Classic Christianity – Book of Romans P50 (03-03-20)
This flesh of ours is so contrary to the Spirit. We are instructed in the scriptures to walk in the Spirit so we do not carry out the desires of the flesh. The flesh likes to be puffed up and so prone to becoming proud. Recall that even the apostle Paul testified of his struggle in the flesh. Because of such divine revelations he received from God, God thought it best that Paul needed to be buffeted by a thorn in the flesh lest he is overcome with pride. Paul prayed three times for this thorn to be removed, but God said “No. My grace is sufficient for you.” So the apostle Paul replied to God, and said, “I delight in my weaknesses for when I am weak then I am strong.” So Paul is exhorting believers to not think more highly of themselves than they ought.
Consider how God has created this new body of believers, made up of all those who are born again, who are connected by one head, who is Christ Jesus. Jesus is the head of the church. He is the one who directs each individual believer as to his role and function in the body, as He uniquely created each member of the body to function. So do not boast in what God has given you in regard to spiritual gifts. They are not meant to puff you up. They are meant to build up the body in love, as God intended the body to function. So when you think of a physical body, you do not think of cutting off a toe or a nose, as if those parts are not necessary. No, each part of the body is uniquely designed to support the body so it functions in harmony with one another, each part fulfilling its unique purpose. So too with the body of Christ. Our boast is in Christ. We do not have anything that we did not receive from God, and what we received is not for us, but for the benefit of one another, to serve one another in love, to honor one another above yourself.
So often though, when we live in accordance with the flesh, all the attention is focused on what the body is doing. The parts of the body are not in harmony because there is jealousy and factions. Why? People are trying to puff themselves up by the gift they have, and looking down on one another. Nor is the body listening to the head, but coming up with their own ideas of what it means to be a church. God did not come to form a denomination. People have not understood their identity as a member of the body of Christ, a child of God, and instead of living in according with the Spirit’s desires, they are feeding the flesh, and have become disconnected to the head. The ear is not hearing from Christ the head. So we have denominations, and people identifying as Baptists, Presbyterians, Church of Christ, or whatever it may be, but have not realized that is not their identity. If you are truly born again, then you are a child of God, connected by one faith, one Lord, and one baptism, to others who have been born again, and are called brothers and sisters in Christ all across the world.
But are all in Christ? No. Those who do not have the Spirit if God do not belong to God. Those who say that God is in everyone and everything are not connected to the head, who is Christ. For Christ Jesus never said that. Christ said the road is narrow that leads to life and few find it. Why? The proud of heart lean on their own understanding, on the traditions of men, on observing the law, rather than what God has said. Jesus said he is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through him. The only way to have unity is by being united in Spirit and in truth. And that is what spiritual gifts are for, to build the body up in love, to be united in the full measure of Christ. So do not be deceived by the lie of this world, an ecumenical spirit of the god of this world, which is Satan. Not everyone who says they are Christian are truly born again. If you are a child of God, you recognize them by the Spirit God has given you. You have been given the mind of Christ to discern the things of God.
People come up with their own understanding of things, and even make up doctrines by leaning on their own understanding. Sadly, believers are not allowing themselves to be taught by the Spirit of God. Only the Spirit of God can reveal the meaning of the word of God to you. Do you blindly follow rules and traditions of men, or are you like the Bereans, who diligently study the scriptures to see if what someone says is so. Are you a truth seeker? Do you worship God in Spirit and in truth? Or have you set aside truth for the traditions of men? Have you traded experience for truth? Have you let your mind be poisoned with things of the world, with dangerous prayer practices, wisdom from the East that people claim is how you get closer to God? Listen, if you are in Christ, you will not get any more of Christ than what you already have? Do you believe that God has given you everything you need for life and godliness? Then why seek an experience? Why seek for the Spirit? Why seek for something you already have?
We were studying through the 12th chapter of the book of Romans. We are going to pick up again today, as a segment of that. Let us turn to Romans 12:3.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Again, guys, why is the apostle Paul saying these things? It is because people who get into spiritual gifts and begin to get puffed up over the gifts we have. So he is saying to us, let us not get all hung up on your gifts. I am going to explain to you what those gifts are, but let us not walk around thinking we got the special one from God, and whoever does not have it, is out to lunch. Do not be thinking of yourself more highly than you ought. Instead, we need to be thinking of ourselves in sober judgment in accordance with the measure of faith God has given us.
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members
If you are looking here at me, you see a head, and you see a body. This body is made up of many, many parts. I do not walk on my hands. I have hands that are there to do things. You have parts of your body that are there to do things that are not doing something else. I do not blow my ears. I blow my nose. Everything is set in God’s economy, to be used in proportion to the way in which God created you.
and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
We need to keep that in mind, that our body parts do not have the same function, and were never intended to. They form one body. So in Christ, we, who are many, form one body. There are many people in this room, but it forms a single body in Christ, just as each member belongs to all the others. So, every part of my body belongs to this body. If my finger hurts, my whole body hurts. He is saying, “I want you to equate that to the body of Christ, that we all belong to one another through our relationship with Christ Jesus.”
He is head. We are the body. That is why the body of Christ is not this room. The body of Christ is not Baptists. The body of Christ is not Seventh Day Adventists. The body of Christ is not Church of Christ. The body of Christ is born again people. You can have born again people sitting in this room and you can have lost people in this room. Christ church are the saved people sitting in this room, not the lost ones. You might belong to an assembly but you do not belong to Jesus until you belong to Jesus. Do we understand that? Christ is not interested in Baptists, Presbyterians or Methodists. He did not form those denominations. Believe me. He is only interested in born again people. He is not going to save any Catholics, Baptists, or Charismatics or anybody else. He is only saving people. This is not an organization. It is an organism. He is the head. We are the body. This group of people, those who are born again in this group, belong to people who are born again in other groups, and in born again people in other groups all over the world. In Christ there is no Jew, there is no Gentile, there is no slave, there is no free, and there is no black, brown, blue or purple or anything else. It is all one group of people who have been introduced to Jesus and have become a part of His body.
Now, that is Jesus Church. When people come along saying unless you belong to my church. Number one, it is not their church. If it is, you do not want to belong to it. Saying that you are not saved if you do not belong to my church is nonsense. Any group that says that is a cult, those that say you have to belong to my church, have my membership, have my stamp of approval on you. In other words, I am going to stick Smuckers on your jar, and you are a Smuckers from that day forth, and if you ever leave Smuckers, you are gone. And with a name like Smuckers, it has got to be good. And that is the way we are. If it is a Baptist, got to be good. If it is a Presbyterian, it has got to be good. That is nonsense. God never came to form a denomination.
God came to form an individual relationship with you and with Him. So that you and I can walk into the presence of God where the curtain has been rent from top to bottom, not by man, but by God, and walk into the Holy of Holies calling him, “Daddy. Father.” and receiving mercy in our time of need. That is the good news of the gospel. Whenever you are around someone who says you are not a member of their group, and are lost, then stay away from them. They are a cult. You are not saved by being a member of People to People. You are only going to be saved when you belong to Jesus, attached to the Head.
Once you are attached to the Head, and you and you are attached to the Head, then we become attached to who? One another. That is why you can go into any parts of the world, meeting people from China, Japan, Germany, Russia, who are born again, and have instantaneous communication of Spirit. And sometimes you cannot even speak English and I cannot speak Russian. It does not matter. There is a communication with Spirit. Have you ever noticed that? Whenever you meet someone who is born again, there is a communication with Spirit. You cannot even explain it. You can also tell when there is no communication with Spirit.
So he is saying that is what it means to think in sober judgment, not a pie in the sky, “hey, this is our organization. Look what we Presbyterians are doing. Look at what, we Methodists are doing?” Who cares. The issue is, what are you doing? Are you being led by Jesus? Jesus is not leading this group. He leads people. He leads people individually. Jesus, when he was here on this earth said, and this is God speaking, as Archie Bunker said, “not too bad of a Christian.” God on this earth said. “I have put aside the prerogative of Deity. I have put aside some of the characteristics of Deity. While I am on this earth in flesh and blood, I am going to do nothing except what the Father tells me to do. I am not going to say anything unless my Father tells me to say it and how to say it. Incidentally as the Father sent me, so I send you.” How did he teach us to live? In dependence on the Father. Did he teach us to try to emulate Jesus, what would Jesus do? What Jesus did is what his Father told him to do. What are you to do? What the Father tells you to do. I do not think the Father is going to tell to many of us to walk on water. Have any of you done that recently? Ski, maybe. But not walk.
You see, the issue is, that we are not to emulate, to become a monkey. We are not to be saying necessarily the same words that Jesus says. We are not to be an ape, aping and monkeying things. We are not to be like a parrot, parroting things. We are to be an individual. God gave you fingerprints of your own, and a life of your own. He says He wants to work individually in your life, and in your life, and in your life. That is the dynamic of the Christian life, to be able to uniquely be who you are. You are a child of God. That is what we have talked about so many times. Our image is not in what we do. Our identity is not in what we do. Our identity is in who you are. I am a child of the living God. I did not earn it. I did not deserve it. I received it by the mercy of God. And so did you. That is the only identity that I want on me, child of the living God. I do not want Baptist stuck on me, Presbyterian, People to People, or anything else. I do not want those labels stuck on me. That is not who I am. I am a child of God, who has been made child of God by God Himself, reborn in to the newness of life in Christ Jesus. That is the only identity that I want. I would be a child of God whether sitting in this assembly on Sunday or whether sitting in another church on Sunday. It makes no difference. I am a child of God. We need to understand that.
Yet, people say, “No. No. Child of God. If you are going to join us you are going to be a Baptist, a Methodist, a Charismatic. You have to be those things.” No, you do not. If you are a child of God, you are a child of God sitting here. You are a child of God at work, at play, and wherever you are. That is why when you understand who your identity is, you can recognize when you are in the wrong place, as a child of God. You know when you are in the wrong place when you are in the wrong place. You also know when you are in the right place when you are in the right place.
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
Now, he goes on to say this.
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
We are a part of one body, but we have different gifts. So God gives gifts to you. He gives gifts in accordance with the grace given us.
If your gift is prophesying,
Now he did not make himself a prophet. Some people do. Some people stand up and make themselves prophets, and they look like a man-made prophet. If God has given you the gift of prophesying, then let him use it in proportion to his faith. What does that mean in proportion to his faith? If God is telling you to prophesy something, then do it. Otherwise, keep quiet. Do we understand?
then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
7 if it is serving, then serve;
If you have the gift of servitude, then serve.
if it is teaching, then teach;
If God gave you the gift of teaching, then teach.
8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously;
If it is giving to the needs of others, let him give generously. Now, is that a new thought? Give generously to the needs of people.
if it is to lead, do it diligently;
If you are given the gift to govern, govern diligently. Some people say this leadership stuff is nonsense, that you should not be organized. You cannot function without organization. That is why He gives you the gift of organization and that is why He has given you the gift of leadership.
if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Well, what is my gift? How many of you know, basically, what your spiritual gift is? Not too many, but some of you do know. You know how you can get an indicator as to what your spiritual gift is? Get a whole bunch of you and sit at a table on Sunday morning. You have to go to church. Then let one of your children knock over a glass of milk, and you will see what your gift is. To the gift of servitude, they will be down there cleaning up the milk. To someone who has the gift of encouragement, will say, “Oh, do not worry about that sweetie. It can happen to anybody.” To the person with the gift of admonishment, he will say, “You ought to watch what you are doing on Sunday morning.” To the one with the gift of teaching, he will say, “Let me explain to you how things spill.” You have all of these different gifts that you will see come out of you naturally by just spilling a glass of milk. And if you got the gift of leadership, you will try to arrange the table a little differently so you do not hit the milk when you are trying to eat breakfast in the morning. You have all of these things that God will show you what your gift is if you let Him.
Now, thinking along that line. Let us say someone spilled the milk at your table, how may of you think you might be able to identify what your spiritual gift is now, after the milk has been spilt? You have a better clue on that. Follow that. That is a natural gift that God has given you, a natural gift to help people. The person who wants to get down and clean the milk, that is a natural thing. Go be a helper. That would be a group of people that would probably be called deacons in church, those who help and serve. Many of you have shown that to me over these years, that that is your gift. You love to help. You love to serve. We have some people that are unbelievable in that capacity. So, that is where you begin to identify.
What is the purpose of spiritual gifts? To edify yourself? No. I believe God gave me the gift of teaching. I do not sit in a room and teach myself in order to edify myself. God does not want us to use the gift for that. You do not sit around to serve yourself. A cow does not drink its own milk. A tree does not eat its own fruit. It bears fruit for others. The purpose of a spiritual gift is for the benefit of the body. You have ears to hear. Why? So my body can hear what is going on. You have a tongue to speak with. Why? To edify the body. So there is no exception to the fact that a spiritual gift given by God, not the ones that we dream up, but a gift that is given by God, is given to you for the edification of the body, to serve the body, to help the body. Do we understand that? Every part of your body is to serve the body, is it not? If I am hungry, my hands help to serve that. My mouth helps to take care of that. Teeth and all those things are there to serve the function of the body. So you and I sitting in this room, all of us have gifts. The purpose of the gifts is to serve one another in love. Not only to serve here, but to serve out into the market place. Sometimes when you are using your gifts out in the market place, you are serving people by them watching you, and then saying to you, “where is that coming from?” That gives them an opportunity to know that where it is coming from is God. Spiritual gifts are to serve one another in love. He says there are all kinds of gifts.
Let us turn back to Ephesians 4. It is so good to read and study our bibles.
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body
There is not a Jew body and then a Gentile body. There is one body.
and one Spirit,
There are people that teach you are born again, and then later on you receive the Spirit. That is nonsense. It is impossible.
And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
There is no way to be born again, and then later on to receive the Spirit. That is impossible. That is false teaching. When you are born again, the Spirit comes to live inside you. There are not two Spirits. There is not the one you are born with and then another one that you get. There is one Spirit. Who is that Spirit? The Holy Spirit. Who is the Holy Spirit? The third person of the Trinity; God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
Let me ask you another question. How many of us would have known that if it had not been for Jesus coming? Would you have known God had existed as God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, would you have known that apart from Jesus? Not at all. But when Jesus came, he explained the Trinity.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Why did he say that? To identify them with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Who are the Jews identified with? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. At least they had a trinity. That is who their God was. Who is your God? The God of Abraham is Jesus. But they did not know who He was until Jesus came.
People have trouble with the Trinity. A seminary professor once said, “if anyone denies the Trinity, he will lose his soul and anyone who tries to understand Trinity will lose his mind.” And that is probably true. And here is the reason. God is what? Spirit. Let me ask you this. What does a Spirit look like? Has anyone seen one lately? I do not mean in your imagination. No. No one has seen one.
24 “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
So we know something about the Spirit. Truth. You cannot put flesh and blood around a Spirit. When you hear God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, what is the first thing you do, in your mind? Well, you put flesh and blood around them. You envision what the Father looks like, what the Son looks like, and what the Holy Spirit looks like. Is that thinking soberly, with proper judgment? No, because you cannot dress up Spirit. Can the three of you be one? No. But in the spiritual realm, can three be one?
There is an egg. An egg is made up of a shell and a white and a yolk. Is it not? Which one is the egg? Now, if you put an egg up in the attic, and decided the people down in the kitchen are having some problems, and you took the yolk and put it down in the kitchen, would there be any less of an egg in the house? Would there still be an egg in the house? The yolk would be down here, and the white and shell is up there, but there is still an egg in the house. Now, I do not know if it helps you with Jesus or not, but it helps you with eggs. In essence, that is what God did. The yolk came down to this earth. There was no less God. There is still the white and the shell, but the yolk was down here, ministering to us down here, until he went back to the Father, and sent the white to live in all of us.
And so, we may not be able to comprehend all of that, but we can apprehend it, can we not? So the Trinity is something that you do not try to put flesh and blood on. You cannot do it. How God exists in three, and yet is one, that is spiritual stuff. You have to apprehend but please do not try to comprehend it because you cannot comprehend Spirit any more than you can comprehend what people want to comprehend, and that is foreknowledge. All of that type of thing is God’s stuff. We have no point of reference to it at all. We cannot even enter into it. So he is saying to us there is one body, there is one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope, not two hopes.
just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord,
There is not Jesus is Lord, and Buddha is Lord and Mohammad is Lord, and all that nonsense. No, there is only one Lord. That one Lord came to this earth, took upon Himself our humanity, entered into our death with us so we can enter into eternal life with Him. One Lord.
There is one faith, not two. Not a Jew faith and a Gentile faith, a Muslim faith, a Buddhist faith. No, there is one faith. Who is that faith in? One God who is Jesus. Do not let anyone tell you that we all worship the same God. That is nonsense. There is only one God and He does not contradict Himself. If the God we worship is the same God of the Muslim, then if God wrote both of those books, then he must be a nit-wit, for he contradicted himself all over the place. There is one God, one faith, and one baptism.
one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”[Psalm 68:18]
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
Let us look at Ephesians 4, starting at verse 11.
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
God, first of all, gave Himself. Those inner core were his followers, his apostles. One of the criteria to be an author of the New Testament, was to be an apostle or an imansurent of an apostle, to have been with Him in His baptism, death, burial and resurrection, to have seen and observed that. So we realize He gave some to be apostles. Who was to carry out the teaching of Jesus when He went away? Did not Jesus say He is going away.
7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
Jesus told his disciples that it is good he is going away because when he does, he will send the Spirit to live in you, who have come believe, and tells us, we, who are born again, are going to be His body.
But who were the authorities right after Jesus ascended? The apostles. If you wanted to know what truth was, for you were having a wonderment about it, that is who you went to, the apostles. They were the authority.