Friday, October 29, 2004

THE RECONSTRUCTION OF FAITH

THE RECONSTRUCTION OF FAITH

By Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong


In the year 1900, the Boxer Revolution drew blood from the Chinese Church. Many courageous believers became martyrs because of their faith in the Lord Jesus. Shortly before that tragic event, about eight thousand Christians had signed up their names with China Inland Mission[1] to indicate their readiness for martyrdom. Their faith puts our shallow spirituality to shame. As a sharp contrast, our generation is often taught that Christians should expect to gain material prosperity because of their faith. In those days, Christians could only expect to enter coffins[2].

Is God concerned when his people are mistreated? Does he care when the blood of saints is spilled? Of course, he does! Our God is the Lord of history. When he sees that Chinese believers were willing to love him even unto death, he honors the martyrs. For no man would willingly die for something he knows to be a lie. Therefore a deep conviction of truth is the greatest motivating power in life. When God sees their faithful testimony in the face of trials, he moves in to vindicate their cause. Therefore, we can observe the present blessings of God upon the Church in China. Indeed, many great Chinese leaders who would perform great exploits were born in the same year of persecution. Among them, we note Watchman Nee, the renowned author and teacher; Wang Ming Dao, the faithful pastor; John Sung, the fiery revivalist; and Andrew Gih, leader of the Bethel Band. And so says Tertullian, the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.

If you still do not believe in God in spite of this, you really have a serious problem. Instead you would rather believe in the unsubstantiated theory of evolution! Let me tell you that the blind faith you require to believe in evolution is more than any faith required for theism.

In this series of consultation, we began with an analysis of the 20th century. Due to time constraint, we were not able to cover every aspect, so an article entitled “The Age of Folly” would be distributed later. Tonight, we would proceed to the Reconstruction of Faith. True faith produces good works. Faith is the basis of morality and the spring from which our mission overflows. Therefore, logically, the reconstruction of faith precedes the reconstruction of ethics and missions (or morality and ministry).

Christianity is unique among other religions because of the centrality of faith. By faith we are justified, sanctified and adopted into God’s family. By faith, we are reconciled with God. By faith, we receive the Holy Spirit and preach the gospel. Faith fundamentally encompasses the entire spectrum of our spiritual walk with God. It can never be disconnected from the saints’ spiritual life. In the epistle to the Romans, we are told that we are justified not by works of the law but through faith.

Now, the faith we find in Christianity is different from the concept of self-confidence taught in psychology. Biblical faith is also different from the so-called “Faith movement” and its gospel of physical health, material wealth and faith healing. These preachers claim, “Only believe and you will be healed. Claim it, imagine it and you will receive.” But whom do they believe in? That is merely faith in one’s own faith. If you believe in your own faith, it is not biblical faith.

True biblical faith rests upon God, his word and his promises as the trustworthy object of our trust. The object of faith is outside of your own self (extra nos) and anchored on God himself. It is neither a leap into nothingness nor self-centered dependence. If man is the absolute center of his faith, this faith is unbiblical. We trust God because he is trustworthy, his promise is true and he will keep his word. Biblical faith is also different from the concept of self-confidence in psychology. It is not that the Bible doesn’t teach confidence but that is a product of relying on God’s promises and his trustworthiness.

Some may ask, “How do I believe God? We are told that faith comes through hearing the word. How can I believe if I did not hear anyone preaching?” Well, there are different levels of faith taught in the Bible.

Firstly, God has already put in the heart of every human being an innate, basic knowledge of himself. It’s a great, universal gift of grace bestowed on us – even though you may be a Communist, atheist or capitalist. As long as you are human, you have this relativity with God[3]. No matter what professed religion or ideology you hold, as long as you are man, you have a relational contact with God. This is how man is different from animals.

In the West, Aristotle found that man differs from animal because of his reasoning power. In the East, Mencius maintained that the conscience of man is what separates him from other creatures. However, be it Eastern or Western thought, their analysis of human nature pales before the light of God’s word. For God created man as an image of himself. Man’s existence is not autonomous but a derived, dependent existence. His internal conscience tells him that God exists. This knowledge of God is innate in his human nature, not learnt. Therein lies the motive or seed of religion. In fact, there is not a single human race or civilization without any religious faith. But we could not agree on who this God is! The religious beliefs of men are different and mutually exclusive. This is because our human nature has degenerated from its true nature. Since the Fall, our religious nature is broken, distorted, polluted, twisted and depraved. That is why so many religions came about. When this innate, fundamental knowledge of truth is suppressed, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the wicked who repress and resist the truth. The Greek words Paul employed in Romans 1:18 means, ‘to suppress’. Every man knows in his heart about God’s existence but he willfully suppresses that knowledge[4].

Even the atheist, after undergoing a process, could know God if he is willing to humbly return to God. For it is impossible to have this innate ‘sense of the divine’ and not proceed to approach the Creator. In the Aeropagus, Paul declared, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us[5].” The word ‘perhaps’ indicates the motive of religion. We should not mistake it as the achievement of religion. Do they really seek after God? In the exposition on Romans, we will find out the horrifying fact about religion. It is supposed to be the pursuit of God but after the Fall, religion has become a hideaway, a running away and an escape route from God. It is not surprising, therefore, that nations steeped in religion could be more sinful than secular nations. When God the Holy Spirit guides this motive to the second level of faith, man has a softened heart to receive the truth. An analogy can be observed from mud, which when softened by rain, is suitable to receive the seed. Why do some people listen to innumerable sermons yet reject the gospel? But there are others who listen to preaching for the first time and believe the message of the gospel. It’s as if the Gospel is something they have always been searching and longing for. This is due to the work of the Spirit. Scripture also admonishes us to open our hearts to truth with humility and harmonize our faith with the truth that we have heard. Even the atheist can do that if he would see that God’s existence is clearly evident and realize that their beliefs could not satisfy their existential yearnings. When they listen with such an attitude, the seed of the gospel is planted in their hearts. After that, being firmly rooted on the ground, it would grow upward and spread out branches, bearing much fruit. At that point, you would see the third level of faith.

In Romans chapter 10, the apostle Paul spoke of that faith which comes from hearing the word. This kind of faith comes after listening to truth being communicated and receiving the word submissively. The manner in which a man responds to God’s truth will determine his destiny. Man is not what he thinks or feels but how he reacts or relates to God. This is an important principle. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Everyone who comes must believe that he is and he rewards those who humbly seek him. Beloved, let us believe that God who is faithful and just will grant us grace.

Over the last few weeks, do you sense that your faith has increased after listening to the series of expository preaching on Romans every Monday? Some of you drove here from Singapore, Ipoh, Batu Pahat and other distant regions. As you receive the preaching of the word, you begin to realize that your faith is growing. But Stephen Thong cannot give you faith. Only God’s word can produce faith. Let us then offer our thanksgiving to God. The hearing of the word produces faith. Therefore, earnestly desire the pure word of God and respond to it obediently all of your life. Do not be over-critical as you listen.

We now move on to the fourth level of faith as a gift of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12, we learn that God bestows on the Church faith as one of the gifts of the Spirit. The first two kinds of spiritual gifts mentioned are wisdom and knowledge. The last two kinds of gifting relate to speech and are positioned last in terms of their importance. But Charismatic preachers tend to talk about the least important gifts as if they are the most eminent! When will they stop reversing the order? When we do the work of God, we need the gift of faith to carry it out. It is not from our experience or personal ability. Rather, faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

At the fifth level of faith, we need to pray unceasingly that God would increase our faith. Some may ask, “Can we pray for faith?” Yes, in Mark 9:24, a father cried out to Jesus: “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” His demoniac son was subsequently delivered. When you come in humility and ask God, he will grant you your prayers. Nowadays, Christians merely ask for prosperity and property. I tell you, reflect seriously on this attitude and judge your faith and prayer life in the searching light of God’s word. You’ll see how far you have fallen and how much undeserved grace God has shown you.

May God grant us more faith in extending his kingdom! Especially for vocational ministers of the Lord, how often do we lack faith when we have no resources at our disposal? If this is how I serve God, nothing would ever be accomplished. I have seen great exploits done by the meek. It is not by might nor by power but by the Spirit’s enabling. We can never rely on man’s wealth, power or intelligence. I have preached about 27,000 times during my 40 years of ministry. And never have I written self-promoting letters to request others to invite me to their conferences. Now by God’s grace, we can rent venues to hold evangelistic meetings ourselves. I see some young people begin to behave arrogantly after preaching only a few times. On the night after my first evangelistic rally, I couldn’t sleep well. I realized that I didn’t preach as well as I should. As I approach the remaining years of my ministry, I don’t often accept invitations to be a guest speaker because I don’t want to preach what others want me to say. I must preach what God wants me to preach.

Finally, the last kind of faith is produced after much tribulation. It is not produced merely after a Sunday service or casual listening of the word, but is refined as pure gold in the fiery furnace of hardship. We take heart in the many glorious saints whose faith is exemplary because it has undergone severe testing and trying persecution yet fades not. They are not those who turned back and be put to shame. But their faithfulness to the Lord is steadfast despite adverse circumstances. They walked before us, having triumphantly stridden through the flooding tide or consuming fire. The Church today is not poor because of the lack of wealth. Some materially endowed churches are the most spiritually bankrupt of all. Nay, the Church is spiritually poor and unable to witness because Christians are not willing to carry the cross of Christ and suffer. We must suffer with the Son of God in order to be glorified with him. Only when we are united with him in death will we be resurrected in his life. The cross must come before the crown.

That is why the Church in China experienced phenomenal growth in numbers despite the lack of seminary input, formal organization or resources. It is not won without much tribulation. Their faith is more precious than refined pure gold. They are like the three friends of Daniel who overcame the fiery furnace. They believed God and served as civil servants in pagan Babylon. I have often wondered, “Is Daniel a prophet or a civil minister?” All Christians agree that Daniel is a prophet but how many Christians today could be a godly civil servant? And I see that many layman servants of God are more faithful than their full-time, vocational counterparts. They serve the Lord better than hypocritical pastors who brought disrepute to God with their full-time wages. Once again, I have offended the leaders. Perhaps one day, they would also nail me to a cross. Christian leaders, you must put off your mask and maintain high integrity in the sacred ministry.

There are different levels of faith taught in Scripture. Therefore, don’t be too rash in claiming, “I have more faith than him!” And biblical faith is not the kind of presumptuous confidence that some people display. Once, a young man told me, “God revealed to me that I would win the race.” I inquired him on how that revelation came about. He replied, “This morning, I opened my Bible and stumbled upon a verse: Like a deer, run swiftly in high places.”

After the race, he finished sixth out of seven runners in total. So I chided him, “Did God lie to you? Or did you misinterpret?”

“Please don’t talk like that,” he said. “My faith is already shaken.”

I then replied, “Thank God! That kind of faith should be shaken from the beginning.”

True faith is related to God, based on his truth and his promises. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. But many of us take the word too lightly or remain ignorant of its teachings. A rich man once said, “I am led by the Holy Spirit to invest in this project…” I warned him to be careful, but he persisted and lost millions of dollars. Indeed, many rich churches are spiritually poor. Today, false prophets and false teachings abound. If all you have is money, repent. Only God’s word establishes true faith.

What should be our response to truth? We ought to believe (faith), obey and preserve the truth. For example, we all must acknowledge that 2+2 = 4. Will you object, “What about my freedom to choose, or what about my right to disagree?” Can 2+2 equal 3, 5 or 8? No, it cannot be! Religion is free in the sense that no one can force you to embrace it. But when you are confronted with the truth and have faith, you have less ability to do otherwise. You are constrained by the truth. I cannot disagree with the truth that 2+2=4. There is no place to wriggle. I have to acknowledge the truth. No one forced me but I must receive it. Do you want to do it? Yes, no one compelled you. You willingly obey the truth, yet you are free (not compelled). I cannot object to the proposition that 2+2=4 because it is the truth. I am free (willing) but I cannot do otherwise.

Faith is a humble returning to truth. Did the prodigal son return because he was hungry? Well, he could continue eating with the swine. When some people insist on the freedom to sin, let them go on with their willful ways. When the consequences of sin catch up with them, they will realize “I am a man” when they found themselves grabbing food from the swine. On the other hand, if we force or compel them to become Christ-like, they will react strongly against it. Many atheists (like Karl Marx) were born in a strict, Christian family. Does that mean that we should abandon them to wickedness? No! Release and then pull again. Release and pull again. This is something profound we ought to learn. When the prodigal son returns, he is still a son even though he is astray. He is his father’s son so he cannot go to the wrong father. The prodigal son pleaded, “I’m not worthy to be received as a son for I have sinned against heaven and you.” But still, the father accepted him and gave him a ring (a symbol of authority), robe (a symbol of righteousness), shoes (a new way of life) and a feast, the sacrifice of joy. These gifts represent different aspects of our salvation.

Faith is the prodigal reason returning to the truth. It is no longer straying. It is also the return of the prodigal emotion (affection) to divine love. And it is the return of the prodigal will to the eternal will of God. Reformed theology invites all churches to come back to the authority of Scriptures. We must never disobey Scriptures in favour of denominational bias. If a sectarian belief conflicts with Scriptures, we must leave it behind and come back to the truth. Anglicans, Presbyterians and Brethrens must not love their churches more than God himself. I told my church members, “If you love this church more than God and his Kingdom, you are idolatrous. This congregation is merely a Bible study group in the universal Church of Christ”. Therefore, our faith must transcend denominational boundaries as we join with other true believers in witnessing to the world.

Beloved, are you returning like the prodigal son? Faith is not mere intellectual assent. It involves our emotion and our will as well. Is your mind returning to God’s truth? Is your emotion returning to divine love? Is your will conformed to God’s will? Faith is nothing less than the return of the whole person to a proper relation with God. Come, let us return to God. Let us think after God’s thoughts, feel after God’s heartbeat and act along with God’s hands. Only then could we build up all of life centred upon God.

For revelation and truth comes from God and faith is the response of man. When they meet, true faith is birthed. Faith, obedience and truth can never be separated. In the name of the Lord, I beseech all churches to discard unbiblical practices and reconstruct their faith. How can we keep falling down on the floor and become unconscious? I don’t care what the pastor tells you. If it is not biblical and bypasses the mind, God will judge this kind of blind, reckless and irresponsible faith. No saint has ever been touched by the Spirit and become unconscious. We are called to reconstruct our Christian faith and it is a challenge for all churches. For this cause I care not for life or death. The reconstruction of faith is not only the responsibility of any particular preacher or the Reformed movement. Rather it is the task of every Christian believer.

Why do we conduct Bible exposition on Mondays? Why do we persist in our struggle, labour and sacrifice? The reason is too many churches do not have the courage to preach fearlessly the important doctrines of God that need to be preached.

Nominal Christians think, “It’s Sunday. I want to get a good rest for Monday so I don’t care what the pastor preaches.” A pastor must then consider, “Do I lead the flock to God? Or let them stray away from the word? Should I please men or be faithful to the truth?” I must make a choice and be accountable to God. In the 20th century, there are two types of churches. There are those who are faithful to the word and others who misinterpret the Bible to peddle the teachings of the New Age movement. If the new generation of Christians continues to lead the Church to wrong paths, don’t blame anyone if the churches are eventually closed down. If the glory of the Lord abandons the Church in judgement, it will be most tragic and pitiful.

Recently, I received news of a Hong Kong church founded on the faithful preaching of the word. Their membership has grown to thousands and preaching branches are also set up in other places. I heartily say, “Amen!” Away with superstitious and unbiblical practices! If you have a big church and do not preach the word, the bigger your church is, the more tragic it becomes. For those poor Christians locked up in that congregation are starving without the word. Satan will use this kind of false church growth to do his work. As the congregation grows, there is no more room for truth. They will stray further after false prophets for their ears itch for unbiblical teachings.

What is faith? Perhaps you are saying, “I understand more now concerning faith. I want to be faithful and be established in our hope and our ethics, service and witness”. God’s word encompasses all of spiritual life and is profitable for teaching and training in godliness. It provides sufficient revelation from the creation of the world till the future consummation of his kingdom. It informs us of the fall of man and the redemption of Christ. No other book is comparable to it in its scope, ranging from the beginning of history until the end of the world. Blessed are those who are diligent in the word and teach others to obey it. Today, there are many Chinese who are able to earn money but too few of those who can lead others to the Lord. But I believe many are called to be ministers of the Lord here in this task of reconstruction of faith.


Confronting Obstacles

The enemy of faith comes from opposition without and confusion within. Man is fallen and his fleshly thinking is a man-centred system that conflicts with God’s word. Therefore, even in ivory towers of high culture, there is much opposition to faith. Philosophy originates from the Greek words ‘phileo’ and ‘sophia’, meaning, “I love wisdom”. The most brilliant Greek philosophers dare not claim that they are experts but merely lovers of wisdom. The famous orchestras in the world like the Philharmonic (lover of harmonics) Orchestra in New York, Cleveland, Boston and Chicago achieved the highest musical attainment. Yet they only claimed to be “lovers of music”. So was it with the ancient Greek thinkers.

Plato sometimes used ‘eros’ in the context of a pursuit of truth. ‘Eros’ is to desire something that is outward, for example, the beauty of a lady who attracts men to gaze upon and pursue her. The motive and attraction come from a lower position to pursue something higher. ‘Phileo’ can be used for a horizontal love. However, the Bible uses ‘agape’ to describe love from above to something lower. God, in his glorious condescension, sacrificed himself for us. Herein lies the beautiful uniqueness of Christianity. The goods news is that God came for us, and reached down to save man while we were yet fallen and incapable of reaching up to him.

In view of Christ’s humility, you must not be proud of your gifts and humbly learn through suffering. Perhaps, young people should minister in obscure villages before preaching in the cities. You must be moulded and broken if you want to be greatly used for the Lord’s kingdom.

The Greek sought for knowledge with man as the centre while biblical faith reckoned with God as the centre of all things. Whenever there is an apparent conflict between faith and philosophy, faith is rejected outright without carefully considering the facts. Some people claim, “If you don’t believe in the theory of evolution, you are considered anti-science. If you believe in Jesus, you are anti-intellectual.” Christians are often ridiculed for believing in the ex nihilo creation of the universe and other doctrines. What shall we do when our faith is challenged by:

1) man-centered philosophies;
2) political systems;
3) false religions and cults; or
4) cultural structures standing against the knowledge of Christ?

Opposition serves to refine the Church.

Shall we remain faithful till the end? How would we react when faced with the prospect of martyrdom? Would we reason, "Wait…what about my loved ones? I believe in my heart but I also need to save my neck. Can I deny Christ outwardly?" It is unvarnished hypocrisy to say one thing and yet do the contrary.

Pagans are sceptical of Christianity, not because our teachings are not good. Many people are repulsed because of those who profess faith with their lips but deny their beliefs with a sinful lifestyle. We must be careful of our testimony. Faith and conduct, belief and deeds, voice and heart, hearing and doing, knowledge and practice, should be complementary and unified.

When persecuted, Paul says, “If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved”. Some preachers tried to convince the audience that all is needed for salvation is to repeat the phrase, “Jesus is Lord”, as if it was a mantra. They said, “Didn’t the book of Romans say that?” Yes indeed, but it is the Book of Romans. Isn’t the epistle canonical? Yes, but I must ask, “Why is the text not found in Corinthians or Ephesians?”

This is because the Roman Empire forbids its subjects from declaring that Christ is the Lord. In effect, Paul is saying that because of this conviction, you willingly face even death, you shall be saved. Jesus said, “Not all who calls me, ‘Lord!’ will be saved but only he who does the will of God.” These doers of wickedness can even perform healing, miracles and cast out demons like many bad preachers claim today. But Jesus said, “I do not know you. Depart from me, you doers of evil!” How can they be evil in view of those miracles? Whether their conduct is evil or their ministry is evil, we are not told clearly, but they are among those who profess Christ as Lord. Therefore be cautious with your interpretation. Don’t even say, “Let Scripture interpret Scripture.” If you begin with a wrong interpretation, then you will misinterpret the other texts in light of that error. The Bible should be properly understood as a unified whole.

When the Gentiles, scholars, political systems and false religions rage against us, those without a biblical foundation would be greatly shaken. When we expound Scriptures, we also need to be careful of heresies. Those who are wrong usually find it very hard to see they are in the wrong. Once, my wife kept looking at me throughout my sermon. Encouraged, I thought that sermon was unusually powerful and passionate. Actually that day, I preached without noticing a grain of rice left at the side of my mouth. Verily, I tell you, heresies are hard to detect.

How can we find guidance to know right from wrong? Apart from the Bible, we can also find guidance from how the Holy Spirit has led the Church throughout history. Here, in their zeal to maintain private interpretations, many independent churches neglect the legacy of doctrines from the past. We should not be too proud to ignore the saints and scholars who preceded us.

For example, the great Church Councils of Nicea and Chalcedon in the first and second century defended doctrines that have become touchstones of orthodoxy. Do you believe in the Deity of Christ? Do you believe the two natures of Christ? He is fully man and fully God. His human nature and divine nature should be distinguished – not confused, separated or merged. Do you believe in his three-fold ministry as Prophet, Priest and King? If yes, do you know that such doctrines were expounded in John Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion? Many teachers in the Church preach these doctrines without realizing the sources. When we study the Christian treasury of faith, we could see how the Holy Spirit guided the Church to the rediscovery of these important truths through godly saints and scholars. We should not shun true tradition. Rev. Stephen Chen once alluded in his sermon, “True tradition is the living faith of the dead. False tradition is the dead faith of the living” (The quotation may be attributed originally to G.K. Chesterton). This is a profound saying! There are godly saints who are now dead yet they still speak, handing over to us a living faith. There are also false prophets who are alive and popular yet their faith is dead.

Through God’s wisdom, Augustine was able to expound on God’s sovereign grace in election. Although he was not always right or above correction, he understood that faith is the motivation to know by reason. During the Reformation, Martin Luther rediscovered the doctrine of justification by faith alone and John Calvin, eternal election. This legacy of truth became our Christian heritage to the extent that their teachings are based on the Scriptures. Otherwise, it is meaningless. I was deeply moved when I read Augustine’s Retractions, in which he, at an advanced age, evaluated his earlier works. He said, “Follow the Scriptures. If you find my teachings to be contrary to Scriptures, throw away what is mine and follow the Scriptures.” This speaks volumes about the man. In contrast, some church leaders lord over their flock with an iron fist. They claim, “I am the boss. I am the prophet of God. You must listen to me!” No, God’s inspired word is the ultimate source of authority that binds our conscience.

Finally, there are three essential areas, which we must not forget. Orthodox faith is founded on God’s revelation on:

1) The work of God the Father in creation, providence and final judgement;
2) The work of the pre-existent Son of God in incarnation, redemption, vicarious death, resurrection, ascension and his return; and
3) The work of the Holy Spirit in the inspiration of Scriptures, regeneration of sinners and preservation of the saints.

Here, we see the Trinitarian content of faith, encompassing the harmonious roles in the Godhead. The Father is our Creator, Provider and Judge. Jesus is our Saviour, who executed the redemptive plan through his Incarnation, death, resurrection and eventual return as King. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter and Guide, who regenerates and guides and protects the saints till we appear spotless before the Father. These fundamental doctrines cannot be compromised. Church elders, if you don’t believe in orthodox doctrines, please resign. Pastors, if you do not preach the orthodox faith, you must repent.

It is useless to spend valuable resources to send out missionaries with a distorted understanding of the gospel. Missionary enterprises without a solid foundation in faith and truth only serve to bring the gospel into disrepute. Even our cultural mandate must be founded on truth. Let us conclude this message with a prayer that believers will continually yearn for God’s word and live it out obediently, and that leaders would be raised up to proclaim this glorious message faithfully. Amen!


[1] China Inland mission is founded by Hudson Taylor.
[2] Here, Reverend Stephen Thong is employing a word play on “fa chai” (prosperity) and “kuan chai” (coffin).
[3] John Calvin called it the Latin term “sensus divinitatis”, meaning "sense of the divine." According to the “Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology” by Richard A. Muller, it is defined as, "A basic, intuitive perception of the divine existence; it is generated in all men through their encounter with the providential ordering of the world. The "sensus divinitatis" is, therefore, the basis both of pagan religion and of natural theology. Because of the fall, the religion that arises out of this sense of the divine or seed of religion ("semen religionis," q.v.) is idolatrous and incapable of saving or of producing true obedience before God. Man's "sensus divinitatis," thus, is capable only of leaving him without excuse in his rejection of God's truth."
[4] Romans 1:18-23 speaks of a general, universal revelation of God’s eternal power and divine wisdom through the created nature.
[5] Acts 17:26-28

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