Sermon: A Day of Reckoning

“A Day of Reckoning” Pt. 1
Romans 2:6-7, 10
March 20, 2016

Annie Dillard, in her book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, writes:

“A couple summers ago I was walking along the edge of the island to see what I could see in the water, and mainly to scare frogs.…At the end of the island I noticed a small green frog. He was exactly half in and half out of the water.

“He didn’t jump; I crept closer. At last I knelt on the island’s winterkilled grass, lost, dumbstruck, staring at the frog in the creek just four feet away. He was a very small frog with wide, dull eyes. And just as I looked at him, he slowly crumpled and began to sag. The spirit vanished from his eyes as if snuffed. His skin emptied and drooped; his very skull seemed to collapse and settle like a kicked tent.

“He was shrinking before my very eyes like a deflating football. I watched the taut, glistening skin on his shoulders ruck, rumple, and fall. Soon, part of his skin, formless as a pricked balloon, lay in floating folds like bright scum on top of the water: it was a monstrous and terrible thing.…An oval shadow hung in the water behind the drained frog: then the shadow glided away. The frog skin bag started to sink.

“I had read about the water bug, but never seen one. ‘Giant water bug’ is really the name of the creature, which is an enormous, heavy-bodied brown beetle. It eats insects, tadpoles, fish, and frogs. Its grasping forelegs are mighty and hooked inward. It seizes a victim with these legs, hugs it tight, and paralyzes it with enzymes injected during a vicious bite. That one bite is the only bite it ever takes. Through the puncture shoots the poison that dissolves the victim’s muscles and bones and organs — all but the skin — and through it the giant water bug sucks out the victim’s body, reduced to a juice.” [Leadership, Fall, 1992, p. 46.]

The frog in the water appeared to be joyful and innocent and peaceful. Yet lurking just underneath the surface was a reality that was dangerous and deadly. The idyllic setting of that frog is akin to the circumstances of the people on Palm Sunday nearly 2000 years ago. That day appeared to be a day of celebration and joy and acceptance of Christ.  The crowds praised God for the miracles of Christ, and sang a Messianic song —

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord;
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest. (Lk. 19:38)

Yet in the crowd were unhappy Pharisees who wanted the crowd rebuked for their exuberance over Christ.

And while approaching Jerusalem, Jesus uttered words that appeared disharmonious to the chorus of the day — “Days will come upon you [Jerusalem] when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground, and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize your time of visitation” (Lk. 19:43-44).

In the midst of joy, a lament.  Surrounded by praise, Jesus gave a warning of judgment.

That event is fitting for us as we continue our study in Romans 2.  While we worship the Christ who has saved us, yet we also do well to hear words of warning concerning His judgment of all men.  It is typical of men to think that they have nothing to fear from God — “I’m okay with God,” “I was raised in church,” “my parents are religious,” “I walked the aisle when I was 10,” are typical responses to the question, “Are you a believer in Jesus Christ — why should God let you into His Heaven?”

Yet Romans 2 is explicit that people who believe they are self-righteous and leaning on a presumed position of superiority will face judgment. And in fact, these verses affirm that all people everywhere will face the judgment of God.

This is an important passage that may be misunderstood if read hastily, so we will take at least two Sundays to examine Paul’s words. In these verses, Paul tells us —

God will judge all men according to their actions.

  1. The Certainty of Judgment (v. 6)
  • Judgment is Individual
  • Judgment is Universal
  • Judgment is Evidential
  1. The Certainty of Judgment for Believers (vv. 7, 10)
  • Who is Paul addressing in verses 7 and 10?
  • If these are believers, is this salvation by works?
  • If these are believers, what kind of judgment is this?
  1. The Certainty of Judgment for Unbelievers (vv. 8-9)
  2. The Impartiality of the Judge (v. 11)

Download the rest of this sermon from Romans 2:6-7, 10.

The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.

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