We live in a godless age, a day of outright rebellion against the Lord, a day where the average guy on the street knows nothing about the Bible, knows nothing about the things that really matter in life. What’s more, it seems as if the average guy doesn’t care that he knows nothing. We live in an age of apathy.
So, as Event’s Week draws ever closer I think it would be helpful to take a look at what the Bible says our unconverted friends know. This is not what they say they know, this is not what we think they know, this is what God says they know.
This topic is extremely important for it provides us both with encouragement and a due sense of our own inability to convert our friends. The greater we understand this the more we realise how little we do and how much God does. So turn if you please to Romans 1 and we’ll begin. (Do actually open Romans 1 I quote from it extensively)
They know God exists.
“For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” 1v20
All men know God exists. They have no excuse. Our friends know that God exists. If they say they are agnostic or atheists they are deliberately denying what has been made clear to them.
They know God is holy
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” 1v18
Our friends know that God is both holy and that he hates sin.
They know he is worthy of worship
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” 1v21
They know that God deserves thanks for all things. They know that the Lord Almighty is deserving of all praise and glory and worship.
They know their sins deserve eternal punishment
“Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” 1v32
Death meaning both physical death and eternal damnation.
They know God’s laws
“…since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” 2v15
God’s law is both in men’s hearts and reinforced by their consciences. All men know right from wrong. Good from evil.
These truths are obvious
“…since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them” 1v19
Our friends, all unconverted people, know these things about God and his nature and man’s nature. This should encourage us as when we speak to our friends and tell them the gospel truth they know what we say is true. Deep, deep down they know we speak the Truth. We merely repeat to them what they already know. Their conscience is our ally!
Unconverted people have to know these things
“And where there is no law there is no transgression.” Romans 4 v 15
If unconverted people did not know that God existed and did not know his laws then they could not sin. But as Romans chapter 1 proves unconverted people DO know God’s law and therefore DO sin.
HANG ON A MINUTE! My friends give no sign of knowing any of this. They deny or would deny all this. What are you talking about?
An excellent point. Let me quote Dr Shedd on this exact subject:
“It is one thing to know the law of God, and quite another thing to be conformed to it.”
Knowledge of God and his holiness does not by any means equal repentance and faith. I know this to be true – I grew up in a Christian family, I was taught about the gospel from a young age but until my conversion (around the age of 14/15) I did not accept it in my heart. Indeed, a rebelled against what I knew and tried to earn my way to Heaven through works but that is a story for a different time.
As James says:
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.” James 2 v 19
The Devil knows that God exists, he knows God commands, he knows that sin deserves eternal punishment. Yet still he fights with God. Still he rages against all that is holy. And our friends, to a lesser degree, do the same.
But why? Why is this so?
“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.” Romans 1 v 28
Because man decided that it didn’t like these truths it rejected them. It is as simple as that.
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” 1v25
Men do not like the idea of a holy God so they create false gods that are immoral. Men do not like the idea of salvation by grace so they create religions based on work instead. Men do not like the idea of God so they create Atheism. Men know the truth but hate the truth so they reject it for a lie.
What are the consequences of such actions?
“Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” 1v22
God gives men the ability to believe the lies they create. Why is evolution so popular? Because unconverted men have become fools. I once heard a friend put it like this: “Evolution conveniently removes responsibility and accountability from the equation, thereby releasing the conscience from being guilty before God. If there is no one to be accountable to, no one to judge us, then what we do doesn’t matter - no right and wrong”
All false religions and philosophies are created to achieve this same purpose – a removing of man’s responsibility to God.
“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.” 1v24
“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” 1 v 29 - 31
This is the penalty that our friends are under for refusing to accept the truths that God has made clear to them. This is the penalty that we were under until the Lord worked that miracle of grace in us and gave us new hearts that accept the truth!
You may wonder why I call these truths encouraging for they seem the opposite. Our friends are transformed before our eyes from ‘nice’ people to deniers of truth. And in God’s eye that is a terrible evil. To exchange the truth of God for a lie is one of the vilest and morally reprehensible sins that can be committed. And all of humanity commit it.
Where then is the encouragement?
1) Our friends know what we say to be true. Speaking to our friends about God can feel like banging our heads against a brick wall. Their refusal to see what we see as an obvious truth is disheartening. Yet we should draw encouragement from the fact that our words are not wasted. We confirm the truth to them. God has made his nature and laws clear to them and we remind them of what they already know! In this godless age this should strengthen our spirits – even the most atheistically inclined person knows there is a God.
2) We should expect to have the truth rejected. They already have rejected it! When we speak to our friends they have already rejected what we have to say. It is not because we are explaining things badly it is because our friends are deliberately exchanging the truth of God for a lie.
3) Taking these two facts into consideration only one course of actions remains: trust God. Only God can reject their rejecting of him. Only God can open their blind eyes. Only God can make them accept the truth. Only God can convert sinners. We can do nothing. Wonderfully, gloriously, majestically, our actions are useless. It is all God. Therefore pray to God for your friends. Pray that they might see the truth that is so clear to them.
That said, we must remember that just because we are useless isn’t an excuse for not speaking to our friends. Only God can convert. Yes. But he might convert our friends through using us.
From what they already know to what they need to know
We have established that our friends know a lot more than they will ever admit but there remains one exceeding important fact which they do not know – Jesus. Their knowledge of God’s law merely points out that they are sinners. They still need to know Jesus!
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
John 17 v 3
It our duty, privilege and delight to point our friends towards Jesus, towards the cross and towards salvation. We need to proclaim the gospel of grace!
So let us stand firm during Event’s Week, let us stand firm in the knowledge that God is with us, let us stand firm in the knowledge that we speak the truth that all mankind knows to be true and let us stand firm in the glory of salvation by grace, bought by the blood of Jesus and his death on the cross.
Event’s Week is a great light into this dark world of ours and Satan will love nothing more than to dim the light as much as possible. Therefore, we should ready ourselves for Satanic oppression, prepare ourselves for spiritual assault and take comfort from this:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8 v 38 - 39
And as Jesus said at the end of the Great Commission: “And surely I will be with you to the very end of the age.”
Ben would like to thank Tom Johnson for reading over his post and suggesting improvements. He also like to suggest that you post names of friends you would like prayer for in the comments section below.