Monday, July 10, 2006

Is God Angry? (Romans № 4 Part 1)

Paul pulled no punches in his rebuke of the godless paganism of the Roman Empire around him. God was angry. Let's look at some Scripture:

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." (Rom 1.18 ESV)

Whether it's "God's wrath" or it's οργη θεου as Tertius, Paul's secretary (Rom 16.22) wrote it originally, it's not a pretty sight. Yes, God was angry.

God isn't allowed to be angry anymore, at least in the minds of many people. Oh, he's allowed to be angry at murderers or Roman Catholic priests gone bad but not at much of the world. My guess is that many people think there's a hell--but they're sure they're not going there.

However, Paul is blunt, "For the wrath of God is revealed..." (Rom 1.18a ESV). Revealed against whom? All of the sinners of the world and their sin that hinders God's truth.

Doesn't God love us all? Yes, indeed. John 3.16 makes that quite clear; still, God can love sinners and yet be angry at them and their sin simultaneously.

Why is he angry? Look at some more Scripture:

"For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Rom 1:19-20 ESV)

Have you ever been in a beautiful place, perhaps the Grand Canyon, and, overwhelmed at the sight, you thought, "I know there's a God." This is what Paul is speaking about. A person can look at the clock-work efficiency of this universe and deduce that there is a Clock Maker, and Intelligent Being who created an intelligent design.

Instead, many people study the physical properties of this world, galaxy or universe and think, "There is no god...there is nothing transcendent about this; this isn't a creation, this is a mathematical impossibility that existed out of nothing."

Others see this world but get carried away into strange religions. The Greeks and Romans were obsessed with their gods and goddesses. Pagans once even mistook Paul for the god Hermes (Acts 14.12). Here he reveals the world's slide into darkness:

"For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." (Rom 1.21-23 ESV)

Considering thanksgiving to God, Clarke wrote bluntly in his Commentary:

"Neither were thankful - They manifested no gratitude for the blessings they received from his providence, but became vain in their imaginations, διαλογισμοις, in their reasonings. This certainly refers to the foolish manner in which even the wisest of their philosophers discoursed about the Divine nature, not excepting Socrates, Plato, or Seneca. Who can read their works without being struck with the vanity of their reasonings, as well as with the stupidity of their nonsense, when speaking about God? I might crowd my page with proofs of this; but it is not necessary to those who are acquainted with their writings, and to others it would not be useful. In short, their foolish, darkened minds sought God no where but in the place in which he is never to be found; viz. the vile, corrupted, and corrupting passions of their own hearts. As they did not discover him there, they scarcely sought him any where else."

Pagan idolatry is one result of people who don't want to obey God. Ugly and repulsive. It gets worse. I'll leave that for tomorrow.