The Righteous Shall Life By Faith

Romans Chapter 1 Teaches Us How To Avoid The Wrath Of God

Tim Lundy
Jan 16, 2022    51m
Have you wondered what God does when he is mad? The Book of Romans chapter 1 teaches us to avoid the wrath of God, and instead, to live under the righteousness of God. Knowing this information, we get to choose because God's righteousness is available to all who believe. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: [00:00:50] Well, Venture, I'm excited to launch week two of our series on the Book of Romans. I want to encourage you, if you haven't done so already, you need to make sure you have a Bible with you in this series. Have a Bible out as you're watching this message, preferably one you could take some notes in. Now I've provided notes for you to be able to break down the passage, but there's nothing better than to be able to take some notes in the Bible itself and then come back to it. Then, when you're reading through it, especially a book study like this, you'll be able to note and follow along in your own study, in your own reading.

Tim Lundy: [00:01:24] Last week we looked at the first 17 verses, and we looked at Paul, this brilliant, passionate man that God uniquely gifted to be able to layout the good news, or the Gospel. In fact, as he said in verses 16 and 17, the theme of this book, he said, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, (the good news) it's the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." And so as we said last week, Paul was passionate, he's writing to this church in Rome, the capital of the world. A church he's not been to, a church that's dealing with its own issues, a church made up of Jews and Greeks and people from around the world, a church that felt the persecution and felt the pressure of living in a big city in a big metropolis like that. And as he's writing, Paul wants to lay out for them the clearest, most detailed explanation of what is the Gospel. What's this good news? What is the Bible all about? And so he says, I'm not ashamed, it's the good news for everyone who believes, the Jew and the Greek. So remember, he's writing a church that's mixed with people. "In it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith." And so we'll see, as we walk through this, how important it is that in order to be right with God, it's got to come through faith. And then he closes, he says, "The righteous shall live by faith." This will be a part of your life as you go.

Tim Lundy: [00:02:52] Now, as I told you last week, these two verses, this is the theme of the book, and so it's kind of an unpacking of the book from this point forward. As we think about it, he set the stage, he says, all right, I want to tell you the Gospel, I want to tell you the good news. How would you start good news? I mean, in fact if I asked you, how would you share the Gospel? Many times we share with people, when we want to share the good news, here's where we start, we start with the fact, we would say something like, hey, I want you to know that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. And by the way, that's a great way to start sharing the good news because it does emphasize this character of God, that he does love you.

Tim Lundy: [00:03:36] Now, one of the problems with that, though, is sometimes people hear it, and especially in our culture, people hear that part of the message, and they go, oh yeah, God loves me. And we can kind of go to a place of, well, of course he loves me, you know, I'm kind of lovable. Or worst-case scenario, I'm not that bad a person, and he's such a loving God. And since he's loving and, you know, I'm not that bad, I mean, I'm not as bad as other people. And so since he's loving, that's his character, and he always loves and I'm not that bad, we'll just kind of meet in the middle and this whole thing's going to work out all right. And to us, that's good news, life's going to work at the end because I just think God's going to forgive me because he's loving, and I'm OK, worst-case scenario.

Tim Lundy: [00:04:22] Paul starts at a different place, he wants us to get this good news, but he immediately goes to the opposite. He says before you can ever get the good news first, we've got to look at the bad news. Look how he starts it just in verse 18, we'll read the whole passage out of the Bible, I just wanted to see this, though, because we've got to understand this term. Here's his starting point, he says, hey, I got great news for you, the first line of it, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." You might see that, and you go, whoa, time out, Paul, that doesn't sound like good news. In fact, that sounds horrible.

Tim Lundy: [00:05:04] And I'll just go ahead and warn you, the whole passage, we'll go through the rest of chapter 1, it's not going to feel like good news. In fact, if anything, it's bad news, after bad news, after bad news, and it really is based on this concept, that God's wrath, man, is poured out on all of ungodliness and all unrighteousness. And even that term wrath, we don't like that term wrath, we don't like the concept of an angry God. And so oftentimes we kind of go, well, you know, there's Old Testament God and yeah, he would get angry about things, but I like New Testament God, the New Testament, Jesus, is very loving. And we present it in that way, and then Paul comes along. He goes, well, hey, I hate to break it to you, the wrath of God poured out on all unrighteousness.

Tim Lundy: [00:05:52] Now, when he uses that term wrath, let me be clear, there's a couple of terms in Greek for wrath. And one of them is the Greek word thumos, and that's kind of that anger that flares up. And God has thumos, you'll see it in the Bible. But the wrath that he's talking about here is, is the Greek word orge, and orge is this the settled condition? It's not like it flared up, it's not like God's driving the cosmic car of humanity, and he gets so mad he goes, hey, settle down back there or I'm going to pull over, it's not that flaring of anger. What this talking about is God's character, his anger, it's different than our anger. I like how J.I. Packer, the theologian, puts it. He says, "God's wrath in the Bible is never capricious." Never just happens, flies off the handle. "It's not self-indulgent." He's not mad for his own sake. "It's not irritable, it's not morally ignoble. That human anger so often is." See all those things, when we use our anger and we think about it, we can get angry in those ways. Look what he says, "It is instead a right and necessary reaction to objective moral evil." What he's talking about, and what this term talks about, the wrath of God, it's God's response to evil, and it's his settled response, it's his consistent response, it's how he always responds to evil. Evil always, it doesn't just trigger a flare, it's in response to evil, this is how God always is. And it's based on his character, you can see it in your note, I put it here. Because of his perfect justice and love, the wrath of God is his consistent antagonism and opposition toward all evil.

Tim Lundy: [00:07:44] Now again, it's because of his justice. We know, in his justice, when he sees something wrong, something evil, of course, he responds with anger. But it's also based on his love, it's rooted in his love. I love how Cranfield, who probably wrote the definitive commentary on the Book of Romans, when he talks about it, he says, "His wrath is not something which is inconsistent with his love. On the contrary, it's an expression of his love, it's precisely because he loves us truly and seriously and faithfully that he's angry with us in our sinfulness." The sin in the world, evil in the world, wrong in the world, unrighteousness, it always produces this response because God knows the impact. And so his justice looks at it and says, yeah, that's wrong, his love looks at it and says, oh, that's so damaging, look what it's doing.

Tim Lundy: [00:08:46] You know, the Theologian Miroslav Volf, early on in his career as a theologian, he said himself, he said, I thought the idea of a wrathful God, an angry god, was barbaric, I thought it was primitive, I thought we'd outgrown that. And yet, when he started looking around the world, he was from the former Yugoslavia, and after the war-torn nation, he said, you know, when I toured my country and I saw two hundred thousand people killed, and three million people displaced, and villages that were bombed out, I suddenly understood, shouldn't this make God angry? He said, when you look around the world, you go to a place like Rwanda, you see the genocide of eight hundred thousand people, if God didn't respond to this, I would have a problem with him. In fact, this is how Volf summarizes it, he said, "Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God's wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn't wrathful at the sight of the world's evil. God isn't wrathful in spite of being love, God is wrath will because God is love."

Tim Lundy: [00:09:55] Guys, I spent a little bit of time setting the table for this because I want us to understand, we're going to read the rest of this chapter, how God's wrath is poured out. And why it's poured out is because of evil, because of sin, because of the impact in the world. And so, Paul, when he's setting the stage for this good news, he says, well, let me start with the bad news. The bad news God's wrath is poured out on ungodliness on unrighteousness. So who exactly would fall into that category?

Tim Lundy: [00:10:28] Well, let's read in the chapter, if you've got your Bibles, I want you to go ahead and turn in your Bibles there to Romans chapter 1. Let's just read through the whole passage together, starting in verse 18, it says, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For 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. 21For 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. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Tim Lundy: [00:10:28] 24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Tim Lundy: [00:10:28] 26For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Tim Lundy: [00:10:28] 28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

Tim Lundy: [00:10:28] Now again, I told you, this is a pretty sobering passage. It's not the one that you read through, and you go, oh wow, that is so exciting to read, it's the bad news. And Paul starts and he says, hey, I've got to be honest with you, if I'm going to lay out this good news, if I'm going to lay out this gospel, if I'm going to tell people how they can be right with God, they have to understand, first of all, they're wrong with God, and you actually have to embrace it. And so he's going to make a case for it worldwide. And so he starts with all people, in fact, we're going to see over the next couple of chapters, he'll keep narrowing down, but for this week, he just starts at the broadest level. And he says, for all of humanity, you're under this wrath of God, whether you thought you were a good person, whether you have been relying on the fact he's a loving God, He is a loving God, but his love demands that he has to address evil. And Paul says that evil's not just in our world, it's in our lives.

Tim Lundy: [00:13:59] In fact, as you look through this and you see in your notes with it. The revelation of God's wrath, when he talks about it, it's in response to humanity's rebellion. He walks through this universal rebellion that, by the way, all of us have been a part of, all the way from the start of Adam, the first Adam, there was this rebellion in it, and Paul is pointing it out. And when he goes through it, we've read through those passages, I've put it in your notes there, you can see that there's this cycle of wrath that plays out this revelation of it.

Tim Lundy: [00:14:32] And so when it plays out, the first thing that you notice, Paul says, people have knowledge of God and the truth. He points it out, you can see it in verse 19, you see it again in 21, 25, and 32. Just look back in verse nineteen, look how he puts it there, he said, "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For 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." So he's pointing to the created order, and he says if you look at the universe, just like David wrote in Psalms, David said the heavens declare the glory of God.

Tim Lundy: [00:15:16] Theologians describe it this way, they called the creation the universe itself, God's general revelation. There are two kinds of revelation, there's general revelation, and then there's special revelation. General revelation. it's that term, when it says general, it means it was given to everyone. Everyone has this same revelation, everyone gets up and sees the sun in the sky, everyone sees our universe, everyone sees the stars at night. There's a general revelation, that this passage also talks about, this general revelation of our own conscience. We all have a sense of right and wrong, though we may disagree over that, but the sense of what is moral and are we living to this?

Tim Lundy: [00:15:58] And so, Paul, through this passage, he's going to do it four times. He did it in verse 19, he'll say it again in verse 21, when he says, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God." Although there's a transcendent sense of God, and scripture tells us eternity is written in our hearts, they didn't honor him as God. Verse 25, you see it again, "Because they exchanged the truth about God.". There's an exchange that happens there. You see it again in verse 32, "Though they know God's righteous decree, they don't practice it.". Though they know what's written in their heart, though they know what's out there, and so you look at it, Paul, over and over again in this passage, the first part of this cycle is he's saying humanity has not responded to what they do know. He's not even getting to the part of what they don't know, the special revelation of who Jesus is of what God's declared in his word. He's just talking about, let's start on a level playing field with every person out there. What did they do with the truth that they had?

Tim Lundy: [00:17:04] And he said you'll see it time and time and time again, instead of acknowledging that truth, look at the second part of the cycle, they suppress or reject or exchange the truth. He uses different terms through there but notice every one of them is an active term. So he's not talking about there's this planet full of people, these innocent people out there, and they didn't know, and they didn't know what they were doing. Paul says everybody's made these active choices, everybody has made a choice of what did I do with the truth I had, what do I do with the truth of this universe, what do I do with the truth of the own moral code that's written in my heart, and how did I respond to that? And Paul says every single person over and over again made this active choice of suppression, of rejection, of turning away and turning away from God.

Tim Lundy: [00:17:57] And you look at it, you look at our created world, how do we respond to the creative world today? I mean, even if you just start with, we may disagree with how that creation unfolded, but for every person, how do you answer the question of cosmology? Cosmology, basically, it goes all the way back to Aristotle, Aristotle says something cannot come from nothing, and so there's a causation. And so if we have a universe that's out there, no matter how you want to say it unfolded, where did the first of creation come from? Nothing, you had a nothingness, and now you have something. You either have to come up with some form that there was an eternal universe, and for a long time, people believe that. Until we had the discovery of the background noise in the universe there and they were able to go, hey, there's a Big Bang, there was a starting moment.

Tim Lundy: [00:19:00] In fact, I love the words of Arno Penzias, He won the Nobel Prize for his co-discovery of that background noise. And as he looked at it, he said, I mean, the result from looking at that background noise shows that there's a moment of discrete creation from nothing. The best data we have, exactly would tell us that creation happened in that way. In fact, I love the way that he puts it, he says, anyone who wants to posit something else is having to do so by faith, they've come up with their own belief system. I mean, even take Richard Dawkins, Dawkins is probably one of the most virulent atheists today, and his book The God Delusion. And In the God Delusion, even Dawkins makes this admission, listen to Dawkins words, he says. Darwin's theory of evolution works for biology, but not for cosmology, Ultimate Origins. In other words, we can take Darwin's theory, and it tells us how the world progressed biologically, but even Darwin's theory doesn't answer cosmology. What started it all? In fact, he kind of throws out, he says cosmology is still waiting on its Darwin, we're still waiting on someone to describe that. And so this sense that we can come to the creation, we can study the creation, you're talking about brilliant people. When Paul writes of the foolishness of their hearts, it's not a foolishness based on the fact they're dumb people, it's a foolishness which scripture, says, what is the beginning of wisdom? The fear of the Lord is the beginning of the wisdom. So when you take God out of the equation, you can come up with a really smart form of foolishness, but it's still foolishness.

Tim Lundy: [00:20:51] And so many people today, they want to reject that even this world came from God when the evidence points to it, when our hearts point to it. When you look at it, that suppression of truth, and so what happens in that? And notice what Paul says, when they turn from God, what do they fill it with? Well, we have to start worshiping part of the creation instead of the creator. Because they don't have the creator anymore, we suppress the truth of that, we turned away from God in that, and so now everything in life has got to be explained and worshiped through the creation.

Tim Lundy: [00:21:27] Let me emphasize again, just because you remove God doesn't mean you've removed worship. I love Chesterton's remark, Chesterton said, "When you stop worshiping God, you're not worshiping nothing, you'll worship anything." And society, we've been on this progress of removing God out of our lives, out of our explanation, and this suppression of truth. It's interesting, there's a whole field called Culturomics. And they use Google to study all of the written books that have been written over the last couple of hundred years, have been entered into Google, and through that, they can trace the rise and fall of certain words and terms and when they gain in popularity, and so it's interesting because you can see in culture. In fact, as you look at it, the term ice cream didn't become popular until after 1910, because in 1910 people started having ice boxes at home, and so ice cream started showing up in books more and in writing. The term pasta took a nosedive in the 1990s. Why? Because everybody got on the Atkins diet and other diets that cut out all pasta in it. And so you can just kind of see these traces.

Tim Lundy: [00:22:43] When you look at it, and the founder of this study, Christian Rudder, when he writes about it, one of the most fascinating things is what we're writing about today. He said, "Notice today, as a people, we've stopped looking back and forth, everything's about the present." Do you know one of the terms that is disappearing the most and the fastest? Just the name God, he's not in our writing anymore. You know, over the last couple hundred years, it's gone down two thirds how much God shows up. And it's this evidence of this exchange that's happened, where we go instead of recognizing there must be a God who created this world, there must be something bigger than me, there must be something, it doesn't mean that you understand all of salvation in it. But Paul says there's a truth here that all people have, and the response of humanity is to suppress that truth and deny it, turn from it.

Tim Lundy: [00:23:45] Well, look at the third part of that cycle then, God gives them over to what they want. And this is a fascinating part to me, because remember this whole passage is the wrath of God being poured out. And if I told you, I'm going to read you a Bible passage where God's wrath is poured out, what do you think it's like? Most people say, oh, man, this is going to be a passage, there'll be like bolts of lightning, or he's going to come with the sword, or a flood, or just destruction, or fire and brimstone coming in, that's how we think of God's wrath. Now, God's wrath, his judgment, has been poured out in concrete ways like that, but notice what Paul points out in this passage, this is how God's wrath is poured out, God gives them over, God gives them up. Three times in the passage, they deny this truth, they suppress it, and so God goes, OK, I'm going to release you to yourself. Then it shows up even at a lower level, and God says, OK, I'm going to release you again, and I'm going to release you again, I'm going to let you have what you want.

Tim Lundy: [00:24:55] Guys, that is the ultimate judgment from God. Because the reality is, as humanity, we don't want what we should want. And to God, in this tough love says, hey, here's how my wrath is poured out, you don't want me, then I'll release you. You don't want my truth, then I'll release you to it. You don't want my standards. I'll release you to it. You don't want a life shaped by who I am and my character, then I'll release you to it.

Tim Lundy: [00:25:26] And you look what happens to a culture in that? Look, what happens when he walks through that the result of God's wrath is ultimately this deterioration of society. Look what happens when God releases them? Well, the first thing you see, is the rise of sexuality in all forms. Look how he puts it when he gives them over, in verse 24 he describes it, "Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves." So, the first thing, and it is fascinating to me, is that when you look at this, and you look at these forms of what happens when they're released to it. In the passage, he said, you fill that worship, you fill that part of your life with different idols, different things that give meaning.

Tim Lundy: [00:26:16] And often. and in scripture I think points us out better than we do as a church often, often this belief and what happens with it, it often goes right along with how we express ourselves sexually and how we express it in a culture. And so one of the signs as God gives them up, that you see it being played out, is suddenly the sexual standards go down. You see a sexual revolution. Now let me remind you, Paul's writing this from Corinth, which is kind of the sex capital of the world at that time. And so he's not writing this from this old-timey, oh, of course, they thought that way two thousand years ago, he's writing it looking and seeing and facing everything that we would face in our culture today, it was all around him. And he says part of that is, that rejection of truth, this is what it leads to.

Tim Lundy: [00:27:11] But notice it doesn't stop there, the second thing he points out then, it leads to the acceptance of homosexuality as natural. It's not that just homosexuality is practiced, it's been always, but it becomes this part where it's accepted in the culture. Look how he puts it again in this, verse 26, for this reason, God gave them over. So in this releasing people to themselves, how does it show up? "To dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error."

Tim Lundy: [00:27:53] Now, as we look at this, and any time you bring up homosexuality and you deal with it, especially in this age, so many questions flare-up. And I want to encourage you, you know, we're going to take the last three weeks in February, and I'm going to take a pause in Romans, and we're going to have a series where we address sex in our culture today. And so how do we address the issues of LGBTQ, and how do we address the issues of people that have same-sex attraction, and where does Christianity fit with that? And I think it's healthy to have a good discussion about this, I think as parents, we need to be aware, we need to be aware of where culture is today. And specifically, and I've targeted as young people, I think you need to hear just what the Bible says. What is the truth there? Because there's a lot of people, and they'll take different passages and they're twisting them in ways, and one of the ones they twist the most is this one right here in Romans.

Tim Lundy: [00:28:55] Just hear me, Paul is really straightforward in this passage, snd he is declaring that homosexuality is not the natural order as God designed sex. God designed a clear sexual ethic, that sex is only between a man and a woman, by the way, in marriage. In the previous verse, he just hit the fact that when you start lowering the sexual standards, then people don't care whether it's in marriage or not. And then he goes, and then you have this next revolution where sex can be in any form, in any shape. And I think a lot of ways we feel this today, and there's a lot of confusion about it.

Tim Lundy: [00:29:37] And I know as I bring this up, there's a lot of questions because some of you, man, you love Jesus and you struggle with same-sex attraction, to you it feels very natural, but guys, that's how that fall in this of sin has impacted your life. And so even though it feels like a natural attraction, hear me, scripture says it's not God's design. And so just because it feels natural doesn't mean that we have the right to then go, well, we can just allow that. And though this is a hard truth for people in a lot of ways, that's why I always, anytime I'm preparing a reading, I always read those Christians who I really respect, who've struggled with same-sex attraction themselves. And so I really respect, you know, Sam Allberry, or Christopher Yuan, Rosaria Butterfield, or Rebecca McLaughlin, who had same-sex attraction, she's married and has kids, or Rachel Gilson and others. There are many who teach in this space, and so I think you need to hear there's a lot that I think the church needs to address that we've not done well, and I think we've created a lot of hurt in the past. But in this passage, just hear me, Paul's being really clear. And part of that giving over, part of what he says happens in a society, is suddenly homosexuality is considered natural, and he says it clearly in this passage, when God doesn't.

Tim Lundy: [00:31:05] Now, he doesn't stop there, though, there's another giving over. Look at it as he continues, the third level he says, the decay of all social interaction. And we won't read through it again, but I'd encourage you to spend some time in verses 29 and 30, and the terms he describes there is how people are treating each other today, it's what we see playing out in our culture and in our world. This breakdown in society, to where it reaches the final point, what's the lowest point, he says, when suddenly now there's an approval of all behavior. They not only know that it's wrong, look at that last line of 32, "They not only do them but give approval to those who practice them." It's when a society looks around and it says no matter what you do, no matter what kind of behavior, no matter how you act out, we approve it. It's when a culture says, who am I to say anyone else's life is wrong? Who am I to say that action is wrong? Who am I to say that lifestyle is wrong? And you see it play out in so many ways, the approval of it, that word stop having meaning. There are no lines to be drawn, because there are no absolutes to draw.

Tim Lundy: [00:32:21] So that's what leads you to a culture like today, when you hear the craziness of terms, I'll read on a common news site that they can't say women have babies, they say, birthing people, because they don't want to draw a line that says only women can have babies in a culture today. That's why you're in a culture today where young people can walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic, even as young as 12 years old, and start that day without seeing a doctor, without seeing a psychiatrist, they can start on a hormone treatment plan to change their gender because they're confused in it. That's why you see, over and over again, parents not even informed in the process, because now God's been removed and we remove church, and so then we pull parents out of the equation too. That's why somebody can say today, and again, I'll just be straightforward, that's what somebody can look and go, well, I might think that abortion is wrong, and I certainly wouldn't do it because it's wrong, but who am I to say it's wrong for someone else? See, all of those things, it's evidence when a culture reaches this point where you're willing to say, you know what, I'm going to approve of anyone else's behavior because I can't draw those lines. How do you get there? Paul says it starts the same for everyone, it starts with the choice that instead of embracing who God is, instead of even allowing the truth of this world to point you to God, we replace it with our own gods, with their own idols, with their own worship. We move to a place that we keep rejecting and God says, OK, I'm going to hand you over to it, I'm going to let you have what you want, that's how my wrath is revealed to you. And as you watch it, a culture that walks away from God, a culture that's released by God, always ends in a worse place.

Tim Lundy: [00:34:17] What are a few things, and I just want a few principles that I want us to take out of this? The first one I would just say is, all of humanity is without excuse because creation and conscience point to God. All of humanity is without excuse. Here's what I mean in that, there's never going to be a person that stands before God, and that's what Paul says in this passage, every person here doesn't have an excuse of why they're judged by God. There's not going to be a person that stands in front of God, and I think some people think this, and this is where the question comes up to me as a pastor. Often, people will say, what about the poor tribe's person who lives in another country, and they've never heard about Jesus? What about the person, they didn't have a Bible, that no one told them about it? And hear me, they're not going to be judged based on that. God's not going to look at someone who never heard about Jesus, say you didn't believe in Jesus, so you're dying and going to hell.

Tim Lundy: [00:35:11] Paul says here's what they're going to be judged on, what did you do with the truth that you had? What did you do with the general truth of this creation, where did it lead you? Did it lead you to a God that's above all this, or did it lead you to create your own religion, which is below it? Did it lead you to a place where you create your own idol? Did it lead you to create your own way? What did you do with that truth? And then secondly, what did you do with the truth of your own conscience? Did you live up to even your own conscience in that? Now, again, that truth, that general truth, it's not enough to save a person, but it is enough to condemn them, and that's all they'll be judged on, and Paul says they'll be condemned because of it. Now you might ask, well, OK, what if someone did respond to that truth, that God provides more? There's never going to be somebody that stood in front of God and said, hey, I wanted more truth, I wanted special truth, I was seeking that, and you didn't give it to me. No one will ever be able to say that to God. And so as we look at this, the question is, what do you do with the truth that you have? And when everyone stands in front of God, at the very least, they're going to go, yeah, I knew, I knew there was something more, I knew this pointed to it. I knew I didn't live up to what I knew was right, every person knows that.

Tim Lundy: [00:36:41] I'm reminded of a story from World War II, when the allies started moving through Germany when they defeated the Nazis. The first concentration camp that they were able to discover, it was in a town in Germany, in Ohrdruf, Germany. And in this town, they came into it, and even though the Nazis knew they were coming, and they tried to hide what they were doing, it was too late. And as the allied soldiers came in and they suddenly saw the gas chambers, and they saw the bodies, they realized the horror that happened there. And General George Patton was the general on the scene, and as he came into the camp, it said that he looked around and then he walked over and vomited based on what he saw. He went to the mayor of the town, and he said, did you know? And they said, we didn't know, we didn't know. And so he brought the mayor, and his wife, and the townspeople, and he had them, he said, you're going to dig the graves, everybody here is going to get a decent burial and had them dig the graves, and they buried the bodies of those that remained. Then Patton found out later, that the next night, the mayor and his wife hung themselves, and they left a little note. And on the note, it said we didn't know, but we knew. It was their admission that, yeah, we didn't know that it was to that level, we didn't know, but we knew. We saw the trains, we saw the people, we saw them coming in and in and in, and none of them ever left, we smelled the smells of it. We knew, but we didn't want to know. And so if you asked us, we said, well, I didn't know, but we knew.

Tim Lundy: [00:38:39] That's what Paul is saying about everybody in humanity. Everybody, when you stand before God, you go, well, God, I didn't know, I didn't know, I didn't know. And he goes, you knew. You knew, this showed you something, this showed you something. What did you do with what you knew? You're not going to be judged on anything else.

Tim Lundy: [00:39:07] The second thing you see in this is, belief and behavior are always linked, and they always lead each other. If you look, and Paul lays this out, as people are handed over, it's not just their belief system that's changing, notice the behavior goes hand in hand, especially sexual behavior. And this stood out to me, especially, I was reading an article, Mark Regnerus, he's a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, he wrote an article in The Washington Post. And it was his finding, his sociological finding, especially if young people and young people that had walked away from the faith, and young people as they became adults. And he said, we've been in a sociological change that you don't realize because marriage has been pushed back so far, because young people go that long with it, they've embraced a new sexual ethic. That even the kids of the church are sleeping around, and it's having an impact on their belief system. One quote from it, he said, "Cheap sex, it seems, has a way of deadening religious impulses. We overestimate how effectively scientific arguments secularize people, it's not science that's sexualizing Americans, it's sex." Do you hear what he's saying in that? See, we've told ourselves, well, our young people went off to these secular universities, and they're in these secular classrooms, and they're learning this secular science, and they're learning this secular philosophy, and that's what turned their belief system against Christianity. And Regnerus said, actually, do you know what I've found it wasn't the science, it wasn't the belief system, it was the sex. That we, somewhere along the way, kind of looked at it and said, well, it's OK, they're young people, and even in the church, they embrace the same sexual ethic as those outside the church. And here's what happens in it, at some point, there's this cognitive dissonance, at some point there's this conflict between my belief system that says this and my behavior that's doing this. And do you know what so many of them do when it hits that point that I'm feeling that conflict, then I'm going to change my belief system, you know what, I don't believe that Christianity anymore, I don't believe in that kind of God, I don't believe in that kind of Bible? And it wasn't because somebody exposed him to some bad belief system, it's because we never called them up on their behavior. Paul says these things go hand in hand, and you can't pretend like they don't. It's one of the reasons we're going to take the time that we do to walk through these issues, because I don't think we talk about sex in a healthy way, the Bible has so much to say about it. And I think we have to answer these questions in a straightforward way because it has an impact on culture.

Tim Lundy: [00:42:02] The last couple of points here, the third one, God's wrath will culminate in the "Day of Wrath" to come. He's going to talk about this in the next chapter. So when you hear about the wrath of God, a lot of times we think of the end times. And the Bible talks about the "Day of Wrath", and here's what it's pointing out, there will come a day when God comes to deal with evil, finally. And it describes it in Revelation, describes it in the end times, and it describes in the prophets. And he's talking about, when he comes, Jesus comes riding a horse, he comes leading an army, he comes because it's a battle, he comes to literally wipe out evil and deal with evil. And so that day, that time when he comes back to do that is described as the "Day of Wrath."

Tim Lundy: [00:42:46] Now, until that day, we're living in these cycles where the wrath of God is poured out, it's not poured out that he's striking down and he's smiting, he'll deal with that. During this day, how is his wrath poured out? He gives us over to ourselves. And you'll watch different cultures, you see it as God deals with evil. He had to deal with the cycle of evil with Noah when the world got so evil, he dealt with it with a flood, and he said, I'm not going to do that again. He dealt with it at Babbel as the world came together, and he said, you know what, in order to deal with this evil, let's divide people so they can't share it together.

Tim Lundy: [00:43:25] We see this cycle in our own country, a lot of people ask me, man, where's America? All I know is you can kind of walk the Romans 1 cycle in it, because we hit a point back in the nineteen fifties when the big movement was God is dead, basically as a culture, in universities, as people, people said we don't need God anymore. And what came on the heels of that? A sexual revolution in the 60s and 70s? What came on the heels of that, a homosexual revolution that we've been living in? What's come on the heels of that? If you look at it, that third part of that cycle, the way people treat each other, the way people talk to each other, the decay, even in our social interaction. And then the final part of that cycle when any behavior is approved. Now, as I say, that people go, man, are you saying we're at the very end? All I know is these cycles have played out at different times and different places, I'm just talking about what's going on in America. God may do a revival, he may raise up his church, he may raise up and protect humanity in different places. When I look at what's happening in Africa and South America and other parts of the world, I don't know globally if we're at the end or if we're right at the Day of Wrath, but I do see the cycle playing out in our time.

Tim Lundy: [00:44:41] And so how do we respond? How do we respond to this bad news? And again, I warned you at the beginning, this whole message, man, it's pretty depressing. But it also can be, and I'd encourage you to read back through this passage, it also can be really refreshing. And here's why I say that, you know, I've had different friends and people that are struggling with illness. Maybe you've been through that, where you have different symptoms and you know something's wrong with you, and you go see a doctor, and you go see that doctor, and you see this different one. And people kind of take shots in the dark until you finally go to someone, and they do a thorough workup, a thorough study, do everything that's necessary, and then you sit down with them, and I've had friends that have been through different illnesses, and that moment when that doctor says, hey, let me tell you what's going on. And a lot of times that diagnosis is bad news in that moment, it might be cancer, it might be a disease you didn't want. But you'll ask people that have gone through that, and it's hard as it is to hear it, there's a sense of relief because finally, somebody has figured it out, somebody is telling me what's wrong, and especially it can be exciting, if there's actually a treatment for what's wrong. And I tell you, this passage in Romans, man, it's hard to hear, it's hard to walk through, it's hard to read through. Especially, as I start making the parallels, I go, man, this matches is our culture, this matches what's going on, I see this all around, that's bad news. But there's this other part that goes, yes, but it's so good to hear somebody call it like it is, it's so good that somebody will speak with this kind of clarity, with this kind of truth, and that it applies to our world. And here's the greatest part, it’s a bad diagnosis, but there's a treatment, there's a cure.

Tim Lundy: [00:46:39] That's the final thing I'd say is, to break the cycle of God's revealed wrath, we need God's revealed righteousness, the Gospel. We started this that Paul says, hey, the wrath of God is being revealed, but remember the theme from Romans 1:16-17? the Gospel is where the righteousness of God is revealed, and the reality is, you're living under one of those revelations. You're either living under the wrath of God that's being revealed, that's being poured out, on all people are experiencing at some form, or you're living under the righteousness of God, what's right with God, and all of it goes back to the Gospel, to Jesus.

Tim Lundy: [00:47:24] In fact, it goes back to, and I'll end with where I started, it does go back because God so love the world. That's why Jesus said this, "God so loved the world." He loved the world, and do you know what world he's talking about? All the people that were in Romans 1, all the sins in Romans 1. So no matter what you've practiced, no matter what you've done, no matter what you've experienced, no matter where you are in that cycle, God still loves you, "He loved you so much that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." But Jesus doesn't stop there, notice what he says, "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." His first mission into the world was not to reveal the wrath of God, but to reveal the righteousness of God, the Gospel. When he comes back the second time, that's when the Day of wrath will be. But Jesus said this first time, I came to save the world that "Whoever believes in him is not condemned." I don't have to live under that wrath. But notice what he points out now, I'll just end with this, "Whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." That even Jesus is pointing out, very explicitly here, you're in one of two positions. You're either under that condemnation, or you're under God's righteousness, and you make the choice. It's whether you respond to the truth. It's whether you determine, hey, I'm going to hear what God is saying to me, I'm going to hear what God is declaring in the world. I'm going to hear what my own conscience is telling me. I'm going to hear the truth of this passage, and I've got a choice one way or another, and I live in one domain or the other. I'm either under wrath or under righteousness, all of it determined by what you do with Jesus.

Tim Lundy: [00:49:20] Folks, this passage has a lot of bad news, but you need to hear the bad news in order to embrace the good news of what Jesus has done. I pray today you've, instead of suppressing the truth, or rejecting the truth, or rejecting something I said because you don't like how that feels, I just caution you, read through this passage again. And if you look at that, you go, this is a diagnosis, not only in my world but my life, man, believe today and embrace the good news of Jesus Christ, so you can experience it too.

Tim Lundy: [00:49:58] Let's pray together. God, I thank you, I thank you for Paul's forthrightness, his honesty with us, I thank you that he was willing to lay out bad news so that we can see the good news. Lord, I pray if there's anybody here, maybe there's a part of this passage that he speaks about so many different things that I know triggers us today, I know makes people angry in different ways, I pray, would you draw them back to that passage, would they wrestle with his words there and not just the words of this message? Lord, I pray if anyone today, they're recognizing they are under that wrath, they're not under righteousness, they're already condemned as Jesus describes it, and he has come to save them. I pray for anybody today recognizes that in themselves, I pray they would cry out to Jesus as both Savior and Lord, who was sent to the world because God loves this fallen humanity so much that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. And we pray these things in His name, Amen.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032