Without Excuse - Romans 1:19-23

Let’s open in a word of prayer. Father, we come with great anticipation, because Your word is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. We know that you are speaking through your word to us and I pray that we would have ears to hear what you say to us by your word. I pray that you'll open our eyes, that we may behold the truths of your word. Pray that your Holy Spirit will be the primary Teacher. Capital T, and that he will guide us and instruct us in your truth. I pray that this will do more than renew our minds, but that it will ignite our hearts and challenge our wills. And that this will be life changing for us. I pray that Your word will accomplish all Your good pleasure in our lives today. We pray this in Christ's name. Amen.

 

All right. We are in Romans 1, and we have come to verse 19. Romans 1:19. I on want to welcome those who are watching us live stream. Thank you for tuning in, wherever you are around the world. We love having you as part of our study and we love hearing from you, so please send us an email and let us know that you are a part of our study. It is a great encouragement to us.

 

I want to begin reading in verse 18, but where we are looking is verse 19 and verse 20, especially. Then as time permits, 21-23. But verse 19 and 20 for sure this morning. The apostle Paul is writing the church in Rome and he begins his case for the gospel. This is his magnum opus. This is his most extraordinary treatise for what is the gospel. Where Paul begins is with the condemnation of the entire human race. He cinches that knot pretty tightly, and the reason he does so is the good news of the gospel is never good news until you know what the bad news is. He has to begin with our need for the gospel. The necessity of the gospel.

 

That is why he is beginning with the wrath of God, because the entire human race is under the wrath of God. Therefore, the entire human race desperately needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. Everyone that you will run into today as you disperse and go back to your place of business. Everyone that you rub shoulders with during the day is in dire need of this gospel because they are under the wrath of Almighty God. The wrath of God is His holy vengeance, His righteous indignation and anger against all that does not conform to His perfect holiness.

 

That is where Paul begins his argument for the gospel. In verse 18, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven," and you will note that is present tense, right now, the wrath of God is being "revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." Not some unrighteousness. Not most unrighteousness. But wherever it is on the earth. "All ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." That is the state of the union. That is the state of the human race.

 

Now beginning in verse 19, where we will pick it up this morning, Paul begins to unpack this all-encompassing statement that he has just made in verse 18. He says, "Because", so this now introduces the reason, "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."

 

This binds the accountability of the entire human race before Holy God and there are none who are without excuse. Whether you have heard the name of Christ or not. The entire human race is found guilty. Has been weighed in the balances and found wanting. There is no excuse that any sinner can render to God to escape judgment before God. So much so, that when the section concludes in chapter 3 verse 20, he says every mouth will be closed. That everyone, when they stand before God, they cannot even open their mouth to render a counter argument against God on that final day.

 

He says in verse 21, "For even though they knew God," and the idea is that they knew about God, "they did not honor Him as God or give thanks. But they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures."

 

In the beginning of verse 24, he starts this case by which God has abandoned sinners. He says, "Therefore, God gave them over to the lusts of their heart." Verse 26, "God gave them over to degrading passions." Verse 28, "God gave them over to a depraved mind."  This is the downward spiral of the human race. What we see here is not evolution. We see the total opposite. We see the devolving of the human race.

 

The human race has started at a point of the knowledge of God and then rejected the knowledge of God, and then exchanged the knowledge of God for their own handmade idols, and God then giving the human race over to its own degrading passions. It is the ultimate slippery slope, and it starts off with monotheism – the recognition that there is one God. In this devolving, man begins to create his own gods, small g, and moves into polytheism. The creation of other gods according to man's vain imaginations.

 

What we have here, really, is the history of the human race. What we have here is the history of culture. We have here the history of society. We have here the history of nations. It starts with the knowledge of God. Then there is the rejection of that knowledge of God. When you reject the knowledge of God, you have gone into a free fall, in which you are going further and further away from God. There will come a point where God will, in essence, give those people a push in the direction that they have chosen to go. At that point, they cannot get back to God, apart from divine intervention.

 

Let’s begin in verse 19. This is very graphic. This is very grim. One thing about the Bible is, the Bible actually tells it like it is. The Bible does not tell us what we want to hear. The Bible tells us what we need to hear. The Bible does not sugar coat the message. The Bible speaks with adult language. The Bible tells it in a straightforward fashion. There is no fine print in the contract in the Bible. It is all up on the front porch. I would remind you, this is the very beginning of the book of Romans. This is not held to the end, because it is so unpalatable. This is front-loaded. This is the front porch as you come into the book of Romans. It is very direct. It is very emphatic. There are no apologies. There is no attempt to tone it down. This is the sheer, unvarnished truth from God through His apostle Paul.

 

He says in verse 19, "Because that which is known about God is evident within them," it could be translated ‘among them,’ “for God made it evident to them." Now, what this is talking about is what we call general revelation. There are two kinds of revelation, and we want to be theologically precise here. There is what we call ‘general revelation,’ and there is ‘special revelation.’ We have to keep those two categories distinct. General revelation is God's self-disclosure of Himself in a general, non-saving way to the entire human race. God has made himself known to the entire human race. There is no one on planet earth, in any generation, on any continent, on any island, who has not received general revelation.

 

Special revelation is what we have in the word of God. Special revelation is saving revelation. Special revelation is a fuller disclosure that God makes of Himself. General revelation reveals the existence of God and it reveals the attributes of God. But it does not reveal the way to God. It reveals the existence of God and the attributes of God, and it is sufficient to condemn. But it is not sufficient to save. There is special revelation, which is the revelation of God in a saving way, and it is found in the written word and in the living Word. It is found in the written Scripture and it is found in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, what we know of the person of Christ is in the written word of God.

 

"Faith comes by hearing," Paul will tell us later in Romans 10:17. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." No one can be saved without special revelation. That is why we must send missionaries. That is why we preach the gospel. That is why we must go to the ends of the earth to testify of the Lord Jesus Christ to people who have never heard of Christ. They cannot be saved by merely general revelation. They can only be saved by special revelation.

 

As Paul is speaking here in verse 19, he is speaking of general revelation – that which is generally revealed by God, about God, to all men, wherever they are. Look at verse 19 again, "Because that which is known about God," and that refers to His existence. That refers to his attributes. He says, it "is evident." It is clearly seen. It is obvious. It is out in the open. It is not hidden. No matter where a person is on planet earth, it is glaringly obvious. That is what he is saying.

 

He says at the end of verse 19, "For God made it evident to them." That is an important statement. Because no man has ever found God on his own. God must reveal Himself to man. God must make the truth about Himself evident. God must take the initiative. God must be the self-discloser to the human race. God is always revealing Himself to mankind. "For God made it evident to them."

 

Who among us could argue with this? It is crystal clear. No matter where a person is on planet earth, God is speaking to them. God is revealing Himself to them. Francis Schaeffer wrote a book many years ago entitled God is There and He is Not Silent. God is a speaking God. God is a self-revealing God. God is making Himself known continually.

 

Verse 20 now enlarges upon what he has just said. "For since the creation of the world..." Let's just stop right there. It has been this way from the very beginning. This did not start in New Testament times. This did not start with the nation Israel. This did not start with the tower of Babel or with the Flood. This goes all the way back to the very beginning. "For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes…" His attributes are His character qualities. He will enumerate on that in the next three words. "His eternal power."

 

We know of God’s eternal power by looking at creation. This speaks to His eternality and it speaks to His omnipotence. Anyone can look at creation and surmise that there was a Creator. You have to go intellectually dishonest to create a scheme of another explanation for the origin of the universe. Creation obviously implies a Creator. You can look at creation and know something about the Creator. You know that He is very powerful. To have created the oceans. To have created the mountains. To have created the continental masses. To have created the sun and the moon and the planets in outer space. This Creator is awesome in His power. His power far exceeds any power that any person or any man would have.

 

It also communicates his eternality, that He precedes creation. That there had to have been an initial first cause for which everything else is the subsequent effect. God is that first cause. He has eternally existed. If there has ever been a time when there was nothing, then there could never be anything. If there was ever a time when there was no one or nothing, then there could never be anything. The fact that there is creation logically, philosophically, biblically, demands the conclusion that there was a first cause that created everything ex nihilo. Created everything out of nothing. God is the only explanation for the creation of the universe. No group of men could have created everything out of nothing. You cannot create yourself. There had to be an outside force, an outside person. As you look at creation, you see something of the precision of the Creator.

 

My father was a professor in medical school for several decades and he said, "Steve, I would be a Christian if it were nothing more than the human eye." The precision and the detail and the expert craftsmanship of the human eye is beyond any explanation, except that there was a brilliant designer. A genius designer who created the human eye. And that is just one part of our human body.

 

Creation reveals that God is all-wise. He is omniscient. He is able to create in such a way where there is perfection in His design. You think of the earth and how it is tilted on its axis. The spinning of that globe perfectly every 24 hours. The distance of the globe, of the earth to the sun. If we were any closer, we would burn up. If we were any further away, we would freeze. As the globe spins perfectly, how it exposes itself to the sun so that there can be the growth of plant life. Etc. Etc.

 

The rivers flowing into the ocean. The evaporation into clouds. The blowing of those clouds back over the land mass. The dropping of the water back onto the land mass. The way that it then flows down to the streams, and the streams into the rivers, and the rivers back into the ocean. The brilliant, genius design of God.

 

We see the faithfulness of God. In the changing of the seasons. In the harvest every year. In God providing food for us as we live here upon the earth. The animal kingdom and the balance within the animal kingdom. And all things for man's pleasure.

 

We could spend the rest of our time here today and for future studies, just walking back through how God has testified of Himself to us that He is there. And something of His eternal power. Look at the hurricanes. Look at the tornadoes. Look at the tsunamis. We see something of the power of God. We see something of the wrath of God. We see something of the anger of God. We see the stillness and the calm after the storm. We see something of the peace of God. God has made Himself known to every single person. To try to come up with the idea that all of this has just happened by sheer chance and that everything has been created by itself out of nothing is absolutely ludicrous. Paul says, "Since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen." Not dimly seen. Not faintly seen. But clearly seen.

 

God has written his finger with boxcar-sized letter across the skies. "I am God. I am here. I am Creator." It is clearly seen. Paul says, "Being understood through what has been made." This general revelation of the existence of God and the attributes of God, he says, have been made known to such an extent, it says, "They are without excuse." There is no person on planet Earth who will be able to stand on the last day and say, "Well God, you didn’t give me the revelations." No. They are without excuse. The entire world is rendered accountable to God.

 

I want to say again, this general revelation is not enough for salvation. But it is enough for condemnation. Because men reject this general revelation about God. It is not that they are gladly receiving this and saying, "Well, give us more." Instead it is the very opposite. What God has revealed about himself, man has chosen to turn away from and to totally reject.

 

Continue to read, verse 21. "For even though they knew God," and when it says they knew God, it does not mean they knew God in a saving relationship. It means that they knew about God, and what they knew about God is what He has revealed in verse 19. So even when they knew about God, they did not honor Him as God. They did not give Him glory. They did not bow down before Him and call upon Him. They did not humble themselves beneath this God. They did not honor Him as God or give thanks. They did not give thanks for all that God had provided for them. They did not give thanks for the food. For the rain. For the weather. They did not give thanks for the provisions that God had made. And they did not give thanks for the revelation that God had made of Himself to them.

 

What is the result of that? Whenever you reject the truth about God, it puts you in a very precarious place. He says, "They became futile in their speculations." Those are two powerful words. Futile and speculations. Futile means useless. Worthless. They began to conjure up futile speculations about who God is. They began to have vain imaginations about God. They began to create images of what they perceived God to be. They began to become idolaters. They began to create gods of their own imagination, then gods of their own hands. The reason is, because they rejected the truth about God when it was made known to them. When they rejected the light, that put them in the darkness.

 

So that is what we see. They became futile in their speculations. What a degrading term that is, speculations. You are just making things up about God. You are just conjuring up vain, useless, base, empty thoughts about what you think God is like. It says, "their foolish heart." Their foolish heart. It comes from a Greek word from which we derive the word moron. Moronic. Incapable of having rational thought about God. You see, sin makes you stupid. Sin has a devastating effect upon your thinking process. Paul says, "their foolish heart was darkened." God blew out the candle and left them in the dark to continue to grope in the dark about who God is and what God is like.

 

Verse 22, "Professing to be wise." This speaks of how boastful and how arrogant fallen, sinful mankind is without God. They profess to be wise. They beat their own chest. They attempt to elevate themselves. They proclaim their own greatness. “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” They became absolute fools. The end result of this is verse 23. Please note this downward spiral. It goes from the revelation of God, verse 19 and 20, to the rejection of God, the beginning of verse 21, to insanity before God, the end of verse 21 and verse 22. Where this ends up in verse 23 is idolatry. Idolatry is not man spiraling his way up with higher thoughts about God. Idolatry is the total opposite. Idolatry is the bottom of the toilet. Idolatry is the spiraling down of the fallen, corrupt, foolish mind of man.

 

Paul says in verse 23, "and exchanged." Wow. You talk about a bad exchange. You talk about giving up diamonds for dirt. You talk about buy high, sell low. Look at this exchange. "They exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God." Incorruptible meaning never decaying, never dying, forever God. “They exchange the glory,” the outshining radiance of this knowledge of God, “for an image,” an icon, “in the form of corruptible man.” They would take pieces of wood and pieces of metal and craft a picture. Or craft an image of a man. And then bow down before it and worship the product of their own hand.

 

How base can a mind be? How low can the human mind sink to? To exchange the glory of the incorruptible God for the image of corruptible man and begin to worship one's own fellow man. Then of birds and four-footed creatures and crawling creatures. This is exactly where the Egyptian dynasty was. This is exactly where the Babylonian kingdom was. This is exactly where the Assyrian kingdom was. In fact, this is where Abraham was in the Ur of the Chaldees. He was a moon-worshipper. Rather than worshipping the Creator, Abraham was worshipping the creation. What God had made.

 

How blind can blind be? How foolish can foolish be? What we will look at next time is this slippery slope. This downward spiral does not even end here. It gets worse. In verse 24, and I am not going to get into it. We are going to look at it next time. But it hits this point of idolatry. God gives them over in judgment. He gives them over and there are three successive, lower rungs on the ladder as man is yet still moving further and further and further away from God. You see, no one is actually seeking God. It is the very opposite. By nature of the doctrine of total depravity, men are running away from the knowledge of God. Their fingers are in their ears. Their eyes are covered.

 

Verse 24, "God gave them over in the lusts of their heart to impurity." In verse 26, "God gave them over to degrading passions." Then in verse 28, "God gave them over to a reprobate mind." To a depraved mind. It ends up in verse 32, this downward descent of mankind to as low as it could possibly be. Not only are people involved now in the grossest of sins, but verse 32 says that the world is actually giving approval to the grossest of sins. There is no shame. The approval ratings go up the more wicked and vile and depraved it becomes. This is a sobering picture here of the human race and this downward decline.

 

So what does this say to us? What does this require of us? Well, first of all, in verse 21, we have to do the very opposite. It says in verse 21, they did not honor him as God or give thanks. We have to do the very antithesis of this. We have to give glory to God. We have to worship God. We have to bow down before this one true God and come to Him through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the only way we may find acceptance, and come before His throne of grace with confidence. You and I have been created to worship God. Not to worship the creation, but to worship the Creator. As you and I live our life today and tomorrow and next week, we must be those who worship God as a lifestyle. Not just on Sunday morning from 11 to 12. But every moment of every day. On Monday morning, and on Tuesday afternoon, and on Friday night. We must live continually giving glory to God.

 

The Westminster Catechism begins by asking that most important question: What is the chief end of man? What is your chief end? The answer: To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. This is our response. We have to be those contrary to what we see here. We have to be those who give glory to God and worship God.

 

Then second, to give Him thanks. We must be always giving thanks to God for what He has down for us and what He is to us. As believers, we cannot be complainers. As believers, we cannot be whiners. As believers, we cannot be grumblers. We must be those who are continually giving thanks to our God, even down to our deathbed, an anthem of thanksgiving arising from our lips. Giving thanks to God for small things, for big things for His provision for us, His protection, His care, His providence in our lives, for His Son, for grace, for salvation. Let us give Him thanks. Let us rise up and give Him thanks.  This must be present in our lives.

 

The other thing that this says to us is we must be actively involved at some level of taking the special revelation of God to those who are in need of the knowledge of God. That involves everything from being a witness for Christ to supporting missions, to supporting ministries, to supporting your local church. It involves you, yourself, going on sort term missions. It involves encouraging those who are actively engaged in doing what they can to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. This requires of us to do all that we can to be involved in reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Because this is the graphic picture of the human race. As we watch cable news, who among us is not watching cable news and seeing our world just unraveling before our eyes? What we are seeing before our very eyes is Romans 1. It is unraveling at mach speed and we are seeing verses 24 through 32 lived out on a daily basis before our very eyes.

 

And so, what does this require of us? I think part of our gratitude is that God has had mercy upon our once spiritually dead soul. That we would be plucked as a brand out of the fire. That God would have set us apart out of this milieu. Out of this devolving. Out of this freefall of the human race. That right now you would even be in a Bible study. That I would be teaching this Bible study. Where left to myself, this would be my spiritual biography. Left to myself, this would be the story of my life.

 

How humbling this is, that you and I know the Lord. Every one of us should say, "Why me, Lord? Why have I been singled out? Why did you even have me born in America? In Texas. In a place where the gospel is preached. Why was I not born in North Korea? Why was I not born in China? Why was I not born in Siberia? Why was I not born in the Sudan? Why was I not born someplace where even the name of Christ is not known? Why was I born at the intersection of First Baptist Church and Believers' Chapel and Park City Presbyterian? With all these different churches and gospel witness flowing like Niagara Falls into my life?"

 

Every one of us should be humbled at how merciful God has been to us that we are not sucked up into this flushed toilet. That we are not being sucked down into lower levels of depravity and ungodliness and unrighteousness. Our Bible study this morning is a double espresso. I mean, this is a double shot here. This is like big boy football right here. But I love this about the Bible. I do not want simplistic answers. I do not want Pollyanna answers that have been sprayed with perfume. I want the sheer, unadulterated truth of the word of God, which is what I need.

 

I am going to stop right here and toss it open. We have 15 minutes to talk among ourselves. Tell me what you think about these verses. What steps forward and taps you on the forehead and says something very specific to you?

 

Audience:  Is there reason we have to hope for those that have general revelation? That, through the course of their lives, are not reached with the gospel? That, as we cannot canvass the world, there are people who will live their lives and not be exposed to what we are talking about this morning? It is a sobering thought to think of those people and then think of the privilege that we have, by contrast, to be immersed in this. How are we to view that hard question?

 

Dr. Lawson:   Well, it is a hard question. Let me just reaffirm again, there is no way that they can be saved without special revelation. Which is mentioned in verses 1-17. For us to have any hope that they would be saved would require that, somehow, they had a handheld radio. Or that somehow there was a missionary unknown to us that brought the gospel to them. Or somehow there was a Bible in a language that they could read. That somehow there was this knowledge of God. You know, when we read the Book of Acts, when you read Acts 8, 9, and 10, in Acts 8 you read of the Ethiopian eunuch. I mean, God had to reroute Phillip out of almost a revival meeting in the middle of nowhere, and providentially hop up into the chariot of this man who was returning back to Africa. Lost under the wrath of God, but had bought a copy of Isaiah 53 at a very high price. He has resources, because he was the treasurer for the nation. Then for Phillip to explain the written word of God to the Ethiopian eunuch. That was how he was brought into the kingdom. The written word of God and the explanation of the written word of God to him.

 

Then you read in Romans 9 of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Christ uniquely appeared to him because Saul was to be an apostle. There had to be an encounter with the living Christ. Then in Act 10, Cornelius and Peter had to bring the gospel. Starting in Act 13, Paul's first missionary journey, then his second, then his third. It required taking the gospel with great sacrifice and great effort. The Bible does not leave any other option or any other hope for someone to enter the kingdom of heaven apart from the special revelation of the message of the person and work of Christ. So that heightens our sense of urgency about the task of global evangelization.

 

That is a great question. It is a question that has to be asked. We cannot come up with an alternative answer from Scripture. Someone else?

 

Audience:        You know, Phillip was sent by the Lord. "You are going to go." Every missionary out there has been sent by the Lord. You just said he is the first, the cause of everything subsequent to that. So, just because we do not see God at work, that doesn't mean that He is not bringing His elect home. If He created the universe and everything in it, God reaching out to an anonymous guy in an anonymous place far away from what we know is not where we have a problem. They are chosen. If they are chosen, the Lord is going to bring them. It is not an excuse not to evangelize or not to go into missions. But it is also a comfort that for all those who we do not know, the Lord knows them by name. And if He decides that they are His, He is going to send Phillip to the middle of nowhere to bring him home.

 

Dr. Lawson:   Good answer. That is absolutely correct. God has appointed not only the end, but He has appointed all the means to accomplish the end. The end is the salvation of His elect. And He will accomplish all the means. The sending of missionaries. The providential meeting of a missionary with the elect sinner who needs Christ. The opening of the eyes of the one who is dead in sin. To bring about the conversion which will then lead to, prayerfully, the planting of a church and the spread of the witness in that part of the world so that more of the elect can be brought to faith in Christ. Thanks for that. That is so true. Someone else?

 

Audience: You said no man has ever found God by himself. This text screams of our total inability. But for sovereign grace, this is where each one of us once stood, in darkness. That is amazing. It is amazing.

 

Dr. Lawson:   It is. We have many reasons to be humble, do not we? This stands at the head of the list. It screams of where we once were when the Lord found us. We were contrary, in this downward pull. Absolutely. Someone else? I mean, how should we live?

 

Audience:        Can you reinforce how we would support to the outside world that the “outside force” is the Creator, God, that I worship and I know exists. How can I reinforce that this outside force is the Creator, God?

 

Dr. Lawson:   Sure. Well, it is the testimony of the Bible. And the testimony of Scripture. There are many reasons why we believe that the Bible is the word of God.

 

The very first verse in the Bible, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Who is this God? Which God? Well, there is only one God. He has revealed Himself to us in His written word. There are objective reasons why we believe that the Bible is the word of God. I preached a sermon at Ligonier National Conference several years ago, “Ten Reasons Why We Believe the Bible is the Word of God.” I would refer anyone to that message. Objective, tangible, hardcore reasons.

 

Audience:        Because I have had someone very dear that just pooh-poohs anything when God is mentioned. And that is the only argument that I have personally had.

 

Dr. Lawson:   Sure. Well it comes back to the authenticity of Scripture.

 

Question: I think you had a lot to say earlier too, about having to be intellectually dishonest to refute that. I think that is where he was going. Like, that argument getting fleshed out to say that nothing produced something. I mean, we have the word of God, but we also have science on our side, although people do not recognize that. It is hard to support, it is hard to get to the point of something coming from nothing.

           

Dr. Lawson:   Yeah, well, you cannot get there. R. C. Sproul preached a message a couple of years ago at a Ligonier Conference, in which he belabored that point that if there has ever been a time in which there was nothing, then there could never be anything. To reason that philosophically, logically, intellectually, that is a self-contained truism. It necessitates that there was God in order for there to be anything. Otherwise, it is intellectual suicide. You end up with, what he says, speculations. That is all human philosophy is. It is just a blind man groping in the darkness searching for some rope to hang onto and trying to convince himself with his own little explanations that implode under their own reasoning.

Audience: How would you help each of us to explain to others how and why God chooses? Why does God choose to reveal Himself to some and not to others?

 

Dr. Lawson:   Yeah. Well, because God is God. God has a sovereign plan and a sovereign will. God has chosen to reveal Himself to some, so that they will be trophies of grace and give Him glory. He has chosen not to reveal Himself with special revelation to others. Ultimately, they are vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. God is also glorified in their destruction, as His wrath and His patience is made known in them. God has chosen to put His attributes of grace and mercy on display in some vessels. He has chosen to put other attributes, such as wrath and patience and power, on display in others. God is glorified in both. It is at the discretion of God.

 

Now, I realize that in a witnessing situation, that is probably not the place to start the argument. I would try to begin with the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man and the provision in Christ. Spurgeon used to give the illustration of the house that was on fire. Up on the fifth floor is a man who's trapped in the fire. The fire department comes and they have their nets and they're ready to catch the man. They say, "Jump" and the man says, "I must know if I am predestined to jump." They yell back, "Just jump! We'll explain it later." Then the man says, "Well, I must know the origin of the fire." They yell back, "Just jump! We'll explain the origin of the fire later." He goes through a series of things that the man would put up as excuses, like I have to have all of my questions answered before I jump.

 

That is a foolish place to be. You just need to jump and commit your life to Christ. And we will explain what mysteries we can. So, if I am in a witnessing situation with someone, that is going to be my tact and approach. I am not going to want to end up in this cul-de-sac over here. Having said that, I have preached on the doctrine of reprobation and people have been saved. I have preached on sovereign election and people have been saved. So God can use any portion of Scripture to bring people to Himself.

 

That is a great question. I see that it is 8:00, so maybe I need to wrap this up. Men, thank you for being here. I pray that this has been profitable for your soul and for your understanding of the truth of God. And that as you leave, you'll go with verse 21 on your mind, that I must be one who gives glory to God today. I must be one who gives thanks to God today. We have so much for which to give glory to God and thanks to God. We'll pick it up here next time. Let's pray.

 

Father in heaven, thank You for this study. Thank You that Your word is, as ever, true, and it speaks truth to us. As we now begin this day and live for You, may we be those who give You glory and who give thanks to You. Lord, we desire to clothe ourselves with humility this day. As a result of seeing this text, we see that we have every reason to be humble. I pray the knowledge and the truth that you have given to us of Yourself, that we would rightly respond to it and not exchange it for some humanistic philosophy or lie. But that we would cling to the truth that You have made known to us. Bless these men now as they go about their day. In Jesus' name. Amen. 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson

Dr. Steven J. Lawson is President and founder of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church. Dr. Lawson hosts The Institute for Expository Preaching in cities around the world. Dr. Lawson is also a Teaching Fellow for Ligonier Ministries, where he serves on its board. Moreover, he is Professor of Preaching and oversees the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master’s Seminary, where he also serves on its board. Dr. Lawson is also Professor in Residence for Truth Remains, a work designed to promote and proclaim God’s written Word. Further, Dr. Lawson serves as the Executive Editor for Expositor Magazine published by OnePassion Ministries.