Thursday, 7 February 2013
…in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. Romans 2:16
This verse ties directly back to verse 12. The intervening verses fill the thought out for us to comprehend the full extent of what the two surrounding verses state. Every person will be judged according to the amount of revealed light they have received. At Paul’s time, it was Jew and Gentile; the Holy Scriptures and natural law; order and conscience; deeds for self or deeds of faith; etc. These will be considered and judgment will be rendered.
It needs to be noted again that although there are two categories flowing from Paul’s pen – Jew and Gentile, there is now the church and the complete canon of Scripture. This is a sobering thought for us to consider. We now have a much fuller extent of God’s revelation and are therefore more accountable for what we know. Imagine the guilt of the professor of biblical theology in a modern university who has, and teaches, both testaments of the Bible and yet discounts what he teaches as “one of many paths to God” or “just another ancient text written by man.” Such an individual will be judged in the most severe way for diminishing the glory of which he was an especially important steward.
All of these things will be evaluated “in the day when God will judge the secrets of men.” The Bible in numerous verses reveals that God searches the hearts and minds of man. It also states again and again that God will judge all people. Tying the two thoughts together supports what Paul states here. Judgment isn’t only based on deed, but on thought and intent as well. Ecclesiastes 12:14 gives us one of many tastes of this –
For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.
The ancient Greek writer Sophocles who lived almost 500 years before Christ, and outside of the covenant people Israel, wrote these words, confirming that there is a written code which men have in their hearts and that God is therefore just in judging these “secrets of men.”
“Not now, nor yesterday, but evermore
These laws have lived: nor know we whence they came.”
We are being observed, evaluated, and our deeds – hidden and open – are being noted for the day of God’s judgment. And the final portion of that process will be “by Jesus Christ.” The Bible reveals with no uncertainty (such as in Act 17:31) that He is the One to whom all judgment has been granted –
“…because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
God has every right to judge His creatures, but how much more when He participated in His creation. And then, how much more when His creatures have rejected His participation! Jesus Christ, the God/Man will stand in judgment because He too stood in judgment. If His own creatures sentenced Him while innocent, how much more just is His judgment over their guilt? All of this is ensured to us as Paul says, “according to my gospel.”
Paul is not claiming authority to the gospel, as if he is its author. Instead, he is claiming authority to it as the herald of the Author’s message. His commission stands directly from the words of Jesus in Acts 9:15. There Jesus states, “…he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” This then places Paul in opposition to any false gospel. His word is the authoritative word of God as transmitted through him, just as was the word of the prophets of old.
Life application: It is sobering to know that every thought we have and every thing we have done is known to God and that we are accountable to Him for these things. For this reason, we are told to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Let each of us both strive for this individually and also remind others of this when the need arises.
O glorious God, You are just when You judge and thus we are deserving of the pouring out of your wrath upon us. And yet, in Your great love You have lavished us with favor, mercy, and salvation according to the riches of Your glory. Thank you for our Lord Jesus and the promise of eternal life which proceeds from and through Him. Amen.