By Mike Willis
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18).
We frequently hear sermons that emphasize the love and mercy of God, but today rarely do we hear anything about God’s wrath. Modem denominationalism has either totally eliminated the doctrine of hell from its theology or hidden it in some remote corner. Several books, including one by Edward Fudge (The Fire That Consumes), have been published in recent years that take the position that the punishment of hell is annihilation, not endless torment. In a recent ad in the church news section of our local paper, a denomination advertised that it did not preach sermons on hell fire and brimstone. These things point us to the sad truth that some men want to hear nothing about the wrath of God. Nevertheless, Paul spoke about the wrath of God being revealed from heaven and we need to study what he says about it.
The Wrath of God
The Scriptures repeatedly speak about the wrath of God in such passages as the following:
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 3:36).
For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience (Col. 3:6).
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb (Rev. 14:10).
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God (Rev. 14:19).
See also Revelation 15:1,7;16:1 or consult any concordance and look under entries about the wrath of God. We cannot faithfully proclaim the totality of God’s revelation without speaking about his wrath.
God’s Wrath Is Revealed
Not only does the Bible teach that wrath is a part of God’s nature, it also tells us that God’s wrath has been revealed from heaven against ungodliness and unrighteousness in men. Here are a number of ways that it has been revealed:
1. In the doctrine of Hell. The Lord Jesus spoke more about hell than any other person in the New Testament. He told us about a place of eternal torment (see Luke 16:19-31; Mark 9:43-48). Hell is a place of the righteous retribution of divine justice against wickedness (Rom. 2:8-9; 2 Thess. 1:7-9). It is a place of everlasting separation from the presence of God (see Luke 16:19-31). Surely, we can see the wrath of God revealed from heaven in the Bible doctrine of Hell.
2. In God’s moral government of the world. The Bible records the Lord’s dealing with men through the centuries. The basis of his moral government of the world is concisely stated in Proverbs 14:34 “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). The prophet Jeremiah expressed it more completely in the following passage:
At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them (Jer. 18:7-10).
The execution of God’s moral government of the world is witnessed in the flood (Gen. 6-8), the destruction of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18-19), the sending of Israel into Assyrian captivity (2 Kings 17:13-18) and Judah into Babylonian captivity, and the destruction of Jerusalem at the hand of the Romans in A.D. 70 (Matt. 21:33-43). All of these examples of God’s destruction of cities and nations display God’s wrath against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
3. In the consequences and temporal results of sin. God’s wrath against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men is also seen in sin’s consequences. In the context of Romans 1, God’s wrath is specifically shown in his “giving them up” (Rom. 1:24,28). In these verses, the Lord’s “giving them up” was an abandonment of man to follow his sin to its ultimate conclusion to receive the pain and suffering that sin produces. This age old principle is witnessed in the Proverbs “the way of transgressors is hard” (13:15). God manifested his wrath toward ungodliness and unrighteousness by hedging in the way of sin with thorns and thistles.
We do men a grave injustice when we so emphasize the love and mercy of God that we neglect to preach about the wrath of God. Just as certainly as the Bible reveals the gospel of Jesus Christ, it also reveals the wrath of God.continued from cover
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 6, p. 2
March 17, 1994