This is the latest in a series. To read the series from the beginning, click here.
Romans 1:18 in combo with Romans 3:23
I’ll give it to Christian radio. They might have actually played these as the “verse of the day.” But I’ve never head it. The first one says that the wrath of God (not exactly a ratings-hog of a concept) is poured out against the unrighteous. The second verse then clarifies (in the same book, a couple of chapters later) that all of us are unrighteous. (Even and especially religious folks, see Romans 2:17-29, especially verse 23)
Neither positive, upbeat, nor encouraging, as I read it. God’s got a whooping stick with my name on it. And yours.
But here’s where not taking the verses out of their context is helpful. Romans is Paul’s most in-depth systematic treatment of the gospel. He spends 11 chapters explaining it’s theology, and the remaining 5 explaining how that theology ought to change the way we live. He nails all of us to the wall in the first three chapters, and then spends the remaining 8 of the first section showing us how Christ satisfies the law, and saves us, from the mass-murderer to the serial rapist to the smug, self-satisfied religious guy (who is worse than both, if you ask me).
Without the bad, discouraging, and condemning verses like Romans 1:18 and 3:23, the gospel makes no sense. Rescuing someone from a building that isn’t burning down is foolish and annoying. If you die during that rescue (as Christ did), it adds tragedy to foolishness. But if a building is burning down, it’s the ultimate display of love to die in the act of saving someone.
These verses show us just how much our spiritual “building” is crumbling in burning embers around us. And that’s encouraging, no matter how you phrase it.