The Wrath of God

by Mike Ratliff

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18 ESV)

The wrath of God is something that is never part of a seeker-sensitive, emergent, or pop-culturally relevant type of church. Nor is it ever part of those who have abandoned the Word of God as being the authoritative, infallible, inerrant, and complete Word of God. In other words, any form of liberal leaning religious group that calls itself Christian, but who is on the road to apostasy also, through their unbelief, has a total misunderstanding of the Wrath of God. Lest we forget, in God’s economy, just calling oneself a Christian does not make you one. Those who say they are but really are not believers are unregenerate and are just as lost as those who openly reject Gospel and Christ Jesus as Saviour. 

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post, Romans 1:18, here it is from the Greek text, “᾿Αποκαλύπτεται γὰρ ὀργὴ Θεοῦ ἀπ᾿ οὐρανοῦ ἐπὶ πᾶσαν ἀσέβειαν καὶ ἀδικίαν ἀνθρώπων τῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἐν ἀδικίᾳ κατεχόντων.” The first word, αποκαλυπτεται is the present tense, indicative mode, middle voice form of ἀποκαλύπτω or apokaluptō, “to uncover, make visible, or make known.” This verb structure tells us that the action is taking place “constantly.” Therefore, when Paul wrote in v18 that God’s wrath αποκαλυπτεται, he was saying that it is is revealed now and is continually being revealed and will be continually revealed as long as the condition which provokes it exists.

The word translated as “wrath” is ὀργὴ, “anger, indignation, vengeance, wrath.” However, this is not an impulsive outburst of anger aimed capriciously at people whom God does not like. Instead, it is a a settled, determined response of a righteous God against sin (cf. Psalm 2:5, 12; 45:7; 75:8; 76:6, 7; 78:49-51; 90:7-9; Isaiah, 51:17; Jeremiah 25:15, 16; John 3:36; Romans 9:22; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:5, 6).

I have been listening to many of the objections in the debates done between Dr. James White with Roman Catholic Apologists, Atheist Apologists, and militant Arminian Apologists. This next statement may be insightful or it may incite some to send me hate mail. In any case, here it is, “All three groups of people resort to the same argumentation when all of their points of contentions are addressed Biblically. They all fall back on a denial of the Doctrine of Original Sin.” They hate the God of Reformation Theology because He is wrathful, et cetera. We do not have the time or space to go into all their points here, but suffice it to say that natural man wants a god who just loves, loves, loves and does all he can to save everyone. Forget all that stuff about original sin and that offending the righteousness of a perfectly righteous and Holy God and that His Wrath burns against all sin as it should as we see in the rest of v18. Natural man suppresses the truth although the evidence from conscience, creation, and God’s Word is irrefutable. In any case, these people choose to resist and oppose God’s truth by holding fast to their sin (cf. Psalm 14:1; John 3:19, 20).

This short piece was intended to show that when we talk about the wrath of God that we are not talking about the wrath of the Church or the wrath of a religion or the wrath of a group of people, but the ὀργὴ Θεοῦ. Are you within it or are your sins covered by the blood of the Lamb?

Soli Deo Gloria!

17 thoughts on “The Wrath of God

  1. Hi, Mike. I agree completely that the gospel includes the fact that God hates sin. It also includes the fact that He loves the world. Both are true and both are necessary. To concentrate on one aspect only is unbalanced and is an incomplete gospel. To overemphasise one side in response to the other side being overemphasised is just as wrong. The truth is always balanced.

  2. Andrew has a good point. We need to follow the whole councel of God. God explains Himself completely regarding holiness, righteousness, justice and love in His Word. I don’t think God said He was the God of Reformation Theology. The God I love and serve is the God of the Bible. Otherwise I would have to study deeply the Reformed Theology doctrine against what God says in His Word. I am not saying whether I agree with the Reformed Thology or not. I am saying I don’t need to understand it to be saved. When other groups debate, it is just that and should be taken as interesting and with a grain of salt and a lot of discernment. It is something to think about. But the fact that they hate the Reformed Theology means nothing to me. What does concern me is when false doctrine is proclaimed in the Church. Please, can we lose the labels and discuss Scripture ?
    Paul

  3. Andrew,

    I would point out that the love of God that counters His hatred of sin and the sinner is not His general love for the world, which provides air and food and rain, etc. The only counter to the wrath of almighty God from which no man can hide is the redeeming love of God provided in the penal substitutionary atoning sacrifice of Christ for those given to Him by His Father in heaven.

    The chosen Seed of Abraham kept – fulfilled – the Law and paid the sin debt of the elect. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

  4. Andrew and Paul, I am Reformed. Would probably be considered a Calvinist by non-Calvinists. However, my theology is probably a lot closer to that of John Bunyan, William Tyndale, Dr. James White, and Martin Luther than any “High Calvinists” you could name. What does this mean? It means that God is Sovereign and the Bible is His Word and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we are commanded to proclaim is non-editable.

    Paul is very clear when he was “correcting” the recipients of his epistles who were guilty of being prideful about their theology. I paraphrase, “What is it that we all have in Christ that we all have not received?” Forget this nonsense about salvation being outside of God’s sovereignty. I will not go there. Forget any discussion outside of these parameters of us having received what God has given those whom He has chosen. Read YOUR BIBLES COVER TO COVER. God is in control and the Gospel Jesus proclaimed is the same as that that Paul proclaimed.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  5. Mike, when I read this, “I have been listening to many of the objections in the debates done between Dr. James White with Roman Catholic Apologists, Atheist Apologists, and militant Arminian Apologist” the words of Solomon from Ecclesiastes 12:12,13 came to mind. “But, my child, be warned: There is no end of opinions ready to be expressed. Studying them can go on forever and become very exhausting! Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.” But then I suppose one could argue, “Well, thats just Solomon’s opinion.”

  6. I smiled when I read that Loddie because the “end of the matter” (yes that is from the same book) is that Solomon was inspired by the Holy Spirit so what he was writing was the Word of God and so is very much the “VERY END OF THE MATTER.” That settles it. When people refuse to accept that then what you have there are reactions from unbelief.

  7. Hi Mike,

    In response to ‘the truth is always balanced’ and the rest of Andrew’s post, and probably in response to the hundreds of times I have heard this, may I say that no where in the Bible does it qualify truth as being ‘balanced’. That is usually man’s device to achieve his own point of view, especially promulgated in the latter half of our last century (due in part to society’s new found love of syncretism which, in and of itself, requires a falling away from the truth). Truth is always and simply whatever God says – always.

    Mankind does not like it that the wrath of God is the first part of the gospel (Romans 1:15 and on) because it offends his own ‘self-righteousness’ and that is exactly why the forerunner to the Messiah unabashedly proclaimed without ‘balance’, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2) And that is why the Messiah, Himself, repeatedly proclaimed without ‘balance’, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” (Matthew 4:17), and that is why the Messiah commanded His apostles to preach the same, “The Kingdom of heaven it as hand.” (Matthew 10:7); that is why Paul preached it, and that is why we are to do the same.

    And we are to stay on that point, be a stickler about it, if you will, until the hearer responds rightly. Never are we to ‘balance’ it by adding, “Oh, but remember how much God loves you.” Rather we are to spend our efforts in gospeling helping them to understand God and His ways, in order that they might fear Him (awesome reverential respect) and repent because the Kingdom of heaven is at hand! If the hearer of the gospel responds in faith to the truth about God’s wrath on him/her because of their sin, then eventually the gospeler will give them more information, but, according to Romans, that information would be the justice of God, the grace of God, the sovereignty of God, and the mercy of God.

    Praise the Lord, His love is greater than the greatest love imaginable, but it is not the ‘antidote’ for ‘ruining God’s reputation’ with His ‘poisonous’ wrath. I say that because at the very root of the ‘make it balanced’ doctrine is man’s unbelief, an insidious one. Mankind says that God is not perfect (and therefore God is not God) because He exhibits behavior contrary to man’s determined standard of righteousness. Woe to us if we condone this heresy in any way.

    Mike, you were speaking in the context of the gospel, not of the attributes of God. In the context of the attributes of God love is included, as well as dozens of other descriptions of His marvelous essence, but in the context of the gospel, the wrath of God is first and foremost. You know this, I am sure, but I want to encourage you to never feel any pressure to add a little bit of ‘positive PR’ for God to make up for His ‘negative’ wrathful side. We are not ashamed of our God and we are not ashamed of His gospel.

    Andrew, I do not know you. Please do not take offense at what I have said here because it is not directed at you. I wrote because what you said is not only wrong, but a very prominent lie that deceives so very many. It is part of the leaven that is permeating the visible church right before our very eyes. In my own way, I guess I am trying to contend for the faith on behalf of any who might read your post here and have their ears tickled, thus being encouraged to feel just fine over not enduring sound doctrine. I agree with Mike and I encourage you to go to the Word to see if the things you believe are true.

    Sharon Jensen

  8. Amen Mike,

    I appreciated the definition of wrath as not an impulsive outburst of anger, like we might tend to think, but a settled, determined response of a righteous God against sin. Just like it says in John 3:18, “…whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

  9. Hi Mike. Your counter is to an argument I did not make. We must believe on the Lord Jesus otherwise we are on a one way trip to hell. Not everyone will be saved. Only those who faith on Jesus.

  10. Just a point of clarification. When I say balanced, what I mean is that we do not emphasise one truth to the exclusion of another.

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