When God’s patience runs out

In Romans 2, the apostle Paul asks his readers if they think they will escape God’s judgment. “Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

The Homilies, which we are reading though over Lent, have the same message for those who are falling away from faith. God is patient and kind, but there are warnings and there are limits. Here’s how the Homily puts it:

“God is so merciful and so long-suffering that he does not bring that great wrath upon us suddenly. But when we begin to shrink from his word, not believing it, or not expressing it in our living: first, he sends his messengers, the true preachers of his word, to admonish us of our duty, that as he for his part (for the great love he bares unto us), delivered his own son to suffer death, that we, by his death, might be delivered from death and be restored to eternal life, evermore to dwell with him and to be partakers and inheritors with him of his everlasting glory and kingdom of heaven; so again, that we for our parts should walk in a godly life, as it becomes his children to do.

And if this will not serve, but still we remain disobedient to his word and will, not knowing him, not loving him, not fearing him, not putting our whole trust and confidence in him; and on the other side, behaving ourselves uncharitably towards our neighbours, by disdain, envy, malice, or by committing murder, robbery, adultery, gluttony, deceit, lying, swearing, or other similar detestable works and ungodly behaviour: then he threatens us by terrible comminations, swearing in great anger that whosoever does these works shall never enter into his rest (Hebrews 4:7-14) which is the kingdom of heaven.

Now, if this gentle warning and commination together do not serve, then God will show his terrible countenance upon us, he will pour intolerable plagues upon our heads, and after, he will take away from us all his aid and assistance, with which he previously defended us from all such manner of calamity.”

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