The book of Romans was written by Paul during a time of intense persecution; to see the scope of this book we should note that Paul used the words 'righteousness', 'sin', and 'faith' 60 times each in this book. The book of Romans is considered by some to be the greatest and richest of the letters in the New Testament.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: We come now to the third major division in the New Testament. This is the third major division. We're dealing now with epistolatory literature. Now an epistle is not the wife of an apostle, epistle is an old word for a letter. So we're dealing now with letters that are written; most of them written by Paul, some written by Peter, some written by John, and a lot of them are filled with doctrine. So when I say the third major division, we have the first division, that's the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; a biography about Jesus. The second division is historical, that's the history of the church written in the book of Acts by Luke and now the third that is the epistolatory or the letters.
Now if you recall last week, in the book of Acts, in the very beginning, Jesus said, "They were to take the Gospel eventually to the uttermost parts of the earth." Good, you can interact with me, it's okay, it's Wednesday night, we're family. "They were to take it to the uttermost parts of the earth." Compared to where the Gospel started in Jerusalem, Rome was pretty uttermost part, and there was something about Rome that was a magnet to Paul, he had never been there yet, even though he writes a letter, never been there. He longed to go there. He kept saying, "I want to go to Rome, I want to go to Rome, if it's in the will of God."
When he was arrested in Jerusalem, the Lord tells him, you're going to make it to Rome. In Acts 24, "As you have testified of me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify of me in Rome." He gets arrested, he goes through three trials in Caesarea, they put him on a grain-ship and he's a prisoner of the Roman government and gets a free trip to Rome as a prisoner. And there he's locked up for two years and from that prison cell it's an opportunity for him to share the Gospel, not the way he originally thought he would go there.
The book of Romans was written from the city of Corinth. Paul takes three major missionary trips around the known world. On the third trip, when he gets to Corinth and he has some time because he's there for about 18 months, it's there that he pens or should I say dictates, you will see by the end of the night why I say that, dictates the letter to the Romans from Corinth.
The book of Romans is, I call it the Christian Manifesto, it's salvation by God's grace through faith, and there are some keywords that are in this book that I want you to know about. I'm going to be referring to some of them tonight. The word 'law' mentioned 78 times in the book of Romans, even though he's not writing to Jewish people but Jews and Gentiles, the word 'law' 78 times.
Then there's the word 'righteousness' mentioned another 66 times, and then the word 'faith' mentioned 62 times in this book. Another keyword will be 'grace' that he will refer to on many occasions. So here's the theme of the book of Romans.
The righteousness of God that comes through the Gospel of Christ, that's the theme. The righteousness of God -- remember that little phrase, it's one of the most important things in this book, the righteousness of God that comes to the Gospel of Christ.
Now I take you to chapter 1, verse 16 and 17, before we even go back to first couple of verses. He says, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written; 'The just shall live by faith.'"
So we're going to follow this theme throughout the book, "The righteousness of God that comes through the Gospel of Christ."
Here's the picture the book of Romans pain'ts. We're all born into the slavery of sin and are all under the wrath of God until we are set free by Jesus Christ. Now that certainly is in a message the world would ever want to hear at all.
You know it's funny when I meet people and say, well; Christianity is a human religion that humans made up. Why in earth would anybody make that up, that we're all consigned to destruction and doom apart from faith in one person? Nobody in the right mind would make that up. But that is the Gospel, frees us from sin and death because we're under the wrath of God.
The world would love to celebrate not the wrath of God on the unrighteousness of man, the world wants to celebrate the righteousness of man, hey, we're all good, we all do good things, we're all sincere. Let's talk about the goodness of man, the positive aspects of man, the righteousness of man, Romans will say, as God looks down from heaven there's none who does good, no not even one.
Now this is all important to understand this book of Romans. I want you to think for a moment of the thief on the Cross, and here's what the Gospel and the righteousness of God comes in. Here's a thief on the Cross, a person that Roman government deems unfit to live on the earth, unfit to live in the Roman Empire, unfit to live on the earth. But in an instant, because of his faith Jesus declares Him fit to live forever in paradise. Today, you'll be with Me in paradise. See the world gets weird with that. Wait a minute, I thought, if you work really hard and get really religious and do really good, then you get to earn heaven, uh-huh, those people don't make it to heaven. But those people who are wretched and realize that they are sinners and place their faith in Jesus Christ, he will say because you did it by faith, today you will be with Me in paradise.
Now this book of Romans transform the life of one Martin Luther changed him and brought forth the Protestant Reformation. Luther said, "The book of Romans is the chief part of the New Testament. It is the purest of the Gospel."
Let me tell you about Luther. Luther was raised in the fear of judgment, his whole life. He decided to become really righteous, became a monk, an Augustinian monk in the year 1506 in the town of Erfurt, Germany. He prayed a lot, he fasted a lot, and according to his own admission quote, "If ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery, it is I." But he was tormented in his conscience and there was one phrase as he's reading this book of Romans, that caught his attention and he wrestled with it. Guess what phrase it was? "The righteousness of God," that's the phrase that arrested him.
Here's his words "I had greatly longed to understand Paul's letter to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression 'the righteousness of God' because I took it to mean the righteousness whereby God acts righteously in punishing the unrighteous. Night and day I pondered until I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby through grace and share mercy, He justifies us by faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone open doors into paradise; the whole of scripture took on a whole new meaning."
John Wesley years later read the introduction of Paul's letter to the Romans, his commentary and he said when I read it, I felt strangely warmed. He was revived and that brought forth an eighteenth century revival through Wesley and countless moves of God in history, revivals in history have stem from the book of Romans. If we can get a hold of these trues, they are so, so great and so life-changing.
Now in the book of Romans, just about every major Christian doctrine is presented, I am going to divide the book up into four sections for you and we will follow that tonight.
Section number one, 'the wrath of God', that's how he begins, all of humanity is consigned under doom because of their unrighteousness; 'the wrath of God'. Section number two of the book of Romans: 'The grace of God'. Section number three: 'The plan of God' for Jew and Gentile. And number four: 'The will of God'. Those are the four sections we will follow.
First of all then; 'the Wrath of God'. That begins in chapter 1, Verse 18 because first part is introductory through chapter 3, verse 20. And from 1:18 to 3:20 is that section 'the Wrath of God'.
Look at verse 1, of Romans 1, "Paul, a slave or bond-servant of Jesus Christ called to be an apostle, separated to the Gospel of God, concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead. Through him, we have received grace." That's a mega theme of this book 'grace' simply means undeserved privilege or unmerited favor.
"Through him we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name. Among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ. To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called sain'ts." The words 'to be' in my Bible are italicized because they are not in the original, it's not that one day if you are really good and a group of people examined your life and you have like 30 miracles, in 200 years they are going to canonize you a saint, that's not what it means, a little halo, that's not what it means. It means if you are a believer in Christ, right now today, why you are alive, God calls you a saint. And it simply means you are set apart for him because of what he has done.
"To those who are in Rome, beloved of God, called sain'ts. Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."
So there is two kinds of people in Paul's thinking: the sain'ts and the ain'ts, and if you are not a saint that is said by Jesus Christ then you aint, you are a saint or an aint.
Now, here is the question, how did the church in Rome get established? No takers. Okay, you are safe, you have learned your lesson, you think you are setting this up, sort of I am. If you were to say, Paul, you would be wrong. Paul had never visited Rome but he is riding from Corinth to a church already established in Rome. And we believe that the Roman church was established from the day of Pentecost. There were people from all over the world.
Jewish people and some were from Rome and when Peter gave his message on the day of Pentecost, 3,000 souls were baptized because they believed in Jesus. We believe that some of them were from Rome and after Pentecost in the salvation message preached by Peter, those Messianic Jews went back to Rome and established the first congregation.
Paul heard about it, that's why he says, "I want to go to Rome. I want to see this church. I want to be a part of it." And so from that point on it was established and it grew.
Okay, now I said that Paul divided the human race into sain'ts and ain'ts. Let me take the ain'ts for a moment. In the ain'ts side, Paul divided the ain'ts into three groups: pagans, moralists and religionists. And he writes about them all; people who have no faith at all in God, pagans; moralists people who just do nice good things; religionists, those who are strict adherence of their faith. Usually Jewish people who trust in their own self-righteousness that was the big problem he confronted back then.
Verse 18 of chapter 1, "For the wrath of God," see this is the first section, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. Because what may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it to them." Now that phrase should chill the blood of any person who doesn't know God. Listen, life, death, and eternity are not to be trifled with, they are not trivial items.
And to read this phrase that the posture of God in heaven toward unregenerate man is, he is filled with wrath. Wait a minute, I thought God was a God of love, He is, but the posture until something is done with the love that he gave in Christ is one of wrath. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness, all ungodliness. People certainly don't like this message.
Have you heard this? Well, the God of the Old Testament is a God of judgment and wrath. The God of the New Testament is a God of love. There's two different Gods; you are wrong. This is the New Testament last time I checked, and it says, in the New Testament, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven. That's God's attitude towards sin period. It's consistent in the Old Testament, in between the Testaments, in the New Testament, and in 2008 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Same, his attitude and sin has never changed.
Go down to chapter 3 of Romans, verse 19, "Now we know that whatever the law says, it's the law of Moses, it says to those who are under the law that every mouth may be stopped," get this, "and the whole world may become guilty before God." There is the verdict. That's the final verdict of God as he looks at the earth, guilty. "Therefore, by the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight for by the law, is the knowledge of sin."
So, Paul in chapters 1 through 3 paints a very dismal dark picture of humanity in despair. No hope, can't do anything about it, absolutely hopeless, no ray of light, totally helpless. And what's the final verdict on mankind? Guilty. That means you are guilty. I am guilty. The Pope is guilty, Billy Graham is guilty. Everyone is guilty in their own before God.
Verse 20, "Therefore by the deeds of the flesh, deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
Now, look how verse 21, the very next verse begins. "But now --", stop right there. Now we have a shift. Remember I said the first section of the book of Romans, the wrath of God is chapter 1, verse 18 through chapter 3, verse 20. Chapter 3, verse 21 takes on a whole new section and this is the grace of God, okay. Between verse 20 and 21 is a canyon, a great gulf, a transition, we move from darkness into light and we are left in darkness in chapter 20, hopeless and despair, all the light is gone. Suddenly, the day dawns, the sun rises in verse 21, or to put it in Narnia language, Chronicles of Narnia, the long dark winter is over and Aslan comes. This is the grace of God. Donald Grey Barnhouse, a great commentator. I would say, one of my favorite on certain books of the Bible.
Donald Grey Barnhouse, in his Bible, drew a heart over verse 21. A little heart in his Bible and he wrote these words, "I am convinced today after many years of Bible study that this is the most important verse in the Bible." Look at it, verse 21, now the grace of God, "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed being witnessed by the law and the prophets." Okay, that's the phrase that was turning over in Martin Luther's little brain; the righteousness of God, right standing with God. "Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ and to all and on all who believe there is no difference, for all have sin and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood through faith to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God has passed over the sins that were previously committed; to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness that He might be just, and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus Christ."
Now, in the second section, first section, wrath of God, second section, grace of God. There's some keywords, key Biblical words and there are important words and I want you to know them. I want you to know what these words are. First is the word, 'justify' or 'justified' or 'justification'. Huge Biblical words, you need to know what that means. Second is the word 'redemption', you need to know what that means. Third is that weird word, 'propitiation', probably not a word you use today but it's an important Biblical word, sort of an ancient word but I want you to know what these are. Verse 24, "Being justified freely by His grace." Thirty times in the New Testament, the word 'justify' or 'justification' is used, 30 times, 15 of those are found in the book of Romans. It is a legal term, a forensic term to render a verdict.
Now, in ancient times, you've got a verdict, you stand before a courtroom or a judge, you get the guilty verdict or the non-guilty verdict; condemnation or justification, one of those two verdicts. The idea to justify when it says, God justifies us, it means this, He imputes to you the purity, the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
It means that God declares you righteous. The term 'justify' is a legal term, it's from the courtroom and it means to declare somebody as righteous or pronounce them, and once they are pronounced righteous, then they are treated as if they are righteous because God made the pronouncement, do you follow me?
So, sometimes you will find Bible commentators breaking the word apart to define it. Justified, now break it apart, what does it mean? Just if I'd never sinned, God has declared me pure, righteous, even though, I am not. I've fallen short of the glory of God because I trust in Christ, he says, you are righteous, and all of the purity and righteousness of Christ is now imputed to your account and that's how I see you. It's a declaration. That is the first word; also, verse 24, second word, 'redemption' through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Now if 'justified' comes from the law courts, then the second word 'redemption' comes from the slavery block. It means to release a slave, to pay a price, to release somebody who is a prisoner or a slave. That's what the idea of 'redemption' means, to deliver by paying a price.
In Jewish terms, keep in mind as audience was both Gentile and Jew. In Jewish terms, redemption meant that you would buy land or people who were lost due to poverty and slavery. Think of the book of Ruth, Elimelech and Naomi and their two boys leave Bethlehem, go to Moab. They lose it all, everybody dies in the family who is a male, the women come back, there is Naomi and Ruth destitute. But there is a Goel, that is the Hebrew word, a Goel, a kinsman-redeemer who has because of blood relationship the power to buy back the land for the family, and buy those who went a stray back into the family through marriage. That's redemption.
Here is the third keyword 'propitiation' verse 25, "whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood." Let me tell you what that word means because I want you to know it. It means appeasement or satisfaction. It means the idea is too appease God and to satisfy God's wrath; to satisfy God's demands. Something by the way, you and I can never do. We can't do it. Jesus is our propitiation, our appeasement, the satisfaction.
Okay, now follow me here. About 200 years before Jesus Christ, there was a translation of the Old Testament into the Greek language called the Septuagint. Ever heard of that? Septuagint, it's the Hebrew scriptures translated into Greek. Twenty times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, we find the word that is translated here propitiation, we find it in the Old Testament. The Greek word is Hilasterion, Hilasterion and if you were to translate Hilasterion in the New Testament, it is propitiation. If you are to find it in the Old Testament, it means "Mercy Seat." They use that word to describe the golden lid that was on top of the Ark of the Covenant that was sprinkled once a year by the priest, remember.
That's where atonement was made; that's where God would fellowship over the broken sin of His people. So think of that image here. Jesus Christ is the "Mercy Seat." Because of what He has done, His blood was shed, He covers the sin and so some translations say, he is the atoning sacrifice, they are translating the single Greek word, Hilasterion, propitiation or "Mercy Seat."
Okay, I am going to sum up chapter 4 through 8 now, you are ready? Chapter 4, continuing with this theme, the grace of God, He says, look at Abraham, Abraham was justified by faith even before the law ever came, before Moses were born, before God ever gave a law. The Bible says," Abraham believed and it was accounted to him for righteousness." That's chapter 4.
Chapter 5 shows the resulting peace that we experience because of that justification. So it opens having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, that's chapter 5, describes all the benefits that come from that.
Chapter 6 is a series of questions and this is how rabbis would teach. They would teach in the diatribe fashion, they would make a statement, then they would say, yeah, but what about this? And then he would answer, yeah, but what about that? And then he would answer. He is doing that, that's a style of Paul in this book. It's an ancient rabbinical style. So chapter 6, there is a series of questions regarding the implications of being justified. For instance, here is the question. Well, then shall we continue in sin, the grace may abound? Because he said, wherever sin abounds grace overflows or abounds much more, so he asks, well, then shall we continue in sin and grace, God forbid, he answers it. And so, he breaks that down in chapter 6 and partly in chapter 7.
In chapter 7, he talks about the relationship of the believer to the law of Moses, and he talks about his own personal struggle. Paul says, "I've got to tell you something. There's things that I know that I shouldn't do that I do. There's things that I know that I should do that I don't do, and he says, oh wretched man that I am. Chapter 7, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
In chapter 8, he answers himself and shows the liberation that comes from the end dwelling Holy Spirit. And so verse 35 of chapter 8, "Who shall separate us from the love of God?"
But go back to chapter 8, verse 28; one of the verses that every Christian memorizes and their first year of being a believer usually. It's in the little pocket-promise books or little loaves of bread that you pull out and there is a little promise. "We know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, and are the called according to this purpose." Now, here is this whole plan. "For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to his image, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, who he predestined, he also called, who he called, he also justified, who he justified, he also glorified."
So, we have wrath of God, we have the grace of God, chapters 9 through 11, it's the third section. This is the plan of God. Okay, let me set this up for you. Paul is writing to who? Romans. The audience in Rome was mixed ethnically. You would imagine it's a melting pot. It's a huge city. There were lots of Gentiles from different parts of the world and there were a seizable group of Jews, synagogues, etcetera and so they were mixed. So, he is going to pose some issues that Gentiles would ask about the Jews because they celebrate the law, they have the Old Testament, etcetera, so they've got some questions, okay.
So chapter 8 ends with a magnificent hymn of praise. It's on an upbeat. verse 38, chapter 8, "I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present or things to come, nor height, nor depth or any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord." It ends on an upbeat. This is amazing grace. So, here's some questions then that might be bouncing around the Gentiles' minds in Rome.
What about the Jews? Why did they reject Jesus as their Messiah? And if God has a plan for them, how does their unbelief and rejection fit into the plan of God? So chapters 9, 10, and 11 are all about God's plan for the Jews, for the rest of the world, and again for the Jews in the end times; all of these chapters are about that. So laced in this section are several statements of Paul's own personal, emotional heart toward his own people. Very, very touching, I wish we had time to go through it in depth; in fact, we have gone through it in depth in the years passed, we are just brushing over tonight.
Chapter 9 shows that Israel, God's elect has rejected the Gospel. Now, Paul will say, that doesn't mean God's word has failed, that doesn't mean God's promises have failed because some of them have believed. Paul would say, "I am one of them." Some have believed.
Chapter 10 says, the nation has been set aside because of their rejection for a time. It's not what God wanted that was their own doing, but in chapter 11, that rejection, that setting aside is not final there is going to be a reinstatement. Salvation has now been opened up to all the world, all the Gentiles because Israel has rejected their Messiah. Their rejection means salvation for the whole world. So Paul will say, "Can you imagine what will happen when they are reinstated, if their rejection means salvation, when there is the reinstatement? And God continues His plan what that is going to mean for the rest of the world. So let me frame this again for you this way.
Chapter 9 is the sovereignty of God in election, you get that? The sovereignty of God in election; God chose the Jewish people to be the chosen race, the Messiah would come through, the Bible would come through, the promises would come through, the sovereignty of God in election.
Chapter 10, the sovereignty of God in rejection, they rejected the Messiah; God will temporarily set them aside. But in chapter 11, the sovereignty of God in reception, God will receive His people back. We talked on Sundays about the Millennial Kingdom and how Christ will rule and reign from Mount Zion.
So chapter 9, verse 1, "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart." And remember how we said chapter 8 ends with a hymn of praise, it's full of joy, what a transition from joy to deep sorrow. Paul's being very transparent and saying, "I want you guys in Rome to know something. As I am writing to you there is a heavy burden weighing in my heart, and it's about my own people, the Jewish people."
Verse 3, "For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh."
There was a problem Jesus encountered the problem, Paul encountered the problem. Many of the Jewish people believed what Paul said, they are the chosen of God, they are the elect of God and that salvation is simply a matter of birth, all God requires is physical birth, I am born a Jew.
Paul said, "It's more than being born Jew, you have to be born a new, you have to be born again." And remember John the Baptist even confronted this, he is down at the Jordon river baptizing and the Pharisees are there tucking in their robes and he is reading their minds. Don't begin to think within yourselves, we have Abraham as our father. John the Baptist continues, God is able to raise up even from these rocks children to Abraham. That didn't go over very well. They understood what he meant, it's not about physical birth, it's much more. There was a misunderstanding among them, let's see what it is.
Chapter 10 verse 1, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel, is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." Now here's Paul wanting Israel to be saved which would infer that just because you would live in Israel or you are Jewish or you are Israeli, you are a citizen of Israel that you are not saved. You need the same Christ that we have all received.
I tell you why that's important. There are some prominent teachers who are even on television and radio, and they will go around, they will talk about Israel and you get the impression that you know we need Jesus, but the Jewish people as they are just being Jewish, there is sort of a dualism they don't really need to accept Christ because they are Jewish, they are already in the covenant, they have already got it made, and it's wrong.
Here's Paul going, "I want my people to be saved." And here's why, "they have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."
Every time I go to Israel, every time I walk up to that Western Wall, some call it the Wailing Wall, it's an old term, the Western Wall and I see them fervently praying or sometimes when I go with just a few guys or first night into the Garden of Gethsemane and look over the city, I think of these verses, I think of this. And you know what; man is incurably addicted to working for his own salvation. I don't know what it is about us. We can't just say, I am not good enough, I accept your gift. No, no, no, no, I am going to be good, I am going to earn this, I am going to pull up my boot straps and I am going to make it to happen. We are incurably addicted to working for our own righteousness. The problem is ignorance. Notice it's not according to knowledge they have a zeal for God but it's not according to knowledge. In other words they don't have a correct understanding of the Torah, of the revealed will of God in the scriptures, they are ignorant of it.
Paul says, "Look, I know this, I was ignorant of it." I personally grew up in a religious home; I believed in God, I was taught to believe in God. I was taught to go to church, I was taught to believe that Jesus Christ is God the Son, the Son of God. But I was ignorant about how one is saved; I was taught that if you go to church, if you work hard, if you go to confession, if you do certain things it could be that at the end you will go to heaven. And I remember even asking a clergyman, "I want to know that I am going to heaven?" He said, "You can't know till you die." I said, "Sir, it's a little bit too late to find out I was wrong, I want to find out now." And Paul worked hard but was ignorant. He came to a place where he knew for certain. Same way Martin Luther dealt with this was the righteousness of God.
Look down at verse 9 and 10 of chapter 10, "That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. For with a heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made to salvation." Here is two essential articles of faith acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus sometimes the idea of Lord in the Old Testament was the acknowledgment that He was Yahweh. I think this means that Jesus is the Lord God the Son, God in human flesh and that he raised physically from the dead.
Verse 11, for the scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." There is faith. "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek." This would anger the audience that was Jewish and would anger the audience that was Greek.
Paul is saying, "There is no difference when it comes to how you are made right before God you come as a sinner all of you and you can only be accepted by faith."
"There is no distinction between Jew and Greek for the same Lord overall is rich to all who called Him for -- whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Now, something that I didn't mention that I'd like to mention now about the book of Romans; throughout the book in every chapter Paul quotes the Old Testament a lot. Especially, the book of Isaiah and the book of Psalms, he quotes, quotes, quotes, quotes, ties it back, ties it back, ties it back. In fact, Paul quotes the Old Testament in the book of Romans more than he quotes the Old Testament in all of the rest of his epistles combined. Very scripture heavy and it shows you the kind of grasp that this guy had on his Bible. He knew it and he knew how it applied even now.
Look at chapter 11. I say then, "Has God cast away His people?" That is the Jewish people? Let Him answer it.
Certainly not, the Amillennialist would take out the 'not' and put 'certainly'. "Has God cast-away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin." The word 'cast-away' means disowned or rejected.
There are some people today who teach that the nation of Israel or Israel nationally because they have rejected Christ, God has rejected them, so that all of the promises in the Old Testament that were given to Israel, are not given to them anymore. But they go to the church and will be fulfilled during the church age by the church. But that same group of the theologians will say, all of the curses that God gave to Israel, they go to Israel.
So they have made us into a group of thieves stealing from Israel the promises that God rightfully gave to them, and I believe will literally fulfill them because of the covenant He made with Abraham, Issac, Jacob, the covenant with David, etcetera.
So you can't steal the promise and say, "Oh! By the way we don't want the curses, you can, you can keep them." It doesn't work that way; it's inconsistent.
Verse 25, "For I do not desire brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery." Okay, whenever Paul says, I tell you secrets and mystery, it's so important I don't want you to be ignorant of this and we've got to understand what it is, it's important. "Lest you should be wise in your own opinion; that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in."
Now the New International Version correctly translates this verse by saying, the full number of Gentiles, blindness in part has happened to Israel until the full number of Gentiles be coming. I think the New Living Translation sort of follows suit, that's the idea.
There is a number of people among the non-Jewish world or the Gentiles and God knows what that number is, and one day people who are non-Jewish who are receiving Christ and it's going on all the time around the world. God knows when that last number reaches this point. When that last number reaches this point God will be done with the church age drawing in nations; people from all over the world, all over the nations into the church. We will turn again from that dispensation that is some time called era or manner of dealing back to the Jewish nation to recover and restore them in a period of time known as Daniel's seventieth week that's Daniel chapter 9. That's the tribulation period. When that full number is reached or when that last Gentile person, God knows what that number is. Says; "Yes, I receive Christ." God knows what that number is. That is when the church age is over, church gets raptured, the attention gets taken now toward the Jewish people the seventieth week of Daniel, the tribulation that whole restoration process of gathering 144,000 from every tribe, that's the time.
So you might be here tonight and you are that last hold out. You could be the one holding up the whole show, or it could be a person in South America or in Africa or in Asia or somewhere else who will say, yes, but it could be here.
So stop it! Let's get on with this program when that full number is reached. Then God will continue His program with the Jewish people. Verse 29 tells you why, "For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable." That means God has made a promise to a nation like He did to Israel and He has given them the gifts of prophets, scripture, promises, the Messiah, and He has given them a special Holy calling, that's irrevocable. He didn't say, okay, well, you rejected my plans, so I am going to take all of that stuff away and give it all of the Gentiles now and you are shut out. The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable or without repentance.
Now the last section then we close is chapter 12, verse 1, to chapter 15, verse 13. This is the will of God, this is the practical section of the book of Romans.
Notice he says, "I beseech you that therefore --", this is Paul's style, if you have read much of Paul's epistolatory literature and noticed that Paul begins his letters long or short by laying a foundation giving you some very important concrete doctrinal truth and then at some point in the letter he does it all so in Ephesians, he goes, "Now, therefore, meaning, I am going to make an application based upon all the stuff I have just told you that I want you to understand." He does that here.
He makes application to them, his audience, based upon chapters 1 through 11 what he calls the Mercies of God; the Mercies of God, mankind is under God, wrath and judgment, but grace came and overflows and God has a plan as for Jew, Gentile, Abraham, everybody, it's by faith, God has a plan for the Jews, for the world, and for Israel again.
Now therefore, and Paul is good at combining doctrine and deeds, doctrine and deeds, promises and practice. Okay, you know this now do this. That's what this is all about. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." "Do not be conformed to this world, but transform by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Look at the word in verse 2 'transformed.' Metamorphoo, can you say that ten times? Metamorphoo, what does that sound like? Metamorphosis, that's where we get the term 'transform,' metamorphoo. Typically we use the word metamorphosis in the English language to speak of physical change. The idea is total change. When a caterpillar turns into a butterfly it's a metamorphoo a total, total change, okay.
Mark in his Gospel and also Matthew uses this vary word to speak of Jesus who is transfigured before them on the Mount of Transfiguration his raymond was white like the sun. He used the term, a metamorphosis is a complete change. The idea is that you change in your character from the value system of the world to the image of Christ.
Now here's Paul's thinking. As a Christian you are following one of two value systems, you are being molded, conformed to the standards of this world, the values of this world, what the world deems is important, you are following what the world deems is important, you are molded and shaped by that whole construct or you are being changed from that into the image of Christ.
You either think like the world or you think like Christ, your values are worldly or they are Christ like. That's what he does here in this section.
And he does so generally and specifically. And I am going to sum up something now, so follow me along here, generally and specifically.
Generally you present your body to God. Here is my body God, do whatever You want with me. I am Yours God, that's the general part of it. And then as you do that, He transforms your thinking, your mind gets changed, that's generally. Now specifically, he says what that means, is that you present yourself to the world to be a representative of God and to witness to them, and you present yourself to the body of Christ to serve them, that's what he does in this section.
So I am going to skip ahead to chapters 14 and 15 and read just two verses because what Paul does -- hold on, back up. You present yourself to God, here is the practical part, He changes your thinking. This includes your relationship to society and to secular government that's chapter 13. It also includes your relationship to each other in the body of Christ, the church, that's chapter 14 and 15. I am going to skip chapter 13, take you to 14 and 15, okay.
What Paul does in 14 and 15 is identifies two groups of Christians. One group he calls strong Christians, the other group he calls weak Christians. When he says strong Christians he doesn't mean guys who go to the gym and lift weights; I'm a strong Christian, because he can be a moral light-weight and be a physical heavy-weight because he is just thinking about muscle. It's funny; I asked a guy one time, "Hey, what do you do with all those muscles?" He went [Skip shows his muscles]. Hey, I saw that, what you do with them? [Laughter, Skip shows his muscles] Yeah, but what you do with them? See, it was all about show, not go, just about looking a certain way.
He calls a certain group of Christians strong and certain ones weak. The weak ones are the legalists and they believe that you have to really watch what you eat, you have to really watch what days you worship on because this is really, really important. He calls that the scruples of the weak, that's their conscience. They have really have a moral conviction about those things.
So he tells the strong, "Don't upset them, don't be so full of liberty just because you are strong and have a broader understanding of scripture and Christian liberty to stumble those who are weak; who are legalistic and narrow-minded. You've got a love and put up with the weak. Not just flaunch your liberty around. So look at chapter 14, verse 1, "Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things." And he describe those disputes over doubtful things in chapter 14.
Now look at chapter 15, verse 1, "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves." Whatever the convictions are of the weak Christian they maybe right or they maybe wrong as an older stronger believer. You sometimes need to correct, need to admonish, other times you need to just put up with it. And let that be their conviction. Oh I think Saturday is the only day to worship.
God bless you! Worship on Saturday, do that. I don't believe that a Christian should listen to that kind of loud music. God bless you! Don't listen to it, and I am not going to turn on my radio real loud in front of your face just to show you my liberty. I will do it a couple of blocks away, but not here, or eating meat that's sacrificed to idol, all of that can cover that.
Chapter 16, I love chapter 16. Just, just peruse it for a second, notice what it is. It's a very extensive list of names. You say, that's sort of boring to me. I don't know these names. It's boring to you but if your name is in that list, not boring to you because you made it in the Bible, it's really cool. Here's 26 names that Paul lists. He writes down, gives greetings. Here's the thing, he has never visited Rome before ever, but he is very well-connected. He must have heard of people and gotten news about them and he gives his personal greetings to 26 people, some are Jews, some are Gentile, some are nobility, some are slaves, some are males, some are females.
Thirteen of the names in chapter 16 are current documents, other documents that deal with the Emperor's palace. They have been found in the documents the deal with Caesar's household, his palace, which means some among the royal family or connected with the royal family were believers, were Christians. See, this is why a prison ministry is so needed.
Paul, that was his ministry, last part of his life, he has a prison ministry. He's locked up and there's people like the people in Philippi going, I can't believe Paul got put in jail, it must not be the will of God because if he was in the will of God he wouldn't be in jail. Paul goes, time out, I want you to know what's happened to me has happened for the furtherance of the Gospel.
There is people in the prison that are coming to Christ and some of them are Caesar's household. That's what he writes when he gets to Rome later on and he is imprisoned. And we see that through his whole life. He saw his imprisonment as something by the sovereign will of God.
Something else to note about this chapter; 9 out of the 26 that are mentioned here are women. That's important because you know Paul has gotten in a bad wrap, and some of it is from women's group, who say, "Paul was a chauvinist." Oh really? He mentions not only women 9 by name but he talks about what hard workers they were and how important they were to the ministry.
There is no chauvinistic, not a bone in his body was a male chauvinist bone. Verse 1, "I commend to you Phoebe our sister [she tops the list] who is a servant [the Greek word, she is a deacon, a deaconess] of the church of Cenchrea that you may receive her in the Lord, in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you. For indeed she has been a helper of many, and of myself also."
See the word 'helper,' prostatis, it means a benefactor, somebody who is wealthy and gives their money to fund something. No doubt Phoebe was a rich girl, fell in love with Jesus, saw what Paul was doing and she said, "You know what, I am going to underwrite your ministry. Here is a big check for you Paul. I want you to do is to preach the Gospel, a helper in the ministry."
Verse 22, "I" notice what it says not "I Paul," "I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord."
No, wait a minute, is this a contradiction? Because the first part of the book says, "Paul wrote it." Then, there is a guy, he says, "Here I am. I am Tertius, I wrote the book." Who is Tertius? He was an amanuensis. He was a secretary. He is a guy who took dictation. Paul didn't sit down with a pen, he spoke it. It was oral, it was audible, and then it was written down.
Galatians chapter 6 toward the end, Paul says, "See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand." That is what we think. We think that Paul did Galatians, like he put together Romans. He dictated it. Somebody wrote it down an amanuensis. But toward the end of Galatians, he got his own pen and he started writing just his concluding remarks; just a verse or two. Large letters, he had to write really big because his eyes were bad; is the idea. We don't know what happened to his eyes; there's a lot of conjecture. It's my belief that perhaps when he was at derby and he was stoned and thought to be dead, caught up into the third Heaven perhaps also at that time, that it impaired his vision for the rest of his life; he couldn't see after that. He saw double or he just didn't see clearly and so he had to write large letters.
Now, let's close verse 24 through 27 and we will pray. This is the most extensive and eloquent benediction of all of Paul's letters.
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, Amen!" Amen doesn't mean I am done because he goes on.
"Now, to Him who is able to establish you according to my Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began. But now it's been manifest and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations according to the commandment of the everlasting God for obedience to faith, to God alone, wise, be glory. To God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever." Now, he says, 'Amen' again and that means Amen! I am done. Thank you Paul!
I commend to you the book called Pilgrim's Progress, which takes figuratively the idea of Romans, a man consigned under the wrath of God who experiences the grace of God and follows the plan and the will of God leaves the city of destruction, is redeemed and goes to the celestial city; a book that Charles Haden Spurgeon read twice every year. Read it at least once in your lifetime and see how it fits into the book of Romans.
You should know this too. The Bishop of Constantinople in the third century, a guy by the name of John Chrysostom had the book of Romans read to him once every week for 18 years. Because he said, this is it. I've got to master this. Also one of my favorite other dead guys named Martin Lloyd-Jones spent 14 years preaching through the book of Romans in his church at Westminster Chapel in London, and he didn't finish before he resigned from that pulpit, he had to finish it later and it's in written form, several commentaries, talk about an exhaustive commentary. But the idea is, everybody agrees this is the heart, this is the principle, this tells the whole story of God's plan from beginning to end. It's the Gospel of Grace, the righteousness of God, not through works, not through religion, not through moralistic behavior, but through faith, you are justified, you are atoned for and propitiation, redeemed, and eventually glorified, the whole entire plan. Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, we close tonight this wonderful book; just barely scratched the surface, talked really about it; didn't really get much into it. But we are able to see how it's constructed, why it's constructed, and how Paul masterfully weaves in promises and scripture from the Old into the New Testament. To show that it really was indeed in your mind, a part of your plan from eternity past, all of scripture has one main subject and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank You Father for the life of Paul; we thank You Lord for the truth that all have sinned, that there's none righteous in Your sight, not one, that we are all abiding under the wrath of God. People aren't basically good, that all people are depraved and basically evil and must be redeemed. Unless we understand that we will never understand the meaning of Gospel, good news. The good news is that freedom that would redeem, buy back a slave from a position of being utterly cast out. It is what Jesus is willing to do for each one of us; to forgive, to acquit, to declare righteous.
Lord, I pray, if anyone here has come tonight and has not cast themselves upon You as one poor in spirit, one mourning over their condition and needing salvation if there are those who have come, who haven't come that way, acknowledging their sinfulness and the need of your forgiveness but their desire tonight is to be saved, to be washed, to be set free, to have hope and purpose and enter into a relationship with You, Lord, we pray that You would bring conviction to those hearts and draw them by Your Holy Spirit to Your son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It's in His name we pray, Amen!
Let's all stand up; we're going to sing a final song. As we sing this song; I'm going to ask you, if you haven't received Jesus Christ personally, authentically; if you really haven't done this yet, I'm glad you've come to church but I want you do to more if you haven't come to Christ; I want you to come to Him tonight. You come just as you are and you ask Him to take you as you are and forgive you as you are and He'll make you His child, His son or daughter. So we'll sing this last song; I'm going to ask you if you're willing to do that or if you need to make a recommitment to Christ. I'm going to ask you to get up from where you're standing and come right up here in the front; where I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ; start a whole new life; stuff that Paul wrote about. As we sing you come, come right now and we'll meet you right up front, come right up now. Pray to receive Jesus; we'll wait for you, we'll wait for you but come. Don't hesitate, don't put this off. [Clapping -- Music]
God bless you [clapping -- Music] what's your name? [Clapping -- Music] What's your name? God bless you. [Clapping -- Music] [Music playing]
Some have struggled with different sins, occupations, things you've done, you've been involved in, you really long to be set free. [Clapping -- Music] You'd loved to know that, you've loved to know that if you were to die or when you are to die that you would go to heaven, you want to know that and more then that you want to live with joy, freedom, purpose, and enjoy the will of God. God is calling you to a complete life change; He's not asking you to add God to your already busy life; He's asking you to come to God, and make God the very center of everything you do and are. It's called repentance in the Bible, you turn from and you turn to and you let Him transform, metamorphosis, a total change. He wants to do that inside of you. Is there anybody else that is willing to take that offer? As we close this service you come right now. [Music playing - Clapping] What's your name? Steve. Steve, I'm Skip, God bless you. What's your name? I'm glad you came up man.
Now those of you who have come forward, I'd like to lead you in a prayer okay. This is how; this is how we do it. I'm going to ask you to pray. I'm going to ask you, to ask Jesus into your heart because you're the one in the driver seat right now of your life; you're the only one to make this choice. So I'm going to help by leading you in a prayer. I'm going to pray it out loud; I'd like you to pray it out loud after me from your heart to the Lord. Let's do it. Lord I give you my life, I know that I'm a sinner, please forgive me, I place my trust in Jesus Christ who died on the cross and rose from the dead, I turn from my sin, I turn to You, I receive You, Jesus, as my Savior and my Lord. Help me to live for You, in Jesus' name. Amen.