The Bible begins with the statement, “In the beginning God….” From such a simple statement hangs everything fundamental to our knowledge of God. If this statement is not true, then we have no reason to go to church. We are like the philosophers of the world trying to figure out our reason for existence, why we are here, and what is the meaning of life. But if the statement is true, then there is logical course that we must take. If God exists, then he is greater than us for he created us and we must find out what he wants us to do. In Him we find the meaning of life, our reason for existence, and why we are here. Such a statement as “in the beginning God” has tremendous implications that cannot be denied and we must seek to know if this is the case. Every person must ask and answer the question, “Is there God?”
How Can We Know If There is God?
Paul answers and explain this question that we have early in the book of Romans. Read Romans 1:18-20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident to them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
Paul makes an interesting point that seems contradictory. The invisible attributes of God have been clearly seen. How can we see what is invisible? How can we see what are the invisible attributes of God? Paul says through the creation of the world. God has made His invisible attributes clearly seen through the creation of this world. Some might raise the objection that the world does not prove there is a God! The world could have come into existence by luck, by chance, by an explosion, or by destructive force. But the world proves far more than we think.
Let’s prove the point that the creation of the world does prove there is God. Look at your watch. Do you know if someone made your watch? How do you know that someone made your watch? Have you ever met the creator of your watch? Have met Mr. Timex or Mr. Casio or Mr. Fossil and he or she told you that they made your watch? Since you have not met the creator of your watch, how do you really know that the watch was made? Maybe it happened by accident, out of a freak explosion in a metal plant somewhere. Maybe you watch appeared out of thin air. Ludicrous, right? You know someone made the watch. Why? Because of two things you see in the watch. First, you see energy. The watch is moving. Things do not move by themselves. It is a law of physics that energy must be applied to something for it to have motion, to have energy. Because the watch is moving you know that it has a creator. Second, you know that there is a creator of your watch because there is organization in the watch. Your watch keeps time. That shows intelligence behind the watch. Your watch has numbers, it always moves in the same direction, it keeps track of days, and the minutes are metered into a standard movement. Your watch fits around your wrist. All of these things show that there is intelligence behind the watch. And that is why, though you have never met the creator of your watch, you believe, and know that someone made the watch.
This is exactly the same point that Paul is making about the creation of the world. You have never met God, but you know He exists because those exact same invisible attributes are clearly seen in creation.
- His eternal power. The earth spins on its axis. The earth has an orbit around the sun. All of the planets orbit the sun. Plants grow, oceans move, our bodies function. We see energy in this world and that is God’s eternal power, just as the watch’s movement is a sign of the watch’s creator.
- His divine nature. The earth is not exploding into the sun, or crashing into other planets. Planets are not colliding with other planets. The ocean does not flood the whole earth but remains in place. There is organization seen in this world, it is not random. Our bodies show organization and it has usefulness. This shows intelligence, God’s divine nature. The world also shows His authority to be able to make something that we cannot make. It is one thing to make a watch, it is another thing to make a planet or make a sun.
These things show that there is God because we see energy in creation and we see organization in creation. This shows God’s intelligence, power, and authority. If one does not believe this, then you have only two alternatives. You believe if you took your watch and smashed it into pieces, it would return to being a functioning watch either by leaving it there in pieces for billions of years or by adding gasoline on your smashed watch, and creating an explosion. But such alternatives are ridiculous. We know that exploding watch pieces will not become a functioning watch and that a smashed watch will not turn itself back into a functioning watch. So we also know that explosions in space or billions of years in time does not make a universe. Just as your watch requires a creator, the world requires a Creator. Thus we see God.
We are without excuse
Because we can determine these things from the creation, Paul says that we are left with no excuse. We have no excuse for not believing that there is God. We have no excuse for not finding out what the will of God is. We have no excuse because God has revealed Himself to us so that we would see these things and know He is there. Since we know there is God, and He is more powerful than we are, and He created us, then He is in control. He made us, he gets to say what goes and He has given us commands to live by. And the wrath of God has been revealed against all ungodliness and all unrighteousness. What is unrighteousness? All things that are contrary to God’s law.
Why is God’s wrath against us?
Romans 3:23 tells us why God’s wrath is against us. We have all violated God’s law. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). John says in 1 John 3:4, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” Anything against God’s law is considered sin, and Paul tells us that all of us have sinned. Paul says in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death. The consequence to our violation of God’s law is spiritual death, which is separation from God. Therefore we are destined to everlasting punishment in hell because we have violated God’s law.
It does not matter how good we try to live, or how good of a person we think we are, only one violation of God’s law and we are in sin and stand in the face of the wrath of God. Understanding this principle is very important. During the Jesus’ day, the Pharisees thought they would be saved simply because they were not as bad as everyone else. They thought as long as they did more good things than bad things that this would save them. This is known as a system of law. Do more good than bad and you are okay. But Jesus and the apostles said that was not the case and had never been the case. God says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Doing good things is not enough.
We understand this principle. Suppose you are driving in your car and you have never ran a red light in all your life. Because you have been so good to keep the law, you decide that it is okay this time to run the light. When the police man who was in the bushes watching pulls you over, will he buy the idea that simply because you have always stopped at stop lights that you should not get the ticket? Obviously not. So you get the ticket. Tomorrow you go out and you decide to stop twice at the light, to make up for the ticket. Does it make up for your violation the day before? No. Does it take the ticket away? No. You cannot do extra to make the ticket vanish. You have a violation and you cannot fix it.
This is the way it is with God. There is nothing we can do to fix our sin. One violation and we are separated from God and we are lost, doomed to hell, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. All of us have at one time or another knowingly and unknowingly violated one of God’s laws. It could be lying or cheating. It could be fornication or adultery. It could be murder and it could be any other host of things. It could be not loving God always, putting him first, or not loving our neighbor as ourselves. We have all violated God’s law. Can we fix the problem? No.
God’s Answer to Our Problem (Romans 3:21-25)
Thankfully God has an answer to our problem. Romans 3:21 tells us that the righteousness of God has been revealed. The way that we are pronounced innocent has been revealed. How are we pronounced innocent?
First, it is apart from law (vs. 21) We have already figured this out. It is not by a system of trying to earn our way out. It is not a system of doing enough good things to deserve salvation. The way that we are pronounce innocent is apart from a system of law where we try to do good things to save ourselves.
Second, it is through faith in Jesus Christ (vs. 22). The way to be pronounced innocent from the wrath of God that we deserve is through faith in Jesus Christ. But we must ask an important question: how does faith in Jesus Christ save us?
Paul says that we are justified, pronounced innocent, saved freely by the grace of God (vs. 24). Again, Paul is making a very clear point that it is not by doing good things that we can be saved. It is not by our own goodness or our own power that gets us out of this condition. It is a gift of God, freely given to us. It is God’s grace that we have this, not of ourselves. Second, the blood of Christ Jesus redeems us from the wrath of God (vs. 24-25). What does this mean? We are redeemed. God set a price at which we could be purchased or bought back. To be bought back for a price. Just as a recycler buys back your empty bottle for a price (the bottle says redemption 5 cents), so God set a price to buy us back.
What was the price? A sacrifice of atonement. A sacrifice to pay the price was what God had set. Why not sacrifice animals to take away our sins? Hebrews 10:4 says that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away our sins. Why? Because that is not an equivalent to us. Bulls and goats do not represent the value that we have to God nor does their blood show the gravity of our sins. It is insufficient. So the blood of bulls and goats could not be the price to pay as a sacrifice. Why not have someone else die for us? Why don’t I simply die for you and you can have forgiveness of sins? Because I am not innocent and am also deserving of death. My death does not pay the price because I violated God’s law. Second, my death is not sufficient because my death does not represent the value of all people. So what is left? What is the price that God set? The blood of Jesus Christ. That was the price that God set to be a sacrifice of atonement for our sins. This sacrifice is sufficient because He is innocent. Jesus did nothing deserving of death, but instead lived his life perfectly. Second, the death of deity, the death of the Son of God shows the gravity of our sins and the value of us to God. This shows how much God loves you and it shows how serious our sin is. This plan for redemption was made, Paul tells us in Ephesians 1, before the creation of the world. So God sent his only son to redeem us, to buy us back from the wrath we should have, by making a sacrifice of himself by death.
What shall we do?
Now how do we get access to his blood? How can we have the forgiveness of our sins? How can we be pronounced innocent by God? Paul says again in this text that it is through faith. Paul in Colossians 2:11-14 explains more clearly what is taking place. “11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Here we see that Christ is going to cut off our sins, in verse 11, the sins of the flesh. When does he cut off our sins? Notice verse 12, “when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God.”
Here is how we show our faith. Paul says that we must have faith in Jesus to have our sins forgiven. Here he tells us how we show our faith. When we are baptized, we have faith that he will cut off our sins and raise us up to be a new person, taking those sins away. That is when our sins our cut away and we are forgiven. That is the action which shows our faith. James tells us in James 2:14-26 that faith without action is dead and worthless. Faith without action is not faith at all and has absolutely no value.
Does this mean that we can boast because we have obeyed God? No, notice the text, it is the work of God. This is God’s work not ours. This is what God has asked us to do to show our faith so that he will forgive us of our sins. It is still a free gift from God’s grace. I still do not deserve forgiveness of sins, being pronounced innocent, but God says He will forgive us anyway when I show my faith in him. This is exactly what Paul then goes on to say in Romans 6:3-4, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Paul tells why we are baptized. Because it symbolizes the action of Jesus. Just as he died, was buried and raised from the dead, so we also are to die to our old lifestyle of living for ourselves and living for sin, we are buried in water, and we are raised from the water to begin living for God. Again, this is the point when our sins are forgiven (Colossians 2:11-12) Can we continue in sin? Certainly not. We have died to sin now. We cannot go back and live the way we were before. We cannot have any part of that old life and now must live our lives according to God’s law. Will we live perfectly? No. But we must give every effort to be obedient to the commands of God.
All of this from, “in the beginning God.” When we see that there is God then we must do as He says. We must see that we are in a state of going to hell if we have not shown our faith in God by being obedient to his commands. In the beginning God loved us so much that he would give His Son for you so that you could be redeemed from your sins and reconciled to God, no longer separated. How can we reject such great love by God? How can we ignore what he has done for us? We must respond to His invitation to love Him because He first loved us. Be baptized and have your sins forgiven, have your sins taken away, and walk clean and renewed in Him.