“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
That there are some in our world who deny the existence of a Higher Power defies all logic in view of the obvious evidence that exists. Something doesn’t come from nothing in the natural world.
In this passage in Romans, Paul has set out to prove the absolute existence of God in order to convince all—Jews and Gentiles—the need for them to obey the gospel. He points to the evidence of God surrounding us—things we can see all around us indicate the existence of an all-powerful, supernatural Creator.
Those who defy such strong evidence, Paul says, are without excuse. Through faith, we trust the evidence and we know God exists. Such knowledge demands not only acceptance but submission to this Power.
“And I say to you, ‘My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!’ ” (Luke 12:4-5).
In this passage, Jesus gives fear a place of honor—He makes it one of the strongest motivations for godly living. So, we ask the question: Which is it? Should we fear God or just love Him?
The definitions of fear show us that it can mean different things, depending on the level of fear we are talking about.
If our fear causes us to shrink away from God so that we really want nothing to do with Him, we have taken it to a level that was never intended in scripture. In fact, one of the purposes of fear is to drive us closer to God and to develop a greater desire to please Him.
If, however, our fear leads us to have a respect for God and a deep reverence for Him, we will be at a healthy level of fear that allows us to develop a closer and more personal relationship with Him.
“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
Surrounded by idolaters as she struggled for strength and courage while in Babylonian captivity, Israel hears these wonderful words of comfort from God at a time when she needed them the most.
While we are not in captivity and we don’t wait for a physical deliverer like Cyrus, we sometimes find ourselves in the same kind of despondent mind-set as Israel—perhaps because of a sin we have committed, because of a hurt we have felt, or just because of an offense we may have inadvertently committed toward others.
Unsure of what to do, we struggle for a clarity that will bring us out of our despair. If we are fortunate enough to rely on God, we turn to the scriptures, we allow their message to penetrate our hearts, and there we find the kind of powerful, life-changing encouragement that this verse provides.
Even though God does not lead us miraculously in this age, He is our God, He will strengthen and help us, and He will uphold us—through the power of His wonderful word.
“For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2.11).
The writer, the Apostle Paul, has been describing two extremes of people in this passage, beginning with those who are resistant to Jesus and His wonderful message all the way to those who are patiently willing to submit to His authority. As well, Paul gives the consequences for each type.
His message—presented with such power in so few words—is that God will judge each person according to the way he has conducted his life here because God will be fair to all—He is not partial.
Impartiality is an admirable trait for anyone to possess, no matter what his position or power. So, it is reassuring and comforting to know that our Heavenly Father will always be impartial in His dealing with us. This reassurance surely motivates us to be all that God wants us to be.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
Moses has been repeating God’s law to the people and has been telling them how angry God has been because of their failure to obey His law—specifically, they had gone into idolatry. This passage is really Moses’ farewell message to the Jews, and he addresses it to the new generation that is about to possess the land toward which they have traveled for forty years.
The message of this passage is that they should focus on the instructions God has given them in His law and not worry about things He has not revealed. They know all they need to know in order to please God.
This lesson rings true with every generation. As human beings, we have curiosity about everything, especially about things that our finite minds have difficulty understanding. The truth is we have been given everything we need to know to attain salvation—and that’s all we need to know.
Final in a series of studies in Psalm 1
“For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6).
The limitless power of God and the certainty of judgment are two assurances that come out of this verse.
God’s omnipotence certainly speaks to His power to ascertain the category into which each person falls: either we are a productive tree or we are chaff; that is, we are one He will classify as righteous or one he will classify as wicked.
This realization automatically leads us to conclude there will be a separating of the two categories: that is, there will be a time of judgment when God will make the separation. Otherwise, the entire process is meaningless.
This psalm is intended to be a positive motivation for those who want to be blessed by the Lord. The psalmist makes it clear that, to receive that blessing, we must conduct our lives as the “law of the Lord” prescribes.
Second in a series of studies in Psalm 1
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:2-3).
Continuing his description of the man who wants to be blessed (verse 1), the psalmist moves from his description of what this person is not to a description of what he is. Key words here are “delight” and “meditates.”
Delighting in something means we take extreme pleasure in it. So, delighting in the law of the lord means it is the center of our lives—and, actually, we know it is God’s law that keeps us out of the way of the wicked and fortifies us against their temptations.
Meditating is giving deep thought to something. Not only do we delight in God’s law but we give serious consideration to what it teaches.
The person who has this kind of attitude and behavior is “like” a tree. A tree that is planted in the appropriate place has plenty of water and nutrients to cause it to be covered with leaves and to produce fruit as it is supposed to. The person living in the way described here will be successful in his quest to find God.
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.
“But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him’ ” (Acts 10:34-35).
It is at this moment that the Apostle Peter acknowledges his understanding and acceptance of God’s plan to bring all people under the scheme of redemption. Peter is in the house of a Gentile, a man named Cornelius, when he comes to this realization.
Impartiality is an admirable trait in anyone; but we can take the greatest comfort in the fact that our heavenly Father shows no partiality in his assessment of our behavior and in His acceptance of us into His home, regardless of race, color, or social standing.
It is true throughout divine history that God had special relationships with some individuals and with the nation of Israel, but He had the same expectations of each one of them: He expected all of them to do what He said.
That expectation remains the same for us: if we want God to accept us and to allow us to enter the eternal home in heaven, all we have to do is to “fear Him and work righteousness.”