Posts Tagged ‘New Testament’


“But without faith it is impossible to please Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith is an absolute requirement for coming to God, for pleasing Him. What sort of faith allows us to please Him?

We quote Hebrews 11:1 as a general definition of faith, but Romans 4:3 sheds more pertinent light on what sort of faith it takes to please God.

Romans 4:3 “What does scripture say? ‘Abraham took God at his word, and that act of faith was accepted as putting him into a right relationship with God'” (The New Testament: A Translation by William Barclay).

Abraham’s “act of faith” was to believe the words of God. Simply, faith is believing what God says. That belief, that faith, is what pleases God, putting us in a position to have a right relationship with Him. Even in our human relationships, trust in what a person says is foundational.

Trust is never simply an intellectual agreement. It is visceral and intangible and always affects our emotions and actions. This is why it is so devastating when a spouse discovers the other has been unfaithful. That trust which had enveloped his or her soul has been destroyed. That trust which gave him or her life had suddenly been exposed to be based on a lie.

Abraham shows us that this belief, this faith is a deep conviction which resides in our core being, effecting our will and our mind, and even our emotions. His great love for his only son was laid aside to show his trust in this great invisible God. His core trust and faith resulted in obedient action. This is why James declared that faith that does not result in works is not true faith at all, for it is useless for LIFE!

(Jas 2:20) Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

Adam and Eve were forced from the Garden because their trust and faith in God had been shallow, and void of works that demonstrated their trust in His Word. They decided to live by sight when they chose to disobey and eat the fruit. Their action demonstrated a faith that was not pleasing to God. They believed in God, certainly, just as Satan and his minions. However, when it came to trusting His WORDS and acting upon them, their faith fell short of pleasing God. In fact, their “faith” resulted in their death!

Adam and Eve became the first example of man choosing to walk by sight rather than by faith. Mankind has continued in the footsteps of the first Adam, proving that Adam and Eve’s faithlessness was not an aberration, but a trait inherent in every human heart.

Failure to trust the Word of God, failure to walk by faith resulted in a barrier between themselves and fellowship with God. That broken trust ruined their relationship just as it does a marriage.

Satan is the foremost example of faithlessness (faith that does not please God). Satan believes God exists, but his faith is dead because it does not lead to right actions.

James 2:19-20, from the New Living Translation (NLT), forcefully points out the futility and foolishness of Satan’s faith: “Do you still think it’s enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?”

“Pleasing Faith” Believes and Obeys the Word of God

When confronted with the choice to eat or not eat the fruit, what evidence did Adam and Eve have? All they had were the words of God. Notice the classic definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What is the “evidence of things not seen?” God’s words. The rest of the chapter provides examples of men and women who followed God based solely on His Words to them.

Hebrews 11:36-38 list various trials that they went through for their faith. Notice verse 39: “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise.” Even though they did not receive the promise of God, they still believed Him, followed Him, and gave their life for Him, trusting that the sovereign God could and would keep His promises even beyond the grave.

Consider closely Abraham’s decision to sacrifice his son, Isaac. When Abraham raised the knife to sacrifice his son, the only evidence things would work out was the word of an unseen God. Abraham could believe God—take Him at His word—or believe all the evidence he could see that the son of promise would die before God fulfilled His promises. Abraham could not “see” what God was going to do. As far as Abraham was concerned, Isaac was dead. The only “evidence” he had that it all would work out was God’s words—the promises God made to him.

God also needs evidence.

God wanted to know what was in Abraham’s heart. (Genesis 22:12) God said “Now I know what is in your heart.” He knew and recorded for all eternity the “evidence” that Abraham walked by faith, not by sight. Therefore, Abraham became the “Father of Faith” for all who would please God must have faith to believe that He is!

To walk requires action and effort. So even the phrase “walk by faith” demonstrates that living faith requires action and effort. As Hebrews 11:6 declares, “Pleasing Faith” believes that God rewards those who DILIGENTLY seek Him. Our evidence is God’s words. God’s evidence is our actions.

We are just like Abraham. So says Galatians 3:6: “You have exactly the same experience as Abraham. Abraham took God at his word, and that act of faith was accepted as putting him into a right relationship with God” (William Barclay). Just as Abraham had to choose between believing God and believing the circumstances he could see, God also has to put us into exactly the same position. He must find out what is the true intent of our hearts—the depth of our faith. God needs to “know” that we will trust Him, no matter what.

“Pleasing Faith’s” Source

Where do we get this “pleasing” faith? Ephesians 2:8 answers: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” We cannot work it up—that would be our effort, and Romans 8:8 says that we can never please God in our flesh. Further prove this faith comes from God is the correct application of Galatians 2:20:

(Gal 2:20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Paul exchanged his life for Christ’s life. Paul was dead, and Christ lived through him. This life of faith was only possible through the faith of Christ! Christ’s faith was Paul’s faith! This is truly an exchanged life!

Consider when God first started working on us. One year we were clueless, the next year things were making sense. We read the Bible and understood it, but more importantly, we believed it. Where did that belief come from? It was, as Ephesians 2:8 says, a gift from God. The real miracle is not that we understood, but rather that we now believed those words we understood. And this happened only because God made it possible.

What was the evidence that we believed those words? We began living by them. Our new works and actions were the evidence of our faith. Just like Abraham, our actions showed our desire to begin a right relationship with God motivated by His gift of faith. “Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did—by his actions” (James 2:21-22 NLT).

Are you willing to believe and obey God’s Word?

To test our faith, God’s pattern is to bring us to a point—a brick wall or a Red Sea—that seemingly allows no escape. That is where He can find out what is truly in our hearts—hearts of belief or evil unbelief.

(Heb 3:12)  Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

Paul had this experience and recorded it for us in II Corinthians 1:8-10:

We should like you, our brothers, to know something of the trouble we went through in Asia. At that time we were completely overwhelmed, the burden was more than we could bear, in fact we told ourselves that this was the end. Yet we believe now that we had this sense of impending disaster that we might learn to trust, not in ourselves, but in God who can raise the dead. It was God who preserved us from such deadly perils, and it is he who still preserves us. (Phillips translation)

Even though all human hope was lost, God came to the rescue to teach Paul—and us through Paul—that God can be trusted.

“I am God! I can be trusted. . . . I alone am the God who can be trusted” [Isaiah 65:16 (CEV)].

What areas of your life are not “pleasing” to God? What areas of your life are being lived by sight? Is your faith pleasing to God, or is it lifeless?

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What makes you distinctive?

Anthony Davis has a distinctive unibrow that he’s proud of. In fact, he has a unibrow patent.

The dictionary defines distinctive as a “noun. 1. A distinguishing mark or quality; a characteristic.”[1]

In his book The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms, Walter B. Shurden identifies four freedoms that have characterized Baptists through the centuries:  Bible freedom soul freedom, church freedom, and religious freedom[2]

These are Baptist “distinctives”. You thought it was mainly ‘baptism by immersion’, but no, these are the distinguishing marks of Baptist churches.

1. Bible freedom is the historic Baptist affirmation that the Bible, under the Lordship of Christ, must be central in the life of the individual and church and that Christians, with the best and most scholarly tools of inquiry, are both free and obligated to study and obey the Scripture.

2. Soul freedom is defined as the inalienable right and responsibility of every person to deal with God without the imposition of creed, the interference of clergy, or the intervention of civil government.

Also known as the priesthood of all believers, soul freedom implies that all believers share as equals in Christ’s Body, the church, and have a priestly role toward God and each other.  Soul freedom affirms our core belief in individual choice.  We believe that each person was created in the image of God, and therefore, is able and responsible, under God, to make moral, spiritual, and religious decisions.[3]

3. Church freedom is the historic Baptist affirmation that local churches are free, under the Lordship of Christ, to determine their membership and leadership, to order their worship and work, to ordain whom they perceive as gifted for ministry, male or female, and to participate in the larger Body of Christ.

4. Religious freedom is the historic Baptist affirmation of freedom OF religion, freedom FOR religion, and freedom FROM religion, insisting that Caesar is not Christ and Christ is not Caesar.

Now, whether these distinctives characterized the New Testament church are a matter of discussion as we determine what kind of church we want to be. From the consensus that I am gathering, we want to be a Christ-centered, Word-centered church, one which follows the teaching and example of the New Testament. I believe that the number one distinctive we should have is that we are a disciple-making church.

What Distinctives make a Disciple Making Church?

Let’s look at our text and see what God’s Word says our “distinctives” should be:

What are the Distinctives of Ministry Paul imparted to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1-16?

A.  Dependence on the Holy Spirit to protect against the flesh.

  • The Wisdom of Man exalts itself against the Wisdom of God. The wisdom of God is the Cross and the expression of the Cross throughout the Word.

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

  1. Religious people will depart from true faith.
  2. Devote themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons: i.e. Satan in the garden – it is ok to do this. (Not demon possessed, but influenced because they exalt their own wisdom above God’s Word.)
  3. People whose conscience has become seared (they have resisted the Holy Spirit and failed the grace of God – bitterness, moral impurity, temporal values)
  4. Determine certain “rules” that you must follow to be ‘sanctified’.
  5. Create barriers to God’s creation, for everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if received with thanksgiving – no barriers to people or things.
  6. Results in an inward focused, fleshly ministry, opposed to the Work of the Holy Spirit.
  7. Man’s philosophy and traditions guides ministry. (Why do we do it this way? Because we have always done it this way)

B.  Honesty with the Word

vs 2: through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared

We don’t close our minds to what the Scriptures really says. We don’t twist it to mean something that is more pleasing to our ideas. We submit our lives to the authority of the Word, not having our consciences seared by resistance or wrong values.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Scripture is exalted and obeyed, taught, used for reproof and correction and training in righteousness, so that we might be competent and equipped for good works.

We do not sear our consciences to permit laziness and apathy in following Christ. You can usually tell that is what is going on in a typical church because the people are not in the Word.

C. Priority of Grace

vs 4: For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,

Grace is for the weak, the sinful, the unlovely. If we are honest with each other about our needs and sins, we will avoid false piety and false holiness. We will welcome all into our fellowship, and count on God’s Grace to move us towards Him.

2 Corinthians 4:15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

D. Devotion to the Word and Prayer

vs 5: for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer

We will develop a community centered around the Word and prayer together. Each one of us will know he Word. Each one of us will be praying. This is not limited to the Pastor or Elders or Deacons. Every Member is a priest. No saying “I can’t”, and living with a seared conscience. We are made holy by the Word and prayer!

E. Servants trained in the Word and Doctrine

vs 6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

Our church will be about training every member to be ‘good servants’ of Jesus, trained in the power of God’s word!

F. Trained for Godliness

vs 7: Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Amplified Version puts it this way:

1 Timothy 4:7 But refuse and avoid irreverent legends (profane and impure and godless fictions, mere grandmothers’ tales) and silly myths, and express your disapproval of them. Train yourself toward godliness (piety), [keeping yourself spiritually fit].

Avoid anything that sidetracks you from training in Godliness. Avoid doing things just because someone says you should to be a good Christian. Do not follow myths or “old wive’s tales.”

My Granny watched over her granddaughters with great care. She taught us what ladies did and did not do. She had a network of neighbors and cousins watching our every move. Finally, she guarded our future fertility-or at least she thought she did. Granny taught us that if we lifted heavy things, we would “rupture ourselves” and be unable to have children.

Any time we were moving, she insisted that many hands make light work. No girl was to show off how strong she was by picking up a really heavy box. The men were supposed to move the heavy items. (Men were apparently not as prone to rupture?) When a friend’s teenage daughter picked up a television set and loaded it on a moving truck by herself, Granny shook her head while we cheered our friend for being so strong.

How do you train for godliness? Does it mean you wear a suit to church, stop going to movies, stop hanging around certain people, do this or that…No those are just outward cleansings, sometimes motivated by some tradition or old wives tale. Godliness is the presence of God in your life. Training for Godliness is exercising faith to see God daily, working on diligently seeking Him (because God rewards those who diligently seek Him-Hebrews 11:6).

Now, if changes in your habits and lifestyle occur because God brings it about, great! But don’t follow what amounts to “old wives tales” about how you should dress and act.

Godliness has value in every way – for today and for eternity.

  • 1 Timothy 4:9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.

G.  Hope set on the Living God

  • 1 Timothy 4:10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Our goal is to be Godly, because our hope is set on the living God. Your hope is usually what drives you. You work hard and save so that one day you hope you can retire. You watch what you eat and exercise because you hope to stay healthy. A wives tale is that you go to church because you hope it gives you a better chance of heaven.

No, if we set our hope on God who lives, who rewards, who loves, who works in our lives, then we will train for godliness. We will be disciples. We will grow in Jesus Christ.

H. We command and teach these things.

  • vs 11: Command and teach these things.

The word for teach implies word of mouth instruction from one person to another. This is relational teaching and commanding. This is discipleship. This is one follower instructing another follower. We are to instruct our people these things.

I. Examples in speech, conduct, love, faith purity

  • vs 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

This is the heart of disciple-making. You don’t just instruct and command, but you demonstrate with your life. Your speech, your conduct, the way you love others, your faith, and your purity of heart and life. When you are making disciples, you spend time together. Your speech will reveal the state of your heart. What you talk about, what you don’t talk about.

Regardless of your age or knowledge or wisdom. When you train for godliness, you will demonstrate the example that God desires.

J. Disciple making requires devotion

  • vs 13:  Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

K. Stir up your spiritual gift

  • vs 14:  Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.

2 Timothy 1:6 6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

L. Immersed in Discipleship

  • vs 15: Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

M. Keep a close watch on each other and our teaching

  • vs 16: Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them:

N. We will be overcomers.

  • vs 16b: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

So Should our Church be committed to being a Disciple-Making Church?

  • DO we owe it to Christ?
  • DO we want to reach Sinners with the Power of Christ for their lives?
  • DO we want Grace to overflow in our lives?
  • DO we want to be Overcomers?
  • Do we want to be spiritually FIT?
  • Do we want to know the power of Christ for our every-day lives?

[1] Oxford English Dictionary

[2] Walter B. Shurden,  The Baptist Identity: Four Fragile Freedoms (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishers, 1993)5.  Shurden arrived at these distinctives by studying historic documents such as denominational documents from the Northern, Southern, American and National Baptist Conventions, the Alliance of Baptists, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and a diversity of European Baptist groups as well as sermons and addresses given at meetings of the Baptist World Alliance from 1905 to 1980.

[3] Ibid, 24.


“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