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Two Thoughtful Points from the Class July 12, 2005

Posted by mjtilley in Uncategorized.
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After the lesson, I had two different people raise points about my lesson that I thought you might find helpful.

The first was an excellent question from Will Carter. In previewing Romans 2:1-4 and throughout the lesson, I make the point that as God was tolerant of Nineveh, so He was tolerant of Israel; just as He is tolerant of the most vile of sinners, so He is tolerant of us. The point was that there’s nothing special about us, nothing that makes us superior. Will noted that the children of Israel actually did have a claim to a special status in God’s eyes. He referenced Genesis 12:3 where God promised to bless those that bless Israel and curse those that curse Israel.

My response to Will is that while Israel did truly have a special status, I’d say that as a child of God today, we have a special status. Because of our relationship with God (just like that of the children of Israel had due to the Abrahamic Covenant), we have access to special blessings. But those blessings do not excuse us from the consequences of sin. In fact, because of our relationship with God, the consequences are arguably more swift if not more eternally terrible (for damnation in Hell, separate from the glory of God is the worst possible fate and one that the saved will not have to endure).

Further, there is nothing physically or spiritually superior about the Jewish nation or today’s church that caused God to choose either. No, all are mere men blessed by God by being imputed with His righteousness (for none are righteous in their own right). The blessings we enjoy are available to all who simply believe and confess (Romans 10:9-10) the Gospel.

The second was a point made by Chris Stanley (see also his comment on this topic) to clarify what I was saying about God’s tolerance toward the Ninevites. He rightly noted that the book of Jonah says the people “turned from their evil way” (Jonah 3:10). That means that God tolerated the people – these same, sin-scarred people who He had always loved and will never stop loving – but He could never tolerate their sin. It wasn’t until they rejected their sin that they could begin to have a relationship with God.

But it is not unimportant to recognize that these are the same people. The murder was the same man, but put away his murder. The homosexual was the same man, but put away his homosexuality. The liar was the same man, but put away his lying. The angry man was the same man, but put away his anger.

Without the necessary putting away, God’s judgment was sure, swift and required.

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