Classic Christianity – Book of Romans P48 (02-26-20)
Paul addresses the attitudes of the heart in a believer, resulting in actions of love toward one another, the body of Christ. Christ Jesus is the head of the church and we are the body. As the body of Christ, we belong to one another, and should be acting in love for one another. When one part of the body hurts, we hurt with him. When one part of the body rejoices, we rejoice with him. We each are given spiritual gifts for building each other up; prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing mercy. Even if one aspect is not our spiritual gift, we learn from one another, and become just as effective, as we observe how one another operates in their gift. In this way the body builds itself up in love as each part does its work. So let us look at these attitudes and actions of love; sincere in love, hating what is evil, clinging to what is good, being devoted to one another in love, honoring one another above ourselves, with spiritual fervor, serving the Lord, joyful always, praying continuously, giving thanks in all circumstances, helping those in need, and practicing hospitality.
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.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
So in Romans, we are looking at these spiritual gifts (Romans 12:4-8) and these attitudes and actions of love (Romans 12:9-13). Listen as Bob explains these verses in the 12th chapter of Romans.
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. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
So when a man comes to understand the truth, he comes to understand there was a consequence to sin, called death, and the only cure for death is life. The only life available to us, folks, is the life of Christ Jesus. That is why Jesus was not just coming up with a fancy phrase of saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. He is the way. He is the only way. He is the truth. There is no truth apart from Jesus.
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.”
When he said that to Pilate, and said what truth is, Jesus said “I am truth. No man will ever come to the Father except through Me.” Not being narrow-minded or dogmatic, but being unbelievably realistic. You are dead and you need life and Jesus is saying, “I am the only life available to you.” You can do that without a religion. That is practical. If I am dead, I need life.
Somebody comes along and says, “I am the only life available to you”, then you have to be stupid to say, “I do not need you” unless you want to remain dead. Do you want to remain dead? Do you want to die and die forever? Or do you want to do as scripture says, “leave this body and go into the presence of God”. You never face death. You just go to sleep and wake up in the arms of Jesus. It is practical. It is not just “come and be wonderful” because we are not. How many of you were just totally wonderful last week? Can I see your hands?
9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one”[Psalms 14:3]
We have to understand folks, there is no one righteous. No, not one. We could not last even one hour apart from the mercy of God. This is what he is trying to teach us here, is our attitude toward ourselves and toward one another. He is saying your spiritual act of worship is not what you do out here, but it is making yourself available to the living God, who lives in you, to live His life in and through you. He gave His life for you, to give His life to you, to live His life through you. That is the goal of the Christian life, to let Jesus, who lives in you, to let Him loose. Let him do it? Do what? Live His life. Could you give the Christian life? Can you live the Christian life? No. How many of you found it tough to live the Christian life last week? It is not tough. It is totally impossible.
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
You cannot live it any more than a branch can produce fruit. How dumb would it be for a branch trying to produce fruit? He can grunt and groan all day long. He is not going to get it out. The only way a branch is going to have fruit out of it, is by abiding in the life of the vine, and the power of the vine produces fruit in the branch and the branch bears fruit. You cannot do it. Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing.”
Yet, in our egotistical heart, we stick our chest out and say, “You just watch my smoke, Lord.” We will go out and build churches. We will just build these big edifices and even have Starbucks in them. We will do all kinds of stuff. “You just watch us, Lord.” Jesus says, “I am not interested in all those churches.” The church is born again believers and not people looking for an entertainment center. My church are people who have come to Jesus, who have an interest in walking in the newness of life and not being entertained. God says, “My church are my people.” We have churches that say “these are my people”. “You are not My people. You are his people.” Am I right or wrong? “You are not Mine. You are his.”
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Because you are His, we belong to one another. We belong to Him and we are relatives. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. That is Jesus church. He is the head and we are His body. But we confuse that. Satan comes along, saying, “Oh, that is not worship. Worship is what you do in service. Oh, you say, my church. Do not pay any attention to who you are in Christ. God says, ‘I make you a child of God ’. That is who you are, but do not pay any attention to that. Put a label on yourself. With a name like Smuckers, it has got to be good, so just put Smuckers on there. It does not matter any difference what is on inside. Just let people see the label.”
So we put Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Charismatic, and all this stuff. What are those? Labels that man has stuck on the outside of the jar. So Satan says, “It does not make an ounce of difference what is on the inside. I do not care if you are saved. I do not care if you are empty as a pork barrel, just put a label on yourself, and tithe and come to church. That is all that matters.” That is the condition religion has gotten into. God says, “I care less what is on the outside, that jar of yours. It is what is on the inside that counts. What is on the inside is I have made you a child of God. That is the only identity we will only ever want.” God did not call me Baptist or Presbyterian. He called me “child of God” and that is what I will be throughout eternity. That is the good news of the gospel. This is not an organization. You are an organism. You are not an organization. He is the head and you are the body. We belong to Christ and we belong to one another.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world
What do we do? We bring the world into the church and say “praise God, we are politically correct.” So we bring into the church hair-brained music. It sounds just like the world. You play it on the radio. You cannot tell whether listening to a secular station or listening to Christian music. You cannot tell if you do not listen carefully to the words, which are normally mumbled. We brought the world into the church. You can attract people that way. It is a nice place to go. Nice people to meet. If in business, you can get lots of contacts. There are a lot of false motives conjured in hearts to go to church. God said the only reason I want you to be here is to not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as the habit of some are, but to fellowship with one another. You come to learn so you can go back home and put it into practice.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
He did not say to alter your mind but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How do you get your mind renewed? What does he want it renewed on? On truth. Where are you going to find truth? Jesus. And where did Jesus say you will get truth from? His word.
17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
His word is truth. So how do you get your mind renewed? In the word of God. If you never study it, you will not have a renewed mind. I have people I have talked to.
Christian: “Gee, I am all confused. I am a Christian.”
Bob: “Do you ever read the bible?”
Christian: “No, I never read it.”
Bob: “How in the world are you ever going to grow? That is like saying, ‘you are a plant. You put it in the ground. Do you ever water it?”
Bob: “Do you ever put fertilizer in it?”
Bob: “Then how do think it is ever going to grow?”
We have a phenomenal book He gave to us. He tells us to read it. You can read the gospel of John in 20 minutes. A lot of people have never read two paragraphs out of it. Read it. “Well, I do not understand it.” Well, if you really do not understand it, then you do not have the Spirit of God living in you. Or, you are trying to understand it in the energy of your own flesh. If that is the problem, then say to the Lord, “Lord Jesus, my ear cannot hear, my mind cannot see, my mind has not conceived, but it must be revealed by the Spirit, so I am going to count on you to reveal the meaning of the word of God to me.” So let Him do it, the renewing of your mind. When your mind is renewed, then you are able to bounce error off the truth. When you do not know what truth is, you have nothing to bounce error off of. Error bounces off of error.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”[Isaiah 64:4] –
the things God has prepared for those who love him –
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Do you want to know what the will of God is? Have your mind renewed. In what? Truth. And He will reveal it to you. Then he says this. Let us listen carefully to this.
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 measure of faith God has distributed to each of you.
Do you know, folks, we can really think we are a somebody. This is what the Gentiles were doing. “We got this gospel more than the Jews do.” Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. There are really no big deals. There are people who live to get around big deal people. Martha Stewart was a big deal. I feel sorry for her, but not a lot of biggies around her if she has to go to jail. There are a lot of people who want to rub elbows with biggies. Those biggies put their pants on the same way you and I do. If they do not, they are just as offensive. And they need deodorant just like you and I do. They are just plain people who have been put into a certain position. There are no biggies.
So we should not be thinking of our self more highly than we ought. We can have that in families. People are bickering and arguing with each other. Why? Someone is thinking they are better than someone else. You are not better than anyone else. How many of you as a teenager, thought of how smart you were. Was there anyone smarter than you, as a teenager? Then when you get older, and look back, and say “I was a blithering idiot”. But why you are going through it, you think you are the smartest thing going.
I remember back when I was only a believer for a year, studying the bible like crazy. I thought there was nothing in the bible I did not know. I was thinking, “I do not understand why these people think the bible is hard to understand. I understand all of it.” I have been in the Lord now a lot of years, and I wonder if I know anything. It seems like the more you know the more you realize the more you do not know. So there is no reason to be thinking more highly of yourself than we you ought to.
There are people who say you have a poor self image. A person comes up and says, “I hate myself.” Why? “I am ugly.” No, for if you hated yourself, you would be glad you are ugly. If you had a neighbor across the street you thought was ugly, you would be glad. The issue is we love ourselves. The bible does not say we hate ourselves. It says we love ourselves too much. Any of you get the little deal we put out with all the pictures in it. What was the first picture you looked for? So you see guys, do not think more highly of ourselves than we ought. We are just people who have been saved by the grace of God. We are people, if not for Jesus, we would be goners. If not for His mercy, kindness, forgiveness, we would be goners. Is that right or wrong? What do we have to be criticizing each other all the time for, and nit-picking each other for? The reason is we think we are better than other people.
We think we know more that anyone else. There are people who live thinking, “I am a somebody, somebody.” I do not know where they got that. Yet they say, “I am smarter than anybody.” I remember in grade school one time. I asked a question of the teacher. Everyone in the class thought they knew the answer except me. So they were all snickering and laughing. Then the teacher told me my answer. Then I looked at the rest of the class, that in just a split second, with just one answer, I am just as smart as everybody. But everybody thought how dumb I was because a question was asked that I did not know but they did. Do not think more highly of yourself than you should.
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.
Folks, do you know that we belong to each other? From God’s vantage point, He is the head and we are the body.
1 Corinthians 12:12
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.
Those of us in here, who are born again, we belong to Christ, and we belong to one another. We are a part of the same body. If I get a tiny splinter in this big body of mine, where is your preoccupation? Where do you think? Where does your thinking process go? To the splinter. Just a tiny thing in here. If a part of the body is hurting, hurt with them. If they are rejoicing, rejoice with them. Be sensitive to the needs of others. It is not just me. I am not the most important thing in this room. We belong to each other. That is the attitude He wants us to have.
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve;
There are many people with a marvelous gift of serving. It is a phenomenal gift. It does not get a lot of attention sometimes, but it is a phenomenal gift. They like to do things for you.
if it is teaching, then teach;
We have developed a leadership potential in this body that can reach thousands of people in this city.
8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement;
Have you ever met somebody that just lifts you up all the time? Is that not wonderful. It is a lot better than someone tearing you down all the time. There are some people, no matter what you do, will find something wrong with you. You could have a perfect white table cloth on with just one tiny speck. They will never see the table cloth just the speck, and it is as if it is as big as the empire state building. Do we need encouragement? How many of you like to be encouraged? How many of you like to be discouraged? We need encouragement. We have times when we are down. We need encouragement. So he says to encourage one another. If it is a spiritual gift, do it.
if it is giving, then give generously;
If there is a need, contribute. A man told me the other day, meeting a young man, when a scam was going on. They sell magazines and do not realize they have been recruited by people who bring them into a city with a one way ticket. There is no way of getting them home. They are like enslaved. They sell magazines and make no money out of it, and he is enslaved. So he asks the young man, “What do you want?” He replies, “I want to go back home to St. Louis.” So he takes him to the bus station, buys him a ticket, and sends him back to St. Louis. Another guy is homeless and needs food. He went and bought him some food. He went and paid for a shelter for him to stay. That is serving. You see a need and you meet it. You are contributing to the needs of others. We should be generous givers.
if it is to lead, do it diligently;
Why does God give the gift of leadership? Because we need leaders. Some people have the gift and some do not. But if you do not have the gift, you can learn from those who do have the gift, and be equally effective at it. That is what gifts of the Holy Spirit are, to teach everyone. I do not have the gift of giving. I really do not. But I have observed friends of ours with the gift of giving, and observed the way they function, that I became a giver. It is not my gift but it was their gift. But I learned from them.
Some people never give a dime to the work of ministry in here. That is a tragedy, folks. If you are not giving to where you are getting blessed, where are you going to give and why are you not giving? Are you afraid you will not have enough money to live on. God will provide. Believe me, God will provide. When I went into full time work, I owned my own business, and we had a branch and we made a lot of money. When I left that business, I worked for Campus Crusade making $500 per month. I had two children ultimately to put through college. I had no clue how that was going to happen, but God put both of them through college. And we were never hungry and God has blessed us.
People think if I give I will not have enough money. Nonsense. You watch God work. He is wonderful in the way He works in our lives, to provide ways we do not spend money where we would spend money otherwise. If you are not giving something is wrong. What a man does with money is in direct relationship with what he understands of the Lord. I am not talking about giving huge amounts of money. If you have $5 per month, are you afraid you will miss it? Not even a McDonald’s hamburger. We should all be joining in this gift of giving. We should all be joining this gift of encouraging one another. We should all be joining in in teaching one another. All of these things should be taking place in the body of Christ.
if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
You do not extend mercy to somebody with an attitude of I got to do it. If you do not want to, do not do it. That is nothing more than a phony mercy. If you are going to be merciful, do so joyfully. That is the attitude he is talking about.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
We may not always be able to do good, but I do not ever want to call good bad and bad good.
10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Do you know what brotherly love is? Your brother and sister should be the closest friends you have. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. You came out of the same family, from the same mother and father. Your mother and father came out of their mother and father. Grandparents are important. We all came out of the same people. There is nothing that causes grief any more than watching two children fighting with each other when they belong to one another. What do you do with that? Start working on it. My brother is 5 years older and my sister is 10 years older, and I was a pain in the neck to them, I know, as a little brother. But he recognized me as a little brother. He was a pain to me as a big brother. But we still loved each other. Folks, if you, as parents, are in that situation, you need to talk to them to get that stuff stopped, because you belong to each other. You are a part of the same family. You should learn to love one another as Christ Jesus loved you. Jesus does not call you a nit wit. Why are we calling each other that. Love is sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
Look out for the interests of others over and above your own. I see that in some people, where their own interests are secondary to other people. I love watching that in people.
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Do you see someone in need, help them. You do not need to take a collection from the church. You help them. So this attitude of letting the government do it. What about you? What gets me, those people up there are multi-billionaires, talking about government helping people. Why do you not help them? If everyone does that, we would not need all these government programs out there, if we just learn to follow what Jesus said to help one another. Sometimes there is a risk to that, but it is worth it.
14 Bless those who persecute you;
Try that one on.
bless and do not curse.
Is that not what Jesus did to those persecuting him. He said, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.”
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another.
Make an attempt to live in harmony with each other. Do not make an attempt for dissension. How can I live in harmony with people? First of all, do not curse, and then it says, do not be proud.
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
What is the problem with all of this? Pride. The pride of man that says, “I am better than someone else, I am smarter than someone else, or I can do this better than someone else.” Can you find that in ministry? Yes. I had it rampant one time. The proud heart that thought they knew how to do things better than anyone else. It almost destroyed the ministry.