Romans 2: 6-11

Romans 2:6-11 (ESV)

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking[a] and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.

 

Actions have consequences.  That is not a lesson that I enjoyed learning and honestly not one fully learned yet.  My understanding is honored more in the breach.  Is God just?  Do you want him to be?  Injustice is one of the heartfelt arguments against God.  If God were real and worthy of worship would we want him to be just?

Most say yes.  Do the patient who do well deserve life?  Most say yes.  Is it wrong for them to seek glory, honor, and immortality if such things exist?  Some say no.

What about me?  I am selfish and seldom obey truth but prefer unrighteousness.  Do I want justice?  Not really.  Do I want God to be just if God exists?  Yes.  Conflict then.  Cognitive dissonance?  Or resonant conflict between what I want and what it requires?

Is it just for disobedient self-seekers like me to receive wrath and fury?  Yes it is just.  Is it just for me to receive trouble and distress for the evil I do?  Yes it is just.  Do I want God to be just?  I do.  I agree with the skeptics that a God of injustice clashes with the moral sense that I claim he put within me.  Yes – – I want God to be just.  Can I afford that justice?  No.  Not I can’t.

Why would justice be first for the Jews and then for the Greek (non-Jews) – – another major theme in Romans that will unfold with further study.  I’ll start with a simple assertion and elaborate in future chapters.  God chose to reveal himself through the Jews and to bless the world through the Jew Jesus Christ.  The Jews are still first in justice.  Can they afford justice? No more than I.

Pascal

–1:16

9 comments

  1. I do want God to be just, if he exists. I do understand that actions have consequences, and I, like you, would rather avoid them. What I do not understand is why the consequence of sin is eternal torment. Maybe you’ll reply to this with your own idea of what hell is, but a natural reading of scripture makes it seem to me like no sin–not even murder–could be equal to its horrors. The most horrible thing about it is that it won’t end, even though our sins are limited by time.

    I can’t help but conclude that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime–no matter what the crime is. Is that justice?

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    1. As usual you get to the heart of the matter. Tim Keller is an author that has nourished me. I hoped that he would have an answer to your question and mine. What about hell? C.S. Lewis wrote an amazing book that I’ve started three times and never finished (Mere Christianity) and one that I couldn’t put down no matter what (Abolition of Man). I hoped that he would have an answer to your question and mine. What about hell? Os Guinness wrote the book other than the bible that I’ve read the most. What about hell?

      Why even be made if hell is a possibility? I can only say that my conclusion is different than yours in one way. I’ve not made one. I just don’t know. I do know that the God who made me has a creativity, depth, and knowledge beyond my comprehension. There may very well be an intermediary event or series of events before the eternal. The Bible says that every knee will bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I know that doesn’t happen on earth to even a majority of humans.

      Why do I think that you and I struggle with this issue? Because of the sense of mercy that balances our sense of justice. Is that mercy from the imago dei? Yes. What about helI? I don’t know CC. I’ve held the conclusion with humility as an anomaly. Ultimately – – I trust him with your soul, my soul and billions more. Then how shall I live?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As usual your words move me more than I want to allow. Your reply reminds me of another Os Guinness book I’ve read—God in the Dark. The conclusion? “Reserve judgment.” I think that’s what you’re doing by not coming to a conclusion on hell. It’s the only answer I will accept—the only other consistent one for a person who reads and believes scripture. Reserve judgment. I wish I could—it’s not easy to do.

        Thank you for your humility, Pascal.

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      2. One thing I disagree with, though—it’s not mercy that makes me feel uneasy when I think about hell. Mercy implies that hell is deserved (but withheld), and my whole argument rests on my belief that no sin could warrant an eternity of despair.

        I do have a sense of mercy, though—you are right about that. I don’t think that anyone deserves hell, but we all deserve consequences. I of course desire mercy for myself—but also for others, in an altruistic way. I see facebook friends “liking” posts about some criminal’s sentence—and I wonder how anyone could “like” something so heartbreaking. Justice is served, perhaps—but my heart longs for something more. Why? How could I want mercy for a criminal when I was once a victim of similar crimes?

        I hope you’re right—I hope it’s because I’m made in the image of God. If my heart can break for the worst of criminals, maybe there is hope—maybe his heart can break for me. If he exists, and if he is good, no one needs that mercy more than I do.

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        1. Why is the concept of hell so distressing to you?

          Your distress about hell is evidence that you do not presume on the riches of his kindness. Your discomfort shows that more and more you won’t presume on his forbearance and patience. You know that God’s kindness has a raison d’etre – – to lead humanity to repentance. His wrath in Romans 2 is directed against those of us who judge others – – who like the punishment of another.

          Is mercy the right word? Maybe grace is better. I think those words are braided closely into a cord around love. My view now is that God has made some things about himself known through nature, through scripture, through the good news about Jesus Christ. And some through insights concerning each other.

          He has stamped his character into your nature. You bear his image. You are a ruin true – – but a beautiful one with echoes of a glorious past and a hopeful future. I take your concern, my concern the concern of all people that love as evidence. Does his heart break for you? Yes. Your compassion moves me to that conclusion more than any explanation of kin selection and reciprocal altruism.

          His heart breaks for you as it breaks for me. And here’s the thing – – I don’t know how, but I do believe that his heart breaks for all of humanity – – even for, especially for, those that hate him. I do believe that he will restore all unto himself through Jesus Christ – – in this life or the life to come.

          Don’t give up. His belief in you does not require your belief in him.

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          1. Your opening question is fair, although not one I’ve ever been asked in the setting of my Baptist upbringing—I’ll elaborate later.

            The question is fair and my full answer is long. I don’t know if I’ll reply here or in a dedicated post—but I will reply.

            Thank you for so thoughtfully discussing this specific issue with me, Pascal. I can sense your compassion and that the struggle is shared. If I can ever get past the question of the existence of God, everything will hinge on this—if he exists, hell is the greatest barrier to my worship.

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