The Letter to the Romans
COLLEEN MOORE TINKER
3. Of Wrath, Darkness, and Glory
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For sincethe creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darknened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. (NIV)
Paul has completed his introduction and has expressed his longing to visit Rome. He has also boldly stated that he is "not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" (v. 16) and has introduced the subject of righteousness"that is by faith". (v.17) Now Paul backs up and establishes the hopeless, fallen condition of mankind and the wrath of God against sinful humanity.
1. What is the wrath of God? (see John 3:36; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 5:5-6; Colossians 3:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10; Revelation 19:11-15)
2. In the context of this passage in Romans, what is the nature of the wrath of God against wicked people? (see Psalm 81:11, 12; v.24, 26, 28, 32; Ephesians 4:19)
3. The godless people described in v. 18-20 are indirectly identified as Gentiles because they have received revelation of God through creation, or general revelation, as opposed to the Jews who received special revelation through the prophets. "What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain," Paul writes. How has God made knowledge of himself plain? (see Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:16-17; Deuteronomy 11:13-14; Job 5:9-10; Psalm 65:9-13; Psalm 4:7-8)
4. How have God's invisible qualities of eternal power and divinity been clearly seen from creation? (see Psalm 19:1-6; Psalm 84:11)
5. How have people's hearts become darkened, and why have they suppressed the knowledge of God? (see Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 2:5; 17:9; Ephesians 2:1-2; 4:17-18)
6. How is becoming a fool related to having a darkened heart (v.21-22)? (see 1 Corinthians 1:20-31; 3:18-19)
7. What is the glory of the Lord which foolish people exchanged for idolatry? (seeEuteronomy 4:23-24; Isaiah 48:11; 42:8; 43: 3; 6:1; Ezekiel 1:25-28; Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 4:8-11; 5:11-14; 6:10; 7:10-17)
8. How did you first come to know that God was real?
9. How has the wrath or judgment of God affected your life?
10. How has your understanding of God's glory changed as your understanding of truth has changed?
11. How does "general revelation" (as described in v.20) help explain the question of how people are saved without hearing about Jesus?
12. To what rights or venues of control do you cling rather than submitting to the glory and sovereignty of God?
13. What dreams or opinions do you cherish that you need to submit to the wisdom of God?
14. Ask God to show you how He wants you to grow and what he wants you to surrender. Ask Him to shine the light of His truth into your heart and to reveal His sovereignty and glory to you. Let Jesus guard your heart and mind so you will be one through whom the world sees Him.
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CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted April 8, 2003.