Series: The Judged
Message: Being Judged
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Purpose: Jason Calvert
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 2:12-29 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: I am pretty confident that, depending on your past experience, you are responding to this text in one of two ways. If this is the first time you have read this passage, you are wondering if you need a law degree to understand what Paul is saying about the law. If this is a familiar passage that you are reading again, you are likely hoping that it can be explained more fully. Those churches preaching on this passage on June 9 may be able to help you understand it more completely. The studies this week in the Daily Walk will also provide some insights.
Here is a synopsis of the text: When you claim you belong to Jesus, do everything in the name of Jesus and not anything else. Give your pride over to Jesus. Give your superiority over to Jesus. Allow Jesus to work on what is really going on in your head—be honest with Him.
Paul never gives up. The Gospel is too precious. The story is too valuable. The identity is too important. For Paul, it is worth repeating. It is worth shocking the reader even. It is worth laying out a truth so complex that we need to hear it more than once. We need to read it more than once. I believe Paul decided to adopt a technique often used by philosophers and sophists of ancient Greece—the diatribe. In a diatribe, the writer or speaker brings up anything he or she thinks a reader or listener might be thinking as a question or as an opposing idea and answers it right away. This happens through this text and in chapter 3 which we will study next week.
So what is it that Paul so desperately wanted us to know? That the world is no longer the same because of the life and death of Jesus. His life, death, and resurrection did, in fact, change things as we know them. This is true not only in the large sense of “the Universe” but also in our own beautiful, ordinary, everyday lives. How we belong to the family of God is perhaps not how you have always thought it was, but it is, in fact, how it always has been. This may cause a crisis of identity in which you have the chance to be reshaped by God. Take whatever you know of yourself, what it is that you say about yourself or wish that others said about you. Take that perfectly crafted biography or resume. Imagine Paul sending Phoebe to a public arena, in the middle of the FIFA World Cup (beginning later this month in Russia). Right before the whistle, with at least a third of the planet watching, your face appears on the screen and Phoebe explains, in the vein of Romans 2:12-29, that your resume does not count for anything. In fact, you are the opposite of everything your resume or biography say about you. You need to get some perspective; a wakeup call. That is what these verses would have felt like to the Jews. These words turned their world upside down. What do they mean for us today?
Recalibrate: What is one example of something you know about yourself that someone else had to teach you?
Respond: Pray for others to show you what needs to change in your life—and to have the maturity and wisdom to accept advice.
Research: Review the Biblical character that you feel experienced the greatest transformation.
Remember: “For it is not those who hear the law who are made righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous” (Romans 2:13, NIV).
Japhet De Oliveira is senior pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, CO, and was co-founder of the One project. Originally from southeast London, Japhet served as a pastor and as youth director in the South England Conference for nine years before moving to the United States. He was director for the Center for Youth Evangelism (CYE), chaplain for missions, and university chaplain at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI. Japhet has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Andrews University (Newbold College campus). He has taught youth ministry, coordinated a master’s in youth ministry program, and spearheaded numerous conferences and initiatives. He is married to Becky and they have two sons, Joshua (18) and Jonah (14).
Our text this week says, “Those who hear, those who obey, are righteous in God’s sight.” Facing your little one, point to your eyes and say “I see you.” Point to your ears and say, “I hear you.” Hold out your hands and hug your little one saying, “I love you.” The Bible is full of stories about people God loves and how they heard and how they saw and how they behaved. Check out the Bible app for kids. Complete the story “In the Beginning” and talk about all the amazing things we can see and hear and touch that God has made. Talk about how all that God made was good, because that is who God is and that is what He does.
The Bible says that those who obey the law who will be declared righteous (Romans 2:12). “Righteous” is a big word that church people use a lot. Simply put, “righteous” means to be made right. What does “obey the law” mean? When I was a young girl, I often wanted to do things my parents had told me not to do. While I really wanted to do these things, the thought of hurting my parents stopped me from doing what I knew was wrong. My love for them was greater than what I really wanted to do. My parents love me so they would say no to things that they knew would hurt me. What I chose to do showed if I loved them or if I loved what I wanted to do more. This is what Paul is talking about in Romans.
When you think of church, what comes to mind? Be honest. I’m sure myriad thoughts, adjectives, emotions, memories, and smells are flooding your brain right now. Did the word “rules” come to mind? Do you connect Christianity and church with the word “rules?”
At the time of Jesus, religious rules reigned supreme! These rules dictated how a real Jew was to act. The crazy thing is, these rules were written so that no one—I mean no one— could ever really measure up to or fulfill all of them. They even dictated how many steps you could take on the Sabbath! (Sorry mom! I can’t go to church today. The cat got out and I used up all my allotted steps chasing her down the street.)
But Jesus changed everything! In the years following Jesus’ death on the cross, many Jews turned to Christianity believing Jesus was indeed the Messiah. But many of the Jews were salty (resentful) of the fact that these new Christians (Gentiles) weren’t circumcised—something they deemed as a religious rule physically marking a person as connected to Abraham, His faith, and His covenant with God. These Jewish Christians believed that to be a true Christian, a person (a dude) had to prove it through circumcision.
Paul, in our passage this week, has some savage words on all of this. So, to get us started this week, do we as a Seventh-day Adventist faith community still have religious rules? What are they? Why do we have them? Are they rules all Christian churches have or just SDAs? How many of these religious rules are awesomely amazing? How many make you feel like you’re walking around with 80 lbs of books in your backpack? What do you think Jesus thinks of these rules?