Does that Bible reference ring any bells? I would suggest that for most Christians the answer would be no. Unlike John 3:16 or Romans 8:28 or John 1:1 … this obscure verse in Romans 2 is not quoted much at all. Is that because it is not important? Or is it because it grates against too much of the preaching we have all grown up with and it might be seen as an ‘inconvenient truth.’ In this verse the Apostle Paul tells us, ” . . it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.”
Growing up in the Church I can’t say I ever remember God’s kindness being talked about in a sermon where repentance was the central thrust. God’s wrath, God’s judgement, God’s holiness … they all featured prominently – but God’s kindness did not seem to fit with the message of repentance I was hearing. Sadly, I believe that is still the case in many parts of the Church and those harsh sermons are still being preached and the Church, by and large, continues to shrink and fade into history. Well that is certainly true in the west.
I remember the time when the truth of this verse impacted me for the first time. It was well over 20 years ago now but I can remember it like it was yesterday. God’s grace and love and mercy became as prominent in my thinking and living and preaching as it is in the Scriptures. It was like God turned on a light in the darkness and the full message of the Gospel of God’s amazing grace was finally seen and heard and felt and lived! It was an amazing time and in the midst of that turbulent year, God gave me many songs and this one encapsulates the truth of what Paul wrote to the Romans all those years ago:
Your Grace Has Captured My Heart
Your kindness led me to repentance
Your grace has captured my heart
Your overwhelming forgiveness
has given my life a new start
My freedom’s secured with the life of Your Son
My ransom is paid and my victory won
My pardon is signed with the blood of the Lamb
So now in Your grace I can stand.
I cannot repay You for what You have done
My rebellion and sin are exchanged for Your Son
I can’t understand the reason why
You loved me enough to die
You loved me enough to die.
I grew up hearing sermons that told me I was bad
The list was very long of things that made God mad
His judgement and His wrath were all I ever heard
Until the day His Spirit helped me hear God’s Word
Jesus took the punishment instead of me
He bore the wrath of God so now I am free
Sin, death and judgement are no longer mine
I’m reconciled to God – until the end of time
The message of His grace has simply not been heard
Millions still in bondage need to hear His Word
The Church has held this secret for two thousand years
Yet so many still are trapped in shame and fear
They know of sin and judgement and the hell they face
But now they need to know of His amazing grace
Hardened hearts will soften as His mercy flows
If the Church remains asleep – they’ll never know!
His kindness will lead to repentance
His grace will capture their hearts
His overwhelming forgiveness
Will give them all a new start
Their freedom’s secured with the life of His Son
Their ransom is paid and their victory won
Their pardon is signed with the blood of the Lamb
So now in His grace they can stand.
They cannot repay Him for what He has done
Their rebellion and sin are exchanged for His Son
They’ll never know … if we won’t go
And tell everyone the good news:
Jesus died for them too.
© 2001 Robert Griffith