Teaching Series
The Judged
Friday—Being Judged

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: Every week, as I study to prepare my comments for the Daily Walk, there are several words, sentences, ideas, and concepts within the passage that particularly catch my attention. I am so pleased that I was assigned this particular passage to write about this week, since it is one that I am particularly keen to process.

Over the last year, I have been intentionally searching in the Bible for a deeper appreciation of the character of God. Last Saturday morning, when I preached at my local church, I reminded my community that with difficult passages—and, let us be honest, there are several perplexing ones in the Bible—I have a basic rule on how to approach them. This is made up of: Prayer, Premise, and Promise. I will always start with prayer, which we all need to do more often. Second, I believe in the premise that God does not change, so the character of God revealed in the First Testament is consistent with that revealed in the Second Testament. When I see God the Son, I see God the Father; they are in sync. Third, but not least, I focus on the promise that God is love. This is not as flimsy a statement as it may sound, now that “love” has become so commonplace. (I love chocolate! I love cats!) It refers to the true love that is the foundation of this universe.

With these things in mind, when I read about the wrath of God, I do not see God the Father killing Jesus. I do not see God the Father as a blood-thirsty erratic despot who can only be calmed through Jesus’ death on the cross. I believe that when we impose our vengeful, broken images onto God, we have made Him an idol and are no longer really worshipping Him. That is why Romans 2:16 is a resounding shout of joy. It is part of a larger passage that reveals more of the character of God. When the day of judgment finally arrives—and Seventh-day Adventists believe, based on a rich appreciation of the prophetic elements in the Bible, that it has already started—it is something to be celebrated. Through judgement, God is putting things right, and He does this through Jesus Christ who knows what is really going on. This is not to imply that God the Father does not know what is going on, nor that God is not our friend (John 15:15). Rather it reminds us that Jesus walked among us and brings the gift of His human association with us to the table, as Paul outlines in Hebrews 4:15. I believe that it could also be why the apostle John chose to suddenly and cryptically mention that Jesus simply knew what was going on in our minds (John 2:24). The apostles saw that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit were One, that everything they do is focused on bringing us home. Judgment is a good thing. If we can simply start to walk in the grace of God and extend that grace to others, we will be more of what God has called us to be.

Recalibrate: Who needs less judgment today?

Respond: Pray for a greater appreciation of grace.

Research: Read one of the recommended commentaries on this passage.

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).

In the Bible app for kids, we learned how God made everything right “In the Beginning” and how Adam and Eve turned everything upside down in “The First Sin,” because they chose to go against what God had planned. When Adam and Eve chose their way instead of God’s way, it didn’t change how much God loved them. Nothing can change that. This is only the beginning of the story. Jesus is waiting for us to bring all the upside down things in our lives to Him so He can make them right. That is what Jesus does—He makes everything right.

The Bible says at the end of Romans 2:13 that it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. Have you ever done stuff your parents asked you to do, but on the inside you were grumpy about it? The end of Chapter 2 in the NLT says “a person with a changed heart seeks praise (or receives praise) from God, not from people.” How cool is it to get praise from God! If you want that, let’s pray for a changed heart. Let’s put our life in Jesus’ hands for Him to make us right on the inside and the outside.

Ever wonder why, if God is so good, evil exists? What’s interesting about this question is that we all agree evil exists. Have you seen it? Of course. You’ve experienced its pain and hurt and injustice. It’s all over the news, your school, and your community.

If good and evil didn’t actually exist, when something was evil we would never know it—much less agree that it’s evil. Yet the planet agrees certain acts or things are evil.

Assuming psychological health, it is safe to say that we all know right and wrong exist. While science, history, technology, and logic can’t explain why all the parents on the planet agree “hitting siblings” isn’t good, Paul and the Bible can. Because all humanity is designed to operate a certain way—God’s way—reflecting our Creator to be in relationship with Him. After all, we are created in His image.

If good and evil didn’t actually exist, when something was evil we would never know it—much less agree that it’s evil. Yet the planet agrees certain acts or things are evil.

Do you make mistakes? Of course, you do! Hence autocorrect, graded assignments with red ink, and the “edit” button. Here’s the thing: when you make a mistake, and then realize the mistake, you automatically want to do what? Correct it! But isn’t it true that we all go on to make other kinds of mistakes even after we’ve corrected a few? And what do you call mistakes you make on purpose? You know the ones—the mistakes you plan, schedule, design? Is it true that while we call both kinds “mistakes,” one is definitely different than the other?

According to Scripture, the “mistakes” we make on purpose are called SIN (missing the target). Sometimes we miss the target in life by accident—sometimes on purpose. Paul describes how God’s law communicates to us who we really are (Romans 2). Are you a mistaker? Or a sinner? Only you can answer that. But if you’re a sinner like me, there’s good news. There’s nothing I could ever do for God to not love me. Nothing! When I choose to disconnect, He still longs to lovingly reach out and connect. Our job? Stop and turn around. According to the Scriptures, this is called “repentance.” Should you stop and turn around? How could you help someone else stop and turn around? The truth is, evil exists because God is true and real and good and loving. It’s about time you and I do all we can to show who He is to everyone around us.

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