Romans 1:5-7 Who Are We? (Part 1)
Romans 1:5-7 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Through three chapters, we have studied and talked about the Triune God. God the Father, God the Son who is Jesus Christ an God the Holy Spirit. And if John the Apostle stated that the world could not contain all of what Christ had done, there is no way we have begun to scratch the surface of what God has done, let alone know fully who is God. But if you go to God, ask God for God, I promise you that you will truly get God.
So, just for one moment, let us talk about mankind. Let us talk about humans. Let us talk about us.
Now if God says exactly who He is–and he does in his word and through His Word, Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit alone, then I think the question we should responsibly ask ourselves, who are we? In other words, if God says exactly who he is–steadfast Love, Faithful, Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer , All-Knowing, Omnipresent, full of grace, merciful, perfect, good, righteous, holy, kind, just–then who are we in comparison to Him?
Because if I am totally honest, I am nothing like that. Sure, I have my good days but more often than not, I miss that mark by a long shot. If I miss the mark, does God either expect or demands for me to be perfect?
Let us start at the beginning:
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
So we are made in the image of God. Every single one of us.
First, Let me point out the obvious distinction: no other living being ever created was ever created to bear God’s image. No dog, no cat, no pet, nothing else. Animals can show emotions. Plants grow and face the sun but we are the only living beings born with a body, soul, heart, will, emotions, and mind.
Secondly, if each of us–all of our neighbors and all around the world, no matter our race, creed, color–is made in the image and likeness of God, then each of has incredible intrinsic value, worth, and purpose. The world is going to spend a lot of time trying to convince you otherwise. The world is going to say your body is yours but at the sacrifice of someone else. You are going to hear that your heart, sexuality, gender doesn’t matter much so long as you are happy in what you are doing. However, we were made to look like God and reflect his image, then it stands to reason that we would made to worship Him. Without spitting out tons of Bible verses on this, let me keep it extremely reasonable. If you were to face a mirror, would the mirror look like you? Face on, exactly like you. If you turn to the right or the left, would the mirror then look like you? Only in part for you would get a side profile or the back of the head but never completely.
When we face God face-to-face, we look like Him and we start to look more and more like him. To sum up everything: we were made to worship and it was God’s full intention that His creation would worship Him and seek their pleasure in Him alone.
But at the beginning of human history, something went incredibly and devastatingly wrong. We got distracted and got turned away from God. That distraction only took a split second. But just like a bullet or bomb which takes jut a split second to cause irreversible damage and destruction, it only took a fraction of a moment to have eternal devastating consequences. It started out that our original parents, Adam and Eve, were facing God all of their days. They were worshiping Him with everything they did and said. But one slight turn of the heart away from God and unto something else–in this case, towards Satan and themselves–literally, all hell broke loose.
Here’s the real kick to the goads: despite Creator God’s greatest intention, every single person born since Adam, of Adam was born not facing God, not worshiping God, and not fully reflecting him. Even still, we then choose not to worship God. We were born facing away from God and we continue to choose to face away from God. Our natural born selves lack the inherit power to choose God.
For some hearing that, it might rattle you. Let us examine.
One, the ability to make a choice to worship God is not an ability of the mind. In other words, it cannot be based on intellect nor knowledge nor wisdom. If it is a matter of the intellect, where is the IQ cut off point? I have seen a man who intellectually never developed beyond the age of two and yet worship God with all of his heart. Then I have seen truckload of scientist who would rather over-rationalize God’s existence instead of just being honest with the state of their own hearts. And then I have seen weak-minded who would violently oppose God and read brilliant minded folks unraveled the depths and riches of God that so few of us cannot even comprehend. That might sound experiential but I guarantee you each one of you know someone personally that would fit each of these criteria.
Two, the ability to choose God is not based on the heart. “Do you feel God? That means you are saved.” Nope, that’s Mormonism. If that was the case, we could just design a bunch of program and worship sets to stir up the emotions of everybody who participates and all would be saved. Oh, we’ve tried that and it didn’t really work for us. And even more so, what about the rest of us who because of God’s design and/or the traumatic consequences of sin who left many of us with limited emotional capacity–what hope is there for us who not so quick to be moved emotionally? If it was matter of the heart being moved, then I am screwed.
Three, we know that it is not because of the family we are born into. Now, is there an special blessing for kids born to Christian blessings that children of unbelievers are not privy to? Absolutely. To Christian Moms and Dads: know the incredible grace and special blessing it is for your children to be born into this world always knowing the love of God. Does it mean they will be saved? The Bible makes no guarantees but they cannot say they did not know. And if we are saved based on our ethnicity, then I have an entire book called the Bible where that theory is ultimately verified as false.
Fourth and lastly, we know that we cannot choose God simply based on the will. Can we all agree that choosing God is not the same as choosing what we had for breakfast? Placing affections, desires, and worship to God is not the same as me choosing to eat eggs sunny side up, hash browns, and black coffee. Also, God is not another an possible answer to a pop quiz question, “Who is the One True God and the only one worthy of our praises?” So that analogy is out. And certainly choosing God is not the same as choosing your spouse and your spouse choosing you. Single folks, I hear you and you know how this feels: you keep choosing someone who doesn’t choose you. Wow, I am certainly glad God doesn’t operate like that.
The fact of the matter is that we lack the ability, the will, the heart, the mind, and the might to choose God.
Genesis 18:27 Abraham answered and said, Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes
**I Chronicles 29:14-15 But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. **
Psalms 22:6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Romans 3:10-18 as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
And if none of those passages can convince you, the Apostle John makes it crystal clear:
John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. **
Okay, if none of us can go to God freely on our own then what hope do we have?
Continue on in John chapter 1:
John 1:14-18 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, This was he of whom I said, He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Paul will go on to say: “It is in this hope we were saved.”
Our only hope is in Christ alone.
Bible makes it abundantly clear that we cannot choose God on our own. Not all the classes nor books in the world; not all the Christian worship concerts nor conferences; not being born in the right family, suburb, or even going to the right church is going to guarantee your salvation. It is not even saying the right prayer at 7 years old but live a life for the next 25 years not serving, worshiping nor pleasing God. (Oddly specific because that is my testimony.)
But if you never loved God before but you are wanting to love him now. Don’t waste one precious moment. Don’t over think this or wait until you feel right: call out to the only God who saves! Don’t wait to read the next chapter to give your life and love and heart over to Him.
**Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. **