In the letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul begins an indictment of the entire human race with the fearful declaration that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18). Paul’s conclusion to the argument comes in the third chapter of the letter when he says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (3:23). In between, the Apostle warns that those who sin are storing up wrath for themselves on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed (2:5). It is this very prospect of judgment that causes David to cry out, “O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath” (Ps. 6:1). Instead, David asks for grace: “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled” (Ps. 6:2).
But where is there room for grace in a God who reveals His wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men? Wonderfully and graciously, Paul’s words of condemnation are contained within a proclamation of good news to all nations that God has provided a full and complete remission of sins for all who trust in Christ. This good news is not grounded in a claim that God will overlook our sins and forget them, simply passing over them forever. No, there can be no salvation for sinners in that way from a just and holy God. Where there is ungodliness and unrighteousness, the wrath of God must and will be revealed against it. He may pass over sins for a time, but He will not pass over them forever.
But that day of judgment comes in two distinct ways. It comes at the end of this world’s history,
when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. (2 Thess. 1:7–9)
There is also another way that the day of judgment comes. It occurred on the hill of Calvary just outside Jerusalem, circa AD 30. There the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified.