Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
Blessings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I very much missed being with all of you this past Lord’s Day, and look forward to worshipping our Lord together this week. Be encouraged dear friends. We had an extremely fruitful productive presbytery meeting over the weekend. The Lord is building his church in many and wonderful ways. I will share a few of the highlights with you this Sunday. As you walk the Christian life this week, remember the words of the Psalmist: “The LORD is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid” (Ps 27:1).
Some CSOPC announcements:
- Our next men’s breakfast will be Saturday, Jan 31st at the Egg and I on Hwy 6 and Little York.
- Last night, the session approved a weekly Wednesday evening Bible study beginning the first Wednesday in February. This study will run for 8 weeks and we will study the book of Galatians. More information to come this Sunday.
- The Registration page for the Spring Retreat with Providence OPC is now active. The dates are April 23-25, but if you are unable to come for the whole time, that is OK. Plan to join us! Click here for information and to register: http://providencepres.com/retreat/.
- Finally, this week’s devotion is a follow-up to last week’s on the wrath of God from Romans 1. See attached.
God bless dear brothers and sisters. I look forward to seeing you and to worshipping with you this Lord’s day!
From the Pastor’s Desk
“The Wrath of God, part II”
Romans 1:24, “Therefore God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts to impurity.”
The wrath of God is an expression of his holiness. God is holy and cannot stand in the presence of sin (Hab 1:13). Thus, his wrath must issue forth to all that is contrary to his character. Praise God, therefore, for the gift of God’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who absorbed this wrath on the cross (Rom 3:25). Romans 1 is the Apostle Paul’s classic statement on God’s wrath. Last week we considered the causes of his wrath; and we concluded that his wrath is ‘caused’ by sinful man’s ‘suppression of the truth’ (Rom 1:18b). All mankind, apart from God’s grace, holds down and suppresses the truth of God’s glory clearly revealed in his creation (Ps 19:1). What then are the effects of God’s wrath? How is God’s wrath expressed and evidenced?
Ultimately God’s wrath will be displayed on “the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom 2:5). That is, God’s wrath will be finally and fully revealed towards those who reject him on judgment day (Rev 20:11-15). But how is God’s wrath displayed in the here and now? In this life? As Paul teaches in Romans 1, God’s wrath is displayed in this life in a way that we might not expect. And the key phrase to note in vv. 24-31 is the phrase, “God gave them up … God gave them up … God gave them up” (vv. 24, 26, 28). God gives us up to our sinful ways and desires. He removes his restraining hand (this restraining hand is often referred to by theologians as ‘common grace’) and we plunge head-first into the cesspool of sin. The chain is quite clear: sinful man is confronted by the glory and truth of God on display all around us; but he rejects and suppresses the truth that he knows. God then gives him up to his sinful ways and patterns. For example, look at how Paul puts it: “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies and themselves … God gave them up to dishonorable passions … God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” God gives us over to our sin. Fallen man wants to sin. He desires to sin. And God gives us over to our natural, sinful desires. O the misery! O the horror of being left to ourselves! And this chain is only broken by the amazing grace of God as lost sinners are convicted of their sin and they turn to Christ in faith and repentance.
Perhaps we might expect God’s wrath to be evidenced in fire and brimstone raining from heaven. But the pattern described by Paul in Romans 1 is far more horrific. As God gives us over to our sin, our hearts are more and more hardened against the truth and our sinful desires are more and more enflamed. What fallen man thinks is freedom to do as he chooses is simply his blind and sin-bound heart longing for death!
There are two brief thoughts with which we will close. First, an important implication of Paul’s teaching in Romans 1 is that what the church often laments as the causes of God’s wrath are better viewed as the evidences of God’s wrath. For example, the church rightly laments and prays against the increasing acceptability of same-sex marriage. And the church often sees this as a reality that will bring down the wrath of God. The Apostle Paul would have us think, however, that such increasing acceptability is but the evidence of God’s wrath. He is giving us over to our sinful passions and desires. His truth is rejected (primary cause) and fallen man pursues a life of sin (secondary effect).
And second, what an ugly picture is painted by Paul in Romans 1. What a hideous description! And this is the description of every person who has ever walked the face of the earth. This is the universal diagnosis of man (Rom 3:9)! But praise the Lord that Romans does not end there. There is hope! And that hope is found in the grace of God. Next week we will turn to the glorious answer given in Romans 3!