Two Revelations

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For therein [in the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed. . . . For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Rom. 1:17-18

There are two revelations in these two verses which summarize the message of Romans and of the gospel. First, there is revelation of God's wrath which follows upon the reality of the unrighteousness of men. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). This is true of all men, including you and me. And the obvious response of a holy and righteous God is the revelation of his wrath. God's wrath is his settled and holy opposition to sin, and he would not be holy or just if he responded in any other way. And so just as the sin of men is universal, so is God's wrath. As Paul will put it in the letter to the Ephesians, we are by nature the children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). This is a holy wrath which must, if the glory of God's justice is to prevail, be appeased or we will endure the eternal punishment for our sins against him.

If that were the only revelation, there would be no hope. But there is another revelation: it is the revelation of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel. This righteousness, as the epistle to the Romans goes on to show, is the righteousness of God in the sense that he provides his own righteousness to sinners to replace their status of unrighteousness, so that they are no longer under the wrath of God. This righteousness is given to us when we trust in Christ as our Lord and Savior - for it is the righteousness of God "from faith and to faith" (Rom. 1:17). However, faith is not the ground of our righteousness but only the hand that receives it, for God's righteousness is not ours but that which is imputed to us on the basis of what Christ has done. Jesus propitiated God's wrath for us by dying for us on the cross (Rom. 3:25) and fulfilled perfectly the demands of the law in our place (Rom. 5:18-19) so that we might have all our sins forgiven and be accepted fully into God's eternal favor.

These two revelations go together, not only in the sense that the revelation of wrath necessitates the revelation of righteousness if we are to be saved, but also because we will never appreciate the revelation of righteousness until we understand the reason for the revelation of God's wrath, which is that we are sinners. Have you? Do you understand that you are a sinner and that you stand justly exposed to God's righteous wrath? Then hear the revelation of God's righteousness in the gospel, for God made his Son to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in him. With the apostles, we pray you in Christ's stead: be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20-21).

By: Jeremiah Bass