Missing the Train by a Minute

“Just as it is not at all a matter of indifference whether a man be a murderer or a respectable citizen, even though from the point of view of Christianity both will be lost forever unless brought to Christ, so it is not a matter of indifference whether a man have a high or a low form of non-Christian interpretation. It is true that a man who misses a train by a minute has missed it as well as the one who has missed it by an hour, yet we give a great deal more credit to the man who missed it only by a minute than to the man who missed it by an hour. We rejoice when men are “not far from the kingdom of heaven” even though they are not in the kingdom. But all this only brings out the more strikingly the fact that the sinner’s knowledge frustrates itself. Knowing God as well as he does, that is, coming-in the form of his interpretation so near to the truth, he yet refuses to accept the truth in its full significance. It is of this self-frustration that Paul speaks particularly in Romans 1:18–21:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold down the truth in unrighteousness: because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it to them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.”

– Cornelius Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology p.165