Summary: God gives a gift, which is the Gospel of Christ, but allows people to choose to either live by faith with this Gospel or live away from God.
How many of you know what brainwashing is??
Brainwashing is the attempt to change the thoughts and beliefs of another person against their will. This is done by controlling the results of certain actions or by drugs.
Do you think God wants to brainwash people?
Let’s answer this by reviewing three major events that happened in human history. Remember how God related to Adam and Eve right after He created them? God walked beside Adam and Eve! It was God’s desire to be with the people He created. But Adam and Eve sinned against God by disobeying what God said. Did Adam and Eve really needed to touch that tree and eat the fruit??
There are two important truths we need to note from this story; God provided everything Adam and Eve needed and God allowed them to choose either God’s way or something else. God gave the gift of life and paradise but God also allowed Adam and Eve to choose God’s way or the highway away from God!
Because of their sin, God could not walk beside Adam and Eve any longer and life became harder for them for they could no longer live in God’s paradise one earth! Was it God’s fault or Adam and Eve’s? Didn’t Adam and Eve a have a choice?
Now, God could have forced them to go back to paradise, but He didn’t. God could have brainwashed Adam and Eve but He didn’t! What did God do instead? God called prophets to reveal who He is and promised that there will be a way back to God if people so choose.
God chose a people, the Israelites, to reveal God’s Holiness and how people are to live by faith! Guess what? God provided everything for the Israelites but also allowed them to choose God’s way or something else. God gave the gift of His Word but allowed the Israelites to choose God’s way or the highway away from God!
Does God brainwash people? I don’t think so! You see, God doesn’t have to brainwash people; God has the power to make people do whatever He wants; but He doesn’t! God loves His creation that He gives them gifts but allows them to choose! God loves people and agape love can not be controlling!
And of course, God gives a final gift to people He loves. God sent Jesus Christ to the world and He was to be called Emmanuel. What does Emmanuel mean??
Emmanuel means God with us! And this is the final and ultimate gift from God because it is an eternal gift of a relationship with the Almighty God!
Please open your Bibles briefly to Acts 28:23-28……….
God loves people. God gave the ultimate gift, His Name is Jesus Christ, but God allows every person in the world to choose His way or the highway away from God! God does not brainwash or force people to follow Him. But as we will read today, people have the freedom to choose but there will be consequences for not following God. Please open your Bibles now to the Letter to the Romans. I’ve asked Daniel Pryor to read for us this morning Romans 1:16-32………
God tells us there is a Gospel; there is good news because as we had noted, God loves people! And again we read in Romans 1:16-17……
And so again, God gives a gift, which is the Gospel of Christ, but allows people to choose to either live by faith with this gospel or live away from God.
Romans1:18-21 tells us how people start their life away from God:
v18 – 20: they suppress the truth by denying the existence of God.
v21: they neither glorified God or gave Him thanks
And in verses 21-32, we read the results of this decision to live away from God:
v21b: thinking became futile and foolish hearts darkened
v22: claim to be wise, they became fools
v24: degrading of their bodies with one another
v26: shameful lusts; women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones
v27: men commit indecent acts with other men, receiving the due penalty for their perversion
v29: filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, and gossips
v30: slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents (let us note that children can learn how to sin very early in life!)
v31: they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless
v32: although they know it is wrong, they continue with sins and also approve of those who practice them
These truths of God were of course for the Romans 2000 years ago! What happened to the Roman Empire??
Because it was so great, there has been much study of the Fall of the Roman Empire. In 1984, German professor Alexander Demandt published a collection of 210 theories on why Rome fell, and new theories have emerged since then. Don’t you find it interesting that the Great Roman Empire fell completely in 475 AD! It was a slow decline of over 325 years! The Roman Empire started declining right after God’s letter to the Romans! God allowed the Roman Empire to burn itself. But God saved some didn’t He? And many of the descendants of those saved from the Roman Empire are now either in Europe or where?? Descendants of those who followed God and the Gospel from Ancient Rome now live in America!!