Classic Christianity – Book of Romans P65 (04-07-20)
When you think of church, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Do you think of activities, a church building on the corner of walk and don’t walk? Or, do you think of people you so dearly loved, of how they have grown in the Lord, memories of how they moved your heart, influenced your own life or the lives of others? Do you think of truth of the word of God that was told that transformed the lives of people, and your own life as well? Do you remember the loving-kindness, the patience and long-suffering, and love that was on display among God’s people? Listen as Paul mentions the names of several people that moved his heart.
The church is people, made up of those who are born again, sanctified, set apart from the world, called unto God. The church is a place to be where we can learn, have fellowship with one another, pray with each other and for one another. With this Corona virus quarantine many are under, the understanding of church is being evaluated. Those who used to meet together, what did you meet together for? What do you do now? Recall that Paul wrote letters from a prison cell. He went on to say that the gospel is not chained. He also had written a letter to the Colossians, expressing his heartfelt attitude of what church really is.
2 Corinthians 3:3
3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
The early church, as we read about in Acts, met in homes. They were pure, devoting themselves to the Lord, listening to the apostles’ teaching, to prayer and to fellowship, and to the breaking of bread, understanding what that meant, a celebration of the New Covenant that Jesus started. As time went on, ravenous wolves came in, as Paul warned about, over a period of three years with tears.
30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your 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.
After Paul’s departure, Constantine came along, mandating that a national religion be formed, forcing people to become Christians, destroying the purity of the church, mixing and adding pagan traditions. The church today has become an organization, an entertainment center, a place not to grow and study the pure word, but a place of charlatans, where poisonous doctrines have come in. The church has become a place of book studies, teaching things of men, often full of dangerous error, if not just simply keeping people busy with entertainment and activities or good causes. People have been allowed to teach error without being challenged. Church has turned into a place of mixing law and grace, teaching people to tithe in order to be blessed, or of seeking the divine within, or to proclaim a social gospel rather than the true gospel, or to teach the bible as a means to financial gain. Today, many people think that the bible is not relevant or there is no absolute truth. So much error is mixed in with truth. So Paul warned about these things.
But Paul first took time to ponder over all that God has done among the Gentiles, greeting and pondering over all those people who labored in the gospel with him, of ladies who were like a mother to him, of a man who became a believer before he did, of the man who was the first convert in Asia, of those who opened their homes and risked their lives for the sake of the gospel. He was thankful for those whom God built up in the faith and were influential in the spread of the gospel, where lives were changed. He labored to establish leaders in every church to continue on with the work that had begun. He is overjoyed in the work God has done among the Gentiles.
So let us return to what the Spirit instructs us as to what the church really is. It is people reaching people. It is a place of genuine openness, where the grace of God can be expressed, where truth can be freely told that sets men free to grow and walk in the newness of life, where praise is made unto God for the work He has done. The church is people with gratitude in their hearts, people sharing their lives with one another, delighting in one another. People have become so dear to one another. They know how to pray because they have been together so closely, so people can share the burdens and joys in their hearts.
Let us turn now to the 16th chapter of Romans. We have been studying the book of Romans. As we got to the end of chapter 15, we went over to the book of Acts in order to have the historical account of what Paul was talking about when he wrote to the Romans that he was going to Jerusalem. One of the reasons he was going to Jerusalem was to deliver an offering that had been taken by all of the churches he had been visiting in order to help the believers in Jerusalem. Paul went back there announcing all the wonderful things that happened to the Gentile worlds and how many of the Gentiles received Christ, only to hear the response that, in essence, “That is nice, but, we Jews, have also been coming to the Lord in great volume, and we are really zealous for the law.” So you see the conflict taking place between the church of Jerusalem, the gospel that went to the Jew and the gospel that ultimately went to the Gentiles. As we close chapter 15, why Paul was again mentioning the fact that he was going, and heading to Jerusalem. Then we took some time in the book of Acts to describe that event. We are now going to the last chapter in this book of Romans. It is probably one of the greatest books on theology in the scripture today. Paul will end up finishing his writing there.
1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been of great help to many people, including me.
It testifies of how helpful women have been in the proclamation of the gospel, and in helping hose who were attempting to get the gospel out in different areas of the world.
3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.
People risked their lives. How do people do that? Many times it was being in an area where Christians were sought out to be killed and people were hiding them. That was the case of Jesus being persecuted, as in Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, where Christians hid them from the enemy. People put themselves in danger for doing that. I am sure that was happening there.
5 Greet also the church that meets at their house.
Where did the church meet in the early days? In homes. That is where the church was, which took place, until the time it was made a national religion, and had to start building huge edifices and buildings in order to house all the people, who were, in essence, forced to come to church to be “Christians”. But in the early days, to keep the purity of the church, they met in homes. They met daily for the apostle’ teaching, for fellowship and prayer, which is, in essence, what the church is supposed to be.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
The church is a place to be where we can learn, have fellowship with one another, pray with each other and for one another. Those kind of fellowships met in the homes. In our fellowship here, we are beginning that process. We are training people right now, of training people to be leaders, who can open up homes, have church home, that will meet periodically, in the different areas of this city. That is where a lot of growth will take place, like home bible studies, where people can get in smaller groups, to be with one another, pray with one another, and know how to pray for one another, because they know the hearts of the people they are with. And they met to listen to the apostles’ teaching. So greet those who meet in the home there.
Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.
You are talking about first converts in different places. Paul had a fantastic ministry throughout that entire area.
6 Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
We have all these different people and names whom Paul is talking about, and how they are outstanding among the apostles.
7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
He names people who were in Christ before he was. He was naming people who came to the Lord who came to be built in relationship to the Lord through his ministry. You have this whole area of listing things about different people. I was thinking through this. This is what People to People is all about, people reaching people. It is not about what this big group is doing. So many times in Christendom, you hear people talking constantly. We met some people last night, and talking constantly about the size of their church. “Did you see the church? We got a restaurant in the church. We got a coffee house in the church. We got bowling alleys.” We got all this type of thing. What happened to the intent of the church? The church is not meant to be a recreation center. The church is meant to be a place of the apostles’ teaching, fellowship and prayer. No one talks about what is taught, or how growing in the Lord, or what Jesus is doing in their life. This is what you hear more often than not. “These are the activities we are doing, about who we have this and this.” It becomes bragging about what we have. You can have all of those things but if you do not have Jesus, you have nothing. There are many people attracted to those thing, because of the activities and the convenience of those things, but they never get to the root of their own depravity or to the point where Jesus came to save people and to grow people in Him.
8 Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord.
9 Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.
1011 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew.
Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.
12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord.
Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.
There were a lot of women working diligently in the proclamation of the gospel.
13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
Here was a very close relationship Paul was talking about. So Paul keeps talking about different people he has come into contact with. It is interesting to me, as you go through this naming of people, and you see all these names. He was talking about people who have been influential to other people.
14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them.
15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the Lord’s people who are with them.
16 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
Now, this is an interesting one. I guess that is better than an unholy kiss. But he says to greet one another.
All the churches of Christ send greetings.
Now Paul is going to give a great warning to each one of us, a great warning to people in the early church, which is just as applicable today as it was back in those days.
17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
Those are some warnings that are so good for us to grab a hold of. Realize there are people in ministries that basically are there to cause divisions, and to put obstacles in the way of people that are contrary to the teaching. One of the ways that takes place is this. People are saying, “What is written back there is not relevant today. After all we live in the 21th century. It is not relevant. Music has to be relevant.” We have radio stations that would not know what a hymn is if they played it. All we have is modern music. Nothing wrong with modern music, but there is a ton of it that is bad. There is a balance. You never want to get to the point of holding onto the things of the world and be ignoring the things that built up the saints for thousands of years, that is not only good music but good teaching as well. That whole idea that that is out of sync is nonsense. If you do not teach children good music they will never learn good music. Just like if you don’t teach good literature, they will never learn good literature. If bad literature does not harm people, then good literature will not help people. The issue is it could do good. We need to expose people to good things just as we expose people to things of the world.
People will come along and say, “the bible is not relevant.” People will say, “I know the bible says a woman should not be pastors but we live in this generation.” No, that is not the case. The bible says women should not be pastors.
1 Timothy 2:12
12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.
There is a reason for that. The bible says a woman should not be in a position of leadership over a man. It is not saying a woman is less than a man. It is not that they are not smart. They are. In many cases women are brilliant. It is the case there are roles for people. I do not believe women should be on the fighting lines of war either. I do not believe they belong there. The reasons we have problems in service today is because we violated that truth. The issue is there are places men belong and places women belong. If a woman is placed in a position over men in a church assembly, what is she going to do when she goes home to her husband? I have seen this violated in my experience in churches. I have also seen the repercussions of it. I understand it thoroughly. There are positions you do not need to be in. I would not want my wife to be in a position of being a pastor, just because of the things you have to go through and the things you have to be exposed to. You would not want your wife or a woman to have to do so. You have people who think they are smarter than the bible, as if the bible is not relevant to this day and age, and so they say, “let us have women pastors”. We have people who do that. So when you do that, you do something in violation of scripture. Can a woman be teaching? Yes, absolutely. There are fine woman teachers. But they are not in a position of leadership over people. That is the key. It is not the case of teaching, but the case of being in a position of leadership over a man. Those are principles God has laid down that are innerrant principles and they are truth. We need to learn to follow them and to learn the reasons behind it. Those are the few of the things in this modern day thinking that throw away the bible, as if it is old fashioned. Let us get real and pertinent with the things of the world today.
18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
People doing that are not serving the Lord, but their own appetites. They use smooth talk and flattery to deceive the minds of naive people. Now, the bible talks about flattery. A flattering tongue is something you need to be careful of. Flattery is not coming along and saying to someone they are doing a good job. That is encouraging people. But you know the difference between someone just complimenting you on a good job and flattering you. It says to be careful of flattering tongues. We also go to other areas of scripture that warn against these same things. Jesus warned about it in Matthew 7:15-20.
15 “Watch out for false prophets.
So you are going to have real prophets and you are going to have false prophets.
They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Jesus warned people many times, as we read also in Mark 13:22.
22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
Now, folks, it talks about people who claim to be prophets. They say, “I have some kind of a direct word from God that you do not have and that is why you need to listen to me and why you need to support me, because I need a Rolls Royce. So you need to get busy.” You have people who are false prophets. How do they perform? They perform signs and miracles. Are they real signs and miracles? No. They are phonie signs and miracles, but they look like they are real. You had the same thing in the Old Testament. Pharaoh duplicated many of the miracles done in the name of God.
10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.
We need to understand that. We have people who are Satanically empowered to do what appears to be signs and miracles but God says they are false prophets. So Jesus is saying, “I am telling you this ahead of time.”
2 Corinthians 11:12
12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.
These people are those saying, “Do not listen to the apostles. Listen to us. We are just as knowledgable as they are.” That is not true. First of all, Jesus came to this earth and discipled the apostles, who were the authority to teach people the word of God. Yet people are coming along saying, “Do not listen to them.” Paul said that he was going to cut the ground right from under them, if he can.
2 Corinthians 11:13
13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
We have that going on today. People today are proclaiming they are prophets and apostles. No one put them in that position except themselves. Yet people will follow them and listen to every word they say and swear by what they utter out of their false teaching. These people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:14
14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
Satan can take on any of these things, masquerading.
2 Corinthians 11:15
15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
1 Timothy 1:3
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer
Teach these people to quit teaching these false doctrines.
1 Timothy 1:4
4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. (mysticism) Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.
God’s work is by faith and faith alone. It is not faith in miracles. It is not faith in signs and wonders. As a matter of fact if you need faith in a sign and wonder it is a sign of repudiation of your faith.
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Jesus said, “if you want a sign, tear this temple down. I will rebuild it in three days. He was talking about his resurrection from the dead. If the resurrection from the dead is not a good enough sign for you, nothing will be a good enough sign for you. If you need one sign, then you need another sign. People looking for signs is not faith. You do not look for signs and wonders from God. You take it by faith. God has said this is true and by faith you give your heart to that.
So these things promote controversies, speculations rather than advancing God’s work – which is by faith.
1 Timothy 1:5
5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
There is false faith and there is sincere faith. What I want you to do is to have faith that comes from a pure heart and a good conscience.
1 Timothy 6:3-5
3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
Have you by chance, ever heard anyone teaching that godliness is a means to financial gain? Have you ever heard that? That if you do something godly then God will bless you financially? Have you ever heard of “name it and claim it”, of “blab it and grab it”? Could it be that is prevalent in Christianity today? You better believe it. It is called “prosperity gospel”. What is that, a prosperity gospel from Jesus, who died on a cross naked, where people gambled for his cloak of the apostle Paul, the pleading of somebody to bring his parchments and his cloak, for he is cold, from people we know who lived liked dogs sometimes?
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
Yet, people proclaim a prosperity gospel. Those types of teachings are coming from false prophets. Is a false prophet going to try to look like a false prophet, or a good prophet? If you were a spy, say a Russian spy here in America, would you come over here talking in a big accent, or would you try to act and look like an American? Would you dress and act like an American, but deep down under the skin you are a Communist Russian? What would you do if you were a good spy, act like a Russian or act like an American?
When you have a false prophet, he is trying to act as holy as holy can get. He is going to come up with all the vernacular of holy appearing people. He will take on actions that people perceive as holy, even wearing collars on backwards, which McGee says they are walking in the wrong direction. Robes, funny hats, black outfits, is just people looking holy on the outside. What did Jesus call them?
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.
Jesus called them white washed sepulchres. You got yourself all dressed up on the outside but underneath that robe and cloak, is a heart that is hard as a brick. We have to understand that. That is what truth is. We have in our midst false prophets. These are people who love to stir up controversy and malicious talk with evil suspicions and friction and rob people of the truth and are teaching the bible as a means to financial gain. Someone says, “If you just tithe, you are going to be blessed.” Anyone ever hear that? How many of you have heard that? Is that true? It appears to me that the bible says that we are already blessed.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
We are blessed, are we not, in the beloved? So giving is giving because you are already blessed. You do not give to get blessed. You give because you are blessed. If you have not been blessed by God, why would you be wanting to give to the work of God? If there has been no reality of God’s presence in your life, why would you want to help somebody else to come to this Jesus who you think is not blessing you. That would be like saying, “Come to Jesus so you can be as miserable like me.”
So the reason that you give is because God has already blessed you. Because you are blessed, you want to see other people blessed. That is what the motivation for giving is. Give so that the people or the ministry of the message that blessed you can reach out and bless others. Is that not what it is all about? Yet, people teach you to give so that God will multiply that. They say, “God will just multiply it and multiply it. You send me a $100 and He will send you a $1000.” What I believe is what a lady from West Texas wrote back one time. “It appears to me you need money a lot worse than I do, so why don’t you send me the $100 and you let Him send you the $1000.” Now he did not respond to that but those are the kind of things going on.
17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
In regards to this teaching that we become little gods, that says, “When you are indwelt by Jesus, you become a little god.” I told people that if I become a little god, then this place is in big trouble. If you become a little god, it might be in trouble too. We do not become little gods. Jesus is God clothed in an earth suit. I am a human being indwelt by God. I am a man. I am not God. I am indwelt by God. Jesus is God clothed in humanity. There is quite a difference between the two. He found himself in appearance as a man but he is God clothed in humanity.
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
I am humanity indwelt by God. People think that you are a little god. What does that mean? That means that anything you think and say comes from God. All you do is speak it and that is God speaking. So people come down and say God told me to get divorced. I am sorry, but God did not tell you that, when something in the bible tells me different. Someone says, “God told me to kill somebody. I do not like abortion clinics so God told me to go down and blow it up to kill people in the process.” I am sorry. That is not God, is it? Of course not.