God’s Righteous Judgement:
The Sentence

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 10c of 83


5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:  11 For there is no respect of persons with God.…   16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 2:5-16).

[We saw in our first instalment of study on this text that the apostle Paul is painting a picture of the heavenly court room in the Last Day. On that day, God will call all men who ever lived to stand before Him to be judged. Since God knows all things, He does not need to discover through a process of judicial cross-examination whether we are guilty. He will simply adduce evidence to substantiate His judgement. We noted that His judgement comprises verdict and sentence. In the second study we considered God’s verdict, but now in the final instalment, we will consider God’s sentence.]

3. What will the 
Sentences be?

a.   The sentence will be: reward for those who do well, and punishment for those who do evil.

Those who do evil, will receive “indignation and wrath” (v. 8b); “Tribulation and anguish” (v. 9a). ‘Indignation’ (qumov", thumos) speaks of a boiling over of God’s anger. ‘Wrath’ (ojrghv, orgê) speaks of a simmering and persistent anger. Those who do evil will know nothing of God’s favour. They will for all eternity face His fierce anger. For all eternity, they will experience only ‘tribulation’ (qli`yi", thlipsis) and ‘anguish’ (stenocwriva, stenochôria). That is to say they will have no joy or freedom, but extreme affliction, distress, sorrow, and pain. They will be weighed down by guilt, and a burning conscience without any drop of relief.

What about those who do well?

Those who do well will receive “eternal life” (v. 7b). They will enjoy life everlasting in the favourable presence of God. Moreover, they will receive “glory, honour, and peace” (v. 10a). They that sought for glory by well-doing, they will be given glory. They that sought for honour by well-doing, they will be given honour. And as they patiently sought to do good despite all the trials they face in their life, they will be given peace. There will be no more trials, sorrow, sighing or tears. They will enjoy perfect peace with the God and Saviour they love.

b.  But the question is asked: How can anyone be good enough to be said to be doing good in God’s sight? Paul himself will later affirm: “There is none righteous, no not one” (Rom 3:10); and “there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom 3:12). How then can anyone be said to have done good?[1]

How do we reconcile Paul’s words in our text with what he will say later on?

Well, we must remember that whom God has elected, He sanctifies so that their good works,—though tainted with sin,—can be acceptable. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians that,

“… we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:8-10).

In other words, non-Christians cannot do good works, but true Christians can!

Those who are truly in Christ are enabled by a new birth and the indwelling of the spirit of Christ to do good. And their good works, though tainted with sin, are accepted by God because of the righteousness of Christ. Their good works cannot merit salvation, but God promises to reward them for Christ’s sake. Remember: We are freed from sin so that we can be servants of God and be rewarded by Him (cf. Romans 6:22).

Now, this is an important doctrine, for it means that no Christian can be without good works. None but true Christians will “seek for glory and honour and immortality,” by pleasing God with their lives. And conversely, professing Christians who are “contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness” are simply fooling themselves. They are deceived or deluded that they will get to heaven.

Put simply, what Paul is saying is that those who do not believe the doctrines of the Bible cannot be true Christians. Let me put it this way:

·    Liberals who do not believe in the deity of Christ, or the virgin birth, or miracles are simply not Christians.

·    Roman Catholics who refuse to believe justification by grace through faith alone are fooling themselves that they can be saved by their good works.

·    Homosexual bishops are playing games with their soul and the souls of others.

·    Antinomians, or those who would not keep the laws of God, are workers of iniquity. They will one day hear the Lord say: “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

c.   Are you in any of these categories? Are you an antinomian? Are you living lawlessly? Oh do not say: “I keep most of the laws, I should be OK.” No, no, James says: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (Jas 2:10). The Lord himself says: “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:20).

No, neither the Lord, nor James, nor Paul is saying that you can be saved by keeping the law of God or by good works. But what all of them agree is that if you are a child of God who will inherit eternal life, you will not be disobedient to the truth. You will not obey unrighteousness. You will not choose to disobey any of God’s commandments. 

Conclusion

We will all stand before God in judgement one day.

God is already judging us today. Many of us do not believe that. We go on judging others, but do not believe that God is judging us or will judge us. But the day of the revelation of God’s righteous judgement is coming. When that day comes, every secret in our hearts will be revealed. Every deed that we do in secret will be exposed. The Lord Jesus says:

“Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Lk 12:3).

In that day of judgement, our entire life will, as it were, be projected on a big screen for all to see!

What must we do in the face of this coming judgment?

Well, first of all, remember that you can have no reward except if you are in Christ. And if you do not receive reward, you will receive punishments. There is no middle ground. Will you not ensure that you are truly in Christ? Remember that the apostle Paul is bringing up this subject of the judgment because of the possibility of hypocrites in the church. Will you not seek to ensure that you are not a hypocrite? The Lord Himself says: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Lk 13:24). Oh do not continue to play games or be sanguine about your Christian life.

Will you not examine your life and see if you are sincerely walking with Christ? You cannot really be approved by God at the judgement except that you are sincere in seeking to please Him in Christ. If you are doing so, what a blessing awaits you! You are on the King’s Highway. Soon you will be with the King, and you will enjoy glory, honour and peace. But most of all you will enjoy everlasting fellowship with Christ, the lover of your soul.

But if you are somehow reading this article though you are still an unbeliever, then may I urge you to take careful heed. Now is the day of salvation. Will you not turn to Him today while there is yet time?

The day of the revelation of God’s judgement is coming. Remember that there are only two verdicts and two sentences. Those who are truly in Christ will be judged to have done well because of Christ has already paid for their sin, and because the Spirit of Christ enables them to do good. But those who are still outside Christ will be judged to have done wickedly because there is none good, no not one. Those who are judged to have done well will enjoy eternal blessings. On the other hand, those who are judged to have done evil will suffer eternal torments.

I plead with you, therefore, if you do not know Christ, turn away from your sin, and flee to Him. He will not turn away anyone who comes to Him with sincerity. Will you not go to him? Will you not plead with him to forgive your sin, and enable you to live for Him? Amen.

JJ Lim


 



[1] For this reason, some commentators (such as Hoeksema and Haldane) feel that Paul is here setting a hypothetical case. They say that what Paul is saying is that if anyone can really persist in doing good, he will be given eternal life. But no one can do so. And therefore Paul is really trying to impress upon his readers that everyone needs the Gospel of Christ. Well, it is true that everyone needs the Gospel of Christ. But it need not be the case that Paul is speaking hypothetically. Or let me put it this way: It is unlikely that Paul is trying to say here that no one will enjoy the blessings of being judged positively for well-doing.