There is a carefully crafted letter written 2,000 years ago to a group of people living in the leading cultural center of the world. It was as profound then as it is to anyone who would read it today. ◊
I would challenge this premise.
While our world has become more complex and people seem to be less tolerant and divided, perhaps just more isolated and a bit ruder, the state of living and breathing as a functioning human, whether in upper crust society or in uttermost poverty, remains essentially the same as life 50 years ago. Or 100 years ago.
Or 500 years ago. Or 2,000 or 4,000 years ago.
That is, we humans arise each morning, we eat, we work, we reproduce and raise children, we engage with family, friends, and strangers, we rest and sleep at night. We repeat daily. And we are imperfect. From the times of Abraham, even our human origins, mankind has always been like this, and will continue to do so regardless of the advances of culture and technology.
Let us therefore strip away any assumption of advantage or pretense of our modern societal wisdom and sophistication over the words and perspectives of our short and long-term predecessors. Or the words written in the Bible, which claim to be the Word of God as written and spoken by selected and God-inspired prophets, national leaders, historians, eye-witnesses, and teachers.
A Word to Romans and All Mankind
To support this point, one need only to read the first 3 chapters of the New Testament Book of Romans, written circa AD 56 by the Apostle Paul, one of the most talented and credentialed people of his day. While a documented Roman citizen by birth, he was also a highly educated Jew and a dramatically converted Christian. (see Acts 9)
The opening chapters of Romans are as relevant today to Americans and any world citizen as they profoundly were 2,000 years ago. Here is a summary breakdown of the key messages for all of mankind in the first 3 chapters:
- Chapter 1: The Gospel is For All – No Exceptions – Paul is addressing his letter to the Christians located in Rome. It is actually a treatise outlining the full essence of the New Way, Christianity, within 25 years of Christ’s death and resurrection. But he makes the following points to all peoples, Jews and Gentiles (i.e., everyone else):
- He is not ashamed of this gospel message bringing salvation to all. (v. 16)
- Any identified with Christ (believers) are righteous and live (are saved). (v.17)
- Righteous God has also revealed His wrath against ungodliness and those that suppress the truth. (v. 18)
- What is known about God has always been evident to all via creation around us. No one can say they don’t see it – all people are without excuse. (v. 19-20)
- Though some people know God, they refuse to worship and thank Him; their hearts are dark, their thinking worthless. Thinking themselves so wise, they are but fools. (v. 21-22)
- The ungodly worship idols, images and animals. (v. 23)
- God gives up the ungodly to their own desires of sexual impurity, delivering them over to their disgraceful passions as they degrade their bodies and pervert natural sexual relations with unnatural acts of lesbianism and homosexuality. (v. 24-27)
- Those who reject God are also delivered over to a corrupt mind, filled with all forms of unrighteousness: evil, greed, wickedness, envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Quite a list. Moreover, they not only practice these but they applaud others that do so as well. (v. 28-32)
- Chapter 2: It’s Not For Anyone to Judge But God – If Chapter 1 is a broad net convicting every person, Chapter 2 calls out those who might think they are above all of this unrighteousness and hold judgment over others. Here is God’s Word to anyone who thinks they, even as Christians, rise above:
- God knows that all are guilty of unrighteousness and are not in a position to judge anyone. (v. 1-3)
- Repentance from our sin is the only way out. God’s kindness should lead us to turn from evil. God will judge us all by our actions, works, and repentance. (v. 4-10)
- God does not play favorites with either Jews or Gentiles. (v. 11-23)
- God judges both the Jew and Gentile for righteous obedience of the heart – by the Spirit now, not the letter of the Law. (v. 24-29)
- Chapter 3: All Have Sinned and Need a Savior – No Exceptions (Chapter 3) – As Chapter 2 lays out that none are beyond judgment, Chapter 3 highlights our status as born sinners, both Jews and Gentiles, woefully in need of Christ as Savior.
- Man’s sinfulness and evil does not nullify the righteousness of God, the Creator. Nor does it justify or encourage its existence. (v. 1-8)
- There is no one, Jew or Gentile, who is righteous, not even one. (v. 9-18)
- The righteousness of God is available to all the world’s citizens via the faithful obedience of Jesus Christ. (v. 19-22)
- All people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (v. 23)
- As we need a redeeming savior to reconcile us back to God, we can freely receive that justification and redemption through God’s grace in presenting Jesus through death as an atoning blood sacrifice for our sins. (v. 24-25)
- We are declared righteous by God simply by our faith in Jesus and His atoning gift. (v. 26)
- It is not obedience to Law or any good works; there is nothing to boast about on our own but the saving grace of God and our humble faith and acceptance of Jesus as Savior. (v. 27-31)
Application for Mankind Today?
Absolutely. How so? Per Romans, Chapter 1, all men and women, since God’s creation have had a sin and separation from God problem. We know God exists – we have no excuses – as His evidence is displayed throughout all of creation. To ignore this is foolish and arrogant. Beyond that, if we’re honest, we each know that sin and evil lurks in our hearts and degenerate minds and we possess inclinations toward ungodly behavior. Per Romans, Chapter 2, we, Jew or Gentile, must deal with the elephant in the room, namely, our own relationship with God who is the only and ultimate judge of human behavior and hearts. And per Chapter 3, Jesus is the only way to reconciliation back to God. It’s not legalism, it’s not behavior or works, it is only through the receiving of the gift of God’s grace of Jesus as ransom redeemer for our sins.
No, in God’s economy, the world is not better or worse through human history. Perhaps more crowded and sophisticated; maybe more secular and technology-wiser. But the world has been redeemed by God’s love through Jesus entering human history as the ultimate holy sacrifice. Today one is still foolish to ignore God and turn a blind eye. We are still the same sinner/Man in need of repentance and a fresh, new life through Christ in a restored relationship with our Creator.
Anything less is an epic and unforgivable misunderstanding.
Have your read the Christian treatise called the Book of Romans?
To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 1:7