Studies in Romans Part V: The Judgment of God -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 130:517 (Jan 1973)
Article: Studies in Romans Part V: The Judgment of God
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.


Studies in Romans
Part V:
The Judgment of God

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

[S. Lewis Johnson, Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

The reality and inescapability of the justice and judgment of God are elementary truths of Holy Scripture. The first is tellingly illustrated in the whining complaint of Cain after his judgment for murder, “My punishment is too great to bear” (Gen 4:13). It would not have been difficult to convince Cain that the judgment of God is real. Nor is it difficult to support the claim that the Bible affirms unhesitatingly the inescapability of the divine judgment. It has been pointed out that there are at least four possibilities of escape for the man who offends against human laws. In the first place, it is possible that his offense shall not become known. Illustrations of this in human experience abound. Second, there is always the chance that the guilty person may be able to escape the bounds of the legal jurisdiction under which the crime was committed. Further, there may occur, after apprehension by the authorities, a breakdown in the legal processes. And, finally, the ultimate hope of the criminal is that he may escape from detention and live in a measure of freedom.1

There are no such possibilities with God. It is unthinkable that a crime may escape the attention of the One of whom it is said, “Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, and art intimately acquainted with all my ways” (Ps 139:3). Nor is it possible for the sinning criminal to escape beyond His jurisdiction. The psalmist’s words, “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?” (v. 7), convincingly cancel that vain hope, as wel1 as the last gasp hope of undetected escape from the clutches of the

divine justice and judgment. Finally, can there be failure in the legal processes of One of whom it is said, “For all His ways are just” (Deut 32:4)? The answer is pellucid, and the roadside signs which pointedly warn, “Prepare to Meet God,” are surely justifiable. The judgment of God is real, and it is inescapable.

The divine judgment is not only real and inescapable. It is also just. The two words, judgment and justice, are closely related. Justice is the quality of being righteous, or impartial, while judgment is the activity of rendering a decision. In the case of divine judgment it is always in accord with the highest character of just...

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