Robert Jeffress - No Excuse - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again, to Pathway to Victory. Every day on this program, I'm committed to presenting the whole counsel of God, not just the parts of the Bible we like, or the parts that make us feel good about ourselves. And in our current study of Paul's letter to the Romans, we've come to several verses that, well, in today's world are considered politically incorrect. You see, you can't fully grasp the beauty of the Gospel until you understand the darkness of man's condition. My message is titled: No Excuse, on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
The reason atheist reject the idea of God is not because of a lack of evidence, but because of a lack of desire to know and obey God. And that is why every unbeliever is deserving of God's wrath. And that's the theme of the passage we're going to look at today, in our study of the book of Romans. If you have your Bibles here, if you've joined us by television or radio, we invite you to take your Bibles, and turn to Romans chapter one. How do we see the expressions of God's wrath right now?
Let me suggest two ways. First of all, we see God's wrath expressed through God's natural order. That is God has put certain rules and laws into effect that if we violate those rules, we're going to suffer the consequences. Well, there is a law of gravity that says, if you jump off the roof of this worship center, you're going to fall and go splat. You don't have to wait for some future consequence, it's going to happen immediately. What I'm saying to you is God has set certain laws in this universe into effect that when you violate those laws, you immediately experience his wrath or his anger. But there's a second way. God's wrath is demonstrated right now, and that is through his direct intervention. Yes, there is a future time coming when God pours out his wrath, but sometimes God directly intervenes in this world and in people's lives today.
Think about it in the Old Testament, the destruction of the world with a flood in Noah's time. Or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Or the destruction of Babylon, in the times of Daniel. The Bible says, sometimes, God intervenes and he pours out his wrath on individuals or nations. By the way, don't make the mistake of thinking just because God's wrath hasn't come yet in your life, that somehow he's overlooking your sin. Just because something isn't eminent doesn't mean it's not inevitable. God will judge. He'll do so his way, and in his time.
Donald Barnhouse, tells a great story about an atheist farmer, who had a farm right down to the, next to the little community church. One Sunday morning in October, he decided he would irritate the churchgoers. So he got on his tractor and he started plowing his field right next to the church, hoping the noise would interrupt the service. He hadn't particular reason for doing it on that particular day. The next day, he wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, and he said, "Yesterday, I disrupted the service of the local church, because I have no respect for God, I have no respect for God's people, and I have no respect for the church, and God didn't do a thing about it. And not only that, my farm is the highest producing farm in the entire county. I'd like some Christian to explain that to me". Next day, the editor published the atheist letter and at the bottom, the editor wrote this note, God does not settle all of his accounts in the month of October.
Listen, just because God's judgment is not always swift, it is always certain. The Bible says the wrath of God is being expressed right now, well, who are the recipients? The Bible says everyone deserves God's wrath. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Everyone stands guilty before God. And these first two and a half chapters of Romans, are like a courtroom in which Paul was the prosecuting attorney, and you and I are the jury. And Paul is making his case that all mankind is guilty before God, and deserving of his wrath. And to prove his point, he talks about the Jew, the Jew who loves God, and keeps the Old Testament law. What about him? Guilty says the apostle Paul. He is guilty and deserving of the wrath of God. Well, what about the gentile? Who is a good moral person? And even though he's not a Christian, he tries to obey the standards of good behavior that God has placed in his own heart. Guilty, says the apostle Paul.
But Paul begins with a group of people that we normally would think would be exempted from God's punishment and his wrath. Who are those people? Paul starts with people who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He starts with them. Showing that even though they have no Bible, and have heard of no Christ, they are guilty and deserving of God's wrath. Haven't you heard people say to you before, well, what about the heathen in Africa, who have never heard the Gospel? Surely, God's not going to dispatch them to an eternity of hell. Well, that would be terribly unfair. Haven't you heard that question before? And yet Paul says, "No, they too are guilty of the wrath of God". Why is that? Look at verse 18, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness".
You see the problem with these people who have never heard the Gospel is not that they have not received knowledge of God, they have received the knowledge of God, they have rejected that knowledge of God. Again, the problem with the unbeliever is not that he lacks evidence to know of God's existence, he lacks the desire to know of God's existence. And in the weeks ahead, we'll see how Paul makes that argument. But I want to give you just a preview of coming attractions here, by showing you exactly the three reasons that those who have never heard the Gospel are still deserving of God's wrath, his anger. First of all, will you notice, Paul says that the unrighteous who have never heard the Gospel have still received the knowledge of God, they have received the knowledge of God. Look at verse 20 of chapter one. "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through that which was made, so that they are without excuse".
You don't ever have to have a Bible. You don't ever have to hear the Gospel. You don't ever have to be visited by a missionary. You don't ever have to tune in to Pathway to Victory to know that God exists. Every person knows that. How do they know it? They just have to look around them at creation. God has given every person a knowledge of himself. You're going to hear me quote this over and over again, over the next few weeks, from Dr. Rory. Dr. Rory says, "That knowledge of God from creation is not sufficient to save a person, but it is sufficient, if rejected to condemn a person". And that's what Paul is saying here. Every unbeliever has received the knowledge of God.
Writer Henry Van Lyn says, "I went to visit the grand canyon as an atheist, I returned as a believer". Creation is shouting the fact that there is a Creator. But what is the unrighteous person done with that knowledge of God that he has been given? Secondly, Paul says, "The unrighteous have rejected the knowledge of God". Look at verse 21, "For even though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks, because they became futile in their speculations, and because of that, their foolish heart was darkened". What did they do with that knowledge of God? Verse 18 says, they suppressed it, they stifled it. They rejected the knowledge that they had, and instead, verse 23 says, "They replaced their knowledge of God". That's the third reason they are deserving of God's judgment. They received the knowledge of the true God, they rejected that knowledge, and thirdly, they replaced their knowledge of God.
Look at verse 23, "And they have exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of a corruptible man and of birds and of four-footed animals and of crawling creatures". Instead of accepting the true God, they rejected the true God, and they replaced the true God with an idol. That idol might be a two foot stature of a man or an animal. It might be another God that they've created in their own minds. It may be a philosophical system that allows for them to replace God with philosophy. But every person who rejects the knowledge of the true God, always replaces that knowledge with a false God. Now, we go back to verse 18 for a moment. While the immediate focus of this passage about the wrath of God is unbelievers who have never heard about God, the truth applies to you and to me as well. Paul said, for the wrath, the anger, the settled opposition of God against all unrighteousness and all ungodliness is being revealed.
Hear me this morning, God is no respecter of persons. God is not only angry with the sins of those who have no revelation from him, from the Bible, he's also angry with you and with me when we were opposed to his holiness. Think about this. If the unbeliever who has never received a Bible, never heard about Jesus Christ, stands guilty and deserving of the wrath of God, how much more do you and i, who have received the full revelation of God in this book, how much more do you and I deserve the wrath, the anger of God? That's a dilemma that we all face.
As the Psalmist said, "Who can stand in the day of God's wrath"? That leads us to the final point, the remedy for God's wrath. What is the remedy for God's wrath? How can I exempt myself from experiencing the wrath of God that I deserve? When we get to chapter three, verse 21, Paul is going to answer that question, when he talks about the provision for God's righteousness. But let me give you a preview of what it's going to be. Did you know that even the Old Testament saints had a vague understanding of what that remedy was that would deflect the wrath of God? Certainly, Moses understood it.
Turn over to Exodus chapter 32 for just a moment. Exodus 32, this is just great. You remember the story of Exodus 32, Moses had gone up on mount Sinai to receive the law of God. And while he was up there visiting with God, the people were down below engaging in idolatry and immorality. Look at Exodus 32:9-10. "And the Lord said to Moses, 'i have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now, let me alone that my anger may burn against them, that I might destroy them, and I will make you a great nation'".
God said to Moses up there on the mountain, look at what the people are doing. Why don't you let me Moses just destroy them, and I'll start over with a new people, and make a new nation, and you can be the leader of that nation. How did Moses respond to that? He said, "God, don't do that. Don't destroy this people. You have made an unconditional covenant with them, and if you break your promise to these people, you will be blasphemed among the heathen, as a God who cannot fulfill his purpose". And yet the people deserved a judgment from God. So what did Moses do? He went down from the mountain. The Bible says that he rounded up all of the leaders of the rebellion against God and he executed them. But Moses realized it wasn't just the leaders who were guilty, the people were guilty too. They deserve to experience the wrath, the anger of God. So what was the solution to that dilemma? What would deflect God's anger from the people?
As pastor James Boice imagines, it was then that Moses remembered. He remembered that night, not so long ago in Egypt, when God had said, "I'm going to kill the first born of every household, but if you want to be spared that judgment take the blood of an innocent lamb, place it on the doorpost of the home, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you in judgment". And Moses and the Israelites would never forget that night, when the death angel swept through Egypt, and passed over those who had the blood of the lamb, the innocent lamb on their doorposts. And so Moses had an idea. Moses knew what was needed to satisfy the wrath of God. It was an atonement, a covering, somebody to experience that wrath, so that the people could be free.
So notice the suggestion that Moses made in verse 30, he goes back up to the mountain to talk to God. It came about verse 30, "On the next day that Moses said to the people, 'you yourselves have committed a great sin, and now I'm going to go up to the Lord, and perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.'" Moses said, "I will be the sin substitute for you. Just as that lamb was the atonement for the sins of people and God passed over them in judgment, I will make an atonement for your sins". Look at verse 31, "So Moses returned to the Lord, and he said, 'alas, this people has committed a great sand and they have made a God of gold for themselves. But now, if thou will wilt, forgive their sin, and if not, please blot me out from thy book which thou has written'".
Do you hear what Moses is saying, God, I'll be the atonement. I'll be the sacrificial lamb for the people. Kill me, blot my name out of the book of life, if you want. Now, that book of life, by the way, is not the same book of life in revelation 13:8, the book of all the saved, in the Old Testament, the book of the living is what it is, was simply a census of all those who were alive. What Moses was saying is, God, instead of killing the Israelites, you kill me instead. I will be the sin substitute for them. That was a very generous offer by Moses, but it was also a very misguided one. For you see Moses was not qualified to make an atonement for the sins of the people. Moses had to die for his sins. He too was guilty before God, he had to die. But the fact is one day there would come a perfect lamb, a lamb without blemish, the Lamb of God himself, Jesus Christ. Who would come and he would hang on a cross. He would spill out his blood in order to satisfy the wrath of God, so that we might not experience the second death, eternal death, the eternal damnation, and separation from God.
That's why the writer of Hebrews says, in Hebrews 9:14, "How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without blemish to God. How much more will his blood cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God"? Listen to me, the only remedy for the wrath of God is the blood of Jesus Christ. Only the blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient to cover our sins, to make an atonement, a covering for our sins. The only remedy for the wrath of God is the blood of Christ. Remember what God said through Isaiah the prophet, "'come now, let us reason together', says the Lord of hosts, 'though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, I will make them like wool'". The remedy for the wrath of God is the blood of Christ. Do you remember the second stanza of that great hymn. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide. What will avail to take it away. Look, there is flowing a crimson tide whiter than snow, you may be today.