Summary: The question the writer of Hebrews asks is the question all of us ought to consider: How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? The Bottom Line: God is holy, and he must punish sin.
As we are going though the book of Romans, it is important for us to keep in mind the historical context of the book. You know, we don’t do that very well in the twentieth century. We are very poor students of history, or we don’t really appreciate history the way we should. In fact, I have some excerpts here. They are actually hilarious, but also a little bit sad. Here are some actual answers given on history exams–both Bible history and secular history–either in high school or in college. I am reading you the answers some students put on their essay tests describing history.
1. “Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread, which is bread without any ingredients.”
2. “Moses went up on top of Mt. Cyanide to get the Ten Commandments. He died before he ever reached the land of Canada.”
3. “Solomon had 300 wives and 700 porcupines. The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we would not have history. The Greeks also had many myths. A myth is a female moth.”
4. “Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived out in the Sarah dessert and traveled by camelot.”
5. “Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. That’s what killed him. He died from an overdose of wedlock.”
6. “In the Olympic Games Greeks ran races, jumped and hurled the biscuits, and threw the java. Eventually, the Romans conquered the Greeks. History calls the people Romans because they never stayed in one place very long.”
7. “Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul, but he was killed by his friends because they thought he was trying to be king. As he was dying, he said these words, “Tee hee, Brutus.”
8. “Nero was a cruel tyrant who would torture his subjects by playing the fiddle to them.”
9. “It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented the Bible. Another invention was the circulation of blood.”
10. “Sir Walter Raleigh is an historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking.”
11. “The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1654 supposedly on his birthday. He wrote tragedies, comedies and hysterectomies. Another great author was John Milton. Milton wrote, ‘Paradise Lost,’ then his wife died and he wrote ‘Paradise Regained.’”
12. “Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest precedent. Lincoln’s mother died in her infancy, and Lincoln was born in a log cabin that he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. The believed assassinator was John Wilkes Booth, an insane actor. This ruined Booth’s career.”
I’m sure those of you who teach college and high school, you have to laugh at that because you know people just do not have a good grasp of history.
I want to remind you of the historical context in Romans, chapter 3. Paul grew up in the Jewish religion. He was an expert on it. For many years he served as the chief prosecutor and persecutor of Christianity. He went around making sure Christians were put to death. Then, he was converted and he became a Christian, and instead of being the prosecutor of Christianity, he became the greatest defender of the Christian faith. In chapter 1, he talks about how man without any kind of religious background, pagan Gentiles, are terribly sinful. That’s what chapter 1 is all about. As he was writing those words, I am sure the Jewish Christians in Rome were saying, “That’s right, Paul. Give it to them, those terrible, old Gentile pagan people…” Then in chapter 2, he really comes down hard on religious people about those who are trusting a Jewish religion or in our case, a Baptist religion, or a Protestant religion, and he aims his biggest guns at religion.
In chapter 3, he synthesizes these two, and is trying to make a definite point. Look at Romans 3:9, he brings his conclusion to the light. “What shall we conclude then? Are we, [Jews] any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.” That’s the point he has been trying to make and he is going to develop it in the next few chapters. Having said all of that in the preceding eight verses, the apostle, Paul, does something a little unusual. Because he has a brilliant legal mind, as he is defending Christianity, he also steps into the role of the people who have objections to Christianity, people who have objections against believing all people are sinners, and that they need a Savior. He anticipates all the questions, presents the objections, and overrules the objections. That’s why today the title of the message is “Objection Overruled.”