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: Did you wait until today to read this reflection or did you take a sneak peak at it on Sunday? I hope you had the time to process the tension between salvation by faith and by works yourself first. If we are saved by faith, what is the significance of obedience? If you read Pastor Sam Millen’s Daily Walk from last week (Wednesday), this might be a really easy question for you to answer. What happens in our text this week is that in verse 13 we are introduced to the word “justified.” This is one of those incredibly pivotal words within Christianity. Misconstruing the meaning of this word amounts to defamation of God’s character. The issue that Paul is trying to address here is that some people thought the Jews had an advantage in terms of salvation because they had heard the law. So he clearly says that they are “not righteous before God.” Instead he says that it will be the doers—in other words, it will be both Jews and Gentiles—who are saved. This is also the point he makes in verse 11, that God does not show any favoritism. The Jews had become comfortable with the blessings God had given them, and Paul was pulling them back into reality.
Here are the two paths that we tend to choose when it comes to accepting the gift of salvation from God. Either we try to obey God by controlling everything we do to earn salvation, since our believe is that it should not be free (Many of us argue that nothing is ever free, right?) Alternatively, we simply run wild and, because we are “saved,” we take no interest in whether our actions are good or bad. Some of us are happy to simply live a reckless life with no regard to consequences. Paul points to a third way. This is the way of the Gospel. It was laid out in the First Testament and Jesus also taught this way. The law of God is a reflection of His character. His character is love. Therefore, we should fill our hearts with the love of God. When we do this, we want to be more in sync with God naturally. Paul describes this further in Hebrews 10:16 and Ephesians 2:8 and the brother of Jesus, James, who only really understood the Gospel after the resurrection, also wrote, in James 2:17, that faith and works go hand in hand. Think about it—love is too powerful to simply be a word on a piece of paper. It has to be acted on, and its actions are only ever good.
Recalibrate: What does being a disciple of Jesus look like in practical terms today?
Respond: Pray for an open heart.
Research: Read the Test of Discipleship in the book Steps to Christ by Ellen White.
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).
Play a game of “See what is under.” This is like a real-life version of a “Lift-the-flap” book. Place a teddy or a car or item of food underneath some fabric (a towel or napkin, for instance). Ask questions about what might be hiding underneath. Can your child guess what it is? How can he or she tell that it is a teddy? Use the words, “My eyes can see, my ears can hear, and my hands can touch,” as you explore each item. When your child is ready to discover if his or her guesses have been correct, pull away the cloth together. Know that no matter how well hidden we think our stuff is, God always knows what is underneath.
Play your favorite game today. Why is this game your favorite? Does this game have rules that help you play? Have you ever played with someone who is all about the rules and because you are so busy talking about the rules you hardly get to play the game? Paul is talking to the Romans about how they are playing at life, focusing on keeping the rules and making sure that everyone else is too. They had left out the best part of any game and that is loving to play.
When was the last time you were on a date? OK, maybe not a date but in the presence of someone you were physically attracted to and liked? Were you at school? The mall? Church? A friend’s house? How did you act? What did you do or not do that you normally would have done (or not done) if you weren’t around that person?
For the record, I love my wife. I’m madly in love with my wife. And—I hate dog poop. (I know, that was a crazy weird sequence of thoughts, but just hear me out really quick). I bring this up because every other day or so you’ll find me scanning my yard in search of my two dogs’ massive bowl bombs in order to pick up and remove them. I hate it! So why do I do it? My wife, Andrea, doesn’t make me do it. I don’t pick up dog poop in order to stay married to her. I don’t do it in order for her to love me. I do it because I know she also hates picking up dog poop. Therefore I do it so she doesn’t have to. I walk around my yard with double-plastic Walmart bags wrapped around one hand, while holding another plastic bag filled with disgusting smelly contents because I love my wife, Andrea. Similarly, while you’re probably not married yet, I bet you can think of ways you act or don’t based on how you feel for someone else.
Point? How do you act? Why do you do the things you do? Are you the type of Christian you are because you think it will get God to like you? Or do you live the way you do, choose the choices you make because you know God’s madly in love with you and you love Him in return? What would it look like for you to live knowing you are loved by God always?