June 22 – Today’s Readings – Romans 1-2 and Proverbs 22
In Chapters 1 and 2 of Romans, we find Paul answering the question that is so often asked by people who think that Christianity is “so narrow and bigoted”. The question? “What about those who never heard the Gospel? Will they go to hell? What about the babies? What about the mentally deficient? What about all those who lived before Christ was born? – Abraham – David – Joseph – Noah?” Paul speaks about these people when he says – “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)
He further adds to this teaching by declaring; “Indeed when the gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” (Romans 2:14- 15)
Paul’s logic is so simple and God’s justice so pure. God has written the “knowledge of God” and the ability to know God deep in the psyche (or the heart) of mankind. We all “know” God because of creation. We “see” God’s invisible qualities through creation. By nature our consciences either accuse or excuse us. What a wonderful God we serve – that, through creation, He would have given every human being “the witness” they needed to turn their hearts towards Him.
Is it not true that God is a righteous judge and that His justice is only eclipsed by His mercy and love? He sees the deeds of men. He knows the hearts of men – the innocent – the poor in spirit – the merciful – and also those who hard-heartedly turn away from the grace of God. He will judge each person according to what he has done with the knowledge of God he has received. Who are we to judge the people of the world! There is one judge – the one who knows the very intent of men’s hearts! When God allows us to see as He sees then we too can judge as He judges.
Our job then is to share the amazing, life-giving, redemptive, salvation message of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came so that people of every kind would be adopted by grace as children of God and have their sins forgiven. How did the heroes of the faith from the Old Testament get saved? – By faith in an unseen Creator God and by looking forward to the Savior, Jesus Christ. They followed what their consciences dictated, what the then-revealed Word of God taught – and this led them to faith. The Apostle Peter addresses this issue more fully when he speaks of Jesus preaching to the dead so that they too could be saved –. “… through whom also he (Jesus) went and preached to the spirits in prison…” – “For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.” [1Peter 3:19, 1Peter 4:6]
1. If all people can turn towards God by faith and conscience, why preach the Gospel at all?
2. Explain how people from the Old Testament “got saved”.