28 August, 2016

Romans 1:19-20—Is God’s “General Revelation” Common Grace?

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto 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 1:19-20 KJV).


Prof. David J. Engelsma

[Source: The Standard Bearer, Vol. 68, Issue 21]

Verse 18 [with which the passage begins] expressly attributes the revelation of God to the unregenerated heathen in creation, not to a common grace of God but to His common wrath: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven . . . ." The immediate and exclusive reaction of the heathen (whether in the jungle of Africa or in the jungle of the University of Chicago) to this knowledge of God as regards His eternal power and Godhead is that they "hold the truth in unrighteousness" (v. 18); change "the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image . . ." (v. 23); and change "the truth of God into a lie" (v. 25), not liking "to retain God in their knowledge" (v. 28). The sole purpose of God with this manifestation of Himself is "that they are without excuse" (v. 20).

In this general revelation is no grace of God but only wrath burning from heaven. Its effect upon the individual and society is not good, but gross evil—the evil of their perversion of the truth of God and the evil of God's avenging Himself by giving them up to ethical perversions. The purpose behind it is not divine favor, but awful divine justice: "in order that they be without excuse."

In all of the dreadful passage, Romans 1:18-32, there is no grace of God, only wrath; no blessing, only curse; no goodness of men, only evil. He who runs may read. This is why the apostle is not ashamed of the gospel of Christ (vv. 16, 17) and is ready to preach it also to the Gentiles (v. 15). Grace, blessing, life, and goodness come only through the gospel.



More to come! (DV)

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