Evangelism and the Wrath of God
All Christians would agree that the Christian message preached and taught is called the “Gospel.” It is good news for those who believe (Jn 3:16). When Paul, the apostle, was introducing himself to the church at Rome, by way of epistle, he made the Gospel the focal point (Rom 1:16–17).
Paul was not ashamed of this Christian message because it was God’s message to humanity. It is a powerful declaration that God is communicating salvation, that is, His righteousness, to those He is giving faith (Rom 12:3; Gal 3:22; 5:22; Phil 1:29; Heb 12:2). Believers in Jesus, the Gospel incarnate, are justified before God, and they now live: new, abundant, eternal lives by faith in the Son of God (Gal 2:20).
The rest of Romans is the unpacking of the Gospel in doctrine (Rom 1–11) and life practice (Rom 12–16). The surprise, for those who have been misled by the false gospel of, “God is love only,” is that Paul begins his Gospel message with the wrath of God, “For the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Rom 1:18).”
The doctrine of the wrath of God is one of the major themes of this letter to the church at Rome, appearing no less than ten times. It is also a major theme in the whole of the New Testament. Its infamy in the Old Testament is what produces so much scorn by liberal Christians, joined by unbelievers. They somehow miss the voluminous wrath of God in the New Testament!
Paul makes a point by putting the wrath of God, first. He is indicating the essential importance, “This is crucial for getting the Gospel right.” He starts his evangelism with God’s practical hatred of sin and sinners (Ps 5:5; 7:11; 11:5). Sinful man, of course, loathes this portion of Gospel truth. Man is exposed for being the criminal element in God’s story (Gen 6:5; Jer 17:9; Is 64:6; Rom 1:18–32; 3:10–12, 23; 6:23). He does not like it (Jn 7:7; 15:18–19, 24–25; Rom 1:30).
People do not want to hear about sin, judgment, wrath, and eternal hell. These doctrines were unpopular in Jesus and Paul’s day, and they are unpopular, today. False teachers resist these doctrines by preaching another gospel and another Jesus than the one Paul preached (2 Cor 11:3–4).
The false Jesus, most popular, today, is the one who loves you (that’s everyone), and who has a wonderful plan for your life (just ignore the wrath stuff). The very popular false Jesus, preached in the very large, popular, false church, is all about human potential. He wants to help you be a better you (combine philosophy and psychology). With every false teaching, there is an ounce of truth (God does love His chosen people, who receive Christ, the propitiation for our sins). This is what brings so much confusion to so many Christians. False teachers ascribe to the reprobate what belongs to the children of God (1 Jn 3:1, 10).
The Jesus Christ, who Paul preached, is the eternal Son of God, sent by God the Father, who took on flesh and dwelt among us, lived without original or practiced sin, fulfilled the Law for righteousness, was scourged and crucified on a Roman cross, died and was buried, but rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, was enthroned at the right hand of the Father, and who has been given the name above every other name, with all rule and authority in heaven and on earth. He is coming again to earth, to judge the living and the dead.
The second coming of Jesus Christ will be with power and great glory, as the Son of man unleashes His furious judgment against His enemies(Jer 20:11; Rev 19:11–21). This judgment, with fire, will melt the elements of earth and sky with fervent heat (2 Pet 3:10, 12). In other words, the wrath of God will be seen like never before on the great and terrible day of the Lord (1 Thess 4:13–5:11).
The wrath of the Lamb (Rev 6:16), which is the wrath to come (Mt 3:7; Lk 3:7; 1 Thess 1:10), will far exceed the types of the Great Deluge of Noah’s day (Gen 6–9), and the fiery judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19). It will be a day like no other.
Reader, do not be deceived, the apostle warns that God’s wrath is already being witnessed in every generation. His judgment can be observed in the lives of individuals, and in the destruction of cities, even nations, by natural and man-made disasters.
With the call for all men everywhere to repent of their sins, and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30), evangelism must start with believing and preaching the wrath of God against sinners. You must believe in the truth, and visible reality, of the wrath of God, or you have fallen prey to a false gospel. Evangelism, my brethren, begins with the wrath of God.
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 7, 2021