Classic Christianity – Book of Romans P64 (04-06-20)
If you are a child of God, which happened the moment you became born again, with the Spirit of God living in you, then you have a testimony of how you came to Christ. You know what you were thinking and what your heart was like before coming to Christ. You heard the message of Christ. You had an encounter with the living Christ. People cannot argue with a testimony. It is your story of how God began the process of changing you. You are not perfect, and you still fall short, but God imputed His righteousness to you. You have been made complete in Christ, made into a new creation, not based on anything you did or failed to do, but on the fact you trusted Christ alone for what he did for you. That is our testimony, of those who are in Christ Jesus.
We read about Paul’s testimony. And how in his testimony, what his former way of thinking was, a Pharisee of Pharisees, even giving approval to the stoning of Stephen. But then he encountered the risen Christ. He never came to Christ asking Jesus to forgive him of his sins. He came to Christ and received new life. His life was completely changed. He formerly persecuted the people of the way, was a violent man, but now he is proclaiming a message of Christ, with the love of God in His heart, and being made clearly known, as he has grown in Christ.
Paul was appointed to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. He came to explain the complete gospel, that salvation is life in Christ Jesus. He did not stop at the cross, but proclaimed the resurrection of Christ Jesus, what that means personally to you and me, and what that meant for him. He did not stop at the cross, but he spoke of the resurrection. If God had not taken away the sins of the world, then life could not have been offered to you and me. If Jesus had not risen from the dead, then we are still dead in our sins, and are to be pitied of all men. The resurrection is the way you really got saved from the consequence of sin, which is death, by the gift of God, which is life.
You could not be saved eternally by the life of Christ apart from the cross. The fact is the cross is what took away the cause of spiritual death. Death has a consequence. Sin has a consequence. What is the consequence of sin? Death. It is not a paddling, not a woodshed. It is death.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We were born in Adam, dead. When you are dead, you need life. Forgiveness does not bring life. Resurrection brings life. Before He could resurrect us from our state of spiritual death, He had to take away the cause of our death, which is sin. Then, we can be made into a new creation. When you heard the message of Christ and received His gift of eternal life, you have been made into a new creation. We are a new creation. You heard that we are all God’s children, created in the image of God. No, we are not.
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.
When Adam and Eve had Seth, he was born in the image of Adam. You and I were born in the image of Adam. Adam fell and we were born in that fallen state. When are we created in the image of God? When you are born again. (Jesus explained “born again” when he spoke with Nicodemus at night in John 3.)
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Old things have passed. Behold all things have become new. We were not born in the image of Christ. We had to be born again in the image of God. That is what happens to us when we come to Christ by faith. When we read about the testimony of Paul, what Paul encountered was Jesus. He came face to face with Jesus. His life was changed. He was born again in the Spirit of God.
So guys, as we come to understand these truths, and we understand that if God had not taken away, which he did forever, the sins of entire world, that if there was one sin he forgot, and he came and gave you life, then the next time you did that sin, you would die because the wages of sin is death. The reason that you and I have eternal life is because of the eternal consequence of the cross. The only thing that could cause life to depart from you is sin. What caused the life of God to depart from Adam? Sin. What caused the life of God to depart from the physical Jesus? Sin. Whose sin? Ours. What is only thing that can cause life to depart from you? Sin. Why cant it? Why not won’t it? Why can’t it? Because of the cross. If you believe that Jesus meant what he said when he cried out on the cross, “it is finished”, if you believe that then there is no sin that can cause this life to depart.
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
That is why the issue of where you rename something then you can redefine it. Do you believe in eternal security? No, I believe in eternal life. Do you believe “once saved always saved?” No, I believe in eternal life. Salvation is very clear what it is. It is life.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
I am the way and the truth and the life.
1 John 5:12
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The whole issue of salvation is bringing life to the dead. The kind of life that He wanted to bring to the dead is called eternal life, not temporal life. So, when we come to Christ by faith, and we are saved, what are we saved from? The consequence of sin. So what are we saved from? Death. By what? Life.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
When we were dead in our sins, in the uncircumcision of our sinful nature, God did what? He made you alive in Christ? He forgave what? All your sins.
That forgiveness, that was provided 2000 years ago at the cross, was for how many people? The entire world.
Here is how people got into the theology of the elect. If salvation is getting your sins forgiven, then that would be universal salvation and we cannot have that, so he must have died for the elect. So, from their false premise, they concluded that there must be the theology of the elect. So this theology came from a misunderstanding of what salvation is. Salvation is not getting sins forgiven. That is a part of it, but in and of itself, that is not salvation.
Colossians 1:20 (TLB)
20 It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him€”all things in heaven and on earth€”for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for all by his blood.
He had to clear the deck for the divine action to bring life to the dead. And in order to bring eternal life to the dead, He had to eternally deal with what caused death, which is sin. That is why He did not leave one left. He died for the sins of the entire world. He not only died for our sins, but the sins of the entire world. Were Hitler’s sins all forgiven? Yes. Does that mean he is saved? No. I do not want to live in heaven with him. The issue is, were his sins taken away? Yes.
So just understand that you are spiritually dead and in need of life. You do not have to be Hitler to be proud and arrogant. Any person can be too proud to recognize what the bible says, that you are dead and you are in need of life. If you do not want it, you will not get it. Part of the sovereignty of God is to give man a free choice. That is part of the sovereignty of God, to give man a free will. He chose man not to be a robot. I do not want you, Paul, to love me because you have to.
1 John 4:10 (KJV)
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
It is not that we loved God but He loved us first. God is the initiator of all things. No one initiated our salvation to God. He initiated it with me. There is not a man alive that God did not try to draw unto himself. He initiated salvation to all people, and nature testifies about that. Everything testifies about that. We are not initiators. We are responders. God did not make me to be an initiator. He made me to be a responder to God. He initiated salvation to me.
At the age of 36, I responded to that call of salvation. I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior and became a new creation. I was not just born from mom and dad, but born again by God. So were you, who are in Christ Jesus, honored above all people to be children of the living God. That is blessed. That was the plan that God had. That was the plan God put in their minds and carried out through Jesus Christ here on this earth.
Now, you had great opposition to this man Jesus. As we said earlier, a Jewish guy was talking about antisemitism in a film called “The Passion”. How can it be antisemitic when you are talking about all Jews. Jesus was a Jew. His followers were Jews. Everyone who was converted was a Jew and Jesus was hated by the Jews. How can that be antisemitism? You have to be anti-high priest or anti-Jesus. Which Jew are you going to believe? Are you going to believe the high priest, full of legalism and pomp, or are you going to believe Jesus, who walked in perfect love to take away the sins of the world in order for us to walk in freedom. Which one are you going to accept? It is not about antisemitism, but which Jew are you going to accept. You are not talking about Jew and Gentile. In the gospels, they were all Jewish.
So this Jewish man, born of a virgin, came to earth, walked on earth, and in so doing, showed you and me what pure righteousness is. We had a perverted idea of righteousness. We had righteousness as what I am doing for God. Jesus said, “No. You are going to watch my life and see that I walk in total dependence on God. You will see pure righteousness walking by faith.”
10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
You will see love personified when you look in the face of Christ Jesus. He came to this earth and died on a cross to take away our sins. He died for us then, so when raised from the dead, He can live in us now. We are alive in Christ.
Paul was once dead. He is going to give his testimony about what happened to him. In his former life, known by the name of Saul of Tarsus, he was absolutely adamant about these Christian people following this Jesus, who he thought was greater than a high priest and greater than our traditions and greater than all the laws we teach. What kind of a man is this who has the audacity of thinking he is greater than these people? That is how Paul once thought. Jesus did not come out of the priestly line. He is not a Levite. He came out of another priestly line. Who are these followers thinking, who were thinking they can go through Christ Jesus to be saved? That was the attitude of the Jewish leadership, of whom Paul also once was a Pharisee of Pharisees, trained under Gamaliel. That was the attitude of the apostle Paul before he came to Christ.
Now the apostle Paul has fallen into the hands of the Jewish people and the Romans. So he came into Jerusalem and they saw him in there and they accused him of things that were false, saying that he brought the Gentiles into the temple. They brought all kinds of accusations against him. We see how people can cause riots through that part of the world through what we observe. That was the type of people rioting against Paul, and crying out to get rid of him. What anger! What meanness! So he came up and said, ”What are you doing beating a Roman citizen?”
So let us pick up on Paul’s testimony.
1 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
Prior to that time he was speaking Greek. Paul spoke in numerous languages. They became quiet when they heard him speak in the language of Jerusalem.
Then Paul said: 3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city [of Jerusalem]. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way
That is what they used to call the followers of Jesus, the people of the Way.
to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
Now he is going to tell his testimony.
6 “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
8 “‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
“ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.
9 My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
10 “‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.
“ ‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ 11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
12 “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13 He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.
14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’
17 “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.’
19 “‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. 20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’
21 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”
22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”
To the Gentiles, you are out of your mind, to be talking to those heathenistic Gentiles. Such was the hatred in their hearts. All they could say is “away with him.”
23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and interrogated in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this. 25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”
Paul is so smart.
26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”
27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered.
28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”
“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.
You can just hear the commander saying this rather smugly, saying that he paid a lot of money to be a citizen. In those days, you could pay to be a citizen. But Paul said, “No, I did not pay to be a citizen. I was born a citizen.”
29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.
That was a law he could have been killed for.
30 The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.
1 Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” 2 At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!
Is that no what Jesus called them, white-washed sepulchers?
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
You put up this phonie front of how good you are, but God looks at your heart. “I know how good you are.” If we were ever to realize the truth of that. We can stand so proud of what we have not done and pay no attention at all to what we never do, which is love people, to not keep records of wrongs, and all those things identified as love in 1 Corinthians 13.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
We are not patient, not kind, and are easily angered. We excuse that by saying that is just being human. We have this outward veneer. So often in church settings, we are so scared to let anybody know we have some weaknesses or some problems, or that we have problems you are not supposed to have as a Christian. Whoever came up with that list? Some of you may have just got in a fight before you came in here, and I hope you settle it before you go home. We just do not know. Can’t that happen? I have seen people driving to church just all over each other, snarling at each other. We have that capability yet we have the hypocrisy to say how wonderful I am because I am smiling saying, “Hi, everybody. So good to see you.” You got the children in the back, ready to knock their heads in.
2 Corinthians 3:18
18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
That is what life is about. We have to realize that what he is saying to these people is that they are white-washed walls. Anybody who stands up thinking they are somebody are a white-washed wall. There are no big deals in Christianity. Neither you or me are a big deal. We just think we are.
1 Corinthians 3:4-6
4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
Then we put people in positions to make them that way. Do not let people do that to you. We are just human beings, with frailties. I have good points and bad points. If you are going to love me, love me with warts and all. God is not through with me yet. He is not through with you yet. (2 Corinthians 3:18) So, he is saying, “You have this external veneer.” Man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!”
4 Those who were standing near Paul said, “How dare you insult God’s high priest!”
5 Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’[Exodus 22:28]”
6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees
The Sadducees vehemently did not believe in the resurrection, but the Pharisees did. So Paul figured out of a way to get them to fight against each other so he can walk out of there not knowing what is going on.
and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” 7 When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)
9 There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 10 The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.
11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
All of these passages of scripture are about what a testimony can do. Every person who is born again has a testimony. We all have a testimony as to what was going on in our minds and our hearts prior to the time that someone told us about Jesus, how the message of Jesus came to us, and we came to Christ, and our lives began the process of changing, not to become perfect, because none of us will be perfect until the day we walk face to face with Perfect.
1 John 3:2
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
We have been talked about, so strongly, in regard to the fullness of the gospel, of following Jesus to where he was going, to the cross and to the empty tomb. So many times in evangelical circles, we bring people to the cross and stop there. We never go to the empty tomb. We acknowledge the tomb was empty, but we do not know what it means to me. When Jesus went to the cross, he died for my sins. That is what many people do understand. When you ask them what the resurrection did for them, they have no answer. Much more do not have an answer about the meaning of the empty tomb. They do not know the answer. The resurrection is the way you got life. It is the way you really got saved from the consequence of sin, which is death, by the gift of God, which is life. When Paul had his encounter with Jesus, he did not have any encounter with him in regard to the forgiveness of sins. Did you see anything in Paul’s testimony, of Paul asking God to forgive him of his sins? No. He had a confrontation with Jesus. He came face to face to Jesus. He merely asked, “who are you?” He said, “I am Jesus”, and his life was changed.
That is what salvation is all about. That is what our testimony is about. When we are with people, to be able to communicate to people, not in some forceful way, as to badger people, but to let people know you had an encounter with Christ Jesus. You met Christ. That sounds funny to some people but the natural man cannot understand spiritual things.
1 Corinthians 2:14
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
But they can understand a testimony. You cannot argue with a personal experience like that, can you? You can, but what good is it going to do? If Jesus is not God, when he claimed himself to be God, then he would have to be either an poster, a liar, or God.