Calvary Road Baptist Church

“NO RESPECT OF PERSONS”

Romans 2.6-11

 

Let us begin this evening by understanding that God is not a socialist. Socialism is a political philosophy and economic theory that has been embraced by many modern evangelical Christians and by every member of the Democrat party.[1] The essence of socialism is government oversight and control of all aspects of the manufacturing and control of goods and services to promise the unrealized guarantee of a high degree of equality of the level of nutrition and the standard of living for every citizen. Socialists are extremely interested in equality of outcome for every citizen, so that in the race of life, though everyone starts at different times and places, and trains in different ways and levels of dedication, and runs at different speeds over the course, we are all arranged to cross the finish line at the same time. At least that is the stated goal of socialism. Socialists are those people who look to Uncle Sam to solve their problems, rather than addressing their problems themselves or looking to their families or Church congregations for help.

I will not take the time to address the politics or the economics of socialism at this time. However, I would like to address socialism’s assumption about God, at least the assumption about God that is made by those very few socialists who still claim to believe in God and who insist that their political and economic philosophy is informed by the Bible. The assumption is made by socialists that God and the Bible treat every human being equally. Of course, this is utter nonsense, as a simple review of the observable facts will establish. God treats no two individuals equally. Even identical twins are not treated equally by God, with one twin born slightly before the other twin, and with one twin being ever so slightly more dominant with respect to physical, mental, and personality characteristics than the other twin. It is inescapably obvious that observations reveal that no two human beings are treated identically by God.

Retreating from that untenable position when you offer some reasonable push back to their nonsense, socialists will then point out that the Bible makes reference to God being no respecter of persons, and that must mean that God treats everyone equally. No, it does not mean that at all. It is important that we understand this about God and His dealings with His creatures before we turn to our text for this message, so please bear with me as I read and then briefly comment on a number of verses:

Ephesians 4.7: “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”

Here the Apostle Paul pointedly declares that God has not given to each of His children the same measure of God’s grace. Think about it. Do you claim to have the same measure of God’s grace as the Apostle Paul had? As the Apostle Peter had? As the Apostle John had? As George Whitefield had?

Matthew 25.15: “And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.”

Here we see in a parable our Lord taught that different men are endowed with different abilities. This verse shows that God judges men differently and that outcomes are not the same for people.

1 Corinthians 3.8: “ Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”

Again, outcomes from Christian ministry are not the same.

1 Corinthians 7.7: “ For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.”

God does not gift different Christians identically, but differently. This verse has to do with marital status.

1 Corinthians 12.11: “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”

This verse has to do with the variation in spiritual gifts given from person to person.

Galatians 6.5:  “For every man shall bear his own burden.”

Though Galatians 6.2 urges believers to bear one another’s burdens, this verse shows that the ultimate responsibility is for each person to bear his own burden, which flatly contradicts socialism.

1 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.”

This verse, speaking directly to God being without respect of persons, still shows that God judges each person differently. Thus, equal outcomes cannot be the meaning of being without respect of persons.

Revelation 20.13: “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.”

Since each person’s works are different each person’s judgment will be different. Thus, there will not be equal outcome.

Revelation 22.12:  “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”

Not only does God treat each human differently when natural abilities, talents, skills, and opportunities are considered, but Scripture is very clear in showing that God does not treat His children identically, with different spiritual gifts given, with different measures of grace given, and with different judgments of their lives of service promised.

Folks, socialism is little more than the attempt by secular humanists to create a heaven on this sin-sick earth, choosing to try to do for themselves what they refuse to trust Jesus Christ for, which is the forgiveness of their sins and the promise of a future paradise in heaven. Have I established to your satisfaction that God being no respecter of persons, whatever it must mean, does not mean that God treats everyone the same? If it does not mean God treats everyone the same what does it mean? It means that God, as Judge, judges only on the merits of the case before Him, showing no favoritism of any kind.

Imagine two men in a race, one athlete being disciplined and hard working in his training while the other one was a sluggard who refused to properly prepare for the race. To provide for equal outcomes in such a race the more committed athlete would have to be discriminated against, which would be patently unjust. Therefore, God will not guarantee equal outcomes in such a race because God is right and just. That understood, let us now turn to our text for this message from God’s Word, Romans 2.6-11:

6  Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

7  To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

8  But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

9  Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

 The subject for today is judgment. Specifically, it’s the judgment of God that we will study. One of the clearest truths presented in the Bible is the judgment of God. That some people erroneously insist that God is not a God of judgment or that God is too loving and merciful to exercise judgment is proof that those same people have not read the Bible, or at least not believed what they have read. No one who has a relationship with God is not also aware that God is a God of judgment. And none of the people that God has had dealings with in the past have had any doubts that God is a God of judgment. The people Paul was writing to had no doubts that God is a God of judgment. That being the case, why is Paul writing about the judgment of God if the judgment of God is a moot point with his readers? Paul is writing to the Romans about the judgment of God, not to establish the fact that God is a God of judgment, but to clearly explain the basis of God’s judgment. Even among those who do not question the fact of God’s judgment there has oftentimes been confusion as to the basis of God’s judgment. For example: Some people are of the opinion that they will withstand God’s judgment because they regularly attend Church. Others are of the opinion that they will withstand God’s judgment because they are Catholics. Still others because they are Pentecostals or Baptists. And still others think they will stand in good stead because they are morally upright, have never done anyone any harm, or because they have kept the Ten Commandments.

At this time we will put to rest all of that controversy and diversity of opinion by examining Paul’s inspired explanation of God’s principle of judgment. We will see this principle declared, described, and then defended:

 

IN ROMANS 2.6 GOD’S PRINCIPLE OF JUDGMENT IS DECLARED

 

“Who will render to every man according to his deeds.”

Do you see that principle, lost person? Paul here declares that God will judge you according to your deeds. And do you see that, as well, Christian? You, too, shall be judged by God according to your works. Every single thing you and I have ever done is subject to the scrutiny of Almighty God.

Recognize, as well, that Paul is not saying anything new, here. It is well established in the Old Testament that God’s judgment will be on the basis of a man’s works. Wwo verses to show the truth of this:

Psalm 62.12: “Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.”

Proverbs 24.12:  “If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?”

Don’t you dare think that there must be some mistake here, or that Paul is not reflecting what the rest of the Bible says on this subject.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

 The universal spiritual principle of the law of sowing and reaping is the principle that lies back of God’s judgment of all men.

 

WITH THE PRINCIPLE DECLARED, LET’S MOVE TO VERSES 7-10 WHERE THE PRINCIPLE IS DESCRIBED

 

7  To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

8  But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

9  Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.

Please close your Bible and focus your attention on the handout of this passage I have provided for you, marked up in two groups of three phrases circled and connected in red, green, and blue.

God’s principle of judgment, as it relates to saved people, is described in the first group of circled and connected phrases, in verses 7 and 10. Read verse 7 with me:

“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life.”

 Now read verse 10 with me:

 “But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.”

 In these two verses Paul informs us how God’s principle of judging men according to their works applies to the person who is heaven-bound. Three phrases in each verse are logically tied to each other. We’ll take the pairs of phrases one at a time, with matching phrases circled by the same color and connected. In verse 7, consider the phrase circled in red, “To them who by patient continuance in well doing.” In verse 10, the corresponding phrase also circled in red and connected reads, “To the Jew first, and also to the Gentiles.” In these two parallel phrases Paul is describing the people who are subject to the judgment of God. They are people who just keep on doing good. They can either be Jews or Gentiles. Next, the determination of these people judged is seen. Verse 7 says they, “Seek for glory and honor and immortality,” and is circled in green. Verse 10’s parallel statement circled in green and connected reads, “To every man that worketh good.” Friends, can there be any doubt that good works is in Paul’s mind here? No. “But Pastor, I thought that salvation was through faith in Christ. This passage seems to teach salvation by works. What gives?” I have two comments with regard to that. First, this is the kind of passage which topical preachers won’t touch with a ten foot pole. Second, I’m not finished yet. Hold on to your question for a bit before I answer. While this passage does not teach salvation by works, it most definitely does teach that God’s judgment is on the basis of works. And how that fits into salvation by grace, we will see in just a moment. Finally, we see their destiny. Verse 7, “Eternal life.” Verse 10, “Glory, honor, and peace.” Folks, this is Heaven, circled and connected in blue. Can’t be referring to anything else. Amen?

Now, in verses 8 and 9, we see how the principle on which God’s judgment is based relates to lost people.

Again, we have three sets of parallel phrases in connected matching color circles to contend with:

8  But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

9  Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

 Just as with those who are saved, Paul begins with a parallel description of the lost. Verse 8, which is in red reads “But unto them that are contentious.” Verse 9, also in red and connected reads “Of the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.” Notice that, just as with those who are saved, the issue is not whether or not you are Jewish. The issue is whether you are contentious or not. And this word contentious translates a Greek word whose root referred to a mercenary soldier, and came to mean someone whose allegiance was only to himself, someone who was selfishly ambitious.[2] This is a real look-out-for-number-one type of person. Next, Paul moves on to their determination, which is obviously sinister, which is identified with green circles. Verse 8, “And do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness.” Verse 9, “Upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” Here is where we allay the fears of many and increase the fears of others. Do you see the word “obey” in verse 8? It appears twice. This critical word is the key that unlocks our phrase in verse 9, telling us why the souls of men do evil. This word also clears up the apparent paradox of how the Bible can seem to teach that salvation is by grace through faith, and yet God’s judgment will be on the basis of works and nothing else. This word translated “obey” is the same word that is found in Hebrews 13.17:

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

 It refers to responding as the result of being persuaded, as the result of coming to believe.[3] Now turn to Ephesians 6.1:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”

 This word “obey” is completely different and has nothing to do with being persuaded. It has entirely to do with submission to another’s will, not at all agreeing with another’s reasoning.[4] Do you see the implications of the particular word translated “obey” in Romans 2.8? The difference between the works of the person going to Heaven and the works of the person who is contentious is that the unsaved person has not been persuaded, has not come to believe, and therefore does not obey the truth, but instead obeys unrighteousness. So, though what can outwardly be seen is either obedience or disobedience, what produces obedience or disobedience such as is referred to by this particular word is faith, is belief, is persuasion. This person does not obey the truth because he does not believe the truth. He obeys unrighteousness because he believes unrighteousness. And the clear implication is that with the saved person entirely the opposite is true. The reason the saved heaven-bound person does good works is because he believes the truth and does not believe unrighteousness. The just lives by faith. And what of the destiny of those determined to do evil works, determined to obey unrighteousness? What can every lost soul look forward to? Look for the blue in verses 8 and 9. In verse 8 we read “Indignation and wrath.” That is God’s side of the equation. God’s indignation produces God’s wrath on the lost. And what of man’s side? In verse 9 we find “Tribulation and anguish.” Tribulation is what you experience and anguish is what you feel. Needless to say, these two words are not the most graphic description of an unsaved man’s destiny to be found in the Bible. Perhaps Matthew 13.49-50 and Revelation 20.11-15 are more illustrative:

49  So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,

50  And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

 

11  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.

12  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

The point that is made is God does judge according to works. Those who do good works and who seek for glory and honor and immortality receive eternal life. Those who obey not the truth, but who obey unrighteousness, every soul that doeth evil, look forward only to the indignation and wrath of the righteous Judge.

 

IN CLOSING, WE SEE THE PRINCIPLE OF THE JUDGMENT OF GOD DEFENDED

 

Why is it that God judges every man according to his works? Is this an arbitrary thing with God? Can He judge according to any criteria He wants, but He decided to judge according to works? The answer to that question is “No.” Verse 11 declares,

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

 The reason God must judge according to works is because He cannot judge according to favoritism. And the reason He cannot judge according to favoritism is because He is righteous and holy and just.

So you see, God’s nature dictates that all men be judged a certain way. And since God must judge according to the dictates of what He is, judgment is on the basis of works.

 

The Jews knew that they were sinners, but they thought they would receive preferential treatment from God because they had a special relationship with Him. They were, after all, His chosen people. But we have twice seen in our passage that a special relationship does mean preferential treatment. Special privilege, with God, means first to receive benefit, but it also means first to receive penalty.

Thus, there are three things in this difficult to preach passage I want you to take home with you today: First, remember that although this passage did not deal with the subject directly at all, salvation and the forgiveness of sins is by grace through faith in Christ. This passage does not establish that truth, but a right interpretation of it does support that great truth. Second, what you believe, what you’ve been persuaded, will determine the way you behave. It is most clear from this passage that right belief produces right behavior and wrong belief produces wrong behavior. Take note of that you who think you are Christians but who continually obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness. Third, do not depend upon your “relationship” with God to allow you to get away with committing sin. If anything, we have seen the very opposite to be true. “Judgment begins first at the house of God.”

__________

[1] Ronald Nash, Poverty And Wealth: The Christian Debate Over Capitalism, (Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1987), pages 57-63.

[2] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 352.

[3] Ibid., pages 352 and 720.

[4] Ibid., page 540.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org