No Excuse

We invent religion–not because we are seeking God, but because we are running away from him.

Study of Romans as given by Dr. James Montgomery Boice: Romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities”his eternal power and divine nature”have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

As much as we would like to think that we are invincible and infinite, we aren’t’. Only God is infinite. What we do have is an infinite number of excuses for our behavior. We can come up with an excuse for just about anything we do or say so that the blame doesn’t rest on our shoulders. We don’t like to take the blame for what happens in our lives. Why should we when we can use excuses like “It wasn’t my fault,” “Nobody told me,” “My intentions were good,” “you shouldn’t be so critial,” and on and on and on. Some people just give up and quit trying to come up with excuses, they feel they no longer need them or to explain their actions. This is an attitude of being too great to need to make apologies. Our text says that in spite of our almost infinite capacity to make excuses, we are all “without excuse” for our failure to seek out, worship, and thank the living God.

“I Didn’t Know God Existed”

  1. This is the first of our excuses.
  2. People have looked to science to prove the existence of God.
  3. Science has concluded that it can neither prove or disprove the existence of God.
  4. Because of the conclusion of science concerning God’s existence we take the side of science further and say “God does not exist”.
  5. As Christians who believe the inerrant word of God we say “there is evidence for God” and that evidence lies in all of creation.
  6. Matter
    1. The argument used is that the universe is eternal because matter is eternal
    2. All we see has come about over a long period of time due to chance and randomness.
    3. Suppose everything we see did evolve over billions of years from disorganized matter. Our complex universe came from something less complex. That less complex something comes from something even less complex.
    4. Pushed to its logical conclusion we come to mere matter, with no form or purpose. Have we solved our problem?
    5. No, we are trying to explain the complex forms that we see today, but where did this complexity come from?
      1. Some say this complexity was there already. If that is the case then the matter we talk about is not “mere matter”.
      2. If this matter already has purpose, organization, and form, then we need to ask how they got there.
      3. At some point we must find ourselves looking for the Purposer, Organizer, or Former.
  7. Personalities
    1. We are personalities, we are not mere matter.
    2. We have life, purpose, feelings, self-identity.
    3. Where could all these attributes come from that make us who we are if there originally was impersonal mere matter?
    4. Francis Schaeffer, “The assumption of an impersonal beginning can never adequately explain the personal being we see around us, and when men try to explain man on the basis of an original impersonal, man soon disappears.”(Genesis in Space and Time)
  8. Time
    1. This is the most popular fallback when all else fails in evolution: “…whatever the difficulties may be for supposing an evolution of what we see from mere matter, such is nevertheless possible, given an infinite amount of time and chance occurrence. But there are two problems here.”
    2. Problem one: What is chance?
      1. Chance is not an entity, it is a mathematical abstraction with no real existence.
      2. If you flip a coin is it chance that made it come up heads or tails? No
      3. What made the coin come up heads or tails was the combination of force of thumb on the coin, weight of coin, resistance to air, distance from your hand to the ground, and other variables.
      4. You don’t know the variables so you say “Chances are….” Chance did nothing, because it is nothing, it is not matter, it is not an entity.
      5. To say that the universe was created by chance is to say that the universe was created by nothing, which is a meaningless statement.
    3. Problem two: Infinite time.
      1. Even with an infinite amount of time nothing with form or purpose comes into being without an original Former or Purposer.
      2. Let’s suppose it could though. This still does not explain the universe for the simple reason the Universe has not been around for an infinite amount of time.
      3. Science says the universe is only 15 or 20 billion years old.
      4. 15 or 20 billion years is a long time, but it is not infinite time. If it is not infinite then an appeal to infinite time falls apart.

“I Have Too Many Questions”

  1. What about the poor innocent native in Africa who has never heard of Christ?
    1. The implication behind this question is that the “innocent” native is going to be sent to hell for failing to do something he has never had an opportunity to do, believe on Jesus Christ as his Savior, and that God would be so unjust as to condemn the “innocent” native.
    2. This is true. God must be just, and God would be unjust for condemning a person for failing to do what he or she obviously did not have the opportunity to do.
    3. The “innocent” native is being condemned for not believing on Jesus. The native is condemned for failing to do what he or she actually knows he or she should do, that is, seek out, worship, and give thanks to the God revealed in nature.
    4. Some may argue the native does seek God by pointing out all the religions in the world.
    5. Still this is no excuse as Paul will argue for in the next few versus. If anything this is a show of evidence for man’s godlessness.
    6. Religions that man create are actually attempts to escape having to face the true God. We invent religion–not because we are seeking God, but because we are running away from him.
    7. What have we learned so far?
      1. All human beings know God as a result of God’s revelation of himself to us through nature.
      2. Instead of allowing that revelation to lead us to god, we repress the revelation and instead set up false gods of our own imaginations to take the true God’s place.
      3. The reason for this? We do not like the God to which this natural revelation leads us.
  2. Isn’t the Bible full of contradictions?
  3. We are told that as the data comes in from research that the Bible has many contracdictions.
    1. This is not true. In fact the exact opposite is true.
    2. This is a small excerpt from Time in 1974, over 30 years ago: After more than two centuries of facing the heaviest scientific guns that could be brought to bear, the Bible has survived–and is perhaps the better for the siege. Eve on the critics’ own terms–historical fact–the scriptures seem more acceptable now than they did when the ratonalists began the attack. (Time, De. 30, 1974, p. 41)
    3. Fast forward today and a simple onlnine search will give more evidence of the historical authenticity of scripture. Enter this search phrase “new evidence historical authenticity of bible” in Google and almost 600k items are returned.
  4. If there is a God and the God who exists is a good God, why does he tolerate evil?
    1. This aregument has two forms: Philosophical and personal/practical.
    2. Philosophical
      1. The philosophical argument is asking how evil could have entered a world crated and ruled by a benevolent God.
      2. This is the most difficult of the two arguments to answer. Dr. Boice admits that no good answer has really been given.
      3. If God made all things good, including Adam and Eve, so that nothing within them natually inclined toward evil in any wya, then it is difficult to see how Adam or Eve or any othe rperect being could do evil.
      4. Christians may not have an adequate answer for evil currently, but our failure to understand how evil came about does not disprove its existence any more than it disproves the existence of God.
    3. Personal/Practical
      1. Why does God tolerate evil, particularly in my life? Why do bad things happen to me? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers as I would like?
      2. Part of the answer to all these questions is that if we got what we deserved, we would not only be suffering, but we would know the torments of hell.
      3. Instead of asking why is bad happing in my life we should asking why do good things happen in my life.
      4. Any good in our life should point us to God, instead we complaing. This is what Paul declare we are in Romans 1:18: godless and wicked.
      5. We want God to justify his actions to us as they pertain to why bad things happen to us. We should take a lesson from Job and repent of such and attitude.
      6. To use an inability to understand some things as an excuse for failing to respond to what we do know is that deliberate repression of the truth about which Paul was speaking in our text.

“I Didn’t Think It Was Important”

  1. This is probably the weakest excuse to ever use.
  2. If God exists and we are all destined to give an account for ourselves, nothing can be more important.
  3. This can be broken down to two simpler excuses
    1. I didn’t think you(God) were imporant?
    2. I didn’t tink my repression of the truth about you mattered.
  4. We are going to appear before God with our excuses and Paul tells what will happen: “Every mouth[will] be silenced and the whole world [will be] held accountable to God” (Romans 3:)
  5. When that comes day there will be no excuse to give.

Personal Reflection

I have a a very good friend, I’d consider him one of my best friends, who is pretty agnostic about the existence of God. We do have discussions, but my friend is pretty stubborn. I think his hardest obsticale to overcome about believing in the existence of God is the evil that is in this world. Yes, that would be one of the top excuses mentioned in the study of Romans 1:20. I don’t think he can accept the reasons given many times for evil. Even I have a hard time reconciling a good and benevolent God with evil, but I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign over all. In his article Answering Evil R.C. Sproul still struggles with trying to find an answer for Evil. He writes:

In the many years I’ve taught philosophy, apologetics, and theology, and in the many conversations I’ve had with hurting people, a full answer to the problem of evil remains elusive. If anything, recent events make the problem seem more acute. In the past year alone, we’ve dealt with terrorists bombing the Boston Marathon as well as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. Hurricane Sandy killed nearly 300 people in the Northeastern United States. We could also mention the hundreds of thousands who died in tsunamis in 2004 and 2011. The list is almost endless.

Putting a human face on evil can make it more understandable—it’s no surprise that evil people do evil things. Nature’s violence can be more troubling. How do we deal with natural disasters that do not respect persons but rather indiscriminately claim the lives of the elderly, infants, and the handicapped along with able-bodied children and adults? “How,” many people—even many Christians—ask, “could a good God allow such things to happen?”

If a gifted theologian like R.C. Sproul struggles with this issue, how much more does the regual layman struggle with it. I see my friends point of view and I wish i definitive answer for him, but I don’t. I can say that God allows evil so that his grace and mercy can abound even more, but why even let evil exist in the first place? Why did God allow Adam and Eve fall by being deceived by the serpent? We know God to be omnipotent and omniscienct. God is sovereign. Maybe that’s the thing God wants to continually remind us of. If evil did not exist would we still know about God’s sovereignty? I don’t know. If sin and evil did not exist would we understand God’s mercy and grace? I do not know. What I do know is that evil does exist and satan cannot do anything without first receiving permission from God. Read Job and this fact of permission from God will become clear.

I do know that God is sovereign. I do know that no one knows the mind or ways of God. I do know that God is good, merciful, kind, tolerant, patient. God is long suffereng. God is faithful. God is just. I know all these qualities exist in God and I know that God has saved me. These things I know for sure. Because I know these things, I can face evil on its own territory and not be afraid. What excuse will my friend have?

Other Resources

  1. R.C. Sproul – The Mystery of Evil
  2. John MacArthur – Why Does Evil Dominate the World?
  3. John MacArthur – Why Does God Allow So Much Suffering and Evil
  4. Albert Mohler – The Goodness of God and the Reality of Evil
  5. Ligon Duncan – 175 and Counting: God, Suffering and Evil
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