by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 6 December 7, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(084)Thesis:There is no respect of persons with God.
Introduction:We did not manage to get the recording of last week's study home in one piece. But, that study was basically a very condensed formulation of the series we did on Developing Perspectives, so it is not really lost to us because we have the CDs of that series available to any who want to dig deeper.
This evening we are going to go on into our study of Romans 2. We are going to park on verse 11. It says that there is no respect of persons with God. But, we think we see all manner of cases in God's dealings with humanity where He exercises a kind of "respect of persons". For example, we see the Bible telling us that God treats His children differently than He treats those who are not His children [Hebrews 12:8]. Is this not respect of persons? We also see that the Bible tells us that God saved Saul of Tarsus and let a host of like-minded Pharisees perish. Is this not respect of persons? We see that God reacted to Ananias and Sapphira, and their lie about how much money they got from the sale of their land, by killing them on the spot; but He has not killed the countless millions who have also lied. Is this not respect of persons?
Obviously, we need to understand the statement: There is no respect of persons with God.
I. First, We Need to Understand that "There is No Respect of Persons With God".
A. This is a repeated theme in the New Testament.
1. Ephesians 6:9 says there is no "respect of persons" with the Master in heaven.
2. Colossians 3:25 says there is no "respect of persons" with the Lord, Christ.
3. James 2:1 says that there should be no "respect of persons" among believers, which assumes that there is none with the Father.
B. So, whatever it means, it is not a concept that we can set aside.
II. Second, We Need to Understand what "Respect of Persons" is.
A. In every case where "respect of persons" surfaces, there is a sense that there are people who think that "the rules don't apply to me".
1. This is blatantly the case in Romans 2 because it is addressed to people who think that they can do what they criticize in others and escape the judgment of God.
2. In Ephesians 6:9 Paul insists that "masters" not be deluded into thinking that they can insist that their servants serve them while they are refusing to serve God and escape the principle of Ephesians 6:8.
3. In Colossians 3:25 Paul insists that "servants" not be deluded into thinking that they can refuse to serve their masters and escape the principle clearly stated in the verse: "he that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done".
B. In every case where "respect of persons" surfaces, there are "rules" that apply to the situations being addressed.
C. In every case where "respect of persons" surfaces, the statement is made that when God comes to the application of the "rules" to those under them, the only considerations that will be taken into account are those that have to do with applying the rules to those who are under them.
1. This means that there will be no consideration of issues that have nothing to do with the question of the application of the rules.
a. Issues of personal social status.
b. Issues of personal financial status.
c. Issues of personal physical status.
2. This means that we have our needed definition of what "respect of persons" is: it is the "bending of the rules" on the basis of any consideration that is outside the boundaries of the "rules".
III. Third, We Need to Understand How "Respect of Persons" Fits Into Our Theological Orientation.
A. Is there ever a situation where there are no rules? Does not Truth exist everywhere? Is not Truth consumed with the 'What is Valuable?' and 'What is True?' questions? Do not the "truths" guarantee the ultimate rejection of every lie?
B. How does the presence of "rules" in every situation relate to "you are not under law, but under grace"?
C. How is it not "respect of persons" to "divorce" someone from their sins? Isn't the "divorce" a negation of the application of the rules?
D. Does the Bible not present different "sets of rules" for different "sets of people"?
E. Are not the "different sets of people" created by the application of certain "sets of rules"? [Did not God create a special set of people when He chose Abram and gave him his particular "set of rules"?; did He not create a special set of people when He gave the Law to Israel at Sinai?; did He not create a special set of people when He moved beyond Israel with the Gospel?; did He not create a special set of people when He imparted His Spirit to certain people?]