by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1 July 6, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(040)Thesis:The active need for salvation consists in the on-going execution of the wrath of the God of Heaven.
Introduction:In our studies to this date, we have seen that Paul is absolutely committed to his apostleship, which consists of a stewardship to proclaim the Gospel. He gives us two reasons for his enthusiasm for proclaiming the message: first, he gives a brief statement that the message is a revelation of the availability of the righteousness of God so that men can be saved; and, second, he gives a pretty detailed statement that the message has a context of the on-going execution of the wrath of the God of Heaven, so that men need to be saved. Having looked at the brief statement in verse 17, we are turning our attention this evening to the extended statement that consists of verses 18-32. We are, in effect, turning from the possibility to the necessity.
I. The Fact of the Revelation of the Wrath of God.
A. In verse 17 Paul claimed that in the Gospel there is a 'revelation' of the availability of the righteousness of God by faith.
B. In verse 18 he claimed that in history there is a 'revelation' of the wrath of God as it rests upon men.
1. That it rests upon men is taught in John 3:36 and Ephesians 2:1-3.
2. That it is an on-going historical 'revelation' is Paul's claim ["...the wrath of God ... is being revealed..."].
a. This is not something one needs "special" revelation to see.
1) It is, according to Paul, an "unveiled reality" (beyond obvious) that God's wrath is visited upon men daily.
2) There is no human being alive with a modicum of sense who does not know that there is a host of innumerable human experiences of 'death' and that the final victory of physical death is inescapable.
3) But, in his extended statement regarding this 'revelation' Paul clearly admits that the "beyond obvious" reality is about the only thing that men can "get" [he acknowledges that men have been turned over to reprobate minds so that they cannot seem to think clearly beyond the historical fact of the presence of death].
a) In clear logic, death is a penalty for not doing as the wielder of power requires.
b) By extension, then, death is an open revelation that the Wielder of Power is not pleased and is executing His power in penalty upon the disobedient.
b. There is a need for "special revelation" to make greater sense of the obvious.
1) Special revelation tells us the nature of the "wrath of God".
a) There is a "wrath" that focuses upon the flash of violent disagreement that results in an almost immediate retaliation.
b) Then there is a "wrath" that focuses upon the settled intention of retaliation-in-kind, however long it may take to execute.
2) Special revelation in Romans 1:18 tells us that God not only has a settled intent to repay men according to their just desserts, but He is, and has been, steadily pursuing that settled intent for as long as men have been in rebellion against Him.
a) His claim is that men can readily see, by the imposition of painful consequences up to, and including, death, that there is, and always will be, an inexorable pursuit of pay-back for those who are not deemed by God to be "righteous".
b) His claim is that men have a desperate need to be so deemed so that they may escape the retribution of God.
c) His claim that men can escape the retribution of God is mitigated by the temporal inconclusiveness of the promised redemption.
i. Those who are unredeemed are subject to retribution without remedy.
ii. Those who are redeemed, but inconclusively so [the redemption of the body has not yet been accomplished] are subject to retribution also [Galatians 6:7-8].
iii. The imposition of retribution has a two-fold purpose in both cases: it is designed to establish at least a modicum of justice; and it is designed to bring pressure to bear to summon repentance.
iv. In this world, the only way to escape retribution for evil is to cease to do evil (God did not give us His Spirit to be an unnecessary accessory like a mirror on the visor for a man with a burr cut).
3) Special revelation in Romans 1:18 tells us that the "revelation" is of the "wrath of God from heaven". What does this mean?
a) It does not mean that it has any kind of visual linkage to "Heaven" [most folks do not realize it, but even fire and brimstone from heaven is not a visual link to "Heaven", but a second-heaven analogy of Third Heaven reality].
b) It does mean that there is an inescapable linkage to the God of Heaven.
i. It is an almost universal reality that men think of "Heaven" as the residence of the Power of the Universe [as the "Lord of the Rings" on Google this week reveals and as Sun-worship has always revealed].
ii. The argument of special revelation is that there is a God in Heaven, not a bunch of gods in the heavens...this was Daniel's message to Babylon.
iii. Paul's reference to the "wrath of God from Heaven" is simply his declaration that we are dealing with The Power of the Universe Who has spoken in history by Jesus Christ and His prophets and apostles.