Archive for February, 2010


Something happened to change the life of the human dynamo known as Saul. Sure, he had a dramatic encounter on the road to Damascus. Sure, he saw and heard the risen Jesus Christ. Sure, his eyes were blinded, he was helpless, his pride was desroyed, but was that enough to change the life of this zealot of zealots? In the first seventeen verses of Romans, Paul reveals the foundation of his life, the foundation of what every Christian should know. In these 17 verses are 18 Jewels that should form the foundation of our faith, faith that will keep us strong in the Lord.

Here are the jewels that made up the foundation of Paul’s new life in Jesus Christ:

1.  Paul, Bond-Slave to the King of Kings!

In writing to a church which he had never visited, Paul declares his highest office as bond-slave, (doulos). The case classification is genitive of possession, which means Paul is proud of the fact that he is a slave belonging to his Lord. This was obviously a muted reference to those individuals in the Roman empire designated “Slaves of the Emperor.” As they considered their position one of honor, so did Paul consider that he was a slave of the King of Kings. He puts this ahead of his apostleship. He knew that he was no longer his own man. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 he explains: You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

We are not our own, and Paul was proud of that fact. Instead of seeing Christianity as a system of do’s and don’ts, he saw it as the privilege of privileges. His was a position of honor.

Who you are in life is largely a result of how you see yourself. We tend to value our life on the basis of our job, our possessions, our influence, our friends, our activities. Paul saw his value by Whose he was. He was a servant of the King of Kings. Who are you? When you lay in bed at night, do you fret about your health, the things you need to do, the things you didn’t do? If you are a slave of the King of Kings, you have no rights over tomorrow, over your body, over your job. He has total control. There is no need to fret, no need to worry, no need to be concerned. Only the need to praise Him, draw closer to Him, wait patiently upon Him.

Jewel #1: Focus on Whose We Are

2.  Paul Was an “Apostle Called”

He was a slave first, an apostle second. The adjective comes from the verb kaleō, “to call” in the sense here of “to call to assume an office.” Paul was a called apostle in the sense that God summoned him to that position and placed him in it. Most translations say called to be an apostle, but actually the Greek simply says (κλητὸς ἀπόστολος) “kletos apostolos”, called apostle. Paul heard the call of Christ on the Damascus Road, and in answering that call and seeing His Savior, he was placed as one of Christ’s Apostles. He took the place of the son of perdition-Judas.

Jewel #2: Realize that We are Who We are by Design. We are Never an “Accident”!

So Paul heard the call and answered it with a “YES I WILL!” But what changed this violent, self-possessed Saul into the Apostle Paul who epitomized selfless love and sacrifice for the sake of His King? To become the slave Apostle of the one he admittedly wanted crucified?

3.  Paul Allowed Himself to be “Set Apart” INTO the Gospel of God!

  • But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, Galatians 1:15 (ESV)
  • But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Acts 9:15 (ESV)

Paul became a chosen instrument, a chosen vessel for Jesus Christ! Was he forced to comply on the Damascus Road? It may seem that way. Blinded by a strange light, hearing a strange voice-he could have resisted and kept on kicking against the Lord. Or he could have made a profession, but inwardly resented the Jesus. In any case we never would have heard from old Paul again. He would have been a pothole on the pavement of life.

But something happened to this fiery little dynamo. All his training, his intelligence, his passion for the Law and the ways of the Jews melted away when he gazed upon the one whom he had been persecuting. Yes, Paul was made to realize that he had not only been maiming and murdering ‘Christians’, but he had been doing the same to the very Son of God, the Messiah whom he professed to love so much.

We can’t begin to fathom what the Holy Spirit was doing in those three days after his experience on the road to Damascus. But whatever it was, when Saul gave his life to Jesus Christ, he was changed completely. He was a new man, he was set apart no longer to just Jehovah. He was set apart into the GOSPEL of GOD! (ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον Θεοῦ (aphōrismenos eis euangelion Theo).

Jewel #3: Realize we are Set Apart Into God’s Gospel

The word for set apart [aphōrismenos (aphorizmo)] pictures marking an area with boundaries, with a wall or fence. The Gospel of God is a natural divider of man. It will be the divider in the end times. Jesus told his disciples “So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous” Matthew 13:49 (ESV). You may think that what you believe does not matter to God. Your sincerity is what is important. No that is a Lie of Satan. You must believe “INTO THE GOSPEL”.  Your belief separates you from the world, from Satan or it will separate you from God and all of His goodness. Your UNBELIEF separates you from the GOOD SAYING of GOD. Your UNBELIEF separates you from all that is good from God. Your BELIEF brings you into His presence, into His sweetness.

Are you living as though you were separated INTO God?

4.  Paul Realized that the Gospel IS God!

Separated into not “the”, not “a”, but simply separated into Gospel of God. Normally Paul puts a little article in front of Gospel (as we’ll see in verse 9 and 16)

Here Paul’s emphasis is not on the specific proclamation of the life of Jesus, but in the Gospel representing the QUALITY of God Himself. This is a key point to consider if you are a converted Jew wondering about how the Gospel relates to the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In this one statement Paul reveals to Jew and Gentile alike that the Gospel is God, His good saying, His Goodness, His character, His Life. The Gospel is not just a collection of really pithy teachings from an untrained rabbi who suffered a martyr’s death. The Gospel is God. The same way you speak of God is the same way you speak of Gospel. They are one and the same! The Gospel is God’s eú (good, well), and aggéllō, (to proclaim, tell), or “good proclamation”. We have come to say “Good News” but originally it referred to the good message of God.

Paul was telling the Jews and the Gentiles in Rome that the Gospel is the Message of God. It is His “Good Message”. The Gospel reveals the character and the quality of Jehovah God. You cannot separate the two.

Just as the Jews enjoyed the “Covenantal Blessing” of Jehovah, the message now is that through the “Covenantal Relationship” of Jesus Christ, we not only enjoy God’s Blessing, but we enjoy God’s Presence, God’s Life, God’s Power, God’s Indwelling, God’s Favor, God’s Never Failing Love. And what is so Great about this Message is that it is all ours because of Jesus Christ. There is NOTHING we do to earn any of it. Just as the Jews enjoyed God’s Blessing by birth, so do we enjoy God’s Everything by belief and life yielding faith in Jesus Christ! We enjoy so much more than the Jews, for our is not just a “blessed life”, Our is a “New Life”, and indeed, it is an “Abundant Life!”

The Gospel of God is eternal, and one day this world will hear it proclaimed from heaven:

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with Gospel Eternal to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” Revelation 14:6-7 (ESV)

Jewel #4: The Gospel Reveals the Eternal God INTO our Lives.

If we are separated into God’s Gospel, God becomes the indweller and the possessor of our souls.

NOTE: Paul Answered the Call and was Set Apart because he found a Greater POWER than himself.

I believe the main reason that Paul gave his life to Jesus Christ is that he discovered that Christ’s power was greater than his own. Paul saw himself as a winner. He was determined to be on the winning side. He was the most determined, disciplined, zealous Pharisee in the entire  Jewish kingdom. No one possessed his passion for the Law. He could not tolerate these ‘Christians’! He was determined to wipe them from the face of the earth.

When he met Jesus Christ, he surrendered, not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He knew it was foolish to keep kicking against the goads. Christ was the conqueror, the victor, and Paul realized that. I believe he reveals the reason he became set apart in verse 16, when he declares this Gospel to be the Power (dunamis) of GOD for salvation. If you know anything about the power of sin, and of satan, and of death, they don’t begin to compare with the Power of the Gospel of God!

The Hope of Tiger Woods in Buddhism

As much as I admired Tiger Woods and his public confession on Friday, when he said he was returning to his Buddhist roots, I realized that there would be no salvation for Tiger Woods. He is doomed to repeat his mistakes, because Buddhism is a religion of self-enlightenment. There is no God, no judgment, no sin in Buddhism. Buddhists do not owe allegiance to a supernatural being. There is no Savior in Buddhism. All a Buddhist can do is seek refuge in the Buddha as a guide, but not seek to be purified in the Buddha. The Buddha does not have the power to wash away sins. The liberation of self is the responsibility of one’s own self. Buddhism places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving.

Tiger by sheer will power may turn his life around. Yet he knows nothing of the Power of God. I believe that if Paul had wanted to learn golf, he had enough discipline and will power to be the greatest golfer of his time. Yet even this mighty dynamo of a man knew that he had met his match when he came face to face with the Power of God’s Gospel.

  1. There is no almighty God in Buddhism. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgment Day.
  2. Buddhism is strictly not a religion in the context of being a faith and worship owing allegiance to a supernatural being.
  3. No savior concept in Buddhism. A Buddha is not a savior who saves others by his personal salvation. Although a Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha as his incomparable guide who indicates the path of purity, he makes no servile surrender. A Buddhist does not think that he can gain purity merely by seeking refuge in the Buddha or by mere faith in Him. It is not within the power of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others
  4. A Buddha is not an incarnation of a god/God (as claimed by some Hindu followers). The relationship between a Buddha and his disciples and followers is that of a teacher and student.
  5. The liberation of self is the responsibility of one’s own self. Buddhism does not call for an unquestionable blind faith by all Buddhist followers. It places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving.

5. Paul Saw the Gospel as the Promise of God

God’s Eternal Gospel has been promised from the very heart of God since time began. The blood runs through every chapter of the Old Testament. The prophets told of His coming in with 360 separate prophecies. They were all written over 500 years prior to Jesus birth. Jesus Christ was very God and very Man, born at the exact time in history to fulfill the Word of God! Satan could do nothing to stop Him, delay Him, thwart Him. God’s purpose established before time began came to fruition and there was nothing that could stop it.  You may be thinking that Jesus was just a good man, maybe even a truly great man, but if He has not shaken you to the core of your being, you are a dead man, because only Jesus Christ has the Power of God unto YOUR salvation. You may be like JOCO JOE, content with what you have and who you are, but if you are not Jesus Christ’s, then you are a dead man, you are nothing.

Jewel #5: God Fulfills His Promises, for He cannot lie.

6.  Paul Knew the Power of the Resurrection

Paul says that Jesus Christ was declared to be the Son of God in POWER when God Raised Him from the dead! That’s right! Jesus is alive! We are not talking Elvis here. We are talking the real deal! Jesus Christ lives and rules at the Right Hand of God almighty. Paul himself could testify to the reality of Jesus resurrection. I’m sure that when Jesus spoke to him on the Damascus Road, he flashed back to Stephen, looking to the right hand of God as the stones came crashing upon him. I know he could hear Stephen’s voice as if it was yesterday: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:56 (ESV)

Jewel #6: Meditate each day on the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

Assure yourself that Jesus Christ is the very Son of God, declared to be so by the very power of the Resurrection. Meditate on the fact that He reigns today at the right hand of His Father. Meditate on the fact that he ever lives to make intercession for you. Meditate that as the Son of God, what He says matters. His Name is above every other name. He will one day rule the nations, He will be the supreme judge of all nations, and yes, you and me. Jesus tells us that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life! No one, no matter who you are, no matter what you have, can get to the Father unless Jesus is your Savior!

vs 5,6: “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,”

7.  Paul Knew that he had Received Grace with his Apostleship.

Paul “lambano” received both grace and his apostleship at the same time. He received them the second he said Lord, and the scales fell from his eyes. The second he said yes to Jesus Christ, he received his office of apostle and the grace to fulfill those responsibilities. God never leaves his children floundering. He never calls them without a purpose and without power to accomplish that purpose.

Paul received grace, “charis” or the power of God which he did not deserve and the apostleship or “special commission” to carry out that grace! Paul learned that when God has a job for us to do, it must not be done in our own strength, but it requires the Power of God, His “grace”. This Christian life is no longer up to you. God’s grace is immediate, His commission is at once. That doesn’t mean there is no preparation. As in my case, God’s Grace and calling were immediate. My preparation took thirty years. With Paul and with Jesus, it took 3 years. With Moses it took 40 years. With Joshua it took 40 years. Just because you are not doing what you believe God has called you to do does not mean that you will never do it, or that you have been passed over because of some sin. It just means you may need a longer preparation than others. It means God may have a different path for you. But do not chuck it away and think that God could never use you. God delights in using broken vessels.

Why didn’t God use someone like the Apostle John to preach to the Gentiles? John was with Jesus the whole way. He never forsook him. He was beloved. He had his place, but it was ministering to the Jewish converts. God needed someone special to undertake the ministry to the Gentiles. God needed someone who was broken, who, because of his brokenness, would be willing to experience all that Paul suffered, and then say bring it on God! I will gladly suffer more! Anything, that I might know this blessed Jesus more! Let me know the ‘fellowship of His sufferings!’

Jewel #7: Realize that God Never Leaves His Children Powerless, but will Always Empower you to Accomplish His Calling upon Your Life!

8.   Paul Realized that Obedience and Faith are Eternally Intertwined.

Paul was joyful to experience any suffering for the sake of one thing – to bring about obedience by faith for the sake of Jesus Christ. As Wuest says: Obedience of faith is the obedience which characterizes and proceeds from faith. “it always refers to the faith which obeys God’s will…specifically subjection to the saving will of God revealed in Christ and referred to as obedience to the truth (1 Pet. 1:22); obedience of faith (in this verse and in Rom 16:26), and the unquestioning obedience that is demanded by Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

  • Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 1 Peter 1:22 (ESV)
  • We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV

Your faith means your eyes have been opened to see God, to see the truth of His ways, the truth of His Good Word, His Good News. When you truly see God and what He has for you and has done for you, it produces a change-a change in who you obey, who you value, who you listen to. If there was no change, or if God no longer matters to you -you need to do a heart check. Something is wrong. Being a Christian is not a 3 hour proposition. Being a Christian is a 24/7 deal. It results in a new willingness to OBEY GOD! Faith and Obedience are eternal.

Jewel #8: Obedience to God Flows from our Faith in Who He is and That His Word is Truth.

Without God’s Gospel possessing our heart,  our good works are as filthy rags of self-righteousness. Obedience flows from a heart possessed of the vision of a living Son of God! Our faith results in becoming the “called” of Jesus Christ. Paul says these Roman saints were “the called of Jesus Christ.” Genitive of possession, “belonging to Jesus Christ.” Denney says, “They belonged to Him because they have heard and obeyed the gospel.”

9.  Paul Realizes We are God’s “Beloved Saints”

Paul addresses his letter “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints” The word is in the plural, “loved-ones of God,” and the word “God” is without the article, so it really should be translated “God’s loved-ones”. In addition to being beloved by God, we are “saints by way of call”, (kletos hagios). We are set apart ones because we heard and answered the call of God. Just as Paul was called to be an apostle, and set apart into the Gospel, so we who have answered His call are set apart into GOD. Hagios means holy, or sacred, and we are called to be sacred unto God. GOD LIVES IN US. We are immediately His when we are born again.  He immediately marks us with His seal, setting us apart.

That is why Paul can declare us to be “God’s loved ones!” You may come from a horrible background. You may have experience horrible pain and injustice, even from close family members. I have news for you-YOU ARE GOD”S LOVED ONE! Cry on His shoulders, wait for His touch. Remind Him you are sacred to Him, and trust in His provision for your life.

Jewel #9: No matter your Sin or your Sorrows, you are God’s Loved One, Set Apart as Sacred unto Him by His Call!

10.  Paul Knew the Way to Grace and Peace

Paul blesses his readers with the prayer for God’s Grace and Peace. But he reminds them that grace and peace are impossible unless they are form God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. In this simple greeting Paul reveals that we will never know and experience God’s Grace (power) unless we depend upon Him as a child does his father. He is our Father God.

He also reveals we will never know true Peace unless we know Jesus Christ as our LORD! Jesus told His disciples these things that in HIM they might have peace. In the world there will have troubles and tribulations, but be of good courage (courage in the face of danger), for Our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered this world. (cf John 16:33)

Jewel #10: Grace and Peace Come to us as we Know God as our Father and Jesus as our Lord!

Do you feel God’s power in your daily life? Have you experienced bucket loads of His grace falling on you as a gentle rain? Then perhaps you do not know Him as your Father. Perhaps you are trying to live your life on your own, when daily you need to come to Him as your Father, and confess your need for Him, even for your daily bread.

Do you have Peace in your life? Do you pillow your head amidst the storms and heartache of life and yet smile yourself to sleep? DO you lie there basking in the warm glow of God’s presence and power? Then perhaps you know not Jesus Christ as your LORD! Perhaps you are looking to yourself and your own resources, and that is causing you to fret and worry! Go to sleep at night saying Jesus You are Lord, and soon your heart will know His peace.

  • Grace Is Power Where There Is Weakness
  • Peace Is Courage In The Face Of Danger and Despair

11.  Paul Knew that only Through Jesus do we have Access to God!

Paul declared “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you! One thing will become clear as we spend time in Romans: Paul knew that regardless of how righteous anyone may think they are, none of us can go directly to God to offer anything, not even thanksgiving! We must go through our Savior, Jesus Christ. We have no standing before God outside of Jesus Christ! That is why it is so important that we come to God though the righteousness that we have IN JESUS CHRIST! That is why we pray though His blood and by His Name! Paul revealed the reason why in 1 Timothy 2:25: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”.

Jewel #11: Never Think you are Good Enough to Approach God. Always Lean upon Jesus, for We are Accepted “In the Beloved”.

12.  Paul Knew the Key to Having Great Faith

Paul praises the Romans “because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.”(verse 8). If you remember, Roman leadership was not very tolerant of religions that believed in any King other than Caesar. They were experiencing persecution. In this Paul reveals a simple truth, faith does not become great when things are easy. Only when our backs are against the wall and we are needing help do we tend to look upward to see God! And that is what faith is-seeing God, the God of Power! The church at Rome had a reputation known throughout the world of faith in God in spite of the unfavorable political environment they were living. In fact, the growing hostility only fanned their numbers and their faith in the Son of God who suffered and died for them. Great faith is not born in times of comfort and ease. It is born in adversity and hardship. When most people shrink back and fall by the wayside, people of great faith keep going strong, because they are relying on Him who has all strength!

Hebrews 11 is all about people of Great Faith. The heroes of our faith were commended for their faith that enabled them to conquer obstacles-obstacles of persecution, death, disappointment, betrayal, heartache, loss of loved ones, loss of homes, possessions. Many of them died without ever seeing that which they hoped for. They died hated by the world, thought to be total losers, and yet see what God thought of them:

And what other examples shall I give? There is simply not time to continue by telling the stories of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jeptha; of David, Samuel and the prophets. Through their faith these men conquered kingdoms, ruled in justice and proved the truth of God’s promises. They shut the mouths of lions, they quenched the furious blaze of fire, they escaped from death itself. From being weaklings they became strong men and mighty warriors; they routed whole armies of foreigners. Some returned to their womenfolk from certain death, while others were tortured and refused to be ransomed, because they wanted to deserve a more honorable resurrection in the world to come. Others were exposed to the test of public mockery and flogging, and to the torture of being left bound in prison. They were killed by stoning, by being sawn in two; they were tempted by specious promises of release and then were killed with the sword. Many became refugees with nothing but sheepskins or goatskins to cover them. They lost everything and yet were spurned and ill-treated by a world that was too evil to see their worth. They lived as vagrants in the desert, on the mountains, or in caves or holes in the ground. All these won a glowing testimony to their faith, but they did not then and there receive the fulfillment of the promise. God had something better planned for our day, and it was not his plan that they should reach perfection without us. Hebrews 11:32-39 (Phillips NT)

Jewel #12: People of Great Faith Live with Eternity in their Heart and God in their Sights.

13.  Paul Knew the Secret of Service to God

Paul declared he served God with his spirit in the gospel of His Son. The word for serve is latreuō – which is spiritual service, worship. Paul was a very fleshly man, strong-willed, stubborn, passionate, driven. Yet he came to realize that service to God must be spiritual, not fleshly. He will share later on in chapter 8 how we must walk in the Holy Spirit. He says:

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8

No one can truly serve God in his flesh. Sure, our flesh is involved, but our motivation and strength must be in our spirit as it is refreshed and strengthened and empowered by God’s Spirit!

Service is nothing more than directed worship. And Jesus said an amazing truth-that to worship God we must do so in spirit and in truth. Paul involves this in his declaration. He serves God with his spirit in the gospel of His Son. The gospel is the TRUTH, which Jesus told Pilate he came to declare. So Paul confirms what Jesus told the woman at the well, his service was from his spirit and in the truth of the Gospel.

Paul knew all too well that the Priests who served God night and day were not allowed to wear anything that would cause them to sweat (Ezekiel 44:18). Sweat is the curse upon men who must labor to get provisions. When Adam and Eve walked with God they did not sweat. The ground yielded up an abundance of food without effort. Adam could spend hours without getting tired. That is because he labored in his spirit, not in the flesh. His spirit was the driving force of his life. Man was created a living soul controlled by the Spirit. Adam was able to walk with God!

After the fall Adam became flesh. The flesh became the driving force of his life. Sweat was the by-product. Sweat is a reminder that we are fleshly beings, under the curse of sin. Paul realized that if he was to serve God, his service required two things: a strong spirit, and a firm dependence upon the Words of Christ – the Gospel of God’s Son.

Jewel #13: Grow Mighty in Spirit with the Truth of God’s Word.

Because Paul was strong in spirit, he was strong in prayer, praying without ceasing for the Church at Rome. Before the Resurrection, the disciples could not pray for more than an hour in the Garden of Gethsemane. After the Resurrection, they were praying for days until the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost!

Service to God should never be undertaken solely because you had some fantastic emotional experience. You may even be all goose-bumply and teary-eyed when you think about God. That is great, but at some point the goose-bumps will stop and your eyes will dry up. Learn to worship Him in Spirit and Truth. Jesus is the truth! Know the Word-Know the Gospel of Jesus! His Word is to be the foundation of your service, not you emotions. Emotions fade, but the Word of God stands forever! It’s great to go to meetings where we get all teary eyed or all pumped up, but grab some Word! Get your heart in the Word of God!

14.  Paul Realized that we Depend upon each other for Strength and Encouragement

Paul told the Romans “I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you” not because he thought he was holier than they, but so “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. The purpose of the gifts is that they would become established in their Christian character and service. Paul is not trying to set himself above them, but only show his concern for the work of the Gospel. Paul knew this amazing truth about Christians- when one of us grows, we all benefit.

There is no benefit to the church when only the Pastor or a select few people seem to have all the ‘godliness’ in the church. No, Christ wants to fill the whole body with His grace. He wants all of us to grow in Him, because when we do, we benefit each other.

The purpose of the impartation of these gifts was that they might be established both in their Christian character and their service. That establishment was not up to Paul. It is out of Paul’s hands and placed squarely where it belongs – in God’s! It is God who establishes us in Christ. Never rely on man except as an encouragement.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

(God) comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:17 (ESV)

Jewel #14: We Complete Me! The Mutual Benefit of Growth

Paul quickly mentioned that his desire to see them strengthened was not so much a prideful thing as it was a benefit for him. He says he would be “sumparakaléō”. King James says ‘comforted together with you.’ It means to be strengthened with each other. Christianity is a mutual ministry whereby we are all strengthened as we grow stronger together.

I depend upon you as much as you depend upon me. When you are established I am encouraged and strengthened –  We Complete Me! It is never me completing you!

15.  Paul Knows that Christians are Designed to Bear Fruit

Paul had a world-wide vision. He wished to bear fruit among the citizens of Rome as well as “among other Gentiles.” Jesus said “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit”. John 15:2. God wants His children to bear fruit. We were saved to do good works, for that is the essence of the Gospel, and the revelation of the nature of God! If we don’t have desire to bear fruit, we won’t. Paul had fruit ever before Him. Every day he sought fruit. Even when he found himself chained up in prison, he was after fruit. Guards, visitors, anyone, all heard about this Jesus!

Jewel #15: Seek to be that Tree Planted by Streams of Water that Yields its Fruit in its Season, and its Leaf does not Wither.

16.  Paul was the Eager Debtor

Paul exclaimed that he was under obligation(a debtor) both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. (Romans 1:14-15) The word “debtor” (opheiletēs ) means to owe, to be obligated, to be bound by duty. The Greek is impossible to translate into English, for two ideas are being expressed by Paul. He was a “debtor”…because Christ had done so much for him (saved him) and because Christ had called him to preach (given him a task to do).

This indebtedness was deeply felt by Paul. The idea is that it was intense, unwavering, relentless, powerful. The sense of debt just would not let Paul go. He was compelled to preach the gospel; therefore, he could do nothing else. He was obligated and duty-bound to preach it. He actually felt that he owed the gospel to the world; therefore, if he kept quiet, it would be worse than knowing the cure for the most terrible disease of history and refusing to share it.

He made a contrast between the Greeks and the Barbarians. He meant that he owed the gospel to all nationalities and cultures, to all the peoples of the earth whether civilized or uncivilized, industrialized or primitive, rich or poor.

With Paul it was never half-way. Because of this great debt he owed, he had to give Jesus everything! Paul was an “ALL IN” kind of guy. When he was persecuting the Christian Jews, he did it with all his heart, seeking to put ALL Christians in chains. But now that he was a Christian, he is obliged to preach the Gospel to every man and women, boy and girl on the earth. He wants ALL to be saved!

Jewel #16: Realize you owe Jesus Christ EVERYTHING, so don’t hold anything back, but with Eagerness of Heart Serve Him!

17.  Paul realized the Great Power of the Gospel

Paul knew something that so many of us do not realize. The Gospel that is God’s Good Proclamation is so much more than a ticket to heaven. The Gospel saved us from this evil world. The Gospel is power to Live. The Gospel is power over sin. The Gospel is power over Satan. The Gospel is Power! Power! Power!

We look at the stars and the planets and think of how much power it took to create all this. Yet God’s Word makes an amazing declaration. All of creation was only “finger play” to God! As David declares: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place!”(Psalm 8:3)

Wow! All of creation took only the fingers of God! Yet by comparison, God’s Word declares that when it came to saving you and me from sin, it took nothing less than the mighty arm of God! Isaiah writes: “Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? (when speaking of our salvation)-Isaiah 53:1.

The power that gives us new life, that redeems us, that regenerates us, that makes us a child of God is greater than all the power it took to create the universe! This is such an awesome thought to wrap our brains around!

No wonder Paul was not embarrassed to tell everyone about Jesus Christ. He was possessor of the greatest power in the universe-the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Should we not also be so bold! Do we not possess the same power!

Could this be a glimpse of what he wrote in Ephesians: “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” Ephesians 1:19-20.

Jewel #17: Realize the Great Power that Flows in our Lives through the Gospel of Christ!

Creation cost God very little; redemption cost God His only Son. It took the power of God to transform Saul (the chief persecutor) into Paul (the chief apostle). It takes the power of God to save and transform any sinner. That power is ours everyday to overcome whatever comes our way!

Paul encourages us to see what we have and thereby “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:12-14

Only Jesus Christ has the power to transform lives from the inside out! The gospel can save us, forgive us, & bring us into the family of God!

18.  Paul Knew the Power of Faith

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:1-17 (ESV)

Paul saw that only by possessing the righteousness of God can we be righteousness. There was no way man could earn that righteousness. There was no way man could be righteous. Paul saw that Christ had secured our righteousness through His blood and His death on the cross. Only by belief in the Gospel of Christ can we be made righteous. That belief is the foundation of our faith, which opens our eyes to God and the righteousness He provided for us through His Son Jesus Christ. Faith is born in our belief, and belief is made possible through faith. This righteousness that we have in Jesus Christ is revealed from faith to faith. As we have faith, we believe, and as we believe, we have faith! Trials come our way, doubts may bombard us, but we progress from faith to faith, ever beholding the righteousness we have in Jesus Christ!

We are not just in ourselves! We are made just in Jesus Christ! Those that “believe” in verse 16, are the same ones who live by “faith” in verse 17. The words are basically the same: pisteuo and pistis. They both have the idea of faith, believing, having faith in, trusting in.

It is the same word in Greek, “faith” being the noun form, “believe” the verb. To believe is to have faith, to have faith is to believe.

Jewel #18: We Grow in Faith as We Walk in the Truth. We Walk in the Truth as we grow in Faith. From Faith to Faith

  • Justification is God’s gracious act by which He declares the believing sinner righteous in Jesus Christ because of the work of Christ on the cross.
  • A righteous standing before God leads to a holy life before men.
  • We are not saved by works or by faith plus works; we are saved by a faith that works.

The believer’s righteousness in Christ means that our acceptance & worth before God cannot be earned…but only received. And on this very verse Martin Luther realized that all his efforts to work his way to God had been futile. He found the very righteousness of God granted to him in Christ!

Chose the Power You Will Obey

The Power of God vs The Power of the Individual

The gospel of Rome has long since faded from the scene. No one celebrates the birth or enthronement of a Caesar, as they did in the First Century. Other gospels, too, have come and gone. The gospel of God has outlasted has outlasted them all.

Rival gospels surface in every age and in every place. Each gospel makes an announcement and tells a story. The gospel of the 21st Century declares that the individual is lord. It is nothing new, for man has always tried to stand against God, beginning with the Tower of Babel.

The gospel of the individual is preached to us every day, 24 hours a day, over the airwaves, on the internet, in the workplace, on the campus and in the marketplace. “Don’t worry about what God thinks,” the preachers of our age tell us. “We determined long ago that if he exists at all, somewhere up in heaven, he doesn’t really care about what happens on earth. If he cares at all, don’t you think he wants you to have your own way?”

Nineteenth Century British poet William Ernest Henley wrote these lines from “Invictus”: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

The gospel of God confronts the gospel of the individual, just as it confronted the gospel of Rome.

  • Do You KNOW the Power of the Gospel?
  • Do You KNOW the Power of the New Life in Christ?

The resurrection of Jesus means this: He is Lord, and you are not. Are you willing to make Him your Lord? Are you willing to believe in the Gospel of God which alone is able to save you?

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“The epistle to the Romans is the true masterpiece of the New Testament and the very purest gospel, which is well worth and deserving that a Christian man should not only learn it by heart, word for word, but also that he should daily deal with it as the daily bread of men’s souls. It can never be too much or too well read or studied, and the more it is handled the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes” (Martin Luther).

Paul wrote this letter about 56 A. D. when he was in the city of Corinth, before his trip to Jerusalem. Written to a church he hoped to visit soon. Paul had not yet visited the church in Rome. He wanted to go there and he prayed that God would make this visit possible (Rom. 1:10-12; 15:23-24). This makes the letter to the Romans unique. Most of Paul’s other letters were written to churches where he had personally ministered. But here was a church (the church at Rome) where Paul had not been and where Paul had not taught.

So the Book of Romans was preparation for when Paul would arrive in Rome.

Here in the book of Romans Paul gives a doctrinal preview of the content of his teaching ministry. What Paul unfolds in these 16 chapters is nothing less than a doctrinal masterpiece.

  • What is being a Christian all about?
  • What are the central truths of Christianity?
  • What is the gospel really?
  • What formed the foundation of Apostle Paul’s preaching wherever he went?

Influence of Romans

To find the answer to all these questions we turn to the greatest doctrinal book in the New Testament — the epistle of Paul to the Romans.

A group of scholars once made a list of the fifteen greatest books, books that were great based upon their beneficial influence upon humanity. Included in this list were John Wesley’sJournal, Luther’s 95 Theses, Augustine’s City of God and John Bunyan‘s Pilgrim’s Progress.

  • As his Journal reveals, Wesley was an unsaved preacher until he read the book of Romans and understood God’s way of salvation.
  • Luther, a Catholic monk, was greatly influenced by Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith,” which opened his eyes to the truth of justification by faith.
  • Augustine’s City of God was founded on his study of the Book of Romans.
  • Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress was written after reading the Book of Romans in prison.  It became the best selling book of all time, next to the Bible.

Among the greatest books of the world, four which come near the top of the list were all directly influenced by the Book of Romans.

Has the Book of Romans changed your life? When was the last time you read through Romans?

Although Paul knows many of the people to whom he is writing, he did not found the church, and he has never been to Rome. So he has some work to do in the first 17 verses to introduce himself and his agenda. The “gospel” ties together Romans 1:1-17, and, indeed, the entire letter. In the introduction, Paul features both the content and the power of the gospel that unites Jewish and Gentile believers in Rome.

The object of the apostle in writing to this church was to explain to them the great doctrines of the gospel. His epistle was a “word in season.” Himself deeply impressed with a sense of the value of the doctrines of salvation, he opens up in a clear and connected form the whole system of the gospel in its relation both to Jew and Gentile.

Preparation for the Journey

Whenever I take a trip, I like to prepare myself so I can make the most of my time in the place I’m going. There are three things which you should study about your destination if you are to get the most of your time there:

  1. The Personality (of the people)
  2. The Places (what should we see)
  3. The Pillars (make it a desirable destination)

I. THE PERSONALITY OF ROMANS

The following terms must be understood if we are to understand the personality of Romans. Paul’s approach to these terms are nothing short of foundational to understanding the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am certain that most of us do not understand these terms the way Paul wants us to.

A. The LAW –  78x in 51 verses

  • For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. Romans 2:13 (ESV)

The Law is not to be understood in terms of  “Thou shall and thou shall not’s“. We commonly think that laws are obeyed and satisfied by works, whether your heart is in it or not. But God’s Law makes its demands not on your works but on the depths of your heart and does not let the heart rest content in works.

God calls all of us liars in Ps 116:11, because none of us keep the law from the depths of our heart. We all have an aversion to good and a craving for that which is forbidden. If our heart does not freely desire righteousness, our heart has not set itself on God’s Law. Regardless of outward good works, the appearance of an honorable life, our heart is sinful and deserving of the wrath of Righteous Holy God.

Romans  Two is pointed at the Jews, who are proud of their outward holiness. But Paul says that they are all sinners, and that only does of the law are justified in the sight of God. He reveals that no matter their outward obedience, there is none that truly obey. On the contrary, he says to them, “You teach that one should not commit adultery, and you commit adultery. You judge another in a certain matter and condemn yourselves in that same matter, because you do the very same thing that you judged in another.”

  • You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. Romans 2:23 (ESV)

It is as if he were saying, “Outwardly you live quite properly in the works of the law and judge those who do not live the same way; you know how to teach everybody. You see the speck in another’s eye but do not notice the beam in your own.”

You keep the Law (selfish motivations) outwardly out of fear of punishment or love of reward. You do everything as though you are chained-without free desire and love of the Law. If the Law did not exist you would be relieved, you would rejoice. In fact, Paul says (in Romans 5) that the Law causes sin to increase. This is because a person becomes more and more and enemy of the Law the more it demands of him what he can’t possibly do.

In Romans Seven, Paul says the Law is “spiritual”. What he means is that it were physical, it could be satisfied by your works. Since it is spiritual, no one can satisfy the law unless everything you do springs from the depths of your heart. But no one can have such a heart except the Spirit of God, who gives us a New Heart which has a heartfelt longing for the law and does everything not through fear or coercion, but from a new free and willing heart!

Only by a new heart energized by the Holy Spirit can one fulfill the Spiritual Law. Otherwise we remain an enemy of the Law by nature.

You must get used to the idea that it is one thing to do the works of the law and quite another to fulfill it. The works of the law are everything that a person does or can do of his own free will and by his own powers to obey the law. But because in doing such works the heart abhors the law and yet is forced to obey it, the works are a total loss and are completely useless.

That is what St. Paul means in chapter 3 when he says, “No human being is justified before God through the works of the law.”

Fulfilling the Law of God

To fulfill the Law means to actively obey and do its work lovingly and freely, as if there was no Law. The Law is the expression of the character of God. The only way to fulfill the Law is through possessing the love and character of God in your heart and being!

Paul says that only the Holy Spirit can fill us with this Divine Love: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us”. Romans 5:5 (ESV)  But the Spirit is given only in, with, and through faith in Jesus Christ, as Paul says in his introduction to Romans. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17 (ESV)

Faith alone makes the Love and Righteousness of God reality in our hearts. Faith alone fulfills the righteousness of the Law. Good works that proceed from faith alone are the only works that satisfy the demands of the Law.

The Law as Paul sees it: The Law is Spiritual – the revealed Character of Holy God.

B. SINS and SIN  – 48x – 41 verses

In Romans Paul deals with our sins, and then he deals with our sin. Sins refers to the external works of the body and soul. Sins of omission and commission. Sin refers to those forces within us that move us to do the sins. Sin is from the depth of our wicked heart with all its powers and inclinations.

The root and source of our sins is the sin nature that comes with being “in (the unbelief) of Adam”. The Holy Spirit and the Scriptures see into the heart, to the root source of sins, and that is our sin nature, which is founded in unbelief in the depth of the heart.

Just as faith alone makes us just and brings the Spirit and the desire to do good external works, so it is only unbelief which sins and exalts the flesh and brings desire to do evil external works.

That’s what happened to Adam and Eve in Paradise (cf. Genesis 3). That is why unbelief is called sin by Christ, as he says in John, chapter 16, “The Spirit will judge the world because of sin, because it does not believe in me.”

  • Sin is the nature we possess that causes us to not believe.
  • Sins are what result as a result of our unbelieving sin nature.

In Romans, Paul will show us how God can deal with our sins, and also our sin!

C. Grace and Gifts – 21x – 18 verses

  • and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3:24 (ESV)

Grace is the active force in our lives which makes us completely just before God. God’s grace is not divided into bits and pieces, as are the gifts, but grace takes us up completely into God’s favor for the sake of Christ, our intercessor and mediator, so that the gifts may begin their work in us.

By this, we understand chapter 7, where Paul portrays himself as still a sinner, while in chapter 8 he says that, because of the incomplete gifts and because of the Spirit, there is nothing damnable in those who are in Christ. Because our flesh has not been killed, we are still sinners, but because we believe in Christ and have the beginnings of the Spirit, God so shows us his favor and mercy, that he neither notices nor judges such sins.

God’s grace allows Him to deal with us according to our position in Christ until our flesh is completely redeemed.

  • Grace is the Loving Power of God displayed in our daily lives
  • Gifts are the pieces of God’s grace that we often reject or neglect, and can lead us to miss or refuse God’s Grace.

D. FAITH – 40x – 35 verses

  • Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2 (ESV)

Faith is not that human illusion and dream that some people think it is. When they hear and talk a lot about faith and yet see that no moral improvement and no good works result from it, they fall into error and say, “Faith is not enough. You must do works if you want to be virtuous and get to heaven.” The result is that, when they hear the Gospel, they stumble and make for themselves with their own powers a concept in their hearts which says, “I believe.” This concept they hold to be true faith. But since it is a human fabrication and thought and not an experience of the heart, it accomplishes nothing, and there follows no improvement.

Faith is a work of God in us, which changes us and brings us to birth anew from God (cf. John 1). It kills the old Adam, makes us completely different people in heart, mind, senses, and all our powers, and brings the Holy Spirit with it. Faith places us IN CHRIST. Faith keeps us abiding in Christ. We live the exchanged life by THE FAITH of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

“What a living, creative, active powerful thing is faith! It is impossible that faith ever stop doing good. Faith doesn’t ask whether good works are to be done, but, before it is asked, it has done them. It is always active. Whoever doesn’t do such works is without faith; he gropes and searches about him for faith and good works but doesn’t know what faith or good works are. Even so, he chatters on with a great many words about faith and good works.” Martin Luther

  • Faith is the living, unshakeable confidence in God’s grace.

This kind of trust in and knowledge of God’s grace makes a person joyful, confident, and happy with regard to God and all that He does. Through faith, a person will do good to everyone without coercion, willingly and happily; he will serve everyone, suffer everything for the love and praise of God, who has shown him such grace. It is as impossible to separate works from faith.

Through faith a person becomes sinless and eager for God’s commands. Thus he gives God the honor due him and pays him what he owes him.

Faith comes only through the word of God, the Gospel, that preaches Christ: how he is both Son of God and man, how he died and rose for our sake. Paul says all this in chapters 3, 4 and 10.

That is why faith alone makes someone just and fulfills the law; faith in God’s promises sees the Power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. Faith opens our will and want to to do those ‘good works’ which God designed us for. Then good works proceed from faith itself. That is what Paul means in chapter 3 when, after he has thrown out the works of the law, he sounds as though the wants to abolish the law by faith. No, he says, we uphold the law through faith, i.e. we fulfill it through faith.

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. Romans 3:28-31 (ESV)

  • Faith makes the Vitality and Power of God real in our daily living.

E. FLESH (CARNAL) 23x – 19 verses and SPIRITUAL (SPIRIT)

  • For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Romans 7:18 (ESV)

You must not understand flesh here as denoting only immorality or spirit as denoting only the inner heart. In Romans, Paul not only calls every human being ‘flesh’ but also everthing done by human beings in their own strength or in their own devices “fleshly”. Those living in the flesh can be sinners as well as saints. Anything done apart from the Spirit of God is walking in the flesh and not the Spirit. In Romans 8, Paul says that, through the flesh, the law is weakened. He says this, not of the immoral, but of all sins, most of all of unbelief, which is the most spiritual of sins. Unbelief destroys the SPIRITUAL life of any believer.

  • But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. Romans 7:6 (KJV)

I have come to the conclusion that a true Jew is not the man who is merely a Jew outwardly, and a real circumcision is not just a matter of the body. The true Jew is one who belongs to God in heart, a man whose circumcision is not just an outward physical affair but is a God-made sign upon the heart and soul, and results in a life lived not for the approval of man, but for the approval of God. Romans 2:28 (Phillips NT)

A person is spiritual who has been born of the Holy Spirit, and lives in and by the Spirit. Outward righteousness is a result of the inward spirit of God producing the life and character of God.

  • So then, a person is “flesh” who, inwardly and outwardly, lives only to do those things which are of use to the flesh and to temporal existence.
  • A person is “spirit” who, inwardly and outwardly, lives only to do those things which are of use to the spirit and to the life to come.

F. Unbelief and Belief

The very foundation of sin coming upon man was unbelief. Adam and Eve believed the deception rather than the Word of God. If they had only believed what God had said, they would have lived in eternal bliss.

Jesus defined sin as unbelief. God defined sin as going your own way. It is unbelief that leads us to go our own way. Unbelief in Romans reaches far beyond simple belief in Jesus as your Savior. Essential for being born again, yes,  but belief is essential for your very LIFE as a son of God. Your belief in the Word of God is foundational to your LIFE here and now and for all eternity.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:8-11 (ESV)

Paul uses Old Testament illustrations to convey the Truth of Romans. He points out Abraham, who did not stumble at the promises of God by unbelief. His belief is what made him righteous before God. His believing the promises of God is what gave him LIFE here on earth and in all eternity.

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Romans 4:20-22 (KJV)

In Romans, Paul lays out the truth of the gospel of Christ, and that truth doesn’t end at the cross, it goes through the cross to affect not only our sins, but our sin nature. We are made righteous by our belief in the promises of God. That belief does not stop at the cross. It does not stop at being born again. Belief in the Promises of God’s Word is to be a daily thing whereby we are made righteous every day. We are given LIFE every day. Not life in the flesh, but life in the Holy Spirit of God!

  • UNBELIEF-anything -thought, person, thing that keeps the Power of God from your life.
  • BELIEF – is reflected in the daily manifestation of fruit in your heart and life.

Summary of the Personality of Romans

Romans is the richest possible teaching about what a Christian should know: the meaning of law, Gospel, sin, punishment, grace, faith, justice, Christ, God, good works, love, hope and the power of the cross. We learn how we are to act toward everyone, toward the saints and the sinners, toward the strong and the weak, friend and foe, and toward ourselves. Paul bases everything firmly on Scripture and proves his points with examples from his own experience and from the Prophets, so that nothing more could be desired. Therefore it seems that Paul, in writing this letter, wanted to compose a summary of the whole of Christian and evangelical teaching which would also be an introduction to the whole Old Testament. Whoever takes this letter to heart possesses the light and power of the Old Testament. Therefore each and every Christian should make this letter the habitual and constant object of his study.

II. THE PLACES OF ROMANS

1. The Gospel of Salvation

The introduction (1:1-17) delineates the theme of the book of Romans, which is the gospel of God. This is the content of the introduction. Our next tour will explore this Gospel which was so important to Paul.

  • Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, Romans 1:1-6 (ESV)
  • Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. Romans 16:25-27 (ESV)

2. Condemnation—the Need of Salvation

Following the introduction, we have the section on condemnation (1:18—3:20) that unveils to us the need of God’s salvation. We all are hopeless and helpless cases and are under God’s condemnation. We need God’s salvation.

3. Justification—The Accomplishment of Salvation

The third section, justification (3:21—5:11), reveals the accomplishment of God’s salvation. Related to this matter of justification we have three other items—propitiation, redemption, and reconciliation. We will cover these terms when we come to chapter 3. At this point I will only say a brief word. God’s justification depends upon the redemption of Christ. Without the redemption of Christ, God has no way to justify sinners. Therefore, justification depends upon redemption, and redemption has one major aspect—propitiation. Propitiation is the major structure of redemption. Propitiation is the major part of the redemption of Christ because, as sinners, we owed God a great deal. We were held by God to pay this debt, and this caused a tremendous problem. That problem has been resolved by Christ as our propitiatory sacrifice. Since this propitiation has solved our problems with God, we have been redeemed. Based upon the redemption of Christ, God can easily and lawfully justify us. Thus, justification depends upon redemption, and the major part of redemption is propitiation. What, then, is reconciliation? Reconciliation is the issue of justification. God’s justification issues in reconciliation. All of this has been accomplished. Hallelujah! Although you may not be clear about all of these words at present, you can say to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t understand all these terms, but I praise You that everything has been accomplished.”

Justification brings us to God. In fact, it not only brings us to God, but also into God. Therefore, we may have the full enjoyment of God. The King James Version says, “We joy in God” (Rom. 5:11). We not only joy in God; we enjoy God. God is our enjoyment. This is justification.

4. Sanctification—the Life-process in Salvation

Following this, we have sanctification (5:12—8:13). How great it is to be in God and to enjoy God!  After being justified, we need to be sanctified.

What does it mean to be sanctified? We use the illustration of tea. If we put tea into a glass of plain water, the water will be “teaified.” At best, we are plain water, although we are actually not plain, but dirty. Even if we are plain water, we lack the tea flavor, the tea essence, and the tea color. We need the tea to come into our very being. Christ Himself is the heavenly tea. Christ is in us. Hallelujah!

God is progressively revealed throughout the book of Romans:

  • In chapter 1 He is God in CREATION,
  • In chapter 3 God in REDEMPTION,
  • In chapter 4 God in JUSTIFICATION,
  • In chapter 5 God in RECONCILIATION,
  • In chapter 6 God in IDENTIFICATION.
  • In chapter 8 God in US.

Christ is in us (Rom. 8:10)! He is no longer merely in creation, redemption, justification, reconciliation, and identification, but He is now within us, in our spirit. Christ is in us doing a transforming and sanctifying work, just as the tea, when put into the water, works the element of tea into it. Eventually, the water will be wholly “teaified.” It will have the appearance, the flavor, and the taste of real tea. If I serve you some of this beverage, I will be serving you tea, not plain water.

  • Have you been JUSTIFIED?

You should all reply, “Hallelujah! We have been justified because Christ has accomplished redemption. God has reconciled us and we are now enjoying Him.”

  • Have you been SANCTIFIED?

If some of you married men claim to be sanctified, what would your wives say? “He may be justified, but it is doubtful he is sanctified.” Or you might say”maybe a little bit… or maybe he is improved, but I do not think he is sanctified yet.” I am not talking about being improved, but being sanctified—that is to have the very character of Christ worked into our very being, just as the essence, flavor, and color of the tea are worked into the water. This is sanctification. And every born again Christian should learn that he indeed is sanctified.

5. Glorification—the Purpose of Salvation

The next section in the book of Romans is GLORIFICATION (Rom. 8:14-39), unveiling the purpose of God’s salvation. Following sanctification, there is the need of glorification. Our body needs to be glorified. Although a brother may be quite saintly, his body needs to be glorified because of its physical defects and limitations. When the Lord Jesus comes, we will be glorified. Presently, I must wear thick, peculiar eyeglasses, but when the Lord comes I will be glorified. We shall not only be justified and sanctified; we shall be glorified, that is, our body shall be redeemed. Glorification is the full redemption of our body.

This glorification reveals the purpose of God’s salvation. The purpose of God’s salvation is to produce many brothers to Christ. Originally, Christ was the only begotten Son of God. Now the only begotten Son has become the firstborn Son. We ourselves will be processed into the many brothers of Christ and the many sons of God. He is the firstborn Son, and we, the many sons, are His many brothers. This is the purpose of God’s salvation.

6. Selection—the Economy of Salvation

After glorification, we come to selection which reveals the economy of salvation (Rom. 9:1—11:36). God has a purpose and an economy. His economy is for the fulfillment of His purpose. God is very wise and He arranges everything for the fulfillment of His purpose. He knows what He is doing. He knows who are His chosen people and He knows when His chosen people should be called. In relation to God, selection is for the accomplishment of His purpose; in relation to us, selection is our destiny.

7. Transformation—the Life-practice in Salvation

After this, we have the section on transformation, unfolding the life-practice in salvation (Rom. 12:1—15:13). In this section we see the life-practice of all that has been produced by the life-process. Whatever is produced in the section on sanctification is practiced in the section on transformation. Eventually, sanctification becomes transformation. In one sense, we are in sanctification; in another sense, we are also in transformation. We are in the process of life and in the practice of life that we may have the Body life with a proper private life. Every aspect of the proper Christian life and church life is included in this section on transformation. While we are being sanctified, we are also being transformed from one form into another form and from one shape into another shape. Praise the Lord! We are all under the life-process of sanctification for the life-practice of transformation.

8. Conclusion—the Ultimate Consummation of Salvation

The last section of the book of Romans is the conclusion, indicating the ultimate consummation of salvation (Rom. 15:14—16:27). The ultimate consummation of God’s salvation is the churches—not just the Body, but the local churches as the expressions of the Body. Hallelujah! The book of Romans begins with the Gospel of God and concludes with the local churches. In Romans, we do not have the local church in doctrine but the local churches in practice.

III. THE PILLARS OF ROMANS

The major structures of the book of Romans are three— salvation, life, and building.

A. Salvation

The first major structure of Romans is salvation, revealed in 1:1—5:11 and 9:1—11:36. Salvation includes propitiation, redemption, justification, reconciliation, selection, and predestination. In eternity past God predestinated us. Then He called us, redeemed us, justified us, and reconciled us to Himself. Thus, we have full salvation.

We need to differentiate between redemption and salvation. Redemption is what Christ accomplished in the eyes of God. Salvation is what God has wrought upon us based upon the redemption of Christ. Redemption is objective, and salvation is subjective. When redemption becomes our experience, it becomes salvation.

B. Life

Salvation is for the life unfolded in 5:12—8:39. In this section the word life is used at least seven times and, according to chapter 8, this life is four-fold. This Eternal Life or Life with God, begins not when we die but when we are born again!

C. Building

In the last part of Romans, 12:1—16:27, we have the building, the Body with all of its expressions in the local churches. Salvation is for life, and life is for building. Thus, the three major structures of Romans are salvation, life, and building.

Finally:

Why is our Tour through Romans called Journey Through the Cross?

Paul is all about this New Life that is the result of the Power of the Gospel of Christ.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:13-15 (ESV)

Such is the Power of this New Life we have through the Gospel of Christ that Paul makes this BOLD declaration:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17 (ESV)

He boldly declares the power of the Cross of the Gospel in Romans 6. The Truth of Romans 6 is only experienced as we Journey Through the Cross:

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Romans 6:4-6 (ESV)

Our Journey through the Cross is a Journey into the New Life that is in Jesus Christ


Journey 2010 is about living in the will of God. It is about what John said in 3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” God’s Will, God’s truth will always be corrupted and thwarted by unrighteousness “Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

ABOUT END TIMES

I want to reveal the single greatest motivation we as Christians have for walking in the truth. This revealing involves “end times” teachings. Most of us are very curious about the “end times”. Most people respond to surveys saying they want to know more about the Book of Revelations.

Let me give you this about that. Curiosity is not the proper reason to study Revelations. Jesus gives us the proper reason to study the Word or the End Times Book of Revelations: “Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” If your study is motivaFrom the ted by your personal hunger and desire for righteousness, God will satisfy you, He will teach you. But if you are only motivated by curiosity or the pride of ‘knowing’, you will come away not knowing, not being satisfied. You will be confused.

Some may question my teachings as not being in line with what you believe is correct especially among Southern Baptists. But allow me to clarify: The Southern Baptist Faith and Message is extremely vague about the end time teaching in the Bible. Here is what the Southern Baptists believe about the end times:

“God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.” (2000 Southern Baptist Faith & Message)

Our belief’s must not be based upon what someone else has taught us, not even what I teach. Each one of us has the Holy Spirit as our teacher. What we must do is search and study the Scriptures. The truth must be within you and it must be based upon what you have studied and struggled with. Don’t accept at face value what I say or what others say. Study to show yourself approved  (“dokimos”) unto God, a workman who is not ashamed, but who rightly divides the truth!

OUR MOTIVATION

What is this Single Greatest Motivation for Walking in Truth and Following God’s Will?

1 John 3:1-3 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

John says the truth of Christ’s 2nd coming and uor resulting change into His glorious body is the Hope That Purifies Us.

1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

So this truth of our FUTURE transformation when we are face to face with Jesus Christ is to motivate us in the PRESENT to obey His truth and in so doing become PURIFIED or CONSECRATED (agnízō – in 1 John 3:3) to God, which is what living in His Will and walking in His truth is all about.

I have read that in certain countries, hunters capture monkeys using a very simple but effective trap. They make a hole in a hollow tree and put a banana in it. The hole is big enough for the monkey’s hand to go in but not for its fist to come out. A monkey would then reach in and grab the banana. It then tries to pull its hand out while grabbing on to the banana to no avail. Its closed fist would be too big for the hole. For the monkey to be able to pull its hand out it has to drop the banana. But hunters are well aware that monkeys will not let go of the banana and that the monkeys will kick and squeal when the hunter approaches but they refuse to let go of the banana. They refuse to let go of the bait and so become captured.

LET GO

Today I want to challenge each of us to “let go”. If we are to Live in the Will of God, we must “LET GO”

Jesus was approached by a young man …

(The Message) Matthew 19:16-22 Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.” The man asked, “What in particular?” Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.” The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?” “If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.” That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.”

The disciples were blown away. They thought “if a rich man doesn’t deserve heaven, who does? Then they reminded Jesus that they had left everything. And Jesus commended them saying:

(continuing in verses 28-29) “In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life.

The young man was told by Jesus he must let go of his riches if he wanted to have eternal life. Our churches would be a lot smaller if we told people that today! And yet, Jesus insisted that in order to follow Him, we had to be willing to let go of everything this world has:

Luke 14:25-27 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

SO TO WALK IN GOD’S WILL WE MUST LET GO!

Let Go of What?

I believe we must let go of the salt! But Mudpreacher,  Jesus said we are to be the salt of the world, right?

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. Matt 5:13

If you consult with salt experts, they will tell you that salt never loses its taste. Never, not in a million years. It is a mineral and will stay the same. That’s why people who question the truth of the Bible cite this verse as one that proves their belief. Let’s consider this verse further.

“moraino”

The word  for lose its “taste or savor” is “moraino”,  applied to the mind – stupid or silly (1 Cor 1:20 – God made foolish (moraino) the wisdom of the world); applied to the taste –insipid or bland; (as in salt losing its savor). Moraino is the root of our English word “moron” = very stupid person.

Elsewhere in medicine moraino is used of the slackness, fatigue or dulling of the nerves. Moraino is also used in respect of the sluggishness of animals in winter. With reference to men the use of moraino is predominantly psychological. In this context, moraino implies censure on man himself; his acts, thoughts, counsels, and words are not as they should be. The weakness is due to a specific failure in judgment or decision.

Now in this verse,most people believe it refers to normally ‘salty’ believers losing thier ‘saltiness’ and having no effect upon the world. It is true that Christians only lose their “saltiness”when they make wrong judgments and become like the world. In effect they are “contaminated”. This is how many Biblical scholars explain the salt losing its’ “moraino”.

Ancient Dead Sea salt, unlike our modern, refined table salt, did lose its flavor. The salt is not pure sodium chloride, but NaCl mixed with other rock and mineral matter; and if allowed to get moist, the NaCl would dissolve out and leave behind a pile of tasteless crud. Thus, in order for the salt to preserve its savor, contamination had to be kept out of it. This explanation makes sense to all but scientists, because to them, salt is still salt. It keeps its qualities 10,000 years, because it is a mineral.

There may be a better understanding of what Jesus had in mind, which will silence the scientists.

Recent Archeological Discoveries

In the Cultural Dictionary of the Bible, John J. Pilch, Ph.D. who teaches Scripture at Georgetown University, points out that the Hebrew and Aramaic word for “earth” may also mean “oven”. Many cultures of Biblical times used an earthen oven, an oven made of clay. Moreover, in the Mediterranean world, wood was a scarce commodity. They used abundantly available camel or other animal dung as fuel. Salt was used to dry out the dung patties, and a block of salt was placed at the base of the clay oven as a kind of catalyst to make the fire burn. Recent archeological discoveries confirm this use. “…in all the ‘salt’ passages of the New Testament, salt is presented in its function as an aid to making fires burn rather than as a  seasoning or preservative agent.” When the salt lost its ability to stoke the fires, it was thrown down as gravel on muddy roads.

Factoring into the translation these cultural connotations, Pilch translates Matthew 5:13 as “You are the catalyst (salt) in the earth oven. But if the catalyst (salt) has lost its catalytic ability (saltiness), how shall its catalytic ability (saltiness) be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by human beings.” (Cultural Dictionary of the Bible by John J Pilch, 1995)

This view of Biblical salt flavors these verses in this way:

  • “You, my disciples, are salt for the hearth (or earth oven)…  an image that reminds me that you are also the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13-14)
  • “Salt is good [an excellent thing], but if salt has lost its strength and has become saltless (insipid, flat), how shall its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the land nor for the manure heap; men throw it away. He who has ears to hear, let him listen and consider and comprehend by hearing!” (Luke 14:34-35, Amplified Bible)
  • “You are the fire making and sustaining agent in the earth oven. But if that agent has lost its ability to maintain a fire, how shall that ability be restored? This salt is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out. People can step on this solid block of salt in an otherwise muddy road.” (Matt 5:13, with a very logical lead into “light of the world.”)
  • “For every one will be salted in order to burn. Salt is good, but if it has lost its ability to start and maintain a fire, how can that ability be restored? Be salty, but stay at peace with one another.” (Mark 9:49-50.  Notice the repeated mention of fire in the context from v. 42 to these verses. Another logical lead into the salt statement.)
  • “I came to light the earth oven; would that it were already kindled” (Luke 12:49, then notice the subsequent discussion of family conflict and division, vv. 51-53).
  • “Salt is good. But if salt has lost its ability to start and maintain fires, how can that ability be restored? This salt is fit neither for the earth oven, nor for preparing the fuel (the dunghill). People just throw it away.” (Luke 14:34-35).

If you doubt the fire making qualities of salt, go to YouTube and type in salt water into fuel and watch salt water burn: Salt Water into Fuel

So LET GO of the dung contaminated salt. When the salt can no longer change the dung, it’s time to let go. When the world is making the salt lose it’s saltiness, you must LET IT GO!

Jesus provides further insight into what it means to “LET GO THE SALT” in Luke 17:

Luke 17:20-37 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

When it comes to the end times, when it comes to Jesus Christ’s return, don’t worry about your stuff, don’t worry about your car, that precious music box your grandmother gave you, your unfinished chores, your crops needing to be harvested, the money in the bank or the gold buried in the back yard. No, when it comes to going to be with Jesus, he gives one and only one warning:

Remember Lot’s Wife!

If you want to go with Jesus, don’t look back. Don’t long for the world. When God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, the angels warned Lot and his family, do not look back. It is all going to be burnt up just like useless dung. So when Lot’s wife looked back, God said, “O, you like that dung? Well then I’ll turn you into salt to help it burn even more!”

She was burnt up and became useless salt, contaminated by the dung of the world. Or perhaps God was saying “You Love that Stuff? Here, now you can help fan the fire!”

Now let me connect the dots, and scratch some saints.

  • 1. The return of Christ is our greatest motivation to live the Will of God
  • 2. Contamination by the world and all that the world offers will make us useless for nothing except road gravel.
  • 3. When it comes to the rapture, will we go to Christ if we look back?


To put it bluntly: If You Look Back Will You Drop Like A Block Of Salt?

Wait a minute Mudpreacher! All my Christian life I have heard about the Rapture. I have thought about it, desired it, wondered what it will be like! Everyone gets to go, don’t they? To answer that question, we must look at the warnings of Jesus:

WARNINGS

Let’s consider some other warnings that Jesus gives about the end times:

Don’t Look Back (Love not the World)

  • Genesis 19:26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
  • Luke 9:62 “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”
  • Hebrews 10:37 “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
The Apostle John made this bold declaration: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Do you think he believed that those Christians who loved the world would be raptured?

Do you think Paul, who wrote about the rapture in Thessalonians, thought Demas would be raptured with him? After all Paul said this about Demas: “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica;” (2 Tim 4:10).

Wake Up and Watch

  • Matthew 24:36-44 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
  • Matthew 25:1-13 1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

They had oil, but it ran out. They had the Holy Spirit, but had He become Quenched to the point of no power to light their lamp? (If you Deny me to the world, I will deny knowing you, as the bridegroom said.)

  • Mark 13:35-36 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-7 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
  • Romans 13:11-14 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Scripture offers this about becoming sleepily involved with the world and its lusts:

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Titus 2:11-14 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Overcome and Endure

  • Revelation 2:26-28 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations–‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’– as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.
  • Revelation 3:10-13 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
(This is the one solid verse that promises the saints will not go through the tribulation, but it even lists conditions.)
As Christians, we are to have power over the world, not become enmeshed and tangled up in it:
  • 1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.  (they walk in the truth)
  • 1 John 5:4-5 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
  • John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Love His Appearing

  • 2 Timothy 4:8. “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing.
  • Hebrews 9:28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

Do not be ashamed of Jesus

  • Luke 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
  • Hebrews 10:35-38 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:”For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back (ashamed), My soul has no pleasure in him.”
  • 1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

This expression is very peculiar. It means to “be ashamed from Him.” (Wuest) Sounds like you might not get to go!

DOES YOUR LIFE DEMONSTRATE YOU ARE WALKING IN THE TRUTH?

If we live our life in love with the world and all it offers. If we are so busy living that we forget Jesus Christ, we never mention to our friends we are His follower, if we get involved in sinful relationships and activities that the Holy Spirit shrinks from…You may even come to church and sing songs and look ‘Christian’. But God’s eyes are like a powerful MRI that can see inside every bit of us. He knows our heart. He knows our secret desires. He knows what you love. Your secrets will be exposed. I believe the Rapture could be a major step in that process. If anything is clear in God’s Word, it is that God is the one who judges, it is God alone who we must face. God will make known to the world the those ‘secret desires’ we may hide from others. What better way than to be left behind and have to explain to your friends who will say “I though you were a Christian! Why didn’t you get raptured?”

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

LOOKING FOR OUR BLESSED HOPE

Regardless of our beliefs about the rapture, we can be assured that there will be a rapture. God’s Word is clear on that. As we seek to live in God’s Will, the one great motivation we must have is in Titus 2:13:

Titus 2:13 “Looking for that blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”

Holy Warriors

Why might some be taken and others left until His second coming?

He needs His Holy Warriors, to prepare them for the final battle. I believe Jesus will rapture His soldiers that He will need to battle the Beast and the prophet and the nations. He must put is through a heavenly boot camp to prepare us to battle. You go if you can make the cut. You are left if your heart is not ready. Jesus says, “If you love the world, why don’t you go through the tribulation and learn to despise it, learn that I AM GOD! As Jude says:

Jude 1:14-15 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

3000 years ago God gave us an example of what happens to His people when they don’t forsake the world. The Hebrew children wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until they died off and the youngsters came of age. The worldly Hebrews had to die because they would have made terrible soldiers. They would never have been able to take the Promised Land. God had to give an example to their children, an example of the need for obedience to Him. Joshua had his army, but they had to be warriors un-entangled with the world.  They had to hate the world. They had to war against the world. We must be of the same mind if we want to be raptured and join Jesus’ Army!

What about the wedding feast? I thought THAT took place after the rapture! We are the Bride and we will be married to Him! Read your Bible. The marriage feast is not mentioned until Revelations 19 and 21, AFTER the new heaven and earth.

Today, on Jebel Usdum (Hill of Sodom) on the Dead Sea’s western shore, stands a pillar of salt known as “Lot’s Wife.” This monument is a perpetual reminder of a woman who allowed her human nature to turn her from the express command of God. In a critical moment she took her eyes off the goal. Christ warns that we cannot allow the same to happen to us.

You can get all hissy at me and say, “I can’t believe you don’t believe all Christians will get raptured!” You can keep on thinking that you can live any old way you want, and it doesn’t matter. You can say you love Jesus and keep on living as YOU think is best, you can keep on following the world and living like the rest of the world. But you are closing your eyes to the warnings that God has in His Word. Jesus said “Remember Lot’s Wife!”

HEED THE WARNINGS

If you do you are reading a different Bible than I have. I read this Word and I am in fear, I tremble before this Holy God. I cling to Jesus as my righteousness. I cling to Him because without Him I am burnt toast, I am dung.

We must learn from those before us, who as the Hebrew Children, loved this world, loved Egypt, and did not let go. They did not enter into God’s Rest, they were too in love with the world, with Egypt. They were poor warrior who washed up in the desert boot camp. They missed the call to fight because as 1 Cor 10:5 says

with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. …. Paul warns us: Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

Paul said in Phil 3:8 “I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ!
I don’t believe Paul ever took His salvation for granted. He never allowed His life in Jesus to make Him proud or arrogant or self-righteous. He was confident, but only in Jesus Christ and His living in him.

Are you walking before God in humility, in reverence, in Holy fear? Is your confidence solely in Jesus Christ and His righteousness? Or are you living your life as you think best? Are you so in to the world that you would hate for Jesus to come back right now and interrupt your plans?

Are you ready to Let Go the Salt in 2010?

I think this morning the best way we can remember Lot’s Wife is to visually let go of the salt. If you want to get serious with God about living in His Will and walking in His truth, I would like you to come forward and pickup this 50lb salt block and then let it go! Let’s tell God we are serious about living in His will and walking in His Truth! Everything else is Dung. It will all get burnt up-so why are you holding on to it? Do you want to be caught looking back when the Rapture happens? Are you willing to take that chance?

I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna let go the stinky salt!



This outline was the basis of our “Covenant Sunday” We began the process of revising our archaic Church Covenant over six months ago, and finally arrived at a church covenant that was relevant and applicable for our church, that was also in harmony with the teachings of Scripture. After reading the new Church Covenant, all members affirmed their support of the Covenant with their written signature.

I. The Church is Built upon a New Covenant

  • Matthew 26:27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you,
  • Mark 14:24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
  • Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you

Hebrews 9:15-17 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.

The New Covenant is Conditional

Hebrews 10:26-31 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The Purpose of our Church Covenant

Our Covenant Reinforces the Conditions of this New Covenant with Jesus Christ

Our Covenant is the Practical Application of God’s Word to our Church Family

It is a Promise of how we will live our lives in the Church, in our Family, and in the World

It is a Summary of our Family Values

It is our Commitment to each other as a Family of Followers of Christ

It is our Ethical Statement to the World

It is our Biblical Standard for our Family

A.  Basis of Membership (Partnership)

  1. The first century church transformed the way believer’s thought, lived, and used their resources of time and money.
  2. A bond united genuine believers and exposed those who were not a part of the body of Christ. Acts 5:13
  3. The Distinguishing factor between those who were part of the fellowship and those who were not: 1 John 2:19-20

1 John 2:19-20 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. (anointing is the word charisma “the special endowment of the Holy Spirit”)

B. Basis of Discipline

1. Fellowship was so vital and valuable that early discipline was to be disallowed from fellowshipping with the church.

1 Corinthians 5:13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

2. Loss of fellowship was so powerful that it would produce great sorrow.

2 Corinthians 2:6-7 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

C.  Basis of Mutual Edification

1. Ultimate purpose of the body is to edify one another so that each believer can come to full maturity and a unity in faith.

Ephesians 4:11-13 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

2. Primary purpose is to provoke one another to do good works.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

  • Twenty five “one another” commands in the N.T. are listed in our new Covenant

Our Church Covenant serves to unite our family together as the Body of Christ meeting as Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church. He is our Head and we are to function and grow as His Body. Our Covenant is the practical statement of how our body will work together and live together and relate with each other. Our Covenant is what distinguishes our family from the families around us. Our Covenant also provides the basis for dealing with problems in the family. The purpose of the Covenant is not to chain people together, but to promote growth with one another in Jesus Christ. The wellness of the body is the chief aim. Our Church Covenant is to serve to Edify the body meeting as Pleasant Prairie Baptist Church.

II. The Power of Edifying One Another

A. The Goal of Fellowship is to produce spiritual maturity through mutual Edification.

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

The Church is to provide opportunities for believer’s to give testimonies of God’s Working in their lives.

Paul testifies to the Power of public testimonies:

1 Corinthians 14:23-25 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

    • Secrets of his heart will be exposed
    • Conviction of sins
    • People falling to their face and worshiping God
    • Knowing God is among you

Teaching of the Apostles was the ‘rhema’ of the Word, not the ‘logos.’

  • John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words (rhema)that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
  • John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words (rhema) abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

A “RHEMA” requires confirmation of two or three witnesses

2 Corinthians 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word (rhema) be established.

Paul gives further instructions about the importance of sharing what God is doing in your life:

Strengthens the Body

1 Corinthians 14:26-27 26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

Provides Training in Godliness

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

  • Testimonies-Psalm, message in sacred song
  • Instruction from Scripture
  • Personal rhema from the Word.
  • Insight into Christian living
  • Report on how truth was applied.

B. Specific Types of Edification

  1. Build faith by sharing rhemas – Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word (rhema) of God.
  2. Glory to God for Answers to prayer (Psalms 50:15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”)
  3. Sharing fruit from building spiritual disciplines in your life.
  4. Sharing your growth from salvation
  5. Sharing about others coming to Christ
  6. Testifying to the truth of God’s Way of Life – problem in life and how obeying God’s Word has resulted in life.
  7. Dealing with Sin and the illnesses it causes
  8. Sharing the rewards of suffering, or thanking God.
  9. Wisdom gleaned from wise men
  10. Results of good works
  11. Benefits of Godly standards
  12. Praise others for their example

C.  Powerful Potential of Fellowship

  1. Testimonies often reveal needs that the Holy Spirit then impresses others to meet.
  2. Builds ‘koinonia’ -partnership, interaction.
  3. Fellowship of the churches in Macedonia

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

Our New Church Covenant:

The Foundation

Believing that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and the church is the body of Christ, and that only by the Holy Spirit is one made alive to God and placed “in Christ”, I make the following two affirmations:

  • I have been born again by the Holy Spirit, having personally repented of my sin before God, received His forgiveness, believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ—crucified, buried, and resurrected—as my one and only Savior.
  • I have identified myself publicly as a Christian and have followed my Lord in baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The Promises

Having given ourselves to God by our faith in Jesus Christ, and having adopted the Word of God as our rule of faith and practice, and as members of this local Body of Christ, we now give ourselves to one another in this solemn covenant. We hereby promise:

  • To be committed to each other in seeking to love and obey Jesus Christ; and for His sake love, accept, and forgive each other with affectionate care and watchfulness.
  • To join with fellow members to seek God’s will in our common decision-making; to allow every member the privilege of seeking to influence the church in its pursuit of God’s will; to accept congregational decisions without grumbling; and to work to prevent division in the body.
  • To help one another grow in Jesus Christ by building up one another, bearing one another’s burdens, encouraging one another, exhorting one another, praying for one another, confessing our sins to one another, speaking the truth in love to one another, admonishing one another, teaching one another, comforting one another, submitting to one another, serving one another, patiently bearing with one another, being hospitable to one another, being kind and tenderhearted to one another.
  • To work together for the continuance of a faithful evangelical ministry in this church, as we support and sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines. As we are being built up we will reach out to the lost and to the fallen and through our love and service seek to bring them into fellowship with Jesus Christ. Through self-denial, faith and good works we endeavor to grow together in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • To practice Biblical stewardship of our resources, and to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel to all nations.
  • To seek, by God’s grace, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to be an example in our speech and conduct, purposing to lead new and holy lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, especially with regard to the following:
    • To use chemical substances such as alcohol and drugs only as informed by the teachings of the Bible, wise medical counsel, and the dictates of the law.
    • To flee sexual immorality; to shun pornography; to reserve sexual activity for one man and one woman united in the covenant of marriage;
    • To initiate divorce proceedings only when there has been clear and continual violation of God’s Word regarding divorce and marriage. Anyone in such a situation agrees to consult with church leadership and seek Christian counseling.
    • To protect and defend the lives of our children from the moment of their conception; to bring up those in our home in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example seek the salvation of our family, teaching and encouraging them to love, follow and serve God.
    • To practice justice and compassion toward all people, especially the poor, the sick, the disabled, widows, and orphans.
    • To conduct all business in honesty and integrity, counting it our chief business in life to extend the influence of Christ in society.
  • To submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and pursue the fruit that He brings forth and to work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, that the Kingdom of God may come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Protection:

We enter into this covenant voluntarily and affirm the ambitions of this covenant as our own. We realize that we can only fulfill this covenant through the power of Jesus Christ living in us. We invite fellow members to pray for us, teach us, correct us and rebuke us, if necessary; in a spirit of gentleness and humility should we stray from the Lord’s commands. We voluntarily submit ourselves to one another and to the biblical authority of this church. If we fail to live up to this covenant, we commit to yield to correction with meekness, to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, and to turn from our sin, relying on God’s grace to lift us up. Should church discipline ever be required, it will always be undertaken for the purpose of restoration to fellowship with God and with this covenant community – and it will always be done in accordance with Scriptural procedures in Matthew 18:15-22 and Galatians 6:1. We further commit to never refuse forgiveness and reconciliation in the face of Godly repentance.

If we find ourselves unwilling to try to fulfill this covenant, we commit to remove our self from this congregation. If relocation outside the community prevents us from fulfilling this covenant, we commit to unite with another congregation and to continue to pursue growth as a Christian.

The Blessing

May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit Be With Us All. Amen.