Monday, July 24, 2006

“It Doesn’t Matter What You Do, God Loves You” and the Judgment of God in Rom. 2

Romans 2:4: "4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?"

Douglas Moo commenting on this passage says this: "Certainly the OT encourages God's people to regard God as merciful and forgiving (e.g., Ps. 145). But the assumption of God's special favor toward his people had already in the OT period become a source of false security for those within Israel who were not living faithfully within the covenant, as the preaching of the prophets abundantly indicates. The literature of intertestamental Judaism, while consistently stressing the need for Jews to repent of sin, also tended to highlight Israel's favored position to the extent that its security in God's judgment was virtually unassailable. It is this assumption that Paul, in agreement with the prophets, calls into question" [The Epistle to the Romans: NICNT (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1996), 133].

Does this sound familiar to you? Often one hears pastors and Christians saying things like: "It doesn't matter what you do, God loves you the same" or "God has already judged Jesus on the cross, so he will not judge you for your sin." This perspective is characterized as follows:

“A prevailing notion is that all we have to do to enter the kingdom of God is to die. God is viewed as being so ‘loving’ that he really doesn’t care too much if we don’t keep his law. The law is there to guide us, but if we stumble and fall, our celestial grandfather will surely wink and say, ‘Boys will be boys’” [R.C. Sproul, Reason to Believe (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982), 99-100].

However, the book of Romans, and the whole New Testament itself, seems to teach something totally different:

“Romans 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

If you have an unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath.

6 God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;

11 For God does not show favoritism. 12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

God will judge us based on the works we are done. This does not mean that salvation is by works, for Paul clearly says in Romans 3:27-38: “27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” and in Romans 11:6: “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” and in Romans.

However, we will all stand before God’s judgment seat, and it is here that our faith will be revealed as a true faith or a false faith: “21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Therefore, our attitude in life should not be like that of Israel’s, possessing a false security that believes that we are immune to God’s judgment and that we are guaranteed God’s favour and salvation, when our very lives are contradicting the Holy God we claim is our Father. Instead, let us work out our salvation with “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), for “he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22; cf. 1 Timothy 4:16).

A helpful resource you might want to check out is: Donald S. Whitney, How Can I Be Sure I’m A Christian?: What the Bible Says About Assurance of Salvation (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994).


Son of Man said...

sobering and encouraging. Awesome. I love the sproul quote, "our celestial grandfather will surely wink and say, ‘Boys will be boys."

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