by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 11 January 25, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(094)Thesis:Every unbeliever is going to have his one-on-one with Jesus Christ over the issues of his secret motives.
Introduction:Hebrews 4:13 says, " And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do (ASV)." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says, "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing (ASV)."
In a very real sense, these two texts lay a foundation for our study this evening in Romans 2:16. On the one hand, we are told how much will be "examined"; and on the other hand, we are told how that "much" will be "examined". So, as we wind up our consideration of the paragraph of Romans 2:1-16, let's look into what it tells us.
I. Remembering the Context.
A. Paul opens the verse with "...in the day...".
1. He has already told us to what "the day" refers.
a. He calls it, in 2:5, "the day of wrath".
1) The word "wrath" is the same word found in 1:18.
2) It is a word that does not have the heavy overtones of "emotional anger" in it.
3) It refers to the negative side of "retribution" -- a fact alluded to in 2:6.
b. He further explains what he means in 2:5 by also telling us that it is the day in which God's dikaiokrisia has the "lid" taken off (the "lid" is the confusion that exists in a world in which sin has been allowed and tolerated for a season; an action that has caused a lot of questions to arise about the true nature of God's dikaiokrisia).
1) This means that it is not the day of grace.
2) This, subsequently, means that there are no believers standing there in that day.
2. It is a major blunder for us to "assume" the generality of this judgment: believers get into a huge ball of wax when their natural perception of God's hardness is reinforced by the concepts in this context in reference to themselves.
a. Paul is adamant: There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
b. Paul is also adamant: Even when there is a significantly uncomfortable period of divine chastisement, it is so that we will not be condemned with the world.
B. He calls to mind that he is addressing "...when God shall judge...".
II. The New Issues.
A. Paul opens his "new" information package by telling us that the "thing" God is going to "judge" is the "secrets" of men.
1. What are the "secrets" of the men?
a. The word is used in multiple texts to refer to "actions" that are taken in such a way that they are not "generally" known as to "who" did them.
1) Some of these texts refer to actions that men take in a concealed manner to avoid seeking to be "honored" because of them (Matthew 6:4-6).
2) Some of these texts refer to actions that men take in a concealed manner to avoid being "blamed" because of them (Ephesians 5:12).
b. But, Paul tends to use it to refer, not to "actions" taken surreptitiously, but to "reasons for actions".
1) In Romans 2:29, he uses the word to indicate that what is "secret" is what is "true" -- a person is who/what he is in the inner realities of the hidden inner man.
2) In 1 Corinthians 4:5, he actually defines his meaning by saying it refers to the "counsels of the heart" (what we might call "the motives").
3) In 2 Corinthians 4:2, he refers to "craftiness" and "deceit" as "secret" (hidden) issues of "dishonesty" -- i.e., making the action taken look like it was for a good cause when it was actually for a nefarious one.
2. That is not to say that He is not going to also judge the actions of men, but that He is going to examine what things men have done in light of what they hoped to accomplish by the doing of them.
B. He then tells us that this judgment is going to be "according to his gospel".
1. What, in Paul's words, is "according to his Gospel"?
a. His gospel did include the warning that God will bring all of men's works under His scrutiny.
1) This is the point of 2:1-16's treatment of the eventualities of the "Day of Wrath".
2) This is a part of his Gospel in that he said in 1:1-5 that it was the Gospel that was the subject of this entire letter and, obviously, 2:1-16 is a part of the whole.
3) It was also, apparently, characteristic of Paul, in the preaching of the Gospel, to bring up "righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come" (Acts 24:25) -- unless someone wants to argue that Paul took an unusual tack when he had opportunity to address Felix.
4) It is also true that "Gospel" is weakened significantly when it has no contrasting reality (a fact that universalists seem to overlook without even looking back).
b. But, it is more likely that Paul is referring to the fact that what is "according to" his Gospel is that God is going to do this "judging" through Jesus Christ.
1) In John 5:22, and 27, Jesus said pointedly that the "Father judges no man" because He has committed "all judgment unto the Son" because the Son was willing to become a man -- thus, all men will be judged by the God Man.
2) It was also a point of fact that in Acts 17:31 Paul told the Athenians that God had appointed a day in which He would judge the world "by" the man whom He raised from the dead.
3) Thus, the "Gospel" is not so much about "salvation" from the "judgment of God" as it is about "salvation" from the judgment of the spurned Savior.
a) In Hebrews 2:18, the author makes point of the fact that Jesus is "better" able to help in that he "suffered" the problems of temptation in the same way we do. This means, any "judgment" that He makes, He makes upon the foundation of an experiential "knowing" that will leave men with absolutely nothing to say in contradiction.
b) In Hebrews 4:15, the author makes much the same point in that he claims that "because" Jesus was tempted as we are, He has a sensitivity toward us in our infirmities. This also works as a two-edged sword in that those who spurn His salvation will face Him in judgment "after" He had adequately demonstrated His willingness to save them.
2. "According to my Gospel" means that this is absolutely rock bottom, critical fact that must not be allowed to be dismissed by anyone who would inherit eternal life.