Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Rom. 2:6 “Who will render to every man according to his deeds:”
Judgment Day will reveal the righteous judgment of God. He will treat all men fairly. The Jews wanted to be judged on the basis of privilege, as the seed of Abraham, but when God’s judgment comes, it will be absolutely impartial. It will be based solely on what men have done.
Rom. 2:7 “to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek
for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life:”
Some mistakenly read this to mean salvation will be determined by works. The purpose of judgment is not to determine everlasting destinies, but to verify the verdict “Guilty” for every human being. Everlasting destinies are determined in this life-time, and are based on whether one accepted or rejected Jesus Christ. Judgment Day will manifest the truth that everyone deserves punishment.
Salvation could never be dependent on good works, for whatever good we do accomplish is due solely to the power of God within us. God “hast wrought all our works in us”; “In truth all our works are thy doing” (Isaiah 26:12, KJV, NEB). Jesus said, “Without Me ye can do nothing” (JN 15:5).
God Himself works all our works for us. Why should He reward us for what He Himself does within us? “It is an absurd inference, to deduce merit from reward” (Calvin). The good a Christian does is not the cause of his going to Heaven, but rather the proof Christ lives within. This inward presence of Jesus is the reason a Christian goes to Heaven.
Romans 2:8-9 “But unto them that are contentious, and do
not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness,
indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish,
upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the
Jew first, and also of the Gentile:”
“Contentious” means wrangling, to engage in strife. Every lost man is arguing against God. Instead of believing and obeying God, lost men rise up in opposition to His truth. They contend against it, and quarrel with God. The wrath of God is fiercest against those who oppose His word, for to reject His word is tantamount to calling Him a liar.
Notice Paul does not give a list of vices here. The ultimate sin is the rejection of truth. To be unpersuaded by God is hideous. Many moral and ethical men can find themselves in the midst of this passage.
There is nothing you can ever do to satisfy God if you do not receive His Word. And His ultimate Word is His own Son. To reject Jesus will result in fourfold fury (according to the order in the Greek text): wrath, indignation, tribulation, anguish.
“Wrath” describes God’s anger held somewhat in subjection. It is His sense of displeasure toward sin. “Indignation” describes God’s anger bursting forth. It is based on a verb meaning “to rush.” Wrath is God’s displeasure at rest; indignation is God’s displeasure rushing forth, the outbreak of His anger boiling over in fury.
“Tribulation” refers to outward affliction. It denotes indignation hitting its target. When it strikes, the false peace of an impenitent man is shattered. “Anguish” is inward torment, terrible distress, utter despair.
These are the four everlasting consequences of rejecting Jesus. They will recur in a never-ending cycle. The first two are the God-ward side of punishment; the last two the human side of suffering. The first two are cause; the second two, effect.
The proclaiming of future punishment by the Bible should not be viewed as a threat, but rather as a merciful declaration. If there is danger ahead, it is an eminent mercy to warn those approaching it.
Romans 2:10 “But glory, honor, and peace, to every man
that worketh good, to the Jew first, and
also to the Gentile:”
A threefold blessing awaits believers. “Glory” is existence without defilement, pain, or weakness. “Honor” is the approval of God in the presence of witnesses. Oh, how sweet to hear His “well done!” “Peace” is now in the believer’s heart, but not in all aspects of his outward life. We face trials and troubles here, but an all-encompassing peace awaits us.
What a contrast: wrath, indignation, tribulation, and anguish as opposed to glory, honor, and peace. Men prefer to hear only of the latter choices of the above, but the former are actually the only ones which make sense. There is absolutely nothing logical about Heaven. Hell makes sense; it is what we all deserve.
Suppose a Senator introduced a bill in Congress to abolish prisons and give all prisoners a life pension and an estate in Hawaii. People would think such a man had gone mad. Yet Heaven is just as illogical. Nevertheless, it is a reality, and available to all who place their trust in Christ.
There is not nearly as much sin in you as there is goodness in God. There is a vastness and wideness to God’s love and mercy. If every human being at the same instant asked forgiveness for every sin ever committed, it would be done, and the drain on the reserves of God’s mercy would not be noticeable.
Do you doubt a spark could be quenched by an ocean? Then do not doubt your sin can be covered by the blood of Jesus. Only insanity could cause a drowning man to despise the life-preserver thrown to him. What folly for a man in a burning house to scorn the fire escape. How sad for a man to settle with wrath, indignation, tribulation, and anguish when he could instead have glory, honor, and peace. Flee to Jesus.