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Romans Series #15


      Title:                                 Goodness, Forbearance,



      Text:                                  Romans 2:4

      Subject:               The Goodness, Forbearance,

                                                              and Longsuffering of God

      Date:                                Sunday Morning — May 18, 2014

      Reading: Romans 4:1-5:2



I find it utterly amazing that God condescends to reason with sinners, sinners who live in relentless rebellion to him, despising his goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering. Don’t you find that simply amazing? God stoops to reason with man! The Holy One bows to reason with sin! The Judge condescends to reason with the criminal! The Pure lowers himself to reason with the impure! That’s amazing to me; but, oh, how I rejoice that it is so! — O poor sinner, will you hear how God reasons with you?


Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.


Isaiah 43:26 Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.


Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.


Isaiah 55:1-3 (1) Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (2) Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. (3) Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.


Isaiah 55:6-8 (6) Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (7) Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (8) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.


Jeremiah 3:4 Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?


Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?


Matthew 11:28-29 (28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.


Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!


Oh, how our God delights in mercy! He so delights in it that he reasons and pleads with sinners to seek his mercy! How willing God is to save! — “And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18).

As God the Holy Ghost will enable me, I want to preach to you about “The Riches of His Goodness and Forbearance and Longsuffering.” My text is Romans 2:4. Here again, the Lord God, speaking by his servant, the Apostle Paul, stoops to reason with sinners determined to go to hell. Will you hear him? The title of my message is — Goodness, Forbearance, Longsuffering. My text is Romans 2:4.


Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?


Personal Word


Notice at the outset what a personal word God’s word is to you.


Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?


Despisest thou?” — The apostle is intensely personal in his address. This is not spoken to all in the mass, but to one single person in particular. It is as though Paul fixed his eyes upon one person, and spoke directly to him. — “Thee” and “Thou.” — “Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?


That’s the way the gospel ought to be preached. It should always be the preacher’s determination to deliver God’s message to each one who hears his voice personally. I am always very hopeful and thankful when you leave here thinking, “He was talking specifically to me. Who told him about me? Who’s been talking to him about me?” — That is my intention, my desire, my determination, my prayer this hour. I want to speak to you!


I care nothing for indirect, essay-like preaching, preaching that addresses all in theory and none in reality. Such preaching is like heat-lightning in the summer, dazzling for the minute and flaming through the sky, but altogether harmless. It leaves no scar upon the earth. It touches nothing and changes nothing. I want to speak to you, personally. — O Holy Ghost, speak your word to each one hear today, for Christ’s sake!


Romans 2:4 Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?


Proposition: To live under and experience the riches of God’s goodness and forbearance and longsuffering without being turned by them to him is to despise his goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering.




First, the Apostle mentions “the riches of his goodness,” not just his goodness but “the riches of his goodness!” How can I begin to talk to you about the goodness of God, let alone “the riches of his goodness”?


Goodness is the character of our God; and the goodness of God gives us hope, comfort, and strength in the midst of our trials and sorrows in this world. The goodness of God suggests the idea of benefit from God.


Nahum declares, “The Lord is good!” The prophet of God had been talking about the storm of God’s wrath, the terror of his justice, the greatness of his anger, whirlwinds, shaking mountains, melting hills, and burning earth. Then, he comes to a blessed, calm, serene island of rest — “The Lord is good” (Nahum 1:1-7). I can no more explain the goodness of God than a thimble could contain the ocean. But I can tell you some of the things I know about God’s goodness. I know that...


God is essentially good. Goodness is essential to God. Without it he would not be God. Goodness is so essentially the character of God that, as John Gill observed, “There is nothing but goodness in God, and nothing but goodness comes from him.”

  • He permits evil, but overrules it for good (Psalm 76:10).
  • He afflicts his children and brings many evil things upon us,;but he makes the evil work for good (Romans 8:28: Proverbs 12:21).


Illustration: Joseph (Genesis 50:20).


  • God punishes sin with vengeance; but even the punishment of sin is good as a vindication of justice and the protection of Kingdom.


God is singularly good. He is the only good One in the universe. — “There is none good, but One; that is God (Matthew 19:17).


“God’s goodness is the root of all goodness. Our goodness, if we have any, springs out of his goodness” (William Tyndale).


God is eternally and immutably good (Malachi 3:6). — The goodness of God never varies, changes, or alters. He is good, always good, good in each of his glorious Persons.

  • God the Father is good.
  • God the Son is good.
  • God the Holy Spirit is good.


God is good in all his acts of grace (Ephesians 1:3-14). — Here are “the riches of his goodness.


Ephesians 1:3-14 (3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (8) Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; (9) Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (10) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (12) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.


God is good in all his works of providence (Romans 8:28; 11:33-36). — Here, too, we see “the riches of his goodness.

·      In all that he has done!

·      In all that he is doing!

·      In all that he shall hereafter do!


Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


Romans 11:33-36 (33) O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (34) For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (35) Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? (36) For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.


God is infinitely, incomparably, immeasurably good. Who can measure the goodness of God? To what shall his goodness be compared? He is good beyond our highest estimation of what good is.


Psalm 68:10 Thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor.


Psalm 25:7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD.


Psalm 27:13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.


Psalm 31:19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!


Psalm 33:5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.


Psalm 52:1 Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.


Psalm 65:11 Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.


God is good to his own elect (Psalm 23:6).


Psalm 23:1-6 (1) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (3) He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (4) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (5) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.


“The riches of his goodness” — That is a phrase worthy of constant meditation. Eternity itself will not tell out the fullness of “the riches of his goodness.” And all that goodness is directed toward his chosen at all times!


How good God has been to me! How good God has been to you!

·      Preserving Your Life!

·      Providing for You!

·      Keeping You out of Hell!

·      Giving You the Gospel!

·      We live upon and experience “the riches of his goodness” every day!




Next, our text speaks of “the riches of his forbearance.


Romans 2:4 Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?


The word “forbearance” means “self-restraint” or “tolerance.” It is the suspense of wrath. This particular word, “forbearance,” is used only one other time in the entire Bible. Turn over just a page in your Bible to Romans 3, and you will see it again. This is the only other time the word is used.


Romans 3:21-26 (21) But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (22) Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: (23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.


This is what the Spirit of God teaches us about “the riches of his forbearance”: — God holds up the world, preserves the world, holds back his wrath today, just as he did through all past ages, that he might exercise and display his great goodness in the forgiveness of sin, in the salvation of sinners by the propitiatory sacrifice of his darling Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

·      Adam’s Fall

·      The Ages of the Old Testament

·      All Past Time

·      Today


That brings me to my next point.




The third thing Paul mentions in our text is “the riches of his longsuffering.


Romans 2:4 Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?


O what riches of longsuffering our God possesses! How little we think of his longsuffering! How much we ought to think of it!


1 Timothy 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.


Paul tells us that his experience of life, grace, and salvation was ordained by God to make him a pattern upon which God displays his longsuffering! — His life was a life on the Potter’s wheel!


Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.


Numbers 14:18 The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.


Psalm 86:15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.


Peter tells us that “the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah” (1 Peter 3:20). Many greatly mistake the meaning of those words because they fail to remember the entire verse. — “The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.” God was longsuffering with the world because he was determined to save Noah and his family in the ark.


1 Peter 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.


That is exactly what the Apostle Peter tells u in 2nd Peter 3.


2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.


God is longsuffering with the world because he has in this world an elect people whom he is determined to save. He is not willing that any should perish…

  • Whom he chose and predestinated to eternal salvation!
  • For whom he has made an everlasting covenant with his dear Son!
  • For whom Christ lived and died!


Read verse 15, and you will see that that is exactly what Peter tells us about “the riches of his longsuffering.” — The longsuffering of God is our salvation!


2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you.



·      Adam in the Garden

·      Lot in Sodom


Paul’s Question


Now, look at our text one more time. Here is the question Paul puts to you. This is my question, the question I want to press upon your heart by the power of God.


Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?


·      Many despise the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering by never thinking of it.

·      Others despise the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering by opposing the design of these things, not knowing that the goodness of God ought to lead them to repentance.


·      Some even despise the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering by turning God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering into a reason for their continued unbelief.


Do not be so foolish!


Romans 2:4-6 Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (5) But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; (6) Who will render to every man according to his deeds.


When Christ the Judge descends,

And all the dead arise,

Then not a single soul escapes

His all-discerning eye!


How will your heart endure

The terrors of that day,

When earth and heaven, before His face,

Astonished shrink away?


Before the trump of God

Sounds to awake the dead,

O come to Christ, the risen Lord,

Who once for sinners bled!


O sinner, seek His grace,

Whose wrath you cannot bear;

Flee to the shelter of His cross,

And find salvation there!





Don Fortner








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