Summary: It is common to hear someone with very little, or no, biblical knowledge say, “I don’t see how a good God could send anyone to hell.” There are several things that can be said to you, if you say that: 1) That you don’t see, doesn’t change it; 2) your sta
It is common to hear someone with very little, or no, biblical knowledge say, “I don’t see how a good God could send anyone to hell.” There are several things that can be said to you, if you say that: 1) That you don’t see, doesn’t change it; 2) your statement is your confession that you do not believe that God is good; 3) you are judging God by your standard, and by your understanding, of what is good; 4) you do not believe that ungodliness deserves God’s wrath; 5) you do not understand that it is only by God’s grace that anyone is saved.
The first section of chapter one speaks of who Paul, the writer, is, who the recipients are, and how Jesus had called and touched them all.
Then, he gets right into the subject at hand, God’s right to condemn sinners. I have heard people ask all kinds of philosophical questions, such as, “What about people who have never heard the gospel?” Paul jumps right into that, beginning in verse 18. Verses 19-21 tell us that God has revealed enough about Himself in the creation to give any person enough evidence that there is a good, and that he needs to seek Him. The big problem has not been that people have not had any light to which they could respond, but that they have not responded to what they have had. People cannot be saved without responding to the gospel, but people are not lost because they haven’t responded to the gospel, they are lost because they are sinners.
Why do people do the things that they do? Have you ever wondered about that? They do what they do because of what they are. They are sinners, therefore they sin. Verse 22, and following, tells the story of how people who didn’t have the word, but had enough natural revelation to know there was a God, and that they needed to seek Him, didn’t even want to retain God in their knowledge, so they just did every ungodly thing they could imagine. They changed their perception of God to that which was suitable to them. They changed the truth of God for the lie, and they worshiped the creature instead of the creator. They changed the natural use of sexuality for unnatural perversions of men with men and women with women. And, God honored their unbelief! He will honor your unbelief, as well. Knowing that their minds were made up, that they were set in their hearts not to turn to God in faith, verse 24 says He “...gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.” Verse 26 says, “...God gave them up to vile passions...” Verse 28 says, “...God gave them over to a debased mind...” Verses 29-32 tell the immediate result of God giving them up and giving them over, but the ultimate result is revealed elsewhere in the Bible. The ultimate result is to burn in hell forever and ever, where the flame is not quenched and the worm doesn’t die, and there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Now, why will this happen? This will happen because they are sinners.
People who had been practicing the rituals of the law, and who considered themselves to be God’s people, because of their Jewish heritage, might have thought that what these sinners got was good enough for them, but chapter two wastes no time telling them that they are no better off.
There are those who think that, because they have undergone some religious symbolism, they are assured of being in good standing with God. Chapter 2, verses 25-29 tell us that is not the case. For them, the religious symbolism was circumcision. For us, it might be baptism, communion, or church membership. These things, like circumcision of the Old Testament, have their place, but they are merely symbols of something far greater, and that is a heart that has turned to God through faith in Jesus, The Christ.
Chapter 3 makes two main points: 1) Some people live better than others, but when it comes right down to it, as verse 22 says, “...there is no difference.” Suppose an athletic young man, an Olympic broad jumper, who had won a gold medal in the Olympic games, challenged an elderly woman from the nursing home to a contest of seeing who could jump across the Mississippi River. He would come down to the river bank in his light-weight track apparel, and she would come down on her walker, with her house shoes on. He would back off and get a running start and appear to fly as he sailed many feet out into the river. She would hobble down to the edge of the river, lay her walker aside, and give her best effort, about a half step, before falling into the shallow water. Now, the young man jumped much farther than the elderly woman, but the contest was to see who could jump across the Mississippi River, and in the end, both came far short of that goal. That’s what verses 22-23 mean, when they say, “...for there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That’s why we need a Savior, and praise the Lord, we have one. His name is Jesus! 2) None of us have anything to boast about, except the grace of the Lord Jesus. Nobody in heaven will be talking about the good things they did in order to get there. In chapter 10, verse 12-13, we are told, “...the same Lord is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.