Calvary Road Baptist Church

“GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS”

 

If there is an economic system that seems to be more favored in the Bible than others, it would seem to me to be some form of capitalism as opposed to socialism. I say this because of three considerations reflecting conditions in the centuries leading up to and including the dawn of Christianity. First, socialism has to do with the government controlling the means of production and distribution, and it is doubtful that governments had developed to the point of being capable of more than heavy-handed taxation up to and including the Roman Empire.[1] Capitalism, on the other hand, as I understand it as someone who is not a trained economist, is basically what people do when they are left alone. Second, socialism has come to include the notion that the care and welfare of the individual will be the responsibility of the government from the cradle to the grave, a notion that simply did not exist throughout most of human history. You cannot read the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament and come away with the idea that God had any intention for rulers providing anything for the civilian populations they governed beyond protection from enemy attacks and maintenance of peace and order within their borders. Third, socialism has come to include in people’s thinking something quite contrary to the equality in the eyes of the law that was envisioned by our country’s founding fathers. Whereas our Declaration of Independence reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” the modern socialist’s concept of the way things ought to be has rather to do with equality of results, equality of outcome, and not equality of standing in the eyes of the law.

To explain things in terms of a race, our nation’s founders envisioned a country in which everyone was given a set of starting blocks and a place at the starting line, with the starter’s pistol signifying your start in life being in every respect equal to everyone else’s start in life in the eyes of the law. This did not mean that your start was in every respect equal to everyone else’s start, but that in the eyes of the law there was the ideal of equality. Of course, we know that this sounds good in the abstract, while we have spent more than two centuries working to apply the principles of the abstract to the life experiences of people of color in our nation. However, I am trying to make a point here, so work with me.

Insofar as family advantages, advantages of birth and position, advantages of intelligence and talent, and those sorts of things, those were matters the founding fathers believed were best left to God. Nowadays, however, the notion is spread abroad that equality has to do with not only everyone being treated the same as everyone else, but everyone seeming to have a right to the same outcome or enjoying the same results as everyone else. This would be like staggering the starting line of a race and handicapping the runners with weights so that, as much as possible, it was predetermined that each of the runners would cross the finish line at the same time, no matter how hard each of them trained, no matter how dedicated each runner was, and no matter how quickly each participant happened to run.

I bring all this up this evening because these social theories have so seeped into the worldviews through which people look at the culture around them that it has even affected how people read and understand the Bible. Does God treat different people the same? Should God treat different people the same?

Before we go any farther, I would like for us to look up and read those passages in God’s Word which are thought by many people to declare that God treats people equally.

 

Deuteronomy 10.17:   “For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.”

 

Second Chronicles 19.7:   “Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.”

 

Job 34.19:  How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of his hands.”

 

Acts 10.34:   “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.”

 

Romans 2.11:  “For there is no respect of persons with God.”

 

Galatians 2.6:  “But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me.”

 

Ephesians 6.9:    “And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.”

 

Colossians 3.25:    “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”

 

First Peter 1.17:  “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.”

 

As we consider these and other passages in scripture, what very straightforward and logical conclusions can we draw about God’s dealings with His creatures?

 

First, IT IS CLEAR THAT GOD’S WORD DOES NOT TEACH THAT GOD TREATS EVERY MAN THE SAME WAY HE TREATS EVERY OTHER MAN

 

There were two men born of the same father, one named Cain and the other named Abel. Before Cain murdered his brother, Abel, did God treat them the same? I read from Genesis 4.4-5: “And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” Did God treat them both the same? No, He did not.

When God called Abram from Ur of the Chaldees, did He treat other men the same way He treated Abram? Did He make undeserved promises to other men as he made Abram’s undeserved promise to him? No, He did not. When God spoke to the young boy named Samuel, who attended to Eli the high priest, did God call the names of Eli’s sons in the night the way He called Samuel’s name? No, He did not. Did God call out the names of any other little boys that night? No, He did not.

When God implemented His plan to send His eternal and only begotten Son to take the form of men and live among us in preparation for His death on Calvary’s cross, were there in Israel at that time many virgins among the Jews? Yes. Were there many virgins of the tribe of Judah? Yes. Of the house and lineage of David? Yes. However, He dispatched His angel to only one virgin, named Mary, to inform her that of all the young maidens only she was chosen to bear the Christ child.

How about our Lord Jesus Christ’s treatment of people? Did He treat different people the same? Did He call every man of the Jews to be His apostles, or only a few? Did He give sight to all those who were blind, or only a few? Did He cleanse all lepers, or only a few? Did He raise all the dead, or only a few? Did He cast out the demons of all possessed men, or only a few? Did He heal all the old women who had issues of blood, or only one?

Let us go theological for a moment. In Romans 9.21, the Apostle Paul writes, “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” Not for a moment arguing or disputing precisely what Paul means by that statement, is it not clear that he at least means that God has the sovereign right to treat men differently, meaning that He does not, just as Jesus did not, treat all men the same?

 

Next, IT IS CLEAR THAT GOD’S WORD DOES TEACH THAT GOD TREATS EVERY HUMAN BEING DIFFERENTLY, BOTH IN THIS LIFE AND IN THE LIFE TO COME

 

Are all born into complete households, with both moms and dads happily married and living together? No. Did we all have the same economic and educational advantages at birth or during our lives? No. Were we all born with the same mental faculties and capacities for learning? No. Were we all born with the same athletic potential? No. Were we all born with the genetic information to grow to the same height, or to enjoy the same health? No. Yet all these factors are providentially determined by God, are they not? As well, where were you born? Some are born in the United States of America, while others are born in Ethiopia. Was that not determined by God?

As well, consider what Jesus pointed out to us in Matthew 11.21-24:

 

21     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.

22     But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

23     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.

24     But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

 

Did God treat the people of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom the same way He treated the people of Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida? No, He did not. Those living in the former cities were not exposed to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, while those of the later cities were. As well, in the next life, those citizens of the former cities will find their eternal torment more tolerable than those inhabitants of the later cities. God, clearly, does treat people differently, in this life and in the next.

 

Third, IT IS CLEAR THAT GOD’S TREATMENT OF HUMAN BEINGS IS UNRELATED TO ANYTHING RESEMBLING MERIT OR WORTH, BUT IS A REFLECTION OF JUSTICE AND GRACE

 

In Genesis 18.25, Abraham, the man God singled out from among all men to establish His covenant with, said these words: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Thus, it is acknowledged by the friend of God that God’s treatment of human beings is just.

When we consider the Flood God determined to bring upon the whole earth to judge men for their sins, a just punishment for wickedness and rebellion toward God, we find in Genesis 6.8, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” We know from Abraham’s declaration about God that He does right in His dealings with men, and that He had determined to destroy all men by means of the Flood because “GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”[2] Thus, though God’s dealings with all men are just, He is gracious toward some men in such a way that He treats them differently, without that different treatment being in any way unjust.

The question we ask ourselves is whether or not the different ways in which God treats each person, since God does right and therefore He cannot be unjust toward anyone, is because some people deserve better treatment from God than other people deserve.

 

·         In Romans 3.9, the Apostle Paul writes, “. . . we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.”

·         In Romans 3.10, the Apostle Paul writes, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.”

·         In Romans 3.19, he goes on to write, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”

·         Consider, as well, James 2.10, which declares, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

 

Thus, it is established in God’s Word that everyone is under sin, that no one is righteous, that the whole world is guilty, and that by committing even one sin a sinner is guilty of violating the whole of God’s law. My friends, that means no one deserves any kind of good treatment from God, and whatever blessings in whatever amounts any of us receive from God are wholly undeserved and the result of God’s grace, His unmerited favor.

Quit belly aching and be thankful for the blessings you have received from God. Were you born in Ethiopia? Then you should be very happy. Were you born with spina bifida? Praise God for it. “But pastor, I am very unhappy that I am not getting what I want.” Hello? It is not about what you want, but about what God wants. That He has not given you what you deserve, but has been gracious toward you should leave you deliriously happy.

 

Finally, IT IS CLEAR THAT GOD’S DEALINGS WITH EACH MAN IS A MATTER BETWEEN THAT MAN AND GOD AND IS NO ONE ELSE’S BUSINESS TO EVALUATE OR JUDGE

 

Second Corinthians 10.12: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” There were people in the Apostle Paul’s day who spent more time looking horizontally than vertically. They spent more time with their eyes on other people’s situations than looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. The result was that they were always unhappy as a result of the comparisons they made. May I ask you a question? Is it any of your business how God treats other people? Is it anyone else’s business how God treats you? Understand, it is my business if I am your pastor. As well, it is your business to the degree that you are your brother’s keeper. However, for the purpose of gauging your evaluation of God’s dealings with you and your contentment, your business is with your God and no one else.

Turn to First Corinthians chapter twelve:

 

1      Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

2      Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

3      Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

4      Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5      And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6      And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7      But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

 

If you are a Christian, quite apart from any consider of whether you were born a man or a woman, a freeman or a slave, in Christ you have been given different spiritual gifts, assigned different administrations, and you experience diversities of operations. Is it God’s wish that you crab about having this gift and not having that gift, being involved in this administration instead of that one, and experiencing a certain operation instead of another? Or is it God’s desire that you rejoice because the manifestation of the Spirit has been given to you just like every other Christian to profit withal?

How many of you here today are starving to death? How many of you are going naked because you have no clothing? Great! Now turn to First Timothy 6.6-8:

 

6      But godliness with contentment is great gain.

7      For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

8      And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

 

You brought nothing into this world. You will carry nothing out of this world. You have food and raiment, which is clothing. Therefore, you are commanded by God to be content. If you are godly and content, you are way ahead of the game. Why would Paul make mention of this to young Timothy? I suspect he might have been glancing from side to side and taking note of how much of this person and that other guy might have had, what kinds of situations others might have found themselves in, and he was being tempted to become disgruntled with God’s dealings with him.

 

My friend, get this if you get nothing else. God does not treat two people the same way. That is not a bad thing, but a very good thing, because it means God deals with each of us in a very personal and particular way in accordance with His goodness, His graciousness, His righteousness, and His love.

Where disgruntlement and discontent enters in is when unwise people take a sidewise glance at another person’s situation and compare it to their own, making a false and uninformed judgment that reflects badly on God’s wisdom and goodness. You have no idea what God is doing in that other person’s life, and barely more understanding of what God might be doing in your own life. So, how dare you assume you are competent to judge God this way or that about the way you think He is treating you?

God is not a socialist. Neither is He fair. He does not treat two people the same way. He is individual and particular in His dealings with each of us, and His dealings always reflect His nature, which is righteous, just, good, kind, loving, wise, and merciful. Every time you are disgruntled or in any way unhappy with your situation you are shouting out to the great cloud of witnesses in the spiritual realm always watching over you that you think God’s treatment of you is unkind, ill-deserved, and inappropriate. Do you really mean that, or are you just being thoughtless?

After God sending His Son to suffer for your sins, to die in your place, to be your Advocate, and making available to you the Holy Spirit to serve as your Indweller, Comforter, and Intercessor, you think you are getting a raw deal? What is it with you, complaining about God working to conform you to the very image of His Son Jesus Christ? You don’t want that, Christian?

And you who are unsaved, what do you want from God? Do you really want Him to leave you alone? Do you understand the implications of God leaving you alone, allowing you to live and die and go to Hell without interruption. Every single man, woman, and child should shout for joy that God does not treat him like He treats anyone else, because your unique treatment at the hand of God is evidence of God’s personal interest in you, His particular attention to your important life, and His devotion to your precious and eternal soul.

Therefore, when the Bible indicates that God is no respecter of persons, or some such similar statement as that, it does not mean God treats everyone the same. It means that the differences in treatment that each of us receives from God is not the result of anything in us making any of us better than any of the rest of us, but is the result of a decision arising in the mind of God toward us.

God is both good and wise, and the variations in His dealings with us are the results of that goodness and wisdom, so your response to God’s dealings with you, whatever they may be, should include happiness and gratitude. If that has not been your response, then perhaps you need to express to Him your heartfelt sorrow. As well, if you have poor-mouthed to anyone else, you owe to them a heartfelt apology for dishonoring God with such poor me attitudes and speech.



[1] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 1811.

[2] Genesis 6.5



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org