To presume on God’s patient kindness, as if its purpose were to encourage permission, not penitence, is a sure sign of stubbornness and of an unrepentant heart (v. 5a). Such obstinacy can have only one end. It means that we are storing up for ourselves not some precious treasure but the awful experience of divine wrath on the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed (v. 5). Far from escaping God’s judgment, we will bring it all the more surely upon ourselves.
Paul now enlarges on his expression God’s…righteous judgment (5b), and begins by stating the inflexible principle on which it is based. The NIV rightly puts this in parentheses, since it is a quotation from the Old Testament Scripture, namely that God “will give to each person according to what he has done” (v. 6). The verse quoted is probably Psalm 62:12, although Proverbs 24:12 says the very same thing in the form of a question. It also occurs in the prophecies of Hosea and Jeremiah, and is sometimes elaborated in the vivid expression, “I will bring down on their heads what they have done.” Jesus Himself repeated it. So did Paul, and it is a recurring theme in the book of Revelation. It is the principle of exact retribution, which is the foundation of justice.
Does Paul begin by declaring that salvation is by faith alone, and then destroy his own gospel by saying that it is by good works after all? No, Paul is not contradicting himself. What he is affirming is that, although justification is needed by faith, judgment will be according to works. The reason for this is not hard to find. It is that the Day of Judgment will be a public occasion. Its purpose will be less to determine God’s judgment than to announce it and to vindicate it. The divine judgment, which is a process of sifting and separating, is going on secretly all the time, as people range themselves for or against Christ, but on the last day its results will be made public. The day of God’s wrath will also be the time when His righteous judgment will be revealed (v. 5b).
Such a public occasion, on which a public verdict will be given and a public sentence passed, will require public and verifiable evidence to support them. And the only public evidence available will be our works, what we have done and have been seen to do. The presence or absence of saving faith in our hearts will be disclosed by the presence or absence of good works of love in our lives. The apostle Paul and James both teach this same truth, that authentic saving faith invariably issues in good works, and that if it does not, it is bogus, even dead. “I by my works will show you my faith, wrote James (Jas. 2:18). “Faith [works] through love,” echoed Paul (Gal.5:6).
Verses 7-10 elaborate verse 6, namely the principle that the basis of God’s righteous judgment will be what we have done. The alternatives are now presented to us in two carefully constructed parallel sentences, which concern our goal (what we seek), our works (what we do), and our end (where we are going). The two final destinies of humankind are called eternal life (v. 7), which Jesus defined in terms of knowing Him and knowing the Father, and wrath and anger (v. 8), the awful outpouring of God’s judgment. And the basis on which this separation is to be made will be a combination of what we seek (our ultimate goal in life) and what we do (our actions in the service either of ourselves or of others). It is very similar to the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, in which He delineated the alternative human ambitions (seeking our material welfare or seeking God’s kingdom, and the alternative human activities (practicing or not practicing His teaching).
In verses 9-10 Paul restates the same solemn alternatives, with three differences. First, he simplifies the two categories of people into every human being who does evil (v. 9) and everyone who does good (v. 10). Jesus made exactly the same division between “those who have done evil” and “those who have done good” (John 5:29). Secondly, Paul elaborates the two destinies. He describes the one as trouble and distress (v. 9), emphasizing its anguish, and the other as glory, honor and peace (v. 10a), taking up the “glory” and “honor” of verse 7 which form part of the goal believers seek, and adding “peace”, that comprehensive word for reconciled relationships with God and with each other. Thirdly, Paul adds to sentences, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (vv. 9-10), affirming the priority of the Jew alike in judgment and in salvation, and thus declaring the absolute impartiality of God: For God does not show favoritism (v. 11).
Romans 2:5-11 Reflection Questions:
Are your daily actions in service of yourself or to others?
Do you daily practice Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7)?
Do other people know that you are for Jesus?
What is your ultimate goal in life?
Seed of Faith – FAITH IN THE MIDST OF STORMS By Pastor Dave
He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:40
Dear Fellow Seed-Sowers!
Here are some thoughts that I have been reflecting on lately.
No matter where you are the storms of life can come crashing in. I encourage you take a few moments this week, read through the Gospel accounts of the storms that came upon the disciples while they were crossing the Sea of Galilee. ( A little side note, the “sea” in the Hebrew culture was always considered to be “chaos, confusion, evil and of the enemy.”) I do not know where you are right now. Maybe your sea is calm and you have smooth sailing. Praise the Lord. Maybe your sea is a little bit choppy but all is stable. Maybe your sea is crashing on all sides all around you.
The Scriptures I am enjoying are: Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25 and John 6:16-21. I am really enjoying the Mark passage.
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41 NRSV)
Here are some of the basic principles that I have gleaned in my life from reading these passages:
1. No matter where you are — Storms will come into your life.
2. No matter how hard you try — the terrifying winds will blow!
3. No matter when you think you are on safe ground—the waves will crash and flood your life!
4. No matter how hard the wind blows — Jesus is in your boat!
5. No matter how hard the waves crash and swamp your boat — Jesus is in your boat!
6. No matter if you feel alone — Jesus is in your boat!
7. No matter is you feel like you are going to perish — Jesus is in your boat!
8. No matter what — Jesus is in your boat!
When the storms of life come crashing in and you think you are going to sink, keep you focus on Jesus and let your faith in Him be the anchor you CLING to.
A few more thoughts when the storms of life come crashing in on you:
1. Focus on Jesus the waver-walker and not the waves of life.
2. Focus on your Savior and not the storms.
3. Focus on the Cross and not the crime or the criminal.
4. Focus on Heaven and not the hurt.
5. Focus on God’s hope, not the hopeless situation you face.
6. Focus on God’s mercy and not on the mockery.
7. Focus on God’s grace and not the gossip.
8. Focus on God’s love and share God’s love with the lost.
9. Focus on the power of the resurrection and let this power resurrect, revive, restore, renew, reconcile and redeem your life—today, every day, and forever.
So What? Why are you so afraid?
Jesus is in your boat. Peace, be still!
God loves you with a storm-stopping love and His love will never let you go!
In Christ’s love
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