The goodness of God leads you to repentance…

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“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Ro.2:4).

Therefore, it is God’s goodness that pushes you and pushes me to repentance! Yes, His goodness that expresses itself by His patience and His forbearance! It is on the one hand the consciousness of my weakness and of my wickedness and on the other hand the patience and the forbearance of God’s goodness that forbears me, tolerates me and pushes me to understand my need to repent, to be converted and to approach God. Is it the fact that God has not yet «punished» me that gives me the impression that I am innocent and that I am, therefore, assured? Do His goodness and His tolerance encourage me to continue to sin? May the Lord help us to understand and to preach the wealth of God’s goodness; God’s wealth, whose proofs we have all seen repeatedly under the form of mercy, love and acts of providence…

There are moments when man becomes aware of his moral situation and is seized by astonishment: why and how long will God tolerate me? Do I abuse God’s goodness and mercy because He is slow to anger? (Ec.8:1; 2Pe.3:9). What has God done for me by giving His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins and what am I doing towards Him and for Him? And, in addition, I judge my neighbours as if I, I was an angel! What hypocrisy! What blindness! I am, indeed, inexcusable! In reality, I am condemning myself, since I also am doing the same things…

While I was making these reflections on the wealth of God’s goodness and His patience and His forbearance, I felt the need to re-examine this verse in its context. Then, I understood that it would be a big doctrinal mistake if I isolated the goodness of God from His warnings, those which precede this verse and those that follow it! Inexcusable and unthinkable to escape to be judged! Besides, in the event that my heart remained ‘hardened and impenitent’, I would treasure up “wrath” (v.5) in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, that will render to every man according to his works. And the Bible continues: “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness——indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil… but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good… for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; (Ro.2:7-13). May the Lord help us to understand our obligation to reject our sins and to turn toward God.

There is a magnificent passage that says: “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven.” (Ps.85:10-11). Therefore, God’s goodness (grace) cannot reign without the truth (Ro.5:21) and peace cannot exist without justice (Isa.48:22). And finally, if the truth “springs out of the earth”, from man, then God’s righteousness “shall look down from heaven” favourably to justify and to save even the ungodly that confides in Him… God’s fear combined with the understanding of the wealth of His goodness constitutes an incitement to repentance, to a conversion of the soul. A conversion from everything that is bad to everything that is good. An initial conversion accompanied by the regeneration of the soul by the power of the Holy Spirit that uses and activates efficiently God’s Word. Then, a continual conversion in the soul and life of all those that accept God’s reproofs and obey to all truths of His divine Word, a thing that will have as a consequence to make the believer to go from strength to strength (Ps.84:7) and from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord! (2Co.3:18).

While reading the aforementioned verses I have been seized by the expression:do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness”. I was reminded that when I was young, I had some discussions with a priest on the conditions and the manner by which man can be saved. He, not being able to deny or to refute the Biblical truths concerning man’s salvation by faith and God’s grace (Eph.2:8), which were in opposition to his ecclesiastical traditions, wanted to close our discussions saying: “You are right, this is the truth, but if I begin preaching on the basis of these Biblical truths my superiors will kick me out.” Now, at my advanced age, I had some discussions with a pastor on some practices of the church that were in opposition to certain Biblical truths. After some meetings and exchanges of views he confessed that if he wanted to implement the relevant Bible ‘instructions’ in his church he would be “bombarded” by some of his collaborators and then by his superiors and he would have problems whose end could not be foreseen…

Here are two examples of religious people that don’t obey God’s truth! What is going to happen if they continue to despise His Word and His goodness with a hardened and impenitent heart by means of unacceptable compromises?

Oh, Lord! Protect us from ourselves. Do not ever permit that our heart become hardened and impenitent. May our heart melt in deep contrition by the goodness of your Son Jesus Christ, and that we mourn for every evil that we have done against our Great God and Saviour Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to endeavour to be pleasant to You (2Co.5:9). Do not permit that we forget that one day we will stand before You to give an account of everything that we have said, done and even thought which has not been confessed and rejected! Amen.

John BALTATZIS

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