Grace For The Journey
Paul is writing to a mixture of Jewish and Gentile believers in Rome expressing his desire to come and bring to them his apostolic ministry in proclaiming the Gospel of God. He expects there will be great benefit to them and to himself if he could do so. They all would be strengthened in their faith as well as new people brought to faith in Christ. Paul then begins his explanation of the gospel and its ramifications to them.
The book of Romans is often called
Paul’s Gospel tract, for it is
The clearest and most detailed
Presentation of the Gospel in Scripture.
Those who write tracts would do well to follow its pattern.
Paul begins his presentation of the gospel in 1:16 with his personal statement that he was not ashamed of the Gospel because of what it is – It is the power of God unto the salvation of everyone who is believing regardless of ethnic heritage; and what it presents – The righteousness of God in both His relationship and actions towards those who are believing (1:17) and those who are not (1:18). In other words . . .
The benefit of the gospel message is man’s salvation,
But the message itself is really about
God’s righteousness in how He deals with man.
God is righteous in granting men salvation from their sins and sins’ consequences on the basis of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God is also righteous in His wrath against those who are not believing, for in their ungodliness and unrighteousness they suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
This was the point of yesterday’s blog. God’s wrath is revealed from heaven by His various decrees issued by Him from His throne resulting in actions taken against all the ungodly and unrighteous. God has in the past and in the present demonstrated His wrath in all sorts of natural phenomena such as storms, fire, famine, earthquakes, and such as well as the actions of men and angels. However, His most common demonstration is in the consequences of sin as God removes His restraining hand from those who refuse to worship Him properly or follow the commands He has given. The rest of Romans 1 will describe the working of this aspect of His wrath.
Remember that “ungodly” means “to be without the proper reverence for God and a proper response to God.” It is the opposite of “godly” which comes from a root meaning “good worship.” Ungodliness invariably results in false worship of either the true God or a false god, for man will worship something even if it is only himself and his own thoughts. “Unrighteous” is that which “does not conform to what is right.” It is the opposite of loving and obeying the truth (Romans 2:8; 1 Corinthians 13:6), and so it is the opposite of the character of God. It includes deeds of violating God’s law and His standards of justice.
“Ungodliness” and “unrighteousness” are closely related
In that neither will follow God’s commands,
But the ”ungodly” is more directed
Against the person of God
And “unrighteous” against the
Standards of character and conduct
Which flow from God’s character.
The “ungodly” reject the true God
For one they define for themselves,
And the “unrighteous” reject God’s standards
In order live by standards of their own making.
”Ungodliness” always leads to “unrighteousness”
Because a person who is not following God
Will not follow His commands and
Can never be right with Him.
Paul further defines the “ungodly” and “unrighteous” as those who are ”suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.” To “suppress” is to “hold down or restrain.” All the “ungodly” and “unrighteous” stand against the truth “to keep it from progressing.” This suppression may range from blatant open denial to a subtle mixing the truth with error, but in any case, it is a holding back of the truth. In verses 19- 21 Paul explains God’s revelation of truth which they suppress and thus leave themselves without excuse when facing God’s righteous wrath.
Verses 18-21 state, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
The word “manifest” or “reveal” comes from a root meaning “to shine or bring to light” and thus “to make visible, evident, or known.” There is a certain amount of knowledge of God that all men have been given.
This is not knowledge that
God has given passively,
As in a book that is available,
But the knowledge is only
Gained by those who read it.
This is knowledge of Himself
That God has actively given to all people.
It is given as something both
Innate and as something He has actively
Manifested, revealed, and made evident to all.
No one is born an atheist. It takes hard work to train a person to be an atheist. You have to convince them to think contrary to what is natural to them and opposite of what even a cursory understanding of the world around them causes them to conclude. Every child naturally acknowledges that there is something much bigger and more powerful than themselves. Even after the hard work which is done in our public school systems to try to convince students that there is no God, the vast majority still believe that there is. The quick resurgence of religion in the former USSR after 70 years of atheistic communism is further evidence of this truth. And of the relatively few that do claim to be atheists, most of these will call out to God when they find themselves in serious trouble. There is a lot of truth to the old adage that “there are no atheists in a foxhole.”
The knowledge that God exists
Is inherent to the human soul.
Children also quickly figure out that everything around them had to have been made by someone. You can amaze a child by a slight of hand trick and pull a rabbit out of a hat, but the curiosity of the child is going to cause them to try and figure out how the rabbit got in there. Even if they conclude that it was “magic,” they understand that somebody or something had to make the rabbit and put it in the hat. It did not happen by accident. There must be a creator.
Paul points out that very fact in verse 19. It is what God has made in the creation that manifests knowledge of God to all people. God is a Spirit (John 4:24) and so is not visible to man, but some of His attributes are understood through what God has made in creation.
Please note that this does not mean
That a complete knowledge of God
Can be known through creation,
But certain things are revealed
About Him in all that He made in creation.
Paul specifically points out God’s eternal power and nature are “clearly perceived” so that men are without excuse.
God’s power is clearly manifested in creation. Many verses point to things that happen in nature as evidence of God’s power. Quite a few of these were pointed out yesterday when we looked as example of God’s wrath being demonstrated. We can also add to these things what we have learned from our own investigations into nature. Let’s look at a few examples . . .
Psalm 19:1-6, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.”
The “heavens” in verse 1 refers to the celestial heavens – space – and to the throne of God; while “expanse” refers to the atmospheric heavens. Both space and the atmosphere declare the power of God.
Out of the atmospheric heavens come demonstrations of God’s power in weather. The most extreme example of rain is Genesis 7:11; 8:2. When during Noah’s flood the “windows of heaven opened” bringing judgement and then after forty days the “rain from heaven was restrained” in God’s mercy. All of us have experienced or at least seen pictures of strong rain storms. Here were it gets colder, we have also seen this it is frozen form of snow. Another frozen form of rain, hail, is also an example. Severe hail was one of the plagues on Egypt (Exodus 9-10) and in Joshua 10 God sent large hailstones that destroyed much of the army Joshua was fighting against. Thunder and lightning are often mentioned in the Bible as signs of God’s power. The thunder and lightning on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19) made the people tremble in fear of God. Job cried out, “But His mighty thunder, who can understand?” (Job 26:14). We have all experienced strong thunderstorms. God uses wind in all sorts of ways. He used wind to part the Red Sea for Moses and the children of Israel (Exodus 14:21) and bring quail for food while they were in the wilderness (Numbers 11:31). God also used wind as a means of judgement in bringing the plague of locusts (Exodus 10:13) and famine (Hosea 13:15). Strong winds are used to break rocks into pieces (1 King 19:11). Psalm 104:4 speaks of God making the “winds His messengers.” Snow, hail, frost, ice, stormy wind, fire, thunder, and clouds all fulfill God’s word (Psalm 147). God’s power is seen in the various weather phenomena that exist in the atmospheric heavens.
Modern research into these things measure and quantify the power displayed. For example, at any time, 2,000 thunderstorms are occurring around the world, producing lightning that strikes upon earth up to 100 times every second. There are some 20 million cloud to ground lightning strikes in the continental U.S. every year with another estimated 100 – 200 million cloud to cloud strikes. Within the lightning bolt the air is superheated to temperatures exceeding 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, many times hotter than the surface of Sun. Typically, lightning travels 10 miles or less. However, lightning has been observed to travel 20 miles or more, often extending up to 10 miles away from the cloud that formed the lightning. Tornadoes can be spawned by severe thunderstorms with wind speed estimates ranging from 75 to over 300 miles an hour. The funnels may range from only a few yards to a mile at its base.
According to the NOAA/AMOL, estimates of the energy released in a hurricane are tremendous. For an average hurricane of sustained winds of 90 mph and a width of 46 miles, the kinetic energy to generate the winds is about 1.5 X 1012 Watts, or about half of the total world-wide electrical energy generating capacity. But this is small in comparison to the amount of energy released in cloud and rain formation. The estimate for this for the same storm is 6.0 X 1014 Watts or 200 times the total world-wide electrical energy generating capacity. The kinetic energy goes up with the windspeed cubed, so a Category 5 hurricane with wind speed three times as fast would be 9 times as much not counting the greater diameter of the storm.
Isn’t that amazing?
The atmospheric heavens
Of God’s power!
Then there is also the celestial heavens – space. The power of God displayed in it is mind boggling. David exclaimed in Psalm 8, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man, that You are mindful of him? And the son of man, that You care for him?” Our Sun is a fairly typical star. It has a diameter of about 1.4 million km. The Sun’s surface temperature is about 10,000ºF and its Corona (its “atmosphere”) is about 1.8 millionºF with its core temperature estimated at 27 millionºF. A single solar flare can release as much energy as a billion megatons of TNT in just a few minutes. There are billions of stars, and many of them are much larger than our Sun. The celestial heavens also declare God’s power!
This does not even get into other aspects of creation that show God’s power such as earthquakes and volcanoes.
God’s Divine Nature.
But creation also shows us something of God’s divine nature. For example, God’s goodness is seen in His provision for all life.
- Psalm 136:24 tells us that God gives food to all flesh because His lovingkindness is everlasting.
- Psalm 147 says that God gives food to the animals both great and small in due season and they are satisfied with good.
- The same Psalm says He also gives rain to the earth and causes the grass to grow.
- In Matthew 6 Jesus pointed out God’s provision for the birds of the air as proof of God’s care for His creation and for man. Jesus also pointed out in the same passage God’s beautiful array of the lilies of the field which are so short lived. All the beautiful things in the world, flowers, plants, animals, minerals, jewels, and dazzling vistas all show that God loves beauty.
God is also immense and eternal. To go back to some of the evidence from the celestial heavens, we quickly are overwhelmed with the size of creation. When we start measuring distances between plants and suns, we quickly come up with numbers which we cannot really comprehend.
Consider the following figures . . .
Actual Miles and Travel Time From Earth To Planets In Our Galaxy:
Travel time = 34,000 mph 2X speed of Space Shuttle
Mercury – 36 million miles away … 44 days travel time.
Venus – 67.2 million miles away … 82.3 days travel time.
Mars – 155 million miles away … 190 days travel time.
Jupiter – 483.3 million miles away … 1 year, 227 days travel time.
Saturn – 887.4 million miles away … 3 years travel time.
Uranus – 1,783 million miles away … 6 years travel time.
Neptune – 2,795 million miles away … 9 years, 140 days travel time.
Pluto – 3,726 million miles away … 12 ½ years travel time.
Distance Of Other Galaxies From Earth:
Travel time = Must be measured in “light years” … Light is the fastest-moving item in the universe. It travels at an incredible 186,000 miles (300,000 km) per second. That’s very fast. If you could travel at the speed of light, you would be able to circle the Earth’s equator about 7.5 times in just one second! A light-second is the distance light travels in one second, or 7.5 times the distance around Earth’s equator. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year. How far is that? Multiply the number of seconds in one year by the number of miles or kilometers that light travels in one second, and one light-year is about 5.88 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km).
Barnard’s Galaxy – 1.63 million light years away.
Phoenix Dwarf Galaxy – 1.44 million light years away.
The Andromena Galaxy – 2.5 million light-years away.
Proxima Centauri – 4.25 light years away.
Alpha Centauri A & B – 4,35 light years away.
God is also precise, because in this vastness of the solar system, man can calculate the precise movements of the heavenly bodies so that he can land a space craft within 10 feet of a pre-designated spot. He can thread the solar system with space probes like Jupiter I and II and pass through the rings of Saturn without hitting the planet. This is vastness and precision of God’s divine nature. We could also spend much time looking at the microscopic world or the biological world and we would find the same precision and complexity.
This mighty Creator is
Worthy of our worship.
There is one other attribute of God that is exhibited in creation. God is also a God who will judge. This is not so much in the things that were created, but in how they were rearranged by the global flood of Noah’s time. Even without the book of Genesis, the cataclysmic events that have scarred the earth demonstrate that there is an all-powerful Being who judges and whose wrath is to be feared.
Man Is Without Excuse.
The result of all this is that man is without excuse . . .
There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate
To man that there is an all-powerful Creator
Who needs to be sought out.
God made the knowledge of Himself
Evident both within man and in creation
In all that has been made.
The problem is not in the evidence.
It is in man. Man is sinful by nature
And simply refuses to seek out God.
All men are “ungodly” and “unrighteous” and therefore suppress the truth given to them. They reject God and His commands to one degree or another. Paul points this out in Romans 3:10-12 in his quote from Psalm 14. “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.”
God is righteous in His wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteous of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. He is just in His punishment of sin. He has made the truth evident, but man has rejected what has been revealed in order to create for himself a god and standards of living according to his own liking.
2 Peter 3 comments about this suppression of truth that is so blatant and prevalent in our own society. In verses 3-8, the Bible says, “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with [their] mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For [ever] since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God [the] heavens existed long ago and [the] earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” Verse 4 is a good statement of the premise of evolution which holds that everything continues just as it always has. It is called the principle of uniformitarianism, and it purposely ignores and suppresses all the evidence of God’s judgement on the world in Noah’s flood.
I could very easily spend many weeks showing all this evidence to you and the foolishness of even the idea of evolution. I have done so in the past and there are plenty of books in the library for those who would like to study this area in depth. Some of these evidences would include the massive amounts of sedimentary rock covering the world which in places is thousands of feet deep; the large scale water deposited fossil grave yards; geologic unconformities; recent examples and experiments that prove rapid fossilization, rapid catastrophic erosion (Mt. St. Helens which explains the formation of the Grand Canyon), and rapid formation of oil; fossils, especially trees, that transverse multiple layers of sedimentary rock; the evidence for the rapid formation of the polar ice caps; the evidence of widespread volcanic activity during a single ice age.
These don’t even begin to get into all the evidence for a young earth that is measure in thousands of years and not billions or even millions. The properties of physics limit the age of the earth drastically from the evolutionary model. These would include degradation of the earth’s rotational speed; the rate of heat loss by the Earth; and the decay of the Earth’s magnetic field.
Evolutionists claim that creationists cannot be true scientists, but the truth is exactly the opposite. We are not afraid of looking at all the evidence including those that do not fit our current hypotheses. Neither are we afraid of stating our premises and philosophical underpinnings and call them that. A serious look at evolution from the hard sciences can only conclude that it is a fairy tale for grown-ups who refuse to believe the truth.
The problem men have is not with the evidence,
For the evidence is present and shouting out the truth.
The problem is with the hearts of men.
They do not want to be accountable to a God
Who has judged in the past for fear
He will judge again in the future
Just as He has said He would.
Ungodly and unrighteous men suppresses the truth. This is why so many insist on limiting what God can do and how He can do it. Do you really think it would be any problem for God to create the world in six, twenty-four hour days just as Genesis 1 describes? Are the miracles described in the Bible too difficult for God to do as described? Again, the problem is not in the evidence, it is in man’s ungodliness and unrighteousness that refuses to believe.
Is it fair for God to choose and draw some men to belief and salvation while judging those who do not? In actuality, it is not fair. It is merciful and gracious. If God was fair, all men would be condemned.
Never ask God to be fair
Because you would not like it if He was.
Ask Him to be loving, merciful, and gracious.
What is demonstrated in the Gospel is the righteousness of God. He is righteous in justifying the sinner based on faith in Jesus Christ. He is righteous for bringing His wrath to bear on the ungodly and unrighteous who suppress the truth He has revealed. The evidence is there, and it is active and compelling, but men refuse it and turn away from it because that is their desire. Men are saved because of God’s actions, but they are judged because of their own.
The evidence is in . . . What have you done with it? If you already are one of the ones believing in Jesus Christ, then thank God for your salvation and tell others about Him. If you are not yet believing, then be warned you are currently under God’s wrath, but you do not have to stay there. Humble yourself before Him, turn from your sins to Him and ask Him for His mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Be like the publican in Luke 18:9-14 who would not even lift up his eyes, but beat his breast and cried out, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” Jesus said this man went home justified. So can you.
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!