Radio Broadcast Monday 10/21/2019

Classic Christianity – Book of Romans P1 (10-21-19)

Synopsis

Bob George introduces the book of Romans by first providing background information into this man names Saul of Tarsus, later called Paul. Bob shares from the book of Acts to provide historical background into the nature and character of Saul before his conversion, then his encounter with the living Christ, his unique conversion experience, and then his calling by God to be an apostle to the Gentiles, to bring the gospel message before the Gentile world and before king and magistrates. Much of what we know of the gospel of good news is explained quite thoroughly through the writings of the apostle Paul. The majority of the New Testament we hold in our hands is through the apostle Paul. An ambassador is someone who is called to represent another party in another place and with a specific mission and with the authority to carry out that mission. Paul clearly received a mission by no other person except Jesus Christ, who called him and told him what he was to do and that he would suffer greatly for the cause of Christ.

Transcript

Let us turn to the book of Romans. I really do encourage all of you to bring your bibles with you. Most of you do. It is vitally important that this book is not some book to sit in a prime place in your house. It is a work book. The bible is a love letter from God written to you and me. I wonder sometimes why people do not have any interest in reading this book. If you have someone you were in love with you and they wrote you a letter to you, you would read it upside and down to pass onto other people. So too, do we have a love letter from God.

The apostle Paul wrote the majority of the New Testament we hold in our hands today. He is a very special human being. We are gong to understand that Paul is going to be writing to the saints in Rome. He has not been there yet, but he is writing to them. Paul is called the apostle to the Gentiles. The Roman church was basically Gentile. In the other areas of ministry, they started off with the Jewish people, then the Gentiles began picking up onto the gospel. It is strange that back in those early days the majority of Christians were Jews, and if a Gentile came to Christ, they would say “wow”. Today, the opposite is true.

Beginning in Romans 1, you have the name Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ. Let us turn back a moment to chapter 9 in the book of Acts. In chapter 9 of the book of Acts, we will learn where this apostle came from. What is his story? In the 9th chapter of Acts, you read the story of a man named Saul. That was his Jewish name. It was customary, in those days, for a Jew to have a Jewish name and then to have a Gentile name, as well, attached to the name as well. Paul’s Jewish name was Saul.

Acts 9:1-2
1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way,

That was the name of the early Christians, the Way. Recall Jesus identified Himself as the way, the truth and the life.

Acts 9:2
whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Here is a man that wanted to take anyone who was proclaiming Jesus as a prisoner. You look at this type of thing and say, “what is the problem with this man called Jesus?” The only answer you can say to that is nothing. It is not him but what he is teaching. The conflict in religion was that all of the Jews back in those days were really Orthodox. You did not have the conservative arm of Judaism back then. That was all Orthodox Jews. There were leaders to those Orthodox Jews.

There is a lot of controversy, is there not today, in regard to the film that has been made on Jesus? There is an uproar among the Jewish people saying, “Oh, this is going to cause people to have prejudice against the Jews”. That does not make any sense. Someone ays, “Quit talking about Hitler because that makes the Gentiles look bad”. That is the type of reasoning, which is nonsensical. But this has been going on for over 2000 years.

But a lot of the leaders are scared to death, and rightfully so, because there has been much persecution against the Jews. They are scared to death of persecution because of people calling them, “Jesus killers”. Anyone who says that does not really know the bible from one end to the other. In essence, it was the Gentiles who carried out the execution on Jesus. But the people behind it were the Jews. So who killed Jesus? Gentiles and Jews. In reality, who killed Jesus? You and me. He died for my sins and your sins.

In reality, the reason he died was because of your sins and my sins. So anyone looking down on the Jewish people, saying they are Jesus killers, do not understand the scriptures at all. This should never be done or said. Neither is an anti-Semitic attitude to be associated with a born again believer. There is no room for prejudice in the heart of a person who is born again, period. There should be no prejudice, period, in the heart of a person who has been renewed by the blood of Christ Jesus, whether Jews, blacks, yellow, white, regardless, there should be no prejudice in our hearts. People are people. We were created in the image of God. We were all born in the image of Adam but created in the image of God. So there should be no prejudice in our hearts if we are truly born again people.

So we have Paul there. Where the prejudice was coming was in the teaching. There have been hundreds and hundreds of years as to the interpretation of the Old Testament. That was done by the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the governing body called the Sanhedrin. Those were the ones who got together and became the authority on interpretation of the word of God. What they did, for example, was take a law, which was really given in order to have civil obedience, because Jews were left out of Egypt, millions of them, and turn it into a religion. They had to have laws or they would have lived in total chaos. So God gave them laws, such as “do not steal” and “do not murder”. He gave them dietary laws for they were going to live in a desert. They were given dietary laws for they did not have General Electric refrigerators back then, and they lived in a desert. So dietary laws given so they would not kill themselves with food. All kinds of laws given to the Jews and really for social reasons.

The Pharissees would take those laws and make them holy laws. They would say, “These are laws you follow to be right with God. It is not for our benefit but so you can be right with God”. So they took those laws and made their own religion out of them, called the Jewish religion. Today, the average Jew does not have a religion. The average Jew is an atheist or agnostic, at best. I am talking about the average Jew.

More and more they are getting back into the synagogue because of more liberal theology. I was talking with some Jewish friends of ours that we have come to know and love. We started to slowly talk about Jesus. They have not opened to us. There is still this resistance. So one day I asked him, “Are you an Orthodox Jew?” Now, I know he is not. “No”, he said. “Why not?” “Because they got all these rules and regulations and all this dumb stuff and everything else.” “Do you realize that everything you are talking about is what Jesus said? Do you realize everything you are against is what Jesus was against? What you said is exactly what Jesus said.” “Jesus said, ‘You are clean on the outside but dirty on the inside.’ Do you realize that you are just saying what Jesus said?” That is a shocker but it is a great introduction to those who are Jewish. Ask them if they are Orthodox. If they are not, then say, “Huh, that is exactly what we believe.”

We have Paul who was an avid Orthodox Jew. He was called the teacher of teachers. He was the upcoming guy on the street. He was well known. He was educated. and probably one of the most brilliant man who ever lived. He knew languages and history. He knew everything. Paul was a genius as far as a human being was concerned. Paul was adamant against this teaching that had all of a sudden came on the scene about this man bucking up against this Orthodox teaching, saying “you are dirty on the inside but clean on the outside”. Here is Jesus saying things like it is not what a man puts in his mouth but what proceeds out of a man’s heart. You do not have a drinking problem but you have a heart problem”.

The Pharisees did not like that. They liked religion. That is all this was, religion. We go. We honor the Sabbath. We do this. We do not eat this food. Everything is about what we do not do. Over 613 laws on top of the laws God gave us. We are trying to be obedient to all of those. When you have someone like that and you think you are being obedient, you are judging someone you think is not being obedient. Is that right or wrong? So Paul was very judgmental, wanting to take Christians as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Acts 9:3-4
3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Paul was smart enough to know who was talking to him. He knew who was talking to him.

Acts 9:3-4
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

This is the man I am persecuting, that many men say they are a follower of. This is the man who was hung on a cross, claiming he was raised from the dead. We bribed some people, and whatever it took, to deny that. I hate this man called Jesus and here is this guy saying “Saul, Saul”. And he is saying he is Jesus. I think I would be shocked, don’t you, especially if you know it is God talking to you? ”I am Jesus, and not only am I Jesus, I am the one you are persecuting.”

Acts 9:5-6
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Is that not something! Jesus was certainly letting him know who is in charge. “Saul, you might think you are, but I am in charge. Go into the city and I will tell you what to do.” Paul is responding, “I have been telling people what to do, and now you are telling me what to do.”

Acts 9:7-11
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.

As for Saul, he is praying. What do you suppose he is praying, “Lord, give me a Cadillac?” I guarantee you what he is praying. “Lord, I have been confused some place down the line. You are going to have to show me what truth is. I was believing that what I was doing was truthful to anything in the world. I was tenacious about persecuting people about this man named Jesus. Now I met this man named Jesus. He told me to come to Him and now I am asking Him, what is truth?” That is the best prayer you and I can ever pray. “Lord, show me truth.”

Acts 9:12-13
12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem.

Imagine the shock of Ananias, saying to God: “Lord, you want me to go to who?”

Acts 9:14
14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

Ananias, in essence, is saying, “This is a mean guy you are telling me to go to.”

Acts 9:15-16
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Here, my friend, is the declaration from God concerning Paul and his mission. The mission of Paul by the Lord is, “This is my chosen instrument. I have chosen you, Paul.” He said to Ananias, ”I have chosen him to go to the Gentiles and to the kings of the Gentiles and before the people of Israel, and I will show him how much he is going to have to suffer in my name.”

Acts 9:17-19
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Paul’s conversion. I do not know about you, but many people feel that a conversion experience has to be like the apostle Paul’s, where you see some light from heaven and see some unique experience take place. That is the farthest thing from the truth. But in Paul’s case, God had to get his attention. And He got his attention. He got his attention in such a way that Paul knew there was a calling upon his life and that calling was that he was a chosen instrument to carry the name of God to the Gentiles and to their kings and before the people of Israel. That was his calling. That is why he was alive. Now you are going to see this calling if you turn over to Acts 9:20.

Acts 9:20-25
Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.

During this period of time, Paul raised some havoc in Jerusalem as a born again believer. Did you ever do that when you were first born again? Did you cause havoc among a group of people. Then he had to be led over a wall. Then he disappeared for literally 18 years. What was God doing with Paul for 18 years? He just said He had a calling on Paul to proclaim this good news. What was God doing with him for 18 years? Knocking legalism out of him. How many of you grew up in a legalistic environment? When you come to Christ, it takes years and years for God to push this out of you. You hear people talking about that.

In my particular case, I was never deeply involved in legalism. I grew up in a Presbyterian church and heard nothing. Now that is not true of all Presbyterian churches but it was of mine that I grew up in. Bibles were something you never opened, something you looked at but never opened. I knew nothing so I was fresh meat. I had nothing to unlearn. I knew nothing. I knew Jesus was the Son of God but had no idea what that meant. I knew all those things intellectually but did not know what they meant.

The issue is there are many other people who grew up in so called evangelical environments that was full of legalism. It takes time, and some are worse than others. You take some who literally tried to be Jews in regards to their legalistic observance. They take laws of the Jews and they are trying. It is like saying “Jews could not do it and walk but watch my smoke”. They were steeped in legalism and now they come to Christ. Does that legalism fall off you immediately? No way! It takes many years for that legalism to come out of your thinking process and to walk strictly according to the grace of God. I believe those years that Paul spent in Tarsus was the Lord dealing with him in such a way as to teach him the magnitude of the grace of God, and in so doing pushing out the legalistic belief system he was in.

Acts 9:26-31
26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

We have the account in Galatians also, detailing the testimony of Paul.

Galatians 1:11-24
11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles – only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.

Galatians 2:1
1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also.

They sent Barnabus to fetch Paul. His name means the son of encouragement. They sent Barnabus. In Acts 11:25, Barnabus went to Tarsus to look for Saul.

Acts 11:25
25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

That was the first time they were referred to as Christians. You are then going to see that Saul, later on, his name was changed to Paul. That was an interesting thing. In Acts, you will read often of Barnabus and Saul together. In Acts 13:9, is where you read that Saul, who was also called Paul, spoke to Elymas.

Acts 13:9-11
9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”

That is the first time we see that Saul was named to Paul. He was called Paul. But that point on you only read about Paul. You will never read him called Saul again. So we have this history of this man named Saul of Tarsus, later called Paul, as the apostle to the Gentiles. Now we have a little background on him.

Romans 1:1
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,

The real word there is slave. It has been translated as servant but the Greek word is slave. It is a bond slave. What that means is a bond slave by nature.
We are all, my friends, slaves. You are either a slave to sin or you are a slave to Him. But we are all slaves on one condition or another. If you take the word sin and use it like a name, Jim, Bob, Sin, and it says that Sin is your owner. When Paul, before he was a child of God, was a slave to Sin. Sin owned me. He was my master. Sin bound me up with such tight cords that are so strong that they can only be broken by death. That is how sin gets a hold of you and me. That is what we are born into.

That is why Paul is able to say in Romans 7, “The things I want to do I do not do. Sin has me in its grasp.” All of us are born into this world in Adam and our master is sin. Just call it what you want to. Call it a name, Satan. It is sin. We are mastered by that sin so the things we want to do we do not do and cannot do and the things we do not want to do, we do them anyway. Now, when sin is your master, or whatever is your master, you are going to obey that irrespective of your own desires or interests. You are swallowed up in the will of your master. Whether you want to or not, you are obeying your master.

People think that is independence and people say I am independent. There is no such thing as an independent person. You are just dependent. You are either dependent upon God or dependent upon sin as your master. No one is independent. We just think we are independent. No one is independent. You are born into this world to be dependent not independent. When you refuse to be dependent upon the one you are supposed to dependent on, who is God, you are forced to be dependent on something. What you turn to is the world, people, places and things. So He says now that what happened was by birth I was a slave to sin but through regeneration, being born again, I am now a bond servant to Jesus. A bond servant was one who became a servant voluntarily. A servant under the Roman rule, a person who was a bond servant, was a position of high esteem. Paul was saying I have now become, through spiritual regeneration, a bond servant to Jesus Christ. I was a slave to sin. Now I am a slave to Jesus. Two different slaves but still a slave. That is translated “servant” in the NIV. But the real translation is that of a bond slave by nature, belonging to Jesus Christ. That is exactly what the translation is. I, Paul, a bond slave by nature, who belongs to Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:1-2
called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures

Now He says, that position of slavery, is a position of high esteem. In the Roman rule that was a position of high esteem. He put that “I am slave” before he put “I am an apostle”. In essence, he is saying, “I regard that my position that God gave to me as a slave is higher than the position of that of an apostle. That is, and foremost, I am a slave and because I am a slave, I am an apostle. I am going to carry out this job of apostleship.” What we went back to was that God was saying of Paul, “this man was my chosen instrument”. So God said, “I chose this man for this assignment. Paul recognizes the truth of that. ‘I am a servant of Jesus Christ. I am a slave by nature, belonging to Christ and I am called to be an apostle’”. Folks, we think many times as an apostle as a follower of Christ or one of the early followers of Christ, and indeed that is true. But a better understanding, I think of this word apostle or apostleship, is an ambassador. That really spells out what the role is that Paul was called to, an ambassador. An ambassador is someone who is called to represent another party in another place and with a specific mission and with the authority to carry out that mission.

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