Divine Footprints (Romans 1:19-22)
Is there evidence for God's existence and nature outside the special disclosure God made in Christ and Scripture? How can God hold every human being accountable, even those who do not have His special revelation in Jesus Christ? Both the Old and New Testaments insist that God has revealed Himself in the natural world. That self-disclosure in creation is enough to make us accountable to Him. People suppress the obvious truth about God available everywhere in the natural world.
Creation Demonstrates the Availability of God's Footprints
Everything people can know about God, apart from special biblical revelation, may be discovered in creation itself. That which is knowable about God to mere man can be seen in the natural world. There is a universality about this natural revelation of God. It is literally "in our midst." In the world outside us and the conscience within us, we should detect divine footprints. For eyes that can see, "every bush is aglow with God." There is an intentionality about God's witness in nature. It is not accidental that people see God's attributes in creation. God deliberately intended it to be so: "God has made it plain to them." There is a durability about this disclosure of God in nature. It has been available "since the creation of the world." At all times and places in the midst of all people, there has continually been available the evidence of God's footprints in the natural world.
In the face of this is our irresponsibility. We "suppress the truth" (v. 18). The evidence of God's presence and power is obvious in the created world. It takes a deliberate act of suppression to avoid confronting that evidence. It burns in the eyes and roars in the ears of all people at all times.
Creation Demonstrates the Visibility of God's Footprints
The visible creation clearly demonstrates the invisible/qualities of God. That the created world demonstrates the character of its Creator, is as old as the Psalms, Job, and Isaiah. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world" (Ps. 19:1-4). A clear understanding of God's perfection may be obtained from His observable handiwork. Nature declares the eternity and the divinity of God.
The created world declares the eternity of God. The world around us and the conscience within us should speak of an eternal One whose power is also eternal. The created world declares the divinity of God. God's divinity is the sum total of all His attributes, all His invisible perfections. Creation thus implies the wisdom, righteousness, justice, and holiness (otherness) of God. Only willful suppression keeps us from seeing these qualities in His creation. Those who refuse to see God in creation are "without excuse" (v. 20).
We Have a Responsibility in Light of Divine Footprints
God's footprints should draw from us a certain reaction. We should give to God both glory and gratitude (v. 21). The woeful story of the race is our refusal to do so. In light of overwhelming evidence, we refuse to give Him that which is due Him. Instead, intellectually we become empty, and emotionally we are eclipsed. The reality is that while mankind claims to be wise in independence from God, we are demonstrating our foolishness. While many live in spiritual idiocy, they claim to be geniuses.
This has become an open revolt in which men worship things that are created rather than the Creator (v. 23). This is not only seen in ancient idolatry, but in the contemporary idolatry of self. As a famous movie star/theologian recently said, "You are God!"
Because of this willful suppression of the truth, God expresses Himself by a divine release of an ungrateful race: "Therefore God gave them over" (v. 24, also see vv. 26, 28). God lets a revolting world take its own course. This is a reluctant release. He calls from the heavens, He speaks from the conscience, and He reveals His Word in Christ. But He also gives a reluctant release to those who persistently say, "No!"
But we have more than nature. We see the perfect self-disclosure of God in Jesus Christ. He is God's special revelation. Whereas all people are responsible because of God's disclosure in nature, we who know of Him have a double responsibility. The One who made the light walked among us as the Light of the world. May we respond in glory and gratitude.