Romans 1:18-23 General Revelation

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

General Revelation

Although General Revelation is all around us, it condemns.  Although it is beautiful and God’s creativity is still conveyed in the world around us, it counts against most people.  The passage runs through a judicial case.  The case is made against humanity that, in general, we have seen the evidence of a power greater than ourselves but we have not acknowledged that God exists.  We have looked at the broader world and we have mastered it – we have exercised dominion – but then a process has recurred in each culture that descends toward godlessness.

When I was 18 and lived in Pakistan, I looked at a leaf and it saved my faith.  The beauty of the sunlight shining through the veins in the morning convinced me that, although science has extensive explaining power, it is insufficient.  My wonder goes beyond the God of the Gaps.  The God of the Gaps presupposes a secularism that has the sacred fill the gaps that materialism cannot explain.  That which we do explain belongs to God.  That which we can not explain also belongs to God.  Whether there is a universe or a multiverse, the God who transcends all fills it.  Whether matter is comprised of energy or whether solids exist, the most minuscule particles speak of design.

Those who look through the telescope and microscope and don’t see God stand condemned.  That is a point of the passage.

Prayer

May we see your nature revealed in the grain of wood, the flight of the birds and the colour of the sky.  In the fall leaves here, may we give thanks that the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.

Questions

  1. What words describe Natural or General Revelation?
  2. What is the role of revelation in this passage?
  3. Why would Paul seek to make sure people know God is just in condemning people?
  4. How do those around you respond to nature?
  5. How do you?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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14 Responses to Romans 1:18-23 General Revelation

  1. Christa says:

    1. What words describe Natural or General Revelation? “revealed from heaven” “plain to them, because God has shown it to them” “clearly perceived” “in the things that have been made”
    2. What is the role of revelation in this passage? Revelation from God revealing people’s sin and God’s holiness
    3. Why would Paul seek to make sure people know God is just in condemning people? So that they could not accuse Him of being unjust and so that they could turn to Him for salvation
    4. How do those around you respond to nature? Most of my friends respond in awe and wonder at the works of God’s hands; however, I also have friends who seem to value creation more than they would ever value the Creator as they have no relationship with the Creator
    5. How do you? I love the beauty of this earth; being from a rural part of Maine, I grew up always being outside in the woods or on the coast of the ocean. I feel more like myself when I am in that kind of setting than when I am in the city. I am amazed at God’s creativity and the beauty of what He has made. I respond in thankfulness and joy.

  2. Megumi says:

    1. “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”
    2. Revelation causes men to be without excuse when they reject God.
    3. When you know that condemnation is just, you are required to recognize the thing being condemned as wrong. If you can question the judgment, you can avoid having to recognize the right or wrong of the thing being judged. Paul leaves his audience without access to this avoidance tactic.
    4. Many of my friends are calmed by nature.
    5. I am calmed and awed by nature.

  3. Maria T. says:

    This is a passage I have been thinking about a lot lately. My question this summer was, how can God hold people responsible if He hasn’t written clearly in the sky but just expects them to see Him in the stars? But then I thought of something that seems to be an acceptable reason for God to hold them accountable. All people are descended from Noah. At one point, the entire human race knew God. So at some point, the tribal peoples’ ancestors abandoned their belief in God and chose to go down the path that leads to destruction, even though they knew what was true. And the generations after them are under judgment because of it. It is not unjust for God to judge them, when He constantly reminded them of who He was through His creation.

  4. Maelynn says:

    When I look at nature, a sense of peace and security washes over me. Igain perspective by realizing how small I am and how big God is. I am in awe of God and feel close to Him.

  5. 1. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”
    2. The role of general revelation here is that it is enough to condemn a person but not enough to save them.
    3. If God is not condemning them, His justice would not be perfect which is what His character requires. People need to know that it is only through Christ that we are justified and before they can come to Him they need to see their desperate need for Christ in light of God’s perfect justice.
    4. There is truth in nature that people cannot avoid. As Paul says the unrighteous “suppress the truth”. This truth is not enough to save, but it attests to the reality of our God. I think the reason the majority of people I know, even if they are not country people, are calmed by nature is because it witnesses to the truth and provides a glimpse, no matter how small, into the truth of God that each one of us craves. Even if you are not saved, you cannot help but desire the One you were made for originally. I think that is part of the reason people are into being green. They take nature which screams the truth of God and twist it to their own purposes like in Romans, but they still cannot get away from the longing.
    5. I respond I think the best to God when I am surrounded by His creation. There is a calm and peace there that helps me to focus on, listen, and respond to Him.

  6. Michael McCardle says:

    I am extremely blessed to have grown up and to live in Seattle WA. Washington is so beautiful. The great outdoors have always pointed me to God. The further I dive into relationship with God, the more that I grow to appreciate and enjoy creation. The peace of the Lord is always present when I go for a hike, or go hunting, or take a walk around the woods. As a teenager, whenever I needed to get out of a funk, I would always walk to the park at night and look up at the stars and pray to Jesus. When we understand the love of the Creator and that he is our Father, creation becomes all the more enjoyable.

  7. Kimberly W. says:

    One of the hardest parts of being in the city for me is not seeing nature. Being in nature, in God’s creation, has always been a powerful way for me to connect with God. The beauty of God’s creation moves me to tears and to worship. In my darkest times, I still find comfort in God by looking at His creation.

  8. Emmy R says:

    Nature plays such a powerful role in my relationship with Christ. There is just something unexplainable about getting away by myself and just soaking in the beauty of the water, trees, mountains, etc. When I take in the beauty of creation, I cannot help but praise the One who made it, for it is in those moments that I feel closest to the Creator. It truly saddens me that people look out towards creation, and do not see Christ as I do. May I always remember to lay those people before Christ, and to continue to break for them, for they need Christ in their lives.

  9. Jung Kim says:

    I love the part when you said “whether there is a universe or a multiverse, the God who transcends all fills it”. God is immense. Every time I see the nature, I am in awe of God and stand inexpressibly joyful state. “Whoa… wow….This is amazing…incredible.” Every trees in the street, their colors, sizes, and the way they look are all different. God was specific, purposeful, and diligent. This reminds me how God also purposefully made and designed our lives to reveal Himself to us. Thank you God!

  10. Christina W. says:

    Nature is something that reminds me of the power and creativity of God. When I look at the beauty in nature, I feel a sense of awe for the Creator. He created everything all the way down to the smallest detail. There is a sense of comfort and peace that comes from being in nature.

  11. Andrew Moore says:

    I think that natural revelation can play an important role in the lives of many believers. Many people see God’s beauty and power in his creation and it helps them to be drawn to them. However, I don’t feel extremely drawn to God through general revelation. I recognize that his creation is amazing and wonderful, but I seem to be less impacted by it then many people that I know.

  12. Olyn says:

    Nature reminds me so much of God’s sovereignty and constancy. It holds a peaceful reassurance and reminder that God is always in control, and that the world will still spin round if things don’t go how I want and plan.

  13. Nature has always played a big part in my life, from camping, hiking, and being outdoors while growing up. I have always had a love for nature and after becoming a believer, natural revelation has taught me more about the characteristics of God. I respond to nature with awe and worship because I see the intricate design behind it.

  14. Nate Silvieus says:

    Sometimes, living in the city drives me crazy, because on an average day i might see ten trees, whereas at home my backyard is a forest. However, something that I do not have a lot of at home is people. I am consistently reminding myself when I look at others that a human being is the most complex, wonderful creation in all of God’s handiwork. Everything has science behind it, and God is the creator of that science, and in our age where people think science is the answer to everything, it breaks my heart. I pray that people will see that and be able to quote what Lee Stroble once said “by studying science, we find God.”

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