An Exposition of Romans 1:14-19, by Bill Rhetts (preached at my church)
My Pastor gave me the assignment to teach Romans 1:16 during our Lord’s Day worship service. Hence the following video is an exposition of Romans 1:14-19. Or you can download the Mp3 audio file here. Below this video, for your reference, I also provided a transcript.
Though obviously I will not be teaching through the entire book of Romans, but I want to give a brief introduction to Romans. A brief intro is important, because this first chapter sets the stage for the rest of Romans.
To us Reformers, Romans is known as the “book of Doctrines.”
Martin Luther said, “This Epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament, and is truly the purest Gospel.”
Philipp Melanchthon said Romans is “didactic, teaching what the Gospel is and, indeed, the source of justification, and it is truly like a methodus [way of teaching] of the entire Scripture.”
John Calvin said it is “a key that gave access to all the deepest treasures of the Scriptures.”
Cyriacus Spangenberg said “In sum, this epistle is a light. It shines before the dull and the ignorant to teach them, to enlighten them to give them correct understanding.”
Most of this first chapter is a Prologue to the entire book of Romans.
Throughout this book, God places an emphasis on both the Law and the Gospel.
So let us begin with an exposition of verses 14-17.
14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
This passage includes Paul’s three ‘I Ams.’
But first, Jesus is known as the “Great I Am.” In part, Jesus said –
“I am the bread of life. I am the light of the world. I am the door. I am the good shepherd. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the true vine. And Jesus said, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
But now the Apostle Paul Heralds his own ‘three I ams.’ In verse 14 “I am under obligation.” vs 15, “I am eager,” and in vs 16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”
Paul said in vs 14, “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.”
Notice what he did not say. He did not say I am under no obligation to preach the Gospel. But instead, he said he is under obligation. Sadly many professing Christians today would say just the opposite.
This word obligated is better translated as to be ‘indebted’ to someone. The word ‘indebted’ is the Greek word opheiletēs (of-i-let’-ace), it is a masculine noun, and is used 7 times in the Scriptures.
This indebted (or obligated) means to be ‘morally delinquent’ if we do not share the Gospel. It means we are obligated, and that we owe others the Gospel. It means that if we do not share the Gospel, that we are a ‘transgressor against God.’ It means that we are ‘bound by a duty’ to share His Gospel. It is tantamount to us not making ‘amends to a person that is injured.’
Facts is, Christian’s were bought with a price, and now we are obligated and indebted.
We were never created to simply soak-in our salvation like a selfish sponge. But we we’re created to be selflessly squeezed-out, for the glory of God.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:16-17, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.”
The Greeks here were those that were wise (or educated and well-schooled) in Greek, and the Barbarians were the foolish (or uneducated, and poorly spoken). They were two different classes of people groups.
Nonetheless Paul’s desire is to be ‘all things to all men,’ as ‘God is no respecter of persons.’
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”
In verse 15 Paul said, “So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”
He said “I am,” but ‘I am’ what. He is “eager” to preach the Gospel.
That should be the attitude of every Christian, that we’re eager to preach (or share) His glorious Gospel. And to do so with passion and intensity.
Sadly many today wrongfully say that evangelism is only for those that have “the gift of evangelism.” Though it is a “gift” specifically and uniquely for some, but we are all generally obligated (indebted) to share the Gospel.
This word “preach” (yü-än-ge-lē’-zō) means to declare, to announce good news, to evangelize, to preach the Gospel.
And now verse 16.
In verse 16 Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
In vs 16a Paul says “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.”
Many today are ashamed of, or are embarrassed by the public preaching (or sharing) of the Gospel. Though they may not be ashamed while at their local church, but they are in the public.
The Gospel is not just for the inside of sanctuaries, it is also for the outdoors. The sanctuary is our training ground for the battlefield.
Naturally so, daily I hear people mock and scoff at the Gospel. But unnaturally, I often hear professing Christians mock and scoff at the public preaching of the Gospel.
But as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:18-19, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
Nearly every week right here in the United States of America, I hear of another Herald being arrested for the ‘public proclamation of the Gospel.’
Nearly every day, Christians are being detained, or assaulted in the streets of the USA. To name just a few of hundreds of stories.
I have video of one Herald being cut with a knife.
A couple months ago our fellow brethren from SGRB Church in Ontario, were proclaiming the Gospel outside ‘the gates of hell.’ And the police were called on them. Though I was not present, I am told that three police units rolled onto the scene.
Providentially their pastor (Pastor Steve) happened to stop-by to see how they were doing.
Do you think any of them were ashamed of the Gospel? Do you think they ‘flinched in the face of adversity?’ The answer is unequivocally NO. They exemplified this attitude of Paul in 2 Timothy 1:8 –
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,”
C.T. Studd said, “Some want to live within the sound of a church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell.”
In November while I was Heralding the Gospel to about 120 souls in a ‘courtyard garden’ area outside the San Bernardino County Courthouse, a SBSD Deputy approached me. He personally served me with a ‘court order’ signed by a presiding judge. The 5-page court order restricted my methods of evangelism, and warned me of fines, and/or arrest.
When Las Vegas Metro police arrested my dear friend Ronnie Cardiel, they ‘strip searched’ him down to full nakedness, and subjected him to a ‘body cavity’ search.
Though Ronnie was humiliated, and embarrassed by the body cavity search, but he was never ashamed of the Gospel. And when he was able to post bail the next day, he was back-out again preaching the glorious Gospel in the gutters of Vegas.
John Furz, an Open Air Preacher in the 18th century said, “As soon as I began to preach, a man came straight forward, and presented a gun at my face, swearing that he would blow my brains out if I spake another word. However, I continued preaching, and he continued swearing, sometimes putting the muzzle of the gun to my mouth, sometimes against my ear. While we were singing the last hymn, he got behind me, fired the gun, and burned off part of my hair.”
One Reformed Baptist pastor once said (re his own church laboring with him in the streets), “If you don’t come into this to die, then don’t come. You’re only hurting us. You’re not helping.”
Let us never be ashamed of the Gospel. As the Lord Jesus warned in Luke 9:26, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”
Church, we have a Christian duty to share the Gospel beyond these four walls (and thankfully some of you are, and I encourage you to continue pressing on).
Charles Spurgeon said, “No sort of defense is needed for preaching out of doors; but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meeting house. A defense is required rather for services within buildings than for worship outside of them. Apologies are certainly wanted for architects who pile up brick and stone into the skies, when there is so much need for preaching rooms among poor sinners down below.”
So we’ve talked much about ‘that I am not ashamed,” let us now talk about what Paul’s not ashamed of.
I am not ashamed of the Gospel. This word “Gospel” means good news or glad tidings.
But if we’re going to tell them the ‘good news,’ it is imperative to tell sinners the ‘bad news,’ so that they understand ‘how and why’ they need this good news. As Luther said, ‘if the Gospel is their remedy, then we must tell them their sickness.’
In Acts 20:25-27 Paul gave what I call his dying death declaration. He said “And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day, that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”
Church, we have the keys to the Kingdom of God, so we need to be engaged in kingdom building.
of the Orthodox Catechism asks: What are the keys of the kingdom?
The Answer is this: “The preaching of the holy gospel and Christian discipline toward repentance. Both preaching and discipline open the kingdom of heaven to believers, and close it to unbelievers.”
Some might be thinking, “What is the Gospel?” Though there is simplicity in ‘the Gospel,’ there’s also complexity. The Gospel is more than using one popular verse out of context, or using CRU’s misleading Romans Road to Salvation, or using the ‘magic’ words ‘death, burial, and resurrection,’ though the latter is essential.
Though the message of ‘the Gospel’ can be easily written in a tract, but it’s not always easy to share ‘in detail’ in the public realm. Nonetheless, the following is a more comprehensive demonstration of ‘the Gospel.’
But first the Bad News.
The Bible makes it clear that Gods standard for heaven is a ‘standard of perfection.’ That without holiness and righteousness, we cannot see God (Heb 12:14, 1 Cor. 6:9-10).
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”
That by inheriting Adams sin, we’ve all been conceived and born-once into sin (Psalm 51:5 & Rom 5:12). That we’ve transgressed God’s Law, all of it (James 2:10). We’ve put things before God, we’ve committed idolatry, and we’ve taken the Lord’s name in vein. We’ve broken the Sabbath, we’ve lied, we’ve stolen, we’ve committed adultery and murder in our heart (Matt 5), we’ve coveted, etcetera.
That if were not born-again according to John 3:3-5, we will continue to be condemned according to John 3:18, and the wrath abides upon us according to John 3:36. That on Judgment Day we will have to give an account (Heb 9:27). That the wages of our sin will be death, and eternal damnation in hellfire (Rom 6:23 & Rev 21:8), where will be under the wrath of a Holy Just God (John 3:36).
That we must have Christ’s imputed righteousness and holiness, to be acceptable for heaven. Next is the Good News.
For Gods elect, so that we won’t have to endure the wrath of God, He has sent a Remedy for their sin problem.
That His Son Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin. Jesus was the only sinless Man that kept all of the Law, the Law that we all broke. Jesus who knew no sin, became sin for Gods elect, where He was nailed to a Cross to atone for the sins of His people. Jesus bore Gods wrath and the sins of His Church. Jesus fully satisfied (propitiated) Gods wrath on behalf of Gods elect. Jesus then imputed His righteousness to His bride, justifying and declaring them righteous before the Father.
Jesus was then buried, and on the third day He bodily rose from the grave, where He forever defeated death, and conquered sin on behalf of Gods elect.
Jesus then ascended to heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father, whereas Jesus (truly God and truly man) became equal to the Father, and where He will intercede on behalf of His bride.
And that God commands all men everywhere to ‘repent and believe’ in the Gospel, and to be entrusted to Christ alone for salvation (Acts 17:30, Mark 1:15). Therefore call upon the name of the Lord Jesus to be saved.
That is the Gospel. Though I could have said less, but I could have said more.
Church, this Gospel is what effectually calls Gods elect to Himself. Since the Gospel is a miraculous mystery, I don’t understand it all.
The world will be opposed to the true Gospel (the whole counsel of God).
- The Gospel is not telling the unregenerate that God loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life
- The Gospel is not wrongfully telling the lost, that “Jesus loves you,” or “He died for you”
- The Gospel is not handing-out DVD’s about abortion
- The Gospel is not getting people to change their mind about abortion (though those are great things to do)
- The Gospel is not solely sharing our testimony
- The Gospel is not what CRU spreads throughout this region (and afar). Or thru their man-centered Critical Race Theory, or thru WOKE, or Marxist ideologies, and/or their Social Justice Gospel.
- And the Gospel is not absent the Law, because that is a form of lawlessness.
God warns in Gal 1:9, “As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!.”
Furthermore, nowhere in the Scriptures are Christians told to use tricks, gimmicks, gadgets, skits, magic, entertainment, cash or gift card giveaways, trivia questions, word games, jokes, or comedy.
We ought to be orthodox, not heterodox. I believe the pulpit (or our conservations) in the streets, should be treated like the pulpit in the sanctuary. With a fear of God, reverence, and trembling hands.
This is a long quote, but it’s so applicable to 2020.
John Gill said of Romans 1:16, “The reason why he [Paul] was so ready and willing to preach it, even where he ran the greatest risk of his character and life, was, because it was “the Gospel of Christ” he preached, and he was not ashamed of it. This supposes that some were, though the apostle was not ashamed of the Gospel; as all such are who hide and conceal it, who have abilities to preach it, and do not: or who preach, but not the Gospel; or who preach the Gospel only in part, who own that in private, they will not preach in public, and use ambiguous words, of doubtful signification, to cover themselves; who blend the Gospel with their own inventions, seek to please men, and live upon popular applause, regard their own interest, and not Christ’s, and cannot bear the reproach of his Gospel. It expresses, that the apostle was not ashamed of it; that is, to preach it, which he did fully and faithfully, plainly and consistently, openly and publicly, and boldly, in the face of all opposition.”
D. Martyn Lloyd Jones (better known as “The Doctor”) said, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not popular with the natural man. He is against it. So that if you find the natural unregenerate man praising either the preacher or his message then, I say, you had better examine the preaching and that preacher very carefully.”
We talked about the word ‘ashamed’, the word ‘Gospel,’ but now ‘whom’ it is for.
In vs 16b Paul said, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Let’s look at these words power, salvation, and believes.
This noun “the power” is the Greek word dunamis, which is where we get our modern word dynamite. This dunamis means force (literally or figuratively). It is also a miraculous power, a strength, with violence, and/or a mighty wonderful work.
This “power” is the omnipotence of Almighty God.
And what is this power (or dunamis) for?
Verse 16b says “for it is the power of God for salvation.” The Gospel is the ‘power of God, and it has the power to save.
This word salvation is the Greek work sōtēria, which is where we get the word soteriology from. Soteriology is the study of the doctrine of salvation, or how one becomes saved.
Sometimes thee Almighty God saves us in (or thru) different situations. Others are saved at such a young age, that they cannot even remember when they were saved. He can even save some infants before their death.
Chapter 10, paragraph 3 of our confession says, “Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who works when, and where, and how He pleases; so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.”
Some like Paul, were saved after living the life of a sinister heathen. When God saved Paul on his way to Damascus, the Lord used much dunamis (violence) as Paul was forced to the ground, and blinded by a supernatural light.
When the Lord saved me, it was during a violent bloody confrontation in a church parking lot.
When we were born the first time, we had no-say in what, when, where, how or why we would be born. And when God saves His elect (or when we were born-again), we again had no-say in that mysterious miraculous birth.
Regardless of ‘how or when’ a person is saved. One thing’s for sure, it was the Gospel that they either heard, or read, that brought them to that point. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
Soteriology is the doctrine that led me to better understand other essential reformed Doctrines (Biblical Doctrines).
This salvation (or sōtēria) means to be delivered or rescued to safety (physically or morally). My Thayer’s Lexicon says a “deliverance from the molestation of enemies.”
Though salvation does deliver us from hell, sin, and the molestation of enemies. It delivers us from the wrath of God (as mentioned in vs 16, and as we’ll see later in verse 18).
Martyn Lloyd-Jones said this. “What is salvation? Salvation is the deliverance of man from the consequences of the Fall, and of sin; and our definition of salvation must never be less than that. It must include all that, in all its fullness.”
There is a threefold deliverance from sin in salvation.
First and foremost man needs to be delivered from the guilt of sin.
Secondly we need to be delivered from the power of sin.
Thirdly we need to be delivered from the pollution of sin.
It says to Christians in 2 Peter 1:4, “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
History tells us Romans 13:12-14 changed the life of Augustine. “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
Moreover, when we are delivered from the guilt of sin, we are then reconciled to God.
Though salvation occurs only once, and does not need to repeat itself, there are three tenses of salvation; past, present, and future.
- We have been saved (in the past) – Ephesians 2:8
- We are being saved (in the present) – 1 Corinthians 1:18
- We will be saved (in the future) – 1 Peter 1:5.
One Scholar said, “Let us never use the term ‘salvation’ glibly, or lightly, or loosely. Let us never stop at just saying “I am saved,’ or ‘I have been saved; let us put equal emphasis on the fact that we are being saved.”
One commentary reads, “We are saved in that one sense – yes! But our salvation, the ultimate, the perfect, is neared now than it was when we believed. We have been moving forwards, and we are going towards it; it is something that still lies ahead.”
Since we (Lord willing) might have a better (or renewed) understanding of the Gospel, its power, and our unashamed obligation to share it, let’s now examine this word ‘believe.’
Though we’re to share the Gospel with everyone. This Gospel of salvation is not for everyone, it is only for those that believe.
It says “for salvation to everyone who believes.” This word ‘believe’ is the Greek word pisteúō̄, which means to have faith-in or upon, to be entrusted to, and committed to.
Wycliffe says, “This Greek word pisteúō̄ is a profound word. Belief in the content of the Gospel is only part of its meaning. Above this it means trust or personal commitment, to the extent of handing over one’s self to another person. Though belief does involve response to a truth or a series of truths, this response is not mere intellectually assent, but rather wholehearted involvement in the truth believed. To believe in Christ is to commit oneself to Him.”
My dear friends, Jesus is either your ‘Lord of all’, or He’s not your ‘Lord at all.’
The more proper English translation of ‘believe,’ is be-live. In other words, we’re to be living it out, and demonstrating our faithfulness to Him.
And we will soon see that ‘faith’ is a necessary component to belief (or salvation).
John Calvin said, “The Gospel is truly offered to all onto salvation; but its power does not appear in every place. But that it is the odor of death to the ungodly, does not so much arise from its own nature as it does from their malice. By showing the one way of salvation, he cuts off every other source of confidence. But when they steal themselves away from this one and only salvation, the gospel becomes to them a manifestation of their destruction.”
This Gospel is so powerful, that we cannot be ashamed of the results. To God’s elect, this Gospel is the power of God onto salvation. To the unregenerate, this Gospel brings destruction. In other words, its results are either eternal life, or eternal destruction. There is a power of God that saves, and a power of God that destroys.
Verse 16c says “to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Church, all of us, are already called into the mission field.
Geographically speaking. A Biblical model for evangelism, outreaches, and missions, is to begin in our home town, and work our way outwards.
It says in Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
So we’ve studied that ‘the Gospel is the power of God onto salvation to everyone who is saved’, let’s move-on.
Next in verse 17 Paul said, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
This verse (17) is the verse that Martin Luther believed himself to be saved under, Romans 6:23 was mine. Let us savor, and lavish upon verse 17.
Verse 17a begins with three words ‘for in it.” What’s the “it”? This “it” is the Gospel. This ‘it’ is also translated as ‘therein,’ which is a preposition.
This ‘it’ or ‘therein’ in the Greek, means we are saved ‘for the sake of, or saved to give ourselves wholly to the One whom saved us.
Carnal Christians (if there was such a thing), or antinomians, will wrongfully call this “lordship salvation.” But how can we not worship the Lordship of the One who died in our place.
Continuing it says, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed.”
This word “righteousness” is where the Lord justifies Christians, it was where were are made acceptable to Him. We don’t “accept Jesus” to be saved. It’s the Lord thru His righteousness, that we sinners are made acceptable to Him, as He accepts us.
Righteousness means to be ‘right with God.’ So to be ‘right with God,’ we need Christ’s righteousness. A better translation of a ‘righteousness of God’, would be a righteousness from God.
Again as I briefly mentioned in verse 16, the Bible makes it clear that Gods standard for heaven is a ‘standard of perfection.’ That without His holiness and righteousness, we cannot see God.
It says in Hebrews 12:14 “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:”
The problem is none of us are perfect, holy, or righteous, that is the point here. That is why this Biblical “Gospel” according to the Scriptures, is essentially important.
We broke all of Gods Law, but Jesus kept and fulfilled the Law for God’s elect. That is why we can never speak enough of the necessity of the salvific vicarious atonement of Christ Jesus our Lord. It is Christ’s righteousness that is credited into the account of His bride. Hence, we are indebted to share His Good News.
God has such a Holy hatred for sin, that there are ‘higher degrees’ of punishment in hell. Don’t believe the lie that one sin is equal to all other sin.
In the next chapter of this great book of Doctrines, it says in Romans 2:5, “Because of your hard and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself, on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
Yes it is loving that God would save sinners from hell. But it is equally as loving that God would send others to hell. God will be glorified in His salvation of some, just as He will be glorified thru His just punishment of others.
As it says in Romans 11:36, “For from Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
Chapter 31, Paragraph 1 of our Confession states, “The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell; where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day; besides these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.”
Continuing thru more of verse 17a, Paul said, “For in it, the righteousness of God is revealed.”
This word revealed is where God reveals, or unveils His Gospel to His elect. Some Christians get discouraged when worldings ignore their message. But that’s OK, because God is faithful to reveal it to His elect.
Moving on thru more of verse 17a. “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.”
Notice that Paul used this word “faith” three times in vs 17. But first, what is this “faith to faith?”
This “faith to faith” is not a one-time salvation (though we can only be saved once). Bur rather, it is a saving faith that perseveres all the way to the end of life. Hence, the ‘P’ for Perseverance in what’s known today as TULIP.
Incidentally sometimes I have to correct myself here. The Five Points of Calvinism in the TULIP is not an accurate representation of Calvinism. But rather, it is a summarization of our argument against the Five Points of Arminianism. Calvinism and reformed theology is more in-depth, and broader than just five points, or our five essential doctrines of grace.
Chapter 17, Paragraph 2 of our Confession states, “This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and union with him, the oath of God, the abiding of his Spirit, and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.”
Faith means to be entrusted to, committed to, and to rely upon Christ for His salvation.
Verse 17b says “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
This also refutes easy-believism. We’re not to merely live as if we got saved once upon a time, but we’re to ‘be-live it out’ while living from ‘faith to faith.’
There is no salvation without repentance, and there is no salvation without faith, both are soteriological gifts from Almighty God.
Sinners will either experience justification by faith, or they will experience His justice and wrath.
As one scholar said, “No one has ever been declared righteous before God except by faith alone (Gal. 3:11), and that true faith will demonstrate itself in action (Phil. 2:12,13).”
If you do not have this great salvation (and faith from the Lord), then the next six verses tell of your fate, and the consequences.
This next passage should help us better understand why it is heresy to tell the lost world “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” When in fact, next we see God’s terrifying ‘threats of wrath’ upon them. We should never lie about God’s character.
Let me preface this next passage with the words of Wolfgang Musculus (1497).
Wolfgang said “Indeed, God is angry at the failure of humans to respect him, and his wrath is being revealed against all their impiety and injustice… What shall we say of our time? For what kind of scandal does nor clearly reign in the midst of the Christian sphere? If the wrath of God expresses disproval of an impious mode of life, what can we anticipate? What great destruction will unfold?”
Next is verses 18-19
18 For the wrath of God is revealed
from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress
the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because
that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.”
Verse 18 began with the word “for.” The first word ‘for’ is very important, because God means what He says, and He says what He means.
As one scholar (Poole) stated. “He proceeds to prove the principle proposition laid down in the foregoing verse; the casual particle for implies as much. Men must be justified by the righteousness of God, because they have no righteousness of their own to justify them, they themselves are all unrighteous.”
Paul said “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven.”
This wrath (orgē) of God (Theos) is revealed (apokaluptō).
In the Greek, this wrath (or orgē) of God, is a wrath that comes with much intensity, violent passion or excitement of the mind. It is a form of Gods justice, as he abhors those who practice sin. It is a Godly anger, a wrathful fury, a righteous indignation, vengeance, and justice.
This wrath (orgē) belongs to and from God (Theos). This Theos is God’s deity, His supreme Divinity, His Godhead, His magistrate, His supremacy.
This word ‘revealed’ (or apokaluptō) is a verb which means to take-off the cover, to disclose, to reveal, to lay open what has been veiled or covered up, to make-known, to make manifest, to disclose what before was unknown.
This apokaluptō comes down vertically from Almighty God Himself, and manifests itself horizontally.
Similarly to the Lord having a leash on Satan. God’s wrath is being revealed in the present tense, but will most certainly be poured-out in the future tense, it is apokaluptō, and it is being revealed.
Presently Gods wrath is revealed from His Word, and from Himself either directly or indirectly. Presently His wrath can be demonstrated thru plagues, or various judgments, thru God decreed disasters, and even indirectly thru the hands of men.
This wrath is the divine Judge’s righteous retribution, and personal revulsion evoked by sin.
It says His wrath is “revealed from heaven.” And what is this wrath against?
In vs 18b it says, “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.”
God’s wrath is against all ungodliness, and all unrighteousness. Every sinner who was never saved from their sins, will endure His wrath.
Vs 18c says it is against all “of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,”
They suppress the truth because ‘Gods Law and His Word’ expose their evil deeds.
They ‘suppress the truth in their own unrighteousness.’ This is something Heralds see all the time while evangelizing.
They suppress (or hold back) the truth. They suppress sound doctrine. They suppress the Law. Because they love their sin, and they don’t want the light shined upon their darkness or lawlessness.
There will be masses of human souls in hellfire, who will be tormented with the memories of being told the truth, but never repented while ‘suppressing the truth’ and/or the Law.
Their conscience in hell will be forever tormented with the word “repent,” but it will be too late.
And today (even before their future home in hell), they continue to silence the truth, in attempt to appease their own conscience.
Some will ‘suppress the truth’ in various ways. The following are just a few of some real-life examples –
- They might simply ignore you
- They might leave a church because of sound doctrine
- They might argue and quarrel with you
- They might mock, or heckle you
- They might call the police on you
- The Imam at a Pro Hamas rally, might ‘push you off’ the platform you’re standing on, to “suppress the truth”
- They might throw drinks, feces, or urine on you
- They might grab your Bible & throw it to the ground
- The Pirate might attempt to push you off a pier, in attempt to “suppress the truth”
might enter your church with a gun, and open-fire to ‘suppress the truth.’
Do you remember in 2009, when a gunman stood-up inside the First Baptist Church in Maryville Illinois? Armed with a 45-caliber he shot at the preacher, pastor Fred Winters. Pastor Winters attempted to use his Bible as a shield, and the bullets shred the Bible like confetti (and he was murdered).
- Over the years, we’ve seen a few enter our own church, stand-up and heckle the preacher. We saw that happen on our pastors very first day.
- And the stories go on, and on, as to how they will “suppress the truth in their own unrighteousness.”
Church, this is the America we live in today. We must stand-up and defend bold preaching and sound doctrine, both inside and outside the sanctuary.
But sadly today a majority of professing Christians, and pastors prefer ‘niceness’ over bold men like George Whitefield.
Regarding church history. Read Dr. Steven Lawson’s biography of George Whitefield. A preacher who rode thousands of miles annually on horseback, to experience much opposition by those that desired to ‘suppress the truth in their own unrighteousness.’
Examine that ‘famous portrait’ of George Whitefield. You will see the many hecklers shouting at Whitefield, and even using horns to ‘suppress the truth in their own unrighteousness.’
Read Foxes Book of Martyrs to see how Christians were violently tortured and murdered by people whose primary purpose was to ‘suppress the truth in their own unrighteousness.’
I don’t want to make verse 18 too much about open-air preachers, but how can I not share some of these accounts.
I think of my friends Tatsuo Akamine and Ronnie Cardiel. Both have been assaulted, beat, and arrested many times for heralding the Gospel right here in So. Calif.
Most recently in January of 2020, I saw video of them preaching at the leftist, anti-God, Pro-abortion, pro-homosexual ‘Woman’s March’ in Los Angeles. They were accosted, and their tires were slashed on their teams vans.
God hating mockers and hecklers violently attempted to ‘suppress the truth in their own unrighteousness.’
Today, too many prefer effeminate men. But as George Whitefield said, “I will bawl [shout loudly], I will not be a velvet-mouthed preacher.”
Is there a time and place for gentle conversation? Absolutely yes! But there’s also a time and place to ‘lift our voices.’
Moving onto verse 19, our last verse.
Verse 19 better tells why they ‘suppress the truth.’ “Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.”
They will be without excuse, as Paul said in verse 18, they suppressed the truth, and now in verse 19 the evidence shows that “God made it evident to them.”
This is what evangelists do daily. They warn the public that the evidence is stacked against them, and they will be without excuse, because love warns.
No one will have an excuse on Judgment Day. No one will be able to say “I’m an Atheist, so I did not know, or none told me.” Because even the so-called Atheist believes in God, but they ‘suppressed the truth in their own unrighteousness.’ All of mankind has been given a ‘general revelation’ of Gods truth, Gods warnings, Gods Law, and Gods justice.
As one Scholar said, “Weather it be through the cosmos, or through their conscience, God has revealed it to them.”
The Bible says “even the heavens declare the glory of God,” and that His “Law has been written upon their hearts.”
Johannes Brenz said this. “The whole human race is distinguished into two orders: Greeks, which we customarily call “the nations,” and Jews. But Paul clearly teaches that they both are together without excuse for their ungodliness, even those to whom no law had been given like the Jews had. For even though they had not received a law written in tablets of stone, a law had been divinely engraved within them. They call this prolepsin and “the law of nature.” So even if they did not possess the law written in the scriptures, they nevertheless possessed the law of nature.”
Naked they came into this world, and butt naked they will stand before a Holy Just God, where they will have to give an account for every sin, thought, and deed. And they will be without an excuse.
Lastly, in closing.
Church what are we going to do with this Jesus that’s called the Christ? What are we going to do with His glorious Gospel, the Gospel that is the power of God unto salvation?