. In His nature there is absolutely nothing but wrath toward sin.
“Wrath of God revealed from heaven" does not mean God's dealing with sin on the cross: it is not wrath executed, but wrath revealed. He will execute wrath by-and-by—divine, eternal wrath—upon the wicked; but this is not what we have in Rom. 1:1818For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Romans 1:18). Here it is the state-merit of a truth that has come to light—a truth that we read in the light of the cross. Now that He has dealt with sin on the cross, we can say that His nature, as against sin, has been revealed. It is wrath from heaven.
This, dear reader, is a most solemn truth, for if now wrath of God is revealed from heaven against sin, what are you and I to expect, if we have to say to God about our sins? Christ, bearing not His' own sins but the sins of others, met with unmingled judgment and wrath. If we have to meet God in our sins, can we expect less? If God's Son had to cry out, " My God, my God. why hast thou forsaken me?" surely that, too, must be our wail forever in the lake of tire, if we have to bear our own sins, for we can never expiate our guilt. What think you, reader? If you are an unbeliever, you are covered with guilt, and have no righteousness. And you must meet God, and meet Him, too, according to His own nature. His wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness. How then will you meet Him? It is because the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all sin, and the sinner needs justification that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel. And this righteousness is revealed, not to any special class or nation, but to faith.
Hence it avails for you, if you believe the gospel. The precious blood of Jesus is the basis of it. Through faith in that blood the sinner obtains forgiveness of sins, and God justifies him in. righteousness. The moment the perishing sinner believes in Jesus, the same righteous hand that administered the stroke of justice to his Substitute is on his side. And if" God be for us, who can be against us? Ο sinner, linger not. Take shelter by. faith under the blood of Jesus, and righteousness will take the place of wrath. Believe in Jesus, and God is on your side. "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." (John 3:3636He 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. (John 3:36).)