Destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes – Romans 3:16-18.
The absence of the fear of the Lord (Romans 3:18) is cited by Paul as:
The reason for the sin of a sinful world;The reason for the failure of a failing Church; andThe reason for divine intervention in salvation or judgment.
Romans 3:18 is a summary conclusion of the first part of the great argument of Paul’s Gospel (cf. Romans 2:16; 16:25 & 2 Timothy 2:8). He describes the heathen and the religious world as being both hopelessly lost in sin. Pagans, unlike Jews, did not have the law of God, but they did have intelligence and conscience, which though diminished by original sin were not destroyed by it. In my understanding of the Word of God and of human language this means that man outside of Christ is NOT totally depraved—he is not intellectually depraved. This I think is the clear conclusion of part of the argument of Romans chapter 1:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold (suppress) the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it to them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse – Romans 1:18-20.
Here Paul argues two things – a) Every responsible human being has an internal witness about spiritual reality; and b) The created order testifies to the existence of God. Thus according to Paul intelligence—the rational mind—and conscience—the inner witness—work in tandem so that pagan man is without excuse in respect of his attitude towards God.
Both the heathen and the religious worlds are hopelessly lost and in danger of becoming totally depraved, if men and women ignore what their intelligence tells them about the creator, what their consciences testify for and against in respect of good and evil and what the Bible says about God and man:
... when they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, norr were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up ... – Romans 1:21-24.
What advantage then has the Jew? ... Much in every way: chiefly, because that to them were committed the oracles of God – Romans 3:1-2.
God does not act arbitrarily without reference to His created order, His Word and/or His acts of Grace. This is another reason why I cannot accept that man is totally depraved; depraved? yes in the sense that he is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) and cannot save himself—“salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9) in every regard, but TOTALLY DEPRAVED? NO! all men are not totally depraved. Those who accept the so called “TULIP” doctrines of Calvinism have to rely on adopted definitions as distinct from dictionary definitions of words. It falls at the first hurdle viz. TOTAL DEPRAVITY and of course the whole edifice thus collapses. If the depravity is not TOTAL then election is not required to be UNCONDITIONAL or the ATONEMENT LIMITED or the grace of God IRRESISTIBLE. The perseverance of the saints does not hang on the Calvinistic argument but rather on the clear statements of the Bible about God’s people being given ETERNAL Life in Jesus Christ the Son of God.
Of course some men and women are “totally depraved”—those who are thrice “given over” by God, to – “uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves” (verse 24) to – “vile affections: for even their women exchanged the natural use into that which is against nature" (verse 26) and to – “a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient" [morally acceptable] (verse 28); and this is really the “low point”, to which human kind left to their own devices inevitable come. It has happened before and it is happening again.
However there is a ray of hope—a light shining through the 21st century mist.
Recently I watched two television presentations—the BBC’s The Big Questions which was an open panel screened at York, UK on the topic Is Fundamentalism undermining Faith? and later the ABC’s Q & A debate between Richard Dawkins, an agnostic and George Pell, Australia’s Roman Catholic arch-bishop on the topic Is Religion Helpful in Today’s Society? In my view the former, being broader based with opinions coming from liberal and evangelical Christianity, from Judaism, Islam and non-believers, was more helpful than the latter being mainly restricted to two “talking heads” with some questions from the immediate and TV audience. Sadly the position of biblical Christianity was not presented in the Q & A programme. George Pell is a committed Roman Catholic not a biblical Christian. He did more harm to the Christian cause than did Richard Dawkins. My vote in respect of the ABC programme would have been – “NO”, which turned out to be the majority vote. “If what Pell presented is religion then it is definitely NOT HELPFUL.”
It’s a shame that biblical Christianity was not heard. Of course it’s well known that Richard Dawkins refuses to debate young earth creationists. John MacKay and Jonathan Sarfati have issued their challenges in that respect, but Dawkins refuses to debate them. I wonder why? In fact Dr. Jonathan Sarfati has written a refutation of Richard Dawkin’s famous, The God Delusion entitled The Greatest Hoax on Earth, (http://http://cetf.co/I0nzyT ) which is well worth reading. In short Sarfati demolishes Dawkins, countering his every argument. My challenge to the ABC is to at least allow a biblical Christian to enter the discussion. After all it is one of the BIGGEST questions of our time and the moral future of mankind may be at stake.
I suggested earlier there is an encouraging ray of hope—a light shining. I saw it in the BBC presentation. There was an openness to discuss the matter of homosexuality—by all the participants—by Bible Christians, Jews, Muslims and by one man who was a self confessed practising homosexual. This augurs well for our important freedom of speech ethos and is generally counter to the minority attempt to stop us openly expressing opposition to homosexuality, lesbianism and so called “Gay Marriages” etc. How ironic that society has so changed that what was, not so long ago, relegated to the closet and classed as illegal activity has become so acceptable that the very act of speaking against it has been threatened.
Our friend and colleague, Mark L. R. Mullins participated in the BBC Big Questions discussion. He with the support of other participants spoke up for the Bible, including the young earth and the six literal days of creation theories. A woman professor challenged Mark: “Surely you don’t believe people lived as long as 800 and 900 years. How could they do that?” “Well”, replied Mark, “it’s quite simple. They didn’t die any earlier.” He referred to his own father who didn’t expect to live to 98, but he did and is still alive. He went on to explain that conditions etc were very different in those Bible times. It was simplistic response that caught many people off balance.
That element was sadly missing in the ABC presentation, because the Church-man who should have championed the cause of the Bible couldn’t do so because of his own agnosticism. It was really a debate between two agnostics, which leads me to the main point of this editorial.
Where there is no true fear of God, sin, and ultimately the sin of homosexuality and lesbianism, leading to “gay marriages” will abound. Why do I mention these two “sins”? Because the Bible mentions them and because they are different in that they are a direct attack on the creative genius of God, who made mankind “male and female” and specified that marriage was exclusively the right of a man with a woman—not woman with woman and man with man – cf. Genesis 1:27 & 28 with Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-12.
Too often in today’s society there are unthinking appeals to “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20). Many of today’s so called scientists have forgotten or they ignore the fact that Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) “considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived" (http://cetf.co/J7tuBD ) spent more time studying the Bible and Theology (called in the middle ages “The Queen of the sciences”- http://cetf.co/HUavyW - than he did of what we call “science proper.”
The ultimate goal of Newton's studies was to know God and give Him honour & glory.
The principal of the Commonwealth Bible College where I studied (1957-1959) recommended the writings of an American Theologian, Dr Harry Rimmer, who was named as one of the top 100 scientists of America in his day. He wrote among other books The Harmony of Science and Scripture and makes, as I recall, some fascinating statements:
For a growing science to criticise a fully-grown revelation is like a seven-year-old boy telling a seventy-year-old man how to grow up,
Again quoting an old Negro preacher he wrote:
Science is a growing but the Bible’s done growed!
One of the unfounded and unchallenged statements made on the ABC discussion was that scientists accept the concept of Global Warming (Climate Change). On the contrary the whole idea, especially the effect of man’s contribution, is questioned by many hundreds (some say thousands) of bona fide scientists some of whom are top in their fields -
One thing is for sure—the facts and forces of history will not be denied. If we don’t learn from the past we are doomed to repeat it. The last stages of the 21st century body socio-politico are with us. Widespread homosexuality in any society spells its doom. It happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, to ancient Rome and it will happen to the West. No fear of Godspells the doom of any and every social structure. (Please read Al Dager’s The Loss of Conscience)
The Church is no better and is more responsible on account of having the “living oracles”. There are many contributing factors to the failure of the failing Church but basic to them all is “there is no fear of God before their eyes.” The first thing to go is reverence for the Bible, God’s Word - see Evil Men and Impostors Grow Worse and Deceive.
The only hope is the salvation that comes from God in revival and if not by that means then in the certain return of Christ. Our Lord will intervene one way or the other.
God bless you - please help us circulate the message by distributing CETF far and wide. We are grateful to the Lord’s people for their prayerful and practical support that enables CWM to continue publishing and distributing CETF. Thank you in the Name of the Lord. May Jesus Christ be PRAISED - Philip L. Powell