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Why We Need the Gospel (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
February 19, 2024 3:00 am

Why We Need the Gospel (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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February 19, 2024 3:00 am

To truly grasp the good news of the Gospel, we must first understand the bad news that our sin separates us from God. Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg explores the apostle Paul’s teaching concerning the only way to be delivered from God’s wrath.



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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When we talk about God, it is a whole lot easier to talk about things like His love and His grace than to talk about His wrath or His judgment. But if we're going to really understand that the Gospel is good news, we have to first understand the bad news that we are up against. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg is teaching from Romans chapter 1. We're looking at verse 18.

The Scriptures are unashamed from beginning all the way to the end to say that God is provoked to anger by the rebellion of his creation. We go back to the opening verses of Genesis, and to Genesis 3. And eventually, Adam and Eve are banished from the garden—the garden, the entryway into the garden is now protected by a fiery sword. Oh, you say, what a dreadful thing to do.

Oh, no! God was only giving them what they had already chosen. Because, remember, they had already hidden from God. They hid from God. They suppressed the truth about God. And they were banished by God.

Now, we cannot dodge this. The stubbornness of God's people—you read of it in the Exodus, all into Deuteronomy. Take, for example, Sodom and Gomorrah. What is Sodom and Gomorrah? Apart from the expression of the wrath of God against the fact that those whom he has made made to love him, made to know him, made to serve him, they decided, We will love ourselves, we will not serve you, and we will do whatever we want.

Now, what do you want? Indifference to that? An indifferent God?

Oh, that's okay, whatever you want to do. How could that be an expression of love? No, he loves them so much so as not to tolerate that, so as to explain how important it is. Now, Paul, here in Romans, is dealing with this very expressly. When you think about all of the fears, all of the anxieties, all of the neurosis of our contemporary world, and you realize that on that great day, when the apostle John gets a glimpse into the future—and he describes this amazing picture, how when the books are opened and the final judgment is to be conveyed, then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and the rocks, fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated upon the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of their wrath has come, and none of us can stand.

We would rather be swallowed up in an earthquake than we would stand before Almighty God. That is the situation of humanity. That's why the gospel is for the whole world and for every person in the whole world—for those who find themselves, you know, just malevolent in their reaction, and for others in our kind of context, far more dismissive. Nice people, as it were—C. S. Lewis says, nice people, lost in their niceness.

I'm too nice for such a message. What are you going to tell me about this? Bruce Milne, whose book we studied some time ago, as elders know the truth, he says, Besides the wrath of God, all other human dreads and fears are mere bad dreams.

All our other needs, however acute or extensive, pale into relative insignificance. Now, there is an inherent logic in this that I hope you are not missing—that God's provision of a Savior is directly related to our predicament as sinners. Again, when Paul is writing to the Thessalonians in just the briefest of statements, in 1 Thessalonians 1, he's talking about different things. He says, They themselves report concerning the reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and the true God.

That's what they'd done. You see, they decided that they would just worship whatever they chose. Which is exactly what we do today. Oh, we don't necessarily have little figurines or whatever it might be, but we can worship money, worship sex, worship achievement, worship notoriety, worship a many people we've got on our Facebook page. We can worship whatever we choose. And we will continue to do so until we have turned from idols to serve the living God and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead. Jesus. Who? Who does what? Who delivers us from the wrath to come.

That's what he has done. Adopted into his family, justified in his sight, clothed in his righteousness, and set free—delivered—from that final day. But notice very carefully that here in Romans 1—although he does address it in Romans chapter 2—Paul is not talking about that day. Notice as what it says, the wrath of God—it's not future tense, it's present tense—the wrath of God is revealed.

Is revealed. You see, when the wrath of God is gone, actually, the gospel's gone. And again, I say to you that it struck me again this week that one of the reasons that we make such little headway with our friends and neighbors is because we are so afraid to actually say what the Bible says. And so they're saying, I get it for you—apparently it's nice for you and everything—but it doesn't matter to me.

Well, then we have to say, Oh yes, but it does. And when the gospel is gone, it's on account of the fact, ultimately, that the wrath of God is gone. You see, if people don't need a Savior, they'll be happy with an example. If they don't need a Savior, they'll be happy with a guru. If they don't need a Savior, they'll be happy with a life coach.

But Jesus did not come to do that. No fear in death, no need for the atonement, no need for the cross—actually, no need for salvation at all, unless the human predicament is as reported. We say this is a very long introduction, because you haven't even come to the phrase, Well, here we are.

This is a long journey. For the wrath of God is revealed. In other words, it is already being revealed.

How is it being revealed? It's being revealed in the ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who, in their rebellion against God, suppress the truth. The same righteousness of God that is revealed in the good news of verses 16 and 17 is the only answer to the wrath of God being revealed in human society.

The manifold chaos that is described in the balance of this first chapter was Rome, but it's always everywhere, to one degree or another. The righteousness of God revealed in the gospel is the only answer to the wrath of God being revealed in human society. Ungodliness. Ungodliness. The most broken commandment of all the commandments is what?

Number one. You shall have no other gods before me. That's ungodliness. It is revealed against all the ungodliness. Because the response of man is to say, Oh, yes, we will.

Yes, we will. And therefore, idolatry is an attempt to get rid of God, and since it is impossible to get rid of God, plan B then is a determination to live as though we had succeeded in getting rid of God. Plan A, let's get rid of God, can get rid of God, then let's live as if there is no God. That way, as Huxley very honestly said as an atheist, that will free me up both politically and sexually to do whatever I want. That was his straightforward acknowledgment of what he was doing.

He was, he admitted, an ungodly person. And the fact of the matter is, if we ever get to chapter 3, which I doubt, the quote there that ends in verse 18 ends straightforwardly, here is a statement concerning humanity. There is no fear of God before their eyes. There's no fear of God before their eyes.

We've sentimentalized God, we've neutralized the notion of death, we have recreated the conception of life, we are re-establishing the fabric of human existence and unashamedly. What's the wrong with everybody? Why would God be angry? Because of ungodliness. Actually, there are two words here in Greek—the one for ungodly and the one for unrighteous. Unrighteous or wicked, if you like.

And the first leads to the second. If you think of the first in terms of the first four commandments, in disobeying the first table of the law, if you like, is an expression of our ungodliness. Then you go to how that relates to us living with one another, and you've got unrighteousness.

Impiety is the precursor to immorality. It's because we are by nature ungodly that we then are unrighteous. And, says Paul, these are the characteristics of people who suppress the truth.

Who suppress the truth. All of the inhumanity and the bestial behavior, which is described subsequently, has its roots in our failure to give to God the honor and the reverence that he has the right to demand. Now, it's a very different view of humanity, isn't it, than that which is currently in vogue? And that's what, in part, we're up against. Not simply because our friends and neighbors have a different worldview, but because some of us are not actually convinced of our own biblical worldview. And it may be that the reason we don't say anything is because we don't believe what it is we've been given to say. That is a challenge that each of us must face, even in light of the fact that we recognize the challenge in dealing with neighbors and loved ones and friends to actually say what the Bible says. Men and women are actually living—our friends and our neighbors—are living under clouds of judgment that pervade our society. The only realistic way to understand the collapse of Western civilization is directly in relationship to these verses in Romans chapter 1. Neither the scientist nor the philosopher nor the politician has got any ability to say what in God's name is going on in our universe.

Well, would you maybe check with a creator? No, no, don't start that creation stuff. Don't you start with all that stuff. We've moved way beyond that.

Beyond it? Nobody, nobody can ever say to God on one day or another, You didn't make yourself clear to me. You did not make yourself clear to me. Why will they be unable to say that? Because what it says in the Bible there. Verse 19.

Man, we're rocketing ahead, aren't we? For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

Shown it where? Shown it in creation and shown it in conscience. The special revelation of God, which is made to us in Christ and in the Scriptures, is necessary for salvation, that all the Scriptures are necessary, they make us wise for salvation. God's general revelation does not make us wise for salvation—that's why the gospel is proclaimed—but it makes God so clear to us that it means that none of us are able to say, but you didn't make it clear. So, the difference is that special revelation, where God opens our blind eyes and softened our hard hearts, is unique to those who believe. God's general revelation is on display for everybody.

So you can look at the moon. God's general revelation is natural. God's special revelation is supernatural. God's general revelation is continuous. God's supernatural revelation is immediate and specific. So, for example, the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows its handiwork, Psalm 19, day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. In other words, it's always there before you go to bed, and it's always there when you waken up. It's always there. Look up!

Look up! That's what the psalmist is saying. And it is also creational, as opposed to salvific. Now, what does that mean?

Well, it means this—that God says that our rebellion is a choice and our atheism is a choice. Because even human physiology can help us with this. And if we wanted some of our medics to come up here and just show us how many millions and millions of neurons are fiddling around in your brain as you're trying to listen and my brain as I'm trying to speak, I think you'd just take a large microscope and show us the cellular nature of that which makes the me me.

If we would get our friend Jeff Williams, the astronaut, and have him come back and show us the pictures again of when he docked against the spacecraft that has gone a seventeen thousand miles an hour around earth, and ask him to explain where he thinks he lives in a random universe where everything has just evolved by chance, and he'll tell you not for a moment, I would never have got in the capsule if I believed that. Now, that is what Paul is saying. Consider the beauty, the balance, the intricacy, the intelligibility. Consider it all—the complexity of a single cell.

Consider this. Consider how it is that our tiny part of the universe called earth has been bestowed with something we call air. It is plain to them. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because he has shown it to them. In other words, God has surrounded us with evidence enough to make us theists, but not sufficient to save us.

That's verses 16 and 17. We can't escape from God's revelation, either in the world in which… To escape from God, we'd have to escape from ourselves, which says something about people's attempt to do just that. We've been given some knowledge of God, which, he says, we have chosen to suppress. And the reason we've chosen to suppress it is because, frankly, we just don't want to live with it. Do you want to know why it is that premarital sex is a bad idea?

Because God said so, and he made you. Oh, I don't like that part. Why?

I just don't want to live with it. So let's be honest. And let's allow our friends and our neighbors enough to be honest. Because we can't convince people. Only the Spirit of God can convince.

But we can make it clear. And to make it clear in such a way that we can say ultimately to people, you know, that between us in our inexcusable rebellion or indifference, between us and, if you like, the thunderclouds of God's judgment is the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. And when we come to the cross of Jesus Christ, which actually brings us to the communion service this evening, and we receive by grace, through faith, the provision that he has made for our predicament, then the wrath of God will never touch us. The wrath of God will never touch us. Why will it not touch us?

Because it has touched him. When we get further on in this passage, you're going to see it says three times, God gave them up. He gave them up. He gave them up. He gave them up.

What is the answer to that? Well, it's tonight at communion. Has he not given himself up for us all? No, there's no indifferent God. No indifferent God. I was reading C. S. Lewis, and with this I'll close. This is from The Problem of Pain in the section on human wickedness. And Lewis says, A recovery of the old sense of sin is essential to Christianity.

When people attempt to be Christians without this preliminary consciousness of sin, the result is almost bound to be a certain resentment against God as to one inexplicably angry. Now, you try that out with some of your friends and your work colleagues. I'm just trying to be a very good person. I think I'm a good person. So, you're the engine.

Here are the rails. No power in the engine. When we merely say we are bad, the wrath of God seems a barbarous doctrine. As soon as we perceive our badness, it appears inevitable—a mere corollary from God's goodness. No exceptions.

No excuses. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is, Alistair Begg explaining why we need the gospel.

Alistair returns in just a minute to close today's program. Our study in the book of Romans is giving us a clear picture of man's rebellion against God. And for many of us, this is the environment in which we navigate today—a post-Christian culture that has become more and more dismissive toward God and his word. Back in the 1960s, theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer wrote a book called Death in the City.

In this book, he described what he was observing—that people were increasingly disregarding God's authority, and he predicted the progression that has landed us where we are today. This is the book that we are recommending to you from Truth for Life today. Reading this book will spark your motivation to share the gospel with courage, even at the risk of rejection. Ask for your copy of the book Death in the City today when you donate to support the ministry of Truth for Life.

Go to truthforlife.org slash donate, or call us at 888-588-7884. Now here's Alistair with prayer. Our gracious God, how we thank you that you are not an indifferent God. How we thank you that even when Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, still clothed, still pursued, still loved, how we thank you that you chased down fallen humanity in all of our ungodliness and in all of our unrighteousness, and that you have gone to such an extent to give to the whole world the gift of your only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but should know eternal life. I accomplish your purposes in us and through us these days, we pray for Christ's sake. Amen.

I'm Bob Lapine. You know, when it comes to facing God's judgment, none of us is good enough. God does not grade on the curve. If that seems unfair, tomorrow we'll find out why it's actually merciful. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-19 06:55:27 / 2024-02-19 07:03:14 / 8

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