As I am studying a long list of Scripture verses for my book review (thanks to J.I. Packer for throwing together a long list that doesn’t really pertain too much to the issue at hand!) I ran across Romans 2:5. This verse is supposed to show the reader that Paul teaches that there is a final rejection and destruction to those who don’t believe.
(Rom 2:5) Yet down from (in accord with) your hardness (obstinacy) and unrepentant heart (unchanged thinking in the center of your being) you habitually collect and lay up stores (treasure up) in yourself (for yourself; to yourself) personal emotion (inherent fervor; passionate impulse; a mental bent or disposition; anger; indignation; wrath) within a day of personal emotion (fervor; passion; anger; etc.) and of an unveiling of God’s decision which accords with the Way pointed out [or: of a revealing of God’s fair and equitable dealing and verdict; of an uncovering of a just judgment of God],
Now, as I am trying to see the context to what Paul is saying, I went back to the beginning of the chapter here, and began reading.
(Rom 2:1) Therefore (Because of which) you continue to be without a defense, 0 man –everyone continually judging (pronouncing a judgment; separating; picking out; determining; condemning) — for within that which you continue judging the other man (the different one), you are condemning yourself, since you who are continually judging are constantly performing (committing) the same things.
(Rom 2:2) Now we have seen and thus know (are aware) that God’s judgment (decision rendered and pronounced; separation; determination) is down from (in accord with) Truth upon those habitually performing (committing) such things.
(Rom 2:3) Yet you continue logically thinking (reckoning; counting on) this, 0 man — the one continuously judging those who are performing (committing) such things but also are habitually doing the same things — that you will make an escape out of God’s judgment?
(Rom 2:4) Or, are you continually having a down frame of mind (despising; thinking down or with disrespect) concerning the riches (wealth) of His kind and gentle usefulness (benevolence with a sweet disposition; kindness), [His] delaying forbearance (the tolerant holding back) and [His] patient longsuffering, constantly being ignorant that God’s kind and gentle usefulness (benevolence with a sweet disposition) is continuously leading you into a change of mind and purpose (repentance)?
Verse 2 begins giving immediate context to verse 5 and says God’s judgment is in accord with His truth and is upon those who do the things previously listed in chapter 1 through chapter 2:1. Paul goes on and says if you think that you, who are judging those doing these things, will yourself escape judgment, think again. Paul implies the hypocrisy of their way of thinking and asks the self-righteous believer if they are not, in fact, disrespecting God’s kindness, forbearance, patient longsuffering with them. And then the tail end of verse 4 hit me right between the ears and cut me to the heart!
(Rom 2:4) Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
The answer to my question in the title of this post is this: The goodness of God leads someone to repentance!
Do you understand what Paul is saying here? It is not the fear of eternal conscious torment in hell that leads someone to repentance. It is not fear of anything that leads someone to repentance. It is not fear of not measuring up to God’s standard. It is not the knowledge of our own sin. It is not the turn or burn lectures many receive every week at church. It is not even our pleading that life will go better for you now if you believe. It is the love of God, His kindness seen in Him and displayed by creation, by His children (believers) and spoken directly to a person by the Holy Spirit that leads to repentance!
WOW! WOW! I can hardly contain my joy at this thought! For you, this may be a startling revelation. Dwell upon this and take joy in the Lord who saves by His love, who turns people from darkness to light by His love, by His kindness! What a far cry from what I have preached in the past, taught in the past, and what most believers hear from week-to-week. Love the Father for His kindness to you. Let His kindness turn your heart from hypocrisy and sin to faith, belief, and residence in Him.
Marveling at His Word!