Romans 2: 1 – 5
1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judges; for wherein thou judges another, thou condemns thyself; for thou that judges do the same things.2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.3 And think thou this, O man, that judges them who do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?4 Or despise thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasure up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
We live in perilous times. Our period of history is fulfilling biblical prophecy by the hour. We have a world of tweeters, at a time when our world teeters on the precipice. We are happy with a form of religion. Each week we go through our performance. The pulpit now is filled with puppets, prosperity, and pantomimes. Prayer has been left for the privileged few. One of the greatest tragedies of our age is the church has given up on the gospel. Whatever methods it uses are nothing but cotton candy to draw crowds and keep crowds. The world therefore has no understanding of the true revelation of God who will ultimately judge all men.
“The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.” – A W Tozer
This is the subject of our text. So far we have learnt in our studies that;
- Paul was dealing with the position of the Jews, and was seeking to prove that the wrath of God was upon them just like everyone else.
- His main point was to show how man needs to get right with God.
- The only hope of salvation open to them was the righteousness provided by God in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christianity isn’t a religion at all.
Religion is man’s work towards God; Man’s ways and efforts to reach out to God. Man is always pleased to do something. Christianity, on the other hand, is God’s work for man and in man.
Jehovah Witnesses, Seven Day Adventists and Mohammedans can say all they like.
Lessons So Far
Because the Jews thought were better than others, they did not see the need of Christ – Why?
- They did not understand the nature and extent of sin
- They were blind to their own faults
- Their blindness led them to judging and looking down on others.
- They think they will escape judgment because they are on God’s side
- They were going around criticising everyone else yet they were no better
- They were seeking to justify themselves by comparing their good works and righteousness with everyone else
- This is what the human heart does comparing ourselves with those around us, and somehow we are the only ones coming up smelling of roses.
- They were thinking that they had some special position with God, or favouritism or special place in the economy of God,
- We saw God is no respecter of persons; in fact he has no favourites.
- God is God, and therefore He always judges according to truth.
- Another way of saying this is, He has no bias or in any way can he be swayed.
- His Justice is perfect, All is ways are just and fair and without reproach.
- Man was to no longer think in terms of being good enough to meet God’s requirements.
- Paul was proving to these Jews and indeed to all men, that seeking to be acceptable to God’s through our own goodness, our morality and human standards, was an impossibility, and to think in this way was a dismal failure.
- Paul was making it clear that God as God must judge sin, but man by nature overlooks, ignores, and harbours sin.
Man By Nature
Man by nature is at enmity with God, and finds fault with God before he finds fault in himself. That is the great error within man
Last time we dealt with Paul’s third argument if you remember, which is the idea that because God is so good and so kind, He will always be this way, and He will never really punish sin.
- Man in his blindness concludes that God’s gentle attributes and seemingly endless mercy means He will never judge.
People think that because God allows them to go on holidays, take cruises, stay at beach resorts and expensive Hotels, sunning themselves, relaxing, enjoying trips and adventures, and simply enjoying their lives; that somehow God is slack, and takes no thought or care for their sin. There is nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves, but so often they captivate our hearts to the neglect of God.
Yet rather this being an excuse for their sin, they should stop, just once and see that all this kindness and mercy is a call to stop ignoring God. It should have the opposite effect.
God is author of life, of all that we see around us, the splendour of a sunset, the sound of a bird, the roar of waves on the shore, snow capped mountains, the fruit of the field, all these things testify of God’s goodness, love and bounty to us.
Yet we simply ignore the source, and take it all for granted.
Even the famous philosopher Voltaire said;
“All nature cries aloud that there is a supreme intelligence”
In 2 Peter Chapter 3 – verse 9 — Peter declares here that God is not slack concerning his promise….
People think that God’s goodness, his forbearance and longsuffering is nothing but slackness on his part, which looks very imposing on paper but in reality has no substance or body to it.
This is slackness.
And so people consider God’s goodness as slackness, which pretends it has not seen our sin, or if it a has seen it, it says ‘Ah well its really not that serious.”
It sounds like our modern justice system. We all expect justice for the murderer or the vagrant criminal, and when it doesn’t happen we are incensed. There is a natural sense of justice in man.
We expect the full penalty of the law for others, but we certainly don’t want to have that same justice applied to ourselves.
We compare ourselves to some thug or criminal and we think we are marvellous, good upstanding citizens. Surely Hell is not a place for me??
This is a miscarriage of justice. If we expect everyone else to be accountable, if we believe every else is guilty of sin in some way another, and yet not us, then we are deceiving ourselves.
Yet isn’t this the prevailing thinking of our day. Slackness on the part of God.
And if we view God in this way then we are blatantly guilty of despising Him.
We conclude that somehow He says one thing but does another. It is impossible that God should really punish, because God is ‘love’ And so they imply a central contradiction in the character and being of God himself.
It is to say that though God has laid down his law and spoken through his prophets, yet He does not intend to do carry out any of his threatenings after all.
Now to regard God’s goodness, His forbearance and longsuffering, in a way that pits His justice and righteousness entirely out of court, and to feel that we can more or less do what we like, because God is so good and God is so kind; is to represent him in a way we would want to be represented ourselves
We no longer take God himself seriously.
The Wrathful God vs.The Modern View
On the other hand there are many who have rejected God. They say they have no respect for a god who they think is ready to pounce on them at any moment, they see Him as some grave God who has no place for fun and is ready to chide us if we do anything wrong.
Like some overbearing Victorian father who will discipline us over the slightest misdemeanour. They reject this kind of God.
And yet we have this other perception that God is somehow like the modern Father who is willing to forgive sin on a whim.
Like the modern parent who threatens to take away the ipad or video game, if the child will not follow instructions or eat their meal, and yet the child in the end has no respect for the parent because they warn, and then fail to follow through.
We see this loose type of discipline in our modern society today, whenever we visit a supermarket or venture into a shopping mall, do we not? Kid’s having all kinds of tantrums. The child that has learned over time to walk all over their parents.
In the same way men have such a view of God’s goodness ultimately have a poor view of God Himself. And that of course, is precisely what is happening at the present time.
Incredibly although one expects this kind of thinking from a man of the world, yet this is equally the God portrayed by the modern church!
Another God Another Gospel
Another way of putting this is;
Our view of the goodness, the forbearance and the longsuffering of God is guilty is it not of using what it regards is the truth about God is to serve its own ends.
People are primarily concerned with continuing on with a sinful kind of life.
We simply add Jesus to our life. The gospel now has become nothing more than an introduction to Jesus, as you would be introduced to the Prime Minister.
Our world goes around with the idea that God offers universal forgiveness, regardless of our lifestyles, as long as we don’t wander or stray too far from the path.
The root of our problem is we love our sin. So we construct a god for ourselves, who will allow us to do what we want.
We want the Lord Jesus to ride around with us in the backseat while we drive Him around with us, wherever we want to go. But he is supposed to be the driver and we are to be in the backseat.
‘Let favour be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness:
in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly,
and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.
Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see:’
We use God’s goodness as a licence, liberty, and an excuse for sin.
The world is what it is today with all its pain and misery that we see is a direct result of sin, its man’s selfish, because it has no fear or respect for God. So we end up with all sorts of diseases, droughts, which we put down to climate change, failing to read the signs of God’s wrath on sin in these catastrophes.
This is the manipulating the character of God to our own ends. Man is in the centre. What man wants to do, what man likes doing.
Man must be supreme, and God is modified to fit with what we choose to do.
In other words, Modern Theology, Liberalism, – what we call Humanism.
It starts with man and ends with man. Everything is accommodated to man. It does not start from God. It is not God centred.
And the appalling truth is man despises God and insults him to his face, even while it claims an allegiance to him.
And in our modern era this the God presented to us by pastors and clergy alike.
Goodness leads to repentance
And now we come to our main argument
First – Not knowing
‘Not knowing that the goodness of God leads thee to repentance’
Now the term does not mean not considering, although it does includes this
Neither does it mean simply ‘not acknowledging’. Again it includes that, but it is more than that, it means not understanding, not comprehending the true nature. There is in this term a wilful aspect, a turning away, a contemptuous disinterested, unconcern for it.
Not knowing that the goodness of God leads thee to repentance –not caring that the goodness of God is designed to lead to humble submission, a turn in repentance to the Almighty God.
Again I take you back to 2 Peter 3: 4-5. The apostle you remember is depicting there these people who continually say ‘where is the promise of his coming’
‘Things continue on just as they have done from the beginning.’ You cannot frighten us.
You know— you see men on the streets with signs and placards saying – ‘The End is Nigh’, but we are still kicking on.
Now this is the trouble with them says Peter for they are willing ignorant. They are not only ignorant they are willingly ignorant. The obvious conclusion is they should know.
And this, what we see here stated in Romans 2 – they are not knowing because they don’t want to know.
And how senseless is this when the country in which we live is a land where the gospel is still preached freely, and you can obtain a copy of the bible without a concern.
In China, many have no bible, they share a piece of the bible, a chapter, a verse, whatever they can get their hands on.
Paul is saying that this not knowing is ignorance which is a contemptuous willing deliberate spurning of anything of God.
The Apostle Paul as we saw last time in Acts 14 preached to the citizens of Lystra exhorting and demonstrating to them clearly that God will not consider their ignorance of him as an excuse.
“Not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
The word leads is an active word. It is the same word as we find in Romans 8 where is says that those that are the sons of God are led by the spirit of God. It does not mean forcing or driving. It’s not a compulsion on the part of God, but a constrain influence, an appealing to us.
God wants, yes desires that all would come to repentance, and uses all kinds of ways to move us, and to draw us.
God did not make us robots.
Part of his greatness and goodness to man was that he imparted to us a choice impulse, and ability to choose.
His leading is like that of horse, or a dog. Like the reins or the halter. It is a constraining influence.
And this reference is to unbelievers, those have yet to see their need for God.
The Apostle is showing they are without excuse because they are despising the goodness of God which was meant to bring them to a realisation of the need of repentance.
So where have we come to? It seems to me that there is only one conclusion, and that is that God’s goodness is meant and is designed to lead us to repentance and salvation.
So the Apostle is teaching that God manifests a positive favour to all.
Paul goes onto to teach that God manifests this goodness to all men, sinners and unbelievers included.
What are we to make of this? We must go to 2 Peter 3 – this time to verse 9
2 Peter 3:9
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
As we outlined last time God commands everyone everywhere to repent.
Previously he may have overlooked sin, but this is a universal statement. The gospel is to be preached to all creatures. The offer of salvation is to be made to everybody, not just some but all.
God has manifested His goodness, his forbearance, and longsuffering. He commands men everywhere to repent.
But what it leads to in the case of the unbeliever is that they despise it. This is what the natural man does with it. Moral persuasion will never save anybody.
But no man can repent or believe until he is acted upon by the Holy Spirit. He must be born again. The natural mind is enmity toward God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So when God commands a man to repent. He defies God and says he does not want to repent. When God showers His goodness upon him to lead him to repentance, he simply despises it, giving no thought to it. The last thing he does is to repent.
The reality is it is only the working of the Holy Spirit that makes a man see. This is where this concept of seeker sensitive churches that came in over 30 years ago is totally wrong.
So what is repentance? I know many of you know the meaning of repentance.
So all I want to say about it is it is a term that is always found at the beginning.
“The goodness of God leads you to …..” He does not say to salvation. It does not say it leads you to Christ — No!
The goodness of God is to lead you to repentance. This is the thing that is to be put in the forefront. And you know the whole gospel does the same. Who was the first preacher in the New Testament? It was John the Baptist.
What did he preach?
The Baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. That is the first note always in gospel preaching. The first thing of the preacher is to call men to repentance…
It was not only true of John the Baptist, but our Lord himself. We read in the account in Mark, we read that Jesus ‘went and preached everywhere that men should repent.’
Repentance…. you start with it. Obviously you do not see the need of a saviour unless you are brought to the realisation you are a sinner, and in wrong relationship to God.
Repentance is always first.
Chorazin and Capernaum
In both Matthew and Luke’s gospel, the Lord said, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”
He said, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.”
Note that Lord’s judgment is righteous judgment. According to the degree of light you have received, so you will be judged.
Paul preached in the same way.
In Acts 20:
We read I have taught you publically and from house to house …by the space of 3 years I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears (V 20, 31)
What did Paul preach? ‘Repentance that is toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.’ – Acts 20: 21
Again you notice the order – repentance first.
Now this question of order is very important. And I think you would agree that this is the missing element in our evangelism, and something we are tending to forget in our present time.
The idea has come in that the business of preaching is to bring people to Christ and then later on they will repent.
Now it is no accident that in the scriptures there is a set order, and it is a very dangerous for us purely for the sake of results, purely to reap numbers, that we vary or reverse the order, and it must be said that preaching repentance has always characterised a great period of revival and reawakening within the church.
Yet we have had well known preachers saying things like this;
The Death of true Evangelism
“I used to play God, but I can’t do that anymore. I used to believe that pagans in far-off countries were lost were going to hell – if they did not have the gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. I believe that there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God – through nature, for instance – and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying “yes” to God. – Billy Graham 1978
Notice: No reference to the Lord Jesus, no cross, no repentance, no gospel
Therefore it is of no surprise that we see very little contrition for sin these days, it is a very rare thing to see anyone weeping and in agony of soul, the consciousness of sin in the presence of a holy God.
If we do not preach repentance then we will not see such things. The need of repentance is central to all that is necessary to the life of the church in this dark day.
We Think Differently
The first thing when we repent is we think differently about God.
Our appreciation and reverence was lost in the garden when Adam believed the devils insinuation about God. God is against you. God isn’t fair saying you shouldn’t eat of the tree. This wrong view of God came into the world and repentance must reverse this. Job had to learn this, and eventually he came to understand his own woeful ignorance with regard to God, and he stopped his mouth.
Many see repentance as it has reference to actions only. They think repentance means when a man stops getting drunk, or stops being an adulterer, and begins to live a different life, that is repentance.
Although repentance is reflected in ones actions, this is the end of repentance, not the beginning. The beginning is a changed attitude to God. We must think of God in terms of biblical revelation rather than in terms of our own ideas, our own arguments. This is the first thing.
And obviously the next thing is we need to think differently about is ourselves.
As an outworking of a new view of God we take on a new view of ourselves. By nature we all think we are very good, and we are very nice people.
But the moment we begin to see ourselves in the full light of scripture, that we are all lies, that all have sinned, that none of us seek after God, none of us does the right thing, then we begin to say ‘Vile and full of sin I am, I am all unrighteousness’ That in me dwells no good thing’ For many this is a bitter pill to swallow, because we all are prone to self congratulation, and by extension we seek the praise of men!
But a repentant man changes his vocabulary. This is how is now speaks. He despises himself! And like the old puritans he is happy to say “he is a mass of corruption’.
And thus the reality hits home. It’s no longer I am good enough, but rather God being what he is, and us being what we are, that it is amazing God tolerates us, and has anything to do with us at all.
Nevertheless he has had mercy and compassion, and there is such a thing as grace.
That is repentance. And you see how important it is to define it like this?
Down through the centuries we read of other saints who have hated and despised themselves.
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch – like me!!”
Ask all the saints of God, and they will tell you that it was not the result of anything good in them, and although they trust that there is now something excellent implanted in them, yet previously they could see no one quality which was not perverted to the service of Satan.
The Christian will tell you that he weeps over his very tears; he feels that there is filth even in the best of desires; that he has to pray to God to forgive his prayers, for there is sin in the midst of his supplications, and that he has to sprinkle even his best offerings with the atoning blood, for he can never bring an offering without spot or blemish. You speak well of me, you applaud me, but if you knew my heart you would see abundant reason to think of me as a poor sinner saved by grace, who hath nothing to glory in, and must bow his head and confess his iniquities in the sight of God.” Grace, then is entirely unmerited.
And so we cannot claim to have repented unless to some degree that is the view we have of ourselves.
God’s goodness is to lead us to repentance. We should stop and think again.
Yet….how many people do you know that have clearly hardened their heart over the years, yet they live on well into their 70’s 80’s and 90’s. Why?? God gives them more time, more opportunity, more evidence of his goodness towards them, not wishing that any should perish!!
If we have truly repented it means we now have low opinion of ourselves and a great and high view of God.
For the Christian the place of his feet has become glorious. The matter of HIS will has become the new attraction for us. Not our self preservation. The Lord Jesus has become our all in all, our master and king. We are no longer our own, we have been bought with a price. The moment we see ourselves we no longer carry an ear of pride. We realise our hearts are this mass of corruption, and a festering sore. We are desperate lepers in the presence of royalty. We are like beggars on the road, calling out for some small morsel of bread, needing all the mercy we can get, if we but realise it.
Christian is this how you see yourself this morning, or are you quite content with your shallow conversion, comfortable in a corrupt sort of way, counting on conversion to be sufficient for this life and the next? The Lord says to you as he said the churches in Revelation, do your first works. It’s not enough to have some flimsy decision, and for you to have stopped there.
Yes…. sometimes we have to start over.
Without realising it we can become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, if we respond to these words this morning only in a mental ascent to the truth, then we are no different to the flagrant sinner indifferent to these things, our hearts having become like a potsherd, like an old piece of pottery in the baking sun.
How can God put new wine into an old brittle wine skin?
We must be born again AGAIN!
I no longer seek to justify my actions and attitudes. ‘I am sorry’ becomes my vocabulary.
“But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasures up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;”
The modern man says that man is really ok in his heart, but just that he goes wrong in this way or that from time to time. But the bible, says the heart is wrong, deceitfully wicked, and men are only right in patches on the surface.
In Mark’s gospel we read “That which comes out of the heart of a man that defiles the man” — [Mark 7:18 ]
Notice it’s a hard heart. In Hebrews we read in chapter 3:13
…lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin’
Sin in its deceitfulness hardens us, it hardens our hearts. That is a terrible process Every time we refuse to listen to God’s voice we are correspondingly harder, and it is going to be harder next time.
And the terrible thing to contemplate is that the love, the goodness, the compassion, as it were produces hardening. If you do not respond to it, it will harden you.
The Apostle Paul tells us as we are despising the goodness of God, we are storing up for yourselves wrath.
God has shown the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering. God has treasured up his goodness toward us, and we treasure up wrath for ourselves.
This is exactly what sinners are doing, storing up, as in a great storehouse, by their own failure and ineptitude they are storing up their own condemnation. God isn’t doing it – they are!
Treasuring up for yourself wrath!
Each time a man despises God’s goodness this person is storing up for himself this wrath of God against sin, and does not know it.
This is the awful thing that sinners are wilfully ignorant of what finally awaits them. It is this day of wrath, the day of revelation of the righteous judgment of God!
There is a day coming. But we only have to look at our world to realise that we are living in a time of great judgments, it is the only explanation, and with more to come. Our financial system is about to burst.
All that we see is evidence of God giving the world over to its sin and arrogance.
It’s all outlined in Romans chapter 1.
Pimps, Priests, Prostitutes and Pedophiles.
Paul had seen it all. It was all on display in the society of his day. But man has not changed. Therefore, God is giving our world over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not natural. He is allowing mankind to now reap the consequences of sin, and its own false attitude towards Him.
The Day of Wrath
But all this is but a build up, of what is to come.
There is this ‘treasuring up unto yourself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God.’ (verse 5)
There are a number of other references to this great day. It’s a day of wrath!
The Apostle talks of a day in 1 Cor 3:13 where a man has built whether wood hay, stubble, and others gold and precious metals. He goes on to say; ‘the day shall declare it’ Every man’s work will be judged.
We read in the Book of Revelation chapter 6 verse 17 ‘that the great day of his wrath has come’
In Revelation again Chapter 20 – verses 11 – 15
‘And I saw a great white throne and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened. (Here you see are books. Books are opened. Books that have been filled up, which sinners are marking down themselves without realizing it), and another book was opened which is the book of life, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in them; according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up their dead which were in them, and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire….and whosoever was NOT found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.’
That is the day. The day the books will be opened and all this wrath that men have been treasuring up for themselves will be produced as evidence against them. They will be punished. Nobody will have any complaint, everyone will see God’s righteous judgment, whether they like it or not.
ON A CERTAIN DAY GOD WILL JUDGE MEN. A judgment is going on daily. God is continually holding court, and considering the doings of the sons of men. As each man passes into another world, there is an immediate judgment passed upon him; but this is only the foreshadowing of that which will take place in the end of the world.
At the great day of God sinners must give an account for every warning they have ever had, for every time they have read the Bible, every time it was neglected; for every Sunday when the house of God was open and they failed to avail themselves of it, and for every time they attended a religious service, heard the word of God, and did nothing.
Remember, no one will be responsible for your damnation but yourself, at the last great day. God will not be responsible for it.
“As I live says the Lord I have no pleasure in the death of him that die, but had rather that he should turn unto me and live.”
But still many never think of God.
“But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;”
They go from year to year without any practical thought of God. Not only is he not in their words, but he is not in their thoughts. As the Psalmist puts it, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not at all in his thoughts.”
It the days of Jonah, Nineveh is described (Jonah 3:3; 4:11) as a great and populous city, a flourishing capital of the Assyrian empire (2 Kings 19:36; Isa. 37:37).
This “exceeding great city” lay on the eastern or left bank of the river Tigris, along which it stretched for some 30 miles, having an average breadth of 10 miles or more from the river back toward the eastern hills.
Nineveh enjoyed wealth that flowed into it from many sources, so that it became the greatest of all ancient cities.
Matt 12:38 – 41
Our Lord’s reference to the repentance of the Ninevites is particularly informative
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.
But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE WHALE, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The men of Nineveh shall stand up with this generation in the judgment, and shall condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:38-41).
The Ninevites immediately repented at the preaching of Jonah, even though there was far less evidence than that which the Israelites of Jesus’ day had witnessed.
And, compared with Jesus, Jonah was not nearly as important, or, I think, as persuasive or powerful in his preaching. If the Ninevites could repent with so little evidence, then surely the problem with the Jewish leaders, the scribes and Pharisees, was not a lack of evidence. The problem was not one of evidence at all.
Notice what these Ninevites did?
You can read about it in the book of Jonah Chapter 3: verses 5- 8
- – They believed God
- – The proclaimed a fast without food or water
- – Everyone from all walks of life from the small to the great
- – The king left his throne and he sat in sackcloth and ashes
- – Even farm animals were covered in sackcloth
- – They were to cry mightily unto God
- – Everyone was to turn from his evil way
- – And from violence
Here is an incredible example of people heeding God’s warnings, and acting in repentance
This city had hearts that were open to the word of God and the will of God, and were quick to recognize it and respond to it.
God gave Nineveh another 150 years
Why? We read in chapter 4:11 God instructing Jonah
‘Should I not spare Nineveh, that great city, where there are more than sixty thousand persons than cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and as well as much cattle?’
God wishes none to perish. If we truly turn to God in repentance as nations, cities, churches and individuals will not God forgive us, and bless us? This truth of God’s love, goodness, kindness, forbearance and longsuffering was evident well before the New Testament and the teachings of our Lord. God has never changed. What other faith can testify of such grace?
The Road to Joel
In Joel 2 we see the urgent call to a public national repentance, in solemn assembly, as a national act, for the glory of God and the excitement of one another, and the work of God in the nation.
- The congregation must be called together, v. 15, 16.
- The trumpet was blown (v. 1),
- Call them together; sanctify a fast.
- “Call a solemn assembly; gather thepeople ;
- sanctify the congregation; appoint a time for solemn preparation beforehand and put them in mind to prepare themselves.
6 – Let not the greatest be excused, but assemble the elders, the judges and magistrates. Let not the meanest be passed by, even the children must come
7 – Ministers must themselves be affected with those things
8 – We must pray.
9 – Judgment is coming therefore we cannot say, Lord, right us, but, Lord, spare us. We deserve the correction; we need it; but, Lord, mitigate it.
We won’t have revival if we aren’t prepared to turn our meetings upside down
We are happy the form. We don’t want a messy church. God has us judged with preaching that doesn’t affect the hearers anymore.
We need a new demonstration of the glory.
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” – 1 Peter 4:17
- Judgment must begin with the household of God
- While the world continues in its sin, God will judge his people.
Amos 3:1,2 (KJV)
Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying,
2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
It is because God has taken this interest in Israel, that he come to bring disciplined to any that walk away from him.
Hebrews 12: 5-10
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives.
7 If ye endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Psalm 94: 1-13 (KJV)
Notice he is referring to those among the people
Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD. His faith perceives that with the most afflicted believer all is well. Though he may not feel blessed while under the rod of chastisement, yet He is still blessed; he is precious in God’s sight, or the Lord would not take the trouble to correct him, and the results of his correction will bring reward.
God brings Affliction, He brings trials, He brings persecution. The afflicted believer is under tuition, he is in training for something higher and better, and all that he meets with is working out his highest good, therefore is he a blessed man, however much his outward circumstances may argue the reverse.
Psalm 89: 26 – 34
26 He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
27 Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.
28 My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.
29 His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.
30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments;
31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments;
32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.
33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
Many saints today are stricken with sickness, weakness and suffering; God is chastening them that they may present their bodies to Him a living sacrifice.
If God promise riches, the way to them is poverty. Whom he loves, he chastens: whom he exalts, he casts, down: whom he saves, he damns first. He brings no man to heaven, except he send him to hell first.
Chastisement is designed for our good, to promote our highest interests. Look beyond the rod to the All-wise hand that wields it!
He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile.
A believer may pass through much affliction, and yet secure very little blessing from it all. Abiding in Christ is the secret of securing all that the Father meant the chastisement to bring us.
God has no pleasure in afflicting us, but He will not keep back even the most painful chastisement if He can but thereby guide His beloved child to come home and abide in the beloved Son.
Hear what the scriptures in Hebrews says He scourges every son whom He receives. Not just the son but every son whom he receives.
Faith upholds a Christian under all trials, by assuring him that every painful dispensation is under the direction of his Lord; that chastisements are a token of His love; that the season, measure, and continuance of his sufferings, are appointed by Infinite Wisdom, and designed to work for his everlasting good; and that grace and strength shall be afforded him, according to his need.– Author: John Newton
1 Cor 11:27-32
27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
We Must Not Miss The Message
Ministers and theologians everywhere are saying, “God has nothing to do with disasters. He wouldn’t allow awful things to happen.” God want judge us because of the cross. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. This kind of thinking is causing our nation to rapidly miss the message God wants to speak to us through tragedy.
The prophet Isaiah speaks directly to our day .
At the time that Isaiah prophesied, God had been dealing patiently with Israel for about 250 years. The Lord had sent “light afflictions” upon His people, calling them to repentance. He was trying to woo them out of their brazen idolatry and back into His blessing and favour.
All the prophets throughout the years had spoken to Israel the same essential word: “Humble yourselves.” Scripture says, “They served idols . . . yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes” (2 Kings 17:12-13).
But God’s chosen nation rejected His call to repentance. “They would not hear, but hardened their necks” (17:14).
When a Nation Is Under Divine Correction, It Will React in One of Two Ways.
A nation under chastisement may humble itself and repent, as Nineveh did. Or, it may give lip service to God, but then turn inward to its own strength to rise above the correction.
God weeps especially over those calamities that befall innocents. Yet, at times, God’s justice and righteousness cause him to restrain his pity.
And he’s forced to carry out his righteous judgments as a last resort.
The greatest example of this is the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus. Justice demanded that the sins of the whole world be laid on an innocent man, and that this man would be condemned to die for all. Tell me, who could be more innocent than God’s own Son? Yet Christ willingly gave himself as a sacrifice, to offer deliverance and salvation to all of humankind.
Only A Remnant
It will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy– everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem.4When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning,
21A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. 22For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, Only a remnant within them will return; A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness.23For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord GOD of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land.…
Isaiah 1 -31 King James Version (KJV)
1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
Isaiah 1:5. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
It was of no use chastising these people. They only sinned the worse for all the afflictions that were sent, They had been smitten, they had been afflicted, till the whole nation through and through had been brought low. Their head and heart had been made faint. And, oh! there are some that have passed through many trials were still none the better.
24 Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:
25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
26 And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.
27 Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.
28 And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.
Notice the two groups
God will avenge himself against his enemies
He will destroy sinners
And all that forsake the Lord shall be consumed
But Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.
While he brings judgment on the earth he will rescue his people through judgment and from judgment.
How do I know whether I am part of Zion?
Do you have a greater love and appreciation of God than did a year ago?
Do you have a deeper view of sin
Hatred of sin
Greater knowledge of God’s holiness and our vileness
More freedom in prayer both private and cooperate
Freedom of the Holy Spirit
Power in our lives
Less fear of men
The authority of the word of God
The same God who had compassion on the Ninevites waits to have compassion on you.
This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.”
“The cry goes up how shall ye escape if ye neglect so great salvation?”
But I must have God; I cannot do without him. He is to me as necessary as food to my body, and air to my lungs.
I appeal to some here, whether that is not true of you? You go from the beginning of the week to the end of it without reflecting upon God at all. You could do as well without God as with him. Is not that the case? Is there not something greatly distressing about the condition of your heart?
As we close, may everyone know that;
The Lord is not willing that any should perish
We read these words in 2 Peter 3: verse 1
1This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
10 But [even though this is true know this that ] the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
And continuing onto Verse 17
17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things beforehand, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen
May this be your hope today, knowing that grace of God has been declared to all men; we are those who are forsaking this present world, with its lusts, we look for the worlds to come, at the appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ