God will repay

God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 2:6-8, NIV)

The larger context of this passage is that God’s response to good and evil ignores the distinction between Jew and Gentile, but we should not let the distinction that Paul feels he has to make a case for obscure from our vision the claims about God that Paul feels no need to defend because everyone agrees, namely that God punishes those who do evil and rewards those who persist in doing good.

This is so fundamental to biblical religion that we render the Bible incomprehensible if we suppress this fundamental claim about God.

The old Methodist teaching took this for granted. And it equally took for granted that we are no able to do the persistent good that Paul writes about. We might do good here or there, but we cannot form a life grounded in persistent goodness out of our own resources. And we cannot erase the crippling stain of sin by our own good deeds. We cannot, in other words, deserve the reward.

This old Methodist message has many detractors in United Methodism, but what I have find even more perplexing is the resistance to the fundamental biblical claim about God rewards those who do good and punishes those who do evil.

 

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2 thoughts on “God will repay

  1. Perhaps most offensive to many people within our movement is the idea that rejection of truth is most specifically rejection of Jesus Christ. It’s not rejection of love, or affirmation, or kindness. Rejecting truth is rejection of the reality that our sin stinks to hell and ONLY Jesus Christ can save us from it.

    In a human sense, a good work is a good work is a good work. I suspect that United Methodists struggle with hell because they often confuse the first table of the Ten Commandments with the second. Doing good things to and for our neighbor is great. We should do that. Such actions mean nothing in the Christian sense, however, without a living trust in Jesus Christ. The only thing that makes a good work properly Christian is when the work is done out of the wellspring of faith in Christ.

    I think such a view is often offensive to many Methodists.

  2. I think wrath is the necessary corollary to love. A God without wrath is complicit with evil. A God without the cross would be forever inaccessible.

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