The Seventeenth Sunday of Pentecost – September 17, 2023
Holy Trinity Church – Tom Mount
Reading: Romans 2:5-11
Judgment is a certainty and you must prepare for it now
5 ”But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”
– Romans 2:5-6
- “God will repay each person according to their works” occurs throughout scripture (Job 34:11; Ps 62:12; Prov 24:12; Isa 3:10-11; Jer 17:10; 32:19; Ezk 18:30; Mt 16:27; et al.).
- We sometimes think we Christians get a pass: because we are forgiven, we get to skip the judgment. Not so. Scripture is clear: all of us will stand before God and give an account of our motives, words and actions (Romans 14:10-13; 2 Cor 5:10).
- Judgment in the New Testament. When you die, an immediate assessment is made: Did you die while living in a trusting relationship with Jesus Christ? (John 5:24; 1 Jn 5:11-12)
- If you didn’t, your spirit will go to the intermediate place of the unrighteous dead: sheol or hades (Luke 16:22-23). There you will await the final judgment where “the books will be opened” and you will be judged for everything you have done (Rev 20:12). Because you have refused God’s forgiveness offered in Christ, your sins will condemn you, and you will be assigned a place in the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:15).
- If you did die trusting Jesus, your spirit will go straight to the intermediate heaven (Phil 1:23-24). There you will enjoy the presence of the Father and Son in the Spirit as a temporarily disembodied spirit (2 Cor 5:8; Heb 12:23). Then, when Christ returns to earth, your spirit will accompany him and be reunited with your resurrected body, in which you will live forever on a restored earth (1 Thess 4:14-17). You will appear before his judgment seat, and you will receive divine authority and eternal rewards proportionate to your faithfulness in this life (Lk 19:11-27).
- Judgment in popular culture. One problem with our culture is that we have lost any sense that we are accountable to a higher Being and will be judged for the things we do in this life. As a result, the statement is true: “there is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18): politicians, business executives, journalists can sin with impunity.
- Judgment in the church. We have lost the fear of God in the church. We preach a soft Gospel and eschew any talk about judgment and rewards. Judgment is real. We must be ready for it!
Perdition is infinitely more awful than you imagine
8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile…11 For God does not show favoritism.
– Romans 2:8,9, 11
- See 2 Thess 1:5-10. The same things are taught by Jesus (Matt 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13: 24:51; 25:30), Peter (2 Ptr 2:1-13), Jude (Jude 4-7) and John (Rev 14:10-11).
- In your imagination: what might it be like to exist eternally in a state in which you are separated from all light, warmth, joy, peace, pleasure, enjoyment and love?
Salvation is far more than mere forgiveness of debts and heaven
7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life… There will be… 10 glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
- Four things in text: eternal life – “eternal kind of life”: (Willard), life in all its abundance: John 10:10; glory – splendor, dazzling brightness; honor – a “crown”, riches, inheritance; peace – shalom, the experience of true rest with no anxiety. But it is more: thriving, flourishing, a fulfillment of your deepest longings.
- How? Through the combined work of the Father (election), the Son (justification) and the Holy Spirit (regeneration, sanctification, glorification). Salvation is infinitely more glorious that we imagine! Our part is to persevere in faith, love and obedience.
Judgment is coming. Don’t live for today: live for eternity. Think often of death and prepare for it. That doesn’t make you macabre. It makes you wise.