Classic Christianity – Book of Romans P59 (03-24-20)
We have much to be grateful for, for Jesus, the Jew, the born again Jew, and to the apostle Paul, a Jew, through whom we came to know the truth of the gospel and how to live in the new life God has given us. Paul provided much instruction to the believers in Christ so they may grow to maturity. He not only delighted in sharing the gospel with them, but his life with them as well.
Recall in Romans 8 how he shared about the proper functioning of the body of Christ, each individual with unique spiritual gifts from God, so the body may be encouraged and learn from each other, so they too may learn how to operate in that gift even if they were not specifically given that spiritual gift. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.
So Paul delighted in being with other believers, and his heart attitude was so that we may be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith. He was not a lone ranger Christian. He asked for prayer, that he may boldly proclaim the gospel as clearly as he ought. He was commissioned by God as an apostle to the Gentiles, and he served in that capacity whole-heartedly. He called out the names of men whose faith he admired. In the next chapter, we will read about some of these men he so delighted in.
When we fully grasp the grace of God, it just revolutionizes the way we think, and then the result is dependency on God, who lives in us and through us, and as we abide in Him, the fruit of the Spirit is observed and felt in the heart of men, and all the praise belongs to God. Oh, when we either give or receive something from other believers, does it not just overflow into thanksgiving to God. That giving to God, that gratitude of heart to Him, is the blessing. That receiving that turns into the attitude of giving gratitude to God, is that not the blessing? Paul had this attitude that he knew he was amply supplied, having all he needed for every good work, and he said this whether he was poor and hungry or well off. He learned the secret of contentment, that through Christ who strengthens him, he can do all things, for when he is weak then he is strong. He knew the source of every good gift, from God the Father, and was not longing so much to receive but what could be credited to another man“s account, and into praise to God. He knows what he has within him, every spiritual blessing in Christ and that he has been given everything he needs for life and godliness. He runs with that understanding of grace, and walks by faith in those promises of God.
So let us learn to renew our minds with truth, replacing error. We all have error that needs to be squeezed out by the Spirit of God. Through pondering over the scriptures, with truth revealed to us by the Spirit of God, we are allowing the Spirit to teach us. I recall when I had just become a believer and was asked about wanting to be baptized. My question was, “Why do I need to be baptized? I was already baptized as an infant.” Just those questions I asked showed what influence I had from traditions taught me from my parents, traditions being handed down generation after generation to my family. Truth just does not automatically appear overnight. A believer has to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus. So we have God, His word, and the people of God that can help us along on our journey with Christ.
When you read these things, you realize the real purpose of living.
24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news (the gospel) of God’s grace.
Basically Paul was sent to the Gentile world, but to the Jews too, to proclaim the gospel. Paul is saying, “I am not worried about my life here. My only concern is that this race I have been given is that I finish it. What happens in the meantime is irrelevant to me. I want to finish the race that God has laid out for me, to testify of the gospel of God’s grace.”
How many times do we hear, “Oh, you guys just preach ‘cheap grace’”, as if grace could cost a penny. This is what Paul preached. Paul did not preach the law. He preached the law to the lost because that is what the law was for, the lost. But he preached grace. Paul is saying this. “My life, I consider it worth nothing to me. The only thing I am concerned about is completing the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. The gospel of God’s grace, mercy, kindness and goodness to us.”
We had no option, except for Him to extend grace to us. There is not a one of us who could work hard enough to find ourselves acceptable in the sight of God. There is no one who can clean himself up to make himself good enough in the sight of God. He had no option, but one goal, to testify of the gospel of God’s grace.
There are many people who just will not understand this. They will say, “Yet, but”. There is no “but’s” in grace. It is not a billy goat. It is just grace. What you do with that grace is up to you. But do not negate the grace of God because of your preconceived notions about the grace of God. The grace of God does not free you for you to live like the devil but it frees you to be led in the path of righteousness.
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ
It is not the law of God that teaches you to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. The law teaches you that you are unrighteous. Grace teaches you how to say “No” to it. How long does it take the grace of God to teach you and me to say “No” to all unrighteousness? As long as it takes. For me, over 70 years. How about for you? When will God finish teaching you to say “No” to unrighteousness? When you have been taught. That is when He will quit teaching you. When you have been taught then you will say grace taught me that. Until that you have not been taught. Until then His provision will be there every day of your life. He will never stop teaching you, never stop being there for you. He will never stop the work of teaching you to say “No” to unrighteousness. He will never stop it until the day you die, when you are absent from the body and present with the Lord, when our flesh, our conflict point, will disappear and be gone. We will see Him as He is and be like Him. That is going to be a real good day, when we can shed this flesh of ours.
2 Corinthians 5:6-10
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
1 John 3:2-3
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. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
You and I struggle in this body of ours. We struggle between right and wrong. We know what right and wrong is, but do we not struggle with it, folks? You can get down and say I do not steal, or I do not commit adultery, and I do not do those things. We only get about three we probably do not do and just think we are really good. We forget about all the rest of it, like coveting and lying. All of those things we do every day in one form or another. We get real proud about things we do not do, but we ignore the things we do. We get real proud over these things. We have our categories. I am real good in this and this and we will not talk about these. The issue is God does not look at sin that way. He looks at sin as sin, and there is no numerical value on it. Sin is sin.
everything that does not come from faith is sin.
I know people who have really never done any of the big sins. They have been good in that respect. I do not know a whole bunch of people like that, but I do know people like that. You talk to them and they know the Lord, are they saying “I am righteous?” No. I have a thought life and I think evil thoughts. I am jealous. I am vindictive. I want to get even. Have you ever felt that way? I want to get even. I do not get mad. I get even. All of those things are attitudes of the heart. Those are sinful attitudes that God has to work on us. How long is He going to be working on us, teaching us to say “No” to these things? Until we are taught, until we are absent from the body and present with the Lord.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
So Paul was saying, “I only have one task, and that is to teach and testify of the truth of God’s marvelous grace toward us.
25 “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.
Paul is saying, “This is the last time you will look upon me on this earth.”
26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you.
Paul is saying, “Nobody can tell me I have never told people.”
27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.
This is what Paul is saying. I did not testify to you just about the cross of Jesus. I testified to you the whole counsel of God. I taught you life. I taught what Jesus did at the cross. I taught you the meaning of the resurrection. I taught you the meaning of Jesus going to be with the Father and sending you His Spirit to live in you. I taught you the fullness of the gospel of Christ Jesus. I taught you things on how to live, on what is right and wrong, in the way to live your life. I taught you all these things.
28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
You and I have been purchased. We are in Christ Jesus. We have been bought back from Satan, bought back from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin. His blood paid for us to be who we are today.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.
He is not talking about foxes, but people, described as savage wolves, who want to destroy your freedom. There are always people who want to destroy your freedom. Satan uses anger and fear to keep us away from the grace of God that Paul came to proclaim. The only thing Satan wants is for you to not understand the grace of God. The way he does that is to put you back under pieces of law. Law has to do with fear, and fear has to do with punishment and the man who fears cannot be perfected in love. The main weapon Satan has against you and me is to put fear in our hearts and that keeps us away from the love of God. He does that every day. Paul refers to Satan as a savage wolf.
1 John 4:18
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
That is so true to this very day. People will come in among your numbers, and arise and distort the goodness of God in order to draw people away from the grace of God, and to get them to be followers of themselves. That happens and has happened and it will continue to happen if you do not watch out for the wolves. They are always out there. They are always out their with their traditions, with all these things you need to be doing. They are always there to try to pull you away from the joy of the grace of God.
31 So be on your guard!
Is that an admonishment for us today, to be on guard? Absolutely. When you come to Christ, and even as a new Christian, I will guarantee you, you will come into contact with people who will try to pull you away from just the simplicity that is found in Christ. They will tell you that you need some kind of gift in order to be holy. They will tell you that you need to speak in tongues in order to be filled with the Spirit. They will tell you that you will need to be slain in the Spirit in order to get up. You will hear so many nonsensical things in this world from big television people. If you listen to them you will go down a path to nowhere because it is not biblical. If it is not in the scriptures then it is not there. You have people out there who want to draw you, to make converts out of you, tongue speakers out of you, healers out of you, to make anything out of you, except a person who walks by faith in Christ.
There is nothing wrong with the things a person is saying necessarily. It is really the emphasis. You do not put the emphasis on a gift. You put it on the giver. But that never happens. In this faulty thinking, “No, it is not on the giver. It is on the gift.” A person says, “I see you around talking about my spiritual gift and you ought to be teachers because that is my gift. I know God loves me better than you but if you have my gift you would be okay.” Is that not nonsense?
We have to start thinking soberly. You do not come to Christ to get gitty. You come to Christ to be sober-minded, to think soberly and to think correctly. You cannot think soberly when you are thinking gitterly. You are to get your mind where it belongs, focusing on the author, on the giver. If there is something down here, fine, but that is not the big deal. The big deal is Him. That is the problem, the emphasis. The Christian world knows that Jesus is raised from the dead. But we do not put the emphasis there. We put the emphasis on the cross even though Paul said that without the resurrection we are to be pitied of all people and are still dead in our sins. We put the emphasis on the wrong place. We put the emphasis on what we are doing instead of what He has done. The minute you do that you are off. You have to be on guard. You have to guard your mind.
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.
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
31 Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
Many times, when you warn people, they get mad at you.
32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Again, sanctified does not mean you walk around with your bible under your arms with your head tilted and looking sick at your stomach. That is not what it means to be sanctified. Sanctified is a practical word. It means to use it for the intelligent purpose for which God created you. That light bulb is being sanctified right now. It is being used to produce light in this room. If you look at a wrist watch, to see what time it is, you are sanctifying your watch. You are using it for the purpose for which it was created. You have shoes on. You are sanctifying your shoes. You are using them for the intent for which they were manufactured. That is what sanctification means. It does not mean to walk around acting holy. It means to be who you are. If you are graduating medical school, then what do you do you after you graduate? You become a medical doctor. You do what you have been educated to do.
32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
What sets us apart as Christians? Who are we indwelt by? That is Jesus. Does that set you apart from those who are not indwelt with Jesus? Absolutely! Then when you know the word of God, does that set you apart from the world? The world does not think like you. If the world ever starts thinking like you, you better check out what you are thinking. I guarantee you, you are not thinking thoughts of God if the world and you are thinking alike. So you are going to think differently. Why are you going to think differently? Because you know what truth is. Where did you learn it? From a Jew? From the apostle Paul? From the word of God. They taught us what truth is, over and against error. We know what truth is.
We cannot always obey truth, can we? Do all of you obey truth? I do not think so. But we know what it is, don’t we. When we do not obey truth, the Spirit of God lives in you and says, “Uh, oh”. “Bob, what did you do that for?“ Or, “Why are you thinking this?” What you did is a result of what you are thinking. “What are you doing with these dumb thoughts when you have My thoughts in you? You have the mind of Christ living in you. Why are you thinking with your own mind when you can be thinking with Mine?” But is that what we do? Yes. That is why He calls us sheep, the dumbest animal upon the face of the earth. The leader walks over a cliff, they just go walk right after him. We do the same thing. That is why He is always guarding us all the time.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.
We have to guard our minds. Satan is always there bombarding our minds with error. You cannot watch television without finding out what Satan is thinking. Most of it is bombarding your mind with error. If you do not know what truth is that is the only thing you have to grab a hold of is error. You have to grab a hold of something. So we get full of error and God has to come along and push all that error out. When you become a Christian and you begin to renew your mind, truth comes in and error goes out. You replace error with truth.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Renewing of the mind is taking place. When you take in truth, it pushes out the error. You suddenly realize I cannot believe this and this. When I first came to understand the grace of God, I remember Ed Hecht and I talking. I was teaching this to people in a bible study, and all of a sudden I would hear Ed say something that was just dumb. Ed, did you hear what you just said? He looked and said to me, “that is not truth, is it?” “No, it isn’t.” I felt so good about myself. About 10 minutes later, he said to me, “Did you hear what you just said, Bob?” I had legalism and some legalistic thoughts that came from teaching in a denomination, and they were still there. They had not been pushed out yet.
That is what happens when you are not thinking, but just talking, and you know how that goes. I always think of the story my dad told. My dad was an attorney in Indiana. People in Indiana are funny anyway. You have some characters there, and maybe I am one of them. There was a lawyer there. They used to meet every Wednesday for lunch, to have fun together. There was this one lawyer who had a brother who was simple minded. He also had another brother. The simple-minded brother used to show up for the luncheons too. He liked to be around everybody. My dad was going to have a mock trial against these two brothers. This simple minded guy was sitting there. He said, “You know Frank, you will not have a chance of winning that trial.” His dad said, “that is interesting, why do you say that?” “Real simple. There are two of them and only one of you.’ Dad said, “What does that have to do with it?” “That is very simple. When Clint is a talking, Clem is sitting there a thinking. When Clem is talking, then Clint is a thinking. But when you are up a talking, aint nobody a thinking. ”
That is kinda the way we are. We are talking a lot and maybe nobody is thinking. When you are really not thinking and you are talking, you just grab up what you have been taught. That is why you can hear ministers who really have started getting a good grasp on the grace of God but still have garbage in there. They will speak 20 minutes of grace and then negate it in the last minute of preaching. They thought through the preaching of it, but did not think through the last part of it, so they just rely up upon what they just rely upon. You have to squeeze all the tooth paste out of the tube. You have to squeeze it all out. That is what the Spirit of God is doing, squeezing out the error until there is nothing left. That takes time. That is His goal for you and me. He pushes out the error so we can be set apart by what we know to be true, and proponents of what we know to be true. So he says to be on guard.
Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
There again, Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. We have a philosophy that it is more blessed to receive than to give. We talk all about what God has done for us and this type of thing, but are we givers? I am not just talking about financial giving. Are we givers of ourselves to people? Do we reach out to help people? Do we have the attitude that if someone is in trouble that I want to go out and help him? If I know someone who is hurting, do I want to be a comfort to him?
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
In Romans 12, Paul explains how we are all members of the body of Christ, how we belong to one another, how we are designed to function, what humble service in the body of Christ looks like and what love in action looks like.
I know a lot of people like that who have been given the gift of servitude. If you and I were to observe and watch them we will learn from them how to use that gift. We may not have that gift, but the reason God gives the gift to the body of Christ is to encourage the body of Christ so we can learn from one another. You may not have the gift of teaching but if you listen to someone who does, you will learn how to teach the word of God to others. Even though you may not have the gift, you will be able to communicate. I may not have the gift of giving but if I were to observe someone with the gift of giving and watch the faithfulness of God while they are giving, then I can learn to step out a little bit in faith and become a giver. If I see someone with the gift of encouragement, then I can watch people with the gift of encouragement and see the benefit of their gift to the body of Christ to see who this person with this gift of encouragement, what it does to build up the body and makes people feel good. I need to learn from that person.
All of those gifts are necessary. The reason God gives the special gift is to teach you and every one of you to use that for the purpose of the body, to observe you and learn how to function with that gift. It is an attitude of reaching out to people. When someone is hurting, you hurt with him. A lot of times, God uses experiences we have to bring compassion. Many of you have been through terrible trials and tribulations in life. We have been through things that we hope nobody knows about except God. We have been through things we are ashamed of. Has there been anyone who has never done anything to be ashamed of? We are all in that category. The issue is we can look at it like a woe is me or we can look at it that God has built compassion in me.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
36 When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. 37 They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.