God has clearly revealed Himself in nature and Scripture. So why do some people claim there is not enough evidence to believe in Him? The book of Romans, explains that ignorance is no excuse for unbelief.
It is generally agreed that verse 17 gives the theme of Romans: “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”
The grand theme of the Book of Romans is the gospel—with particular attention paid to how the gospel answers our need to be made right before a just and holy God. Theologically speaking, this theme is what we call the doctrine of justification by faith.
After stating this foundational truth Paul abruptly shifts his focus to the dilemma that makes justification necessary in the first place. Paul announces that a new kind of righteousness is available to us and quickly moves on to speak of the revelation of the wrath of God (v. 18).
Theologians label the central idea of this section general revelation, the disclosure that God makes of himself generally. The revelation has a general audience—every person everywhere receives it.
Second, it has a general content—it does not reveal all knowledge that comes to us through Scripture.
General revelation does not disclose knowledge concerning such matters as the atoning death of Christ, the sacrificial system of ancient Israel, the final resurrection, and many other particulars of the Christian faith.
God plainly reveals himself, but people choose to stifle that truth. They knowingly exchange truth for a lie and move from proper knowledge of God into idolatry. By doing so they put out the light of knowledge God has so freely revealed.
Every human being in this world knows, and knows clearly, that there is a God. Many modern thinkers would disagree with that statement, but Paul’s phrase, “what may be known about God,” leaves no room for doubt or probability. He is emphatic: “what may be known of God is plain to them.” God’s revelation of himself is not obscure. It is clear.
It is not as if God hid difficult, esoteric clues in various corners and crannies of the universe so that only astute theologians or intellectual geniuses who ruthlessly pursue truth would ever be able to uncover them. God has clearly manifested himself to humankind, and through his creation has displayed his existence and his power.
In Romans 1:21 - “their thinking becomes futile”.
Futile and its noun form futility are two of the ugliest words in the English language. To think that, in the final analysis, all our efforts are judged to be worthless, or of no value, is a sad commentary on the human race. Yet Paul said that, because humanity refuses to honor and bow to God in gratitude, human thought, however brilliant, ends in futility.
Have you ever wondered why very educated people can examine questions regarding the existence of God and come down on opposite sides? St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, was one of the intellectual titans of Western civilization. He devoted himself to defending the truthfulness of the existence of God and through all of his intellectual exercises was absolutely convinced of the reality of God’s being.
Yet, such intellectual giants as David Hume, Friedrich Nietzche, or in our own day, Jean-Paul Sartre, the French existentialist, sit on the other side of the table and argue against the existence of God. From God’s perspective the work of these powerful thinkers is futile.
If Paul was correct and God has revealed himself clearly so that knowledge about him is not obscure nor difficult to obtain, why do those with such brilliance come to different positions?
Paul’s answer to this question is profound. He sees the failure to acknowledge God’s existence, not so much as a problem of the intellect, but rather as a moral problem—a problem of the will. Men and women who refuse to acknowledge God’s existence do so, in the final analysis, because it is contrary to their manner of living.