Classic Christianity – Book of Romans P43 (02-17-20)
How is it that our flesh is so prone to begin puffed up with pride. The apostle Paul now addresses this issue of pride with the Gentiles. The Gentiles, who pursued pleasure and certainly were not seeking God, found God, or rather, were found by God, believed the message concerning Christ Jesus and were saved. The Jews, who pursued a righteousness that is by works, a self righteousness, and, therefore, rejected the message concerning Christ Jesus. The Jews received all of the law and the prophets, saw the parting of the Red Sea, had the Old Covenant scriptures read to them, and in numerous ways God provided for them, yet they failed to come to Christ for life. The Gentiles then began to get haughty and proud that they came to life in Christ while the Jews did not. Paul wrote to the Romans, to the the Gentile believers in Rome, to correct this attitude.
Paul explains that he himself is a Jew, and shares from his heart how he longs for all of Israel, his brothers and sisters by heritage, to be saved. The Jews had a zeal for God but without knowledge. Truth is so important for people to be set free. People need to be set free from the self righteousness that binds them to being slaves to sin under the law.
The law could never make anyone one righteous. We were born spiritually dead already, from the fall of Adam. That is the reason Christ came to earth, to rescue man from certain death. Until someone realizes, like Paul, how wretched he or she is, you will not see the need of the cross. Jesus died on a cross to take away the sins of the world. He did this because, until sin is taken away, he cannot offer eternal life to man. Sin is what caused our death, and as long as we remain under that law of sin and death, we are bound for eternal destruction, forever cast away from the presence of God.
So if you want to be righteous by observing the law, then you better obey all of it and never slip up once. That is impossible with man. Many will justify their self righteousness by saying they just keep trying or they obey the important ones. So they pick and choose what they think they can obey. But, that avoids the whole issue of how wretched you are, and the issues of the heart, deep inside you, that causes sin, that independent and rebellious nature inherited in Adam, that is based in lacking trust in God, in someone you do not know. Anything that does not come from faith is sin.
Do you see that what comes out of the heart is what causes all sin that ultimately can be observed in outward actions and attitudes? Jesus addresses the issues of the heart by explaining the deeper purpose of the law. So if you lust after a woman, then you have already committed adultery in your heart. If you are angry at someone, then you have already committed murder in your heart. If you want to enter the kingdom of heaven by way of the law, Jesus said, then be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect. So the law was not added to make us righteous. It was added so man can see himself as a sinner in need of a Savior. It is like a mirror to help you see the dirt on your face. But it has no power to remove the dirt. Only Christ Jesus has the power to remove sin and to give new life to man.
Until a person sees his need of life, he will not come to Christ for life. But when he does realize his wretched condition of spiritual death, and then hears a message concerning Christ, that Jesus already died to take away the sins of the world in order to give life to man. Knowing about the resurrection of Christ Jesus, he comes to faith in Christ and is born again, having the Spirit of God come to live inside him, renewing his mind, and being His life.
The resurrection is absolutely essential to receiving new life in Christ Jesus. If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then you too will remain dead in your sins. Jesus was raised from the dead so that the same life that raised him from the dead will raise you and me from the dead also. When Jesus was asked to save himself from the cross, asking, “ If you are God, take yourself down from the cross and save yourself?” Jesus, in essence, replied, “If I do not die on a cross, then you have no hope of being saved. And if I am not raised from the dead, then neither shall you be raised from the dead either.”
So this faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Has everyone heard this message? Yes, according to scripture, the Spirit has gone out to all the world. There is no where His voice has not been heard. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, this was spread all over the place. It came in ceremony. It came in passover. Everybody has heard about him. They came from everywhere to see him. Today, unlike in the time of the apostles, we have the very words of God we can read in our own language. So this faith to believe is available to every man. Every man has the potential to place their faith in Christ.
How can they believe if they have not heard? How can they hear unless someone is sent? So as believers, we are to be trained to proclaim this truth of Christ. Not to be obnoxious, but to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through you, to be sensitive to those around you, to ask questions to discern where people are hurting, and then to have a ready answer to the hope that is within you. We are not better than anyone else. We are better off, but not better.
The message is not about us and how wonderful we are. For we are not wonderful. We do not have anything that we have not received. We have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. We have been given everything we need for life and godliness, and that is the Spirit of Christ Jesus living in us. The good we do is not us doing it, but by resting, or abiding, in Jesus, He produces fruit in and through us, so that all glory belongs to God. He is our boast for He is the one who produces the life of the Spirit that we could never produce in the energy of the flesh. The message is Christ, our only hope of glory.
As we talked about, the book of Romans is written exactly to whom it is addressed to. It is written to the Roman Christians, people who live in Rome. The gospel went into that area and began to spread into the Roman empire, in the city of Rome. It is basically addressed to Gentiles. What we are teaching over these chapters is Paul teaching the Gentiles of what their attitude should be, not only in relationship to Christ, but also to the Jews, who are also in Christ. But their home base was back in Jerusalem, and the gospel spread. As the Gentiles came to Christ, there was, and we will read that shortly, they started getting puffed up and cocky. “We’ve got it and these Jews were supposed to be God’s people, but we are God’s chosen people.” Paul had to address this prejudice that was taking place between the Jews and the Gentiles.
30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal.
Yes, that is true. You have got that. Why didn’t the Jews get righteousness? They stumbled over the stumbling stone. They tried to obtain a righteousness on their own instead of accepting the righteousness that comes from God. So those things had to be explained. That is all Paul is doing here, explaining to the Gentile believers what their attitude should be toward the Jewish believers and toward their own salvation.
1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.
Paul is saying, “I am a Jew myself. My heart’s desire is that my people of Israel will be saved.”
2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.
They do not have the knowledge of imputed righteousness. Their knowledge of righteousness is: “I do something to get God to accept me”. In other words, “I am going to initiate my good deeds and God is going to respond to me by making me righteous”. They have a zeal for God but it is not in accordance with truth, with knowledge.
3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own,
What did they use to establish their own righteousness? Obedience to the law. “Here is the law and we have the law.” Then they added to the law some six hundred or so additional laws. “You cannot spit on the ground, for that would be work.” If you go to Israel today, you have a Sabbat elevator because you cannot push a button for that would be work. So they have laws upon laws. They establish those things in order to establish their own righteousness.
they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
They did not accept that God said “I will give you righteousness to all who come to me by faith and faith alone.”
4 Christ is the culmination [the end] of the law
You do not have to be a Greek scholar to interpret this. What word do we not understand? He is the end of the law. How come?
so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Recall what Paul had said earlier.
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin..
Inasmuch as no one will be declared righteous through their obedience, through their works, He came in with a New Covenant of grace whereby you come to Christ and you receive His righteousness and not by works. No man could work hard enough or diligent enough to make themselves righteous in the sight of God. We make ourselves righteous in our sight. If we can keep our lives hidden from others long enough, people might think we are righteous. But if you are with one another enough, down under the skin, where we live, you can only come to one conclusion, if you are honest, and that is, to thank the Lord Jesus for His mercy.
5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law:
Here is how Moses describes righteousness by the law.
“The person who does these things will live by them.”[Leviticus 18:5]
Remember what Paul had said earlier.
24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”[Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 36:20,22]
25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?
Recall also what the apostle James said.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
So you do not put yourself under any of the laws. You are not led by the law that kills but by the Spirit of God, who lives in you, and leads you in the paths of righteousness. The person who does these things will live by them. If you want to live by law, then live by all of them. But what we do is cherry pick the law. We never mention coveting. We exclude that one. “I just do not commit adultery and I do not steal, at least not too often.” Then we come up with this idea. “Most of the time I am okay”, “I tried hard.” or “I have really given it a good try.” I am sorry, folks, that is not going to do it. The only way you are going to obtain righteousness, and that is righteousness that comes from God, and not a righteousness you create on your own.
sup>6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[Deuteronomy 30:12] (that is, to bring Christ down)
What is he saying here? You are not the initiator. A righteousness that is by faith says, “I will not be going to go up to heaven to get God to come down here. I am not going to ascend into heaven to get God to come down here. Neither am I going to descend into the deep.”
7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”[Deuteronomy 30:13] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
I am not going to go down to raise Jesus from the dead. I do not go up to heaven to get God to come down to me. God initiated all of those things, did he not? The righteousness that is by faith gets you out of the picture. You did not initiate any of this. God did not consult with you. He did not say to you, “Is it okay if I come down and die for you?” He did not consult you with salvation. He did not consult you with creation. He just did it. A righteousness that comes from God, that is by faith, gets you out of the picture. You are not in the picture. God is the initiator. God came down to you. Christ came down to you. Christ was raised from the dead. You did not have anything to do with it.
If you are going to have a righteousness by faith, the only thing you can do with these truths is respond to them. You have two responses, ignore it or accept it. When you accept it by faith, you are saved. You are born again of the Spirit of God. Is that fair? Of course it is fair. You could not obtain righteousness through good works. We cannot obtain righteousness because we are so good and holy. He provided a way whereby we can experience righteousness in spite of ourselves not because of ourselves. Do we understand that?
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[Deuteronomy 30:14] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim:
I remember that one day that I came to Christ. I was driving home thinking, “Why did I not know this sooner? Why did it take me so long? Everything I was looking for in life was as close as a prayer.” Those were literally the words I said to Amy. “It was like I was scrubbed.” I do not know I was cleansed of all unrighteousness. I did not know anything. I never had my bible opened. It cracked when I opened it. For thirty six years I was sitting in church all my life, and I never had a bible opened. I was never told to. I do not think the pastors I had would have had it open either unless it made a good impression. The issue is that is where I was. The word of God is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. Jesus already came. You do not have to go get Him. He already came. You do not get Him out of the grave. He was raised.
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
That is what it takes for salvation. Salvation is to believe in your heart, confessing with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believing in your heart God raised him from the dead. I do not want to camp on this, but I cannot over-emphasize this enough. You will notice he did not say that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that he died on a cross, you will be saved. You will note it did not say that. It did not say that. It said that you believed that God raised him from the dead. Paul said that without resurrection, we were to be pitied of all people, and are still in our sins, knowing full well a cross had occurred and knowing full well the meaning of the cross. It is where he took away the sins of the world. It is where he cleared the deck for the divine action of bringing life from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:17-22
17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
The resurrection is the key, the centrality of the Christian message. When you have the movies, and hopefully you have seen it, the Passion, you will probably see the greatest depiction of what took place at the cross that has ever been recorded in human history on film. It is accurate. He was beaten, as scripture said, as no man.
13 See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him –
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond human likeness –
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.
He was not hanging on the cross, looking like a brill cream man, with his nice long blond hair. Surprisingly enough he was a Jew. Someone said to me the other day, “Hey, the woman who played Mary, that is a Jew?” Duh. You have got to be kidding. You are going to see a movie. You are going to see that everything that Jesus did.
You will hear these words of Jesus.
17 “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
You will hear the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocking Jesus.
In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!”
Jesus, in essence, is saying back to them, “If I saved myself then I won’t be able to save you. The only way I can save you is to take away your cause of spiritual death, which is sin. All the beating and torment I went through is all worth it for the glory of the salvation that will come to you by my resurrection.”
2 For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We cannot negate the resurrection. We must understand the truth that that is where life comes from. The cross forgave sin, dealt with the cause of spiritual death so that we could come to life in Christ Jesus.
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
It is an open proclamation. Some people will say, “Why do you have people pray?” Because what are you doing? You are speaking with your mouth. You are speaking what is gone on in your heart. A prayer does not save you. A prayer is an indicator that you have already put your faith in Jesus and you are going to express that to Him. No big deal on that. Nothing to criticize of saying a prayer. It is wonderful to say a prayer. If you say it out loud, say it out loud. If you say it in your heart, say it in your heart. The issue is it is a reflection of your heart. A prayer does not save anybody. Faith in Jesus saves you. You are just expressing that faith when you pray.
11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[Isaiah 28:16]
It does not say to anyone who prays to him, but to anyone who put their trust in him. There is a time when you put your trust in something. When you have put your trust in the finished work of Christ on a cross, and put your trust that God raised Jesus from the dead, and he came to give you life, and you put your trust in that, he says you are born again. You are saved.
12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile
He is saying this to the Gentile group. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile. Just as you are saved, they too are saved. God is saying, “I reduced the entire world to salvation the same way, by faith in My Son Jesus Christ.” So there is no difference between Jew and Gentile.
– the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[Joel 2:32]
The Jew, He blesses, who calls upon Him. The Gentile, He blesses, who calls upon Him. Gentile, slave or free, man or woman, it makes no difference. Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Now he is going to say something.
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?
How are you going to call on God if you do not believe you are a sinner? Why would you call on the name of Jesus for forgiveness? Do you think Jesus died for some of your sins or all of them? So if you come to Jesus, thinking you are 80% okay, that just a little dab of You will do it, that is not Jesus. Jesus did not come to give you a little dab of something. He came to take away all of your sins. So until you see your depravity, as Paul did, you will not come to Christ, for you will see no reason to.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Until you see your wretchedness, you are not prepared for Jesus. Until, many times, you are flat on your face, until all you can do is look up, you are not prepared for Jesus. Until you come to grips with your total inability to ever stand in the presence of God apart from Jesus, you are not ready for Jesus.
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
In order to come to God, you must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. So whoever comes to God must believe that he is God, and that he will be a rewarder if I diligently seek him. What does he reward you with? Gifts? Tinted cars? No, he rewards you with his Son. “That when you come to Me, and you want to know Me, I will give you the gift of My Son.”
And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
How are you going to hear the word? They did not have the New Testament written down back then. They did not have printing presses all over the place in those days. The word was spread verbally, people to people, man to man, woman to woman, people to children. That is how it was spread.
15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?
So you are going to have to send some preacher out there. He is saying to the Romans, to people, “You are sitting in your bible studies, but how are your neighbors going to hear unless you send somebody to them?” The Jehovah Witnesses do not have any problem with that, do they? They will just bug the daylights right out of you and they do not know the Lord from a lamp post. They sure know how to go door to door and they are trained in their heresy. They are better trained than most of us. That is why training is important. If you went into the service gym as a helicopter pilot, I guarantee they did not put you in a helicopter until you were trained to fly it. We need to be trained to be available to reach out, to be sensitive. We have neighbors who need Jesus, and co-workers who need Jesus. You do not have to chase people around and make yourself obnoxious. You make yourself available, to be willing and able to give an account of that hope that is within you.
2 Timothy 4:1-3
1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
1 Peter 3:15-16
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
How do you find out if somebody needs help? You ask questions and you talk. If you talk long enough, you will hear somebody hurting, won’t you? When they are hurting, you got a solution. You are not telling people to come to Jesus so “you can be wonderful like me”, because we are not wonderful. We are telling people to come to Jesus so “you can be wonderful like Him”, to know the wonder of Him. We will not be wonderful until we die and see Him face to face. In the meantime, our focus is not on me and what I am doing. It never has been. It is on Him, on what He has done and what He is continually doing, as He has given us everything for life and godliness.
2 Peter 1:3
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”[Isaiah 52:7]
There is a beauty to people who bring good news to you. We need good news, don’t we? We do not need positive thinking. We need good news. We need the good news of the gospel. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news to us.
16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news.
The good news, saying again to the Romans, that the good news went to our brothers in Israel. Jesus and the apostles were there. But not everybody accepted it.
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
Jesus came to his own, the Jews, and his own received him not. The Jews received him not, but to all who did receive him, he gave the right to become a child of God. So they did not all accept the message.
For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”[Isaiah 53:1] 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Some people think that faith comes because God gives it to you, or gives it to the elect. The rest of you did not get it. The bible says that faith comes by hearing. In other words, if you hear the good news, everyone has been given the capacity to exercise faith in the good news. Everybody on the face of the earth has. God did not elect you and not elect somebody else. It was God’s will that none should perish, but all should come to repentance.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God has enabled every person on the face of this earth to have enough faith to receive the good news. Faith comes by hearing the good news, and the message of the word of Christ.
18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:
I do not think there was not anyone who did not hear when Israel was here. He was spread all over the place. So when he raised Lazarus, this was spread all over the place. It came in ceremony. It came in passover. Everybody has heard about him. They came from everywhere to see him. Did they not hear? The bible says all of them heard.
“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”[Psalm 19:4]
19 Again I ask: Did Israel not understand?
The answer to that is, “No, they did not understand.”
First, Moses says,
“I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;
Who is he talking about? The Gentile nations. I will make you, Jews, through whom the Messiah came, through whom the prophets were, through whom were given the word of God, through whom you were given everything you needed, yet you turned your back on the Messiah, one of your own. You knew about him but you would not accept him. So he says because of that I will make you envious.
“I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;
That is the Gentiles.
I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.”[Deuteronomy 32:21]
That is us, dumb as mules.
20 And Isaiah boldly says,
“I was found by those who did not seek me;
Who was that? Who did not seek him? Gentiles. “They found me. I appeared to them. They found me.”
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”[Isaiah 65:1]
Were the Gentiles seeking God? No. They were seeking pleasure. Were the Jews seeking God? They said they were. But he says, “No, you are not. You are seeking your own traditions. You are worshiping at the foot of your traditions and have missed God.”
21 But concerning Israel he says,
“All day long I have held out my hands
to a disobedient and obstinate people.”[Isaiah 65:2]
Now, I will ask you a question? Was it that all of the Jews were obstinate and disobedient? Was that all Jews? No. How many people came to Christ on the day of
Pentecost? Thousands. Who were they? Jews. But the leadership, the people in positions of authority, whose job security was more important than truth. Why did they kill Jesus? Job security.
47 “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
“If we let this man continue, then before long the whole world will follow him and we will lose our place and our position. We will lose our jobs and get kicked out of the convention.” Job security. You have people today who will not stand up for truth, knowing it, because of job security, because it does not fit in with theology of my denomination. Folks, Jesus did not come to form theology. He came to form a relationship. It is not theology. It is truth. It is not hard to interpret if you let God do the interpreting. Have you found that out before? It is not hard to understand truth if you let God be the understander.
So he is saying to us that not all people are disobedient and obstinate. There are many, many Jews who will come to Christ by faith. But the leadership. Who were the instigators to get the same crowds that were shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed be the one who comes in the name of the Lord” and three days later were saying “crucify him“. They stirred up the crowds. We see a phenomenal observation today, as to what goes on in that part of the country, when riots take place. These people are angry and mad, demonic looking. That is what you saw. They were adamant toward him. They said, “He is the enemy.” They lied about Him. The crowds were stirred up against Him.
1 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!
Have you ever been disobedient? Or obstinate? Did He reject you, or me? No. By no means.
Paul is saying to the Gentiles about the Jews.
I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.
Who did he foreknow? What is this foreknowledge? Foreknowledge of the Jews. Foreknowledge of the Jews just like the foreknowledge of the Gentiles. He did not reject them.
Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah
He would not be writing this unless the Gentiles were all messed up in their heads about the Jews. Don’t you know what the scripture says? He is trying to get back to the Gentiles, saying this is what the scriptures say in this regard.