Devotion on Romans 1:18-32 “General Revelation Reveals There Is a God”

Posted on September 26, 2010. Filed under: Devotions- The Mark 12 Life |

Living the Mark 12 Life

Daily Devotions, Bible Study, Scripture Memory, History and More

In an effort to fulfill the Great Commandment

Series I: The Basic Gospel

Week 1: Crucial Question- Is There A God?

Memorize Isaiah 45:18-19 “For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other. 19 I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, Seek me in vain. I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right.”

Day 4  Reading: Romans 1:18-32 “General Revelation Reveals There Is a God”

            In these verses from Romans 1 Paul is discussing God’s wrath on the Gentile world for their unrighteousness and in vss. 19-21 he brings out the concept of General Revelation which means that God has revealed himself and his attributes to all people of all time through nature and in their own souls through the Law that is written in their hearts and confirmed by their consciences. While General Revelation is not sufficient to lead people to salvation on their own, it is enough to bring just condemnation. Once a person is born again and saved from their sin by Christ, they will understand General Revelation and be able to praise God for what they see of Him in nature.

            Paul shows in 1:18 that General Revelation is insufficient because it can be suppressed by sinful men. People suppress the evidence and truth about God because we are all sinners who, by nature, are in rebellion against God and do not want the truth about him to see the light of day. We are not neutral. In suppressing the truth about God we deny what nature shows us and we deny what our own consciences tell us. Though people may be ignorant of the Bible, and ignorant of Christ, we are not ignorant of God. The atheist is not ignorant of God, he actively seeks to suppress and deny the truth about God. The atheist does not deny God in a vacuum; he first knows about God then denies that God exists.

            The atheist must suppress the truth about the origin of the universe by asserting that life came from non-living matter, emotions came from non-emotive matter, and reasoning and memory came from non-reasoning, non-remembering matter. Can beauty, harmony, and complex information arise because of a purposeless process that developed by accident? Can the universe have created itself, thus violating the law of non-contradiction because the universe would have to exist and not exist at the same time and in the same relationship? The atheist suppresses the truth about God every step of the way.

            Paul says in verse 20 that “his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” Ancient man was able to look at the world and understand that immense and mysterious power lay behind everything. Modern man, though stripping away much of the mystery through science, still comes to a stopping point beyond which science cannot go. The point of singularity, from which the Big Bang came, had to have come from somewhere; someone, with infinite purpose, power, and intelligence created it. It could not have been eternal nor could it have created itself. God alone has sufficient power to create the universe.

            God’s divine nature is revealed in the tenderness of a mother caring for her baby and in the delicate beauty of a flower, in the stately majesty of a snow capped mountain and the terror of thunderstorm.. God is a God of grace and love, compassion and mercy, kindness and beauty. These attributes of God that we see in nature make us pause and contemplate the finer things of life. These things cannot have arisen from cold, dead matter.

            Man’s inner knowledge of justice and his crying out against injustice again point to God. If there is no such thing as justice why do we feel aggrieved when someone does us wrong? Animals may feel fear when a competitor takes away their food, but the animal does not feel that an injustice has occurred. Humans know injustice when they experience it and this points us to God. Why are we deeply moved when we see unjust suffering by others? How can we extract justice from a criminal proceeding apart from God’s being just?

            Paul says, “So they are without excuse.” Though unbelievers can make all kinds of excuses in the here and now, though they can suppress the truth about God, in the end they will have no excuse for their behavior. On the Day of Judgment God will convict them and they will know that all their lies and efforts at suppressing the truth about God, were futile. Paul says the wrath of God is being revealed against those who suppress the truth. The doctrine of the wrath of God is not popular today, yet it is indispensable for understanding the human condition and the gospel.

            Although men knew God, they did not honor him nor thank him as God; in fact, they worshipped false gods of their own creation, gods who resembled their own immoral nature. Even though we owe God everything, in our fallen sinfulness we are unwilling to give him praise, honor and glory. He gives us the very air we breathe and causes it to rain on the just and the unjust alike, yet still people deny there is a God.

            Notice the character of those who deny God: ungodly, unrighteous, suppress the truth, do not honor or thank God, they think futile thoughts, their foolish hearts are darkened, they have become fools, they worship things that are less than themselves, they are given over to lusts and impurity, they exchange the truth for a lie, they have dishonorable passions in homosexuality and lesbianism, committing shameless acts, they have a debased mind that is filled with evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossip, slander, hatred for God, insolence, haughtiness, boasting, inventing evil, disobedience to parents, foolishness, faithlessness, and ruthlessness. These are the poisonous fruits of atheism. What kind of a neighbor do you want next door? One who represents these horrible fruits of atheism, or one who acknowledges God as the Creator and Redeemer of mankind?

            In Romans 2:14, 15 Paul writes, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them….” On this text William Hendricksen writes (p.97) “he equipped him with a sense of right and wrong. He did not permit even the Gentile to remain altogether without a testimony concerning God. Cf. Ps.19:1-4; Acts 17:26-28; Rom. 1:28, 32. This accounts for the fact that Gentiles are ‘a law for themselves.’ By nature- that is, without prompting or guidance coming from any written code, therefore in a sense spontaneously- a Gentile will at times do certain things required by God’s law. For example, he is kind to his wife and children, has a heart for the poor, promotes honesty in government, shows courage in fighting crime. Etc.”

            Hendricksen continues, “What God has written on his heart finds a response in this man’s conscience. As the etymology of the word, both in Greek and in English (from Latin) implies, conscience is a knowledge along with (or shared with) the person. It is that individual’s inner sense of right and wrong; his (to a certain extent divinely imparted) moral consciousness viewed in the act of pronouncing judgment upon himself, that is, upon his thoughts, attitudes, words, and deeds, whether past, present, or contemplated. As the passage states, the resulting thoughts or judgments are either condemnatory or, in certain instances, even commendatory.”

            Man’s conscience goes back to Genesis 1:26-27 and being created in the image of God:

Then God said, “Let us make man  in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Though certainly damaged by eating the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, man still has a conscience and this reveals a core knowledge of God that the atheist must suppress and cannot escape.

Bibliography:

Hendricksen, William. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the

            Romans. Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, MI. 1981 (p.59-85, 96-97).

Luther, Martin. Commentary on Romans, 1552, translated by J. Theodore Mueller.

            Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, MI., 1976 (pp.42-48).

MacArthur, John, Jr. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Romans 1-8. Moody

            Press: Chicago, IL. 1991 (p.59-104).

Murray, John. New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistle To

The Romans. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.: Grand Rapids, MI.1959 (pp.34-53, 68-76).

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