Biblical faith is radically opposed to the religions of this world. At the time of Moses, there were only two options.
Obeying the voice of the transcendent creator, the Lord God in heaven above, or the option of worshiping created things. At this level, you see, nothing has changed. I hope it's good news that the same kind of conflict that believers have known throughout human history is the same as the one we're called to make now. What are the challenges that you're experiencing today, especially with the pace with which the ideas of society seem to be changing? What are the ideas that your children are hearing from their friends?
What are your college professors telling you? Or what new ideologies are infiltrating your workplace? Although these might feel like new beliefs and new challenges, there really is nothing new under the sun. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind, and I'm glad you're with us. Peter Jones is joining us today and tomorrow to help give us confidence and to help us think biblically about the false religions, beliefs, and worldviews that surround us, and to remind us that ultimately there really are only two religions, and what you're seeing in the world today is nothing new.
Here's Dr. Jones. If you have Bibles, I'll be referring to Romans 1 in this part of our lectures. But as I mentioned at the beginning of my lectures, I find here in Romans 1 a wonderful tool for processing what's happening in the modern world, and an example from the Apostle Paul of the way we should react, which is first of all to have a clear understanding of the opposition, what I'm calling one-ism, that we need to have, and then in the second place a clear understanding and public affirmation of the superiority of what I call two-ism.
Thus a fearless declaration in this difficult time of who God is, understood through creation and the gospel, and in the person of Jesus, the eternal son. It's interesting as I've experienced the present time, that this gospel of two-ism is the only system that one-ist thought cannot sort of dominate and control. When I attended the parliament of the world's religions, there were 125 different religions there, and the only non-invitee was historic biblical Christianity. Nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be heard in these 125 different religions talking about everything they knew, actually joining hands in unity and dancing around a big ballroom to celebrate that unity. But the one system that could not be integrated into that massive interfaith grouping was historic biblical Christianity. Don't be surprised because these two systems of one-ism, two-ism cannot be integrated.
It's either one or the other. That means that in our time, two-ism must be spoken and lived out courageously, coherently, and certainly with love. Because the confrontation is not simply between thinkers, but as the apostle Paul says, between passionate worshippers.
This is a different kind of emotional content. The following text from Deuteronomy gives a long-term perspective for us. God says to Israel in Deuteronomy 4, 15, and some verses following, therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb, beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves in the form of any figure. Whether you see the sun, the moon, the stars, all the hosts of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them. The Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. The Lord himself is God.
There is none other beside him. The Lord is God in heaven above and on earth beneath there is no other. This is the massive statement of the unique biblical faith that came over to the ancient world as totally unique.
They never heard it before. This notion that there is one God totally separate from creation and that came through with power and it came through with power in the Roman Empire when Paul took the gospel there as well. This was the massive good news that paganism could not silence, could not integrate into its own system. Carved images of course representing the divinity of nature as opposed to God's transcendent being. And so to its biblical faith is radically opposed to the religions of this world. The time of Moses there were only two options.
Obeying the voice of the transcendent creator, the Lord God in heaven above, or the option of worshiping created things. At this level you see nothing has changed. Conflict is the same. I hope that's good news to you by the way. I hope it's good news that the same kind of conflict that believers have known throughout human history is the same as the one we're called to make now. So don't be discouraged.
This is the way things are. Ecclesiastes 4 and 9 says two are better than one. Twoism is better. Well I'm cheating a bit because Ecclesiastes is talking about two people in bed keeping each other warm.
But I want to give it a qualitative sense. In 1700 years of existence the Christian West has more or less honored the principle of trueness as how we live in God's created world. From that we get notions of human dignity, of human rights, where human beings are made in God's image. This is an ennobling notion that paganism has never discovered, never really affirmed.
And this is what we bring to the world even now. This immense understanding of the dignity of the human being. The image of God includes dominion. Just as God is Lord of creation, so man is given dominion over the rest of creation and is thus distinguished from it.
Remember I talked about the destruction of the binary of species, which of course destroys that very notion. Here the Bible affirms the massive distinction of humanity from the rest of creation. And two, it affirms that the image of God is communing with dominion over the rest of creation. The image of God is communion with difference.
Communion, obviously, the joining together, but of things that are different and are always different, namely male and female joined together in one flesh. And only that can produce or can obey the command of the Lord to multiply and destroy the earth. And so that understanding of who man is, is part of his calling as a creature on this earth. Our present world has lost this notion of a predetermined created existence, celebrating the idea of distinction. And so our world rejoices in the liberation of heterosexual humanity as if it is an impingement upon us and destroying who we are. Whereas, as a matter of fact, it's telling us exactly how we are glorious in the world God has created. And so in this world that is fighting this battle as to who we are as human beings, that's the real struggle in our time.
Who are you? Who are we? I'm proposing these two possible ways of either oneism or twoism. Oneism, as you now know, I hope, affirms that the world is self-creating and explains itself. Everything is made of the same stuff. I like to use the term homo-cosmological.
Everything is the same. It's based on the same essence in things. How about twoism? Well, the world is the work of an external creator who caringly made it, but that creator is distinct from the world he made. There are thus two kinds of existence, the creator, who is uncreated, and everything else which is created. The Bible starts that way, doesn't it? The programmatic statement of the Bible is, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. There was God, and then everything else is creation, everything else. And everything else in the Bible, you see, is commentary on that first line of the Bible.
Isn't that amazing? You see, this is where we need to place our feet if we want to take a witness to this world committed to destroying the very notion of ourselves and God. It's simple but profound. And the Apostle Paul, I believe, shows us how to develop this in Romans 1. This is how he begins his epistle with a chapter dealing with these two kinds of thinking.
Paul is the Christian Apostle, describing the antithesis between true and false religion. And in Romans 1, he goes through that classic development of creation, fall, and redemption, which is essential to the gospel and essential actually to the structure of Romans. And if we do not understand the relationship of creation and the fall, we'll never understand redemption. Today, we just want redemption, but we can do away with God the creator and who wants to talk about the fall and sin.
Well, you see, those three things hang together, and Paul shows that. And this is a powerful text that's Romans chapter 1, because it turned the angels into Romans chapter 1, because it turned the ancient world upside down, and it turned the European world upside down when Martin Luther discovered the phrase, in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, in verse 17 of this chapter. He reads that the just shall live by faith.
He understood that our works and our efforts cannot save us. He understood that the only way of rediscovering who we are as human beings is rediscovering God and his gift of righteousness. He said at that moment, understanding grace, he entered the gate of paradise.
That transformed the European world. Because, you see, as the text says, the gospel is dynamic. It's the power of God unto salvation. For Paul, the gospel is the first thing. He says that in 1 Corinthians 15. And here in the first verse of Romans 1, he says, Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. He's talking about an act of God in redemptive history that separates him out and gives him a role as revealer of this precious truth. He's actually speaking as a second Moses.
He says he does not speak like Moses who had a veil over his face, but he speaks with boldness because he is an apostle of the second Moses, Jesus. And this is the last revelation comparable to the revelation through Moses and the prophets on which the church is based. So Christians would say, oh, I don't think they like Paul, have failed to understand what this kind of literature is all about. This is foundational material and this is what the gospel is all about. God who is outside of us has done the work we need to do.
The answer comes from the outside, not from within us. And Paul goes on in the first chapter in 13 through 15 that he's eager to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome. So he's consumed in this chapter by the notion of the gospel. He's not ashamed of the gospel in verse 16 as he goes to Rome. I like to say he goes to gay Rome where Nero is marrying two men, one is his wife and one is his husband.
This was not easy. And yet Paul is full of confidence. He's not ashamed to take this gospel to the very heart of the pagan empire.
Do you feel somewhat encouraged to do the same thing? If Paul needed to do it, if those early Christians needed to do it, that's what we need to do. But you know, the theme of the gospel doesn't end there with 16 and 17. In verse 18, unfortunately Paul talks about the wrath of God.
Nobody likes that, right? That can't surely be part of the gospel. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Why could Paul be so negative as we hear today?
We mustn't talk about sin and judgment. Paul doesn't hesitate because you see God's judgment is tied to God as creator. And the creation is sullied by the fall.
So these notions are intertwined. Creation is affirmed in verse 19. What can be known about God is plain to them, his eternal power and divine nature, ever since the creation of the world.
The things that have been made are seen. So the beauty of God as the creator actually comes to us as an accusation as much as we refuse to recognize it. Although they knew God, says verse 21, they did not honor him as God or give him thanks. You see, paganism doesn't know God as a person. It's an impersonal notion of the forces of nature that get elevated to a sort of status of divinity. In Greek mythology, there was only at the beginning impersonal chaotic matter. From that arises the gods who sort of join the opposites and bring peace to the cosmos. But such gods of course were mere projections of human life.
And it made morality totally relative. As you've heard me say for all these lectures, the joining of the opposites is essential to this vision of the beginning and the present time. And you see, Paul going into this pagan world brings a totally different view of God.
And that's what we will bring more and more in our time. As people have dropped this notion or fail to hear it anymore, we bring this amazing notion of God who is the separate creator, a different kind of God. The beginning was not chaos, but the word. A personified son, a personal creator. And of course, this includes the moral order.
Wrath, as Paul says, is the kind of emotion from a person. And so Paul is telling the pagan world that we actually live in a moral universe. That's good news. That ethics is part of existence and we cannot avoid it. We live indeed in an ethical universe. That's good news that people need to hear.
Instead of the fact that we make up all our own rules to fit us as we go along, no, the universe is intrinsically marked by the notion of good and evil. And so Paul is really developing the gospel as he talks about God the judge. That's part of the good news. And then he talks about the fall in these verses. In verse 25, he talks about they exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the creator. And unmistakably in these verses, I think Paul is referring to the original fall.
And I'll give you a few little bits about that. The they of verse 25, I believe, refers also to our first parents who believe the lie of Satan. He speaks about the lie and it surely is the original lie of Genesis.
You will be as God. God really didn't say. And then Paul uses the same or equivalent terms for the animals. In verse 23, you know, he talks about people bowing down to images of human beings and so on. And those very terms you find in the description of the creation in Genesis 1 28 where Adam has dominion over these same animals. So Paul is reflecting here on the fall and applying it to present day Rome of his time.
The fall is a past event but it recurs in history for all of us. And since that's the case, God's judgment in Eden also falls on us. He gives over sinners to the consequences of their choices. Three times Paul says God gave them over. And those three givings over seem to be related somewhat to the areas of life that Paul puts his finger on. When you go through these verses 18 through 32, he deals first of all with the being of God in 18 through 22. Then in 23 through 25 with spirituality, how you worship.
And then in 26 through 28 and then beyond in 29 through 32, how people behave in particular in sexuality. So you have here the development of three fundamental areas where human beings can either worship creation or they can worship the creator in theology, spirituality, and behavior. Here's the truth. In theology, we must believe that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and that you shall have no other God besides him. Here's the exchange. They exchange the truth for what? For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give him thanks. They exchanged the truth of God for the lie. There's a big exchange here about the nature of God.
And they choose nature as divine, you see. That's the big exchange. In spirituality, here's the truth that will eventually be exchanged. You shall have no other God before me. You shall not make for yourself carved images.
Here's the exchange. They exchanged the glory of the immortal God, verse 23, for images resembling mortal man, birds, and animals, and creeping things. So you have true spirituality implied in the worship of the creator, and you have false in the worship of nature. And then finally, sexuality. Sexuality created by God is the norm. Therefore, God, who had created man male and female, made in his image, declared that a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall be one flesh.
That's Genesis 127 and then 224. Here's the exchange. The women exchange natural relations for those that are contrary to nature and like wise men. So you have the exchange from the natural to the unnatural. And you can see here that there is a deep logic in Paul's development. You can't sort of ditch one of these notions and say, well, that's not important.
We'll listen to some of it, but not all of it. Because the relationship of the third exchange is deeply related to false theology and false worship. As I said earlier in these lectures, verse 26 that deals with homosexuality is introduced by for this reason. So you have a theological development. Was Paul a homophobe?
No. Paul's goal was to not make homosexuals feel guilty. His goal was to make everyone feel guilty. And so we come to the need for clarity as we present the gospel. And if we are silent in this issue of sin and in particular homosexual sin, we'll never hear the gospel preached. And we'll never hear the wonderful statement of a lesbian who came to faith and said, I was convicted of my sin in a way that made me consider everything I loved and its consequences. My eyes were opened and I began to believe everything God says in his word.
I began to believe that what he says about sin, death and hell were completely true. So the gospel is essential to what we do. And our response should be the following. Paul gives us two ways to respond and I'll deal with them in the next two lectures. Send holy bodies and have transformed minds.
And that is good news. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6, neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who practice homosexuality nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor revilers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God and such were some of you. God saves sinners.
He's the one that washes us clean. This is the Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind and you just heard a message from Peter Jones' series, Only Two Religions. In this 12-part series, Dr. Jones explores how modern society got where we are today, explores the rise and the fall of human secularism and puts a spotlight on paganism and the pagan sexuality that is all around us.
Request your copy today along with digital access to the study guide with your donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org or by calling us at 800-435-4343. Where is society headed if it continues to worship the creation instead of the creator? That's another question that Peter Jones answers in this series. So request the two DVD set today at renewingyourmind.org. We heard today that ultimately there are only two religions. Well, there are also only two minds, the transformed or discerning mind and the undiscerning mind. That's tomorrow as Peter Jones joins us to explain here on Renewing Your Mind. Thank you.
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