For All Have Sinned (e)
The Righteous Judgement of God
In this chapter which focuses upon the spiritual needs of the Jewish people Paul supplies teaching regarding the “the righteous judgement of God” (v5). His immediate intention was to show the Jews that although they judged others and regarded themselves as a spiritually superior race, they themselves were facing God’s condemnation, in common with the Gentiles. Despite this his remarks regarding God’s judgement were clearly applicable to all, whether Jew or Gentile. In some respects this passage is a development ch. 1 v. 18 where he introduces the whole idea of the revealed wrath of God. As evangelical Christians the truth regarding the final judgement is basic to our understanding of man’s need of redemption. Through the clarity of Paul’s inspired theology we shall consider four aspects of the righteous judgement of God.
1: Criminality v5
The criminality which offends God and in which his judgement is interested, is described as hard and impenitent hearts. These are stubborn and unrepentant hearts who have rejected God’s mercy. Such hearts treasure or store up wrath for themselves the longer they continue and persist in their impenitent state. As the believer stores up treasure in heaven so the unbeliever is storing up an account of judgement which will be opened when Christ returns to establish his Great White Throne. By implication we are taught that every sinner will suffer his own personal degree of judgement according to the treasure that he has stored. This is unspeakably solemn as we consider the gospel opportunity enjoyed by many under our ministry.
2: Equality v6-11
God is the impartial judge.
- The true Christian patiently continues in a a path of righteousness. In gardening terminology he is more more of a Perennial than an Annual. Such a person is motivated by heavenly concerns – glory, honour (God’s approval), immortality and eternal life. Whether that person is Jew or Gentile the reward will be the same, “…glory, honour and peace” (v10).
- The unbeliever on the other hand lives a life devoted to contention (selfishness), rejection of the truth, unrighteousness, indignation and wrath. These terms denote opposition to and continual resistance to the Gospel. Whether this individual is Jew or Gentile there will be tribulation and anguish poured out upon their souls in the day of wrath.
3: Legality v12-15
Every court is established upon a system of procedures, of laws and precedents which governs it’s determinations and grants it authority. The righteous judgement of God is established upon His holy and inflexible law. No-one stands before God in the last day without justifiable excuse. Even those who have never received the written law of God, those who have no Bible and who have never heard the Gospel cannot claim ignorance. These people are gifted with a conscience which is the law of God written in their hearts. This explains the moral standards and legal frameworks which exist in many societies which reflect the law of God. These moral codes are not perfect as they have been distorted by total depravity. Nevertheless their existence points us us to the law by which the world will be judged. This gives the lie to Universalism (all men will be saved ) and the notion that those who never hear the Gospel will in some sense be excused.
4: Discovery v16
Paul concludes this exposition on the great judgement by revealing that Christ is the one by whom he executes his wrath. In that day there will be no secrets, nothing will be hid from his eyes. The phrase “according to my gospel” indicates that the revelation of God’s judgement receives its fullest and most complete treatment through the Gospel. John Murray in his commentary on Romans summed this up, “ And when Paul says ‘my gospel’ he is reminding his readers that the gospel committed to him, unto which he was separated, and with which he was identified, though it was truly the gospel of grace, was also one that incorporated the proclamation of judgement for all, just and unjust. Grace does not dispense with judgement. Only in the gospel does this proclamation come to full expression.” Therefore earnest warnings concerning God’s wrath must be an integral aspect of gospel presentation.