Posts Tagged ‘Gifts’


Our Journey through the Cross will stop in Romans 8.

Here we discover what the Cross is all about. It is about the life that Jesus died to give all those who by faith make Him their life. It requires a turning away from our self, our sin, our flesh and embracing Jesus Christ as our Lord, our Life, our Savior.

By faith in what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross, we are justified by God. We are declared righteous, we are declared His children. By faith, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus shed upon the world at Pentecost, comes and makes us His dwelling place. We are set apart for God’s purpose.

Coming to the Cross and accepting Jesus as your Savior means that you will now live by the cross. We must take up our cross daily, and just as Jesus humbled Himself as a servant, so we must humble ourselves before Almighty God and take up the cross He has given to us.

We have this assurance from the Master himself, that we will not bear our cross alone. In fact, our cross becomes easy and light, as long as we realize that He carries it for us. For the cross means that we no longer live, in fact our old man is dead, and the life that we now live, we live by Jesus Christ.

This is the message of Romans, and Romans 8 reveals what it means to be a Christian. Romans 8 is the insider’s guide to the Christian Life. The Christian Life is all about walking after the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit communicates and manifests Jesus Christ in our lives. Romans 8 details our New Life in the Holy Spirit.

1. The Holy Spirit Joins us to Christ

He brings about a vital union with the Lord Jesus.

“He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17);

It is a spiritual and inward union with the Lord Jesus. This is what Romans 8:1-2 describes:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

When we are born again, the Holy Spirit joins us to Jesus Christ and we live in the Spirit of Life! God is all about Life, and sin is death. Being joined to Jesus means we are no longer under condemnation, no longer under the penalty of sin, no longer under the judgment of death, separated from Holy God by all eternity in Hell.

You and I, if we are truly born-again children of God, have got to know that, right inside of us, a union has been effected between Christ and ourselves, and ourselves and Christ; that we are joined to Christ. That union has been affected; we have been made one.

No more me, but We!

The Lord’s way of illustrating this truth is the marriage union. Paul says, “the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:31, 32). ‘One flesh’. Just as married couples, we are made “one flesh” with Jesus Christ.

Now, if a marriage is what it ought to be, those two people are so ONE, that to separate them is to cut one person in two, and only leave two halves, and not a whole. This explains how death can leave a spouse so empty, so alone, as if part of them is gone. This explains how even years later, divorce can leave an ugly scar upon ones soul.

That is the illustration of our union with Christ. We are not complete until we are united with Christ; our completeness is in union with Christ.

If we do not have Christ with us, we are only half here. If we lose the Lord, we are torn in two. Jesus is that much a part of our lives.

We can – by disobedience, by playing with sin, by disobeying the Lord, by this or that – bring about such an effect, so that we feel as if something has happened; the Lord is there and I am here, and we are not together. It is as though we have been torn in two, are not complete.

This is the beginning of the Christian life; the very foundation and basis of the Christian life:

We and Christ have been made one; not two – one!

Jesus is not our homeboy. He is not someone we go to when things get bad. He is not a good luck charm we wear around our neck. He is not a wristband that says WWJD. We are united as one with the very creator of the universe. This union is a mystery, but it is so real and so powerful that to divide, to walk away and have an independent life – it is to destroy your own identity, to tear your own spiritual personality in pieces; and that is how it is, if we get away from the Lord in any way.

So here, the very first thing that we find about this life in the Spirit, is that there has come about between us and Christ, and between Christ and ourselves, a oneness, which is not in any outward, visible sense, but in a vital, inward reality.

So the first thing is “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (v. 2) – the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus – that is the union: our union with Christ.

2. The Holy Spirit Leads Us

Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Romans 8:14

When we are joined to Jesus Christ, we are not left to our own abilities. In fact, we must humble ourselves and give all of ourselves to Christ, so that the Holy Spirit will lead us. The operative word is “LED”. He is the leader. It is not a shared responsibility. There can be only one BOSS. This is why Paul wrote that:

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 8:7-8

To be led by the Spirit we must “walk AFTER the Spirit”

God reveals why we cannot walk after the flesh and why we must walk after the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:29:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… Romans 8:29

God has a goal for each one of His children- conformity to the image of His Son.

“Conformed to the image” (summorphous tēs eikonos) means both an inward and an outward likeness. This is no happy fake smile Christian. All that Jesus Christ is we are to be. His loves, concern, his righteousness, his passion for the temple, his compassion for the lost, all are to be ours. It requires more of Him and less of me.

What is being ‘led by the Spirit’? Take the example of Israel.

God came down into Egypt, into the dark world of their bondage and tyranny in Egypt. He came down with His great purpose; He took possession of them; and then He gave them the symbol and figure of the Holy Spirit in the Pillar of Cloud and Fire. Paul says ‘They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud’ (1 Cor. 10:2).

What was the pillar of cloud and fire given for? Well, it is an illustration. It is a type of the Holy Spirit. It was given to lead them into the Land of Promise, where God had intended them to be. He had come down into Egypt, got hold of them, pulled them out, and brought them into the Wilderness for that purpose.

The Spirit was ever moving ahead of them, in the Pillar, to get them into the Land.

That is being “led by the Spirit”. As the Lord said, speaking of His people: “Israel is my son… Let my son go…” (Ex. 4:22, 23). As Paul wrote: ‘Now these are the sons of God, who are led by the Spirit of God’.

However, what does it mean? It means that we are always moving on, ever moving on in the way of the Spirit, leaving the old world further and further behind, and getting nearer and nearer to the heavenly promised land.

  • Now, if the Christian life is normal, this is true of the Christian life. This is not something abnormal; this is ‘normal Christian living!

The more you go on with the Lord, the less and less you find it possible to accept this world and to settle down here, and the further you seem to get away from it. Alternatively, it seems to get away from you.

The things of the Lord get nearer and nearer, and more and more engrossing, taking up more and more of your life. You find that, whereas at one time, you could compartmentalize your time, you could spread it out over various things, now you are more and more being absorbed (not obsessed), but absorbed in the things of the Lord; you have no time for other things.

What about your Work?

You go to work, you do your work, you give yourself to your work, you do it honestly… but the thing that has a grip on you inside is the Lord’s interests – what delights the Lord. If you are going on with the Lord, what you want more and more is that which tastes of heaven. Your desire is unto God and His desires.

The Holy Spirit wants to lead us on nearer and nearer to the fullness of Christ.

3. The Holy Spirit brings us to Confidence in our Father

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 8:15

The Holy Spirit opens us up to seeing God as our dearest Daddy, the one who cares for us with unconditional love. We no longer live our lives in fear of what can or might happen. We know that we are in the hands of our dearest Daddy.

God is including us in His plan, and that plan involves us becoming conformed to His Son Jesus Christ.

Many of us have experienced horrible tragedies. Many of us have suffered terrible injustices, abuse. There are many ways we react to such experiences.

We can blame others, we can hold on to our pain and grow bitter, we can become frustrated and angry, and we can lash out and be vengeful. None of these reflects the heart of one who sees his life held in the arms of his dearest Daddy.

Living in the Holy Spirit is a life that is confident in the God’s power and God’s Purpose for your life. Living in the Holy Spirit allows us to believe what Paul wrote: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”. Romans 8:28

4. The Holy Spirit Bears Witness

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, Romans 8:16

The indwelling Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. How does He do it? The Holy Spirit does not constantly speak in our ear, and say: “You know you are a child of God; you are a child of God”.

He says what He does because of our being children of God – that we know it.

We know how others can do certain things that we cannot; there is something that we have in our heart that makes us aware that this is, or this is not, according to the Father’s mind. The simple truth is this – we know: “the Spirit beareth witness”; we know. This joint witness of the Holy Spirit works with the Spirit of Sonship mentioned in verse 15 wherein we cry “Abba Father”. We know we are God’s child.

Bear witness with is summartureō, “to bear joint witness with” some other person, “to bear joint-testimony with” some other person. “Our spirit” refers to the saint’s human spirit energized by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit bears testimony to our human spirit that we are children of God (teknon, without article, thus, children of God by nature), and our Spirit-energized, spirit thus joins the Holy Spirit in a joint-testimony to that fact. Wuest’s Word Studies

Have you gone through such severely bad times that you started to wonder if you are the Lord’s?

I can recall occasions when the Lord Himself definitely held me, or spoke to me, and made me know that this was right, and this was wrong. It was something that I never received from outside; I never got advice, counsel, or anything; but I knew it in myself! ‘You just can’t – no, not now! You just cannot do it.’ It was as real as, or more real than, any audible voice.

What is that, coming right from the inside? That is the Spirit bearing witness with my spirit that I am a child of God. A child of God does not behave like that; a child of God does behave like this; a child of God does not do those things; a child of God does do these things.

The Spirit says: ‘Others can; you cannot; you are a child of God.’

It is very real – the Spirit bearing witness. That is to be the basic law of our Christian life. In addition, every one of you who is a child of God ought to know what I am talking about

This is what it means to be a Christian. It is something real on the inside.

Next, the Holy Spirit, coming inside, has created and constituted a new kind of human being, a different kind of humanity from all the rest of humanity.

5. The Holy Spirit Makes us Different

(from all other people who are not children of God)

  • He leaves His mark upon us!
  • Our focus is different, our understanding is different, out wants are different. Instead of self-focused, we are God focused.

A.We See Purpose in Suffering

And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:17-19

B.We Groan As We Wait For Our Adoption.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:23

The difference is not that they have decided to be religious, and to go to meetings, and company with Christian people; do this thing and that thing, and give up a lot of other things – that is not it at all.

Their very being, their very constitution, has been changed; they are different people.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Jesus said: ‘You are from beneath; I am from above’ (John 8:23). That is exactly true of every child of God. We too can say: I am from above: this is no longer my place; this is no longer my home; I am no longer at rest here in this world. I have a new nationality. I have a new country, a new land; here in this world I am just an alien.

That becomes a very real thing to the child of God.

Just as Righteous Lot was vexed by the evilness of Sodom, so too we must always be on guard against the wickedness in this world.

Never try to violate it – never try to be at home in this world. If you do, you will be doing damage to your new constitution – because it is that, you see, that is your testimony. It is not that you try to be different at all. Never try to be different; never pretend to be different. The world can spot phonies.

If the Spirit lives in you, you will be different. That is the mark of the Holy Spirit. If you want any proof of that, you will find that, from the moment of your new birth, the Devil knows you! You are a marked person, just as Christ was a marked man when He was here.

The Spirit coming in makes us different, and it is just that difference that is the basis of everything for the future, for the Holy Spirit wants to use us.

6. The Holy Spirit Gifts Us

The next thing, in the life of the Spirit, is that the Holy Spirit gifts us, and qualifies us for a place and a part in this great purpose of God.

With God, it is not a matter of your natural abilities. It is a matter of you allowing the Holy Spirit to work His gift in you and through you.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28

The Holy Spirit Intercedes for us. He wants what is best for us! In fact, God uses our weaknesses and even our failures as instruments to build up his body and work to conform each other to Jesus.

Early in my Christian life, I was very conscious of many lacks, deficiencies, and things that I wished I had. I had ambitions and dreams that I was never able to realize. God did not want me to be somebody else. God wanted me to be what the Holy Spirit was gifting me to be.

On the one side, there are many who have very great natural abilities and qualifications, or qualifications acquired through study, but they are not necessarily spiritual people. Moreover, it never does mean – and you can prove this – that, because you have a tremendous background of scholarship, education, or qualification of that kind, you have a special aptitude for grasping spiritual things.

That is a great thing to learn early in the Christian life: it is not what I have, or what I do not have, naturally – the Holy Spirit is qualification for what God wants!

The New Testament speaks of ‘gifts of the Spirit’ and truly, if you allow the Holy Spirit to lead, He will reveal the gift that He has given you. It will motivate your service to Christ. Do take that to your heart. It may be that you are one of the least, and that you feel there is not much hope for you; but, if you have the Holy Spirit, He can and will qualify you for something that is your particular part in the whole.

The Holy Spirit has come to give us something we do not have naturally, and we cannot get naturally – it is the particular equipment of the Holy Spirit. It is never fleshly talent or abilities. It is a gift that is spiritual from the Holy Spirit.!

7. The Holy Spirit Puts us to Work

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30

I want to come to one more very important aspect of this whole matter of the Spirit.

Let us go back to the Old Testament, to the last section of the book of Exodus, which, as you know, contains the whole account of the making of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. In addition, you will know that it was through the Holy Spirit that the whole thing was made, constructed; that the Spirit came upon certain men for that work, and then, under those Spirit-governed men, gathered all the people together. All the people came into action.

While it does not definitely say so, it as good as says that the whole nation was in this business. They were all doing something about it; they all had something to give. Some had linen to give; some had other materials to give; but they all had something. I suppose you could see ‘sewing parties’ all over the camp, and men at work busy  at this thing and that – some on wood, some on  gold, some on silver, some on brass – all the different materials; everywhere they were occupied with the work, and it was all under the direction and instruction and counsel of Spirit-filled men.

They were all under the government of the Spirit. The Anointing, so to speak, spread itself all over the whole mighty host for work. Now my point is this: the Holy Spirit puts His Body to Work.

Just think, here are some women making a curtain for the Tabernacle. Well, are they going to have their own little ‘tabernacle’ made of their one little curtain, all to themselves? Here are some men making a part of wood, perhaps to be overlaid with gold: is that the Tabernacle? Are they going to have a special little tabernacle of that thing that they are making – a little church of their own? It is nonsense, you see.

All this, by the Spirit, is one thing – it is the Body of Christ at Work.

They are not each living and working for their own little bit, they are living and working for the whole. They have the vision of the whole, and their whole life is taken up with the whole – not with just their little bit as an end in itself. They are living and working for the Tabernacle in completeness. The Holy Spirit has brought them together, and bound them into a oneness. All their work and focus is one, because they are under one Spirit.

8. The Holy Spirit Unites Us

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:31-37

If you and I are really under the government of the Holy Spirit, under the anointing of the Spirit, we shall not have any little private things of our own, any little ‘hole in a corner’ business of ours, any detached and unrelated thing to which we are giving ourselves. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, and of unity in vocation. What it will amount to, dear friends, is this: we shall live for the whole.

Moreover, if it is a matter of our local relationships – such as here – none of us is to be living other than for the whole: we ought to be living for the complete thing. Our position must be ‘I am not living and working as an individual: I am living and working as a part of a whole. And, in the appointment of God, for the time being, my local ‘whole’ is here, and I am living for that; I work for that; that is my vocation.’

So many people are wondering about their service: wanting to be in the Lord’s work, or to do something for the Lord – some sort of ministry, some sort of work – and to know what their work is; and they are asking: What is my work? What is my ministry? What is my job? It is always ‘my’, ‘my’, ‘my’… The answer is: Your job is ‘they’, is ‘them’.

Your value to God is a related thing. You will find the Holy Spirit coming in and using you when you link yourself on with all the rest, and become part of the whole.

If you keep yourself in any detachment, He may not do anything at all with you; He will just leave you; you will be doing nothing, and be counting for nothing.

You see, we are really in “Ephesians”. “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, Ephesians 4:1 and the context or Eph 4 all concerns our relationship one to another in our daily walk. We are not to say “this is not my job; this is not your job, as something personal, as if we were not connected to one another.

It is the Church’s job; it is not yours: it is not mine. Whenever people go off on a personal, unrelated, line they become an end in themselves; and when they go, that is the end. The thing started with them, and it finished with them; and now you have to start all over again.

Therefore, we go back to our illustration from the Old Testament. The people found their inspiration, and the Lord’s blessing upon them, as they saw all the time the whole, lived for the whole, and regarded everything, every detail, as a part of the whole. You live for the whole!

In the church you don’t see it through your eyes. You do not let a little matter get you all upset if you are focusing on God’s greater purpose through the WHOLE. You are not in a church for your own interests. Have the whole view of God’s Church, and you will find that the Lord’s blessing is there. There may be difficulties, but the Lord will stand by you; and there will be something that would not be there if you just became a little company by yourselves, in a corner, living for yourselves, turned in on yourselves.

The Christian life is never about you and what you want for yourself. No! That is not the Living in the Spirit! Catch the vision of God’s purpose!

God works to conform each one of us into the likeness of His Son! That is His purpose, and He uses the WHOLE body!

We started from within – the Spirit doing His work within, joining us to Christ, leading us to our relationship with our Abba Father, making us different, working in us and then working our His purpose in us, gifting us, putting us to work with others, uniting us to a bigger purpose, accomplishing what is on the heart of God.

The end of our Journey Through the Cross is dying to ourselves and what we want, and being conformed to Jesus Christ. That is where we are going.

How? By the Holy Spirit within, and by our Living in the Spirit.

Advertisements

“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