Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Paul reasons why God exists & what’s God’s character like (Romans 1 & 2)

How did Paul reasoned to people without knowledge of Jewish history (i.e. Gentiles) that God exists,
… and what’s God’s character like?

Or as our children may ask us, … what does God look like?

In Romans 1 & 2, Paul presents the good news (gospel) and the eternal God who faithfully loves us, to an audience with little or no Judeo-Christian background.

This post will explore Romans 1 & 2 (most verses):

  • What is God’s good news?
  • Paul’s premise why God exists and what’s God’s character like
  • Creation
  • Conscience
  • Without a relationship with God?
  • Conclusion

On a side note, Paul  also usually shares his testimony  of encountering God on the road to Damascus in Acts 10.    Examples in Acts 22 & 26.


What is God’s good news?

In Romans 1, Paul begins Romans by first introducing what is the gospel, the good news from God,

Romans 1:2-7; 17;   2:13,28,29,7 (NLT)
God promised this Good News
long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.

The Good News is about his Son.

In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line,
and he was shown to be

the Son of God

when he was raised from the dead
by the power of the Holy Spirit.

He is Jesus Christ our Lord.

Through Christ,
God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to 

tell Gentiles everywhere

what God has done for them,
so that
they will

believe and obey him,
bringing glory to his name.

God’s desires us to respond to His good news about Jesus,
to believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.

And you are included among those Gentiles
who have been called
to belong to Jesus Christ.

The good news of Jesus is all-inclusive;
everyone and anyone is called to belong to Jesus Christ.

I am writing to all of you in Rome
who are    loved by God
and are    called to be his own holy people.

The good news is about being in right relationship with God through Jesus,
loved by God … called to be his own holy people.

Continuing, … Paul elaborates in Romans 1 & 2, how we can be in right relationship with God,

Romans 1:17 This Good News tells us

how God makes us right in his sight.

This is accomplished from start to finish
by faith.

As the Scriptures say,
“It is through faith
that a righteous person has life.”

Later, in Chapter 3, Paul elaborates how we can all be made right with God,
by placing our faith in Jesus Christ

Romans 3:22, 25, 26 (NLT)
We are made right with God
by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.
And this is true for everyone who believes,
no matter who we are.

25 For God presented Jesus
as the sacrifice for sin.

People are made right with God
when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life,
shedding his blood. …

26 … God did this to demonstrate his righteousness,
for he himself is fair and just,
and he makes sinners right in his sight
when they believe in Jesus.

Thus,  everyone who believes  can be made right with God,
for God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin,
so that we can be called to be God’s own holy people,  … loved by God (Roman 1:7)

Back to Romans 2,

Romans 2:13 For merely listening to the law
doesn’t make us right with God.

It is obeying the law
that makes us right in his sight.

2:28 For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision.

2:29 No, a true Jew is one whose
heart is right with God.

And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law;
rather,

it is a change of heart
produced by the Spirit.

And a person with a changed heart
seeks praise from God
,
not from people.

By believing in Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins, we become right with God — righteous,
by a change of heart produced by the Spirit, … obeying God’s word.

The good news is … God gift of eternal life through Jesus,

Romans 2:7 To those who by persistence in doing good
seek glory, honor and immortality,
he will give eternal life.

Deep down, … don’t we desire to live forever?

God put this desire in our hearts,

He has also set eternity in the human heart;
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NASB)

And, praise God, …  God gave us the way to receive His gift of eternal life …
right now, … wherever we are ….

Now this is eternal life :
that they know you, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent
John 17:3 (NIV)

Thus, Paul boldly proclaimed,

Romans 1:16 (NLT)
16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ.
It is the power of God
at work,
saving everyone who believes
—the Jew first and also the Gentile.


Here’s the lead singer of U2, Bono, sharing his reasons for believing in Jesus, and praying to Him.


Paul’s premise why God exists and what’s God’s character like

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he was writing to mostly Gentiles in Rome.  Gentiles who have limited or no background in Jewish history.
Hence, instead of  reviewing how God has revealed Himself through the history of the Jews, and the Jewish prophets … (which would not be familiar to his Gentile listeners), Paul directs them to observe other ways by which God has revealed Himself to them.

For those without a Judeo-Christian background, Paul highlights in Romans 1:

Romans 1:19-20 (AMP)
19 because that which is known about God
is evident within them [in their inner consciousness],
for God made it evident to them.

20 For ever since the creation of the world

His invisible attributes,
His eternal power
and divine nature,

have been clearly seen,
being understood
through His workmanship
[all His creation,
the wonderful things that He has made],

so that
they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.

Paul says what is known about God is also revealed through

** Creation — all His creation that we see all around us
** Conscience — Our inner consciousness

His invisible attributes,
His eternal power,   
and divine nature,
have been clearly seen

being understood
through all His creation

His invisible attributes is … clearly seen … understood,
through all His creation

In a similar way, an invisible something holds us to the ground we are standing on, i.e. gravity.
We can’t see gravity, but gravity is observed by everyone, everywhere on earth based on empirical experience.

Thus, in Romans 1:20, Paul was making a statement based on the scientific method of discovery & enquiry, … which begins with empirical observation of the physical world.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method)

On a separate note, in Acts there’s mention of two God fearing Gentiles who regularly pray and worship the Lord God creator of heaven & earth, …. before they were introduced to Jesus.

Acts 10: 1-4 (NIV)
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision.He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.

Acts 16:14 (NIV)
14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God.
The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
 


Creation – All His creation

Baba Yetu – the Lord’s prayer in Swahili

Consider, …
breathtaking sunsets,  …. the vast ocean teeming with life, … spectacular roaring storms, … majestic mountains, … towering waterfalls, … refreshing rain, … the amazing feats of migration of birds, fishes and animals (without GPS) across the earth, … the taste of a chili, … the scent of sandalwood, … the first cry of a newborn baby, …

whenever we pause to gaze and savor these breathtaking moments,
and listen to the diverse rhythms and harmonies of nature,
something stirs up within us, …
awe, … wonder, … wow!

… our hearts are moved

God’s awe-inspiring creation speaks in the language of our hearts.

Throughout the ages, … poets and painters have tried to capture stunning snapshots of God’s creation in all its beauty, majesty and awe,
… scientists have observed and studied the mysteries of the vast reaches of the God’s universe, … and the mysteries of a tiny atom,
… engineers and agriculturists have persevered to harness and unleash the astounding riches embedded in God’s creation for the common good.

Psalm 90:2 (CJB)
Before the mountains were born,
before You had formed the earth and the world,
from eternity past
to eternity future

You are God.

The Eternal God, the creator.

Psalm 146:5,6 (NIV)
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever

The God Paul is referring to is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them, … from eternity past to eternity future

Therefore, the Bible begins with God’s act of creation in Genesis.

Let’s explore God’s character as revealed through all His creation.

We live in an intricately self-sustaining earth,
full of infinite variety and expressions,
… spinning in the immense expanse of the expanding universe. 

Isaiah 40:26 (MSG)
Look at the night skies:

    Who do you think made all this?

Who marches this army of stars out each night,
    counts them off, calls each by name

—  so magnificent!   so powerful!  —

 and never overlooks a single one?

God knows each and every star in the Universe by name,
How many are there?

In October 2016, an article in Science (based on deep-field images from the Hubble Space Telescope) suggested that there are about 2 trillion (1012) galaxies in the observable universe,  … there were about 100 million (106) stars in the average galaxy.
(Reference: Space.com)

Thus, estimated number of stars = 2 x 1012 x 100 x 106

And if God know each star by name, and never overlooks a single one,
then, … what about Him knowing & loving each one of us ?

Even today, we’ll still discovering and marvelling at the boundless and diverse species of plants & animals, … stars, galaxies, quasars, black holes, … that God  created!

On earth, we are still discovering new species that have never been observed before.
In the last decade (2008-2016), nearly 200,000 new species have been discovered and named.
(Source:  https://phys.org/news/2017-05-esf-species.html)



The Psalmist explains,

Psalms 19:1-4 (AMP)
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And the expanse [of heaven] is declaring the work of His hands. 

Day after day
pours forth speech,

And night after night
reveals knowledge.

There is no speech,
nor are there [spoken] words [from the stars];

Their voice is not heard.

Yet their voice [in quiet evidence]
has gone out through all the earth,

Their words to the end of the world.

Interestingly, later Paul quotes Psalm 19:4 in answer to a  rhetorical question about the people of Israel (who have the scriptures) ?

Romans 10:18 (NLT)
18 But I ask, have the people of Israel
actually heard the message?
Yes, they have:

“The message has gone throughout the earth,
    and the words to all the world.”

The heavens are telling of the glory of God … declaring the work of His hands. 

In 2016, astronomers listed the most distant astronomical galaxy from earth at an estimated distance of about 13.4 billion light-years,
i.e.  it took 13.4 billion years for light from the galaxy
to zoom through the universe and collide with the Hubble Space Telescope. 

“Right now, we expect this galaxy to be about 32 billion light-years away from us in distance,” says study coauthor Pascal Oesch of Yale University.
(Source:  National Geographic )

A light year is the distance that light travels in one year — 9.4607 × 1012  km

32 billion light years, … a glimpse of eternity,
a glimpse of the His eternal power, … our eternal God

Jeremiah 23:24 (NLT)
Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? 
Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord.

32 billion light years, … a glimpse of vast infinity,
yet God who created everything is even greater than that,
and is present everywhere, whether seen or unseen (Jeremiah 23:24 MSG),
i.e. omnipresent

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
Psalm 139:7,8 (NIV)

Consider, …
the amount of power required to light up the countless stars and galaxies (currently estimated as 2 x 1012 x 100 x 106),
… a glimpse of the unfathomable immensity of  God’s power.

Colossians 1:16, 17 (NASB)
16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth,
visible and invisible
, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities
—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Consider — all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth,
visible and invisible

“All the stars, planets and galaxies that can be seen today make up just 4 percent of the universe. The other 96 percent is made of stuff astronomers can’t see, detect or even comprehend.   

These mysterious substances are called dark energy and dark matter.
Astronomers infer their existence
based on their gravitational influence on what little bits of the universe can be seen, but dark matter and energy themselves continue to elude all detection. …

Overall, dark energy is thought to contribute 73 percent of all the mass and energy in the universe. Another 23 percent is dark matter, which leaves only 4 percent of the universe composed of regular matter, such as stars, planets and people.”
Source:  https://www.space.com/11642-dark-matter-dark-energy-4-percent-universe-panek.html
Further reading:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_matter

Hence, in the physical universe, there’s stuff that are beyond the electromagnetic spectrum, i.e. not observable by the human eye, or current instruments/sensors, telescopes;
i.e. invisible !

Thus, based on our observation of creation,
if God can do this, … then this is what He is like.

Some scientists’ conclusions, through their observation and study of God’s amazing universe:

If the heavens are really telling the glory of God,
this implies that something of God can be known through them …
— Alister McGrath, biophysicist & theologian, Oxford

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets,
could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”

— Isaac Newton (1642-1727), Principia

Michael Faraday (1791–1867), a pioneer in the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry:
Faraday found no conflict between his religious beliefs and his activities as a scientist and philosopher. He viewed his discoveries of nature’s laws as part of the continual process of
reading the book of nature”,
no different in principle from the process of reading the Bible to discover God’s laws.
A strong sense of the unity of God and nature pervaded Faraday’s life and work.

Faraday saw his faith as integral to his scientific research.
Source: Wikiquote, Wikipedia

Objective truths are present in God’s creation, … God’s universe
Objective truths — i.e. truths that are not a matter of opinion, or situational, or anecdotal, personal,
but … truths that are true for anyone, anywhere in God’s universe.
eg.  when anyone jumps up on earth, the force of gravity brings them down.

In God’s creation there are objective truths in the laws of nature,
eg,  Newton’s law of gravity, Coulomb’s law of electrostatic attraction and repulsion, the law of entropy, laws of thermodynamics, the law of energy conservation, the law of action and reaction, etc
(a list from Wikipedia)

Also in God’s creation, there’s objective truths in unchanging universal physical constants,
eg.  Newton’s constant of gravity, the electric constant, Planck’s constant, the speed of light in a vacuum, etc (a list from Wikipedia)

And in discovering God’s laws & constants in creation, we marvel at the genius of God’s wisdom and understanding.

The Lord made the earth by his power,
and he preserves it by his wisdom.
With his own understanding
he stretched out the heavens.
Jeremiah 51:15 (NLT)

At the entrance of the Cavendish laboratory at the Department of Physics
in the University of Cambridge is the inscription taken from Psalm 111:2,

“The works of the Lord are great;
sought out of all them that have pleasure therein”

(Psalm 111:2 KJV)

Great are the works of the Lord;
They are studied by all who delight in them.
(NASB)


Lord, you’re holy


Thus, God’s incredible, mind-boggling universe … stirs up a question,

Psalm 8:1, 3,4 (AMP)
O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic and glorious and excellent is Your name in all the earth!
You have displayed Your splendor above the heavens.

When I see and consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have established,

What is man
that You are mindful of him
,

And the son of [earthborn] man
that You care for him?

Psalm 144:3 (NIV)
 Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
    mere mortals that you think of them?


I don’t know why Jesus loved me.
I don’t know why He cared.
I don’t know why He sacrificed His life.
Oh, but I’m glad, I’m glad He did
— Andrae Crouch


And when we look at our amazing bodies, … our birth, and the beauty of human reproduction,

Psalm 139:13-14 (AMP)
13 For You formed my innermost parts;
You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.

14 I will give thanks and praise to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

“The human body is a phenomenal self-building, self healing structure.  Its processes are so complex
… about the ear, where sound waves converted into brain waves through an ingenious system of tiny hairs and vibrating membranes.
… Each muscle is a bundle of thousands of interlocking filaments that can move along each other, causing the entire tissue to contract.”

Ruth Bancewicz, God in the Lab, Monarch Books, 2015.

And when we zoom out to the animals and plants around us,
the amazing ecological cycles (air, water, food, etc),
we marvel at  the caring God who  has faithfully and lovingly put in these processes
… to sustain all of life on earth.

Job was asked by God,
41 Who provides food for the raven
    when its young cry out to God
    and wander about for lack of food?
Job 38:41 (NIV)

Psalm 147:8,9 (NIV)
He covers the sky with clouds;
    he supplies the earth with rain
    and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
    and for the young ravens when they call.

Jesus said,
Observe and consider the ravens;

for they neither sow nor reap,
they have neither storehouse nor barn;

and [yet] God feeds them.
Of how much more worth are you than the birds!
Luke 12:24 (AMPC)

Jesus directs us to look at His creation, … ravens,
to understand the breath & depth of God’s faithfulness and love.

Interestingly … the raven is considered unclean according to the Law (Leviticus 11:13-15),
… yet, God takes an equal loving interest in ravens as with other animals He created, … providing for their needs, and feeds them;
what more … we, His people?
Indeed, … how much more worth are you than the birds!

On a side note, in 1 Kings 17, during a famine and drought, Elijah was fed by ravens.

Consider, … life sustaining water — rain, snow, rivers,

Isaiah 55:10 (NIV)
10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

Psalm 104:10-24 (NLT) gives us some insights:
10 You make springs pour water into the ravines,
     so streams gush down from the mountains.

11 They provide water for all the animals,
    and the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds nest beside the streams
    and sing among the branches of the trees.
13 You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home,
    and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor.

… the vast variety & abundance of food (nutritional & medicinal), …

14 You cause grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for people to use.
You allow them to produce food from the earth—
15     wine to make them glad,
olive oil to soothe their skin,
    and bread to give them strength.

… shelter, …

16 The trees of the Lord are well cared for—
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests,
    and the storks make their homes in the cypresses.
18 High in the mountains live the wild goats,
    and the rocks form a refuge for the hyraxes.

… cycles of day & night, seasons, …

19 You made the moon to mark the seasons,
    and the sun knows when to set.
20 You send the darkness, and it becomes night,
    when all the forest animals prowl about.
21 Then the young lions roar for their prey,
    stalking the food provided by God.
22 At dawn they slink back
    into their dens to rest.
23 Then people go off to their work,
    where they labor until evening.

24 O Lord, what a variety of things you have made!
    In wisdom you have made them all.
    The earth is full of your creatures.

(see also Psalm 65:5-13)

On a further note, Psalms were praise/prayer songs sung by the everyday people.
We just read a portion of Psalm 104.
Both Psalm 103 and 104 begins with
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
In the Old Testament, this statement only appears in these 2 Psalms

Psalm 103 expresses the grateful praise of God’s gracious and compassionate forgiveness and redemption.
Psalm 104 expresses the grateful praise of God’s powerful & beautiful creation
and God’s faithful provision.

God our creator, sustainer, redeemer,
who loves us.

The Bible in a nutshell in Psalm 103 & 104

Thus, one of the most common grateful  praise response in the Bible is,
Give thanks to the Lord,
for he is good;
his faithful love endures forever. 

After the great flood in Genesis, God said,

“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,   Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,   And day and night
Shall not cease.”
Genesis 8:22 (NKJV)

But God has given proof of what he is like
He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven. 
He gives you crops in their seasons.
He provides you with plenty of food. 

He fills your hearts with joy.”
Acts 14:17 (NIRV)

… He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Matthew 5:45 (NIV)

The earth is uniquely blessed with an atmosphere around it,
an air cycle sustained by plants and living organisms.
The earth’s atmosphere shields all living organisms from solar ultraviolet radiation, solar wind, cosmic rays and meteors.

Without air, no living organism will be able to breathe or live.

Interestingly, without air in the atmosphere, no sound can be heard;
speech and sound would not be heard;  silence.

Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer
The earth is closest to the sun in early January (146 million km) ,
and furthest away from the sun in early July (152 million km);
a difference of 4 million km.

The earth currently has a mean axial tilt of about 23.4°.
This causes uneven heating of the earth’s atmosphere, resulting  in seasonal winds, seasons of rain and the 4 seasons.  This creates seedtime and harvest, as seeds need the right environment to germinate (temperature, water, soil, air and sunlight).  Plants also are dependent on the wind and other organisms (eg insects) for them to pollinate to produce new seeds.

day and night
At the equator, the earth spins about its axis at a speed of 465.1 m/s, (1,674.4 km/h);
24 hours for one complete spin.
At the same time, the earth orbits around the sun at an average orbital speed of about 30 km/s (108,000 km/h);
365.256 days, or 1 human year for a complete orbit.

Simultaneously,
our solar system is traveling at an average speed of 828,000 km/h (230 km/s)  around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy !
The length of one orbit range from 225 to 250 million terrestrial years — a galactic year.

(Source:  references given at the end of post)

In maintaining these daily, seasonal,  and yearly events that are so crucial for sustaining life on earth,
is a series of very complex, continuous spinning & orbiting movements of astronomical proportions!

Like God’s grace, we receive the benefits of these  daily, seasonal,  and yearly events,
without fully understanding or comprehending the complex dynamic mechanisms of such extraordinary movements in the universe.

Indeed,  life is preserved and sustained in this complex universe by the Lord who loves us,

Psalm 145:8-10 (NIV)
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.

10 All your works praise you, Lord; …

1 Corinthians 14:33 (AMP)
for God  is not a God of confusion and disorder
but of peace and order. …

Thus,

that which is known about God …
for God made it evident
…  clearly seen,
being understood
through His workmanship
all His creation
Romans 1:19,20

Amen!

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;

 praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;

    praise him for his surpassing greatness.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
Psalm 150:1,2, 6 (NIV)


Its true that at times, the earth can behave violently without warning,

“Natural processes such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and the natural greenhouse effect are what make this world a fertile place in which to live.  Without them, it would become a dead sterile world and no one would be here to see it.”
— Prof Robert White, geophysicist, Cambridge University
Robert White, Who is to blame? Disasters, natures and acts of God, Monarch, 2014, pg 10.


On a final note on God’s creation.
God has also given the people He created
— His wisdom & creativity to effectively unlock the riches in His creation.

24 When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?
    Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil?
25 When he has leveled the surface,
    does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
Does he not plant wheat in its place,
    barley in its plot,
    and spelt in its field?
26 His God instructs him
    and teaches him the right way.

27 Caraway is not threshed with a sledge,
    nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,
    and cumin with a stick.
28 Grain must be ground to make bread;
    so one does not go on threshing it forever.
The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it,
    but one does not use horses to grind grain.
29 All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
    whose plan is wonderful,
    whose wisdom is magnificent.
Isaiah 28:25-29 (NIV)


 Conscience

 

(Back to Romans 1, 2)

 

Paul highlights that within each of us, is a keen sense of justice, when wrongs are observed or experienced,

 

Romans 1: 29-32, 2:1-4 (NLT)
1:29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.

 

32 They know God’s justice
requires that those who do these things
deserve to die,

 

yet
they do them anyway.
Worse yet,
they encourage others to do them, too.

 

2:1 You may think you can condemn such people,
but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse!

 

When you say they are wicked
and should be punished,

 

you are condemning yourself,
for you who judge others do these very same things.

 

And we know that God, in his justice,
will punish anyone who does such things.

 

Since you judge others for doing these things,
why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment
when you do the same things?

 

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant,
and patient God is with you?
Does this mean nothing to you?

 

Can’t you see that his kindness
is intended to turn you from your sin?

 

In this portion from Romans 1,2, Paul begins by listing a list of sins, bad behavior that impacts others negatively ( greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, gossip, etc)

 

2:1  you say they are wicked
and should be punished,

 

Whenever athletes cheat by taking performance enhancing drugs, … whenever students cheat in exams, … whenever business people or politicians take advantage of others, … people and the media are up in arms, demanding justice and punishment for these people.

 

In general, when others see such wicked behavior, they instinctively agree that those who indulge in such bad behavior should be punished.   (irrespective of whether they believe or don’t believe in God ).
Furthermore, whenever someone is wronged by another, … justice is desired;
eg.  ‘an eye for an eye‘, the thief is punished.

 

Where does this sense of right & wrong come from?
Where does this keen sense of justice & punishment for evil doers, come from?

 

2:3why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment
when you do the same things?

 

Paul highlights that the implication of this instinctive sense of justice towards the wicked in people,
is a reflection of the God who created us.
That, in the end, … ultimate justice will come from God.

 

Thus,
1:32 They know God’s justice
requires that those who do these things
deserve to die.

 

However, unlike human justice,
Paul also notes that God’s justice is based on His unchanging, impartial standards,

 

Romans 2:2, 6, 11, 16 (NIV)
And we know that God, in his justice
will punish anyone who does such things.

 

He will judge everyone according 
to what they have done.

 

11 For God does not show favoritism.

 

16 on the day when, according to my gospel,
God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

 

the secrets of men
actions, …  thoughts.

 

Thankfully, in the meantime, God has a plan to redeem us through Jesus,

 

Romans 2:4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant,
and patient God is with you?

 

The fact that we don’t get zapped … each & every time we do or think something wrong,
reflects how wonderfully kind, tolerant,
and patient God is with you? … his kindness 

 

Furthermore, as we are created in God’s image,
and we are also able to demonstrate God’s goodness,
i.e. being kind, tolerant and patient with others.

 

But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was,
and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him.

Luke 10:33 (NET)

 

The Lord says,
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

Isaiah 49:15 (NIV)

 

Thus, in our conscience, we have an awareness of what is right and wrong, … good and evil, … a moral law that checks our hearts,

 

Romans 2:14-16 (NASB, EXB)
14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law
do instinctively the things of the Law,
these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,
15 in that

they show the work of the Law written in their hearts,
their conscience bearing witness and
their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,

 

16 on the day when, according to my gospel,
God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

 

In another translation (EXB)
 
14 (·Those who are not Jews [Gentiles] do not have the law,
but when they ·freely [by nature; instinctively] do what the law commands,
they ·are the law for themselves
[or reveal their awareness of God’s law].

 

This is true even though they do not have the law
[ the written law of Moses].
15 They show that ·in their hearts they know what is right and wrong,
just as the law commands
the requirements of the law are written on their hearts].

 

And they show this by their consciences [ bearing witness].
Sometimes their thoughts ·tell them they did wrong accuse them],
and sometimes their thoughts ·tell them they did right [defend them].)

 

For example,
Jesus taught,
Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.
Luke 6:31 (NASB)

 

The law of Moses taught,
… Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:18

 

John Wesley calls this the ‘golden rule’.
Love in action.

 

 Two men who have influenced Eastern and Western ethics and civil relationships are Confucius and Socrates.  They taught:

 

“Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.”
— Confucius

 

“Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you”
— Socrates

 

Variations of this ‘golden rule’ are found in various cultures in history;  examples are cited on this wikipedia page.   Respecting others, their lives are just as precious and valuable.

 

 CS Lewis notes:
“First, that human beings, all over the earth,

have this curious idea
that they ought to behave in a certain way,
and cannot really get rid of it.
Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way.”
CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

Thus, Paul wrote in Romans 2:
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law
do instinctively the things of the Law,
… they show the work of the Law written in their hearts,
their conscience bearing witness

 

Where does this instinctive moral code embedded in our conscience come from?

 

The God who created us.

 

Later in his letter to the Romans, Paul shares this common experience:
in our earnest efforts in trying to live up to this moral code on our own,
… no matter how hard we try, … something keeps hindering us from fully fulfilling it

 

Romans 7:18-25 (NLT)
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me,
that is, in my sinful nature.

I want to do what is right, but I can’t.
19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t.

I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.

20 But if I do what I don’t want to do,
I am not really the one doing wrong;
it is sin living in me that does it.

21 I have discovered this principle of life
—that when I want to do what is right,
I inevitably do what is wrong.

Paul echoes the feelings and thoughts of sages gone by, who have wrestled with defining a righteous life of goodness, … and trying to live it out in real life,

Romans 7:22 I love God’s law with all my heart.

23 But there is another power within me
that is at war with my mind.
This power makes me a slave to the sin
that is still within me.

24 Oh, what a miserable person I am!
Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?

25 Thank God!
The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law,
but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Therefore we need Jesus!
Paul elaborates, what God did through Jesus to help us.

 

Romans 8:3, 4 (NLT)
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

 

And because you belong to him,
the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you
from the power of sin
that leads to death.

 

The law of Moses was unable to save us         (or any other moral codes)
because of the weakness
of our sinful nature.
(our problem)

 

So God did
what the law could not do.
(God’s solution)

 

He sent his own Son
in a body
like the bodies we sinners have.

 

And in that body
God declared an end
to sin’s control over us

by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.

 

He did this
so that the just requirement of the law
would be fully satisfied for us,
who no longer follow our sinful nature
but instead follow the Spirit.

|

Amen!  Praise the Lord!

By believing and trusting in Jesus,
His  sacrifice for our sins,
then,
there’s no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus,
because,
the just requirement of the law
is fully satisfied for us,
and
the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you
from the power of sin that leads to death.

God’s justice & judgment for sin,
is fully satisfied by Jesus sacrifice for us,
and by the Holy Spirit, God empowers us to obey His Word, His way.


What if a relationship with God is missing?

 

Its possible to believe in God, and not develop or maintain a relationship with God.

 

Without a relationship with God,
… then, … all to human life is limited to this life on earth.
Thus, stirring a desire to prolong life for as long as possible,
… against inevitable death.
eg. cryonics, cryopresevation.

 

In Romans 2, for some,
a life without a relationship with God may lead to,
But for those who are self-seeking
and who reject the truth
and follow evil, ….
Romans 2:8 (NIV)

 

self-seeking 
Without God in one’s lives,
… then for some,
the purpose or motivation for living
becomes just oneself and one’s desire, goals, ambitions, etc.  Me.
lovers of themselves (1 Timothy 3:2)

 

Without God in one’s lives,
… then for some,
rejecting the truth,
i.e. truth evolves as relative  to whatever one makes it out to be;
truth becomes subjective, partial, anecdotal, emotional, personal,

 

Without objective truth,
then wrong can always be explained to be right, … (eg. truthiness, post-truth, alternate facts)
ormight is right’, … or ‘the ends justify the means’ … or ‘values can be traded’
… 
or  ‘do whatever makes you feel good’
or ‘whatever is the truth for you’

 

Isaiah described the implications of such times:
14 So justice is driven back,
    and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets,
    honesty cannot enter.
15 Truth is nowhere to be found,
    and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
Isaiah 59:14, 15 (NIV)

 

With shifting moral boundaries,
diverse opinions of truth,
and the pursuit of self interests,
the temptation to  follow evil increases
And in the end, … may be harmful to ourselves, … and others.

 

Excerpt – T. S, Elliot in Choruses from The Rock  (1934) notes:
“But it seems that something has happened that has never happened
before: though we know not just when, or why, or how, or where.
Men have left GOD not for other gods, they say, but for no God; and this has
never happened before
That men both deny gods and worship gods, professing first Reason,
And then Money, and Power, and what they call Life, or Race, or Dialectic“.

Conclusion

In the book of Job, Job and his 3 friends grappled with the question of suffering and the character of God.
At the very end, God answered.  (Job 38-42)

However, God’s answer was not a theological or philosophical answer.
Rather, God asked Job many questions … of his understanding of the natural world, the observable natural phenomena and animals around him, the inner workings of what God had created … (scientific questions? )
The questions range from the universe and stars (Job 38:31-33), the physical structure of the earth (Job 38:4-18), the earth’s weather (Job 38:22-30, 34-38), animals and birds (Job 38:39 – 39:30), and how are these creatures are sustained (Job 38:39-41).

Eg,

33 Do you know the laws of the universe?
    Can you use them to regulate the earth?

36 Who gives intuition to the heart
    and instinct to the mind?
Job 38:33, 36 (NLT)

In the end, when we consider the intricacies and mysteries of the world and universe around us,
God’s workmanship, God’s creation,
the wonderful things that He has made,

we are led to face the sovereign Lord God who created everything,
who created us, with our intuition, instinct, conscience, creativity.
(rather than us, being merely a collection of cells & chemicals)

And like Job, we can only respond,

Job 42:1-7, 9,10 (NLT)
Then Job replied to the Lord:

“I know that you can do anything,
    and no one can stop you.               

You asked,
‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
   

 It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
    things far too wonderful for me.

You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
    I have some questions for you,
    and you must answer them.’

God is sovereign, all wise, and all powerful,  He is Lord.

I had only heard about you before,
    but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
I take back everything I said,
    and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

Amen.

After the Lord had finished speaking to Job,
He said to Eliphaz the Temanite:
“I am angry with you and your two friends,
for you have not spoken the truth about Me,
as My servant Job has.

and in the end of Job’s trial,

… the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.

10 When Job prayed for his friends,
the Lord restored his fortunes.
In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!

The grace and mercy of God.
Today we can be made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ

Romans 3:22 (NLT)
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.
And this is true for everyone who believes,
no matter who we are

Amen.


How great is our God!


References:
https://www.space.com/17081-how-far-is-earth-from-the-sun.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_rotation
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axial_tilt
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactic_year

Cross-Culture | Sharing Jesus

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
May 21, 2017
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2017 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License


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This entry was posted on May 21, 2017 by in cross-culture, Daily Rice, Ministry, Missions, New Believer Guide, Sharing Jesus.

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