Last week in our course on the Trinity at Grace Bible Institute, we discussed the wrath of God. Admittedly, we likely hear one sermon on the wrath of God for every 100 on the love of God. As the author of Hebrews states, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:31).
The wrath of God is that which “expresses the settled and active opposition of God’s holy nature to everything that is evil” (Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, PNTC, 76). The term is ὀργή and is used denote that which God possesses (Rom 1:18) as well as that which God will bring one day when he judges the world (Rom 2:5).
In Romans 1:18 Paul alludes to the wrath of God in reference to the gospel which reveals the righteousness of God (1:16-17).
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18)
This is because the gospel is meant to deliver condemned sinners from the coming wrath, something which Paul declares God actually does when he justifies the sinner through the gospel and delivers them from the coming wrath:
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him (Rom 5:9)
In Romans 2:5, Paul warns the unregenerate that because they are condemned apart from Christ, they are actually storing up wrath for the coming day of wrath. Paul notes,
But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Rom 2:5)
What is frightening is what is contained in between the wrath of God in 1:18 and the coming wrath of God in 2:5. In the material in between, Paul highlights how those apart from Christ have been handed over by God and have turned away to go after their own lusts. Because of this, they are each day, storing up more and more wrath for themselves in the coming day of wrath of God.
In the book of Revelation, when God does pour out his wrath upon all mankind who persist in unbelief, we see the response of the unbeliever:
And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:16)
What horror … yet what hope! For the Lamb has come and that by faith alone in him alone, we can escape his coming wrath!