Romans #06 – An exposition of Romans 2:17-29. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, November 22, 2009.
Shocked. Stunned. Outraged and offended. That’s the only way to describe the crowd’s response to the sermon. For some it was the most outrageous thing they had ever heard. It was unimaginable. Others were frightened by what the preacher had said. There were no, “Amens” in fact there was nothing but silence as the end of the sermon hung in the air. It was a terrifying prospect – the thought of hearing the voice of God thunder, “Depart from Me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you!” You might expect such if He were speaking to thieves, murderers or adulterers but listen, “Lord we prophesied in your name. We cast out demons. We did many mighty works in your name.” Depart from Me? I never knew you? If He had said, “Liars! You did no such thing.” He did not dispute their claims He just said, “I never knew you.” No wonder the crowd was astonished at His teaching. Is it possible? Could it be that there will be those who have “believed” the truth, worked in the church, labored for the kingdom who will be damned? Is it true that there will be some at the judgment who will genuinely be shocked to learn that they are not included in the heavenly band? Our text this morning is found in Romans chapter 2 beginning with the seventeenth verse.
Text: Romans 2:17-29
The apostle Paul is building his case for salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone. He begins by driving home the point that we are all sinners in need of salvation. Unless we understand we are sick – we feel no need for a doctor. Unless we understand the sickness we have no need of a cure.
- Paul says God has revealed himself.
- He had made himself known.
- Creation screams, “There is a God! He is powerful, majestic and awesome.”
- But man has suppressed that revelation – he has pushed it down.
- We refuse to acknowledge God as God.
- We do not honor Him as God or give him thanks.
Instead we pervert the truth and eventually exchange the truth for a lie and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. That leads to a depraved, condemned, abandoned mind that in turn leads to profound sensual perversion, an endless variety of sin and a twisted morality. Thus Paul addressed the openly flagrant sinners at the end of chapter 1.
At the beginning of chapter 2 he address the “righteous sinner.” Both the moral pagan and the Jew for their hypocrisy. Those who think themselves righteous and treat others with contempt. Railing against sin while failing to recognize their own wickedness.
In our text he address the most difficult group to reach with the gospel – the religious sinner. I say most difficult because it is difficult to convince earnest, sincerely religious people that they are “lost.” But the Bible is very clear on this. You can believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, confess all the doctrinal truths of the faith, and be a member of the church and miss heaven by 18 inches. Because it never got from your head to your heart. Your association with the truth, your exposure to the truth even your knowledge of the truth may prevent you from dealing with the heart of the matter.
My purpose is not to create doubt or to confuse but to deal honestly with what Paul says in this chapter. I do want to make it clear, salvation is not the same as church membership. Salvation is not to be equated with orthodox belief. Salvation is about the work of God in the heart of the believer enabling the believer to understand the truth, desire the truth and surrender to the truth. Salvation comes from trusting in Christ and in him alone!
As we walk through the text you’ll see why that is important.
First, knowledge of the truth may prove to be deadly. (2:17-23)
- Part of the problem is their sense of privilege – (17-18)
- The problem of deadly pride and presumption – (19-20)
Thus, this is important, “Professed religion will not save a man from Divine judgment!”
Knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
Let me point out another truth from verse 24.
Betrayal of the truth is damning. (2:24)
Embodying the truth is essential. (2:25-29)
I have to pity the man who trusts in his religion to save him. The man who thinks his church membership will get him to heaven or thinks his doctrine will get him there is sadly mistaken.
It is not enough to be near the truth; or to be associated with the truth; or even agree with the truth. The truth must be embraced and lived out!