Romans 2:5-11 God’s Judgment is Righteous


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?

Romans 2:1-4 God’s Judgment is Inescapable: Religious People


As we begin our study of Romans 2, we need to focus on this thought: mankind does not accept God’s assessment of human sin and the imperative of divine judgment. This is not to say that men will not admit they are sinners. It is very easy to get a non-Christian to agree that he is a sinner (“nobody’s perfect”), but it is almost impossible to get him to realize the gravity of his sin. Typically he has no trouble agreeing that those who are guilty of “big sins” like murder and rape and treason deserve judgment – even death. However, that God’s wrath should fall on those guilty of such “lesser sins” as envy or arrogance does not seem quite right to them.

Most people don’t take God’s word about sin and judgment seriously, but rather reject it and replace it with their own reasoning. “But everybody’s doing it”, “Nobody’s perfect”, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” Such thinking suggests that since we are human we are under moral obligation to sin, and that God is under moral obligation to forgive us. Inherent in the common thinking that because everyone is doing it, it is not so bad – as long as we don’t commit the “biggies” we will be okay – is the assumption that God does not mean what He says or say what He means.

This problem is twofold: first, man does not understand God’s holiness, and, second, he does not understand his own sinfulness. As to God’s holiness, sinful man’s idolatrous mind fails to see God as the transcendent, wholly other, perfect God who is infinitely above him, but rather imagines that He is like himself. As to sin, man forgets that he is made in the image of God and that every sin communicates a distortion of the image of God to the rest of creation. It is through such ignorance that the world suggests that if God does judge as He says, He insults His own integrity, holiness, and justice.

The eternal fact is, God means what He says and says what He means. Moreover, His judgment, despite moralisms to the contrary, is perfect. That is what 2:1-16 is all about. As we come to understand (or reaffirm our understanding of) the perfection of God’s judgment, we will bring health to our souls. For those of us who are believers, this will drive us toward a greater authenticity in life – and thus spiritual power. For the non-Christian, there will be strong encouragement to face fundamental issues about oneself and God.

There are three major points in this section, and the first, covered in verses 1-4 is this: We see the perfection of God’s judgment in that even the most religious people do not fool Him. Just as millions of religious people today think they are going to get by because they are good people and God must certainly forgive them, thousands in the Jewish nation in Christ’s time thought the same way. But they took it one step further. They believed everyone else would be judged except the Jewish race! Many Jews believed they were immune from God’s wrath simply because they were Jews. The self-righteous Jew never dreamed that he was under the same condemnation; he was blind to his actual condition. God sees sin in their hearts that they do not see, and condemns them.

The second insight, related to the first, is that the self-righteous have an intrinsic blindness to their own faults. They do not see they are doing the same things for which they condemn others. A classic example is found in the life of David after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah her husband murdered (see 2 Samuel 12:5-7). The self-righteous person is not only blind but judgmental to the extreme. There is no one more severely critical of others than such a person. Hell will be full of judgmental, goodie-goodie people. Unfortunately, such thinking is not confined to the damned. It is also the favorite “indoor sport” of many Christians. There is nothing more destructive to the spread of the Good News than this. There is yet another facet of the psyche of the self-righteous religionist – he wrongly thinks he will escape judgment by taking God’s side in condemning the unrighteous.

The last insight of religious people is that he actually thinks the “kindness and forbearance and patience” of God in his life is a kind of divine OK on the course he has chosen, rather than seeing it as a chance for repentance (v. 4). Sometimes God brings people to Himself through difficulties as they come to the end of themselves and cast their lives upon Him. But He also draws people to repentance through “kindness and forebearance and patience.” No one should assume he all right with God just because life is easy for him at a given time. God calls people through sunshine as well as through rain.

So we see the psychology of the self-righteous: their ignorance of the nature and extent of sin, blindness to their own sins, extreme judgmentalism, siding with God against others’ sin, and interpreting God’s kindness as approval. God understands those who are truly self-righteous. He is never fooled. That is why His judgment will be rendered with unerring, terrible perfection. He sees all. In Psalm 139:4 David says, “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.” God knows the real intention behind every spoken word. God knows instantly and effortlessly everything about us. A man may be a “good” person – upright, outwardly moral, sure of his goodness. But if he dies without Christ, Christ will say to him, “You have no excuse” (Rom. 2:1). And His judgment will be perfect.

Romans 2:1-4 Reflection Questions:

Do you take God for granted?

How often do you humble yourself before the God of all creation?

How often do you catch yourself in judging others? What does God see in your heart?

Are you building on your relationship with Christ daily?

Weekly Seed of Faith 8/16/19

Seed of Faith – I BELIEVE IN JESUS — IS JESUS ENOUGH?   By Pastor Dave  

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

Dear Saintly Seed-Sowers:

It is my hope and prayer that you will see the GLORY of Jesus in your life and that you will come to know that Jesus is enough.

Today we begin to look at the second section of the Apostles’ Creed.

Join with me in the reading of this ancient creed of faith that has shaped and changed so many lives for so many years.

The Apostles’ Creed 
1. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
2. and in Jesus Christ, His only (begotten) Son, our Lord;
3. who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, 

4. suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried;  He descended into hell; 
5. the third day he rose again from the dead; 
6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; 
7. from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost, 
9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, 
10. the forgiveness of sins, 
11. the resurrection of the body, 
12. and the life everlasting.

This creed was used as a creed, to state exactly what the early believers believed.  In fact, the word “creed” comes from “credo” which means “I believe.” I hope by the end of our series that you will have found your own “CREDO”! Do you remember that the early church used this creed as their baptismal confession? If you wanted to join the church—way back in the second century—you needed to proclaim your faith in the TRINITY: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed was one way to declare what you believed.

The first section of the Creed was about God, the Father–the creator and maker of all. The second section of the Creed is about the second person of the Trinity: JESUS. When The Apostles’ Creed speaks about Jesus, it takes us on a journey through Christmas, Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter as it unfolds the truth of who Jesus is.

Jesus is the name that Michael the Arch Angel gave to Mary when he announced to her the Good News of her pregnancy. “…the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.'” (Luke 1:30-33)

The name “Jesus” is Greek and comes from the Hebrew name for “Joshua” which means “God is Savior.”  By giving him the name Jesus, this identified Jesus as a historical person:  Jesus was Mary’s son.  Jesus was the son of Joseph, a carpenter.  Jesus worked in His father’s carpentry business until he was thirty years old and then Jesus began His ministry of healing, of miracles and of resurrections.  Jesus labored for three years as a rabbi teaching that the Kingdom of God had come. He was put to death around 30 A.D. by Pontius Pilate. After Christ’s death, His followers became known as CHRISTIANS (little Christs).

Part two, line two of the Creed starts with: “I believe in Jesus Christ.” Here’s some trivia on the word “Christ.” “Christ” is the Greek word for the Hebrew word “Messiah.” Christ equals Messiah. Messiah equals Christ. The name “Christ” is a title, it is not Jesus’ last name. When we say “Jesus Christ,” it means “Jesus the Messiah.”

The title “Christ” also expresses the claim that Jesus fulfilled all three ministries that are anointed with the title in the Old Testament times: a prophet (a messenger from God,) a priest (one who mediates with God for us by sacrifice) and a king.  Jesus Christ literally means: “Jesus, the Messiah, the prophet, the priest and the king.”  “Christ” is a pretty impressive title. This is what we are saying when we recite the first two lines: I believe God is my Father who has power over all my Father has ever created.  Line two: I believe that Jesus is the messiah, the Christ, the prophet, the priest and the king.

We continue in the Creed to proclaim that this Jesus Christ is God’s only Son.

Legend has it that sometime in the first century, a wealthy merchant was traveling through the Mediterranean world. He was looking for the distinguished Pharisee, Paul, when he encountered Timothy. Timothy arranged a visit between the merchant and Paul. Paul, at the time, was  a prisoner in Rome. Stepping inside the cell, the merchant was surprised to find a rather old man, physically frail, but whose serenity and magnetism challenged the visitor. They talked for hours. Finally, the merchant left with Paul’s blessing. Outside the prison, the merchant inquired, “What is the secret of this man’s power? I have never seen anything like it before.”  Timothy replied, “Did you not guess? Paul is in love.” The merchant looked bewildered. “In love?” “Yes,” Timothy answered, “Paul is in love with Jesus Christ.”  The merchant looked even more bewildered. “Is that all?” Smiling, Timothy replied, “Is that all? That, my friend, is everything.”[i]

So What?
Christianity can sometimes be a crazy thing. The Church can sometimes be a crazy thing. There are all these “rules” of accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. And there are many debates on how to accept Christ as your Savior but not as your Lord. Here’s what the WORD says in John 14:6, Jesus is speaking, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”

I can only imagine that some of you might be wrestling with God’s call on your life. What is God calling you to do and become? Here’s your “SO WHAT?” for the week: IS JESUS ENOUGH FOR ME? Is God my Father, and is Jesus my Savior and Lord? Is Jesus all I need? Or do you need more than Jesus? It’s the age-old wrestling match: is JESUS enough?

I was 12 when I first accepted Jesus as my Savior. I believed in Jesus because I wanted to go to heaven to see my brother, Gary, who had died in a car accident.  When I was 27, I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life.  Ten years later, I felt the call to go into full-time ministry. It took me three years of battling the “What ifs” before I told my wife. What if I give up everything, we’ve worked so hard to get? What if I walk away from security? What if I’m really bad at ministry? What if we never have much of anything? Is Jesus enough? If Jesus is my Savior and my Lord can I trust His call? “FOLLOW ME, Dave, and I will make you a fisher of people.”

In conclusion, I think of Jacob who wrestled an angel all night.  (First of all, notice THE MAIN SPORT LISTED HERE: wrestling!) Jacob had fled his home because he had tricked his father (with his mother’s help) and had stolen the birthright from his twin brother, Esau. He went to work for his Uncle Laban and married both Leah and Rachel. By this time in the story, Jacob is heading back home with all of his wives, children, livestock and all that goes along with that. He sends everyone ahead, and stays behind at the ford of the Jabbok. Jacob was alone and an angel wrestled him all night. The angel touched and wrenched Jacob’s hip socket. Jacob said to the angel, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” I often wonder if the longer version went more like this, “I am about to go see my brother. Long ago, I outsmarted him for the family birthright. I haven’t seen in him many years. You need to bless me. He might really be mad at me.” The angel does more than bless Jacob, the angel changes Jacob’s name to Israel–because he has struggled with God and with humans and has overcome. Jacob had to get to the point where God was enough. So do you and I. This is your “SO WHAT?” for the week: IS JESUS ENOUGH FOR ME?
Let’s pray:
God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit—HELP me to know what I believe, increase my faith and increase my trust in YOU. God, help me. Help me to stand at the waters of  baptism, help me to understand this creed. Give me eyes to see YOU, ears to hear YOU and a heart to know YOU. Help me to follow You as You make me a fisher of people. Jesus, You are enough. Amen.
See you Sunday …

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave

[i] Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (p. 225). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[i] Historic Creeds and Confessions. (1997). (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Lexham Press.

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Romans 1:32 The Ultimate Dimension of Depravity


Man reaches the lowest point of depravity when he heartily applauds those who give themselves to sin. To delight in those who do evil is a sure way to become even more degraded than the sinners one observes. This, I think, was one of the supreme horrors of the Roman Coliseum. Those committing the mayhem were supremely guilty, but those watching and applauding were perhaps even more wretched. It makes little difference whether the vices are real or portrayed; the effect is much the same – an increasingly debased mind on the part of the viewer. Approving another’s sin or encouraging another’s sin is a sign that life has reached its lowest dimension.

We Christians are not exempt from this. Satan knows that if he can get us to laugh at the things we believe we would never do, our defenses will fall. Maybe someday our unwitting approval will give way to action. We need to be careful what we watch and applaud.

According to Psalm 8 man is made a little lower than angels. This suggests that man is in a position somewhere between the angels above and the beasts below. Angels are spirits without bodies. (Sometimes they take on bodies, but they are spirit beings.) Animals are bodies without spirits. Man is in between because he is body and spirit. This puts man in a mediating position. It has always been man’s prerogative to move upward toward the spiritual or downward toward the animal, and we become like that which we focus. This is why we cannot sin “a little bit.” All sin moves us downhill individually, nationally, and culturally.

As our society has moved downward toward the beast, no one seems able to say “This far and no further.” No one can put a limit on sensuality. Incest is even being promoted by some. Our culture has been unable to draw the line on pornography. Such are the dimensions of depravity. What is the answer? Why does God give a civilization over to this kind of thing? He does it because when darkness prevails, and despair and violence are widespread, men and women are most ready to come to the light. He gives mankind up so that in their despair they might give themselves to His grace. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” (Isaiah 9:2)

In the first century mankind was sunk in the darkness of despair. Idolatry had penetrated the whole world. Men had turned from the true God, whom they could have known. In that hour, in the darkness of the night, over the skies of Bethlehem the angels broke through, and a great light of hope shone forth. From that hope all light streams. The angels’ message was the coming of the Lord Jesus, the availability of the gift of the “righteousness of God.”

Against the growing darkness of our own time we need to make this message as clear as we possibly can – by our testimony, by our lives, by the joy and peace of Heaven in our hearts. God has found a way to break through human weakness, arrogance, despair, and sinfulness to give us peace, joy, and gladness. Just as Jesus was born in Bethlehem so long ago, so He can be born in any person’s heart now. This is good news of the gospel. In this decaying world in which we live, we can see again the glory of this truth as it delivers people from their sins. “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

In Ephesians 2, Paul paints a similar picture of the dimensions of man’s depravity, concluding in verse 3 with “[we] were by nature children of wrath.” However, he doesn’t stop there but continues:  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God… (vv. 4-8). Christ came in the darkest night, and He can meet us even in the midnight of our souls.

It’s true that our rejection of God has left us looking to the beasts and becoming increasingly like them – even worse than the beasts – and that left to ourselves there can be no end to this grim descent into depravity. But the gospel, for the sake of which Romans was written, tells us that God has not left us to ourselves. In Christ, He has acted to restore what we are intent on destroying.

Paul writes about this in 2 Corinthians 3 verses 16 and 18. When we come to Christ, the question is not “How low can you go?” We are done with that. The question is “How high can you rise?” And to that question the answer also is: no limit. We are to become increasingly like the Lord Jesus Christ throughout eternity.

Romans 1:32 Reflection Questions:

Are there movies or shows that you watch regularly that maybe you should stop watching?

How are you keeping yourself from sliding down the depravity slippery slope, and becoming increasingly like the Lord Jesus Christ?

In what ways are you making it clear to others of their depravity?

Romans 1:29-31 Lifting the Lid on Hell


For several studies we have been studying the most dreadful description of the sinful human race in all literature, the description provided by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-32. It began with the rejection of God by all people and has proceeded to God’s abandonment of us, as a result of which human beings rapidly fall into a horrible pit of depravity, to their own hurt and the hurt of others. We come now to the last verses of Romans 1 where Paul rounds out his description by a catalogue of vices. It’s a long list, containing 21 items. How can we face such a devastating unmasking of ourselves? Some will not face it at all, of course. Even many preachers will not. These verses detail what theologians call “total depravity,” and people don’t want to hear about that. So many preachers change their message to fit today’s cultural expectations. They speak of our goodness, the potential for human betterment, the comfort of the gospel – without speaking of that for which the gospel is the cure.

Paul wrote in verse 18 that “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” In that verse the second use of “wickedness” refers to man’s suppression of the truth about God. But at the beginning of the verse, where the term is used for the first time, “wickedness” is distinguished from “godlessness”; godlessness and wickedness are employed to designate two great categories of human evil. The first embraces the sins of man against man, those of the first table of the law. The second embraces the sins of man against man, those of the second table of the law. Generally speaking, it is the sins of “godlessness” that we have been looking at to this point; they are fundamental. However, in these last verses Paul lists examples of man’s “wickedness” (wickedness, evil, greed, depravity).

Paul, having shown earlier in this chapter that human beings hate God and would kill Him if they could, he now shows how they also hate and attempt to destroy their fellow man. In other words, the first four terms describe sins against the property and well-being of others. In the next five terms Paul details sins against the very persons of other human beings. The sins are: envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice.

It’s hard to see any meaningful groupings in Paul’s arrangement, and it may be wrong to try. However, if the first four terms catalogue sins against the property or well-being of others, and the next five list sins against other persons, it may be that the next six terms could be those of which pride is the center. They are certainly among the most harmful of these vices (gossips, slanders, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful). Up to this point all the vices mentioned are but one word in Greek. But now Paul seems to need two words each to describe the next evils: “inventors of evil things” and “disobedient to parents.” Paul concludes this devastating catalogue with these last four terms: senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless.

It’s hard to imagine anything more horrible than this great list of human vices, not merely because they are horrible in themselves, but also because they are with us everywhere. Yet, as horrible as this is, it is only a foretaste of what hell itself will be like; for hell is only what is described in these verses, going on and on for eternity. The basic point is that the human race has chosen to go its way without God and that as a result of this choice God has abandoned the race to the result of its own sinful choices. We have made earth hell! And we will carry that hell with us into hell, making hell even more hellish than it is already!

We need to be reminded that it is only an awareness of the horror of our sin that ever leads us to appreciate the gospel when we hear it. What if we think we are basically all right before God? What is we think ourselves good? Then we think we do not need the gospel. We think we can do without God, which is exactly what these verses are describing. When our blinders are stripped off and the depravity of the race – to which we contribute – is unfolded before us, the glory of the gospel bursts forth, and Romans 1:16 and 17 becomes for us what Martin Luther found it to be for him, namely, “the door to paradise.” The gospel is then seen to be “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” – no matter how sinful, no matter how corrupt.

We do not deserve this gospel. How could we? We couldn’t even invent it. But because God is not like us – because He is not “wicked,” “evil,” “greedy,” depraved,” “envious,” “senseless,” “faithless,” “heartless,” “ruthless,” or anything else that is bad – He not only could invent it, He did!

Romans 1:29-31 Reflection Questions:

Where in the gospel of Mathew does Jesus talk in detail about these sins?

Do you basically think that you are all right before God? Why?

Do you think of yourself as good?