Romans 1:21-23 The Perversion of the Truth

 

Our study of Romans 1:18-21 has shown what human beings have done in terms of their relationships to God. They have (1) suppressed the truth about God; (2) refused to glorify, or worship, God; and (3) neglected to be thankful. Because of the first and perhaps also because of the second and the third of these transgressions, the wrath of God has already begun to come upon them.

But the problem not only involves people’s relationships to God. It also involves what happens to them as a secondary result of their breaking of the ties that should exist between this holy and loving Creator and His rational creatures. When Adam rebelled against God it was not only his relationship to God that was broken. His relationship to Eve was broken also, and this, too, was to affect the history of mankind. Adam acted the fool, and he became one. So also with the race as a whole; thus, having spoken of that cosmic rebellion by which the human race has set its face against God, Paul goes on to declare verses 21-23. According to these words, the first result of man’s rebellion against God, so far as he himself is concerned, is that he became a fool. His heart was darkened.

The opening phrase of verse 21 tells how perversion to idolatry initially came about. “For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God…” means there was a time when idolaters saw God as majestic, transcendent, all-powerful, infinitely greater than themselves. However, though they understood this, they did not honor Him but instead worshiped images like themselves. It’s important to see that what is involved is a falling away from high level truth, received by revelation, and not an upward climb to it.

It’s important to see this, because the world believes exactly the opposite. It tries to teach that the path of the race has been consistently upward from its original “animal” beginnings and that our present world religions or philosophies are a step upward from whatever religious sensibilities went before them. We have been taught that primitive ages of the race were marked by animism and that animism progressed upward to polytheism, which in turn produced monotheism. But this is not the way it happened. Research from anthropologists suggests that the original form of religion was monotheism and that the polytheistic or animistic religions we see today among certain “primitive” peoples are actually a falling away from that much higher standard. Claiming to be wise, we have become fools. For what could be more foolish that to have “exchanged the glory of the immortal God” for gods of our own devising?

In the midst of these important verses, Paul introduces another word that is extremely significant for understanding the nature of non-biblical religions and the human psychology that has produced them. This is the word exchanged. It occurs in verse 23 as well as verse 25. The word explains why the human race has been so determined to invent religions to replace worship of the one true God. The fact that people are religious does not prove that we are all seeking God. It proves the contrary. It proves that we are all running away from God. Although we are unwilling to know God and do not want Him, we are nevertheless unable to do without Him and try to fill the void with our substitute gods.

There is one more word we need to look at before we bring this study to a close, and that is the word darkness (v.21). Darkness is an image, of course. It’s the equivalent of Paul’s saying that “their thinking became futile” or “they became fools” or “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. When men and women turn away from God, they don’t admit this, of course. Instead, they speak of “bright new ideas,” “enlightenment” or “seeing the light.” But since God is the sole source of light, any ideas of enlightenment apart from Him that we may think we have are an illusion. And what we need is the revelation and power of God to bring us back from self-inflicted darkness into God’s light.

This is what has happened to Christians. We do not have any ability to rediscover the light of God by ourselves. Before God worked in us we were as much in the dark as anybody. In the case of Christians, God has uncovered for us the cause of our great spiritual trauma. He has dealt with our rejection of His revelation (as well as with all our other sins) in Christ, making that known to us. Then He has brought us back into harmony with Himself so that we no longer need fear Him or run away from Him but rather bask in His light.

We are also to live by His light. From Ephesians, Paul goes on to say: “Live as children of light (for the fruit of light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord” (Eph. 5:8-10). If we are of the light, we must live by the light. If we know God, we must show it by being like Him.

Romans 1:21-23 Reflection Questions:

Today in the 21st century, what idols do we use instead of worshiping God?

Are you basking in God’s light daily? What does that mean to you?

Are you living by the light? What does that mean to you?

Weekly Seed of Faith 7/18/2019

Seed of Faith – God’s Love & Our Love   By Pastor Dave  

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

Dear Friends and Faithful Companions on this Journey with Jesus:

We come to the end of our series on the “LOVE ONE ANOTHER” passages. I encourage you to take  some time and read your Bible this week.  Read 1 John 4:7-21!  I love the verses above! When you read these wonderful words of life in 1 John 4, take a moment and circle all the times the word love is used.  I will help you — the word “love” is used 26 times in 14 verses!

Love is a many splendor-ed thing as they say!

As we study this week, let’s remember a few things: John was picked by Jesus as a young man to be a disciple. This first book of John was written between 85-90 A.D.—50 years past the resurrection. If John was 15 when he began following Jesus, he is now 65 years old writing this book. John may have been the only surviving disciple at this time; perhaps he wanted to reassure his fellow Christians in their faith. Here in first John, John wants to make a point!  Twenty-six times in fourteen verses he writes about love! John used the word “love” 43 times in the entire letter.  Not only does he use the word “love” 26 times in 14 verses, he uses the phrase, “Love One Another” three times.  In verse seven it is an exhortation, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” In verse eleven, it is a statement of duty, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  In verse 12, it is a hypothesis, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

John is now an old man. (Hey, wait! Didn’t I just turn 65?!) John had spent three years with Christ doing daily ministry. He witnessed miracles. He heard tons of really good preaching and teaching. He saw people healed. And…John witnessed the crucifixion…AND THE RESURRECTION.  What John is teaching here is unmistakable: God is love.  This letter was circulated around the early churches and “Pastor” John was telling them, “God is light!  God is Spirit! God is love!”

Over the past few weeks, we have been learning about the “One Another Principles.”  Loving one another is a powerful aspect of our life in Christ and in our lives with one another. This “loving one another” business becomes hard work when we are hurt, betrayed, rejected, insulted, judged, mistreated and/or neglected.  Pastor John knew this and he knew the importance of loving one another; that’s why he wrote this book. John had a one-track mind on this subject: 26 times he reiterated: love one another–despite the hurt, despite the rejection, despite the lies and rumors, despite the betrayal. Love one another–not once, not twice but how about 26 times?

This past week, I talked with a teacher who has just retired after twenty-five years of teaching in an elementary school.  I told her to think of all the lives of the children she had touched in those twenty-five years.  She said that she figured that she had over 5,000 children come through her classroom in those twenty-five years. I thought about that and I reflected on the opportunities she had been given to “love one another” as God had loved her. That made me stop and reflect on all of the different people whom I have met and ministered to through my years of ministry.

Will we ever know all of the people whose lives we have touched? No, at least not until heaven.

Ray Boltz is a songwriter/singer and he wrote a song called, “Thank You.”

I encourage you to watch the YouTube video … Here is a link to a YouTube …

https://youtu.be/UFrdJ2V3r7Y

Here are the words to “Thank You” by Ray Boltz
I dreamed I went to heaven
You were there with me
We walked along the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name
You turned and saw a young man
He was smiling as he came

He said friend, you may not know me now
But then he said but wait
You used to teach my Sunday school
When I was only eight
Every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start
One morning when you said that prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

Then another man stood before you
And said remember the time
A missionary came to your church
His pictures made you cry
You didn’t have much money
But you gave it anyway
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

One by one they came,
As far as the eye could see
Each one somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done, sacrifices made
Unnoticed on the earth, heaven now proclaims
And I know up in heaven
That you’re not supposed to cry
But I was almost sure
There were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
And He said my child look around you
For great is your reward

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave
I am so glad you gave[i]

So What?
After all these weeks of learning to “LOVE ONE ANOTHER”, we are back to Mr. Rogers! Fred Rogers was the creator of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” a children’s television show that began airing in 1968 and ran until 2000—that’s 895 episodes. In 1997, Mr. Rogers won the Emmy lifetime achievement award. Here is an excerpt of his speech:

“So many people have helped me to come to this night. Some of you are here. Some are far away. Some are even in heaven. All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are? Those who have cared about you and wanted what was best for you in life. 10 seconds of silence. I’ll watch the time. Whomever you’ve been thinking about, how pleased they must be to know the difference you feel they’ve made.”

The video shows actors and actresses tearing up during and after those ten seconds of silence.

Our “SO WHAT?” for today is this: pause quietly and remember those who have loved you and helped you and encouraged you to become the person that you are today.  Take some time to reflect on the outrageous, lavish, unconditional, inconceivable, unreserved, unrestricted, unlimited, unhindered and unfailing love that God has poured out upon you and that you can freely pour out upon every person you know.

Stop and time out ten seconds on your phone. Think about the people who have made the time to pour out into your life. After your ten seconds are up, spend another minute or two thanking God for each person. Like the song by Boltz tells us–we never know how our investments pay out. We never know how one smile can change someone’s day. We never know how one kindness can change someone’s heart. We never know how one coin can change someone’s life.

Our church is 8 years old. When our youngest went to Africa, she was changed forever by the children and the people there. We started collecting our coins and sending them to Zambia. We started eating cereal or sandwiches and sending a bigger donation to the orphans. Then the churches we served started sending donations, too. Today, ACE (Alliance for Children Everywhere) is 50 years old! Our little church has sent over $20,000 in NOISY SUNDAY COINS during the past 8 years. I’ve been there once and I’m going again in the summer of 2020. What I believe is in the song.

AS WE PAY IT FORWARD…lives are changed. And we never know how one life that we impact will impact others.

A long time ago, I was just a kid kicking a can down the road! Then I met this JESUS and my whole life changed. How about YOU?

LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

SEED YOU SUNDAY!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave
www.theseedchristianfellowship.com

Copyright © 2018 THE SEED CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, All rights reserved. May you be blessed by God’s grace and love. You are receiving this email because you signed up for our weekly devotionals.   Our mailing address is: 6450 Emerald Street Alta Loma, California 91701   Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Romans 1:18-20 Natural Revelation

 

No one likes to talk about the wrath of God, particularly if it is thought of in relation to ourselves. But if we have to think about it, as our study of these verses obviously forces us to do, we find ourselves reacting generally in one of two ways. Either (1) we argue that wrath is somehow unworthy of God, a blotch on His character, and therefore a mistaken notion that should be abandoned at once by all right-thinking people; or (2) we reply by denying that we merit God’s wrath, that we  don’t deserve it. This second reaction is the more serious of the two. So it is the one Paul tackles in the development of his argument for the need we all have of the Christian gospel.

Romans 1:18-20 contains three important concepts, which together explain why the wrath of God against men and women is justified. The first is wrath itself. It is being revealed from heaven against the ungodly, Paul says. The second is the suppression of the truth about God by human beings, a point picked up and developed more fully in verses 21-23. The third idea is God’s prior revelation of Himself to those very people who suppress the truth about Him. These concepts need to be studied in inverse order, however. For when they are considered in that order – revelation, suppression, and wrath – they teach that God has given a revelation of Himself in nature sufficient to lead any right-thinking man or woman to seek Him out and worship Him, but that, instead of doing this, people suppress this revelation. They deny it so they don’t have to follow where it leads them. It is because of this willful and immoral suppression of the truth about God by human beings that the wrath of God comes upon them.

Revelation of God in Nature: It’s important to begin this study with some important definitions and distinctions. First, a definition: natural revelation means what it sounds like, namely, the revelation of God in nature. It is sometime called “general revelation,” because it’s available to everybody. Natural revelation is distinguished from “special revelation,” which goes beyond it and is the kind of revelation we find in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the Bible, and the revelation of the Bible’s meaning of the minds of those who read it by the Holy Spirit. When Paul talks about knowledge of God made plain to human beings as he does in this text, it is the general or natural revelation, not a specific scriptural revelation that he has in mind.

The second concept that needs to be defined here is “knowledge of God.” This is necessary because we can use the words know or knowledge in different ways. (1) Awareness: To begin on the lowest level, when we say that we know something we can be saying only that we are aware of its existence. (2) Knowing about: Knowing about something goes a step further, because knowledge in this sense may be detailed, extensive, and important. (3) Experience: The word know can also be used to refer to knowledge acquired by experience. (4) Personal: The last kind of knowledge is the highest and most important level. It is what we would call personal knowledge, the kind of knowledge we can only have of God, of ourselves, or of any human being. When the Bible speaks of knowing God in a saving way, this is what it has in mind. It involves the knowledge of ourselves in our sin and of God in His holiness and grace. It involves the knowledge of what He has done for us in Christ for our salvation and actual coming to know and love God through knowing Jesus Christ. It involves head knowledge, but also involves heart knowledge. It expresses itself in piety, worship, and devotion. It is what Jesus was speaking of when He prayed, “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

In the context of our text, of the four senses mentioned it is basically awareness, or nature that reveals God in such a way that, even without the special revelation of God that we have in the Bible, all men and women are at least aware that God exists and that they should worship Him. This awareness of God will not save them. But it is sufficient to condemn them if they fail to follow nature’s leading, as they could and should do, and seek out the true God so revealed.

Eternal Power and Divine Nature: Paul is precise here as he explains what the natural revelation involves. It consists of two elements: first, “God’s eternal power” and, second, God’s “divine nature” (v. 20). The second means quite simply that there is a God. In other words, people have no excuse for being atheists. The first means that the God, whom they know to exist, is all-powerful. People know this by definition, since a god who is not all-powerful is not really God. We can express these two ideas philosophically by the term “Supreme Being.” “Being” (with a capital “B”) refers to God’s existence. “Supreme” denotes His ultimate power. What Paul is saying is that nature contains ample and entirely convincing evidence of the existence of a Supreme Being. God exists, and we know it. Therefore, when people subsequently refuse to acknowledge and worship God, the problem is not in God or in the lack of evidence for His existence but in our own irrational and resolute determination not to know Him.

It’s important to understand that the revelation of God in nature is the limited disclosure of God’s existence and supreme power. There is no revelation of His mercy, holiness, grace, love, or the many other things necessary for us to learn if we are to know God savingly. Still, we are not to think of this limited revelation as minimal, as if somehow its limited quality alone can excuse us. According to the Bible, this natural revelation of God, though limited, is nevertheless extensive and overwhelming in its force. God’s revelation of Himself in nature does not stop with the external evidence for His existence, power, wisdom, and kindness, but it has what can be called an internal or subjective element as well. That is, not only has God given evidence for His existence; He has also given us the capacity to comprehend or receive it – though we refuse to do so.

Suppressing the Truth: This brings us to the second point of Paul’s argument in this section of Romans, the point that justifies and leads to God’s wrath; it is the human rejection of the revelation God has given. Paul’s description of what people have done in regard to natural revelation is in the phrase “who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (v. 18). Why do we do this? It’s because we prefer sin to that to which the revelation of God would take us.

If, as Paul maintains, the revelation of God in nature is fully adequate to condemn people who do not allow it to bring them to worship and serve this true God, how much more terrible and awful is the case of the vast numbers of people, particularly in our country, who have not only the natural revelation to lead them to God but also have the Bible and the proclamation of its truths in virtually every town and hamlet of our land and (by means of radio and television and social media) at almost any hour, “without excuse”? The people of Rome were without excuse, and they had nothing but nature. No Bible, no churches, no preachers! What about us who have everything? If we reject what God tells us, we are a thousand times more guilty. No excuse! “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3).

Romans 1:18-20 Reflection Questions:

What is your opinion of the “wrath of God,” do you believe it still applies in today’s world as it did in the Old Testament days?

Why do you think this country has so many atheists?

Who do you know to invite to church?