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THE TSUNAMI OF LOVE,
as observed in Chs.2-3
Studies in Romans 1
Romans is a presentation of the Lord through the apostle Paul which shows some of the spectacular thrusts of the Lord, both in the creation of the physical universe, and the salvation of the spiritual insertion which is found in the spirit, and seen in the soul of man.
It shows likewise the redemption by due purchase from the reward of sin, of the body of those saved (Romans 8:23, cf. Philippians 3:20-21). God does not do it by halves. He made as He pleased and He redeems as He will; and He redeems what He made.
This forms the textual introduction to Romans 4-11, at which we have already looked in our theme of love, preparing the disorientated heart, and the dulled mind, obsessed or confused with the wisdom of this Age, to the facts of reality.
1. PRELIMINARY PRESENTATION (Romans 1:1-7)
In Romans 1, at the outset, the apostle introduces Christ, the key to the house, and the Son over the household of faith, the door through which to enter and the destiny with whom one proceeds in assurance, having entered (cf. Hebrews 3).
The world is not in darkness in actuality, but only in its woeful wilfulness, for the light has shone (cf. Isaiah 9:1ff.), and He is it. It shone but once; there is no competition; it was pre-announced, its path traced better than by any physicist, for this light is the light which is back of all law and all principles, and it is personal, with the mind which was in the creation of the world, to which, at Christ's advent, it is directly introduced, having been prepared for this, over thousands of years by the prophets of the Old Testament. As noted earlier, the exact time when this Christ would come was precisely forecast (cf. SMR pp. 886ff.), and there is no possibility of duplication or amendment; indeed far less than is the case for the physical universe, which is merely one of His creations in concert with His Father (cf. Isaiah 51:6). .
Of whom ? Of this same Jesus Christ. In Romans 1:1-4 Paul introduces Him to the Gentile church at Rome (in which there may of course have been numerous Jews, though their embrace of the faith as an ethnic community was, to say no more, far from total - Acts 28:17-28). Nevertheless, the cleavage was not merely racial, for some did believe, and indeed the apostle, like the Lord Himself in His fleshly format, was Jewish, as were the prophets and the other apostles.
This same Christ, Jesus the Lord, was born as predicted through the tribe of Judah and in particular through the part of it which was descended directly from King David, whose predictions were major concerning the Messiah - or Christ, to put it in the form more like the Greek of the day of the Lord on earth. Concerning those details, see The Shadow of a Mighty Rock (SMR), Ch.9 . That is the "according to the flesh" (Romans 1:3) aspect. Paul goes on to the other aspect. This Christ "was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (1:4).
So far we have been told that this Christ was PROMISED in the prophetic scriptures, that as to God, He is the Son, that as to flesh, the material which is our local form and habitat as people on this earth, He took part in it through the descendant of David the King; while as to His status, who took this post (like someone joining the army, of whose background we may enquire, at Headquarters), He is DECLARED to be the Son of the invisible God (cf. Romans 1:20). We read here that the means chosen to make clear the declaration are power, but it is a power which is not mere force. It is power "according to the Spirit of holiness". This power, as the books of Luke and Acts from the Gentile physician Luke show, for example, had many depths and dimensions. We have examined these things in various places, such as SMR and Appendix C, Ch.6 Biblical Blessings, Appendix 4, and Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Item 17.
They include: fulfilment to the letter of the identikit prophetic path. By this is meant that there were numerous details as to place of birth, tribal background, being a descendant of David, nature of upbringing, wisdom and power to heal major sicknesses, a free gift of salvation from sin, rejection by His nation, piercing in a slow death by decree, deliverance even from that and bodily resurrection, the date at which this had to happen, the gospel which would then be preached concerning Him throughout the forthcoming Age, the embrace of this Gospel by a significant number of Gentiles with triumphant joy and gladness, and so on; and these had to happen.
This is all part of the PROMISE, and it is sober reality, in view of the deceit which is often so close to the heart of mankind (cf. Jeremiah 17:9), that such safeguards were present. It was not however merely to prevent fraud or confusion, that these prophecies were made, for they equally enabled honest men to evaluate them, their basis and their outcome and believe, being themselves open to conviction as sinners, a condition which is always the reality on this earth, for the sons of Adam (cf. Romans 5, and Chapter 3 above).
Of course the word of God is present both in the Bible and in the "flesh" which is our physical habitat, much as a tape cassette is the physical habitat for a magnificent concert, which it has in code form, for reproduction. What it is to be according to the course of 'nature' in the flesh, is written in it in a language of code and control, command and performance to the point, and this in turn is linked to our spirits which allow many things.
These things (cf. SMR pp. 348ff.)? They include
This is the Bible as shown in SMR esp. Chs.1, 3, 5,10 with other verifications in Chs.4-9; and there is no other possibility, as is also shown. (See also That Magnificent Rock, Ch.7, Models and Marvels.)
Now as to that word, it too is centred in Christ, as we shall shortly see in Romans 1:9, in the phrase - "the gospel of His Son", or good news. Paul is about to show why such good news is necessary, which is not difficult to see in the 20th century, as the second millenium of increasing faithlessness hits the earth, a fact which in itself relates to a further communication from God as to the results of that syndrome, also forecast as shown in SMR Chs.8, pp. 659-674, and 9, pp. 836-884, and elsewhere (see e.g. II Timothy 3, II Peter 2, Matthew 24:24).
This extra data, since God has foreknowledge and desired to found His church using master-builders (e.g. I Corinthians 3, Ephesians 2:19-22) , was provided in the New Testament at the outset, when it first came to be, so that it has been, like the prophecies of what was the crucifixion, around for more than a millenium (in this New Testament case, for nearly two millenia, so that the notice is even more impressive, as is the end more fatal, if possible!).
But let us revert. Paul proceeds in Romans 1:4, as we saw, to specify the "resurrection from the dead" as the cardinal evidence of power. One says "cardinal", because it refers to a Christ who spoke. What He said included the constant avowal that He would be put to death by the junta, though He did not use that word, the power brokers, though He did not use that word either: His death however, was to be by the "hands of men" (Matthew 17:22-23), or in more detail, accomplished by "the elders and chief priests and scribes" (Luke 9:22).
This was hardly startling in one sense, in that for many hundreds of years it had been specified that the nation would reject Him, this being the sort of thing, obstructive sin against the Gospel, which would apply also to many of the recalcitrant Gentiles, and as Paul shows, to the world in a most general sense, but by no means universally. His truth is precious, no doubt, to millions; but they do not run the world, and some indeed have even tried to do just that IN HIS NAME, despite His disavowal of any interest or participation in any such program (John 18:36-37, Matthew 4:9-10), first put to Him and rejected, at the voice of the devil in the initial temptation, as Matthew records.
Startling, then, this advice from the lips of the Lord, concerning His coming death, might not have been, had the disciples been more thoroughly aware, pondered more deeply on the word of God. Yet the living Word of God soon ensured that they WERE aware, not only by constant reminders of what was coming to Him in this innocent-penalty- bearing way, this vicarious sacrificial style for sinners, such as they all were and we all are; but by the language He used for specifying the type of life one has, if following Him. Thus we read in Matthew 16:24-27, of which we quote vv.24-25 here:
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.' "
Our point then is this. IF Christ had NOT been resurrected, too bad for all the many miracles, yes EVEN the raising of the dead, the giving of sight to the blind, of mobility to the crippled, all as predicted in Isaiah 29-35 as shown in SMR Ch.9 (see also Index under Messiah). THAT would have been good, very good, but not good enough for a matter of this importance, resulting in heaven or hell, truth or fiction, dream or reality (cf. I Corinthians -20). God is not unreasonable*1.
The resurrection was central*2. Enormous as is the wisdom and dynamic required to raise the dead and heal the incurably ill (according to human power unaided), and perform all this at a date specified from hundreds of years before, through a person described in spiritual nature and physical background with a zeal and a devotion to detail of a minute character, yet IF ONE failure occurred, all would be a failure. Infallibility and divinity do not divide (cf. SMR pp. 1-43). Hence as to one failure, THAT would be as good - or as bad if you prefer - as TOTAL failure. Hence the resurrection was required, like the signature on the rightly numbered check in a series, to ATTEST with FINALITY that this was indeed the incarnate Christ, the Son of the Most High, the specified and the predicted, the sovereign and the judge of all men, the Lord as claimed, prophesied and attested.
In fact, when it is a question of whether Jehovah has come to earth in Person, as indicated clearly as shown for example in Item 17 in Barbs, Arrows and Balms, in many scriptures, such as Psalm 2, 45, 110, 102, Isaiah 48:16, 49, Micah 5:1-3, Zechariah 3:8, 12:10 and so forth: then it is not too much to ask that it be sure beyond palaver, and certain beyond any legitimate objection. That of course is immensely and entirely different from any captious cavil, any artful casuistry, which as shown in SMR 3 and That Magnificent Rock 7 and elsewhere, are most readily answered, yet they are in a different category from genuine enquiry from people who simply want to know.
Hence it is indeed 'BY THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD" that Christ was "declared to be the Son of God with power". Not some Son, but THE Son, according to the prophetic introduction, for this Son is also co-sovereign, Word and Speaker, Sender and Sent, one God as focussed in John 1:1. Actually, the Bible is not aware of any more than one God, and the God of the Bible declares Himself ignorant of any such in an elaborate but beautiful irony (in Isaiah Chs. 43-45); and in fact, it is readily demonstrable that this is the case, as shown in SMR Ch.1. Hence, although with further irony, God may refer to those who 'think' they are gods, and act the fool with imagined prerogatives of this kind (e.g. Ezekiel 28:9), the times from the 10 commandments on make it clear that as to actual gods, in the realm of discourse of the creator, there is a very precise number. It is ONE.
Hence when it declares that the Word was God, there is no other option, as though there were gods hanging about who could be in existence at this level. That would be to ignore not only the ironies of scripture, but the repeated affirmations from Moses to Paul (e.g. Exodus 20:1-2,11, Isaiah 44-45, Ephesians 4:4). HENCE, it is He who says, the Christ, that not only does He do what the Father does, but that He does it IN THE SAME WAY! (John 5:19-24). But we have dealt in detail with this matter in SMR Ch.7, Section 4, and it has a clarity which even the blind might be hoped to see, if only they would use the equipment provided.
Thus Christ is "DECLARED TO BE THE SON OF GOD with power bythe Spirit of holiness through the resurrection from the dead" (blocks added). In its context of predicted time, site and performance, this is indeed the copestone and the criterion. (See also on this, SMR Ch.6 and Biblical Blessings, Appendix 4.)
If of course Christ had failed to perform that particular detail on His agenda, which He referred to with the same impactive repetition as He did to the suffering and sacrificial death to be "accomplished", then the disciples, whose member, Thomas, had been very particular about things (John 20!), would have consigned themselves all to hell as imposters had they pretended. They would have lacked all integrity and would have abandoned the whole nexus of hope and preparation for the Messiah on which their whole history had been built, and this would have applied not only to them, but to the entire entourage and to Paul in particular, whose conviction was immense, intense and life transforming - as indeed was that of the disciples as evinced by every aspect and detail of their conduct. (Cf. Appendix IV in Biblical Blessings, The Magnificence of the Messiah, including Endnote 1 on the Resurrection.)
As with all Scripture, the picture is one of real alive people, sinners with hope, seekers with minds to watch and hearts to experience, whose conviction and confidence came with overwhelming inevitability as they watched the reality... the well-known case of betrayal by Judas Iscariot being as it appears, influenced by deception, desire and abuse, which are not uncommon in any enterprise, however lofty. In fact, this action was predicted also as seen in Psalms 41,55,109. The devil (John 13:1-2) had a foot in the camp, and his mole, Judas, was not particularly successful, doing merely what had been pre-announced: without éclat, but rather perishing in dismal surroundings, in apparent remorse which did not rise to the riches of repentance.
That pre-announcement, in fact of the whole divine 'campaign' of disciplined benevolence, is one of the marvels and the wonders concerning this testimony, perhaps as great as any other as the impactive level. Thus as to the whole military operation, if you like that figure, the whole invasion of that occupied territory called the earth, in which what Christ called "the prince of this world" has his operational headquarters, the devil, this was in terms of precise prediction. At any level, it could have been read and counter-action carefully prepared over 1000 years. The fact that nothing went EXCEPT according to plan, in the face of this option by men and by spiritual powers alienated from God, alike, is one of the most obvious attestations of His having a power and wisdom, a control and a brilliance which simply has nothing even approaching comparison from ANYONE or ANY THING! NOTHING ever obstructs with success the word of God. The body went, the soldiers lied (cf. Biblical Blessings, loc.cit., and SMR Ch.6) and the disciples found the Lord.
Thousands in thousands of years have had thousands of opportunities to defeat the word of God, and the production of the still dead body was all that was required, and surely for the greatest of the Empires and the zeal of the high priestly and eminently privileged party, a small matter, keeping corpse; but none has succeeded in this or in anything else; and the vulnerabilities presented by the Almighty have been literally fabulous! Imagine coming in the flesh, if you will excuse THIS figure, amongst a spiritual riff-raff, and carrying out without fail in any detail, the entire program specified for a thousand years!
What MORE could anyone ask concerning power and competence incomparable! Not even a rational alternative could be invented by the Dr Goebbels' troupe in the devil's army, the public relations for hell people, platoon or company (or whatever other title they may prefer to invent). Far less was anything done which could DEMONSTRATE ONE single error in Christ, His conduct, His word, His predictions which are vast in scope and numerous, distant in range as well as nearer at hand, in His power or the mode in which He took His sufferings, or for that matter, the relationship of this or any of it to the word of God which commissioned it a millenium or so in advance, and much of it before even that.
Thus Paul has so far specified the human format and the spiritual deity of the Christ, and has focussed on the resurrection in power, as on the heavenly dimension, in prerogative and pre-eminence. Now CHRIST is before our eyes.
The apostle proceeds to refer to "obedience to the faith", a phrase quite adverse to what is so often pulped and presented as packaged gospel in this Age, especially now that the end is so very near (cf. SMR Chs.8-9 - e.g. pp. 842-884). However, it was the Christ Himself who stated it, in the form of a rhetorical but very practical question, "Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things that I say?" (Luke 6:46).
Having introduced the Christ (but many at Rome already knew Him, this being an apostolic building for their strengthening, growth and increase in assurance and power), and himself as one who had "received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name" - the apostle to the Gentiles indeed, he addresses his hearers, qua church, as those "called to be saints", and pronounces upon them, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ".
The introductions are over, and the message now begins in its systematic progression from this base.
2. THE MUTUAL REINFORCEMENT -
PAUL WORKING AS A DEBTOR (Romans 1:8-14)
This done, Paul proceeds to
the particular purpose he has in mind, within the proclamation of the gospel
concerning the Christ, or if you will, within that at this time. He wishes to
STRENGTHEN them at
This desire is not because they are weak, but in view of the stimulus of their strength: for "your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world." Often has the apostle longed to see them, continually he prays for them. Here he speaks in terms of great interest and much instructiveness to us. He requests God "if by any means ... I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come to you." He frankly wants to come; but not so much that he wants a prosperous journey to them. Rather it is a prospered trip "by the will of God". Within the will of God, there is need for felicity to perform; outside it, there is need for nothing.
There, desire is irrelevant and means are superfluous.
He then indicates the purpose, "to impart .. some spiritual gift". Here both tact and tenderness intervene: he wants to be "comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me" - he desires a strengthening in the test-tube interplay of the two parties, but one which comes from outside the system, by faith, that is from God.
As to that, he indicates further reason, so that it all fits like some brilliant Scottish tartan pattern. He feels in debt (Romans ). That is a good way to be in the Ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ... (cf. I Cor. 3:10). He feels indebtedness towards the Lord who bought Him, being procured for a purpose; and although previously prevented, his heart seeks it still; so that FRUIT among the appointed Gentile field might not be lacking in their case, helped by his ministrations. This is what he is FOR at the functional level; and he wants to function; this is his calling, and there is his fruit. He wants them to be so increased that they are solidly 'established'.
3. THE POWER OF GOD TO SALVATION (Romans -17)
Thus in particular Paul is "ready to preach the
Gospel to you who are at
It is like an anti-biotic, which has a name and a form and a formula, but also a POWER to do, when it is physically applied. In the parallel, the Gospel is auditorily applied, applied to the mind, reaching to the heart of the hearer, and in this, God is at work, who manufactured the ear, formed the heart and produced the Gospel. Indeed, as we learn from Ephesians 1:13-14, there is a sealing with the invisible signature of God on the very heart, the inward being of the redeemed, the believer, like that of ownership on timber, and that seal is the Holy Spirit, which like a kiss, exhibits the love; like electricity, supplies power; like email gives guidance; like reinforcements for an Army, enables action when things seem impossible, "for with God nothing shall be called impossible" (cf. Ephesians 3:16, Luke 1:37, Isaiah 40:28ff.).
Again, in I Corinthians 1:18-24, Paul exposes the contemptible weakness of all the contrariety of philosophy in the face of the seemingly foolish Gospel, where God is allowed to appear weak, though the plan and the heart is strong, in the process of accepting the victim's place, so that in justice He might deliver those whom He would (cf. I Peter 2:23-24, 3:18, II Cor. 5:19-21). This of course is stronger than all the self-proclaiming mini-moralled mess of man which he constantly seeks to foist on his fellows; it is wiser, does more and lasts (cf. I Peter 2:22-25 and the facts of history with nostrums come and go, but the word of God, immovable, impenetrable, says and does exactly what the case was at the first).
HENCE, concerning the Gospel, for such reasons as these for a commencement: Paul declares he is not ashamed of it, does it, makes no apology for it and wants to do it, whether to civilised or uncivilised, Greek or barbarian.
This power is operative, like an antibiotic, to pursue the illustration, to those who receive it - or in particular, it is the power of God to salvation to "every one who believes".
In the Gospel there is an exposure, a revelation of the righteousness of God (Romans ). It is not hidden in some mountain resort, celestial vale: it is declared, it is available and it is on offer, and indeed, it is commanded to be received, like Israelis required to don gas-masks in war. It is necessary in this case, for the 'gas' of sin with the impending character of judgment, is out already, in force and in variety.
This is the way of sin which God does not tolerate to the point that
This righteousness is revealed "out of faith into faith" (Romans ).
It is, in other words, exposed through the medium of faith, and when exposed and received, it is the bulwark of faith, for it operates in splendour, and is self-enhancing by confirming to the seeing eye, the force of its wonder and the reality of its work. Remove the stoppers from your ears and not only do you find the music is as advertised: rather it enlightens and brightens you, it staggers and impresses you, it ennobles and refines you, and the whole world of music opens as if you had just left your seat on completion of an international flight to music-land. It is now obvious, since you see, and hear for yourself with the listening which responds to what is actually happening in the world of music -what is actually being played, and asserting its beauty all the time.
4. THE TESTIMONY OF GOD (Romans 1:18-20)
WHY then is there this stress on the righteousness of God which the Gospel exposes, reveals and brings near ? It is because mankind is in need of it, lacks it, manufactures artful (or not so artful) synthetic, amateurish, self-hypnotised substitutes for it which ignore his own spirit, and must receive like a child with strong medicine, this very strong and realistic gospel from God, or else lapse into an artificiality which can only have doom, deserved - and if the gospel be rejected - doubly, categorically and ultimately deserved, as also inevitable and perhaps worst in this, that it is precisely as deserved, and in the ultimate and contumacious sense, as desired.
This is the area to which Romans 1:18 is addressing itself.
As we have shown repeatedly on this site, in works such as SMR and That Magnificent Rock, there is SIMPLY NO LOGICAL escape from the reality of God. Philosophies of folly enter to be dismissed by the next or the soon following generation, their defects obvious, their cause obscure, their debates unending as ever new fallacies are found. They come from intrusive physics, or biology, or even politics or economics, indeed out of thin air at stratospheric heights: they all have a try like those at a Fair trying to hit dumbbells with coconuts, and one wonders what it is that has the greater folly, the dumb-bells or the throwers (cf. Romans 1:28, 21).
Indeed, one of the reasons why SMR was written was just this: there is no POSSIBLE case for any other truth, and this one, necessarily the case, is also always verified in all directions. This summary is amply exhibited to be just in the texts we have presented and to which reference was just made. In principle the case is closed.
There is no excuse. The WRATH OF GOD is JUSTLY revealed from heaven, and this the more, in that the REMEDY of God has also been GRACIOUSLY exposed from heaven, and if there is one thing that appears most tiresome, it is the patient who bearing the disease, will not face the necessities for remedy, and goes on to death like some sort of hypnotic victim, rejecting all reason, losing heart and even interest, while the guillotine of reality mounts, and the neck is conveniently placed on the block.
Of course, some prefer the wages of sin, but misestimate both their quantity and the negative sign in front of them.
To be UNGODLY (Romans 1:18) is perhaps one of the most damning things one can aspire to: it is like asking to be Hiroshima, in full knowledge of the atomic bomb to come, in 1943, so that one might be ready to experience it (cf. Amos 4:4-13, 7:1-9).
The Old Testament prophets like Amos and Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah are full of the exposure of civil, political, personal and spiritual vice, pretence, hypocrisy, deadness of heart and dire refusal to accept mercy. The case is not vitally different today, except it is not the Babylonians or the Assyrians who wait in the wings, like sharks for a fishing hatchery where the fish have had preliminary opportunity to escape, and in the bulk, have not taken it. It is now a matter of a world which will expose and exhibit all too well its actual ruler, in terms of the glamour and the giddiness, the self-acclaim, self-affirmation, self-esteem and all the other selfish things with which it bemuses itself, in case it should seek the Lord, and find the place He has set for it, and why.
These things will not do, do not do, are unacceptable, unworkable, untrue, flighty, fantasising, foolish, and have only judgment for any possible reality, to await for their future. "The wrath of God" (Romans 1:18) is not retractable like the radio-aerial in a car-wash. It is merely removable by removing the cause, and the Gospel is the actuality which does this, in PROVIDING the righteousness of God through Christ (Romans 1:16, 3:25ff., II Cor. 5:19-21), at His purchase and gift. Against its delightful simplicity, linked to its gracious profundity, there is the stated negative operation (Romans 1:18). This so acts as to "suppress the truth in unrighteousness". That is the way of unrighteousness, it is not fond of what is right; and so, like some virulent strain of disease, when its remedy comes, it tries to suppress that too. It becomes almost a semi-automatic reaction.
In the reality, what may be known of God is MANIFEST IN THEM (Romans 1:19). In their minds, they may try, though never with enduring success, to dismiss these things.
Science merely catches up with it in what it declaims and pronounces, as the years pass. Even the written record which states in Genesis that God spoke, and that things were made, is shown in our own micro-biological nuclei, to have a corresponding record of its own. It is rather like finding a thousand Shakespearian plays in your cells, after the bard of Avon told you that this would be where he hid them. On finding them, you would have no excuse of pretending. It is not just the absurd mathematics of it: plays by their nature are a conveyor belt of thought, imagination and reality which does not invent itself, but exists in its own world with its own reality, duly signified in words.
Plays are never written by dust. (Cf. A Spiritual Potpourri, Chs. 1-9, SMR Chs. 2-3.)
Thus Romans 1:20 tells us that this is so since the creation: the invisible attributes of God are clearly seen - namely His eternal power and His deity, His existence as creator and thinker and art-manufacturer, artisan and composer, but over all, as the maker of that masterpiece (see SMR pp. 620ff.), man. This is that man who is himself a thinker, an agent, a composer, a creator at his own level... who can even love and hate, and reject, if he will, the one who invented all these worlds of operation for him, synthesised the equipment with the symbols and the symbolic potential with the thought, the thought with the spirit, and the last with Himself in potential again.
It is, quite simply, for this reason, that the truth is thus and that God is alive Himself, and knows His people, that no one has ever responded successfully to my challenge to show me any fault in my presentation in SMR and the other works on the Web. This is so even allowing that for YEARS we provided an opportunity, often week by week on site by appointment, for any to come and do just that, in private, in public, how you will.
That, it is nothing to do with ability; it is the Lord who, as it were, knows the right answer (like a fortunate criminal inspector), so that not only does the opposition have the disadvantage that its case is guilty by nature, but in addition, it lacks the resources of the Chief, who in this case, is called God, being likewise Almighty. The faith does not depend on reason, but reason depends on the faith, even for its credibility, as shown in SMR Ch.3, 10, 5 and elsewhere.
Sad though it is, Paul then in Romans 1:21-22 proceeds to trace the downfall of mankind in the mass over time. It is not (as shown earlier in Romans 5) the initial Fall alone.
It is the massive, self-reinforcing palaver with philosophy which has continued,
Extension 2, and The Crucifixion of Logic, on its first page.)
In short, to quote from Paul in Romans 1:22,
"professing to be wise, they became fools".
They failed also, as we read, to be THANKFUL to God. They did not have gratitude for the One who He is, for His mercy and for His provisions, for His prophets as, in the end of the path, for His Son. They became "futile in their thoughts" (Romans 1:21), and "their foolish hearts were darkened".
As Berkeley puts it in verse 22: "Claiming to be smart, they played the fool."
They descended to the crass folly of material implements as mirrors for the Almighty, as if some page in Macbeth starting trying to draw a portrait of the mind of Shakespeare, with red ink to play blood, aptly chosen from Duncan as a medium for the ploy. Nowadays, there are new code words for all the old follies:
demiurge, that demi-utility with demi-capacity to demonstrate the focus and function needed, leaving open the ground by being itself merely derivative, so omitting any answer to the fundamental question: where from, and how come ?
space-time continuum (see That Magnificent Rock, Ch.7, SMR Ch.1),
omitting the viewer from the viewed, the thinker from the thought, the will from the material, the purposive agent from the thrust matrix; or
theistic evolution (see Appendix-News, op.cit.), gratuitously linking God's creation with incredible cruelty, as if judgment were a mode of creation, contrary to all testimony of evidence and book, in nature and from God (cf. That Magnificent Rock Ch.1); or perhaps
Marxist dialectic (see Marx, Index, SMR, and Ch.4 in particular, Part 2, pp. 353-396), that jabbering jostling of thought which assumes the potential in the progressing universe, so that it may be stimulated into being, but forbears to announce how it came by it!; or even
archetypes (see Jung in SMR Ch.4, Section 1 pp. 336ff., and pp. 349 D, E, 350), those happy mental tumblings wrought in air, and elevating themselves by unknown 'creative' potential so that the tree of life grows without seed, only alas in this century it is a degenerative phenomenon, Jung holds, and despite his understanding of the milling turmoil of religious symbols which he pondered, he admitted to having in his field, self-contradictory theories subsisting together - something itself, along with his basic data, all analysable well enough in Biblical terms, as shown in the above references: for sin without truth, symbolic or otherwise, is per se contradictory of God, of the reality of the agent and of his proper capacities; or perhaps
chance, that childishly simplistic 'name' dropped to indicate something portentous, but which is simply a rubric or container for the uncontained (cf. Ancient Words ... Chs. 9, 13, Trust ... Ch. 7).
For all this, see SMR in Ch.4, pp. 422Eff., esp. 422L - Great Burials, a review of subterfuges in bringing in the power of God, whilst disregarding or even disdaining the One whose it is! It is a species of intellectual smuggling... see also Aviary of Idolatry.
In the field in view, 'chance' designates what of the needful is not there: omitting the media for mind and spirit as well as the relevant language control and invention for the transmission of the relevant thought to create thinking units and so on (cf. SMR pp. 329-332H.). Not only is that like stating that the reason why a particular man could win the race is that he is unknown; it is the more like advising us that it is BECAUSE he lacks legs that he is chosen selectively for the task over all other options. What science is this, but science falsely-so-called, an imposture to which the many bow, often because they want what it offers, and often because they are cowed or brow-beaten into imagining that obscurantist statements about causality are right because professional. In fact as we have shown, they are wrong because irrational (cf. SMR Ch.3, 5, 10, That Magnificent Rock Ch.7, A Spiritual Potpourri Chs.1-9).
All this: it is essentially nothing new. It is at heart as it was in Paul's day. They had it all before in essence, with different code words, equally absurd, equally simply omitting the whole substance and structure, ground and basis of what they want to get, and imagining they will have it, without having it, or would have had it, though it cannot come, or was the way, though it never happens, or was the type of way, though its principles never appear, and are always contradicted in any clear-cut case of test. Indeed, as shown in That Magnificent Rock Ch.7, the new idea of Professor Paul Davies that 'nothing' is the base, is if nothing else, more consistent than some in acknowledging IN EFFECT the ruthless disregard of rationality
What then is Paul saying in Romans 1:18-23,28, of this movement away from the Creator, an inclination to some sort of symbol for something inadequate, inappropriate, unspiritual, without power or resource, while grossly absorbed in the fatal process of trying to deal with the Creator in terms of some things which He has created ?
In speaking generically of the historic pressure of man against the actual Creator, Paul is inspired to stress the disproportion, the utter folly, like some mathematician or astronomer trying to draw the heavenly bodies using sausages for a pen, and a hatchet for the paper, but far worse; for those things are merely misplaced, but this is abortion not babe, slavery not liberty, mindlessness not thought: a total eclipse of any light (Romans 1:21,28).
A creative being drawing the creator as if He were a part of His creation by nature ? : Paul is making it clear that this is a wild erraticism, an ecstasy of folly, and it leads to more, much more in mind, body and spirit like an express train on its way to Scotland from the grime of London; only in reverse, at 250 m.p.h., in its haste, on unprepared tracks, which even if prepared, were of the wrong type. (Cf. SMR pp. 10-44, and Chs. 3,5).
This is the heart of the
message of Paul on the topic of departure from ... the knowledge of the
creator, of not liking to retain the knowledge of God in one's mind.
5. THE TESTIMONY OF CAPTIOUS REBELLION (Romans 1:24-31).
Paul now invades the territory of the fallen soldiers, the capital of sin, the valleys of unrighteousness with his alerts and warnings, in terms of descriptions and detail.
JUST AS "they did not like to retain God in their knowledge" (v.28), SO"God gave them over to a debased mind."
In v.23 there is the introduction to it: they had changed "the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man": "THEREFORE ALSO GOD GAVE THEM UP TO UNCLEANNESS" (v.24).
Cleanness and Uncleanness
There is cleanness and cleanness: cleanness which is merely of a superficial kind, like the kitchen floor, which may shine while rats nest in the ceiling; and there is cleanness which is thorough. Since God is in view, the cleanness must be absolute in its character, and first of all a spiritual cleanness. It filters through from that to mind and body. Thus in Ephesians 5:3, "ALL" uncleanness is mentioned, and PART of this is explicitly "covetousness", making it clear that any departure from 'cleanness' is relevant in any realm, to Paul's words, even when it is DIRECTLY and CATEGORICALLY that of the spirit. It is from such that one must withdraw in the Christian Church, as Ephesians makes it clear in 5:7 in speaking similarly of "all uncleanness". (Cf. The Kingdom of Heaven ... Ch.7.)
Now in the case before us in Romans, as in Ephesians, there is a multi-dimensional consequence.
A) First it is in the area of spirit: "they exchanged the truth of God for the lie" (v.25). THESE are the criteria for designation, this is the impelling characteristic. We have dwelt on that.
B) Next comes the area of the body. Foundering there, they founder in the realm of what God made in the case of their bodily equipment. They misused that sexually. Detesting design, they acted contrary to design, become perverted, inflamed amongst each other in ways provocatively contrary to the purpose of child-bearing and the beauty of interplay of male and female, graciously provided in the background, and of spiritual personalities, even more graciously provided in the meaningful loveliness which lies beyond marriage, and which it exemplifies (cf. Ephesians 5:22-24, 30-33).
Wallowing in perversity of body, the men like the womenwere found to be "leaving the natural use": something which is condemned here per se as a consequence of the spiritual folly preceding (as in v.23). The REASON why the reference is made to "vile passions", in the text, is given: "For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature" - v.26. That is the stated ground given for the phrase chosen by the apostle. That is what the word of God says. It is a vile passion when it is against nature in this matter. AIDS too, which offers little help to health, is helped greatly by the lack of designed protection in the unnatural intercourse. That too is vile. Aids can come in the spreading which sin normally manages, from other grounds; but this is Biblically defined perversion element is one enduring catalyst, cyclotron, accelerator of it all.
The comment is also made that those who PRACTICE these things so that it is part of their style of life, are "receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due." If there is one thing which would be almost insupportable, as close as you could wish to unbearable, it would be this: that you are getting PRECISELY what you asked for, in this sense, that the carping awfulness of the result resembles like a photograph the dishonest dissembling from God which was in the cause, on which the conduct was based. For with God the Creator, you do not need to be above about 8 years old, to be instructable in this, that you are made differently from some others of another gender, and that results such as the birth of your own body, flow from this fact.
C) We now travel to the diseases of the mind, of the will, of the mouth which result.
We learn of those alienated as defined by Paul in Romans 1:18-22, that they are "full of every sort of wickedness, immorality, depravity and greed; crammed with envy, murder, quarreling, deceit and malignity; as gossips, slanderers, God-haters; insolent, proud, and boastful; inventers of evil; parent-despisers; without conscience, fidelity, natural affection or pity" - Berkeley's rendering (vv.29-31). This is the general character, he is affirming, of the syndrome. This is its trend and the attraction of its type - perhaps if you like to use an image, as North pole attracts South, in magnetism, so is this the thrust.
It is quite a list. It moves back to spirit, and the interplay of depraved mind and crooked spirit is a torture almost even to behold. But it is there! It resembles Paul's description somewhat, to the shame of some at Corinth in the church at that time: "For I fear lest when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish: lest there be contentions, jealousies, outburst of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults..." (II Cor. 12:20).
Evidence enough that danger lurked is shown in the case of Corinth; and the apostle would seek correction for what he in fact found on arrival. However, like untreated cancer, such movements of flesh (cf. Galatians 5:17-21) can devour without much restriction; can bombard like a cannonade, make a destructive burst if not countered. The Christian has the counter in the Spirit of God, in the word of God, in the provisions of God in the Church, in the elders, in the pastor, in the fellowship, and of course in the ultimate fact that he/she has been regenerated, so that the "factory of life" as it were, is under new management, differently organised, sensitised and activated; and God Himself is in it (cf. Colossians 1:27, I Corinthians 6:14-17).
Paul in Romans 1 finishes with the last exposure, which we have moved towards above. Speaking of the depraved, the perverted, the tongue-mongering virtual morgue, or if you wish, of displaced mortality on legs, he says this: "Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them" - 1:32.
So in these five categories of exposition, Paul has exposed the need of grace, the scope for love and the power of God to deal with the depraved situation, starting in spirit and so readily moving to mind and body.
It is well that he has prefaced his deliverance, his description, his exposure of judgment, double judgment, that on the doing of these things but also on the approval of those who do them: with something else. It is wholly diverse. It is the form and formulation of the One who IS invisible, but whose power of speech, like His power of creation, is most visible. It is called ... The GOSPEL, the power of God to salvation for every one who believes. It is literally, the power of God "into salvation". That is obviously MOST necessary for the elemental degeneracy of mind, body and spirit to which he alludes, the various elements hitting now here, now there, like so many toxins, epidemics and destructive forces in nature; but these - they are in the face and light of the Gospel, quite voluntary!
*1 As to that last point: see Isaiah 1:18, I Peter 3:15, II Corinthians 10:5, yes, and Romans 1:16-23, to follow! In terms of I Peter 3:15, if you wish, see also The Shadow of a Mighty Rock and That Magnificent Rock, indeed the whole 14 volumes of our presentation on the Web.
The word of God Almighty, who demonstrably is, is ineluctably the Bible. This proof is able to be provided because
1) it is true, as also,
2) because God is God, unevadable, insuppressible, unmanoeuvrable, living and loving, concerned for the children of men.
It is His word and there is not any other truth, or possibility of truth as shown in SMR Ch.3 and That Magnificent Rock 7, A Spiritual Potpourri and elsewhere in this site. See concerning this gospel, SMR pp. 582ff., and That Magnificent Rock, Chs. 2 and 3.
That is one reason why the denial of the bodily resurrection of Christ as necessary, by the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand in 1966, MEANT that this was a denial of the faith. What is not belief is not faith; and as to what faith is, it is what is BELIEVED. That in turn is why I had no option but confront them in their Assembly, as a member of the same, to DEMAND the affirmation of this doctrine which had been denied by a Principal of their Seminary; to RECORD IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ASSEMBLY my dissent from the feeble resurrection proposition being presented; and to DEPART when there was found no church which would continue with me, outside the Camp (cf. Hebrews 13:13).