God’s judgment, Paul says in Romans 2:2, is based on truth, and that truth is God’s standard for judgment. Those who do not respond to that truth, Paul says, are storing up for themselves wrath. But, these two points sandwich the gracious generosity of God: do you realize that God’s patience and kindness in the present life “should lead you to repentance”?
On the final day God’s just judgment will become clear.
There are many today who shy away from this theme in Paul’s writings, and some even suggest this theme is catastrophic for grace or something we should today tone down since it is so incredibly aggressive. Perhaps so, perhaps so. But is there any way to read the Bible, and you can begin with Deuteronomy 28 at least, and not see that a fundamental and unvarying warrant for getting the attention of humans is to warn them of finality? Is there any other way to read the prophets? Even if the focus of many of the OT passages, perhaps even most, is historical judgment, is there not in this something invisible being revealed through the visible? Is there not a clear and enduring strain in the Bible that says we will ultimately be accountable to God?
Now, some would like to pass this off as OT prophetic-type stuff and Pauline rabbinic-stuff and Johannine apocalyptic-stuff. But reason with me on this: Does anyone talk about judgment, and final accountability before God, more than Jesus himself? Read the Sermon on the Mount, read the parables of Matthew 13 (or Mark 4), and read those last chps in the Gospels before the death of Jesus and observe how he speaks to those who are not responding to his kingdom vision. And what of a passage like this? He who denies me before others I will deny before my Father; he who confesses me before others I will confess before my Father (Matt. 10:32-33).
The truth of the whole Bible is that wrath, however you might define it, is true. There is no reason now to run out and starting playing the part of the senseless fool and pitching our voices up high and screaming our heads off about hell, but there is no reason, if we are reasonable about the Bible and Paul’s letter to the Romans, to suggest that final judgment is somehow wishful thinking.