28th October 2022
Read - Romans 2:3-5
Message Alan Burke
Robin Hood, what a guy! He captured our imaginations as children, the heroic outlaw depicted in English folklore and has been the focus of many works of literate and film, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. For me it is tie between the Disney animated Robin Hood released in 1973 which received poor reviews at the time but is in my mind one of the best Disney films and the 1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves staring Kevin Costner and Alan Rickman which I first watched on VHS as a child. Let’s assume for a moment that Robin Hood was real man and not just that of folklore, well if that was the case he was a criminal, he was a man who stole countless fortunes that today would have been valued in the hundreds of millions of pounds, even billions, he was followed by many what would be best described as criminal mercenaries, all involved in organised crime and we celebrate him. If he was a real man there is one thing certain is that he will have not escape the final judgment, none of us will. You might be wondering why I picked Robin Hood to start this devotion, well the truth is when I first wrote it I began by recalling my time working in a peace project in North Belfast in the Tigers Bay and New Lodge estates but I thought better of it and thought Robin Hood is safe!
There are those past, present and future whose crimes and their sin will never be known to others, there are crimes that are discovered that no one is ever charged or tried for, the case remains unsolved, there are others who are able to go on the run and never get caught by the authorities and escape justice, there are those who got of on a technicality, but we can be assured that while the justice system may have failed in this life, no one will escape the judgement of God. There are many who believe they can, that God’s judgement is not something that they have to worry about, yet all will face judgement, all of us will, Hebrews 2, asks “how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” (Heb 2:3To drive the point home, Paul asks the rhetorical question in v4, asking do we show contempt for God. For people can persist in a life of sin while talking at the same time about the goodness of God and excusing the sin in their lives. The thrust of the question of Paul is do we take the goodness of God lightly, do we take His grace for granted, do we assume that because God is good, because He is love, because He is patient, because he merciful, because He gracious then He will not judge?
Sadly that is what many people think today, God is more like the big fella in the red suit who comes in December, or like a senile grandfather figure who still loves us even though we set fire to his garden shed. The world may not believe it, you may not believe it, but every day that sin continues without repentance then it is storing up the wrath of God. Some people diminish hell, that’s where the party is, that’s where all the great people go, we’ll get to party with Frank Sinatra who did it his way, but hell will be where God manifests His perfect justice. It is not something to look forward to, it is not something that anyone should want, for the day of wrath of what lies ahead for the sinner should be dreaded. We have a saviour who does not excuse us; yet he forgives us, He calls us sinners. Yet he says, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32). The most important thing in life is to know that Jesus is able to save you from sin. The second most important thing is to know that you require it and you respond to that salvation that is offered that we might escape the wrath of God.
Q90 How is the Word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation?
That the Word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, (Prov. 8:34) preparation, (1 Pet. 2:1–2) and prayer; (Ps. 119:18) receive it with faith and love, (Heb. 4:2, 2 Thess. 2:10) lay it up in our hearts, (Ps. 119:11) and practice it in our lives. (Luke 8:15, James 1:25)