Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.

Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.

Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)

About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.

The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Romans 2:6-11: "Some comments about false Protestant preaching"

Paul makes it real clear: God is going to judge every human being - not in accordance with whether they say "Lord, Lord!" but with regard to "each one's deeds." See Matthew 7:21! (I wonder who Paul got this from?).

Paul writes: ""when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For God will repay according to each one's deeds: to those who by patiently doing good . . . , he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking, . . . there will be wrath and fury." Romans 2:5b-8.

We have been taught that we can't earn our salvation, and that salvation depends on whether we "accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour." Of course, Jesus was skeptical of those who accepted him if those followers didn't honor Jesus' God and Father by their actions. On the final day, we have been taught that it will only be asked of us whether we believed in the Lord or whether we were baptized or whether we were members of the body of Christ. But, the Bible doesn't say that. See Matthew 25:31-46. The Bible and the words it records that Jesus said, and that Paul wrote, indicate something very different. And, this truth of the Bible can be summarized in these words: "For God shows no partiality." Romans 2:11; see Peter's statement in Acts 10:34. Through Jesus God revealed this truth: that the living God shows no partiality!

But, the church has done what Israel did: turn faith inward and into a way of preserving self, instead of turning faith outward as a way of giving of self. Israel, with more justification than the church has had, thought God's grace was for only Israel. The church, born in the truth that God's grace was for all, has a sad and hard day coming when God judges the deeds and "the secrets of the heart" (Romans 2:16).

I have always had a deep sense that no one who really has faith should get too comfortable on the "inside of the church." Faith causes me to be uncomfortable with comfortable church meetings, and more comfortable on the fringe of the church where those who are unsure of their status seek grace and peace and understanding. There is a type of certainty of salvation among believers that celebrates in confidence for insiders that just doesn't come from the experience of God, but from false religion.

We have been raised and trained on so much false, unbiblical Christianity, especially in the so-called "Bible Belt." The more conservative the movement among Christians, the more unbiblical often. Liberals in our day do seem to read their Bibles a lot more than they used to.

But, neither liberals nor conservatives have taken this chapter of Romans into account. Judgment is coming: first on the house of God, and then on those who aren't among the believers. 1st Peter says this too. Grace doesn't remove us from accountability but causes us to live under it daily. Living under the rule of God is a blessing, not a curse. When Paul talks about the curse of the law, and coming out from under the "custodian" of the law in grace, he doesn't mean an escape from accountability, but an establishment of true accountability before God as something we rejoice in. It will take a few chapters of Romans to really get to the heart of this relationship between the holy law and the gift of the Spirit.

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