The Witness of Nature
The Godhead has provided every possible mechanism for salvation without actually making our decisions for us. "From the creation of the world, His invisible power and divinity have been shown and proven through His earthly and heavenly creations. So we are without excuse if we do not believe." Paul was speaking to the heathen who worshiped God's creatures rather than Him. But even today, man uses a myriad of material idols to worship. God's witness of nature must not be understood as a source of faith that will absolutely lead one to the cross. There are many that appreciate God's handiwork that will never accept Christ. Paul was saying that no one will be able to claim a defense of ignorance of God's power and divinity at the judgment.
The God Consciousness
This is most often referred to as "the void in the heart". "For that which is known about God is evident to ungodly men and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God Himself has shown it to them." From the most primitive tribal rituals to the most esoteric scientific hypotheses, we humans are constantly searching for something greater than ourselves. There is a moment in a person's life when they become aware of the effects of their actions and are able to determine whether or not those actions are acceptable in the society in which they live. This is their societal conscience. But, as this scripture makes clear, we are given a divine conscience, which will leave no defense for those who do not seek out God.
Pre-flood Sumerian clay tablets carved in cuneiform have been found with poems and prayers concerning sin, forgiveness and divine punishment. Though this civilization predated the writing of the Bible by thousands of years, they fully grasped morality even though they were polytheistic. However, like the witness of nature, this inner consciousness does not guarantee one will come to Jesus, although it will be used as a tool of judgment by God. For us it is a prompt, a trigger to begin our spiritual journey that may or may not end up in saving faith in Christ.
The Drawing of the Spirit
Knowing that humankind would never leave their sin and turn to Christ, does God provide man with the initial faith they need to believe? "All whom My Father entrusts to me will come to Me, and I will in no way reject them...It is My Father's will and purpose that everyone who sees the Son and relies on and trusts in Him will have eternal life when I raise them from the dead...No one is able to come to Me unless My Father attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me. Then I will raise him up from the dead on the last day. Notice the surety of which Jesus says that whosoever the Father gives Him will come to Him. The Greek word for “draw” actually means, “to drag” and is an appropriate description of how God compels us away from our sinful ways. This begins with the movement of God's Spirit moving upon a heart to accept the hearing of the gospel.
Next month we will explore more of how God's grace and love is at work even in the unbeliever's heart and mind. Till then, the Lord bless you.