You may be hearing this: many people today are saying that the United States of America has entered a new era—as a nation we are now living in Romans chapter 1. This month on both TV and radio Love Worth Finding is airing a message based upon that very Romans chapter. The message is titled “No Other Way to Heaven Except Through Jesus.” It merits our careful consideration to “dig deeper” into this.
Today the battle for hearts and minds is anchored in the debate surrounding this question: “Is there a God? If there is, who does He think He is, imposing His principles on us—free thinkers, independent souls that we are?” It’s almost the grown-up version of the child’s “You’re not the boss of me!”
There are many sincere thinkers, however—and even sincere believers—who sometimes ask, “Is God a righteous God? Or is He really just a capricious curmudgeon in the sky?” If left unanswered, this becomes, in the minds of unbelievers, an excuse to keep from coming to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Is God a righteous God?
Is God just? Is God fair if He lets a person die and go to Hell who has never once heard the name of Jesus?
That’s a good question. Some may say, groping for an answer, “Perhaps there’s some other way, too? Can those who’ve never heard of Jesus go to Heaven by some other way?” Many celebrities firmly claim that there is. For example, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg says he has it all figured out. The Washington Times reports that he knows what will earn him eternity in Heaven:
…But if he [Mayor Bloomberg] senses he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: “I am telling you, if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”
If that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, check your spiritual temperature.
As we go through this month’s study, if you trust the clear teaching of Scripture, at the end you will know two things:
1. Turn to John 14:6. Jesus Himself is speaking. Fill in the key missing words.
“I am the ______, the _________, and the ______,____ _____ cometh unto the Father but by ____.”
If you can come some other way, this declaration by Jesus Christ, the heart of the Gospel, means Jesus is just a ______________________________________________.
2. Turn now to Acts 4:12. The Apostle Peter has been hauled before the religious leaders, elders and scribes. He could have gotten himself out of trouble if he had lied here. Instead, at personal risk, he proclaimed:
“Neither is there salvation in _____ ________, for there is ______ ________ name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”
Peter declares: If Jesus Christ is not the only way, He is none of the ways.
If the Apostle Peter publically proclaims a lie, that’s bad enough. But if Jesus Christ, who claims to be the only way, is a liar, not only is He not the disciples’ Savior, He’s not my Savior or your Savior, because a liar is nobody’s Savior.
The Bible clearly states—and Jesus Himself claims—He is the only way. Without the saving death of Jesus and our acceptance of His salvation, we cannot be saved.
That puts us on the horns of a dilemma, doesn’t it? What about those who have never heard the Gospel? Are they eternally lost? Can a righteous, good, loving, holy God let a man die and go to Hell who never once heard the name of Jesus?
How are we going to answer that question?
The Apostle Paul is going to answer it for us in Romans chapter 1. As we move into our study, pay careful, thoughtful attention.
Four truths must be written upon your heart as we look into this. Primarily we will be studying in Romans chapters 1 and 2, so open your Bible to Romans.
These four truths will help you understand this and put it all together.
TRUTH #1: EVERY PERSON HAS SOME LIGHT. Romans 1:16-20
As we examine the question, in our imagination we are entering a courtroom now for some crucial testimony by two witnesses.
Imagine that the end of time has come, and it’s the final judgment—not the Judgment Seat of Christ where the saved will appear, but the Great White Throne judgment. Only the lost are there...those who’ve never accepted salvation, offered through Jesus Christ.
3. In our courtroom in Romans 1, the Apostle Paul is the prosecuting attorney. Notice how Paul begins in verse 16. We do not have to be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, proclaiming Him as the Only Way to our lost world, in spite of the fact that today this is politically incorrect:
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto ________________ to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein[that is, in the Gospel] is the ______________________ of God _____________ from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’
We’re going to examine verses 16 and 17 more closely in FACTOR #2. For now, focus on verse 18, for at this moment in our courtroom the indictment against mankind is read:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of _____, who _______ the ________ in _________________;
Wait—what is that saying? In plain English, here is how Phillips gives it:
“Now the holy anger of God is disclosed from Heaven against the godlessness and evil of those who render truth dumb and inoperative by their wickedness.”
What’s taking place here? Revealing even more clearly how the indictment reads, here are some other versions, and pay close attention to the last phrase in each:
God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all the ungodly behavior and the injustice of human beings who silence the truth with injustice. (CEB)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (ESV)
For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative. (AMPC)
God’s anger is shown from heaven against all the evil and wrong things people do. By their own evil lives they hide the truth. (NCV)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. (NRSV)
4. Look at the verbs used in each of these verses toward the end. All of them are active verbs:
silence suppress repress hinder hide
These persons are not sitting innocently, passively by as God brings judgment upon them—just poor, unsuspecting souls. No, it’s not that they cannot believe or don’t know where to start in having a relationship with God. Examine what’s happening:
a. What is the unbelieving person doing ________________________________
b. Is this on purpose or accidental_____________________________________
c. What is the motivating force behind their drive to suppress the truth? (Look at the words just before those verbs.) ___________________________________
God is saying there is willfulness going on among those who do not believe.
When the indictment was read, the unbelievers in our courtroom scene argued back,
“Your Honor, we’re not guilty, not guilty! We never heard the Gospel; we never knew how to be saved. We’re innocent by reason of ignorance. We never heard; we never knew.”
But Paul is about to call his first witness.
5. Paul says to God the Father, “Your Honor, I will prove they are guilty, not innocent because of ignorance or never had a fair and equal chance. I call two witnesses to testify against these who say they never knew or heard. Witness #1, come take the stand. Give the court your name.”
The witness comes to the stand.
“My name is CREATION.”
PAUL: CREATION, you’re the witness that God exists?
CREATION: Yes. In Romans 1:19-20, all creation testifies to the fact of God and what He is like. 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are _________ ______, being _________________ by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; [now here’s the bottom line] “so that _______ _____ ___________ ___________.”
Let’s read verses 19-20 in the Phillips translation:
It is not that they do not know the truth about God; indeed He has made it quite plain to them. For since the beginning of the world, the invisible attributes of God, e.g. His eternal power and divinity, have been plainly discernible through things which He has made and which are commonly seen and known, thus leaving these men without a rag of excuse.
The Bible is telling us, ‘There are things about God that people cannot see—His eternal power and all that makes Him God. But since the beginning of the world, those things have been easy for people to understand. They are made clear in what God has made. So people have no excuse for the evil they do.’ (ERV) What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them in more than one way. I’m one of those ways. And Psalm 19:1 confirms it.
The _____________ declare the __________ of ______.”
PAUL: So, it’s not you making this claim for yourself?
CREATION: No, sir. If you have a creation, you must have a Creator. The Bible says that the attributes of the Creator “from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.” According to Romans 1:20, not only are God’s attributes clearly ________ by His creatures, because they are reflected in His creation, but they are also __________________ by them.”
PAUL: Thank you, Creation. You may stand down.
May it please the court, I would like to add to what this witness has said by pointing out that centuries ago the Psalmist said in Psalm 14:1 says, “The _________ hath said in ____ ______, there is ____ _____.”
God describes the person who says there is no God as a _____, because all Creation takes the stand every day and testifies not only to God’s existence, but also to His character. As to His character, does Creation reflect beauty and order or darkness and chaos?
A CLOSER LOOK AT ATHEISM
Those who have declared “I’m an atheist” have not come to that point because of intellectual problems, although they’d like you to think so. They are atheists because of moral problems.
“But I know some brilliant people who are atheists.”
I know some brilliant people who are not. You see, it’s not a matter of intelligence. The Bible says “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Why? Because, you see, all of us have a God‑consciousness. It is not a matter of intellectualism; it is a matter of morality.
When I see a finely tuned piano, I know someone crafted it. When I see a watch that runs with precision, I know someone crafted that watch. When I see a building put together in symmetry, balance, beauty and purpose, I say “There is an architect.” And when I see this mighty universe put together, when I see creation, I say, “Creator.” When I see order and systems, I say, “Intelligence.” This is the first witness, Creation itself, and it is an outward, objective witness.
An atheist is someone for whom the idea of God is an impediment to what he or she would like to do. The existence of God makes them uncomfortable. And so they say, “If I just ditch of this idea of God, I can get rid of this uncomfortable feeling.” But they don’t really get rid of it, not down deep. The truth that God exists is just there, and the more they try to get rid of it, subconsciously the more they know God exists. Why? Two witnesses they can’t shake: the outward, Creation, and the inward, Conscience.
6. Back in our courtroom, Paul says, “I now call my second witness. Will you tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? State your name.”
“I will. My name is CONSCIENCE. I am an inner, subjective witness. Every person has one of me within them as a witness.”
CONSCIENCE continues his testimony:
God clearly says in Romans 1:19, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest ____ them, for God hath showed it ______ them.” When the Bible says “in them,” it’s referring to me—that inner witness, their conscience.
PAUL: Can you expand on that?
CONSCIENCE: Yes. I’ve actually come to see that the Creator has made it hard for people not to be saved!
[Turn to Romans 2:14-15]
“For when the Gentiles [those who’ve never heard the Gospel] which have not the law, [Old Testament law] do ___ ___________ the things contained in the law, these having not the law are a law unto themselves, which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their ___________________ also bearing _______________, and their _____________ the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.”
You see, it’s written on their hearts. They can’t escape the evidence for God’s existence.
PAUL: Thank you, Conscience, you may stand down. I point out to the Court and to the defendants,
a. Each of you had __________________ bearing witness within.
b. And you had your (v. 15) _________________, that were either “accusing” or “excusing” you through your conscience.
Paul turns to the bench.
PAUL: In conclusion, Your Honor, each of these persons now proclaiming their innocence had two witnesses on earth testifying to them: the outer, objective witness called C___________, and the inner, subjective witness, called C__________________.
Our courtroom scene closes with the undeniable testimony from both Creation and Conscience:
For every human being there has been planted before them, both externally and internally, the innate, built-in evidence for God.
Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”
God made man to know Him, love Him, have fellowship with Him, and glorify God in our service to Him. Until we do, we are like a square peg in a round hole.
7. Confirming again that all people, everywhere, in every culture, have some light, turn to John 1:9
“Christ is that _______ light that lighteth _________ man that cometh into the world.”
You can’t get around that. How many people are given light? Is it a select group, or is light available to everyone?
Creation and Conscience testify that the heathen, the pagan, the intellectual—no matter who you are or where you are—all have some light.
I didn’t say they possess all the light there is, but they do have some light—enough to know that there is a Creator God.
KEY QUESTION: What happens if they receive the small light they have and choose to know more about God? That brings us to …
TRUTH #2: LIGHT OBEYED INCREASES LIGHT. Romans 1:16-20.
This is a crucial factor, because we have said that no one can go to Heaven apart from Jesus.
You’re probably thinking, “But when you say all men have some light, that’s still not enough to save them, according to what you’ve said,” and you’re absolutely right. Neither creation nor conscience tells you about Jesus. Creation and conscience only bring us to the fact of God. But if a person isn’t interested in the fact of God, he’s certainly not going to be interested in the way to God. And God is under no obligation to show anyone the way to God if he’s not even interested in the fact of God. The reception factor is that light obeyed increases light.
8. Looking again at Romans 1:16-17
16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the ____________of God unto __________________ to _________________ that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, 17 for therein is the righteousness of God ______________from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’
For better insight into verse 17, the Amplified Bible says it this way:
16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation [from His wrath and punishment] to everyone who believes [in Christ as Savior], to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed in a way that awakens more faith]. As it is written and forever remains written, “The just and upright shall live by faith.”
a. What is being revealed in v. 17________________________________________
b. How is it being revealed? In the ____________.
Is God righteous? Yes!
c. And how [by what process] is the righteousness of God revealed? (v. 17: “From ________ to ________.”
Here’s how the reception factor works within the human heart:
STEP: God gives you truth;
STEP: You believe that truth,
STEP: God gives you more truth. To him that has shall be given.”
STEP: The more you obey the light, the more light you get.
STEP by STEP by STEP. From faith to faith!
Here’s how that looks:
Not long ago, a missionary home from the field for a short time shared with Love Worth Finding this wonderful story. To protect identities, we’ll use only initials, but other than that, I’ll let him tell it in his own words:
I serve as a missionary pilot in New Guinea in the South Pacific. I want you to know how Love Worth Finding reached someone in New Guinea. J.M. was a single young man living in the upper Vailala River area of the Gulf Province in Papua, New Guinea, caring for his garden, hunting, and living as a coastal man does in that region.
Every afternoon at 4 PM he would listen on his short-wave radio, wanting to learn English. He would listen to Dr. Rogers. He really liked listening to such an articulate preacher, for it helped him learn new English words each day.
Then one day, Dr. Rogers gave a clear presentation of the Gospel, and J.M. trusted Christ that afternoon. He then began to search for a church and found one in Kerema, where missionary John. G. had been working for almost 20 years. John talked with J.M. and found that he had truly trusted Christ as a result of Dr. Rogers' radio ministry.
Since then, J.M. has married, and he and his wife have a child. Together they are partnering with missionary Will M., reaching the Orokolo people of the Gulf Province. Thank you for your part in J.M.’s life!
Because He lives,
M. A., missionary in Papua, New Guinea
When a man is ready to receive the Gospel, God will get the Gospel to that man if he has to send an airplane and parachute a missionary in!
You could hardly find an area more remote than the Vailala River area of New Guinea. Hunting and fishing, a single young man was brought the Gospel. Was he looking up at the stars at night and asking, “There must be Someone Who created all this”? No doubt he sensed a Creator’s hand and wanted to know Him.
There has never been a man or woman who died without some opportunity to have received Christ, had they lived up to the light God gave them. While all don’t begin with enough light to save them, all have enough light to damn them. But had they lived up to the light they had, they would have received more light, living out the Scripture, “Therein is the righteousness of God revealed, from faith to faith.”
Even today, we hear stories of Muslims in the Middle East, in lands completely closed to the Gospel, who are hearing from God and coming to faith in Christ. You can find illustrations of this same experience in history, and you can find illustrations in the Bible.
We see it in Scripture in the story of the Ethiopian eunuch, an official in the court of Queen Candace of Ethiopia.
9. Turn to Acts 8:26-39 and read his story.
a. He’d been to Jerusalem. Verse 27 reveals why this Ethiopian diplomat had traveled there ________________________________________________________.
All the way from Africa to Jerusalem, traveling by chariot 1,581 miles, in a day when there were no airplanes. Can you imagine? He was seeking for God in the most religious city on earth, but the wells of religion were dry. Now he’s starting the long journey home, reading the prophet Isaiah, trying to understand, living up to the light he has.
10. What factor in this Ethiopian diplomat’s life gets God’s attention and moves Him to act?
11. So what does God do in response to the Ethiopian’s honest search for God?
Imagine for a moment the evangelist Philip’s surprise. It’s almost comical to consider. One moment Philip is joyously engaged in the big revival campaign that’s burst aflame in Samaria. Suddenly God taps Philip on the shoulder, saying, “Son, leave that revival. I want you to go out in the desert. I’ve got one man out there, and I want you to tell him how to be saved.” Result? The Ethiopian, an opportunity on wheels, got saved. God brought a missionary to tell him how to be saved. Church tradition holds that this one man returned to his home country, and the Church in Ethiopian began. All because of one man’s sincere hunger to know the truth, the one true God.
12. Two chapters later, in Acts 10, read the story of how a Gentile, Cornelius, a Roman officer in Caesarea, had a hunger to know God. Where did he get that hunger? We can’t say definitively, but I surmise he looked up in the starry heavens one night on sentry duty and said, “All that in the sky didn’t just happen. Oh, God, whoever You are, wherever You are, whatever You are, I want to know You!”
God gave Cornelius a vision, then He took action. What did God do?
Peter was probably enjoying sweet fellowship in the town of Joppa, but suddenly he finds himself with a new assignment: “I want you to go to Caesarea, to the home of Cornelius. I have spoken to him in a vision. Go tell him and his house how to be saved.”
God got the seeker and the saint together. Truth learned: When the seeker obeys the light he has, God will give the seeker more light. You will move “from faith to faith.” Again, the problem is not in the head. The problem is in the heart.
13. Turn to John 7:17, one of the greatest promises in the Bible. The Pharisees were asking Jesus for his true identity, testing Him, taunting Him, picking at Him. Jesus threw out this challenge, one of the greatest in the Bible:
16 Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but ____ that sent ____.
17 If ____ ____ will do His will, he shall _______ of the doctrine, whether it be of _____, or whether I speak of ___________.”
Do you want to do the will of God? Then you’ll know whether Jesus was just a megalomaniac, a peasant prophet with messianic complex, or is the Messiah, sent from God.
When a person surrenders his will, God will speak to him. Light obeyed increases light! Live up to the light that you have, and God will give you more light.
This is the good news. But there is another reality for those who reject the innate light within them.
TRUTH #3: LIGHT REFUSED INCREASES DARKNESS. Romans 1:21-22
To review what we’ve seen so far:
14. Continue to verses 20-22.
(20) so that they are without ___________:
21 Because that, when they knew God, [knew He exists by both creation and conscience] they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became _______ in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was _______________.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
a. Who are the “they” referenced in verse 20? For the answer, review verse 18 _________________________________________.
b. What happens to these in verse 20 who refused the light they were given? The answer involves not just one thing but several (v.21-22).
All people have some light. But Truth #3 states that light refused increases darkness. You cannot simply take light or truth, put it in your pocket and say, “That’s very interesting, I’ll think about that someday if I need it.” No, when God gives you light, when creation and conscience speak to the heart of any individual, if you reject the idea, if you don’t believe in God, don’t trust God, don’t glorify God, you won’t remain at that point just treading water. Refusing the truth is a sin that comes with some baggage: it brings along its buddy, ERROR. You refuse the truth because of the sin in your heart. You begin to regress. You lose even the light you have. Your foolish heart will be darkened.
Haven’t we all seen this in the life of someone we know or heard about who has turned from the truth?
15. Look again at verse 18.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who ________ the truth in unrighteousness.”
Remember these verbs used to describe what unbelievers are doing?
silence suppress repress hinder hide
We can add 3 more: resist the truth; smother the truth; hold back the truth. How are they holding back the truth? In unrighteousness (sin).
16. Why do you think a person chooses not to believe in God?
I believe that behind all their reasons is an underlying reason: belief in God requires them to adjust their lifestyle.
The error of unbelief is the baggage that comes with their choice, sin.
17. Turn to 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 for a graphic illustration of this. It is some of the most terrifying Scripture in the Bible. It’s speaking of the Antichrist who’s coming, and when he arrives, look what he does to these who have rejected the light:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11a And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion…
a. In v. 10, Antichrist comes with _______ ________ and ________ ___________.
b. They are sitting ducks for Antichrist (v. 10) because ___________________
You may say God wouldn’t and doesn’t send delusion. Read it again.
c. Why would He do that?
11b that they should believe a _____.
d. Why would God send such delusion?
12a That they all might be _____________
e. Why would God do that to them? Continue to read:
12b who believed _____ the truth but had ______________ in _______________.
I have often said, your life is the sum total of your choices. C.S. Lewis, one of the most brilliant men in past generations, said,
“Every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.” [That is, every choice changes you. Every one!] “And taking your life as a whole, with all of your innumerable choices, you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature.”
It’s your choices. Now, you’re free to choose, but you’re not free to choose the consequences of your choice. After you choose, then your choice chooses for you.
Here are the steps DOWN:
STEP: They had the truth
STEP: They believed not the truth
STEP: Instead, they “had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
STEP: God sent delusion so that…
STEP: They believed a lie.
They heard the truth, knew the truth, took pleasure in unrighteousness, and God says, “All right, that’s what you want—your sin. And with that sin comes delusion and damnation.”
What might this look like in a person’s life? Here’s just one illustration of how this happens:
A man comes to a church he has never been to before, and it happens to be the Sunday where the church is settling its budget for the next year. He goes away angry, saying, “Those Christians! That’s the last time I’m ever going to that church. All they talk about is money, money, money.”
That’s a lie. They talk about giving only on occasion, but this man doesn’t stop to ask, “Are they preaching the truth?” That’s not his problem. He knows if he opens the Bible and listens to the Spirit of God, the truth is there. But his problem is his greed! That’s why he got so upset to begin with. So he leaves, saying, “I’m never going back.”
His problem is not between truth and error, but truth and sin—in this case, greed. He chooses his greed.
Next, Sunday, he’s home; his wife and kids are at church; he’s sitting there by himself, watching television or reading the sports page. Two people knock at the door saying, “We’re here to tell you there is no Hell.” Well, he’s delighted to hear that! He says, “Come in, come in!” He listens to them. They tell him a lie. He believes a lie.
He’s lost and on the road to the very Hell he says he doesn’t believe in. Why? He “received not the love of the truth.” He has “pleasure in unrighteousness,” and God sent delusion.
Understand: All people have some light (revelation). Light when welcomed (reception) brings more revelation. Light rejected increases darkness (refusal)
These three truths now bring us to Truth #4.
FACTOR #4: RECKONING: WE’RE JUDGED BY THE LIGHT WE’VE REJECTED. Romans 2:5
18. Turn to Matthew 13:11-12
11 He answered and said unto [His disciples], Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
a. In v. 11, Jesus is talking to_____________________________________________
b. Then Jesus explains there’s another bunch and makes a contrast: “but to them,” the ones to whom the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are not given. Why? Because He has watched as they’ve___________________________________
People who are in darkness really think they’re in the light. Remember Romans 1:22,
Professing themselves to be _______, they became _________.”
Yet they are the ones who think we are the fools.
When God comes to judge us, what will He judge us by? Not by the sins we’ve committed, but by the light we’ve rejected.
19. Turn to Romans 2:5 and 11
5 But after thy ______________ and impenitent _________, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and the revelation of the ________________ judgment of God…
Now skip down to verse 11,
11 For there is ___ ___________ of ___________ with God, for as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.”
He’s simply saying, God knows how much light you have, and the day of reckoning for you will be influenced by the truth you rejected.
Many of us have far more light than others, not because you necessarily sought it out, but because you happen to live where there’s a church on every street corner and Bibles in every bookstore. They’re even in our grocery stores! It’s not so much because you sought out the light; it’s simply by the providence of God you have more light available than others.
Now what is God going to do?
God is going to hold you more accountable than the person who’s never heard.
20. Turn to Luke 12:48. God is speaking about the person who has never heard the Gospel.
But he that ________ _____ but did commit things worthy of stripes shall be beaten with _____ stripes. For unto whomsoever _______ is given, of him shall _______ be required, and to whom men have committed much, of him will they ask the more.
It would be bad enough for the pagan in a remote rain forest, who never heard the name of Jesus, who refused to live up to the even the light he did have, to die and go to Hell. But how much more for a person who sat with a Bible in their hand for years in a church with air conditioning and beautiful music and a pastor who begged people to be saved, and yet in their heart say, “No.”
If I had to go to Hell, I’d much rather go to Hell as a pagan never having heard the name of Jesus, than to go to Hell from years attending church services.
The burning question is not what God is doing to do with those who never heard, but what is God going to do with you who heard the Gospel of Jesus, who have heard that Jesus died in agony and blood upon the cross, and yet you said, “No!” to the Lord Jesus.
Jesus once said to Capernaum, the city which was really his ministry headquarters,
23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. (Matthew 11:23-24)
…than for that city where He preached and taught, and yet they turned their backs on Him and never received Him.
Our Lord said to His disciples, “When you go out soul winning, knock on a door. If the people won’t hear you, shake the dust off your shoes. It will be used as a testimony against them in the judgment.”
A judgment is coming, and in that judgment, will you try to stand before God and say, “Oh God, have mercy. Please, I didn’t have a chance”?
The Judge says, “Bailiff, would you bring Exhibit A up here? Would you look at that, sir?”
“What is that?” you ask.
“That’s the dust off the pastors’ shoes—the shoes they were wearing when they preached the Gospel to you.”
Don’t ever say you didn’t have a chance. “Unto whomsoever much is given, of the same shall much be required.”
All men have some light.
Light obeyed increases light.
Light refused increases darkness.
We will be judged by the light we’ve been given.
God is righteous, and I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for “It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.” I’ve been preaching it now for many years. The more I preach it, the more I marvel in it, the more I thank God for it, the more I stand by it, the more I believe it.
I promise you on the authority of the Word of God, if you believe in Jesus today, He will save you.
Father, I pray today that many will obey the light they’ve received and not let another moment go by without saying “Yes!” to You. If they don’t, they’ll get farther from the truth and their heart will become darkened. Oh God, help people to live up to the light that they have.
My friend, if there’s just a glimmer of light right now, come to the light. Obey what you do know, and God will teach you what you don’t know. But don’t let some intellectual problem keep you from Jesus. You’ll wake up in Hell, and you still won’t have it all figured out. Just come like a child and trust Christ.
This message will air on Wednesday and Thursday, September 5-6. It can be heard on radio on those dates or anytime at
If you would like a copy of this message on CD to hear again or share with a friend or loved one, call 1-800-LOVE-GOD and request message # RA-1965.