WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE? by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
September 9, 2012
Rom 1:18-20 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20For 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,
Overall Background: For centuries scholars have argued over the reason Paul wrote this letter to the Romans.
- Some think that Paul wrote the letter to bring reconciliation between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians in the Roman church.
- Others think that Paul wrote the letter to get support for his mission trip to Spain and the list goes on and on.
- All these reasons might be true but I believe that there is a deeper reason why Paul wrote this great letter to the Romans.
Just listen to how many times he uses the word “gospel” in his introduction.
Rom 1:1 “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.”
Rom 1:9 “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son…”
Rom 1:15 “So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.”
Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
What was Paul’s purpose in writing to the Romans? To teach them the true and complete meaning of the gospel. Unlike the churches that Paul had planted in Asia Minor, the gospel came to Rome through maybe someone on a business trip or a military assignment or working on a cargo ship. Although they were saved, they did not have a complete understanding of what it meant to be saved.
- They did not understand that they were buried with Christ in His death.
- They did not understand that they were to reckon themselves dead indeed to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
- They did not understand that they do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Paul was writing this letter to help them understand the true and complete meaning of the gospel, to help them in their spiritual growth and maturity.
Application: There are many people sitting in churches all over the world today who have yet to understand what the gospel is all about. There are people sitting right here this morning who have been in church all their life and they still don’t understand what the gospel is all about. They do things in church; they give to the church; they help others but they still don’t get it. This morning, one of two things will happen: either you will come to appreciate the gospel as never before and grow in your love for God or you will hear the gospel for the first time and get saved. Either way – you will have no excuse when this message is finished.
The passage we just read answers three foundational questions about the gospel.
I. IS GOD A GOD OF WRATH? – YES.
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men
Background: Some people read this passage and recoil at the thought of a God of wrath. They call that old fashioned, primitive, or just an Old Testament concept. They balk at the idea of a God of wrath just like the old Greek philosophers scoffed at the idea of the “wrath of God.” They called that the unenlightened way of thinking. But the Bible repeatedly refers to the wrath of God. I’ll just give you one example from the Old and one from the New Testament.
Jeremiah 4:4 “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, And take away the foreskins of your hearts . . . Lest My fury come forth like fire, And burn so that no one can quench it . . . .”
John 3:36 “. . . he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
We can go and on. The Bible is very clear—God is not just a god of love but He is also a god of wrath.
For e.g. How many times I hear people say – “I cannot accept a god who is this or that” or “when I think about god” and then they come up with an image of god that suits them. Sometime back I wrote a blog that dealt with how God hates sin and one young lady ranted and raved about how intolerant I was and how God is a god of love and how she cannot accept the thought of a god of wrath. To her God was nothing more than a glorified Santa Claus.
But Paul does not stutter when he says, “For the wrath of God is revealed.”
II. IS GOD’S WRATH ON EVERY SINNER? – NO.
Listen again to verse 18 – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” Meaning: The wrath of God is over all those who suppress (hinder, hold down) the truth of God. They know better but they do it anyways.
Background: Some people read that passage and immediately think that every sinner is under the wrath of God.These are good people but wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not every sinner suppresses the truth of God.
Now don’t get me wrong—we are all born “dead in trespasses and sins.” We are all hell bound. We are all sinners with a sin nature
Listen to David in Psalms 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” David is not talking about reproduction but natural generation. Just like we inherit sickness and diseases like diabetes, cancer, and blood pressure from our parents, we also inherit the sin disease.
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked . . .”
Paul says in Romans 5:19 “. . . by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners . . .”
Every person who comes into this world comes with a sin nature. Every sinner has a judgment waiting for him/her.
Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”
You may say, “That’s not fair.” “If I didn’t do it, why am I being punished for it?” “Why blame me for what my grandparents, Adam and Eve, did? Who says God is blaming you? God knows that you and I have a problem; God knows that you and I cannot help but sin.
Right after Adam and Eve committed the first sin and God punished them, He immediately made a promise to them. We call it the “protoevangelium” or first gospel.Listen to Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” That verse is like an acorn. It has the seed of the mighty oak tree. God is far from being unfair. He knows that we have a problem and He knows that we cannot fix the problem. He says, “Let me send my Son. He will take your nature and give you His. Just put your trust in Him.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Does that sound like a God who is unfair?
In fact, when Jesus came into this world, He loved sinners and had compassion on them.
– Remember Zaccheus, the tax collector, sitting in the sycamore tree. Jesus said to him “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” Do you remember what the people said about that in Luke 19:7 “But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Jesus loved him.
– Again, the woman caught in adultery – the scribes and the Pharisees dragged her to Jesus and as they were looking for the biggest stone to throw at her, per Moses’ law. Jesus said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7) Then after they left, He asked her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11She said, “No one, Lord.”And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11) He wasn’t angry with her.
– How about the thief on the cross? One mocked Jesus but the other said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” 43And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43) Doesn’t sound like an angry God to me.
Why didn’t Jesus show the wrath of God to them? Because neither Zaccheus nor the adulterous woman nor the thief on the cross were suppressing the truth. They were sinners by nature; they were Hell Bound; they were lost; but they were not truth suppressers. They were “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3), but not the object of His wrath.
Application: Some of you this morning have done some horrible things. You know you are a sinner. Somehow you have convinced yourself that God hates you or God is angry with you. Nothing is further from the truth. He is waiting for you to come to Him. Satan loves for you to look at God with fear and dread.
For e.g. This was the predicament of Martin Luther. In his autobiography he wrote, “I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners . . . I was angry with God, and then he goes on to say (I am paraphrasing here) “As if, it is not enough that miserable sinners are eternally lost because of our sin nature without having God to add more pain upon us by threatening us with righteousness and wrath.”
Application: God is not waiting to pour His wrath on you. He is waiting to pour His love and His grace on you.
Questions: Is God a God of Wrath? – Yes; Is God’s wrath on every sinner? – No;
III. CAN WE BRING GOD’S WRATH ON OURSELVES? – YES
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Background: There is a big difference between sinners and what Paul refers to as the “ungodly” and “unrighteous” people who suppress the truth. The sinner is every human being, other than Jesus Christ, who was born in this world. The ungodly and unrighteous are those who actively reject and suppress the truth of God.
What is this truth that they are trying to suppress? 19because what may be known of God is manifest in (among) them, for God has shown it to them. 20For 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,
The greatest witness of God to human beings is creation.
– Human Beings have been looking at the Sky for centuries. Have you ever tried to count the number of stars in the sky? You will run out of numbers. Someone made them and put them there. One of the French revolutionaries boasted to a peasant, “We are going to pull down all that reminds you of God.” To which the peasant replied, “Then, you better pull down the stars.” The Universe tells us that God is bigger than our wildest imagination.
– Human Beings have been looking at the Earth for centuries: perfect distance from the sun; any closer and it would be too hot; any further and it would be too cold. Any closer and all the water would boil away; any further and all water will freeze. Any smaller and oxygen will leave and we would have no atmosphere; any larger and poisonous chemicals will stay in our atmosphere. The Earth tells us that God is infinitely wise.
– Human Beings have been looking at the beautiful creation around them for centuries—the beautiful trees and flowers; beautiful animals and birds and sea creatures. They all tell us that God is creative.
– Human Beings have been looking at each other for centuries. How complex and beautiful are human beings. Take for example the human heart. It beats 100,000 times a day. That comes to about 2,500 million times over 70 years. It pumps enough blood in a lifetime to fill the Empire State building. The heart is a maintenance-free pump that can function throughout life without replacing any parts.
After seeing all this, last week (Democratic National Convention) people were voting on God. Go figure!
Winston Churchill once said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”