Saturday, December 23, 2006

Saturday Sermon: There Are No Secrets

Romans 2:11-16

In verses 4-10 we saw that the Jews and the Gentiles are in the same boat. It doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or Gentile; all persons are going to be judged according to the same standard. That standard is perfection. No amount of goodness by any individual in history is enough to justify them. No one has been or will be holy enough to merit eternal life; only Christ was and is perfect. He was showing us once again the need for the gospel. The eternal life of everyone depends on the kindness of God, not our goodness. But it is not something we can presume upon. He gives it to those whom seek it with repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). Everyone learns to avoid the ultimate issue but we must all address the ultimate issue.

Vs.11 – No partiality, those who do not have the law as a written code are being judged according to the same standard as those who do have that revelation. Colossians 3:25 / Hebrews 6:2 / Ephesians 6:9 / Acts 10:34 and other verses bear witness to the fact that God is just, and that He is no respecter of persons. It cuts both ways, to those that are great, it isn’t enough, and to those that aren’t it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter who your parents are. It doesn’t matter what race you are or what country you are from. It doesn’t matter what tribe you are or what sect you belong to, or your social status. It doesn’t matter how good you family history is. It doesn’t matter what degree you hold or what job you do. It doesn’t matter how successful or hard working you are. It doesn’t matter how good you try to be, or how much good you do. If anyone could lay claim to pleasing God by law keeping and the works of the flesh, it was Paul. But he knew that we are all born into the kingdom of men, but we must be born again into the kingdom of God (Galatians 3:26). All will be judged with absolute justice, and all need God’s mercy.

For Christians, the justice of God’s judgment fell upon Christ, and we have received mercy (Isaiah 53 / James 2:13, keep your place here). We are not to show partiality either (James 2:9) we are working for the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24). God is the one who gives recognition, look to Him not to man, He sees what you are doing in secret. Men may not see your works, but they are open to God (Hebrews 4:13). This is also why we do not seek vengeance, because God is the one to whom they are ultimately responsible (Romans 12:19 / Hebrews 10:30).

Vs.12 – The law is not a secret code from God – those that do not have the law still have the ideals of the law written on their consciences, and yet no one obeys it. Paul is continuing to make his point that all are without hope if they are without God’s mercy. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, doing 70 in a parking lot, or residential area, is breaking the law of your conscience as well as the law of the land. Conversely, you can do right even without knowing right. You could be obeying the speed limit without knowing it, and you could be breaking it without knowing it, but either way, you are either doing it right or you are not, regardless of your knowledge of it. The law isn’t a secret code we have to dig back through and find out the greater meaning of like the Talmud and Mishnah do, even the people who have never heard of the law have it, the point is that none keep it. It is not some mystical knowledge of the law that will save you, like Jewish mysticism (Zohar / Kabala). The doing of the law perfectly would save you but no one has or will be able to do it but Christ, and that was the point.

The OT was about Christ but it had been veiled (John 5:39 / Luke 24:27). Now the mystery has been revealed it is not a secret it is out in the open (Colossians 1:26).

1 Peter 1:18-21knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Your faith is not in some old ritualistic system, your faith is not in finding some secret knowledge, and your faith is not in your own good deeds or the condition of your heart. Your faith must be in Christ alone, and what He alone did. He alone fulfilled the law, He alone paid the price, and He alone is your salvation.

Vs.13-14 – James 1:22-23 – some think James is contradicting Paul, but he is complementing not contradicting him. James has a different emphasis; he is focusing on the fact that while we are saved by faith it will show itself in our works. Not that the works save us; they are not the root but the fruit of our justification (Ephesians 2:8-10 / Romans 8:29-30 / Titus 2:11-13).

The point of the first half of Romans 2 is not that some men are saved by their incomplete knowledge of the Gospel, but that all men are without any excuse including an ignorance regarding the moral decrees of God. People know the law in their consciences and they do not obey it. It is not that some are obeying and are saved, but that none are and all are damned.

Vs.15 – There is no secret way to God – It is an incorrect interpretation to say that Romans 1-2 hint at a secret, natural "gospel" which saves men – this is a wicked, anti-evangelistic theology. Paul's meaning is not that one can be saved apart from the knowledge of Christ, but that everyone has sufficient knowledge to be condemned. Romans 1-2 do not say that anyone who "responds" to general revelation will be saved. Rather, it shows that revelation testifies to mankind's condemnation. Paul is not pleading that some are coincidentally saved here: he's making the strong case for universal depravity among men – the Jews because they have received the Law, and the Gentiles for knowing intuitively what the Law is, but both are now guilty because none could keep it. The only way to God is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. For the monergist, "those who haven't heard" do not present a problem, as God knows who His children are and will ensure that they hear the gospel. Acts 17:26

In the same way there is no secret society of Christians, some elite core of Christianity that has special revelation that we do not have in the Bible. There is no special organization that you can belong to that makes you a better Christian, unless that organization is the one Christ Himself established, the church. I am not talking about having organizations that are for teaching or doing God’s work in an open way. I am talking about closed societies, special knowledge, and secret things. Deuteronomy 29:29The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Any organization that claims Christ but has closed ranks that one must be initiated into is not the open society God has ordained in Christ, it is just like the Judaizers who said that Gentiles must be initiated into the deeper truths by the rite of circumcision. Paul said this was a false gospel, and he proclaims a curse on anyone doing this (Galatians 1:6).

He would say the same thing today about many organizations that claim to be Christian, but have initiation levels that grant secret knowledge others do not have access to. I am not talking about going to seminary, which is an open thing; I am talking about secret societies, secret codes secret religions and special knowledge not found in the scriptures. Although it might mention Christ, and even seem to have Him as the center, it is not of Christ. We are supposed to be open, as we are to God, we are to be open to men, and the mysteries of the Gospel have been revealed to all God’s people, those who have put their faith and trust in Christ are complete in Him, and anyone or anything that says otherwise is blaspheming Christ Himself. You don’t have to go through a ritual to get to God (1 Timothy 2:5). You can go straight to the throne room (Hebrews 4:16).

Vs.16 – There are no secret sins to God – the secrets of men – Paul was finishing his thought here and saying that these hypocrites have secret sin, some they know about, some they don’t.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 – For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Luke 8:17 – For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

1 Corinthians 3:13 – each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 4:5… who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.

To all: have you examined yourself by the standard of the Great Physician, Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5)? We can follow Him on that gospel road by faith. We will not walk it perfectly, but His walk not our walk is what saves us. That is the gospel and out of gratitude for it and love for Him we attempt to walk that same path, knowing that our walk will be imperfect and that we will stumble and fall, but that God will pick us up and if we will get up and want to walk again He will empower us to do so.

To the backslider: get back on repentance road, which leads down submission street, which you will find on your knees. Just because you know the truth doesn’t mean you are trusting in it. Those that do not walk the path at all are saying that they have no faith. Justice or mercy, which do you want?

To those that know Jesus is the only way and that now want to move on in Him: are you sure your motives are pure? You can’t hold back your best and expect God to pour His blessing out.

Let’s get real, and let’s get right today, that is what Paul was saying to them, and what God is saying to us today. You may fool the preacher, you may fool the public, you may fool your parents, you may fool your partner, and you may even fool yourself, but you can’t fool God. We can never be sure of our motives completely, that is why we have to ask God to help us see ourselves as we truly are (Psalm 19:12-14 / 139:23-24).

You don’t need a secret code, you won’t find a secret way, and you can’t hide a secret sin. There are no secrets with God.

1 comment:

Even So... said...

Don't keep the Good News a secret...share Christ this Christmas...