Romans 2:4 NASB
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
This question that Paul phrases is a response to his earlier examination of passing judgement onto others and falling under God’s judgement. He’s been asking his audience why they continue to sin by passing judgement, because judgement will fall on them. But! Though God is just and holy, He is also patient and kind. His kindness is like great riches. And why wouldn’t we think so? Paul has just shown that we will stand before God in judgement, how much should we desire His kindness towards us? It’s easy to look at God’s wrath and judgement and feel resentful towards His character. This truly stems from our pride because His wrath and judgement are perfectly balanced with His kindness, tolerance and patience towards us. We don’t deserve His kindness but He offers it knowing that it leads us to repentance which leads us to holiness. Without repentance, we cannot be forgiven of our sins.
Repentance shouldn’t be a difficult thing to do, but without repentance how do we receive His grace? Repentance is turning away from the practice of sin and turning to God in submission to His will. His kindness leads us there, and we shouldn’t take this lightly at all.
Not to get political, but here is an example of taking God’s kindness lightly and not seeing repentance for what it is, necessary to be right with God.
This is based off an interview with President Donald Trump regarding his faith in God.
“Moderator Frank Luntz asked Trump whether he has ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions.
“I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so,” he said. “I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
Trump said that while he hasn’t asked God for forgiveness, he does participate in Holy Communion.
“When I drink my little wine — which is about the only wine I drink — and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed,” he said. “I think in terms of ‘let’s go on and let’s make it right.’”
I don’t usually like CNN, but I wanted to show that even the most powerful man in the world can be in a place where he can profess Jesus as His Lord and yet miss out on one of the most basic doctrines of the faith, that being repentance. Repentance doesn’t save us, but we can’t come to receive God’s salvation without it. How can one be saved if they don’t turn to Christ?
“In Greek, the root meaning of ‘repentance’ is not ‘confession of a sin’—-but a ‘change of mind.’” Tertullian (c. 207, W), 3.316.
“Repentance is great wisdom. For he who has sinned understands that he acted wickedly in the sight of the Lord. He remembers the actions he has done, and he repents. He no longer acts wickedly, but he does good generously. He humbles and torments his soul because he has sinned.” Hermas (c. 150, W), 2.22.
The early church fathers all strongly emphasized the necessity of repentance to be right with God. Peter preached to the Jews in Acts 3:17-19 about their need to repent of their sins towards Jesus. Acts 3:17-19 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But in this way God has fulfilled what He foretold through all the prophets, saying that His Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped away,”
The act of repenting must precede the forgiveness of sins. Though the extent of God’s atonement has been made possible to all people, only through repentance can the sins be forgiven. Having real faith in Jesus means repenting of sin. The act of repentance doesn’t save us, but without it we cannot have real faith in Jesus. Real faith is believing and confessing Jesus, believing in Jesus is not like believing in Santa Claus like a child does. Believing is demonstrating action just as the disciples demonstrated themselves true believers by doing the things Jesus commanded of them.
So let us not take lightly the riches of God’s kindness, we ought to be grateful that God has granted us the grace to be able to repent and turn to Him. Without His enabling us to turn to Him we would be lost in sin and destruction. His kindness leads us to repentance and out of that comes the wiping away of our sins. How great is our God who desires to wipe away our sins?