Classic Christianity – Book of Romans P2 (10-22-19)
Bob George now starts in the book of Romans, after providing some introductory background on the life of Paul. Through just the first seven verses of Romans, Bob explains the meaning of words, such as sin, forgiveness, sanctified (set apart), slave, ambassador, saint, truth, gospel, obedience and faith, that we often take for granted, and such words are often not properly understood. The Greek language provides a more precise rendering that helps our understanding in some cases.
The gospel is the message of good news of Jesus Christ and Paul is called as an ambassador of Jesus Christ to bring this good news and explain it to the Gentile world. Ambassador is not a short term function he is assigned to do. He is called as an ambassador, as an identification or designation. It is like the word forgiveness. It not something we get but something we already have. An ambassador for God is one who represents God in a foreign country, the place on earth, to proclaim truth.
Now truth to be truth, truth must be universal, for all people, for all times and for all places. The prosperity gospel is not truth because you cannot share that to both an impoverished city and also to a wealthy city. Paul was appointed to proclaim truth, the meaning of the true gospel of Christ Jesus.
This gospel was nothing new. It was proclaimed by the prophets and was proclaimed in the scriptures. This statement identifies the scriptures as truth, where truth is found. Therefore, even those people in Paul’s day could test and see if what Paul said was true. There is only one gospel, not one for the Old Testament people and another one for the New Testament people.
Paul was uniquely appointed by God to explain the gospel to the Gentile world. He greeted those who were born again of the Spirit of God as saints. That is unlike the world today, where people erroneously identify themselves as sinners saved by grace or thing someone has to be canonized a saint after they die. If you are truly born again, a sinner is who you were but not who you are now. You are a saint, by identification in Christ Jesus, as a new creation in Christ Jesus.
Bob addressed this concept of obedience that comes by faith. This is the same manner of obedience of Jesus, who walked in total obedience to his Father, who did only what he saw his Father doing and said only what his Father told him to say and how to say it. If we have this total trust in someone who perfectly loves you, then you will learn to trust him, and have this policy in you, to do what the Father wants you to do. This is obedience that comes from faith. Our faith is in Jesus, who perfectly loves you and me. We love because he first loved us.
Bob contrasts this obedience that comes from faith with religion. All religion does is focus on obedience, and does not even consider a relationship of love with your Creator God, from whom your obedience should flow. Religion tells you that all that matters is what you do in a group, in a church setting, to be seen by others. Religion says, “What you do at home is your own business”. That is not the way of life God would wants you to think and live. He wants you to walk in Spirit and in truth.
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.
So God says to Ananias, go in there and place your hands on him to restore his sight. Imagine the shock of Ananias, saying to God: “Lord, you want me to go to who?” (You can hear Bob laughing, imagine being asked that by God of a known violent persecutor of men, like the leader of ISIS.)
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!”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also.
They sent Barnabas to fetch Paul. His name means the son of encouragement. They sent Barnabas. In Acts 11:25, Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul.
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.
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.
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.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
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 bondservant 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.
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.
If you and I were named, we would be named by the president, by someone in a higher authority, over and above us, to be named by him, to be an ambassador, to go to France and represent the United States of America, to represent that country, and would have the authority to act in that capacity. We would have all the things necessary to speak for the president of the United States. We would be the representative of the president of the United States and the country he is present of in a foreign land. That is the picture we need to get in regards to this thing, Paul the apostle.
called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God –
In our translation, it is written, “called to be an apostle”. But in the original language, it would be written as “called an apostle„. So it is a designation by God. I called you not to be something. I called you as an apostle. I called you as an ambassador. Not to be one for you might not be one. This is your new identity. An apostle became an identity and not something I am for a period of time. That is who I am. That is a designation. I am an apostle. It says I am set apart and the designation there is permanently set apart. When you are dealing with separated, and that is what that means, set apart. We would also use words like “sanctified” and “holy”. Those are all tied into the same concept that you and I have been set apart for the divine purpose for which God created us. Paul is saying, “I have been permanently set apart, permanently”, and that is a perfect participle in the Greek language. What that means is that it is a past act that is done, done forever, and it has an eternal consequence to it. It is the same thing as forgiveness. It is a past participle. It means it is done. It is over. It does not mean we get forgiven. It means you are a forgiven person. It is done once. I am not doing it again. It has a permanent consequence to it. That is why in translation, sometimes, we miss the dynamic of the meaning of the word of God. If we do not translate those things in that fashion, then it means “if I will do them, God will do”. No, it means “God has already done it and as a result of what He did, we are a part of what He did”. He forgave your sins. Therefore, today, I am a forgiven person.
He was set apart forever, permanently, for the gospel of God. What does the word gospel mean? It is God’s good news. The word “gospel” means the good news of Christ Jesus. Again, there was an inscription that has been found in regards to Augustus, during that period of time. He was one of the rulers there in Rome. It was talking about the good news, that was the celebration of his birthday, and the good news of that, and that word was gospel.
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures
The meaning of it is God’s good news. Paul was set apart for the good news of Christ Jesus. It was talked about that this gospel was promised beforehand through his prophets through the holy scriptures. There again, what Paul was trying to say to the readers in Rome is this. This gospel is not new. The understanding of it is new. But the gospel was proclaimed by the prophets. It was proclaimed back in the Old Testament. David proclaimed it. Moses proclaimed it. The minor and major prophets proclaimed it. It was all proclaimed. It was nothing new. He is not saying that there is the old there and the new here. God is saying, “I was proclaimed in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the new”. He promised this beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures.
Again, that is an identification as to what the scriptures are. They too are holy. They too are set apart.
12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
That holiness does not mean what we think it means. It means set apart. What is it set apart from? All the rest of the garbage that we have in the world today. If you believe this book, your thinking is set apart from the thinking of the entire world, the whole world! This is totally different. Everybody comes along and says, “Oh, that was back in those days. That was old fashioned. Homosexuality is okay today. That is old fashioned today.” Truth is truth. For truth to be truth, it has to be universal. For truth to be truth, it has to be just as true in New Guinea as in New York. Can you go to New Guinea, an impoverished area, and preach a prosperity gospel? Do you think you could? “Just name it and claim it”, they say. Do you think you could? Are we alive? How are you going to preach that in an impoverished nation? So if you cannot preach it there, do not preach it in New York. If you cannot preach it in both New Guinea and New York, then it is not true. One way you know something is true is because it is universally true. Can you go to New Guinea and tell people, “God was in Christ reconciling you unto Himself, not counting your sins against you?” Absolutely! Can you do it in New York? Absolutely! Can you do it 2000 years from now, if the Lord tarries? Absolutely! Can you have done it 2000 years ago? Absolutely! Why? Truth is universal. It is forever. It is not for one place and not another. When you are talking about the scriptures, they are set apart as a unique document. It is the most unique document you and I will ever hold in our hands. You can read all the literature and become all intellectual, of reading all the literature of the world. But I will tell you something. If the writer of that literature is not born again, you will be reading something contrary to this book. This book is truth and truth sets you free from the error that binds you. If you want to be bound up, believe error. If you want to be set free, believe truth.
This gospel was promised to us by the prophets and the holy scriptures regarding his Son. Now he is going to identify Jesus as God.
3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David,
That is the meaning of going into the genealogy through Joseph. That enabled him to become in the bloodline of David.
4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
Was Jesus the son of God before the resurrection? Was he? He has always been the Son of God. The designation is not just saying who he is but it is saying what he is. Do you see the difference? What is that? It is above. What is its name? Caterpillar. Do you see the difference in what it is and who it is? The designation of the Son of God through the resurrection declared what he is. He is God. What is his name? Jesus, the Son of God. So it is a declaration that the apostle Paul makes that by his resurrection, that was the final thing that anyone needed to declare him what he is and who he is. He is God. He is God who took upon himself the nature of man and there he who knew no sin became sin for us at the cross and through his resurrection, he is able to give us eternal life in Him.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!
2 Corinthians 5:21
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
The good news of the gospel. God has appeared to us. God has shown us what perfect righteousness in him, and in so doing, showing us our own unrighteousness, so we will be prepared to come to him and get his righteousness, through the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
In other words, an ambassadorship, to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes through faith. Where does obedience come from? Faith. The love of God that results in dependency upon God that then results in obedience to God. Obedience without love is nothing but legalistic obedience. It is the love of God.
1 John 4:19
19 We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:10
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Not that we loved Him, but He loved us first. That results in dependency. When I know someone who loves me perfectly, then I can learn to depend upon Him. If I can learn to depend on Him, then I can learn to obey him.
Now religion says to forget that other garbage. Religion says, “Just get into obedience. I do not care if you love Him or depend upon Him, just do what I tell you to do. And do it here. What you do at home is your own business. Do it here. Look good here”. That is what religion does. Look good in the group. He is saying that is not true. We are talking about obedience that comes from faith.
Again, faith in who? Faith in Jesus. Again, when Jesus was here on this earth, he walked in total dependence on, did he not, upon his Father? Jesus said, “I do not do anything unless the Father tells me to do it (John 5:19). I do not say anything unless the Father tells me to say it and how to say it” (John 8:28).
19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.”
That was Jesus, the Son of God. Not too bad for a Christian. How did he walk? In total dependence upon his Father. How does he want you and me to walk? In total dependence on the Father. What did that total dependence on the Father do? It created obedience. “If I do not do anything unless the Father tells me”, is my mindset. So when God tells you to do something and you already have a policy that you will not do something unless he tells you to do it, and then when he tells you to do it, what do you do? You do it. What is that called? Obedience. What does it come from ? Faith. Faith in Him. So he says obedience that comes from faith.
Now he is identifying that that is my mission that God gave me to take this good news to the Gentiles. I am a slave to this, I am set apart from the entire world and I am set apart to do nothing except take the good news of the gospel to people. That is what I am set apart for. The world has no meaning to me. I am set apart from it. I am here for one purpose and one purpose only. I am not here to politic. I am not here to change the world. I am here to give out the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is how he saw himself and that was his mission.
6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
He says now, you too are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. He is talking also to the Gentile world, also applicable to the Jewish world. That is a summary of what Paul is going to deal with in the whole book of Romans. Now, I am going to address this to Rome.
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Who are the people in Rome called to be? Saints, or holy people. When you come to Christ, what does God call you? You have a designation. What are you called? Saint. Notice he did not address all the old sinners saved by grace in Colossae. Notice he did not address all the old sinners saved by grace in Corinth. Notice he did not address all the old sinners saved by grace in Philippi. Why did he not say that? For that is not who you are. You are called a saint. How did you become a saint? I was an old sinner that was saved by grace. But now I am a new creature.
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!