Saturday, April 14, 2012

What IS this kindness of GOD which leads men and women to repentance?

What IS this kindness of GOD which leads men and women to repentance?

by Patte Smith on Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 8:46am ·

Do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience,
not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
Romans 2:4

In every sin there is much unthankfulness,
and that is a matter of shame.
We have sinned against God when He has given us no cause:
`What iniquity have your fathers found in Me?'
~ Jeremiah 2:5

Wherein has God wearied us, unless His mercies have wearied us? To abuse the kindness of so good a God, how may this make us ashamed! O ungrateful, to be the worse for mercy! To contract the disease of pride and luxury from the perfume of God's mercy, how unworthy is it; to requite evil for good, to kick against our Feeder (Deut. 32.15); to make an arrow of God's mercies and shoot at Him, to wound Him with His own blessing! 0 horrid ingratitude! Will not this dye our faces a deep scarlet? Unthankfulness is a sin so great that God Himself stands amazed at it:
`Hear, 0 heavens, and give ear, 0 earth:
I have nourished and brought up children,
and they have rebelled against Me'
~ Isaiah 1:2

~ Thomas Watson

Many people have a wrong understanding of the scripture which speaks of God's kindness leading people to repentance. They mistakenly consider the phrase about the 'kindness' of God to mean the 'niceness' of people. Friends, it is not our kindness which leads people to repentance and saving faith. Romans 2:4 is not speaking about human kindness, but God's.
It asks:
Do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience,
not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

The scripture refers to two aspects of God's nature in this text; forbearance and patience. The Lord's kindness is manifested by His restraining His indignation and forbearing with human beings as they sin against Him. This is part of HIS essential kindnesses which should lead people to repentance. This is a measure of the kindness which impenitent sinners abuse. Matthew Henry explains; "In every wilful sin, there is contempt of the goodness of God."

In commenting on this Romans 2:4 Albert Barnes writes:

He spares people from day to day, and year to year, to give them opportunity to repent, and be saved. The way in which people despise or abuse the goodness of God is to infer that He does not intend to punish sin; that they may do it safely; and instead of turning from it, to go on in committing it more constantly, as if they were safe. "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil," Ecclesiastes 8:11. The same thing was true in the time of Peter; 2 Peter 3:3-4. And the same thing is true of wicked people in every age; nor is there a more decisive proof of the wickedness of the human heart, than this disposition to abuse the goodness of God, and because He shows kindness and forbearance, to take occasion to plunge deeper into sin, to forget His mercy, and to provoke Him to anger. it denotes a voluntary, and therefore a criminal ignorance.

The design of the goodness of God is to induce people to repent of their sins, and not to lead them to deeper and more aggravated iniquity.

Repentance - Change of mind, and purpose, and life. The word here evidently means, not merely sorrow, but a forsaking of sin, and turning from it. The tendency of God's goodness and forbearance to lead people to repentance, is manifest in the following ways.

(1) it shows the evil of transgression when it is seen to be committed against so kind and merciful a Being.

(2) it is suited to melt and soften the heart. Judgments often harden the sinner's heart, and make him obstinate. But if while he does evil God is as constantly doing him good; if the patience of God is seen from year to year, while the man is rebellious, it is adapted to melt and subdue the heart.

(3) the great mercy of God in this often appears to people to be overwhelming; and so it would to all, if they saw it as it is. God bears with people from childhood to youth; from youth to manhood; from manhood to old age; often while they violate every law, contemn His mercy, profane His name, and disgrace their species; and still, notwithstanding all this, His anger is turned away, and the sinner lives, and "riots in the beneficence of God." If there is anything that can affect the heart of man, it is this; and when he is brought to see it, and contemplate it, it rushes over the soul and overwhelms it with bitter sorrow.

(4) the mercy and forbearance of God are constant. The manifestations of His goodness come in every form; in the sun, and light, and air; in the rain, the stream, the dew-drop; in food, and raiment, and home; in friends, and liberty, and protection; in health, and peace; and in the gospel of Christ, and the offers of life; and in all these ways God is appealing to His creatures each moment. and setting before them the evils of ingratitude, and beseeching them to turn and live.


Remember that the goodness of God is given to all human beings, who spurn the blessed overtures of His kind common grace from day-to-day from the very beginning. And, the most remarkable proof of God's kindness is displayed in the bloody sacrifice of His beautiful beloved Son, Who have His life as a ransom for those who repent and believe upon the Savior.

Let us commend these truths, about the unmatched kindness of God, to ourselves and to our neighbors. In response to Romans 2:4 let us humbly ask the question posed by Adam Clarke:

Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness - Wilt thou render of none effect that marked benevolence of God towards thee which has given so many superior advantages, and that forbearance which has tolerated thy many miscarriages, and that long-suffering which, after repeated provocations, still continues to bear with thee?

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