Saturday, April 27, 2019

Romans Bible Study #3 - "Paul's Heart" - Romans 1:8-17 (Video and Lesson notes)

To go to the beginning of the series on Romans, click here...
To go to the previous lesson, click here..


Read Romans 1:1-17

Recap vs. 1-7

Paul’s Heart (vs. 8-15)
Remember that most of the people that Paul is writing to have never met Paul.  They certainly would have heard of him, much of it good, but no doubt some of it bad.  After having laid out his credentials to them, he shares his heart with them. This in itself should be a lesson to us.  When we are speaking to others of Christ, they need to understand our heart first. We’re not just trying to “win another one for Jesus.”...put another spiritual trophy in our case.  We have to care about each one as a person.

We will occasionally have a guest minister preach here.  The message might be superb, the delivery might be completely on pitch, but I have to tell you...for me to really partake of what he has to say...I need to know his heart.  I will honor anyone who the Lord has called to preach the gospel, but, I’m afraid that some preach Christ for selfish reasons. Paul in Philippians 1:17 stated the some “proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition.”  I don’t want to do that...neither do I want anyone else to do that.

Vs. 8 Paul is not just “buttering them up” here. He genuinely is thankful for the wonderful reputation that the Roman Church (or actually churches)...who probably didn’t have any “spiritual father” but rather had sprung up as more and more Christians moved to Rome from other areas..had a reputation for great faith.  What do we want to be known for here at Fair Haven Christ Fellowship? Great preaching, great worship music, great facilities, children’s ministry? I for one would want to be known as those who have great faith...that is, that we are connected by faith to Jesus Christ. That this is a place to go when you are discouraged and down, because when you go you’ll be energized by the faith and love of the members.  

Vs. 9-10
These verses truly reveal Paul’s heart.  Notice that Paul’s preaching and Paul’s prayers and intertwined.  His preaching was so effective because of his praying. John Stott says “in Paul’s apostolic ministry, preaching and praying go together.”  This has always been true of any man or woman who has truly been used of God. You show me a man who preaches without much prayer and I’ll show you a man whose preaching is shallow and matter how eloquent he is.

Listen to the words of E.M. Bounds:

What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new
organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can
Use - men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow
Through methods but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on
men. He does not anoint plans, but men - men of prayer.
Preaching is not the performance of an hour.  It is the outflow of a life. It takes twenty years to make a sermon, because it takes twenty years to make the man.

The preacher’s sharpest and strongest preaching should be to himself.  His most difficult, delicate, laborious, and thorough work must be with himself...It is not great talents nor great learning nor great preachers that God needs, but men great in holiness, great in faith, great in love, great in fidelity, great for God - men always preaching by holy sermons in the pulpit, by holy lives out of it. These can mold a generation for God.

Prayer is the preacher’s mightiest weapon...The real sermon is made in the closet.  The man - God’s man - is made in the closet. His life and his profoundest convictions were born in his secret communion with God. The burdened and tearful agony of his spirit, his
weightiest and sweetest messages were received when alone with God. Prayer
makes the man: prayer makes the preacher; prayer makes the pastor.

Paul would have said “Amen” to E.M. Bounds.  Paul was certainly one of those praying men. It was Paul’s praying that not only made his preaching but his letter in this letter we are now studying.  He prayed for these people. He described his prayers for them as “unceasing.” Remember, he had never met most of them...had never been to Rome. Let me as you as I ask is your praying lining up with Paul’s?  Do you pray for those you’ve never met...fervently, unceasingly? I’m afraid mine doesn’t line up at all. I want to be one who can pray for those Catholics in Sri Lanka who were just brutally attacked by ISIS as fervently as I pray for the members of my own congregation.  I want Paul’s heart.

Vs. 11-13 Paul, as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, had a great desire to see this church established.   Notice the careful, loving way that Paul speaks to them. He commends them for their faith. He tells them how much he prays for them, and how much he desires to see them...a desire that didn’t just come from his earthly desires but from the Holy Spirit.  He tells them that he would like to help them become more established, imparting a spiritual gift to them. This doesn’t mean that there is one particular spiritual gift (as Paul in other places would name), but that He wanted them to be more mature in their faith. Though they had many things going for them, there evidently were not always on solid ground spiritually.  Then, he says, that not only does he want to help them be established, he also needs to be encouraged by them. Did you know that preachers need their congregations as much as the congregation needs the preacher? I certainly need you greatly. You encourage me...and I know that Pastor Mike could say the same. When I see your faith...I get pumped! In verse 13, Paul says that he has been hindered from going to them, though he has often planned to come.  He gives his reason for wanting to come here as obtaining fruit from them. Fruit can be many different things. Some have said that he was hoping to make converts in Rome...that the converts were the fruit. That may be so. Actually, Paul talks of fruit is some places as being money, but I don’t see that here at all. Perhaps, the fruit was the fruit of their faith, which he had heard of but not experienced.

Vs. 14-15 - Let’s talk first about these people he says he is under obligation to.  When he says Greeks, he’s not talking about just people from Greece. The world was dominated politically by Rome, but it was dominated philosophically and culturally by Greece.  When Rome eventually conquered Greece about 100 years before Christ’s birth, Greek culture conquered them. To a Jew, a Greek could mean anyone who was not Jewish. That’s what I think it means in verse 16.  But in this context, it means a learned person. Those who spoke Greek and had adopted Hellenistic (Greek) culture). A barbarian was an unlearned person...someone from the lower classes. He is saying much the same thing when he says “both to the wise and to the foolish.”

When Paul says he is under obligation, he is literally saying I am in debt.  How do you think that Paul was in debt to Greeks and barbarians...people he had never met?  I believe that he was saying that because of the great debt that I owe to my Savior Jesus, I must share the gospel with matter their rank or social status.  We can never pay back the debt we owe to our Savior, can we? Yet, the way we are expected to “discharge the debt” is by serving our fellow men and matter how unlike us they are.  

What would our lives be like if we felt indebted to everyone we met, whether they were pleasant or uncouth...even barbarous?  We are in debt to share Christ with them, to show the love of God to treat them as those created in God’s matter how badly that image has been marred by sin.  

This reminds me of Paul’s words to the Ephesians:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the [a]course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
By 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Ephesians 2:1-5 NKJV)
John Stott mentions a second way that Paul would have felt indebted.  He says, “...if a friend of yours were to hand me $1000 to give to you, I would be in your debt until I handed it is your friend who has put me in your debt by entrusting me with $100 for you.  It is in this...sense that Paul is in debt. He has not borrowed anything from the Romans which he must repay. But jesus Christ has entrusted him with the gospel for them.”

As a result of all this, Paul says in verse 15 that He is eager to preach the gospel to those in Rome.  Eager is a good translation of this word. It means “enthusiastically willing”, “ready to go.” Paul was on-the-edge-of-his-seat ready to go to Rome just as soon as the Lord gave the word.  This should be our attitude towards God as well. We should be “enthusiastically willing” to go wherever God sends us…”on-the-edge-of-our-seat” ready to obey God. He doesn’t have to drag us kicking and screaming…(Jonah comes to mind here).  
2 Timothy 2:15 NASBS
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

Vs. 16-17 - These two verses are seen by many as the theme or the thesis of the whole book.  I see no reason to disagree. Paul will basically take the rest of the letter to flesh out what he is saying in these two verses.  If we can really understand what is here, we will go far in understanding the whole letter.

Paul says “For I am not ashamed of the gospel…”  Paul had just been talking about his eagerness to go to Rome to preach the gospel.  In my mind’s eye, I can almost see Paul like David before Goliath. Paul in stature was probably small, he by this time bore the marks of much persecution in his body, and in one place he quotes others who said of him, “his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.” (2 Cor. 10:10)  Yet, here he is eager to go to the capital of the known world to “slay the giant” of Rome. Paul would readily go before Caesar himself and preach the gospel, even at the expense of his own life.

Let’s talk about ourselves.  Are you ashamed of the good news of Jesus Christ?  Am I? Remember, we all are ambassadors for Jesus Christ.  We represent Him wherever we go. We are to be unashamed and unafraid.   Do you remember what Jesus said about being ashamed of Him?...

Mark 8:38 NASBS
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

God grant us boldness in the face of every kind of opposition!

What reason did Paul give that he was unashamed of the gospel?  He said that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes....

Let’s compare for a moment vs. 2-4 with 16-17.  We said last time that 3-4 was a summary of the gospel. It describes the gospel in the briefest form.  The gospel concerns Jesus Christ, who “was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead…”  We took some time to break that down. Verses 3 and 4 describe what the gospel is. Verses 16 and 17 describe what the gospel does.  We just received a wonderful gift of a 98 Ford Explorer. There are a couple of different ways that I could tell you about this gift.  I could describe what kind of motor it has, I could tell you that it is all-wheel-drive. I could even tell you that it is green, has four doors, and a nice stereo, all of which are true.  The other way that I could explain the vehicle would be to take you out, give you the keys, and say, “drive it.” Verses 3 and 4 are the summary of what the gospel is. Verses 16 and 17 tells you what it does.

The gospel is...the power of God.  The word translated “power” here is an interesting word.  The Greek word is “dunamis.” It doesn’t mean just power, it means “miraculous power.” The Greek word “dunamis.” We get our word “dynamite” from “dunamis.”  That should give you a pretty good idea of what this word means. This is the reason that Paul was unafraid to preach the gospel in Rome. He would be coming with dynamite! This word “dunamis” is in the NT 120 times.  In almost every case, it is referring to “the power of God”, “the power of the Holy Spirit,” or “the power of Christ.” The word is translated in NASB 18 as “miracles.” No wonder! The gospel is the greatest miracle that has ever been!

Why is the gospel so miraculously powerful?  Look back at the text. Because it is the power of God for salvation...What is salvation?  It is one of those theological words that we here a lot...but do we really understand it? Webster’s describes it as “preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss.”  Most of the time, if you ask people what we are saved from, they will say that we are saved from hell.  Most Christians would probably give you that answer. But did you know that the NT never talks about being saved from hell?

Matt. 1:21 “...He will save His people from their sins.”  1st time in NT
Acts 2:40 “...Be saved from this perverse generation.”
Romans 5:9 “...we shall be saved from the wrath of God…”

Yes, when we are saved, we are delivered from hell to heaven.  But that is not where the emphasis is in NT. Even in the matter of salvation, we can become exceedingly selfish.  We want it to be all about us...or about the one who we desire to be saved.

Charles Finney
Parents…”cannot bear to think that their children should be lost. They pray for them very earnestly indeed. But if you go to talk with them, they are very tender, and tell you how good their children are, how they respect religion, and they think they are almost Christians now; and so they talk as if they were afraid you would hurt their children if you should tell them the truth. They do not think how such amiable and lovely children are dishonoring God by their sins; they are only thinking what a dreadful thing it will be for them to go to hell. Ah! unless their thoughts rise higher than this, their prayers will never prevail with a holy God. The temptation to selfish motives is so strong, that there is reason to fear a great many parental prayers never rise above the yearnings of parental tenderness. And that is the reason why so many prayers are not heard, and why so many pious, praying parents have ungodly children. Much of the prayer for the heathen world seems to be based on no higher principle than sympathy. Missionary agents, and others, are dwelling almost exclusively upon the six hundred millions of heathens going to hell, while little is said of their dishonoring God. This is a great evil; and until the church have higher motives for prayer and missionary effort than sympathy for the heathen, their prayers and efforts will never amount to much.”

One word that we use today that shares the same root as “salvation” helps explain the concept…”salvage.”  The gospel is the message of a heavenly “salvage” operation. You and I have been salvaged so that we might be useful to God.  

Who receives this salvation?  “To everyone who believes.” When we were in John, we talked quite a bit about what it means to believe.  It doesn’t mean to just give mental assent. It means wholehearted trust. It is not a one time thing. To be a believer means that we trust in Christ for our whole life.  To be a believer means that our life has been radically changed. It means that we are now Christ

“To the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Here “Greek” is synonymous with “Gentile” or “non-Jew.”  God offered salvation first to the Jews. When they rejected it, he then offered it to all of us Gentiles.  Yet, the offer to the Jews was never withdrawn. Later in Romans, we will see that there will be a time...I believe soon...that the Jews will receive the gospel and believe.

“For in it (the gospel), the righteousness of God is revealed…”  What is the righteousness of God? It is making things right with God

John Stott
“It seems legitimate to affirm, therefore, that ‘the righteousness of God is God’s righteous initiative in putting sinners right with himself, by bestowing on them a righteousness which is not their own but his. ‘The righteousness of God’ is God’s...justification of the unjust, his righteous way of pronouncing the unrighteous righteous, in which he both demonstrates his righteousness and gives righteousness to us. He has done it through Christ, the righteous one, who died for the unrighteous, as Paul will explain later. And he does it by faith when we put our trust in him, and cry to him for mercy.”

“From faith to faith…” Scholars have been puzzling over exactly what Paul meant by this for many centuries.  I see it as first that we go from faith in our own righteousness (which Paul later describes as “filthy rags) to faith in the righteousness of Christ.  But I also see a deeper meaning that this. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…” In our walk of faith in this life, we may progress in our faith from room to room to room.  Each one calls for a deeper degree of faith. We could almost say, “from faith to faith to faith.” We may walk with God at one level, then a crisis will cause us to call out to him for deliverance.  In actuality, we are being called up a deeper faith. We are just delivered once. We are delivered to deeper faith in him again and again. Each time, the righteousness of God is revealed more and more to us...until that final revelation when we see Him face to face.

2 Corinthians 3:18 NASBS
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Finally, Paul quotes Habakkuk…As it is written, “But the righteous man (or the just) shall live by faith.” We received the righteousness of God by faith.  We aren’t just given the righteousness of God so that we can get to heaven in the sweet by and by. We are given the gift of righteousness so that for our entire lives we can live by faith.  That is what it means to believe. It means to live by faith.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Good Friday Message - "Prophet, Priest, King" (Video and Sermon Notes)

Notes from message:

Jesus Christ holds three offices.  These offices he has held throughout eternity and will hold throughout eternity.  Each one of them describes a different function of his purpose and work. Does anyone know what these three offices are?  Prophet, Priest, and King

It is interesting to note in the OT type of the kingdom of God, the nation of Israel, that these three offices were almost always divided.  Few men ever held two of these offices at the same time. Samuel was one of those exceptions. He was both priest and prophet. He anointed kings, but he could never be king.  In one instance in the OT, a king (Uzziah), tried to take on the role of priest for a moment. Do you remember what happened to him? He was struck with leprosy. I think he got the point.  As a matter of fact, in Israel’s history no man was allowed to hold two of these offices at the same time...that is the offices of priest and king. There is only one man in history that has ever been qualified to hold all three offices.  His name is Jesus Christ. For us, to understand Jesus’ functions in each of this offices will help us to understand what Good Friday is all about.

While it is true that Jesus has held all three offices throughout eternity, it is also true that there has been or will be a season for each of these offices in which that office was or will be predominate.  There has been or will be a period of time in history in which Jesus in each of these three offices is or will be clearly seen with the human eye by all men...without any possibility of denial.


Deut 18:15, 18, 19 - A prophet like Moses
  • John 5:46; 6:14 Messiah was to fulfill the role of The Prophet
    • The Prophet would be like Moses in that he spoke to God face to face (Deut 34:10)
    • He would be like Moses in that God would put His words in His mouth and He would speak all that God commanded.
    • Those who refused to listen to The Prophet would be destroyed (their soul would be required of them). Acts 3:22, 23 (Peter’s sermon)
Luke 4:16-21 (Isaiah 61:1, 2)
  • The role of the Great Prophet (Messiah in Hebrew means anointed one)
    • Speak to men for God (Preach good news)
    • Proclaim liberty to the captives
    • Give sight to the blind (Perform miracles)
    • Predict the future (or prophecy)

While a prophet represented God to man, the priest (especially the High Priest) represented man to God

  • “His purpose is to restore men to fellowship with God who is justly angered at man for his rebellion and his rejection of the truth. This the priest does by the sacrifice of a substitute for man whereby he makes atonement, and by intercession on man’s behalf. As the one who made atonement for Israel the priest stood between the sinner and God, symbolically bringing the two together in reconciliation.”
  • The Levitical priesthood of the Old Covenant was a type of a greater priesthood that was to come.  It was only symbolic of a greater priesthood that was to come. The one which was to come would in actuality bridge the gap between God and man.
  • Psalm 110:4 predicts that Messiah would be a High Priest who would reign forever”according to the order of Melchizadek.” (Melchizedek was a priest of a higher order than that of the Levitical priesthood, which would follow centuries later)
  • Jesus, as Great High Priest under the New Covenant was better than all previous priests.
    • They had a fatal flaw...They all died.  The priesthood of Jesus Christ is “according to the power of an endless (or indestructible life).” Hebrews 7:16; 24, 25
    • The Levitical priests at their best were all sinful creatures.  Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, was “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.” Heb 7:26
    • The Levitical priests had to make an offering daily, first for their own sins, then for the sins of the people.  Jesus had to offer up one sacrifice “once for all.” That sacrifice was the sacrifice of Himself, which He offered on Calvary
    • The Levetical priesthood was based on an inferior covenant, which was only a shadow of the New Covenant.  Hebrews 8:6
  • Jesus performed His outward role as both Great High Priest and sacrifice upon the cross.  When Jesus exclaimed on the cross “Tetelestai” (It is finished), He was acting in this role as Great High Priest. Hebrews 9;11, 12; 10;11-14
  • Jesus continues to perform this role in heaven as our Great High Priest, making intercession for us before the Father.  Because of this, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!
  • An amazing passage in Zachariah leads us into the third office of Jesus. Zech 6:12, 13
    • Here is a prophecy that Messiah (the Branch) would be a “priest sitting on His throne.”  Never in the whole history of Israel had there been a priest sitting on a throne. One who was to come would fill both offices of Priest and King.


  • It was prophesied in many places in OT, that Messiah would come as King
    • Psalm 45;6, 7
    • Isaiah 9:6, 7 “the government will rest on his shoulders...He would reign on the throne of David.  
    • Isaiah 32:1,2 “A King shall reign in righteousness.”
  • Although Jesus came as a king, He was rejected by His own countrymen. (John 1:11)
  • At the foot of the cross, they protested that Pilate had written “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”  Earlier they had cried, “We have no king but Caesar! (John 19:15-22)
  • Yet Jesus proclaimed that His kingdom was not of this world.  He has ruled over His kingdom in the hearts of His people for almost two millennia.  When we submit to His righteous rule, He becomes our everlasting king...our king who today rules in righteousness!
  • As Jesus was outwardly The Prophet during His 3 ½ year ministry on earth, and outwardly was the High Priest who sacrificed Himself on Good Friday, so too Jesus will outwardly, for all the world to see, come back to reign as King! Rev. 11:15; 17:14; 19:11-16

Today, if you will hear His voice, Jesus can be your prophet, priest and king.  He can speak to you as the prophet into your heart. Hebrews 3:12-14 Don’t harden your heart as the Israelites did to the prophet Moses!

As priest, He has inaugurated a new and living way for us to walk with Him day by day. Hebrews 10:19-24

As both priest and king, He has made us to be a kingdom of priests! (Rev 1:6)

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Romans Bible Study #2 - Overview and Chapter 1:1-7 (Video and Lesson Notes)

To go to the beginning of Romans Bible Study, click here...
To go to Lesson #3, click here...


Last week we took some time to go over the life of Paul from before his conversion all the way up to the time of the writing of Romans...approx. 57 AD...Twenty to twenty-two years after his conversion. We also briefly talked about Rome and some about the Roman church.  Tonight, we want to begin looking at the letter itself.

We’ve looked at who wrote it and who it was written to, now we want to try to understand why it was written in the first place.

Unlike most of the churches which Paul wrote to, Paul did not found the church at Rome (which was actually not just one church but several house churches). At the time of it’s writing, Paul had never even been to the capital of the Roman empire.  So, why did he write the letter? There is much speculation about this. Paul never gives a reason. But I believe we can read between the lines to come up with some clues.

Near the beginning of the letter, Paul expresses to the Romans that he has a strong desire to go to them.  He makes a statement near the end of the letter expressing his intention to see them on his way to Spain. He believes that this is not just his thinking to go to Rome, but the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Yet, the Holy Spirit also made it clear to him that he must go to Jerusalem first...which was the opposite direction from Rome…(map) Why did Paul want to go to Rome? 1:11 says “that you may be established.”  The church had probably been founded by Jews who were present at the day of Pentecost. In Acts 2, it states that among those who were converted were “visitors from Rome.” That must have brought back this new understanding with them to Rome...yet there doesn’t seem to have been anyone to help them get properly established, even though it had been well over two decades since Pentecost.  So, one of the reasons that Paul wrote the letter was that, knowing that it would be awhile before he could go to them, he decided to write them a letter to help them become established. Because of this delay, we now have the book of Romans. As it would turn out, Paul would indeed come to Rome, but not as he thought. He would come to Rome as a prisoner. You can read the details in book of Acts.  (Show map of Paul’s travels)

We hinted at another reason for the letter last week.  About eight or nine years earlier, Emperor Claudius had expelled all the Jews from Rome.  One ancient Roman writer stated that it had to do with agitation about “Christus.” Since the Romans looked at Christians as just a sect of the Jews, all the Jewish Christians were expelled two.  This expulsion is actually referred to in Acts 18. About five years later, Claudius died, and the new Emperor, Nero, invited the Jews to return to Rome. Of course, the Jewish Christians were among those who returned.  In that five year period, the church continued under Gentile believers. Just think about the confusion there must have been when all the Jewish Christians came back. No doubt, they had been some of the leaders of the church before the expulsion.  Now, the two groups were having a lot of trouble adjusting to one another. This was a major reason that Paul wrote the letter. You will see him addressing Jews at some points in the letter and Gentiles at other points. He is trying to bridge the gap.  In fact, a good bit of this book is addressed to Jews and Gentiles loving one another and receiving one another.

So now, having looked at Paul’s reasons for writing Romans, let’s take an overview of the book.  I’ve looked at several different outlines of the book, and none quite satisfied me, so I pulled from several of these to make my own...actually two.

One of the most simple ways to look at Romans is to look at it in two sections…(slide)
The first section, chapters 1-11,  is “foundational doctrines.” You’ve probably heard that term doctrine all your life, but what does it mean?  It scares a lot of people, but actually at its root it just means teaching. I use the word “foundational” to describe these because these are core teachings of the Christian faith.  They are things that every Christian should know. However, I must note that not all core teachings of the Christian faith can be found in Romans. For instance, there is virtually nothing about repentance in Romans.  Does that mean it’s unimportant. No. Actually, I believe Paul assumes repentance. You have to go elsewhere to find a detailed description of repentance. That’s why we can’t just study one part of the Bible to the exclusion of all.  We have to know “the whole counsel of God” and it’s not to be found in one place.

The section broad section is “Practical Applications.”  This is chapters 12-16. This is how to practice the teachings of 1-11.  These two work hand-in-glove. Doctrine unapplied to our own lives is worthless.  However, practicing the Christian faith without understanding it’s underlying doctrines is hollow.  There are organizations in existence today that began as Christian organizations, but are so far from there original roots that they are unrecognizable.  Two of them are Red Cross and YMCA. These two organizations do a lot of good, but the root has long been removed. As far as I know, there is nothing in either of them any more that has any Christian basis.  YMCA used to stand for Young Men’s Christian Association. Today, it’s not for the young only, for men only, for Christian’s only...and it’s not really an association. Need I say that you don’t have to know anything about the cross to work for the Red Cross.  So we need both doctrine and practice.

Now, let’s back up and look at this another way.  Here we have a more detailed outline of Romans (slide).

The first section is Paul’s Introduction.  We will find in this section the theme of the whole book in verses 16 and 17.  We will be talking about part of this section in a few minutes, and we will finish up the introduction next time.

The second section begins the heart of the letter.  Romans 1:17 through 3:20 is all about our need for righteousness because of sin.  We have in this section an indictment of Gentiles, then an indictment of Jews, and finally an indictment of both Jews and Gentiles.  A summary of this section can be seen in 3:10 “...There is none righteous, no, not one…”

The third section is about “righteousness imputed.”  (Don’t get scared by that word. We’ll talk about it when we get there.)  It is about salvation. How we get to be righteous.’s not by our own works!  This section is from 3:21 - 5:21. Two key verses in this section are 3:21 - 3:22 “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed...through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe…”

The fourth section takes us a little deeper.  It is about “Righteousness Imparted” or about “Sanctification.  This section describes how we get to be saints. This section is from 6:1 - 8:39.  Perhaps one of the highest and most beautiful sections not only in Romans but in the whole Bible is at the end of this section.  A key verse in this section is 8:37...“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

The fifth section is where Paul begins to address directly the issues of Jews and Gentiles, specifically how it was that the Gentiles were able to come into the kingdom of God which was originally for Jews and how that the Jews excluded themselves temporarily from God’s kingdom.  This section is chapters 9 - 11. This is a section about Righteousness Vindicated. It is also about God’s Sovereignty. A key verse from this section is 11:2 “God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew…”

The sixth section is when we move into the way that we practice our faith in Christ.  In other words, how we work out what he’s worked in us. This section begins with 12:1 and goes to 15:13.  A key verse in this section is well known. 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

The final section of Romans is 15:14 - 16:27. It contains a personal message from Paul to the Romans, his plans to see them, greetings to those members of the church in Rome that he knew, and a final benediction.  

Chapter 1

Read 1:1-7

Credentials - In the first verse, Paul gives his credentials.  This is to be expected, especially since he is addressing a church he had never been to...most of whose members he had never met.  If you had someone show up at your back door in a blue uniform who was driving a vehicle with flashing lights on top and said he had something to talk to you about, you would want to see some credentials, right?  (See slide) What right did Paul have to address the Romans? That is what verse 1 is about. If his credentials weren’t valid, they would have no reason to listen to him. In fact, if someone shows up at your house saying they were a police officer, and they really weren’t, that’s a crime, isn’t it?  

It’s important in the spiritual realm that we “examine the credentials” of those who want to speak into our lives.  Not every messenger is from God. There are still today many false apostles and prophets. How do you know if they have the correct credentials?  Most churches, if they are interviewing someone for ministry are going to ask questions like “what seminary did you attend?” “What kind of degrees do you have?”  “How many letters behind your name?” I’m not against seminaries or degrees, but those are not the credentials that Paul had, nor or they the credentials that you and I should be looking at when we are trying to decide if someone has the right to speak into our lives.  

“The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. 3 Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.  We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. 5 It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.” (2 Cor. 2:2-5 NLT)

Notice where Paul’s qualifications came from.   Not from men. They came from God. Notice also that Paul says that you are my other words, you...a church that I birthed through the Holy Spirit...are my credentials.  So...if you want to know where a man is going...check out where he’s been. Here’s another qualification...
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 NKJV)
It was actually members of the Sanhedrin who said this. They had all the credentials that any good Jew could ever hope to have...but they didn’t have what Peter and John had.  Though Peter and John were “ignorant and unlearned men”, these educated and trained men marveled that these men had been with Jesus. They had an anointing that no amount of learning could provide.  This is still true today...When examining credentials, we must ask first, has this man been with Jesus? Put another way, does he have the spiritual aroma about him as someone who has spent much time in prayer in the presence of God? Do you remember what Jesus said to Annanias when he told him to go to Saul of Tarsus and lay hands on him?  We talked about last week. Jesus said to him, “behold, he is praying.” A praying man is not a man you have to worry about. A praying man may not have everything just right...but he will get right before too long.

What credentials did Paul present to the Roman church?  He said he was a bond-servant….same word for slave. What an odd credential to present!  A “bondservant” was a “love slave”. One who loved his master and voluntarily put himself under the authority of his master for life.  However, it makes all the difference in the world who the master is that you are putting yourself under. Who was Paul’s master? Jesus Christ.  Paul’s first credential was that he was bound in service to Christ. What’s the second credential? “Called to be an apostle.” What is an apostle? We get these word directly from the Greek. “Apostolos”. It means one who is sent out.  One who is commissioned. Who sent him out? Jesus himself. He didn’t send himself out. He didn’t appoint himself. I’m afraid most who go out these days are self-appointed. Not Paul. Then the third thing that Paul mentions is actually just an explanation of what his apostleship consisted of. “Separated (or set apart) to the gospel of God.”  Notice that the calling that God made of Paul also separated set him apart. The original actually means to mark out boundaries around. There were things that Paul could not do that other men...even other Christians perhaps...could do. To use an OT word, he was consecrated. He was not his own. His will didn’t matter. His own personal desires didn’t matter.  All that mattered was what his master desired of him...His master’s will was his consuming passion...and this should be the same for you and for me. We may not be called to be apostles...btw that office is still valid today...some do walk among us with that high calling...but we are all called to be set apart for our Master’s use. We’ll talk about that a little later.

Vs. 2 - What is that God promised before through the prophets?  The gospel. The good news of the gospel was promised by the prophets in the OT, what was to Paul the Holy Scriptures.  Can you think of a place in OT where the gospel was prophesied? How about this one?
] “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”  (Isaiah 61:1)

Vs. 3 and 4 tells us what that gospel is...these verses are a short synopsis of the gospel...This is part of Paul’s giving his credentials.  He wants them to know that the gospel he preaches is the authentic’s the real deal. What does this gospel concern? What is it’s focus?  Doing good deeds? Feeding the poor? Social justice? No...His gospel concerned Jesus Christ.
That word “concerning” or  is really an interesting word.  The Greek is “peri.” Can you think of a word that we use that includes the word “peri?”  (slide) Periscope. (slide) It means “all around” or “360 degrees”. So Paul’s gospel from first to last is about Jesus Christ.  Everywhere you turn, it’s about Jesus. The letter to the Romans is all about Jesus. Any gospel that is not all about Jesus is worthless.  Actually less than worthless. It’s from the pit of hell.
What does Paul say about Jesus in his gospel?  Paul first states that Jesus was all man...He was of the seed of David.  To a Jew, this would immediately bring to their mind the Davidic covenant. God had promised David that a son of His would always rule.  This covenant could only have it’s fulfillment in Jesus. It was an everlasting covenant. However, Jesus was not just the Son of David, was He?  Verse 4 says He declared to be the Son of God...not A Son of God but The Son of God. This points to His deity. He was all man and all God. The word “declared” means “marked out to be” or “determined to be”.  What declared Jesus to be the Son of God? It was the resurrection? Does that mean that Jesus became the Son of God when he was resurrected? declared Him to be the Son...It showed that He was the Son of God...with power...In other words, it was an emphatic declaration of His eternal Sonship. His deity.
Let me ask you?  What was it about the resurrection that declared Jesus to be the Son of God?  Was Jesus the only person who has ever been resurrected? No. Jesus raised at least three people from the dead during his ministry, including Lazarus.  Was Lazarus declared to be the Son of God? Of course not. I see three things that set Jesus’ resurrection from the dead from every other one that has ever been.  
  1. Jesus prophesied it...multiple times.  He told the Pharisees that He would give them no sign but the sign of Jonah.  As Jonah was three days and nights in the whale’s belly, so would Jesus be three days and nights in the earth…(Matthew 12:39, 40) He was telling them just as Jonah was “raised” after three days, so I will be raised.”  He also told his disciples explicitly that He would be raised from the dead after three days. No one else in history has ever predicted his own resurrection...and then been resurrected!
  2. Every other person who was raised from the dead was raised by another man...not Jesus!
    1. “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.” Acts 3:15
  3. Jesus was raised from the dead to live forever.  Every other person who has ever been raised from the dead eventually died again.
    1. Hebrews 7:16 says He was a priest…”according to the power of an endless life.”
Now, look back at our text in verse 4.  How was he raised from the dead? With power.  That word will come up again later in the chapter and we’ll talk about it more then.  Suffice it to say now that Jesus was not barely raised from the dead. He didn’t stumble out of the grave half dead and gradually regain life.  No. He was raised with power. When God does a think, He does it with power. There’s no half-way with God. Think about the man Peter and John healed of lameness at the temple in Acts.  He went leaping through the temple! It was done with power!
There’s one other phrase in verse 4.  He was raised “According to the Spirit of Holiness.” What do you think that means?  It’s interesting that this is the only time in the scripture that this phrase “the spirit of holiness” is used.  It could be referring to the Holy Spirit. God raised Him from the dead through the Holy Spirit. Obviously the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Holiness can be the same thing.  It could also mean that Jesus’ life was proven to be holy by His resurrection. If Jesus had committed one sin in his entire life...He could not have been raised from the dead.  His resurrection was vindication that He was who He said He was. That He was the Holy Son of God. You can kind of take your pick.
So verses 3 and 4 are a summary of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Notice how quickly Paul moved from talking about Himself to talking about Jesus.  That was part of his credentials. A man credentialed of God won’t talk about himself much.  He’ll talk about Jesus.
Vs. 5 - Paul says through Jesus he has received grace and apostleship.  If we are born-again children of God, it is only by God’s grace. God’s unmerited favor saved Paul...and it saved you and me.  Notice that He says in the same breath that his calling to be an apostle was also through Jesus. The salvation that Paul had received from Jesus and his apostolic calling was for a reason...what was that reason?  “For obedience to the faith among all nations (or Gentiles) for His name. He was called specifically to reach the Gentiles...the non-Jews. Just think with me about that a minute. This most Jewish of all Jews, this Pharisee of the Pharisees...was sent to the very people who he used to abhor.  How like God to use the most unlikely person for this job! Notice that he was not sent to the Gentiles only to “get them saved” to use a current term. He was sent to them so that they might obey! NASB “to bring about the obedience of faith among the Gentiles…” How much is this talked about today. We are saved to obey!  To dwell abide in Christ every day and every hour! WE ARE NOT SAVED TO THEN GO DO OUR OWN THING!
Vs. 6 says that these Romans that he is writing to are some of those Gentiles he was called to minister to.  He calls them the called of Jesus Christ.
Vs. 7 He now identifies the Roman churches as being those this letter is addressed to.  He once again addresses them as “called.” This is the third time we’ve seen this word in just seven verses. Must be important!  In verse one Paul said that he was called to be an apostle. Verse 6 He calls those he addresses as “the called of Jesus Christ.”  Now, you and I are not called to be apostles, but we are called to something. What are we called to? Called to be saints. What is a saint?  Someone with a halo around their head, who lives head and shoulders above everyone else? No. What does saint mean? It means someone who is sanctified...who has been made holy.  It implies that we have been set apart...just as Paul was set apart to be an apostle, we are set apart to be saints. We are called to live lives set apart for obey Jesus in every way.  Think again about Anannias. When Jesus spoke to him in Damascus, he was ready to obey...even though he had to swallow really hard! That’s what we’re called to be. Those who obey. Those who are sanctified for the Master’s use.
The end of verse 7 is the end of our study tonight.  This phrase or one very similar to it was one that Paul used in every one of his letters.  “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” We’ve gone through seven verses and he’s mentioned Jesus by name four times...It’s Jesus all around...360 degrees!

Check Out My New Facebook Page - Flyover Country!