Daily Archives: November 24, 2013

John Bolton: U.S. deal with Iran is an “abject surrender”

WINTERY KNIGHT

The Weekly Standard featured a column by foreign policy heavyweight John Bolton.

Excerpt:

Negotiations for an “interim” arrangement over Iran’s nuclear weapons program finally succeeded this past weekend, as Security Council foreign ministers (plus Germany) flew to Geneva to meet their Iranian counterpart.  After raising expectations of a deal by first convening on November 8-10, it would have been beyond humiliating to gather again without result.  So agreement was struck despite solemn incantations earlier that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

This interim agreement is badly skewed from America’s perspective.  Iran retains its full capacity to enrich uranium, thus abandoning a decade of Western insistence and Security Council resolutions that Iran stop all uranium-enrichment activities. Allowing Iran to continue enriching, and despite modest (indeed, utterly inadequate) measures to prevent it from increasing its enriched-uranium stockpiles and its overall nuclear infrastructure, lays the predicate for Iran fully enjoying its…

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ISRAELI MINISTER: Iran Deal Based On ‘Deception And Self-Delusion’

A senior Israeli Cabinet minister is criticizing the international deal over Iran’s nuclear program. Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is responsible for monitoring Iran’s nuclear program, says there is no reason for the world to be celebrating. He says the deal, reached in Geneva early Sunday, is based on “Iranian deception and self-delusion.”

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Israel’s Netanyahu calls Iran deal ‘historic mistake’

Israeli leaders denounced the interim Iranian nuclear pact signed by the United States and five world powers as a “historic mistake” that does little to reverse Iran’s nuclear ambitions and instead makes the world a more dangerous place.Israeli officials stressed that they would spend the next six months — the time frame for the interim agreement — seeking to push their friends and especially the White House to reach a deal with Iran that not only curbs Iran’s nuclear ambitions but dismantles its program.

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A Foreign-Policy Disaster – Daniel Pipes

“For the first time in nearly a decade we have halted parts of Iran’s nuclear program” announced a jubilant Barack Obama after the news of the just-signed Geneva six-month interim agreement with Iran.

But the American goal for the accord was that the Iranians not “advance their program” of building a uranium nuclear bomb (and perhaps a plutonium bomb too); the apparent deal exactly permits such advancement, plus sanctions relief to Tehran worth about $9 billion.

This wretched deal offers one of those rare occasions when comparison with Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938 is valid. An overeager Western government, blind to the evil cunning of the regime it so much wants to work with, appeases it with concessions that will come back to haunt it. Geneva and Nov. 24 will be remembered along with Munich and Sep. 29.

Barack Obama has made many foreign-policy errors in the past five years, but this is the first to rank as a disaster. Along with the health-care law, it is one of his worst-ever steps. John Kerry is a too-eager puppy looking for a deal at any price.

With the U.S. government forfeiting its leadership role, the Israelis, Saudis, and perhaps others are left to cope with a bad situation made worse. War has now become a much more likely prospect. Shame on we Americans for reelecting Barack Obama.

– Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum.

Source: http://m.nationalreview.com/corner/364712/foreign-policy-disaster-daniel-pipes

Characters in the Bible: What Should We Learn from the Tribe of Ephraim?

Israel’s 12 tribes were named for Jacob’s children or, in the case of Ephraim (and Manasseh), his grandchildren. Ephraim was born in Egypt to Joseph his wife, Asenath. Joseph named his second-born son “Ephraim” because “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Genesis 41:52). When Jacob gave his blessing to his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh, he chose to bless the younger Ephraim first, despite Joseph’s protests. In doing so, Jacob noted that Ephraim would be greater than Manasseh (Genesis 48:5–21).

Throughout the Old Testament, the name “Ephraim” often refers to the 10 tribes compromising Israel’s Northern Kingdom, not just the single tribe named after Joseph’s son (Ezekiel 37:16; Hosea 5:3). The Northern Kingdom, also referred to as “Israel,” was taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. (Jeremiah 7). The Southern Kingdom, also known as Judah, was conquered by the Babylonians nearly 140 years later (586 B.C.).

We learn from the tribe of Ephraim (and the other tribes) about our human essence, who we are as people. The history of the early Israelites reflects our universally flawed and sinful nature. As the book of Romans says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

There are several specific events regarding the tribe of Ephraim that we can learn from. While God gifted the tribe as warriors and valiant fighters (1 Chronicles 12:30), Ephraim failed to follow God’s order to remove the Canaanites from the Promised Land (Exodus 23:23–25; Judges 1:29; Joshua 16:10).

During the time of the judges, the Ephraimites became angry with Gideon because he had not initially called for their help in battling the Midianites (Judges 8:1). Gideon wisely displayed godly kindness and extolled the tribe’s commitment and willingness to serve the Lord, thus diffusing what could have become an ugly situation (Judges 8:2–3).

However, ugliness did arise later, and again it can be linked to Ephraim’s pride, jealously, and self-centeredness. When Jephthah chose to fight (and defeat) the Ammonites without the aid of the proud Ephraim warriors, a civil war erupted, and 42,000 warriors from Ephraim were killed. As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, we are to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Do not seek glory for yourself; all honor and glory always belongs to God, not to man.

Often, God chooses to use us in a manner less glamorous or spectacular than we would like. Do we pout? Do we yearn for glory? Do we control our pride and jealousy and accept God’s will? Many of us, like the Ephraimites, have difficulty learning those lessons well. God says that we should accept what happens to us as His will, regardless of how good or bad those circumstances seem to us (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).

Other lessons of Ephraim complete the picture of the wide-range of human behavior. We see Ephraim turning away from God and doing wicked things (Isaiah 28:1–3), yet we also find the tribe recognizing the need to repent and obey by following the prophet Oded’s instructions (2 Chronicles 28:12).

The biggest lesson from the history of Ephraim is that God loves us as the Perfect Father despite our failings. He is patient and merciful beyond our understanding. He hears our cries of anguish, disciplines and guides us, knows our moments of repentance, and yearns for us to be in perfect communion with Him (Jeremiah 30:22; 31:18–20).[1]

 


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

Questions about the Christian Life: Should a Christian Be Involved in Mentoring? What Does the Bible Say about Mentorship?

The word “mentor” is defined as “a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.” Although “mentoring” doesn’t appear in the Bible, Scripture does give us numerous examples of mentoring. Moses was mentored by his father-in-law Jethro, first as son-in-law and then as a leader (Exodus 18). The mentoring relationship between Eli and Samuel prepared Samuel for the tasks and responsibilities that were his after Eli’s death (1 Samuel 1–4). Jesus mentored His disciples (Luke 9), and both Barnabas and Paul excelled in mentoring (Acts 9–15).

Jesus made His style of mentoring clear: He led so that we can follow. He said, “If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24–26). Because He is our leader and we are to follow Him, Christian mentoring is a process dependent upon submission to Christ. Neither the mentor nor the candidate controls the relationship. As such, the process is best characterized by mutual sharing, trust, and enrichment as the life and work of both participants is changed. The mentor serves as a model and a trusted listener. The mentor relies on the Holy Spirit to provide insight, change lives, and teach through the modeling process.

The Apostle Paul spelled out mentoring as his leadership model very simply. “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9). In essence, he is saying, “Let me mentor you. Let me be your role model.” He reminds the new Christians at Thessalonica to “follow our example” (2 Thessalonians 3:7). Example. Teach. Model. These are all facets of mentoring which are indispensable in developing fully devoted followers of Jesus and in transmitting the faith from one generation to the next. It goes without saying that if mentors expect others to follow their example, they must be wholeheartedly committed to following Christ. Any hint of hypocrisy—“do what I say, not what I do”—will be detrimental to both the mentor and his charge.

Not only Jesus and the apostles, but elders in the local church also do their work by mentoring. Peter commands, “Be examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3), and Paul explains to the elders at Ephesus, “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you” (Acts 20:17). In other words, Paul is telling the elders, “I showed you, now you show them.” In all truth, if a Christian leader is not mentoring someone, to that degree he or she is not living up to his or her calling.

Of course, God has filled the body of Christ with many potential mentors besides those who are named as elders or shepherds. The official church leaders cannot personally meet all the mentoring needs of everyone. While it may not be possible for shepherds to personally, intentionally, hands-on mentor each sheep that needs mentoring, they are to help these needy sheep find godly mentors. To provide for the mentoring needs of their local community of faith, the leaders must be intentional, continually expanding the circle of mentors by “equipping others” to mentor.[1]

 


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

Questions about Sin: What Is the Sin Nature?

 

John Wayne Gacy was put to death by lethal injection in the early morning hours of May 10, 1994 for murdering 33 young men and boys, 29 of whom he buried in the crawl space beneath his own Chicago home between the years of 1972 and 1978. After Gacy’s death, he was delivered into the hands of Dr. Helen Morrison to perform a very unique autopsy. Dr. Morrison had previously interviewed Gacy, along with many other serial killers, in an attempt to isolate personality traits that were common among such ruthless murderers. Now at the request of Gacy’s family, Dr. Morrison was going to remove the brain of the notorious serial killer in hopes of discovering some sort of physical abnormality that would provide answers for why Gacy destroyed so many innocent lives.

In her book, My Life Among the Serial Killers, Dr. Morrison commented on what she believed to be a genetically predetermined factor in people like Gacy: “He is a serial killer when he is a fetus, even as soon as sperm meets egg to create the genes of a new person.” In other words, according to Morrison, there was no hope for Gacy; his genes determined his actions and his behavior. In some sense, Gacy could be excused for his behavior if there were no laws prohibiting his actions. Morrison did not see any separation between the natural ability in her patients and their moral ability.

Is such a thing true? Or is there instead a division between each person’s natural body and their intrinsic essence or nature—that which makes them who they are from a moral standpoint? Atheists and naturalists say ‘no,’ but the Bible counters with the reality that there is a spiritual and moral side to every person that is distinct from their physical body. And Scripture also states that it is this component of a person who has inherited what is called a ‘sin nature’ that produces everything from white lies to atrocities such as those committed by John Wayne Gacy.

The Reality of the Sin Nature
Some psychologists and scientists have attempted to deny that humanity is inherently sinful or ‘bad.’ For example, the founder of humanistic psychology, Abraham Maslow, said: “As far as I know we just don’t have any intrinsic instincts for evil.” Agreeing with Maslow is noted psychologist Carl Rogers who stated, “I do not find that … evil is inherent in human nature.” Both Maslow and Rogers dismiss sin and instead say if a person is committing evil acts, then the ‘patient’ is psychologically ill and must be brought back to mental sanity through medication and therapy.

However, history has shown that the evil actions of humanity transcend mere mental disorders. Commenting on the Nazi atrocities, Catholic monk and priest Thomas Merton observed, “One of the most disturbing facts that came out in the Eichmann trial was that a psychiatrist examined him and pronounced him perfectly sane. We equate sanity with a sense of justice, with humaneness, with prudence, with the capacity to love and understand other people.… And now it begins to dawn on us that it is precisely the sane ones who are the most dangerous.”

Various philosophers have also tried to either deny a sin nature or explain it away through various means. One example is Jean Jacques Rousseau, an 18th century philosopher, writer, and composer of Romanticism, whose political philosophy heavily influenced the French Revolution. He believed that mankind was naturally good and that each person was born an ‘innocent savage.’ If each person was born innocent, how did Rousseau explain humanity’s evil actions? Simply put, Rousseau claimed that society corrupted people, and that is why they end up exhibiting bad behavior. However, as various opponents of Rousseau’s claims soon pointed out to him, societies are comprised of people, and are therefore only a collective manifestation of individual wickedness.

Even some theologians have tried to deny an inherent sin nature in humanity, with the most famous being the Culdee Monk Pelagius who rejected the notion of a person being born anything but perfect and innocent. Pelagius’ theological wrestling matches with the famous Augustine resulted in the condemnation of Pelagius’ teaching in the early church, although it still lives on in various places today.

The fact is that the reality of a sin nature is clearly seen in human behavior. Such truth caused Reinhold Niebuhr to comment, “The doctrine of original sin is the only empirically verifiable doctrine of the Christian faith.” Expounding on Niebuhr’s statement in more detail, R.C. Sproul describes the situation this way: “If each one of us is born without a sinful nature, how do we account for the universality of sin? If four billion people were born with no inclination to sin, with no corruption to their nature, we would reasonably expect that at least some of them would refrain from falling.… But if everybody does it, without exception, then we begin to wonder why.”

The Bible provides the answer as to why every person sins. Scripture says that God created humankind originally good and without a sin nature: “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.… God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26–27). However, Genesis chapter 3 records the fall of Adam and Eve, and with that fall, sin entered into the two previously sinless creatures that God had made. And when they, in turn, had children, their sin nature was passed along to their offspring. That sin nature immediately manifested itself in the very first man born from Adam and Eve, a man named Cain who became a murderer (Genesis 4:8).

Instead of only the image of God being passed down through the human procreation process, a sin nature was passed as well: “When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth” (Genesis 5:3, emphasis added). The fact is that each and every person born from the beginning has inherited the sin nature of his parents, with both the Old and New Testaments speaking to this fact. For example, David says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). In another Psalm, David states: “The wicked are estranged from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth” (Psalm 58:3). His son Solomon wrote: “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

The Old Testament prophets also affirmed that a sin nature exists in everyone born of human parents. Jeremiah said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The prophet Isaiah stated: For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isaiah 64:6).

In the New Testament, Paul affirms an inherited sin nature when he says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). And the Apostle John says this to his readers: If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

Students of Scripture have all reached the conclusion that the Bible teaches each and every person possesses a sinful nature, with Charles Spurgeon summing up the reality when he said: “As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.”

In one sense, Dr. Helen Morrison was right in her assessment of human nature. When children are conceived, they are predetermined—not to necessarily become a serial killer like John Wayne Gacy, but to sin in some form or fashion.

Misconceptions about the Sin Nature
Although the biblical teaching of a sin nature is clear, there are a number of misconceptions that both Christians and non-Christians have about it. First, some people think that a sin nature means that a person cannot tell right from wrong or behave in a ‘good’ manner towards someone else. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Jesus acknowledged that someone could perform good acts and yet still have an evil sin nature when he said, “What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9–11, emphasis added).

In fact, the Bible says each person is equipped by God with a conscience that instinctively knows right and wrong. Paul confirms this truth when he says, “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them” (Romans 2:14–15).

Next, some believe that a sin nature means that every person will eventually end up a like a Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy. However, this isn’t the case at all. A sin nature does not mean that every person will be as bad as they can possibly be, but rather than each person is as bad off as they can possibly be from a spiritual standpoint. Every person is spiritually dead and cut off from God, but the degrees of wickedness in each person will vary.

Lastly, some Christians have been taught that they lose their sin nature once they receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. But Scripture says that the sin nature remains after a person becomes a believer in Christ and that a struggle with that sin nature will continue until they are glorified in eternity. Paul bemoaned his struggle when he said, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.… But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me” (Romans 7:15, 20).

The struggle between the sinful and regenerated spiritual nature in a Christian will be quite evident to a person who has been born again, but such a battle will not occur in a person who has not become a believer in Christ. They remain spiritually dead and are not sensitive to sin as a Christian is.

The story is told of a man who once came to a preacher and said, “You talk about how heavy sin is, but preacher, I don’t feel a thing.” The preacher thought for a minute and then asked, “If we put 400 pounds of weight on a corpse, do you think he’d feel it?”

The Consequences of the Sin Nature
The reality of the sin nature brings with it many disappointing consequences. The first effect is that each and every person in born spiritually dead. That is, they are devoid of any spiritual life or desire for the things of God. Jesus affirmed this condition when asked by a person if he could first go bury his father before following Christ. Jesus responded by saying, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22). In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul (describing his readers’ condition prior to being born again) says simply “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

The lack of spiritual life in a person results in behavior that is both hostile toward God and mindfully ignorant of His truth. In Romans, speaking about the hostility and inability of spiritually dead people to respond to God, Paul says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Romans 8:6–7). The Apostle underscores the same fact in his first letter to the Corinthian church: “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

The final and natural consequence of the sin nature is eternal death—an eternal separation from God. God’s wrath remains on those who are not born again (John 3:36), and so their destiny is only one of judgment, which is spelled out in the book of Revelation: “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14–15).

The Cure for the Sin Nature
Fortunately, there is a cure for the sin nature and a way to escape the judgment of God. The cure is the new birth, which is described by the Apostle John in Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again. The Spirit breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice, but you do not know from where He comes, and where He goes; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit’ ” (John 3:3–8).

The good news is that Christ’s sacrifice supplies spiritual life for any person who calls on the name of the Lord for salvation. Paul says, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). The Apostle also highlights this spiritual regeneration when he writes, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The Spirit of God takes up residence in each person who is born again and supplies the power to not only defeat the effects of the sin nature, but to supply strength to defeat the old sinful nature’s pull to do wrong in God’s sight. Paul says it like this: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16–17).

The great news is that the sin nature can be defeated by the One who did not inherit a sin nature from His earthly parents (Jesus was born of a virgin). Through His finished work on the cross, Jesus, being sinless, satisfied God’s wrath for sinners and rose again to offer life to those devoid of spiritual life.

Conclusions
The fact that each person ever born possesses a sin nature is verified by human experience and the Word of God. The good news is that Christ provides a way of conquering the inherited sin nature and a victory that can be experienced both in this life and the next. No matter how bad off the person is, Jesus can defeat the sin that enslaves him. As John Calvin put it, “For certainly, Christ is much more powerful to save than Adam was to ruin.”[1]

 


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

Wrath Stored Up (Romans 2:5)

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

In Romans 2:5 we come for a second time to the idea of the wrath of God, and for the second time we need to defend wrath as a proper element in God’s character. It is strange this should be so.

Several years ago newspapers reported the discovery of a “house of horrors” in north Philadelphia. A man named Gary Heidnik had been luring prostitutes and other rootless women to his home, imprisoning and torturing them, and finally killing some. When his crimes were uncovered, two women were found chained to the walls of the basement, and body parts of others were discovered in Heidnik’s refrigerator. Heidnik was criminally insane, of course. But the interesting thing about this case is that much of the outrage it engendered was directed, not so much at this man, who was obviously insane, but at the police, who had been alerted to the strange goings-on in the house earlier by neighbors but had done nothing. The police maintained that until they were finally told about Heidnik by a woman who had been in his home but had escaped, they did not have “probable cause” to interfere.

The position of the police may have been technically and legally correct, of course. But the point I am making is that people naturally feel that evil demands both intervention and outrage, and they are deeply upset if this does not happen. If nothing is done or if the situation is allowed to continue unchallenged for a long time, the outrage is intensified!

Why are we unwilling to grant the rightness of a similar outrage to God. The only possible reason is that we consider our sins and those of most other people to be excusable—forgetting that in the sight of the holy God they are not much different from those of Gary Heidnik. They are measured not by our own relative and wavering standards of good and evil, but by God’s absolute and utterly upright criteria.

Wrath Revealed

The first time we came in Romans to the idea of the wrath of God, we were at the beginning of the first great section of the letter. There Paul wrote, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom. 1:18). This is a thematic verse and therefore very important, for it is saying that the wrath of God is not something merely saved up until some long-delayed but final day of judgment, but rather is something that God has been revealing to us even now. Romans 2:5 is going to say that there is also a day of wrath to come, but the first thing Paul says about God’s wrath is that it is already being revealed from heaven.

This means that the wrath of God is a very real thing. Moreover, we can know the certainty of a future day of wrath by noting the past and present revelation of that wrath.

How has the wrath of God been revealed? Robert Haldane says:

It was revealed when the sentence of death was first pronounced, the earth cursed, and man driven out of the earthly paradise, and afterward by such examples of punishment as those of the deluge, and the destruction of the cities of the plain by fire from heaven.… But, above all, the wrath of God was revealed from heaven when the Son of God came down to manifest the divine character, and when that wrath was displayed in his sufferings and death, in a manner more awful than by all the tokens God had before given of his displeasure against sin. Besides this, the future and eternal punishment of the wicked is now declared in terms more solemn and explicit than formerly. Under the new dispensation, there are two revelations given from heaven, one of wrath, the other of grace.

I do not anywhere know a statement regarding the nature of the revelation of God’s wrath that is more complete or accurate than this statement by Haldane. Yet, in Romans 1, Paul’s point is that the wrath of God is revealed to us chiefly in the debilitating downward drag of sin upon our lives. We think when we sin that we can sin “just a little bit.” But we cannot! Sin captures us and pulls us down inexorably, until—if we are allowed to continue in sin long enough—we end up calling what is good, evil and what is evil, good. And we perish utterly!

This means that the moral turmoil and chaos of the world, including our own personal world, is evidence that the wrath of God is no fiction. This is something to be gravely concerned about.

Wrath Deserved

In Romans 2:5, Paul has other things to say about wrath, and his first point is that the wrath of God toward the sin of men and women is deserved. That should be perfectly evident by now, of course—at least if we have understood the argument of Romans 1. God’s wrath is deserved, because our ignorance of God is a willful ignorance and our refusal to seek him out and worship him is a willful refusal. We have already seen that God has revealed his existence and power in nature and that this alone should be sufficient to lead every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth to give thanks to God. But we do not do it, and the fact that we do not do it is proof that we do not want to.

But the case is even stronger than this, which is what Paul is chiefly teaching in chapter 2. Romans 1 declared God’s wrath on the basis of the evidence for the existence of God in nature, which we refuse to acknowledge. Chapter 2 goes beyond this, with verse 5, our text here, speaking of the wrath of God as coming to us because of our stubborn refusal to repent.

The word repent takes us back to verse 4. For in that verse Paul has spoken of two paths open to human beings as a result of God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience. One path is the path of contempt for God’s blessings. The other path, the one Paul recommends, is repentance. Paul argues that the kindness, tolerance, and patience of God are to lead us to repentance. But will this happen? Is it happening now? The answer appears in verse 5, where Paul speaks of our “stubborn” and “unrepentant” hearts. Apparently, the kindness, tolerance, and patience of God do not have the effect by themselves of leading men and women to repentance. On the contrary, those who have already suppressed the truth about God revealed in nature now add to their evil a hardening of their hearts against the kindnesses that have been bestowed upon them for their good.

So the wrath of God against the race is deserved on two counts: (1) we have rejected the natural revelation; and (2) we have shown contempt for God’s patience and kind acts.

Wrath Proportionate to Sin

In my judgment, the most important teaching in this verse is that the wrath of God is proportionate to human sin, in the sense that those who sin much will be punished much and that those who sin less will be punished less. This has been a problem for some Christian people who have thought of hell’s punishments as being poured out on unbelievers only because of their adamant refusal to accept Jesus Christ. Since that sin—a great sin, to be sure—seems to be the same for everybody, the punishments of hell should be equal, such persons feel.

But this is not correct. For one thing, even the basic premise is in error, for not everyone has a chance to hear of Jesus Christ, and therefore not all will be punished for refusing to believe on him. We saw this in our study of Romans 1, when we dealt with whether it is just for God to condemn those who, like the natives in a far-off island jungle, have never had a chance to hear the gospel. We saw there that God does not condemn people for failing to do what they did not even know they should do, but rather for failing to follow the revelation they do have. The native is condemned, not for failing to believe on Jesus, about whom he has never heard, but for failing to seek God out on the basis of the revelation of God found in nature.

If this is true, however, as it is, then it also follows that some people are more guilty than others and must be punished accordingly. The native is perhaps least guilty, in spite of what we may regard as his particularly debased worship and immoral practices. The person who has heard of Jesus but has refused to come to God through faith in Jesus Christ is more guilty. He has rejected not one but two sources of revelation: the revelation in nature and the special revelation of the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ disclosed in Scripture.

What of those, like ourselves, who have heard the gospel repeatedly and have even seen its power demonstrated in the lives of other persons? If we refuse that repeated and amplified revelation, we are the guiltiest of all.

There is an interesting image suggested by Paul’s language at this point, for Paul speaks of the stubborn and unrepentant person “storing up wrath” for the day of God’s judgment. It is the image of a greedy individual, a miser, who has been storing up wealth which, contrary to his expectations, is destined to destroy him. I think of this man as storing up a great horde of gold coins, placing them in an attic above his bed where he thinks no one will find them and where they will be safe. He keeps this up for years, amassing a great weight of gold. But one day, while he is sleeping and oblivious to his danger, this great weight of gold breaks through the ceiling of his bedroom, comes crashing down onto his bed, and kills him. He thought of his wealth as salvation, but it was death.

That is the way it is for those who pile sin upon sin and show contempt for God’s kindness. They think of their sins as building up a life of future happiness and freedom. But each sin is actually a storing up of wrath. Haldane says, “A man is rich according to his treasures.” Therefore, “the wicked will be punished according to the number and aggravation of their sins.”

This is true even of the good we receive and enjoy without giving proper thanks to God.

Each little indulgence of sin is a coin of wrath stored up.

Each neglect of others is a saved-up ingot of anger.

Each angry word, each selfish thought, each mean retort, each harmful act, is a piling up of wrath’s treasures.

Each pleasure enjoyed without genuine thanks to God builds wrath.

Each year of grace, each day enjoyed without the experience of God’s swift and immediate judgment, each moment of indifference to the mercy of God, is wrath’s accumulation.

If life has been good to you, you only increase your guilt and build a treasure of future punishment by ignoring God’s kindness.

Certain Wrath

There is another thought about wrath in verse 5, and it is that the wrath of God against sin is certain. People who spurn God’s patience inevitably think that in the end they will somehow get free and escape what they deserve. That is what the people being addressed in this chapter were thinking. They looked at the debased moral practices of the heathen and concluded that they themselves would escape God’s wrath because of their imagined superiority to the heathen in such things. But it is not so, Paul says. In fact, it is quite the contrary. Their very awareness of high moral standards, coupled with their refusal to repent of sin and come to God, intensifies their guilt and assures their final condemnation.

Certainty of judgment is seen in the phrase “the day of God’s wrath.” Why is the time of the outpouring of the wrath of God called a “day”? In my opinion it is not because it is to unfold in what we would call a twenty-four-hour day, like the day of the invasion of the Normandy beaches in World War II, which one writer called The Longest Day. I think the Bible speaks of various and manifold judgments that may actually be spread out over a considerable period of time. The use of the word day in the phrase “day of wrath” is similar to its use in the phrase “the day of Jesus Christ.” In that phrase the word encompasses the events of a thirty-three-year ministry.

Why, then, is the day of God’s wrath called a “day”? It is because it is as fixed in God’s calendar as any day you can mention—December 7, 1941, to give just one example. That day is determined! So when the day rolls around, the wrath of God will be poured out, whatever you or anyone else may hope to the contrary.

A great German preacher by the name of Walter Luethi wrote:

If the time should ever come (for these things are conceivable nowadays) when we should succeed in demonstrating that black is white and white black, that good is evil and evil good, if we should ever be successful in invalidating the fundamental moral principles of the universe, so that sin were no longer hated and everyone took a fancy to evil, then there would still be a stronghold where evil would be hated, and that is heaven. And there would still be one who has sworn to fight the evil in the world to the last drop of his blood, and that is God, whose “wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men.”

Wrath that is Just

Romans 2:5 makes another point about wrath that we also need to see. God’s wrath is a just wrath, not arbitrary or petulant but rather according to “righteous judgment.” When Paul mentions judgment he brings in thoughts of God’s law and reminds us that the judgment of God will be according to law. Indeed, as he is going to show, those who have done good—it there are any—will receive good from God, while those who have done evil will receive evil.

One great problem with sin is that it leads to self-justification, so that anything that happens to us that we do not like is immediately perceived as being unjust, a reason to fault God for his ordering of the universe. The cry of the rebellious heart is always: “The only thing I want from God is justice.”

God forbid that you should receive justice from God!

The justice of God will condemn you. And the terror of the very thought of justice is that God is indeed a just God. The God of all the earth does do right, as Abraham well knew (cf. Gen. 18:25). Sin is punished now in large measure, and it will be punished fully and equitably in the life to come. Do not ask God for justice. Seek mercy. Seek it where salvation from the wrath of God may alone be found.

Wrath Poured Out

Where is that salvation to be found? If God’s wrath is deserved by us, proportionate to our sin, as certain as the calendar, just, and even partially disclosed in the natural unfolding of the effects of sin in our lives, how can it possibly be avoided—since we are sinners?

The only place is in Christ, who bore the full measure of the wrath of God in our place. Do we doubt that God’s wrath is real and threatening? If we do, we need only look at Jesus in the hours preceding his crucifixion. He was not like Socrates who calmly quaffed the hemlock that was to end his life. Jesus’ soul was “troubled” (John 12:27), and he agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking that the “cup” God had prepared for him might be taken away (Matt. 26:36–44). Jesus was not afraid of death. He had as much courage in that respect as Socrates. The reason Jesus trembled before death is that his death was not to be like the death of mere mortals. Jesus was not going to die for himself. He was going to die for others. He was going to take upon himself the full measure of the wrath of God that they deserved. He was to drink the cup of wrath to the very dregs—in order that the justice of God might be satisfied and sinners might be spared.

And so it was!

The time came when Jesus was led away to be crucified. He was hung on the cross, midway between earth and heaven, a bridge between sinful man and a holy God. There he, who knew no sin, was made sin for us. There God’s wrath was poured out.

For centuries the wrath that men and women had been storing up had been accumulating—like coins in the attic or water behind a great dam. Oh, here and there a little of the flood of God’s judgment had sloshed out over the top as God reached the end of his patience in some small area, and a Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed or a Jerusalem was overthrown. But, for the most part, the wrath of God merely accumulated, growing higher and broader and deeper and increasingly more turbulent. Then Jesus died! When he died the dam was opened, and the great weight of the accumulated wrath of God was poured out upon him. He took God’s wrath for us. He bore its impounded fury in our place. No wonder his righteous soul shrank back from the atonement. He had never committed a single sin. He was spotless and without blame. Yet because he was blameless and because he was God, he was able to stand in the breech for us and secure our salvation.

God demonstrated clearly that he had! In Jerusalem there was a temple the central feature of which was a room called the Most Holy Place. God was understood to dwell symbolically in that place. Before it hung a thick curtain, symbolizing the barrier that sin has raised between God in his holiness and ourselves in our sin. For anyone to penetrate beyond that barrier meant instant death, as occasionally happened, for the wrath of God must flame out against any sin that would intrude upon holiness. That curtain was torn in two when Jesus died. For centuries it had hung there, proclaiming that God was holy, that man was sinful, and that the way to God was therefore strictly barred. But now that Jesus had died for sin, taking the place of any who would trust him and receive the benefit of his sacrifice, the wrath of God was expended, the way was open, and there was nothing left but God’s great love and kindness.

This is the gospel. It is what is open to you if you will approach God, not on the basis of your own good deeds or works, which can only condemn you, but on the basis of Christ’s having borne the wrath of God in your place.

That wrath is thundering down the chasm of history toward the day of final judgment, and one day it must break upon you unless you stand before God in Jesus Christ. Martin Luther began his spiritual pilgrimage by fearing God’s wrath and then came to find peace in Christ. But he never forgot the reality of the final judgment, and he always warned his hearers to flee from it to Christ. He said in one place, “The Last Day is called the day of wrath and of mercy, the day of trouble and of peace, the day of destruction and of glory.” Luther was right. It must be one or the other. If it is to be a day of mercy and peace for you, rather than a day of wrath and trouble, it must be because you are trusting in Christ.[1]

 


[1] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: Justification by Faith (Vol. 1, pp. 217–224). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

The Long-Suffering God (Romans 2:4)

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

In my library in Philadelphia I have a large number of books that deal with the attributes of God. They are among my favorite volumes. I think, for example, of A. W. Tozer’s books on knowing God: The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy. Or Arthur Pink’s studies of God’s character: The Attributes of God and Gleanings in the Godhead. Some are heavy theological works, like Emil Brunner’s The Christian Doctrine of God, Herman Bavinck’s The Doctrine of God4 and Carl F. H. Henry’s multivolumed God, Revelation and Authority. There is also the well-deserved popular favorite: Knowing God, by J. I. Packer.

I find as I look over these books that there is little in them concerning two of the three attributes we are to study in this chapter: tolerance (forbearance) and patience (longsuffering). Why is this? Pink calls attention to it, saying, “It is not easy to suggest a reason … for surely the longsuffering of God is as much one of the divine perfections as is his wisdom, power or holiness, and as much to be admired and revered by us.”

The reason many of us ignore these attributes may be precisely what Paul suggests it may be, when he asks in our text, “Do you show contempt for the riches of his [God’s] kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” The reason why we do not think often of God’s tolerance and patience is our insensitivity to sin and our reluctance to turn from it.

The Goodness of God

I have said that two of the three attributes mentioned in our text are frequently neglected: tolerance and patience. But the first of the three attributes is “goodness” (kjv), or “kindness” (niv), and goodness is not usually ignored. I suppose this is because goodness is so desirable a part of God’s nature. Our word God points in that direction. It comes to us from Anglo-Saxon speech, where “God” originally meant “The Good.” This was an important insight, for it meant that in the minds of the Anglo-Saxons, God was not only “the Greatest” of all beings, though they recognized that as well, but that he was also “the Best.” All the goodness there is originates in God. That is why the apostle James could write, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). In the language of philosophy the simplest of all definitions of God is summum bonum, the chief good.

Yet, when Paul speaks of the goodness of God in Romans 2, he is not thinking of this as having to do primarily with what God is in himself, but as having to do with God’s actions toward us. This may be why the New International Version renders the Greek term chrēstotēs (later, chrēstos) as “kindness” rather than “goodness,” as it is in the King James Bible.

1. Creation. The first place at which the goodness of God is seen is in creation. We remember that on each of the successive days of creation, after God had made the heavens and the earth, the sea and the land, and all the creatures that live in the sea, inhabit the land, and fly in the air, God said, “It is good.” And it really was good—and continues to be, in spite of the increasing spoilage of creation that has come to it because of human sin.

The world about us is good, and this is a great proof of God’s goodness. Every time we breathe God’s good air, we demonstrate how indebted we are to this goodness. Every time we use the resources of the world to make homes and clothes and to grow food, we show that God is kind toward us. And what of our bodies? How suited are our hands to perform useful work! How valuable are our arms and legs! How amazing our eyes! How marvelous our minds! Paul Brand’s study of the wonders of the human body—cells, bones, skin, and motion—Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, highlights some of this goodness.

2. Providence. God’s goodness is also revealed in providence, that is, by his continual ordering of the world and world events for good. Providence is seen in what theologians call “common grace.” Jesus spoke of this when he observed that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45).

3. The Gospel Call. But the kindness of God toward us is seen not only in the physical creation and providence. It is also seen in many spiritual matters. Above all, it is seen in the widespread proclamation of the gospel. To be sure, the gospel has not yet penetrated everywhere. There are still many millions of people who have not heard that Jesus loves them and has died for them. But you have! You at least know God’s goodness in the gospel.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher of the nineteenth century, wrote on Romans 2:4:

Myriads of our fellow men have never had an opportunity of knowing Christ. The missionary’s foot has never trodden the cities wherein they dwell, and so they die in the dark. Multitudes are going downward, downward; but they do not know the upward road. Their minds have never been enlightened by the teachings of God’s word, and hence they sin with less grievousness of fault. You are placed in the very focus of Christian light, and yet you follow evil! Will you not think of this? Time was when a man would have to work for years to earn enough money to buy a Bible. There were times when he could not have earned one even with that toil. Now the word of God lies upon your table, and you have a copy of it in almost every room of your house. Is not this a boon from God? This is the land of the open Bible, and the land of the preached word of God. In this you prove the richness of God’s goodness. Do you despise this wealth of mercy? … Is this a small thing?

The kindness of God is not a small thing. We dare not despise it, as Paul tells us.

The Tolerance of God

The second attribute of God in our text is tolerance, and this, as I wrote earlier, is frequently neglected. The Greek word is anochēs, variously translated “tolerance,” “forbearance,” “holding back,” “delay,” “pause,” or “clemency.”

The new idea introduced by this term is that of human offense to God’s goodness, offense that should evoke an immediate outpouring of fierce judgment but which God actually endures. We see this quality at the beginning of the Bible. God had warned Adam that on the day he ate of the forbidden tree he would die (Gen. 1:17). But when God came to Adam and Eve in the garden to confront our first parents with the fact of their disobedience, he did not actually execute the sentence. Someone has pointed out that Adam and Eve did die in their spirits, which they proved by running away from God when he came calling. That is true. But they did not die physically, at least not at once. And they never did die eternally, because God came with an offer of salvation through a future deliverer who would defeat Satan, which they then believed and trusted. This first great outcropping of sin and God’s dealings with it show God’s tolerance.

So it is with us all. We sin, but God does not immediately implement the judgment we deserve. He bears with us, enduring the affront to his great majesty and holiness. And he offers us salvation!

The irony is that we do not appreciate this and instead actually turn God’s temporary tolerance of some sin into an accusation against him. Do you remember the question raised by those who had witnessed a few instances of evil in the days of Jesus Christ? Apparently some Galileans had been visiting Jerusalem and had been worshiping at the temple. While they were in the midst of their pious acts, soldiers from Pilate fell upon them and killed some of them. Again, about this same time a tower fell over and killed eighteen persons who were standing beside it. Jesus was asked how it was possible that something like this could happen in a world ruled by a just yet merciful God. Was it because these people were worse sinners than others? Or was it because God was either too weak to avert the tragedies or just didn’t care?

Jesus replied, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:2–5).

Jesus’ point was that our way of asking that question is entirely wrong. The question is not why God somehow “lets down” and allows others to perish, but rather why he has spared us, we being the sinners we are. If we could understand how sinful we are, we could understand that the soldiers should have killed us, or the tower should have fallen on us. We should be dead and in hell this very instant. That we are not in hell is an evidence of God’s tolerance. He has not yet confined us to the punishment we deserve.

God’s tolerance should lead us to repentance, before it is too late.

The Patience of God

The last of these three attributes is the greatest from the point of view of our text, for it is linked to the call for repentance in that God spares us for a very long time that we might do so. The Greek word makrothymia is interesting, because the first half of it, makro (macro), emphasizes how great God’s longsuffering, or patience, is.

Here is a good place to put these three terms together and compare them. I quote first from Robert Haldane. He thinks these words apply to the Jews explicitly, which I do not. But his definitions and contrasts are significant nevertheless: “Goodness imports the benefits which God hath bestowed on the Jews. Forbearance denotes God’s bearing with them, without immediately executing vengeance—his delaying to punish them.… Long-suffering signifies the extent of that forbearance during many ages.” Here is another quotation, from Charles Hodge: “The first means kindness in general, as expressed in giving favors; the second, patience; the third, forbearance, slowness in the infliction of punishment.”11

I would define each of these three terms as aspects of God’s goodness: the first as goodness to man without any specific relationship to sin; the second as goodness in relation to sin’s magnitude; the third as goodness in relation to sin’s endurance or continuation. Spurgeon was thinking along these lines when he wrote, “Forbearance has to do with the magnitude of sin; longsuffering with the multiplicity of it.”

“Patience” means that God bears with sin a long time. Here are some examples:

First, God was patient with those who sinned in the early ages of the race before the great flood. This was a particularly evil time. Some of the evil is described in Genesis 4, which begins with Cain’s murder of his brother Abel and ends with Lamech’s boast about having killed a man just for wounding him. This evil is summarized in Genesis 6:5, where we are told, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” What a devastating statement—“only evil all the time”! This was a dreadful age. Yet, in spite of this great evil, God was patient with the antediluvian generation. He spared it for 120 years while Noah was in the process of constructing and outfitting the ark. It was only at the end of that period, after ample warnings from Noah and the other pre-flood preachers, like Enoch, that the flood came.

A second example is Israel, with whom God was exceptionally patient. He was patient with the Jews for forty years in the wilderness, as Paul reminds us in a sermon to Gentiles and Jews at Antioch (“He endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert,” Acts 13:18). Later, when the Israelites entered the Promised Land and were soon found following the debased customs and worship of the nations around them, God did not immediately chastise his people but instead sent a long line of deliverers. Even when their sin was so great that a judgment by invasion and deportment was inevitable, God still sent generations of prophets to warn both Israel and Judah and turn them from sin.

What of ourselves? Arthur W. Pink writes:

How wondrous is God’s patience with the world today. On every side people are sinning with a high hand. The divine law is trampled under foot and God himself openly despised. It is truly amazing that he does not instantly strike dead those who so brazenly defy him. Why does he not suddenly cut off the haughty infidel and blatant blasphemer, as he did Ananias and Sapphira? Why does he not cause the earth to open its mouth and devour the persecutors of his people, so that, like Dathan and Abiram, they shall go down alive into the Pit? And what of apostate Christendom, where every possible form of sin is now tolerated and practiced under cover of the holy name of Christ? Why does not the righteous wrath of heaven make an end of such abominations? Only one answer is possible: because God bears with “much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.”

Repent or Perish

Yet, much as I appreciate Arthur Pink and value his description of God’s longsuffering toward those of our own time, I do not think his statement that “only one answer is possible” is correct. Pink asks, “Why does God not immediately destroy all wrong doers?” He answers, “Because God is long-suffering toward the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.” That means: simply because God is long-suffering. Sinners will perish eventually anyway, but God is nevertheless willing to endure them for a very long time.

Well, that is part of the answer. God does endure for a long time those who eventually will perish. But if our text—which speaks so eloquently of the goodness, tolerance, and patience of God—means anything, it certainly means that God also has quite another purpose in his patience. Paul says that it is to lead us to repentance.

There are two ways we can go, of course. Paul is clear about them. One way is repentance, the way Scripture urges. The other is defiance, or spite toward God’s goodness.

Which will it be for you? You can defy God. You can set yourself against his goodness, tolerance, and patience—as well as against his other attributes like sovereignty, holiness, omniscience, and immutability, which you also despise. But why should you do that? I have previously pointed out that it is quite understandable how a sinner who does not wish to leave his or her sin must hate God’s holiness. It is obvious that a rebellious subject will resent God’s sovereignty. But why should you “show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience”? These are winsome qualities. A kind, tolerant, and patient God is a good God. Why should you fail to realize that God’s exercise of these attributes toward you is for a good end?

I want to give you three reasons why you should allow these attributes to lead you to repentance and should no longer despise the goodness of God.

First, if God is a good God, then whatever you may think to the contrary in your fallen state, to find this good God will mean finding all good for yourself. You do not normally think this way. You think that your own will is the good. You think that if you have to turn from what you think you want—and desperately do want—you will be miserable. Can you not see that it is your own sinful way, and the ways of millions of other people just like you, that is the cause of your miseries. God is not the cause. God is good. God is the source of all good. If you want to find good for yourself as well as others, the way to find it is to turn from whatever is holding you back and find God. God has provided the way for you to turn to him through the death of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for your sin to open the door to God’s presence.

Not long ago I was talking to a young girl who had gotten into trouble because of her rebellion against nearly everyone who was in authority over her, had ended up in an institution for troubled teenagers, and had had a very rough time. But in the counseling and small-group sessions she learned something important. As we talked she said, “I learned that the people I thought were my enemies were actually my friends, because they told me the truth, and I learned that my trouble was not caused by other people. I caused it. If I am going to get anywhere, I have to change.”

This teenager had become a lot smarter than many people who fight against God by blaming him for their misery. If you are to be wise and not foolish, you must allow the goodness of God to lead you to repentance.

Second, if God is tolerant of you, it is because he has a will to save you. If he wanted to condemn you outright, he could have done it long ago. If he is tolerant, you will find that if you come to him he will not cast you out. One commentator wrote, “If God is good even to the unkind and the unthankful, surely the door of entrance to the divine favor is open to the penitent.”

Third, if God is patient with you in spite of your many follies, it is because he is giving you an opportunity to be saved. The apostle Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). If God were not good, you might have room to doubt this. You might think of God as a cat playing with a mouse. You might think of him as being patient with you only for his own amusement. But this is not the case at all. If God is good in his patience, his reason for being so must be to do good. His patience must be to give you opportunity to turn to him. Do not make the mistake of thinking that because God is tolerant he will not judge sin. God will judge it. He is just, as well as patient. But now he is patient, and if he has allowed you to live twenty, forty, or even eighty or ninety years, it is so that you might come to him now—before you die and the opportunity for salvation is gone forever.

Paul says that God’s goodness “leads” you to repentance. If he is leading, he will not turn you away if you follow him. If he bids you repent, he will not spurn your repentance.[1]

 


[1] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: Justification by Faith (Vol. 1, pp. 209–217). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Theology: GOD IS PERFECT

God is perfect or complete in all, and deficient in nothing. He has no flaws, He has no chips, and He has no hidden imperfections. He is as gold perfectly refined, with no impurities. He is perfect in all of His attributes.

 

Let us look at some of the areas where God’s perfection is seen.

 

God’s knowledge is perfect: Job. 37:16 mentions that He is “perfect in knowledge.” There is nothing that He does not know, and there is no defect in that knowledge. So, don’t think that when you step into that little secret sin that He won’t notice, or that He will forget. His knowledge of our sin is perfect, His knowledge of your thoughts is perfect, and His knowledge of your deeds is perfect.

 

God’s will is perfect: Romans 12:2, “…ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Now, when you have gained knowledge of His will for your life, you don’t need to second guess it, you don’t need to worry about it, and you don’t need to worry about opposition. His will is perfect and you only need to follow it.

 

God’s law is perfect: Psalm 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect…..” The Word is our guide for life. It is there to help us through the problems and trials of time. If we go to it, then we have perfect guidance, for It is perfect.

 

God’s way is perfect: Psalm 18:30, “As for God, his way is perfect…..” The only way to God is through Jesus Christ the Lord. That is the perfect way to God. God’s paths, or way, is always correct and perfect, be it the way He is taking you or the way He is leading you. All His ways are perfect and complete.

 

God’s work is perfect: Deuteronomy 32:4, “…..his work is perfect…..” What He has done in your life is perfect. What He wants to do in your life is perfect. What He will do in your life is perfect. So, why do we feel that we are inadequate, inferior, and ill prepared? Why can’t we be satisfied with His perfect work in us? We are just the way He wanted us. Proper looks, shape, hair, eyes, mentality and personality. This is not to say that

 

 

He can’t change some of these items if He should desire, but He did a perfect work in you as you are at this point.

 

God’s gifts are perfect: James 1:17 , “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…..” So, If you are a good evangelist, don’t covet the

good preacher or teacher their gifts. He gave the gift that He wanted you to have and it is perfect. Indeed, every gift is perfect, even if it is money, talent, spouse, education etc.

 

The usage of the term “perfect” in Scripture:

 

Old Testament usage: One of the main terms [“tamiym”] translated perfect in the Old Testament is also translated many times “without blemish” and is translated “complete” once. Complete seems to be a good definition of the term. (Leviticus 23:15 = complete) This is the term used of the sacrificial lambs that were to be without blemish. God is without blemish, He is complete, and He is perfect in all that He is.

 

New Testament usage: Perfect is the translation of “telios.” It also has the idea of complete. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament show the complete, perfection of God.

 

SUGGESTED PROBLEMS WITH THE DOCTRINE

 

1. The same term “perfect” is used of both God and man. How can man be as perfect as God? (Noah was perfect, Genesis 6:9; Job was perfect, Job. 1:1; Satan was perfect in his original state, Ezekiel 28:12.)

 

The answer is that created beings are held as perfect in relation to other created beings, and not God. God is a perfect being; His perfection is absolute. The term shows that the person or creation mentioned is complete and ready for operation. They are perfect in light of the perfectness that is available to them.

 

Only God is a perfect Being. We are perfect in our completeness to do the job. A car being moved off of the assembly line is complete and ready to roll, but the latest survey’s show that if you inspect a car closely that there are usually at least twenty defects of some sort. It is a complete car, but it is not a perfect sort of car.

 

 

God’s being is perfect. We are a perfect creation, but far from the classification of a perfect being.

 

2. Matthew 5:48 mentions that the believer is to be perfect. If the above is true, then how can man be perfect. Again, we cannot reach God’s perfection, but we can achieve perfection in relation to other men. We can reach the perfection that is available to us. That perfection includes the spiritual standing that we have in Christ, the completely perfect and justified standing that we have before God because of the finished work of Christ.

 

That perfection includes the spiritual state — having all sin confessed and waiting for the next one to confess. This is the perfection that is available to us through Christ in this life.

 

The idea of Matthew is moral completeness rather than perfection. The New Testament idea is complete and ready to run. The car coming off the assembly line of a factory is complete and ready; All parts are installed and present.

 

God’s perfection can certainly be our goal but we will not attain God’s perfection because we are not purely spirit beings.

 

APPLICATION

 

1. If He is perfect in all ways, then we can find ALL we need in Him. We need not look for fulfillment in the business world. We need not look for fulfillment in marriage. We need not look for fulfillment in the ministry. We need not look for fulfillment anywhere but in HIM. Fulfillment in these areas is not wrong but if we seek God to the best of our ability He will give us the fulfillment that He wants us to have. Matthew 6:33 mentions that He will supply all of our need. If we seek after material things we may end up with more than we need.

 

2. The New Testament tells the believer to seek perfection. Matthew 5:48 tells us to be perfect as the Father is perfect. Colossians 1:28, commands that we are to be working for the perfection of the saints (Ephesians 4:11- 12 also). James 1:4 tells us that we will be perfect one day.

 

 

3. Since God’s will is perfect we can trust in that will when the prices are up and our income is down and nothing seems to be going right and we just know that God has made a mistake. NO. He makes no mistakes. If you are in His will and things are down, you can KNOW that it is His plan for your life.

 

4. If He is perfect we should be moved to follow Him explicitly in our lives to gain the most out of our lives for Him. Our goal in life should be His perfect will for us. Nothing else should enter in to our decisions — only following His leading.

 

5. If He is perfect then we know man can never be perfect, so we SHOULD grow to tolerate those imperfections that bother us in our mates, our children, our pastors, our teachers, our neighbors and our co- workers.

 

6. We are all in the process of becoming perfect. Paul mentions that he isn’t perfect yet in Philippians 3:11,12. No Matter How Good You Are, You Are Not Perfect. Not Even If You Think That You Are. God can improve on you if you allow Him to work.

 

7. We should realize we are all perfect (completed) in His eyes through Christ and that the new Christian is as perfect as the mature Christian — thus we have no grounds for feeling inferior or superior about our spiritual position.

 

A question came up in class one time concerning whether God can sin. We considered the possibility for a time and came to some conclusions: We didn’t think He could, but that there was no real Scripture on either side that we could think of, however we drew some lo[1]

 


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

If We Have Died With Him We Will Also Live With Him

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1 ESV)

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober- minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV)

Our enemy is quite clever in his deceit. He knows exactly what buttons to…

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