Daily Archives: November 17, 2013

BCC Weekend Resource: Biblical Counseling for Adultery

Additionally, we want to point you to a very helpful and insightful series that Tim just completed on his site regarding Biblical Counseling and Adultery. You can find links to each of Tim’s seven-part series below.

Part 1: Adultery: Alive and Well in Your Church?
Part 2: Are All Affairs Alike?
Part 3: Typical Responses to an Affair
Part 4: Adultery: Divorce or Rebuild?
Part 5: Adultery: Who Do You Help?
Part 6: Immediate Actions to End an Affair
Part 7: Steps to Rebuild a Marriage

Source: http://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/blogs/2013/11/16/bcc-weekend-resource-biblical-counseling-for-adultery/

The Heart of Christ

Here are a handful of remarks from Thomas Goodwin’s The Heart of Christ that struck me and helped me and calmed me down and (as Edwards would say) happified me as I read this little gem. Many of us have been walking with the Lord for years and have never latched on to who Christ actually is for sinners–how he feels about sinners who come to him. What his heart is.

There has been a remarkable recovery of the doctrines of grace in recent years, but, I think, not an accordant recovery of the Man of grace. We’ve recovered the formula but not the Person. The what, but not the Who.

Goodwin has a word in season for the evangelical church today.

Read More Here

Heresy Alert!!! “False Gospels”, “Different Gospels”, “Demonic Gospels” And Those Who Preach Them.

Shepherd/Guardian

http://thebereanlibrary.com/page-false-gospels#sthash.4X3IDq27.dpuf

▶PAUL says, in Gal 1:6-9, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a DIFFERENT GOSPEL; which is really NOT ANOTHER; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to DISTORT the Gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel CONTRARY TO WHAT WE HAVE PREACHED TO YOU, he is to be ACCURSED! As we have said before, so I say AGAIN now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel CONTRARY to what you RECEIVED, he is to be ACCURSED!” (caps added)

A list of the PREDOMINANT false teachings, “DIFFERENT GOSPELS,” in Christian bookstores follows, but is not limited to:

▶The Emergent Church A.K.A. Post-Modern/Neo-Liberal/Progressive False Gospel Movement [Leading promoters: Brian McLarenDoug PagittTony JonesRob BellRichard Foster

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Catholic Questions: What Is a Novena?

The word novena derives from the Latin word for “nine.” A novena is a series of prayers prayed over a nine-day or nine-hour period. The prayers are repeated to obtain special graces or as a sign of devotion to God. Usually a novena involves making a specific request or expressing a specific intent. Prayers may come from the rosary or from prayer books, or they may be written by the petitioner. Usually the same prayer is prayed every day for nine days, or the same series of prayers is prayed. A nine-day novena has prayers made at the same time each day; a nine-hour novena has a prayer at the same time each hour. Novenas are primarily practiced by Catholics, although some members of the Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches also say novenas.

There are, in general, four categories of novenas. Mourning novenas are said following the death of a loved one; a special novemdiales is said following the death of a pope. Preparation novenas are said before a major religious holiday, such as Easter or Christmas. Prayer novenas are said to obtain special graces, and may consist of prayers from prayer books, recitation of the rosary, or other small prayers through the day. Indulgence novenas are prayed to alleviate the temporal punishment for one’s sins, including the sins of those in purgatory. Novenas are often prayed to specific saints and may be public or private; public ones require special mass attendance or the daily lighting of a candle. The supposed efficacy of a novena depends on the piety and devotion of the individual performing it. Most Catholics resent the superstitious supposition that a novena is a sort of spiritual chain letter, the idea that saying a novena for a given amount of time virtually guarantees that one’s request will be granted.

The novena is perhaps loosely derived from Scripture. It is thought that the time between the ascension of the Lord Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was nine days. Acts 1:14 says that the disciples spent that time continuing “with one accord in prayer.” However, the ancient Romans also observed a nine-day period of prayer following the death of a loved one, or to avert some evil predicted by a soothsayer. Ultimately, the novena is based more on tradition than on Scripture, which contains a prohibition against “vain repetition” in prayer (Matthew 6:7–8). The concept behind novenas is not explicitly unbiblical, but the prayer content in the vast majority of novenas is unbiblical. It is true that we are exhorted to pray continually (Luke 18:1–8; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). However, we need to be sure that our prayers are thoughtful, God-centered and God-honoring.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: How Can I Know If the Desires of My Heart Are from God?

Jesus answers this question for us: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19). And then: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’ ” (Mark 7:20–23).

In these passages, Jesus reveals the very springboard of our wants: our fleshly desires come from our innermost being. Sin does not just come about as a result of outside forces. It is borne from those hidden little niches residing in our thoughts and intentions, from the secret desires which only the mind and heart can envision. The bottom line is that, in our fallen state, the desires of our hearts do not come from God. Jeremiah further confirms the nature of man’s heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

It has long been the view of many that all humans are basically good and decent and that it is the circumstances of life such as poverty or poor nurturing that turn us into murderers and thieves. But the Bible teaches that all men suffer from a common frailty—sin. The apostle Paul calls it our sin nature. “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” (Romans 7:18–20). Our evil hearts lead us to sin.

Furthermore, the heart is so corrupt and deceitful that our motives are unclear even to ourselves. As sinful creatures we devise and create evil things in the arrogance and self-sufficiency of our hearts (Proverbs 16:30; Psalm 35:20; Micah 2:1; Romans 1:30). The truth is that only God can examine our deepest motives and inward desires and only by His power can we ever hope to untangle the uncertainty and depravity that is bound up within our hearts. He alone searches all and knows us intimately (Hebrews 4:11–13).

Fortunately, God does not abandon us in our struggles with hurtful desires and sinful tendencies. Instead, He provides us the grace and strength we need to resist and overcome sin when it crouches at the door of our hearts. The psalmist tells us to: “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:4–6).

Here we see that God can literally plant His own desires into the heart of man, the heart that, without Him, is desperately wicked and deceitful. He replaces the evil with good and sets our hearts on the path toward Him, removing our own desires and replacing them with His. This only happens when we come to Him in repentance and accept the gift of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. At that point, He removes our hearts of stone and replaces them with hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). He accomplishes this by the supernatural implanting of His Spirit into our hearts. Then our desires become His desires, our wills seek to do His will, and our rebellion turns to joyous obedience.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about God: What Does It Mean that God Is Jehovah-Jireh?

“Jehovah-Jireh” is one of the many different names of God found in the Old Testament. “Jehovah-Jireh” (or YHWH-Yireh) means “The LORD Will Provide” (Genesis 22:14). It is the name memorialized by Abraham when God provided the ram to be sacrificed in place of Isaac.

The story begins with a strange command from God to Abraham, instructing him to offer his “son of promise,” Isaac, as a burnt offering. Early the next morning, Abraham packs wood and a knife, and he and Isaac travel to Moriah, the place God had specified. As they near the site, Isaac questions Abraham concerning the intended offering: “Where is the lamb?” With great faith and foresight, Abraham responds, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:1–8). The New Testament tells us that Abraham believed God would raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19).

Upon reaching the place God had chosen, Abraham demonstrates his faith and obedience by building an altar, binding Isaac, and placing him on the wood. Before Abraham can finish the offering, the Angel of the Lord calls to him from heaven, and Isaac’s life is spared. Then, “Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:13). Abraham names the place “Jehovah-Jireh” because of God’s gracious provision of a substitute for Isaac. Immediately afterwards, God reconfirms His covenant with Abraham (v 17–18). Centuries later, King Solomon would build the temple in the same location (2 Chronicles 3:1).

The account of Abraham on Mt. Moriah thus becomes more than a dramatic illustration of faith and obedience. It is a presentation of the Lord’s eternal grace, continual provision, and all-encompassing wisdom. Jehovah-Jireh is not “The LORD Did Provide,” but “The LORD Will Provide.” In other words, the name does not simply memorialize a past event; it anticipates a future action.

Likewise, the statement “on the mountain of the LORD it will be provided” (verse 14) refers to more than Mt. Moriah—it also refers to a hill called Calvary, where God “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). Abraham’s faith-filled statement that “God himself will provide the lamb” is a companion to John the Baptist’s exclamation, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

Jehovah-Jireh provided a sacrifice to save Isaac, and that action was a foreshadowing of the provision of His Son for the salvation of the world.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Principles of God’s Judgment—Part 1 (Romans 2:1-5)

Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, (2:1–5)

After reading Paul’s severe condemnation of those who have abandoned God and plummeted into the gross sins mentioned in 1:29–31, one naturally wonders about how God deals with the more upright, moral, and religious person who has a sense of right and wrong, and leads an outwardly virtuous life.

Many such ethically upright people would heartily concur with Paul’s assessment of the flagrantly immoral people he has just described. They obviously deserve God’s judgment. Throughout history many pagan individuals and societies have held high standards of conduct. As E E Bruce points out, the Roman philosopher Seneca, a contemporary of Paul,

might have listened to Paul’s indictment and said, “Yes, that is perfectly true of great masses of mankind, and I concur in the judgment which you pass on them-but there are others, of course, like myself, who deplore these tendencies as much as you do.”

Paul imagines someone intervening in terms like these, and he addresses the supposed objector. … How apt this reply would have been to a man like Seneca! For Seneca could write so effectively on the good life that Christian writers of later days were prone to call him “our own Seneca.” Not only did he exalt the great moral virtues; he exposed hypocrisy, he preached the equality of all men, he acknowledged the pervasive character of evil, … he practiced and inculcated daily self-examination, he ridiculed vulgar idolatry, he assumed the role of a moral guide. But too often he tolerated in himself vices not so different from those which he condemned in others-the most flagrant instance being his connivance at Neto’s murder of his mother Agrippina. (Romans [London: Tyndale, 1967], pp. 86, 87)

Most Jews of Paul’s day believed in the idea that performing certain moral and religious works produced righteousness. Specifically, they could earn God’s special favor and therefore eternal life by keeping the Mosaic law and the traditions of the rabbis. Many even believed that if they failed in the works effort, they might forfeit some earthly reward but were still exempt from God’s judgment simply because they were Jews, God’s chosen people. They were firmly convinced that God would judge and condemn pagan Gentiles because of their idolatry and immorality but that no Jew would ever experience such condemnation. They loved to repeat such sayings as, “God loves Israel alone of all the nations,” and “God will judge the Gentiles with one measure and the Jews with another.” Some taught that Abraham sat outside the gates of hell in order to prevent even the most wicked Jew from entering.

In his Dialogue with Trypho, the second-century Christian Justin Martyr reports his Jewish opponent as saying, “They who are the seed of Abraham according to the flesh shall in any case, even if they be sinners and unbelieving and disobedient towards God, share in the eternal kingdom.”

Even the unregenerate have the basic knowledge of good and evil built into them and into society. Consequently, many people today recognize and seek to uphold the moral standards of Scripture and profess to be Christians. But also like Seneca, because they are not true believers in God, they lack the spiritual resources to maintain that divine morality in their lives and are unable to restrain their sinfulness. They trust in their baptism, in their church membership, in their being born into a Christian family, in the sacraments, in high ethical standards, in orthodox doctrine, or in any number of other outward ideas, relationships, or ceremonies for spiritual and even eternal safety.

But no one can understand or appropriate salvation apart from recognizing that he stands guilty and condemned before God, totally unable to bring himself up to God’s standard of righteousness. And no person is exempt. The outwardly moral person who is friendly and charitable but self-satisfied is, in fact, usually harder to reach with the gospel than the reprobate who has hit bottom, recognized his sin, and given up hope. Therefore, after showing the immoral pagan his lostness apart from Christ, Paul proceeds with great force and clarity to show the moralist that, before God, he is equally guilty and condemned.

In doing so, he presents six principles by which God judges sinful men: knowledge (v. 1), truth (vv. 2–3), guilt (vv. 4–5), deeds (vv. 6–10), impartiality (vv. 11–15), and motive (v. 16).

Knowledge

Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. (2:1)

Therefore refers to what Paul has just said in the last half of chapter 1, and specifically to the introductory statement: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them, … so that they are without excuse” (vv. 18–20).

Addressing the new group of moral people, the apostle says, you also are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment. As becomes clear in verse 17, he was speaking primarily to Jews, who characteristically passed judgment on Gentiles, thinking them to be spiritually inferior and even beyond the interest of God’s mercy and care. But every man of you encompasses all moralists, including professing Christians, who think they are exempt from God’s judgment because they have not sunk into the pagan, immoral extremes Paul has just mentioned.

Paul’s initial argument is simple. In that you judge another, he points out, you condemn yourself, because you obviously have a criterion by which to judge, meaning that you know the truth about what is right and wrong before God. Even the Gentiles know the basic truth of God’s “eternal power and divine nature” through natural revelation (1:20). They also have a sense of right and wrong by conscience (2:15). The Jew, however, not only had both of those means of knowing God’s truth but also had the great advantage of having received His special revelation through Scripture (3:2; 9:4). Not only that, but almost all Jews of Paul’s day would have known something of Jesus Christ and of His teaching and claims even though they would not have believed He was the promised Messiah. Such knowledge would have made them still more inexcusable, in that their greater knowledge of God’s truth would have made them more accountable to it (see Heb. 10:26–29).

If relatively unenlightened pagans know basic truths about God and realize they deserve His punishment (1:19–20, 32), Paul was saying, how much more should Jews? The same principle applies to Christians, both nominal and true. Because they have greater knowledge of God’s truth they are more accountable to it and more inexcusable when they self-righteously judge others by it. James gave a special warning to those who aspire to be Christian teachers, reminding them that, because of their greater knowledge of God’s truth, they will be judged more strictly by Him (James 3:1). And the fact is, the moralists who condemn others’ sins are filled with their own iniquities which demand judgment by the same standard.

But it was not simply that those who are judgmental are wrong in assessing the moral standing of others but that they also are wrong in assessing their own moral standing. You who judge practice the same things, Paul insists. The self-righteous make two grave errors: they underestimate the height of God’s standard of righteousness, which encompasses the inner as well as the outer life (the theme of the Sermon on the Mount), and they underestimate the depth of their own sin. It is a universal temptation to exaggerate the faults of others while minimizing one’s own, to notice a small speck in someone’s eye but not the log in one’s own eye (see Matt. 7:1–3).

Many self-sanctified, blind Jews who read these words of Paul would immediately have concluded that what he said did not apply to them. Like the rich young ruler (Luke 18:21), they were convinced they had done a satisfactory job of keeping God’s commandments (cf. also Matt. 15:1–3). It was that self-righteous spirit that Jesus repeatedly undermined in the Sermon on the Mount. After declaring, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven,” He charged that the person who is angry at or insults his brother is as surely worthy of punishment as the murderer and that the person who lusts is guilty of adultery or fornication just as surely as the person who physically commits those immoral acts (Matt. 5:20–22, 27–28). Many Jewish men tried to legalize their adultery by formally divorcing their wives and then marrying the woman they preferred. Because divorce had become easy and commonplace, some men repeatedly divorced and remarried. But Jesus warned: “I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (v. 32). If one has enough knowledge to judge others, he is thus self-condemned, for he has enough to judge his own true condition.

Truth

And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? (2:2–3)

Know translates oida, which carries the idea of awareness of that which is commonly known and obvious. As Paul has already pointed out, even the pagan Gentiles acknowledge that “those who practice such things [the sins listed in 1:29–31] are worthy of death” (v. 32). Surely then, the more spiritually enlightened Jews know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things.

Everything God does is, by nature, right and according to the truth. Paul declares, “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar,” (Rom. 3:4), and, “There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!” (9:14). God is not capable of doing that which is not right or saying that which is not true. David declared that the Lord “dost sit on the throne judging righteously. … He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity” (Ps. 9:4, 8). Another psalmist exulted that God “will judge the world in righteousness, and the people in His faithfulness” (Ps. 96:13; cf. 145:17; cf. also Isa. 45:19). There is always distortion in human perception, but never any in God’s.

Men are so used to God’s blessings and mercy that they take them for granted, not realizing that they receive those things purely because of God’s longsuffering and grace. God would be perfectly just to blot out any person or all persons. But human nature trades on God’s grace, believing that everything will work out all right in the end because God is too good and merciful to send anyone to hell. As someone astutely observed, “There is some kind of a still little voice in everybody that constantly convinces them that in the end it’s going to be O.K. .” That little voice speaks from a person’s fallen nature, which constantly seeks to justify itself.

Paul sternly warns against such false confidence. Although he was conscious of no specific unconfessed sin in his life, even he knew better than to rely on his imperfect human judgment, declaring, “I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord” (1 Cor. 4:3–4). He knew that every person’s discernment is hopelessly distorted and cannot make a proper evaluation even of his own spiritual health, much less that of someone else. “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time ,” the apostle goes on to say, “but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God” (v. 5).

Man’s judgment never squares completely with the truth, because he never knows the complete truth. When the proud moralist judges and condemns others, while thinking he himself is acceptable to God, it is only because he is judging by his own perverted perspective, which fallen human nature always skews to its own advantage. But God’s perspective and judgment are always perfect. The writer of Hebrews therefore warns, “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). Every sin that every individual has ever committed flashes on a life-sized screen before God, as it were, with no detail missing from His view.

The secret hope of the hypocrite is that God will somehow judge him by a standard lower than perfect truth and righteousness. He knows enough to recognize the wickedness of his heart, but he hopes vainly that God will judge him in the same superficial way that most others judge him and that he judges himself. He plays a kind of religious charade, wanting to be judged by his appearance rather than by his true character. And because most men accept him for what he pretends to be, as most hypocrites he assumes God will do the same. But as God cautioned Samuel, “Do not look at his [Eliab’s] appearance or at the height of his stature, … for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Logizomai (suppose) carries the idea of calculating or estimating. (It is related to the English term logic.). The moralist falsely calculates his own sinfulness and guilt.

Donald Grey Barnhouse gives a contemporary and forceful paraphrase of this verse: “You dummy-do you really figure that you have doped out an angle that will let you go up against God and get away with it? You don’t have a ghost of a chance.” Dr. Barnhouse continues by commenting, “There is no escape. Do you understand? No escape-ever. And this means you-the respectable person, sitting in judgment upon another fellow creature, and remaining unrepentant yourself” (Expositions of Bible Doctrines, vol. 2, God’s Wrath [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953], p. 18).

The hypocritical, self-righteous man who passes judgment upon those who practice the sinful things that he himself practices brings greater judgment on himself. God not only judges him for those evil practices but also for his hypocrisy in the self-righteous judgment of others. Such people “are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:27). “You are foolish and self-deceived,” Paul says, “if you think that you will escape the judgment of God.”

If a man cannot escape his own judgment, how can he escape divine judgment? If we are forced to condemn ourselves, how much more will the infinitely Holy God condemn us?

Comparing the ancient Israelites (who heard God speak through Moses from Mount Sinai) to those who hear the gospel of Christ (which comes from heaven), the writer of Hebrews declares:

See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” And this expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:25–29)

Because the Israelites refused to listen to God when He spoke to them on earth in regard to His law, that generation perished in the wilderness. How much more accountable, then, will those be who disregard the infinitely greater message of the gospel? “If the word spoken through angels,” that is, the Mosaic law (see Acts 7:53), “proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” as that offered by God’s own Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:2–3)?

The only way any person, no matter how outwardly moral and religious, can escape God’s judgment is to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, receiving in faith the provision He made on the cross by His paying the penalty all deserve.

It has been told that nomadic tribes roamed ancient Russia much as American Indians once roamed North America. The tribe that controlled the choicest hunting grounds and natural resources was led by an exceptionally strong and wise chief. He ruled not only because of his superior physical strength but because of his utter fairness and impartiality. When a rash of thefts broke out, he proclaimed that if the thief were caught he would be punished by ten lashes from the tribal whip master. As the thefts continued, he progressively raised the number of lashes to forty, a punishment that everyone knew he was the only one strong enough to endure. To their horror, the thief turned out to be the chief’s aged mother, and speculation immediately began as to whether or not he would actually sentence her to the announced punishment. Would he satisfy his love by excusing her or would he satisfy his law by sentencing her to what would surely be her death? True to his integrity, the chief sentenced his mother to the forty lashes. But true also to his love for his mother, just before the whip came down on her back he surrounded her frail body with his own, taking upon himself the penalty he had prescribed for her.

In an infinitely greater way, Christ took the penalty of all men’s sin upon Himself.

Guilt

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, (2:4–5)

Here the Holy Spirit, through Paul, affirms that God judges on the basis of a person’s true guilt, guilt that is common to every human being, including those, such as ancient Jews, who considered themselves exempt because of their high moral standing, their religious affiliation, or any other external reason.

The apostle first warns his readers not to think lightly of the riches of God’s kindness and forbearance and patience. The famous commentator Matthew Henry wrote, “There is in every willful sin a contempt for the goodness of God.” Every intentional sin takes lightly and presumes upon God’s kindness and forbearance and patience.

Think lightly of translates kataphroneō, which literally means “to think down on” something or someone and to underestimate the true value. It therefore often had the connotation of disregarding or even despising.

Through the prophet Hosea, God proclaimed His great love for His people, saying, “When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. … I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; … I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; and I bent down and fed them” (Hos. 11:1, 3–4). But “My people are bent on turning from Me,” the Lord lamented. “Though they call them to the One on high, none at all exalts Him” (v. 7). It seemed that the more gracious God was to Israel, the more she presumed upon or spurned His grace.

Without exception, every person who has ever lived has experienced the kindness and forbearance and patience of God. Every breath a person takes and every bite of food he cats is by the kind provision of God. God is the only source of goodness, and therefore everything good and worthwhile a person has is from the gracious hand of God.

God’s own kindness is reflected in His children and is one among the fruit of the Spirit that believers are to manifest (Gal. 5:22). Forbearance comes from anochē, which means “to hold back,” as of judgment. It was sometimes used to designate a truce, which involves cessation of hostilities between warring parties. God’s forbearance with mankind is a kind of temporary divine truce He has graciously proclaimed. Patience translates makrothumia, which was sometimes used of a powerful ruler who voluntarily withheld vengeance on an enemy or punishment of a criminal.

Until the inevitable moment of judgment, God’s kindness and forbearance and patience are extended to all mankind, because He does not wish “for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Kindness refers to the benefits God gives, forbearance refers to the judgment He withholds, and patience to the duration of both. For long periods of time the Lord is kind and forbearing. That is God’s common grace or providence that He bestows on all of fallen mankind.

The psalmists rejoiced that “the earth is full of the loving-kindness of the Lord” (Ps. 33:5), that “the loving-kindness of God endures all day long” (52:1), that He gives “His wonders to the sons of men” (107:8), that the Lord is “good and doest good” (119:68), and that “the Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (145:9).

Strangely, most people do not perceive of God as being totally good. Instead of recognizing His gracious provision, patience, and His mercy, they accuse Him of being insensitive and unloving for letting certain things happen. “How could God allow that little child to die?” they ask, or, “Why does God allow that good person to suffer pain and poor health and permit a scoundrel to enjoy health and wealth?” Such people judge God from an incomplete and distorted human perspective, failing to acknowledge that, if it were not for God’s gracious goodness and patience, no human being would be alive. It is only His grace that allows any person to take another breath (Job 12:10).

Before God destroyed the world in the Flood, He waited 120 years for men to repent while Noah was building the ark and calling them to repentance through his preaching of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5). Despite His many warnings and Israel’s continued rebellion, the Lord waited some 800 years before sending His people into captivity.

Rather than asking why God allows bad things to happen to seemingly good people, we should ask why He allows seemingly good things to happen to obviously bad people. We could ask why He does not strike down many other people for their sins, including Christians, as He did with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–10). We should wonder why does God not cause the earth to swallow up apostate Christendom as He did with the rebellious Korah and his followers (Num. 16:25–32)? The reason is that God “endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, … in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory” (Rom. 9:22–23).

The purpose of the kindness of God is not to excuse men of their sin but to convict them of it and lead them to repentance. Metanoia (repentance) has the basic meaning of changing one’s mind about something. In the moral and spiritual realm it refers to changing one’s mind about sin, from loving it to renouncing it and turning to God for forgiveness (1 Thess. 1:9).

The person who, because of stubbornness and an unrepentant heart, presumes on God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience, is simply storing up wrath for himself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.

Stubbornness translates sklērotēs, which literally refers to hardness and is the word from which we get the medical term sclerosis. Arteriosclerosis refers to hardening of the arteries. Such physical hardening is an ideal picture of the spiritual condition of hearts that have become unresponsive and insensitive to God. But the spiritual condition is immeasurably worse than the physical. Hardening of the arteries may take a person to the grave, but hardening of his spiritual heart will take him to hell.

Scripture is replete with warnings about spiritual hardness, an affliction which ancient Israel suffered almost continually. Through Ezekiel, God promised His people that one day “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26). Jesus reminded His Jewish hearers that “because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives” (Matt. 19:8). When the self-righteous, legalistic Jewish leaders were waiting for Jesus to heal on the Sabbath and thereby give them an excuse to accuse Him of breaking the law, He looked “around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart” (Mark 3:5; cf. 6:52; 8:17; John 12:40). In each instance quoting the Old Testament, the writer of Hebrews three times warns against hardening one’s heart to God (Heb. 3:8, 15; 4:7).

To stubbornly and unrepentantly refuse God’s gracious pardon of sin through Jesus Christ is the worst sin of all. To do so is to greatly magnify one’s guilt by rejecting God’s goodness, presuming on His kindness, abusing His mercy, ignoring His grace, and spurning His love. The person who does that increases the severity of God’s wrath upon him in the day of God’s judgment. When God’s goodness is persistently taken lightly, the result is certain and proportionate judgment.

The day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God doubtless refers to the great white throne judgment, at which the wicked of all times and from all places will be cast into the lake of fire, where they will join Satan and all his other evil followers (Rev. 20:10–15).

The German philosopher Heine presumptuously declared, “God will forgive; after all it’s His trade.” Many people share that presumption, although they might not state it so bluntly. They take everything good from God that they can and continue sinning, thinking He is obliged to overlook their sin.

Modern man looks askance at the Old Testament, finding it impossible from his purely human perspective to explain the seemingly brutal and capricious acts on the part of God that are recorded there. Commenting on the release of the New English Bible some years ago, Lord Platt wrote to the London Times (March 3, 1970): “Perhaps, now that it is written in a language all can understand, the Old Testament will be seen for what it is, an obscene chronicle of man’s cruelty to man, or worse perhaps, his cruelty to woman, and of man’s selfishness and cupidity, backed up by his appeal to his god; a horror story if ever there was one. It is to be hoped that it will at last be proscribed as totally inappropriate to the ethical instruction of school-children.”

Superficial study of the Old Testament seems to confirm that sentiment. Why, many people ask, did God destroy the whole world through the Flood, except for eight people? Why did God turn Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt simply because she turned back to look at Sodom? Why did He command Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac? Why did He harden Pharaoh’s heart and then punish him for his hardness by slaying all the male children in Egypt? Why did God in the Mosaic law prescribe the death penalty for some thirty-five different offenses? Why did He command His chosen people to completely eradicate the inhabitants of Canaan? Why did God send a bear to kill forty children for mocking the prophet Elisha? Why did He instantly slay Uzzah for trying to keep the Ark of the Covenant from falling to the ground, while at the same time allowing many grossly immoral and idolatrous Israelites to live? Why did God send fire to devour Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu, for making an improper sacrifice while allowing many other ungodly priests to live to old age? Why did He not take David’s life for committing murder and adultery, both of which were capital offenses under the law?

We wonder about such things only if we compare His justice with His mercy rather than with His law. The Old Testament must be understood from the perspective of the creation. God declared to Adam, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16–17). From the beginning, therefore, all sin was a capital offense.

God sovereignly created man in His own image. He made man to glorify Himself and to radiate His image and manifest His character. When man rebelled by trusting Satan’s word above God’s, God had every right to take life back from man. Man is God’s creature. He did not create himself and he cannot preserve himself. Everything he has is by God’s gracious provision.

Although by justice they deserved to die for eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve instead experienced God’s mercy. And at that moment the plan of salvation was activated, because it became necessary for someone to bear the death penalty that Adam and Eve deserved and every subsequent sinner has deserved. In light of that provision it becomes clear that demanding the death penalty for only about thirty-five transgressions, as in the Mosaic law, was not cruel and unusual punishment but an amazing reduction in the severity of God’s judgment.

Compared to the original created standard, the Old Testament is full of God’s patience and mercy, with Gentiles as well as with His chosen people, Israel. Even in the case of the specified capital offenses, God frequently did not demand their enforcement. When adultery became commonplace in Israel, instead of demanding that every adulterer be put to death, God permitted divorce as a gracious alternative (Deut. 24:1–4). And even a cursory reading of the Old Testament clearly reveals that God graciously spared many more sinners than He executed (people like David). Periodically, God did dramatically take someone’s life to remind men of what all sinners deserve. Such incidents seem capricious because they were not clearly related to certain sins or degrees of sinning, but showed, by example, what all sins and degrees of sinning deserve.

Even under the Old Covenant, God’s people became so accustomed to God’s grace that they came to take it for granted. They became so accustomed to not being punished in the way they deserved that they came to think they were above being punished at all. In much the same way, Christians sometimes become offended when God is not as beneficent as they think He should be and are scandalized at the idea of His actually punishing them for their sin.

If God did not occasionally exercise deserved judgment instead of undeserved mercy, it is hard to imagine how much more we would trade on His goodness and abuse His grace. If He did not give periodic reminders of the consequences of sin, we would go on blissfully presuming on His grace. Paul soberly reminded the Corinthian believers,

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were hid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved. And do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction. (1 Cor. 10:1–11)

Every day we live we should thank the Lord for being so patient and merciful with us, overlooking the many sins for which, even as His children, we deserve His just punishment. The crucial question is not “Why do certain people suffer or die?,” but “Why does anyone live?”

When some Jews asked Jesus “about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices,” He replied, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1–5).

Obviously those who questioned Jesus thought that the worshipers who were slaughtered by Pilate and the men who were killed in the tower accident were exceptionally wicked sinners and were being punished by God. Jesus plainly contradicted their presupposition, however, telling them that those unfortunate victims were no more sinful than other Jews. More than that, He warned His questioners that all of them were guilty of death and would indeed ultimately suffer that punishment if they did not repent and turn to God.[1]

 


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (pp. 111–123). Chicago: Moody Press.

The First Excuse: Morality (Romans 2:1–3)

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

At first glance the opening words of Romans 2 seem redundant—an echo of what we have already seen in the letter. In Romans 1:20, after Paul has explained how men and women suppress the truth about God, which God has revealed in nature, Paul concludes by saying, “So … men are without excuse.” Now he says the same thing—“You, therefore, have no excuse”—as he continues to build the case that all persons, whoever they are or whatever they have or have not done, are under God’s judgment.

Paul is not being redundant, of course, as we will see. But even if he were, the point of the repetition is well taken. Paul’s repetition dramatizes the fact that human beings never seem able fully to admit their wrongdoing and never tire of making excuses for their bad behavior. Dale Carnegie, in his perennial best seller, How to Win Friends and Influence People, bases his approach to people-management on the premise that others rarely admit to having done anything wrong and that it is therefore pointless to criticize them. My favorite example from the book is a saying of Al Capone, the Chicago gangland leader who for years was the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “Public Enemy Number One.” Capone was as sinister as they come, a hardened killer. But he said of himself, “I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them to have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.”

Carnegie’s point, and mine as well, is that people habitually attempt to excuse their wrong behavior. If as hardened a man as Al Capone thought well of himself, how much more do the normal, “morally upright” people of our society think well of themselves!

Jew or Gentile

This is why Romans 2 was written. In Romans 1, Paul has shown that the human race has turned away from God in order to pursue its own way and that the horrible things we do and see about us are the result. All have become part of this rebellion. Later on (in Romans 3:10–11), he is going to conclude:

As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;

there is no one who understands,

no one who seeks God.

All have turned away,

they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good,

not even one.”

No one wants to admit that, however. So, instead of acknowledging that what Paul said about the human race is true, most of us make excuses, arguing that although Paul’s description may be true of other people, particularly very debased individuals or the heathen, it is certainly not true of us. “We know better than that,” we say. “And we act better, too.” In the second chapter of Romans Paul is going to disabuse us of these erroneous ideas.

But who is it who thinks like this? To whom particularly is Paul speaking when he says in verse 1: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else”?

There has been a great deal of discussion of this among commentators. Some maintain that in Romans 2:1–16 Paul is addressing the “virtuous heathen,” that is, the particularly moral or upright persons of his society. Others maintain that he is thinking of Jews. Later on, of course, Paul does mention Jews specifically—“Now you, if you call yourself a Jew …” (v. 17)—but the question is whether he is also thinking of Jews at the start of the chapter. If he is not, he is dealing with three classes of people: (1) pagans in chapter 1; (2) moral or virtuous people in 2:1–16; and (3) religious people or Jews in 2:17–29. If he is thinking of Jews, he is dealing with two classes of people: (1) Gentiles in chapter 1; and (2) Jews in chapter 2.

The reformers, John Calvin among them, took the former view. Calvin wrote, “This rebuke is directed at the hypocrites who draw attention by their displays of outward sanctity, and even imagine that they have been accepted by God, as though they had afforded him full satisfaction.” He distinguishes between “sanctimonious persons” and those guilty of “the grosser vices.”

Today most commentators believe that Paul was thinking of Jews throughout the chapter, even though he does not mention Jews specifically until later. John Murray is an example. He finds four reasons for this position:

1. “The propensity to judge the Gentiles for their religious and moral perversity was peculiarly characteristic of the Jew.”

2. “The person being addressed is the participant of ‘the riches of his [God’s] goodness and forbearance and longsuffering,’ ” and this applies to Jews more than to Gentiles.

3. “The argument of the apostle is … that special privilege or advantage does not exempt from the judgment of God.” This fits Jews particularly.

4. “The express address to the Jew in verse 17 would be rather abrupt if now for the first time the Jew is directly in view, whereas if the Jew is the person in view in the preceding verses then the more express identification in verse 17 is natural.”

Support of this position is fairly strong today, as I have indicated. Yet I am not fully convinced. Murray argues that Jews were particularly prone to judge Gentiles. But I would argue that, although that was true, it is nevertheless also a basic human characteristic, practiced by Gentiles on one another as well as by Jews on Gentiles. Again, Murray thinks that “the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering” describes Jews more than Gentiles. But I think a broader reference is required by the thrust of chapter 1. It is because of God’s longsuffering that the people described in chapter 1 are still living and not in hell. Likewise, I would argue that the “special privilege” Murray refers to in his third argument does not actually come in until later, when the Jews are being considered. As to the fourth argument, that the reference to Jews in verse 17 is too abrupt, I feel that it is no more abrupt than the way verse 1 introduces those “who pass judgment on someone else.”

I think Paul first introduces those, both Jew and Gentile, who consider themselves above others, and then, midway through the chapter, those, in this case Jews particularly, who rely on their religious advantages.

Let me say, however, that in a sense it does not matter much. If Paul is thinking of Jews in verses 1–16, he is at least thinking of them in regard to their morally superior attitude, from which we are not exempt, though we be Gentiles. And if he is thinking of Gentiles, he is at least embracing Jews at the point at which they might indulge in similarly wrong thinking.

What’s Wrong with Morality?

Paul has described the race as being under the wrath of God, and he has shown the depths to which our rebellion against God has led us. He has not minced words. He has described the race as being “filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.… full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.… gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (Rom. 1:29–31). This is a dreadful denunciation, and at this point someone, perhaps everyone, reacts by saying that although that description of vice may fit other individuals, it certainly does not fit him. “I am not like this,” he might say.

It would be perfectly proper if Paul had answered such an objector by pointing out that the important question is not whether he or she has done the specific blameworthy things mentioned, but whether the person measures up to the perfect standard of God. God, being perfect, cannot be satisfied with anything less than perfection. That important point, which Paul is also quite capable of making, means that we fall short of this divine standard and are therefore deserving of judgment, however good we may be.

But that is not the way Paul answers. Paul does not let the objecting person off the hook by acknowledging, somewhat reluctantly, that he (or she) may indeed be innocent of the vices mentioned, but that he nevertheless falls short of God’s righteous, higher standard. On the contrary, Paul argues that the objector is guilty of these very things—perhaps even more guilty than the pagans to whom he feels superior. The very fact that this supposedly moral person is objecting shows that he has some kind of moral conscience. He “passes judgment on someone else” in declaring the other’s actions bad, as distinct from his own actions, which are good. But this does not mean that he is innocent of what he sees and condemns in others. On the contrary, he is guilty of these very actions: “… at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (v. 1).

Paul is not appealing to God’s standard as that by which self-styled moral individuals will be judged, though he had every right to do so. Rather, he is appealing to their own standard, whatever it is.

Condemned by Any Standard

This is worth thinking through carefully. What are the standards by which you or I might judge sin in others?

1. The Ten Commandments. The most widely acknowledged standard of morality, at least in the western world, is the Decalogue, containing what most of us call the Ten Commandments, as recorded in Exodus 20 (cf. Deut. 5:6–21). Much civil law is based on it. For example, when we pass laws recognizing the responsibility of children to obey their parents up to a certain age, we are affirming the fifth of the Ten Commandments, which says, “Honor your father and your mother” (v. 12). When we pass laws against killing, even by such things as excessive speed on the highways, we are affirming the sixth commandment, which says, “You shall not murder” (v. 13). We have laws protecting marriages and against adultery, laws against stealing other people’s property, laws against perjury, and so on. These laws grow out of a common recognition of the moral principles embodied in the Ten Commandments.

“Well, that is what we are talking about,” says someone. “Paul’s condemnation of sin in Romans 1 might have been proper in that far-off heathen context. But it does not apply to us. We have the Ten Commandments and do not do that for which the pagans are condemned.”

Don’t we? Don’t you?

You appeal to the fifth commandment, which requires you to honor your father and your mother. But have you never dishonored your parents? Have you never spoken to them in a dishonoring way? Acted in a dishonoring way? Have you always been properly thankful, respectful, and obedient to them?

You appeal to the sixth commandment, which forbids murder, and you feel good about this because you have never actually murdered anybody. But have you forgotten that God looks on the heart and judges by thoughts and wishes as well as by actions? Have you never been angry enough with somebody to want to murder that person? Jesus said on one occasion that even speaking a defamatory word is sufficient to incur God’s wrath for breaking this commandment (Matt. 5:21–22).

You appeal to the seventh commandment, but are you guiltless here? This commandment forbids adultery; but many have done this, and others have desired it or contemplated it. Jesus said that we are guilty of this even if we only lust after another person (Matt. 5:28).

Have you never stolen? Never shaded the figures on your income tax in order to pay less than you actually owed? Never kept the change when you were given more than you should have received? Never borrowed something and then failed to return it, even though you remembered it later?

Have you never lied? Never misrepresented the truth?

And what about the commands I did not even mention the first time around? What about the tenth of the commandments, which says that we must not “covet”? To covet means to want something that someone else has just because he or she has it and you do not. There is no one in our society who is innocent of this, because our entire advertising and marketing industry is based on it.

There are also the four commandments that make up the first table of the law, those that deal with God and our responsibility to worship him. Who has never placed another god before God? Who has never made an idol of something? Who has not misused God’s name? Who has remembered even a single Sabbath day, not to mention every Sabbath day, by keeping it holy?

If you say, “My standard is the morality of the Ten Commandments,” you are condemned by this standard.

2. The Sermon on the Mount. There may be people who have followed my argument to this point but are still not convinced how useless it is to make excuses. They might admit the force of judgments based on the Ten Commandments. “But,” they might say, “that was another age and a particularly difficult set of standards. We live in the Christian era now, and I go by the teachings of the gentle Jesus. My standard is the Sermon on the Mount.”

If anybody thinks this way, that person’s thinking proves how little he or she really understands Christ’s sermon. For the Sermon on the Mount does not weaken the Old Testament standards; it rescues them. I have already made that clear in using Matthew 5 to interpret murder and adultery properly. The Sermon on the Mount shows that God is not satisfied with mere external adherence to his laws but requires an inner conformity as well. Our hearts and minds also must be purified.

However, I suppose that what most persons have in mind if they appeal to the Sermon on the Mount, are the Beatitudes, with which it begins. Jesus said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3–10

Most “moral” people see themselves in this description. They think themselves meek, merciful, pure, peacemakers. They imagine that they actually thirst for righteousness and are even sometimes persecuted because of it. But who really embodies these characteristics? Is it anyone you know? Hardly! The only person who has ever really embodied them is the one who spoke them: Jesus of Nazareth. He was gentle in spirit; he mourned for sin; he was meek, merciful, and pure; he alone embodied righteousness—and he suffered for it.

You see my point. If Jesus has shown what it means to keep the standards of the Sermon on the Mount, then none of us has done it. And so, if we appeal to the Sermon on the Mount as the measure by which we judge others and put ourselves above them, we condemn ourselves, as Paul indicates.

3. The Golden Rule. “But wait a minute,” someone interrupts. “You have referred to the Beatitudes as an important part of Jesus’ teaching, and that is right. But it is not all he taught, even in this sermon. What about the ‘heart’ of the sermon: the Golden Rule. What is wrong with the part that goes: ‘In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets’ (Matt. 7:12)?”

Is that the part by which you judge others and by which you want to be judged? Have you always treated others exactly as you have wanted them to treat you? Have you never been impatient with them? Never gotten angry with them unjustly? Never accused them falsely? Never taken advantage of another’s weakness? The Golden Rule accuses you, as it must if it is truly the summation of the law, as Jesus teaches.

4. Fair Play. Let me try once more. What about the “Englishman’s virtue,” as some have called it. What about the simple, rock-bottom standard of fair play? The point is obvious. There is no one who is ever fair to other people always and in all ways.

Calling Sinners to Repentance

A number of years ago Thomas A. Harris wrote a book of pop psychology called I’m O.K., You’re O.K., and about that time the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology was holding its annual meetings on the depravity of man. One of the speakers was John H. Gerstner, Professor Emeritus of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He used the book as a jumping-off place for the following story.

Gerstner and his wife had been in Kashmir, and they were returning from a shopping expedition in a little boat that had just pulled up beside a larger junk near the shore. There was a bump, and some water splashed on them. The owner of the boat got very agitated and gestured for them to get out. Gerstner told how he remembered saying to his wife, “See how excitable this fellow is. We get a little water splashed on us, and you would think it was a catastrophe of the first order.” The man got more and more agitated. “It’s okay, Kusra,” Gerstner said. “It’s okay.”

Finally, the owner of the boat got so excited that he broke out of the dialect he had been using, which the Gerstners had been unable to understand, and shouted, “It no okay!”

At this they got the message and climbed onto the shore. The owner then threw his grandchild up to them and climbed out himself. When they turned around, the boat was gone. The hull had been punctured. and the undertow had swallowed their craft. It was eventually tossed up about six boats further on; if the Gerstners had delayed a moment longer, they would have been swallowed up with it.

That is the message of these early chapters of Romans: “I am not O.K. You are not O.K. No one is O.K.” And the sooner we admit that we are not okay and turn to the One who knows that we are not, but who offers us a way of salvation anyway, the better off we will be. Jesus does not excuse us; he forgives us. He calls us sinners. Yet he says, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). The most important thing in life is to know that Jesus is able to save you from sin. The second most important thing is to know that you require it.[1]

 


[1] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: Justification by Faith (Vol. 1, pp. 201–208). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Principles of Judgment (Romans 2:1–16)

Overview

In turning to this section, one can recognize considerable similarity with 1:18–32. Human inadequacy in the light of divine standards continues to characterize the discussion (cf. “without excuse” in 1:20, and “no excuse” in 2:1). The indictment continues to be stated first in broad terms, with no indication whether the people in view are Jews or Gentiles (cf. 1:18; 2:1), but as the picture unfolds, the Jews come into focus just as the Gentiles had in the previous section. Likewise, in both portions general terms for sin are followed by very specific accusations (cf. 1:18 with 1:23, 26–32 and 2:1–16 with 2:17–29).

Commentary

1–4 A stylistic change occurs here. The apostle shifts to the second person singular and enters into dialogue with an imagined interlocutor who has absorbed what was said up to this point and shows by his attitude that he is in hearty agreement with the exposure of Gentile wickedness. This type of dialogue with an imaginary opponent, known as a “diatribe,” was a common rhetorical device in the Greco-Roman world. That Paul had actually experienced such encounters in his missionary preaching is hardly open to doubt. We may have an echo here of just such occasions.

1 The implication in the opening verse is that a Jewish auditor, heartily endorsing the verdict rendered concerning the Gentiles, fails to realize his own plight. True judgment rests on the ability to discern the facts in a given case. If one is able to see the sin and hopelessness of the Gentiles, one should logically be able to see oneself as being in the same predicament. But it is possible to be so taken up with the faults of others that one does not consider one’s own failures (cf. Mt 7:2–3). The charge that the person who passes judgment on others does the very same things is enlarged in 2:17–24. There is a real sting in the allegation “you … do the same things,” for the word prassō (GK 4556; NIV, “do”; NASB, “practice”) is the term used in 1:32 for the practices of the benighted Gentiles. Paul repeats it in 2:2. The Jewish critic is also without excuse (cf. the same word, anapologētos, GK 406, 1:20). “What Paul is here especially concerned about is to break down the supposed protection on which the Jew depended. There is no escape for the Jew in the fact that he aligns himself with God in judging the unrighteousness of the heathen” (Nygren, 118).

2–3 As Paul moves to state the first of the principles of divine judgment (v. 2), he carries the observer with him. Surely this person will agree (“we know”) that when God pronounces judgment on those who make a practice of indulging in sin, his judgment is based on truth. This has no reference to the truth of the gospel but simply means that the judgment is reached on the basis of reality, on the facts of the case and not on the basis of appearances or pretensions. “Do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” (v. 3). Two words are emphatic here—“think” (logizomai, “count as reality,” GK 3357) and the redundant (in the Greek) pronoun sy (“you”) in front of “will escape.” Paul is reading the inmost thoughts of the Jewish debater, whom he understands thoroughly from his own pre-Christian experience. That Judaism could be guilty of such complacency is clear from a passage in Wisdom that immediately follows the portion already noted about pagan idolatry and immorality: “But you, our God, are kind and true, patient, and ruling all things in mercy. For even if we sin we are yours, knowing your power; but we will not sin, because we know that you acknowledge us as yours. For to know you is complete righteousness” (Wis 15:1–3a).

4 Paul carries the probing deeper still, suggesting that in addition to self-righteousness, with its accompanying false security, there is an ignoring and despising of the fact that God, to be true to himself, must bring sin under judgment. There is even a scornful attitude toward God’s tolerance toward his people Israel, as though that tolerance were but a confirmation of their security, if not a sign of weakness on God’s part. “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong” (Ecc 8:11). God’s “kindness” toward Israel is noted again at a later and crucial point in Romans (11:22).

In this passage “tolerance” and “patience” seem to be explanatory of “kindness” (chrēstotēs, GK 5983), which is repeated as the governing thought. The word rendered “tolerance” has the idea of the restraint of wrath. In classical Greek it is used of a temporary truce. “Patience” or “long-suffering” refers to God’s merciful tolerance of our failures. The intent of the kindness is to give opportunity for “repentance” (metanoia, GK 3567; cf. 2 Pe 3:15), a term that surprisingly occurs in Romans only here, though it must have been often on Paul’s lips in preaching (cf. Ac 20:21). In this epistle he places greater emphasis on faith.

5–6 Using language often applied to the nation of Israel in the OT, Paul refers to the stubbornness and impenitence of his Jewish interlocutor, who has been described as guilty of the very things for which he judges others. This attitude invites retribution and is slowly but surely building up a reservoir of divine wrath that will break on the guilty in the day of reckoning. Then God’s “righteous judgment” will be revealed, patent to all, in contrast to the revelation and indirect working of God’s wrath in the present scene, as depicted in ch. 1.

At that time, a second principle of divine judgment will become apparent—one emphasizing performance—namely, that what people receive depends on how they live: to each person “according to what he [or she] has done [erga, GK 2240; lit., works]” (v. 6). Profession does not take the place of production. This is very close in sense to the first principle (see comments at vv. 2–3 above). In view of the comprehensiveness of the passage as a whole, it will hardly do to explain this day of wrath as the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. The explicit statement that God “will give to each person according to what he has done” points to the final reckoning. National judgment may fit into a temporal scheme, but personal judgment belongs to the frontier of the ages to come. The use of the phrase “day of God’s wrath” is decisive enough to settle the issue.

6–11 Paul’s argument in vv. 6–11 is a carefully structured chiasm (a pattern of ABC/C’B’A’), with v. 6 corresponding in thought to v. 11 (God’s judgment is impartial); v. 7 to v. 10 (those who do good will be rewarded); and v. 8 to v. 9 (those who do evil will experience divine wrath). In amplifying the second principle of judgment, Paul makes room for only two broad classes—(1) those “who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality” (v. 7) and (2) those who follow an evil course (v. 8). The first group is promised eternal life. But what can the apostle mean by his breathtaking assertion that those who “by persistence in doing good” are the ones who obtain eternal life? How are we to understand this affirmation and that of v. 13, as well as the statements of vv. 14–15 and 26–27, which seem to imply that the law can indeed be kept? Does not Paul here go against the cumulative argument of 1:18–3:20, namely, that observance of the law cannot result in salvation and that all are trapped in their sin?

Short of the desperate conclusion that Paul simply contradicts himself, and instead assuming that Paul knows what he is saying, how are we to put together these apparently disparate strands? Commentators have adopted two main possibilities. The first is that Paul is speaking only hypothetically (so Moo); i.e., if there were any who could keep the law, they would obtain eternal life, but this option is only theoretical (since all in fact “fall short” [3:23]). The other possibility is to conclude that Paul is actually talking about a manifestation (albeit limited) of righteousness that demonstrates loyalty to the law, as exhibited by Christians (so Fitzmyer, Schreiner, Stuhlmacher).

The key to understanding Paul here is the realization that he does not entertain the notion of a Christian who does not produce the fruit of the Spirit, thus fulfilling the righteous requirement of the law (8:4). Paul in v. 6 quotes Psalm 62:12 or Proverbs 24:12 verbatim (except for slight variations in the form of the verb). The affirmation that God “will give to each person according to what he [or she] has done” is for Paul a statement of Scripture that he cannot and will not go against. Paul indicates in several other places the continuing importance of what a person does (1 Co 6:9–11; 2 Co 5:10; Gal 5:19–25). Here is something of a paradox. For Paul, no person can be saved by observing the law. Salvation, as he will soon argue, depends exclusively on being declared righteous through faith in the atoning death of Christ on the cross. At the same time, however, the person who is justified by faith will, out of a new nature and empowered by the Holy Spirit, exhibit righteous living. The effect of this is that those who are given eternal life are, in fact, people marked by righteousness. As Nygren, 127, notes, “Justification does not mean carte blanche for the Christian, so that God no longer asks as to his works.”

Paul does not contradict here what he says later about the impossibility of gaining salvation by means of the works of the law (3:20). These verses do not teach a system of salvation by works. On the contrary, “The reward of eternal life … is promised to those who do not regard their good works as an end in themselves, but see them as marks not of human achievement but of hope in God. Their trust is not in their good works, but in God, the only source of glory, honour, and incorruption” (Barrett, 45). Paul is simply portraying the motivation and tenor of the life that will culminate in eternal fellowship with God. In view is “the one to whom God the creator grants, as an act of free grace, a new nature in righteousness and the spiritual ability to do what is right, and then establishes at the judgment an advocate at his or her side, against whom no accuser can appear” (Stuhlmacher, 47).

As applied to the “seeker” (cf. Ac 17:27), the principle commits God to honor the moral aim and provide the means for making a decision, as we see in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch (Ac 8) and Cornelius (Ac 10). Both were seekers making use of the light they had. The good works the believer performs do not bring salvation, but they attest the salvation the believer has already received by faith (Ro 6:22), and therefore they have an essential function (cf. Eph 2:8–10). On the other side of the ledger, we find a pattern of evil defined in terms of self-seeking and rejection of the truth leading to divine wrath (Ro 2:8) in terms of trouble and distress (v. 9). In the statement “who reject the truth and follow evil” we detect a distinct echo of 1:18. Destiny does not depend on whether one is a Jew or a Gentile (v. 9). The Jews are mentioned first simply because of God’s prior dealing with Israel in history. Mention of the two divisions of humanity leads naturally to the pronouncement of the third principle: God’s judgment is impartial. “There is no partiality with God” (v. 11). This is the truth that Peter learned in the Cornelius incident (Ac 10:34). Paul’s explanation of this important point belongs to the following paragraph.

12–16 The principle of impartiality has to face a problem as soon as the two groups, Jews and Gentiles, are considered together. God has not dealt with them in similar fashion. To the Jews God has given a revelation of himself in Scripture that has been denied the Gentiles. But in this section, Paul will show that the Gentiles do have a law, and this suffices as a basis for judgment.

12 It is clear that this law has no power to save, for “all who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law.” Gentiles do not perish for the reason that they lack the law that Jews possess but because they sin against the law they do have. In speaking of the Jews, Paul says they “will be judged by the law,” but this does not imply exoneration, for no Jew has succeeded in keeping the law.

13 The expression “all who sin under the law” (v. 12) could strike a Jewish reader as incongruous, but Paul is linking sin with law deliberately in order to prepare the way for his next statement to the effect that the righteous are not “those who hear the law.” We have a reminder in James 1:22–24 of the ease with which a person could hear the law read and go away without any effect on his or her life and conduct. Those who will be “declared righteous,” by contrast, are the doers of the law (v. 13). This is the first occurrence in Romans of the important expression “declared righteous” (NASB, “justified”). Full treatment of this matter must wait until we encounter the term again in ch. 3. Sometimes the verb dikaioō (GK 1467) may have a general, as opposed to a theological, frame of reference, as in the statement “wisdom is proved right by all her children” (Lk 7:35), where vindication is clearly intended. But the passage before us is dealing with law, sin, and judgment, so that the full theological significance of the word meaning “to declare as righteous” should be retained (see comments at Ro 3:20).

Paul’s purpose is to undercut the position of the person who is counting on obedience to the law for acceptance with God. Compliance would have to be perfect if one were to be declared righteous by an absolutely righteous God (cf. Gal 5:3; Jas 2:10). By analogy, the Gentiles are in essentially the same position, because they also are not without law, as Paul goes on to indicate. The future tense of the verb (“will be declared righteous”) favors the conclusion that final judgment is in view. Paul is not raising false hopes here; on the contrary, he is dashing them—in keeping with the progress of the argument. Only after the flimsy edifice of humanly contrived righteousness has been leveled will the apostle be ready to put in its place the sturdy foundation of the justification provided by God in Christ. Though Paul usually uses the verb dikaioō (“justify, declare righteous”) in a realized and positive sense (e.g., Ro 3:24), here the frame of reference is eschatological and negative. Hearing of the law, or mere possession of the law, is no substitute for obedience to the law. (See Klyne R. Snodgrass, “Justification by Grace—To the Doers: An Analysis of the Place of Romans 2 in the Theology of Paul,” NTS 32 [1986]: 72–93.)

14 The opening connective of v. 14—“for”—is important as showing that, in the discussion of the Gentile situation to which Paul now briefly turns, he has in mind a presentation designed to counter the boastfulness of the Jews. He seems anxious to avoid the impression that he is discussing the Gentiles in their entirety. (He says “Gentiles,” not “the Gentiles.”) He is thinking of them in individual terms, not as masses. Furthermore, if he encompassed all people except the Jews in his statement, the contrast with the adverse picture of pagans in ch. 1 would be so startling as to suggest contradiction. There are Gentiles who, despite their apparent disadvantage in not possessing the Mosaic law, “do by nature” what the law requires.

What are these things? Presumably they are not matters peculiar to the law of Moses but moral and ethical requirements widely recognized and honored, such as caring for one’s parents and not stealing or committing murder. It is a commonplace of rabbinic teaching that Abraham kept the laws of Sinai long before they were given. Philo (Abraham, 1:5) taught a correspondence between the law and nature, saying that Moses “wished to show that the enacted ordinances are not inconsistent with nature.” Again, Philo notes that Moses begins his work with an account of the creation of the world, “implying that the world is in harmony with the Law, and the Law with the world, and that the man who observes the Law is constituted thereby a loyal citizen of the world, regulating his doings by the purpose and will of Nature, in accordance with which the entire world itself also is administered” (Creation, 1:3).

Paul states that such Gentiles are “a law for themselves.” By no means does he intend to say that they are indifferent to any law except that which they invent in their self-interest. On the contrary, he goes on to say that they are governed by the particular law that is written on their hearts (v. 15). This ought not to be confused with the promise of the law written in the heart as depicted in Jeremiah 31:33, because if that were the case, as Nygren, 124, observes, Gentiles “would indeed have the law, and that in a more intimate way than the Jew had it.” Paul is not asserting this; rather, he is insisting that the basic requirements of the law are stamped on human hearts. Presumably he can say this because human beings are made in the image of God. C. S. Lewis begins his argument in Mere Christianity (1952; repr., New York: Harper-Collins, 2001, 3–4) by pointing out that when quarrels develop between people, the thing to be determined is who is in the right and who is in the wrong. The parties may differ radically as to their respective positions on this issue, but they are very clear that there is a right and a wrong. Similarly, despite the great differences in laws and customs among peoples around the world, one thing that unites them in a common humanity is the recognition that some things are right and others are wrong.

15 An additional element that belongs to the equipment of the Gentiles is “conscience.” The translation speaks of their consciences as “bearing witness.” In the Greek prefix syn at the front of the verb, there is an emphasis that does not appear in the translation—“bearing witness with.” We may ask, With what? Only one answer seems possible, namely, with the requirements of the law written on the heart. The two function together. The word “conscience” (syneidēsis, GK 5287) does not appear in the OT. Perhaps this is due to the Jews’ overwhelming awareness of the regulating power of revealed truth. However, the operation of conscience is recognized (e.g., in the guilt of Ge 42:21; 2 Sa 24:10), even though the word is lacking.

Paul’s fairly frequent use of “conscience” indicates his indebtedness to his Greek environment and the desirability of capitalizing on a concept that was familiar to his Gentile churches. With reference to this passage, C. A. Pierce (Conscience in the New Testament [London: SCM, 1955], 86) writes, “That the everyday language of the Gentiles contains a word for confessing to feelings of pain on commission or initiation of particular acts—feelings which carry with them the conviction that the acts ought not to have been committed—is first-hand evidence that the Gentiles are subject, by nature, to a ‘natural law’ as the Jews, by vocation, to the Torah.” So it can be maintained that the function of conscience in the Gentile is parallel to the function of the law for the Jew. The way conscience operates is described as a process of accusation or defense by the thoughts of a person, the inner life being pictured as a kind of debating forum, so that at times he or she is exonerated at the bar of conscience, at other times convicted of wrongdoing.

16 The difficulty to be faced here is the determination of what will take place. Does Paul mean that only at the judgment will conscience be engaged in the manner he has just indicated? This would seem to be a severe limitation, unless the intent is to indicate a heightened operation of this God-given monitor as the soul faces the divine assize. If it is correct to take vv. 14–15 as a parenthesis (cf. NIV), then what takes place on the day of judgment is the declaration of righteousness (or otherwise) referred to in v. 13.

God’s judgment will include human “secrets” (cf. 1 Co 4:5). This is the only court able to assess them. Many an act that seems entirely praiseworthy to those who observe it may actually be wrongly motivated; and contrariwise, some things that may seem to merit stern disapproval may pass muster in this supreme court because the intention behind the deed was praiseworthy. The Jews theoretically admitted judgment and certainly welcomed it in the case of the Gentiles, while trying to shield themselves behind their privileged position. The Gentiles admitted the reality of judgment implicitly by the very process of reasoning that either accused or excused their conduct. What the Gentiles did not know was the item included here—that God will judge “through Jesus Christ” (Jn 5:27; Ac 17:31).

Some interpreters have seen in the statement “as my gospel declares” (kata to euangelion [GK 2295] mou; NASB, “according to my gospel”), a fourth principle of judgment intended to be linked with the three already noted. Two of the three principles mentioned earlier are given in the form of similar prepositional phrases with the preposition kata (“according to”): judgment is kata alētheian (GK 237; lit., “according to truth”), v. 2; and kata ta erga (GK 2240) autou (lit, “according to his works”), v. 6. But to make the gospel, in the sense of its content, to be the criterion for judgment in this context is clearly wrong, for Paul is not dealing with the gospel in this chapter. What he is saying is that the gospel he preached includes the prospect of judgment and that it will be conducted through the mediation of Christ.[1]

 


[1] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 51–57). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Theology: GOD IS OMNIPOTENT

The term omnipotent comes from two Latin words, “omis” meaning “all” and “potentia” meaning “power”.

 

There have always been many questions raised in the area of this doctrine that are aimed at making difficulties for the theologian.

 

 

Can God make a rock too big for Him to lift? Can God draw a shorter than straight line between two points? Can God make two parallel lines meet? Can God make two mountains without a valley between? Can God commit suicide? Can He create a material spirit? Can He create a sensitive stone? Can He create a body without parts? Can He create a square triangle? Can He create a round square?

 

Let us end this foolishness by stating that He can do anything that He cares to do as long as it does not contradict any of His other attributes.

 

Let us define the doctrine.

 

God is able to do all things that are consistent with His own nature and character. God cannot be untrue to Himself. His power is limited by His nature. God is not free from all restraints of reason and morality. He must and always does act within the confines of his character.

 

God is never exhausted by the exercise of His power neither is His strength diminished (Isaiah 40:28). God is the only perpetual motion possible. He can go on working overtime, if there is overtime for Him, and never run out of energy, initiative, nor ability to cope.

 

Augustine, “God is omnipotent, and yet he cannot die…..How is he omnipotent then? He is omnipotent for the very reason that he cannot do these things. For if he could die, he would not be omnipotent.”

 

Ryrie, “Omnipotence means that God is all-powerful and able to do anything consistent with His own nature. In actuality He has not chosen to do even all the things that would be consistent with Himself for reasons known ultimately only to Himself.” (Reprinted by permission: Ryrie, Charles C.; “Basic Theology”; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p 40)

 

In other words He could have created fifteen earths side by side. He could have given them each a moon of a different color and caused a shuttle to move people from one earth to the other. He did not decide to do that, however.

 

God manifests His power in many ways. I want to list some of these before we move on.

 

In Creation: Jeremiah 10:12, Romans 1:20

 

 

In Preservation: Hebrews 1:3 In Nature: Jeremiah 10:13

In History: Daniel 4:17

 

In delivering Israel from Egypt: Psalm 114 In Heaven: Daniel 4:35

In miracles: Luke 9:43

 

In the resurrection: 2 Corinthians 13:4

 

In Redemption: Nehemiah 1:10, Luke 1:35, 37, Ephesians 1:18-23

 

In Security: 1 Peter 1:5

 

In whatever He pleases: Psalm 115:3

 

Even in these we see only a part of His power. Job. 26:7, “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.” I always wondered if there was a big hook and large string up on the north pole holding things up. Picture God hanging earth, as a Christmas tree ornament — on nothing.

 

These are only areas where He has revealed his power to us. He may have thirty million different ways of demonstrating His power for us in the eternal state, when He has time to explain things to us in a little greater detail.

 

Some other references that relate to the study: Genesis 17:1,

“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”

 

God is addressed as “almighty” 56 times in the Scriptures. Genesis 18:14,

“Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”

 

Exodus 15:11, 12,

 

 

“Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? (12) Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.”

 

The context is the Egyptian army having their long drink in the Red Sea.

 

APPLICATION

 

Don’t mess with Him For He Can Cream You.

 

There is nothing that He can’t do for us if it is within His will.

 

There is no way that the Devil can rip us out of God’s hand. We are secure.

 

He is powerful enough to withstand all the national forces that might come against us or turn our forces to jelly.

 

If you have a hymnal handy, turn to “It Took a Miracle” and read it. (Peterson, John W.; “It Took a Miracle”; New York: Hill and Range Songs, Inc., 1948 by Crawford, Percy B.)

 

I trust that this section has brought you to appreciate your God a little more than before. If not, you might reread it, for the passages given declare a God that is mighty and powerful, and He is ready to hear your needs, be they humongous or minute. He is aware of His children and He is desirous of helping us do His work.[1]

 


[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

Why Does Evil Exist? Video Teaching Series by Rob Barkman

The Domain for Truth

copy-hero-icons-sihministries-960x300

Rob Barkman, who runs Settled in Heaven ministries blog began a weekly video series on the topic of “Why Does Evil Exist?” back in early October.  It is an eight part video series and it has just been completed.  You can also download the PDF of the Study Guide by clicking HERE.

Rob’s emphasis is on what the Bible has to say.  Enjoy!

Part 1: The Biblical Definition Of Evil: Acts Of Sin and The Results Of Those Actions

Part 2: The Lord Is In Control Of All Things Including Evil.

Part 3: The Lord Is Perfectly Separated From Sin, Therefore He Cannot Be The Originator Of Sin

Part 4: An In-Depth Look At Isaiah 45:7 – The “Harmful Things” That God Creates

Part 5: The Lord Uses The Results Of Evil In This World To Reveal Himself

Part 6: Learning About The Purpose Of Evil From The Young Man Born Blind

Part 7: Learning…

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Some Clarification on the Indicator of Charismatic Influence

Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...

Math(source)

Okay.  Time for a little clarity.  Here’s hoping…

In my last post, I made up 2 lists of a whole lot of continuationists/charismatics/whatever term you want to use and around a hundred pairs of knickers are in a knot for one reason or another.

“So and so isn’t crazy!”

“So and so is an amazing man of God!”

“So and so isn’t charismatic!”

shocked(source)

People apparently didn’t actually read the post too carefully, seeing as my disclaimers were missed:

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A Tiny Indicator Of Charismatic Influence…

Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...

This post has been updated, expanded and re-posted here.  Just fyi.

Aftermath

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So in the StrangeFire aftermath, one of the complaints that has been lodged at the conference and the whole cessationist case is that we always grab the “low hanging fruit” on the fringe of the movement as some sort of normative representation of the movement as a whole.  We’re told that we grab absurd examples and try to pass them off as some sort of example of the mainstream.  The level-headed folks are the obvious mainstream representatives, and the entranced glossolalaholics and Fletch-clone healers are the fringe, right?

fletch_healing(source)

This argument has always made me puzzled since it’s so horribly obvious to me that the theologically absurd charismatic church of 20,000 obviously has far more influence in the movement and “on the street” than the theologically restrained charismatic church of 2,000 (and…

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The Resurrected Christ is the Firstfruits

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the…

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