Monday, June 21, 2010

Romans 1:18-23 (The Pathetic Condition of Humanity in Rebellion)

“There is little use telling men that they need to be saved until they feel the need for salvation.” Francis Schaeffer

Paul begins to expand on his description of the Gospel in verses 16 and 17 by clarifying the human condition. Not just as sinners. Not just as people facing the wrath of an angry God. Humanity is in open rebellion against the creator of the universe. Interestingly, Paul begins with sin and not the existence of the creator. This is because we do not need to be told there is a God. We know.

This point needs to be clarified a bit. To be sure there are people today that say there is no god. These people just as religious (or non-religious as the case may be) as people who think there is a god. They are living by faith—it is just another faith system that they have built up for themselves. (In that sense, the Obama administration is right in allowing Humanist and Atheist groups into the faith-based charity programs that the Bush administration began, they are religions.) They do not need to be convinced that there is a God, just to give up the arguments they have built against that God’s naturally and universally assumed existence. Again, Francis Schaeffer states it well:

“Non-Christian philosophies don’t become popular because of their intellectual appeal, but because people have chosen to rebel against God. They rebel and refuse to glorify and thank God as Creator. Only then do they search for a rationale for their rebellion in the mysteries or promises of other religions.”

So, it is not the existence of God that Paul focuses on here, but on the sinfulness of mankind’s rebellion against that God. It is amazing how applicable this passage has been throughout the years. Humanities rebellion has led to surprisingly predictable outcomes over and over again. Men turn from the creator and place their faith in the creation. Be it Animism, deified human forms, or today… the goodness and potential of the human race itself. We have so little imagination. We turn away from a God so great that His inconceivable nature must be revealed in ways that only hint at His true nature—and worship pathetic replacements that resemble what we see in the mirror. One final Schaeffer quote:

“Scholars today will talk about people making God in their own image and will think they are clever to have made this observation. But Paul observed this in the first century!”

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