Q & A Series:  Please explain Romans 2:14-15

 

By Craig Bluemel

 

 

----- Original Message -----

From: Billy

To: Craig

Re: Romans 2:14-15

 

Dear Craig,

 

Greetings in Jesus Name Brother!  I hope you are doing ok.  I was reading in the book of Romans last night; could you give me some meaning on the following two verses in the text of Romans 2:14 &15?  Thank you.

 

God bless you,

 

Billy

 

 

Craig’s Answer:

 

 

Hi Billy,

                                                                          

It’s always so good to hear from you brother!  My health has been on a steady decline, with increasing levels of pain, given to me as a thorn in my flesh, because of the abundance of revelations in Scripture, which God the Father has graciously granted to me thru the Spirit of His son Jesus.  My heart’s desire is to build up the members of the body of Christ and that thru my own weakness and infirmity; Jesus has given me peace and comfort, so I pray that the hearts and minds of others might be blessed by the comfort and compassion given to them thru the same Spirit of grace I have received.

 

Romans 2:14-15 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.  New American Standard Bible

 

Having done street outreach evangelism (one-on-one) at the Bible Answer Stand Ministry for 20+ years, and another 7 years of online ministry, which involves answering difficulties from people who are skeptical of the ‘Christian God,’ below is a typical question I receive:   

 

“Craigo, Christians say that unless a person repents and believes in God ONLY thru Jesus Christ, that he or she is going to spend eternity in hell.  How can you believe in a loving and just God who will damn people to hell just because they’ve never heard the gospel message?”

 

For years, I avoided answering this question directly, because, quite frankly, I had no proof from Scripture that such a notion by Christians exists (i.e. that God sends people to hell that never hear the gospel).  And yet, if and when I made my opinions known during any given conversation with a fellow believer, inevitably I was accused of ‘compromising the truth.’  One day, while reading the very passage of Romans 2:14-15 that you asked concerning its meaning, the Lord opened the eyes of my understanding, and I saw how plainly this passage proves that if a person lives his or her life according to the precepts of God’s ‘Law’ they have, in effect, BECOME a ‘law unto themselves.’

 

In the apostle Paul’s written letter to the Gentile church at Rome (i.e. the Greek or ‘non-Jewish’ converts to the gospel), the scriptural truths found in the context of Romans 2:14-15 are intended for one purpose: To declare that God, who created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them, is both just and loving.  He will judge each man according to his or her own deeds, taking into account the faith they have in serving Him with a clear conscience. 

 

In other words, though many will never hear the revelation of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, most often, because of the distant regions of the world they live in, God the Father will use the only law they have, their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.

 

For centuries, born again Christians have misjudged those who never hear the gospel, but who live according to the same truth taught in the Scripture.  In fact, later in the same book of Romans, Paul summarizes and boils down every single one of God’s commandments, whether in the Law given to Moses, or whether in the revealed words given to the Prophets, or whether in the those in the Psalms, Proverbs and other wisdom books, whether in the New Testament commandments in the gospels, epistles, or in the Book of Revelation thru the commands unveiled in the apostle John’s apocalypse; ALL COMMANDS are summarized in ONE STATEMENT below:

 

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.  9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.  New King James Version

 

From the beginning of creation, human beings have understood that there is an all-powerful and divine being who made the world, the heavens, and all that is in them.  Across the globe, many tribes and peoples have believed in the “great spirit” (e.g. American Indians, African tribesmen and various nomads) and have honored God in various ways.  Some amongst various ethnic groups have acted in ignorance of the scriptures just as many, many Christian churches and denominations act and believe in doctrines and practices that are contrary to scripture.

 

Ignorance of God’s written laws is not by itself scriptural criterion for automatic condemnation of their eternal spirit being banished away from the Presence of God and His Christ.  Knowing therefore, that there are multitudes justified by their faith in God, which is expressed in genuine love for their neighbor, (albeit they are ignorant of the revelation of God through Jesus Christ), we should be motivated to pray for them, and to go unto the uttermost parts of the earth preaching to them about the kingdom of God.  Jesus cannot fulfill the Father’s promise to restore Israel until we, the body of Jesus Christ, have been his witness to them.

 

Acts 1:6-8 And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  (NAS)

 

God has put within mankind the ability to reason, to compute, and to analyze.  There is something eternal within each of us, which of course is our human spirit, given to each individual by God.  He breathed His life into mankind at creation and has been doing so ever since that time.

 

Genesis  2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  (NAS)

 

Our human spirit is the part of our existence that identifies with our Creator.  It is the part of us that gives life to the human body.  When the human spirit leaves, so does the life.

 

James 2:26 For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so faith apart from its works of obedience is also dead.  Amplified Bible

 

When God gave man a human spirit, it was as though He gave him a sot of sixth sense; He set eternity in the hearts of men.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  New International Version 

 

Isaiah the prophet writes about the teachable person that is willing to listen to God speak thru His creation (as in the context of Romans chapters One & Two):

                                                                                                                                                                   

Isaiah 28:23-26Give ear and hear my voice, listen and hear my words.  Does the farmer plow continually to plant seed?  Does he continually turn and harrow the ground?  Does he not level its surface, and sow dill and scatter cumin, and plant wheat in rows, barley in its place, and rye within its area?  For his God instructs and teaches him properly.”  New American Standard Bible 

 

God instructs people that have a simplistic faith in an immense and beneficial Deity.  Quite often, Christian missionaries document first-time encounters and how stunned they were when, instead of finding ‘savages’ or those still practicing cannibalism in remote parts of the world, to their amazement, they find people with a sweet, gentle, and even childlike nature, who also possess a strong faith in the ‘Creator.’  They are the ones Jesus spoke of:

 

Matthew 18:1-3 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  New American Standard Bible 

 

Why should the aforementioned missionaries be so surprised?  It is because our deep-seated appetite for theology often makes us arrogant and puffed-up.  We think that we have an exclusive market on this whole God and Jesus concept.  How shortsighted we are!  Our so-called ‘Christian’ seminaries, universities, and Bible Colleges are no match when compared to the mighty faith of the simple farmer in a distant and faraway land, who is more likely to be prepared for the coming of the Lord than the intellectuals of the universities and colleges.

 

James 5:4-8 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath.  You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.  Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.  You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  New American Standard Bible 

 

I highly recommend two books that have impacted my life and view of just such a people.  The first book is called, “Eternity in Their Hearts,” and the second book is called, “Peace Child.”  In ‘Peace Child,’ the missionaries who first brought the gospel to a civilization of cannibals in New Guinea had to almost completely redesign their approach in presenting the message of Jesus.  Culturally, the Bible character named Judas, (who betrayed Jesus), was viewed as a great hero by the natives.  I will let you find and read the book to discover how the missionaries overcame this hurdle; you will be forever changed when you experience the events that unfold in this true story.

 

While these simple folks have a working knowledge of a God, their mode of worship is often skewed, distorted, and frequently pantheistic.  They are lacking a plum line of truth that can only be found in the scriptures.  Many of them are as true to their Creator as they can be, having only their human conscience and finite minds to guide them. 

 

That is why Satan can take advantage of them by implanting their minds and hearts with superstitious beliefs, and weave various forms of witchcraft into what pure faith remains.  How immense a calling it is for those willing to lay down their lives in devotion to the descendents of Abraham; who are willing to leave the comfort of their monolithic Christian edifice, and live in a mud-floored grass hut for years, in order that they might disciple others.

 

It is by faith that we humans have the understanding of a divine Creator.  True scientific knowledge will compliment such faith, contrary to what the so-called learned and “wise” professors of our institutes of higher learning proclaim.  By faith we know that God used an unseen microscopic atomic structure to create the visible things on earth out of nothing.

 

Hebrews  11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.  (NAS)

 

Throughout the world people know that there is a God through His magnificent creation.  Once I climbed the peak of a glacier high atop the Olympic Mountain range in Washington State.  There, on top of the world, my breath was taken away by the awesomeness of God revealed in His beautiful handiwork.  Everything in me cried, “Glory!” 

 

The only words I could utter in that place were, “Yahweh” (He is).  I had a foretaste of what Moses must have felt when God told him that he stood on holy ground.  The only way I can explain what I felt, there atop the snowy peaks, looking straight down a shear drop of over one thousand feet, and feeling the power of the winds at such heights was, “There is too much of God’s presence here in this holy place for my puny physical human existence to handle.”

 

Exodus 3:3-6 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.”  When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses!”  And he said, “Here I am.”  Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”  He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.  New American Standard Bible 

 

Isaiah  45:18 For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, But formed it to be inhabited), “I am the LORD, and there is none else.”  (NAS)

 

What many people recognize and distinguish thru their spiritual perspective is that God’s invisible attributes and His divine nature are continually discovered in and through His creation.  For some, it is an occasion each day to be in awe of and feel affection for Him.  Still others have rejected the divine Architect, and have worshipped and served the creatures rather than the Creator who is blessed forever.

 

Romans 1:18-23 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (NAS)

 

The whole creation, from a tiny ant to the gigantic blue whale, from vast constellations of planets and stars to the tiniest meteors, from a babbling mountain stream to roaring of the waves that spray a cool mist as they crash upon the sands of the beach, from the intricate tunnels and burrows of the prairie dog, to the magnificent canyons and lush green jungle, from the pure artesian spring bubbling up from deep within the earth, to the mammoth Niagara waterfalls, from the tiny fingers and toes of a newborn baby to the complexities of the human vascular and neurological system operating within the human body; all these, as well as billions upon billions of other examples in creation testify of the Almighty.  His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that every human being is without an excuse in acknowledging his or her Creator.

 

For those who have not embraced pantheistic ideology, and who revere the Creator they see expressed in His great and marvelous wonders, their faith is accounted to them as righteousness.  Though they have yet to hear of the liberating message of the Christ, and many never hear, those who express their love for God by loving their neighbor as themselves are a law unto themselves (which is the intent and meaning of the apostle Paul’s words written in Romans 2:14-15).

 

These have yet to meet the mediator between God and man; the man Christ Jesus, who can bring them into oneness with the Father as sons and daughters of the Most High.  That which is, “known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.”  Their human spirit comes from God and bears witness to a Creator.  Once they have made a heart confession of Jesus, they can partake of the glories of salvation found only in him.

 

Romans 10:8-18 But what does it say?  “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”-- that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed. ‘  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same {Lord} is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for  “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”  How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written,  ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things! ‘  However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, “ Lord, who has believed our report?”  So faith {comes} from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.  But I say, surely they have never heard, have they?  Indeed they have;  “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”  (NAS)

 

I hope this has been helpful for you in grasping the heart of God expressed in Romans 2:14-15.  For a more in-depth read on this passage and other Scripture narratives bearing the same witness, click onto the study link I have provided below:

 

God's Provision to Those Who Never Hear the Gospel

 

God bless you brother Billy, and thanks again for staying in touch!

 

Love in Jesus always bro~

Craigo

 

Craig Bluemel

The Bible Answer Stand Ministry

1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give reasonable justification to anyone who asks you for an explanation of the hope that is within you,  but do it considerately and courteously.

 

 


 

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