by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4 November 23, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(080)Thesis:In order to maintain theological accuracy regarding the Gospel, one must be sure that the context of Romans 2:1-16 is maintained for its impact upon the statements made.
Introduction:In our study last week we looked into Paul's claim that those who mis-apply the kindness of God are stacking up negative divine reactions -- as if there was a storehouse in which those reactions are being stored -- in view of the "Day". Men tend very strongly to think that "kindness" means "validation", whereas the truth is that "kindness" means one is being given time to "repent".
This evening we are going to look further into Paul's claim that God has set a "day" for the execution of Justice upon His creation.
I. The Claim That God Plans to Repay "Every Man According to His Deeds".
A. In the larger theological picture, this statement has been used to declare that, when all is said and done, God's treatment of men will be "Just".
1. In the light of massive theological confusion and debate, men are always looking for a simplified "bottom line".
2. For the vast majority of humanity, that "bottom line" is Justice.
a. Paul says of humanity that there are two kinds of people.
1) There are the repentant.
2) There are the impenitent.
a) There are the impenitent who act out the rage of despair.
b) There are the impenitent who act out the self-righteousness of pride.
b. Paul also says of humanity that no one escapes the sense of an impending date with Justice.
3. Therefore, the overwhelming majority of humanity is convinced that the "bottom line" dogma in regard to man in relationship to God is the doctrine of Romans 2:6 -- God is going to deal with each man according to his works.
B. In the biblical theological picture, this dogma of man's date with the Justice of God is the most destructive dogma in the world today.
1. According to this same apostle, in 1 Corinthians 15:56, the actual strength of sin is the Law.
2. According to this same apostle in this same book (Romans 6:14) the dominion of Sin over people is rooted in their perspective of themselves as under the Law of God...i.e., "justice".
3. According to history, the "point of attack" by Satan has always been the doctrine that one can escape from the Law.
a. This is universally denied outside of Christianity (witness both the rage of despair and the self-righteousness of pride).
b. Within the pale of "Christendom" this is also vehemently denied as men aggressively attack the twin doctrines of "election" and "eternal security" and their corollary doctrine of the bondage of man's will.
C. So, the question automatically arises: Why would Paul say something so destructive to man and affirm it so dramatically as he does in Romans 2:6 and 16?
1. The short answer is: he doesn't.
2. The longer answer is that his explanation of the relationship of "Justice" to man is absolutely qualified in respect to what "man" is in the picture.
a. If the "man" in the picture (as is the case in Romans 2) is a Self-righteous Impenitent, there is no escape from "Justice".
b. But, if the "man" in the picture (as is not the case in Romans 2) is a God-justified Believer, there is no subjection to "Justice" whatsoever.
D. Therefore, our conclusion regarding Paul's claim that God will repay every man for his deeds is that the claim is "context limited" (as, by the way, every statement of Scripture always is).
II. The Explanation of the Claim as it Applies to the Impenitent.
A. The structure of Romans 2:7-10.
1. 2:7-8 present the application of "Justice" to men in respect to two possible divine reactions with the positive followed by the negative.
2. 2:9-10 present the same thing in reverse.
B. The significance of the "two possible divine reactions" is that they are not a presentation of two kinds of men, but that there are two parts to the standards of judgment set up by Justice.
1. On the one side of Justice is what will be done given "godly" behavior.
2. On the other side of Justice is what will be done given "ungodly" behavior.
C. Given the biblical doctrine that no man is "godly", the positive side turns out to be "theoretical", not actual.
D. In the day of judgment, it will not matter to anyone how God treats someone else; it will only matter how He treats the one under the gun.