Today there are a lot of people who say they are Christians who are not. As a matter of fact, there are many who may be truly saved, but who are not Christians. We are saved by faith, through faith, without works (Ephesians 2:8-9). It was not believers who were called Christians, it was disciples. Although we are saved without works, we become disciples by putting into practice the teachings of our Master, Jesus Christ. You can’t biblically call someone who is truly saved, but not following Christ’s principles a Christian.
The reason we are having so much trouble keeping church members, the reason we are having so much trouble reaching the lost, is that we put a totally wrong emphasis on our presentation of the Gospel. We are not sharing a false gospel, we are presenting the true Gospel in the wrong way. We are telling people to come to God because He loves them, which He does, but that is not how the Gospel is presented in the Scriptures. The Scriptures never use the love of God as an enticement to come to salvation. When I say this, people bring up John 3:16, however, if you read it in its context, it is not enticing people to come to salvation, it is explaining why God has a way of salvation for mankind.
Read the message preached by Peter on the day of Pentecost and the message preached by Paul at Mars Hill in Acts 17, read the other salvation messages in the Scriptures, and see what you find. Even when Jesus was talking to the woman at the well He did not use the love of God. They didn’t use the word, but they were all a warning concerning the wrath of God and God’s judgment.
People have to have enough fear of God to want to change something. Listen to what the Bible has to say:
Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: (Romans 2:1-6)
This is a hard passage of Scripture, and I think we should preach on it more often. I think we should learn it well enough to be able to use it when we talk to the lost about their souls.
Before I continue with the main subject, I want to take a quick look at Romans 1:18.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Romans 1:18)
What this verse means is, God will pour out His wrath against ALL ungodliness and unrighteousness of men because they hold the truth in unrighteousness. Some of the modern translations translate this as those who suppress the truth. This is not what it is saying. It means they have the truth, they know what it is, yet they live in unrighteousness. The rest of this chapter describes those of whom Paul is speaking. Then look at verse 31:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:32)
This is the context of our text. There is no excuse for disobeying God’s precepts because He has put them in the hearts of every man, woman, and child. We all know that certain things are wrong and certain things are right. The basic principles of God’s law, the Ten Commandments, are written in the hearts of all people.
No matter what culture you look at, certain things are known to be right or wrong. In some cultures you will find that some things may be perverted by that culture, but basically you find the same things considered right and wrong. A great example of this is the difference between most cultures and cannibalistic cultures. In most cultures is is wrong to have people for lunch, but in cannibalistic cultures it can be something that raises one’s stature.
In today’s world everyone wants to say there is no absolute truth, and everything is subjective. That, in itself, is an absolute statement. It proves that the idea that there are no absolutes is a lie.
We find absolute truth in the Word of God, and it can be depended upon throughout all eternity. Our text says we are without excuse because God has put His law in our hearts.
It is certain that God’s judgment will come. You may say that because you are saved you don’t have to worry about judgment. If you do, you are greatly mistaken. Have you ever heard of the Judgment Seat of Christ? Every saved person will stand before Christ in judgment for what he did after his salvation. His salvation will not be in question, but the reward that he receives will be.
I believe that persecution is coming for Christians in this nation. First of all, the Bible predicts it, and secondly, the signs of it coming are all around us. To you really think that someone who has so little desire to be in church that he stays home when it is raining is going to stand when the persecution does come? If a person can’t be in church on Sunday night or Wednesday night, do you really think they will stand for Christ when it really costs them something.
One of my specialties is Baptist history. What amazes me about Baptist history is what our ancestors were willing to suffer so they could keep their doctrine and testimony pure. Our Baptist ancestors fought for more than 1700 years so we could have the freedoms we enjoy today. We will not have them much longer if we don’t do something about it soon.
I have read the testimonies of people who were saved under the preaching of Shubal Stearns. Boy, something is really different to day. People used to break down in tears when the saw God as He is and themselves as they are. Shubal Stearns was so filled with the Holy Spirit that he could sometime simply look at a person and he would come under conviction. When is the last time you saw someone have that kind of spiritual power?
In verse 4 of our text is says:
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)
Notice that this verse says the goodness of God leads to repentance. We talk about the Love of God in trying to bring people to repentance. When we bring someone to repentance using the love of God, it causes laxness on the part of those who say they believe. They understand the hopeless condition they are in when we use the wrath of God to Christ it because it brings them to conviction of sin. It does not necessarily cause true repentance because you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
One of my favorite passage in all of the Bible is Isaiah Chapter 6. Isaiah was a prophet of God for 5 chapters before we get to this point.
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. (Isaiah 6:1)
Think about what this verse says. Isaiah saw the power behind the throne. He saw who was, and still is, the absolute ruler of the universe. God is not subject to anything we say, He is the absolute ruler with the final say on everything. We are subject to His opinion, not the other way around. We need to return God to this place in our hearts and minds.
In verse 3 of this passage it says the Seraphims call Him holy, holy, holy. Notice that He is the thrice holy God. When we see His holiness, it will impress upon us our unholiness. We will see ourselves as the sinners we are. It leads us to repentance, but it does not say that if really brings repentance.
Let’s take a moment to look at 2 Corinthians 7: 9-10:
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after1 a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)
Notice that there are two kinds of sorrow, godly sorrow, and the sorrow of the world. Godly sorrow works repentance not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world works death. Once one has true repentance based upon godly sorrow, he will never change his mind (repent) and turn away from it. Godly sorrow is a true sorrow, not for being found out, but for have offended a holy God by our sin. The sorrow of the world is being sorry that you were caught, and trying to express regret to avoid punishment. Godly sorrow realizes that the punishment is well deserved and seeks God’s mercy.
My son-in-law did a study on the revival on the Lewis Isle. People were coming under conviction for their sin and crying out to God for mercy because they understood that they were under the wrath of God, just like what we saw in Romans 1:18. They saw how short that fell from the glory of God.
Today’s revival meetings are little more than pep rallies. They work up people’s emotions so they can get a lot of amens and other emotional outbursts. They are not bringing people under conviction for their sin and causing them to seek God’s mercy. There are no broken and contrite hearts and spirits.
I am working on starting a new ministry. I am calling it “Rock The Boat Ministries.” I want to rock the boat and disturber the status quo a bit. I want to shake up Baptists enough where they get back to what they used to be. Baptists used to be the conscience of this nation. Today we are salt that has lost its savor, and lights with smoked chimneys.
When this passage says that godly sorrow works repentance, it is telling us that if we have godly sorrow, repentance will come. It will cause a real change of mind, and as a result, a real change of life.
Those who say they got saved, got involved in church for years, and then turn their backs on God never had the kind of sorrow that works repentance not to be repented of. In other words, they never got saved in the first place. I am not talking about someone who may backslide for a while, I am talking about those who really turn their backs on God to the point of saying that it they really don’t believe any of it any more.
Sadly, our churches have many people who are religious but lost. They do all the right things and fool people, but it is not in their hearts. It is all for a show, hoping that if they look right they will be excused for their corrupt and sinful hearts.
Recently my wife talked to a women who is faithful in our church, and who daughter is married to a man in the military. She asked if he was saved, and after some stuttering, she said, well he went to a Catholic school and a couple of other things, but never said anything that would give you any reason to believe that he is saved. Another lady in our church told her grandson that his father, who had recently died, was now an angel. Another lady, whose cousin had recently died, and who just got saved a year or two ago, told my wife that the cousin was always saved. No one has always been saved. All of these things, and I could give a lot more, were said by people who are in almost every service in our church, and are, or have been very active in it. The things I have mentioned show that even in good churches, there are people who don’t pay enough attention to what is taught to know Bible doctrine.
Let’s get back to our text. In verse 5 it says:
But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; (Romans 2:5)
To understand this verse we must understand the holiness of God. We can’t understand why there will be a day of wrath because we don’t understand how horrible our sin is. We can’t until we see our sin in the light of God’s holiness. Our hardness and our impenitent hearts are laying up a treasure of wickedness that must be judged by a holy God.
When we grasp what this verse is talking about, we understand that God has a book in which He records our works. Every time we sin, it is written in this book and we build a treasure of sins that must be judged when that “day of wrath” comes. God’s judgment will be righteous.
Christians must not forget that they too will be judged by God. It will not be a judgment that determines our salvation, but it will determine our reward.
Those who find themselves at the Great White Throne Judgment will not have a second chance. They will be cast into the Lake of Fire where they will suffer in torment for all eternity. There will be no relief, and there will be no escape. Those who face this judgment are those who have not placed their full faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Anyone who thinks that anything he does helps in his salvation will find himself at this judgment. If you are trusting in anything you do, anything a church does, any ritual, like baptism, or anything other than Christ and His work on the cross, you will stand before God at this judgment.
What I want you to get out of this is, if you are not fulling trusting in Christ, you add daily to the treasure of sin that God must judge. Remember, the penalty is eternity in the Lake of Fire. There will be different levels of reward for the saved in Heaven, and there will be different levels of punishment for the lost in the Lake of Fire. Even the least of these degrees of punishment will be beyond anything we can imagine.
The day of wrath is coming. The Bible says:
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27)
Those who think they can be good enough to get into Heaven are fools. Doing good things does not negate the bad things one does. A murderer is a murderer no matter how many good things he does afterward. He still deserves to be punished for his crime. Our text tell us that we will be given reward according to our deeds. We have all sinned, that is, we have all broken God’s law. His holiness and righteousness requires that all breaking of His law be punished. Either we take the punishment on ourselves and spend eternity in the Lake of Fire, or we accept the payment of Christ on the cross, and spend all eternity with Him in glory.
The secret to bringing people to Christ, no matter who they are or what they believe, is to get them into the Scriptures. By Scriptures I men the Holy Bible. It is these scriptures that God, the Holy Spirit, uses to bring conviction of sin and to a place of godly sorrow and true repentance.
Let me wind this down. It is true that God loves the world, and because of His love, He offers us salvation for free. There is but one condition. This condition is that you stop trusting in your own good works, which are dead and cannot save you, and put your full faith in the work Christ did on the cross.
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, (Hebrews 6:1)
Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)
These two verses teach us that the way of salvation is to turn to God for mercy, turn away from our own efforts to save ourselves, and put our faith in Christ. There is no other way.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
This verse is talking about the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. No pope, no prophet, no church, nothing else has the power to save.
The whole purpose of this message is to remind us that it is understanding God’s holiness and our sinfulness that brings us to Christ. The wrath of God is the motivation used by the preachers in the Bible to bring the lost to repentance, not the love of God. We need to get back to doing things the Bible way if we want to see a change in our churches and our nation.
To the modern mind, love means there will be nothing that condemns or cause displeasure. It give the prospect license to live as he chooses and simply say I believe in Jesus, and still expect to go to Heaven. The wrath of God cause the prospect to turn to God for mercy, and when the Gospel is presented, to trust in Christ, and Christ alone for his salvation.