Classic Christianity – Book of Romans P63 (04-01-20)
Listen as Bob George shares background information as to what the culture was like among the Jews in the time of Christ. Listen as he describes how the Jews and the Gentiles were at odds with each other. Then something amazing happens. Jesus, who is God in the flesh, has come to this earth to reveal his plan to save both the Jew and the Gentile the same way. Paul is called of God to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Here he is struggling with his own people, back in Jerusalem, and they are just as proud and arrogant as he once was. Paul then shares his testimony of his former way of life, and how he met Christ, became a new creation, born again as a child of God. Paul has one goal in mind, to make the message of Christ Jesus known to all men.
Listen as Bob George shares again what salvation really is. So many people, even today, both Jews and Gentiles, have not understood what salvation is. Salvation is not getting sins forgiven. Why do you say that? For that is what Jesus already did for us when he died on a cross to take away the sins of the entire world. When Jesus shed his blood, it was the once and for all sacrifice for the sins of the entire world. Since sin is what caused our death, that the wages of sin is death, then the only way man can ever be given an offer of eternal life is for the cause of death to be taken away eternally. That is what the shed blood of Jesus on a cross did, and that for you and me, before we were even born.
Salvation is the receiving of new life. So now that sin has been taken away, Jesus was raised from the dead so that that life that raised him from dead can now be offered to you and me, to be received by faith. We are not saved by the death of Christ, although that was a necessary preparation for life to be given, but we are saved by the life of Christ. That is why when you read the gospels, you hear so much appeal by Jesus for people to come to Him for life. Man is spiritually dead and in need of life. Jesus is the only provision for sin and death and the only person who has life to give to man. Come to Christ Jesus to receive life. That is the appeal of Christ Jesus, of Paul and the apostles, and of those who are in Christ Jesus today.
When you study the life of Christ Jesus, and ponder over the scriptures, you come to understand the purpose of why Jesus came. He emptied himself of his divine attributes, never ceasing to be God. He lived as a man totally dependent on God the Father, so that we who are not man, can begin to see how we, who are not God, were designed to live. Would you not want the life of Christ? What love is this? He came to lay down his life for us in order to be raised again, a command he received from God, Jesus came here on a rescue mission, to restore life to man. That was the plan all along before the foundation of the world, for both Jew and Gentile.
He showed us what perfect love and righteousness is, so we, who are not perfect and who are not righteous, can see our own imperfection and unrighteousness. In so doing, we can see ourselves as a sinner. For if we do not see ourselves as a sinner then what value would Jesus death on a cross mean to us? That is also why the law was given to the Jewish people, and the same law can be used to show us what sin is so we may see ourselves as a sinner and seek a Savior in Jesus Christ. Now, when man sees he is a sinner, it exposes the depth of his wretchedness before God, his state of emptiness, a man born without the Spirit of God due to the fall of man since the garden of Eden. He sees that he is dead spiritually to God.
When you recognize how dead you are, you see your need of life. So then you are in the perfect position to humble yourself before God who has offered the gift of eternal life. That is the meaning of the resurrection, for life to be given. The Spirit of God departed Adam because of sin. We were all born dead in sin, without the Spirit of God living in us. So the resurrection is for putting the Holy Spirit of God back into man so we can be born again, living a new and different life as God intended man to function. The Spirit in the man is indispensable to the proper functioning of the man.
Salvation is life. Christ Jesus is life. That is why the apostle Paul said, “Christ is my life. To live is Christ and to die is gain.”
In the book of Romans, Paul was saying to the people in Jerusalem, “I am heading your way”. If we review for a moment, Paul had collected a large offering from the Gentile churches. He was going to deliver that offering to the church in Jerusalem, headed up by James, the Lord’s half brother. Paul arrived in Jerusalem and he met with James and many of the leaders, explaining to them all the wonderful things that had happened to the Gentile believers. As we know, Paul was an apostle sent to the Gentiles. There was a terrific response to the gospel. He shared this with the church in Jerusalem.
It is interesting to me, as we read that story, that immediately after he had shared the good news as to what had happened with the Gentiles, that James and the legalistic people in Jerusalem immediately said, “We, Jews, came to the Lord too, and God has done great and mighty works among us.” It is like hearing somebody in a bragging session, saying, “I do not care what happened to the Gentiles, but this is what happened in Jerusalem.”
We have to keep in mind the condition of the Jewish world at that time. You had the Jewish world, that prior to Christ’s coming, was really the only voice on the face of the earth that was dealing with teaching the one true God. They called God by many names, but they referred to Him as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That is how they identified the one they believed in. Until Jesus came we never knew the makeup of God, as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. That was unknown teaching until Jesus came. They knew there was a plurality in the Godhead but what does that mean?
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The word “God” is “Elohim” (Genesis 1:1). “Elohim” is plural.
Also, in regard to the tower of Babel, when God confused the languages of the world, you read about a plurality.
7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
“Let us confuse their language. Who is the “us”?
In Genesis, we also read about God”s decision to create man. We read again about this plurality of the one true God.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”
“Let us make man in our image?” Who in the world is the “us” and the “our”?
The old rabbis used to scratch their heads, “What is this?” It is obviously a plurality of some kind in the godhead, yet we believe in all of our heart, mind and soul that there is only one God, none before and none after.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
That was a mystery. It was acknowledged as so, but it was a mystery. It could not be explained until Jesus came. When Jesus came, he identified the one true God as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Now, as I said before, there are illustrations in regard to explaining the Trinity. I believe they help us a little bit in understanding the Trinity. Although God is Spirit and we must worship Him in Spirit and in truth, you cannot put flesh and blood on Spirit.
24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
That is where people run into problems. You have all kinds of people who teach erroneous doctrines, denying the Trinity, because they know not three gods but they cannot bring into their minds of three in one. So as a result, people try to rationalize or come up with other understandings to it. The fact of the matter is you cannot put flesh and blood on Spirit. What does a Spirit look like? We do not have a clue. What does God look like? God is spirit. We do not have a clue. But God has revealed to us He exists as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
30 I and the Father are one
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
We imagine one guy with a big beard, and well that is the Father, and then there is Jesus, whom you can see, and then the Spirit and we have no idea how to put clothes on him, but we put clothes on him. But He is Spirit and you cannot put clothes on Him. That is where we get into difficulty.
I used, many times, an illustration of an egg. You have white, shell, yolk, and then you ask, “Which is the egg?” There is only one egg. You have egg in the attic, and then people messed up in the kitchen. And the egg made a decision to send the yolk to the kitchen to save those people. Would there be any less egg in the kitchen? None at all. There was no less God when He sent Jesus to earth, full of grace and truth.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
There was nothing unusual about that. We can kind of understand that a little bit with an egg illustration. It helps with eggs, and I do not know if it helps or not. All illustrations fall short but nevertheless it is an illustration to help us understand the Trinity better. Water is another example of it, with liquid form, steam, and ice that people have used.
What the Jews did is to represent this one true God on the face of the earth. The opposite of a Jew is not a Christian. The opposite of a Jew is a Gentile. You have lost Gentiles and you had saved Gentiles. You had saved Jews and you had saved Gentiles. But the opposite of a Jew is not a Christian. I am a Gentile. All of the early Christians were all Jewish. As far as we know, it was 18 years before Cornelius was converted. He was the first Gentile who was converted. All the early Christians were all out of a Jewish background. Today, we have the very opposite of that. All of the original Christians were all Jews with a remnant of Gentiles. Today, the majority of Christians are Gentiles and only a remnant are Jews.
But the issue is there was a conflict between the two, just like today. I believe antisemitism is built into a lost man’s heart because there is no room in their heart for antisemitism in a Christian’s heart. There was a problem between the Jewish world and the Gentile world. The Jewish world, as an example, if they were taking their trip from Nazareth into Jerusalem, they would go way out of their way to bypass Samaria. Samaria was made up of people who were a crossbreed of Jews and Gentiles marrying each other. They would not even go through Samaria. You could not even eat with a Gentile.
You read a little about the attitude toward Samaritans in Jesus encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well in John 4.
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
A Gentile could not even go into the temple. They were not thought of as Christian people. They were considered heathens. Most of us came out of the Gentile background, an idol worshiping, heathenistic background. Do you want to go back to your roots? It is interesting that these predestination people think that you were alive before you were born, as though you were some kind of royalty, but never as a heathenistic Gentile.
Now, they hated each other. The Jews hated the Gentiles and the Gentiles hated the Jews. The plan of God that Paul explains in Romans and Ephesians is that what predestination is is that God predestined that the Gentiles would come to Christ the same way the Jews would.
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.
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.
All you have to do is read the book of Ephesians, and you will see that very clearly. He predestined in His mind that this Gentile, this heathenistic Gentile, will come to Christ the same way that the religious Jew would, and that by faith in Christ Jesus, not by works but by grace. This was the plan of God, which is explained in the book of Ephesians. Study that book of Ephesians with that in mind.
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) – 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
It is a marvelous message of unity when you see what predestination and election are. A message of unity that He chose that a heathenistic Gentile could come to know the same God as the religious Jew. Paul had to explain these things. He explained this in many ways.
30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal.
Are you saying that the Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have obtained it, but the Jews who pursued it have not? Yes, you got it. Why not? You, the Jew, pursued it as it were not by faith but by works. The Jew was trying to earn his way to heaven by his works. The Gentile knew they had no works to earn their way to heaven. They had nothing to do but fall on their face before God and say, “if you do not save me, I will not be saved”. That was easier for a Gentile to accept but difficult for the Jews to accept.
In Romans and Ephesians, you read about God’s plan, what he predestined, to make one new man out of the two (Ephesians 2:15), to save the Jew and the Gentile and put then into the same body of Christ. We have in this congregation people out of a Jewish background, with most of us out of a Gentile background, and he made us one. I spent many years with Ed Hecht. I never think of him as Jewish and he never thinks of me as Gentile. God just made us one new man out of two. That was predestined by God. God so loved the world, not just the Jews, but the Gentiles as well, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
So Christ Jesus came and went to a cross. He went to a cross to take away the sins of the world.
2 Corinthians 5:19
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.
Many people have made a huge mistake in theology by believing you are saved by getting your sins forgiven. Nothing is farther from the truth.
10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Your forgiveness of sins happened before you were born. You are not saved by the death of Christ. You are saved by the life of Christ.
You could not be saved eternally by the life of Christ apart from the cross. The fact is the cross is what took away the cause of spiritual death. Death has a consequence. Sin has a consequence. What is the consequence of sin? Death. It is not a paddling, not a woodshed. It is death.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We were born in Adam, dead. When you are dead, you need life. Forgiveness does not bring life. Resurrection brings life. Before He could resurrect us from our state of spiritual death, He had to take away the cause of our death, which is sin. Then, we can be made into a new creation. When you heard the message of Christ and received His gift of eternal life, you have been made into a new creation. We are a new creation. You heard that we are all God’s children, created in the image of God. No, we are not.
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.
When Adam and Eve had Seth, he was born in the image of Adam. You and I were born in the image of Adam. Adam fell and we were born in that fallen state. When are we created in the image of God? When you are born again. (Jesus explained “born again” when he spoke with Nicodemus at night in John 3.)
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Old things have passed. Behold all things have become new. We were not born in the image of Christ. We had to be born again in the image of God. That is what happens to us when we come to Christ by faith. When we read about the testimony of Paul, what Paul encountered was Jesus. He came face to face with Jesus. His life was changed. He was born again in the Spirit of God.
So guys, as we come to understand these truths, and we understand that if God had not taken away, which he did forever, the sins of entire world, that if there was one sin he forgot, and he came and gave you life, then the next time you did that sin, you would die because the wages of sin is death. The reason that you and I have eternal life is because of the eternal consequence of the cross. The only thing that could cause life to depart from you is sin. What caused the life of God to depart from Adam? Sin. What caused the life of God to depart from the physical Jesus? Sin. Whose sin? Ours. What is only thing that can cause life to depart from you? Sin. Why cant it? Why not won’t it? Why can’t it? Because of the cross. If you believe that Jesus meant what he said when he cried out on the cross, “it is finished”, if you believe that then there is no sin that can cause this life to depart.
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
That is why the issue of where you rename something then you can redefine it. Do you believe in eternal security? No, I believe in eternal life. Do you believe “once saved always saved?” No, I believe in eternal life. Salvation is very clear what it is. It is life.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
I am the way and the truth and the life.
1 John 5:12
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The whole issue of salvation is bringing life to the dead. The kind of life that He wanted to bring to the dead is called eternal life, not temporal life. So, when we come to Christ by faith, and we are saved, what are we saved from? The consequence of sin. So what are we saved from? Death. By what? Life.
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
When we were dead in our sins, in the uncircumcision of our sinful nature, God did what? He made you alive in Christ? He forgave what? All your sins.
That forgiveness, that was provided 2000 years ago at the cross, was for how many people? The entire world.
Here is how people got into the theology of the elect. If salvation is getting your sins forgiven, then that would be universal salvation and we cannot have that, so he must have died for the elect. So, from their false premise, they concluded that there must be the theology of the elect. So this theology came from a misunderstanding of what salvation is. Salvation is not getting sins forgiven. That is a part of it, but in and of itself, that is not salvation.
Colossians 1:20 (TLB)
20 It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him—all things in heaven and on earth—for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for all by his blood.
He had to clear the deck for the divine action to bring life to the dead. And in order to bring eternal life to the dead, He had to eternally deal with what caused death, which is sin. That is why He did not leave one left. He died for the sins of the entire world. He not only died for our sins, but the sins of the entire world. Were Hitler’s sins all forgiven? Yes. Does that mean he is saved? No. I do not want to live in heaven with him. The issue is, were his sins taken away? Yes.
So just understand that you are spiritually dead and in need of life. You do not have to be Hitler to be proud and arrogant. Any person can be too proud to recognize what the bible says, that you are dead and you are in need of life. If you do not want it, you will not get it. Part of the sovereignty of God is to give man a free choice. That is part of the sovereignty of God, to give man a free will. He chose man not to be a robot. I do not want you, Paul, to love me because you have to.
1 John 4:10 (KJV)
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.
It is not that we loved God but He loved us first. God is the initiator of all things. No one initiated our salvation to God. He initiated it with me. There is not a man alive that God did not try to draw unto himself. He initiated salvation to all people, and nature testifies about that. Everything testifies about that. We are not initiators. We are responders. God did not make me to be an initiator. He made me to be a responder to God. He initiated salvation to me.
At the age of 36, I responded to that call of salvation. I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior and became a new creation. I was not just born from mom and dad, but born again by God. So were you, who are in Christ Jesus, honored above all people to be children of the living God. That is blessed. That was the plan that God had. That was the plan God put in their minds and carried out through Jesus Christ here on this earth.
Now, you had great opposition to this man Jesus. As we said earlier, a Jewish guy was talking about antisemitism in a film called “The Passion”. How can it be antisemitic when you are talking about all Jews. Jesus was a Jew. His followers were Jews. Everyone who was converted was a Jew and Jesus was hated by the Jews. How can that be antisemitism? You have to be anti-high priest or anti-Jesus. Which Jew are you going to believe? Are you going to believe the high priest, full of legalism and pomp, or are you going to believe Jesus, who walked in perfect love to take away the sins of the world in order for us to walk in freedom. Which one are you going to accept? It is not about antisemitism, but which Jew are you going to accept. You are not talking about Jew and Gentile. In the gospels, they were all Jewish.
So this Jewish man, born of a virgin, came to earth, walked on earth, and in so doing, showed you and me what pure righteousness is. We had a perverted idea of righteousness. We had righteousness as what I am doing for God. Jesus said, “No. You are going to watch my life and see that I walk in total dependence on God. You will see pure righteousness walking by faith.”
10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
You will see love personified when you look in the face of Christ Jesus. He came to this earth and died on a cross to take away our sins. He died for us then, so when raised from the dead, He can live in us now. We are alive in Christ.
Paul was once dead. He is going to give his testimony about what happened to him. In his former life, known by the name of Saul of Tarsus, he was absolutely adamant about these Christian people following this Jesus, who he thought was greater than a high priest and greater than our traditions and greater than all the laws we teach. What kind of a man is this who has the audacity of thinking he is greater than these people? That is how Paul once thought. Jesus did not come out of the priestly line. He is not a Levite. He came out of another priestly line. Who are these followers thinking, who were thinking they can go through Christ Jesus to be saved? That was the attitude of the Jewish leadership, of whom Paul also once was a Pharisee of Pharisees, trained under Gamaliel. That was the attitude of the apostle Paul before he came to Christ.
Now the apostle Paul has fallen into the hands of the Jewish people and the Romans. So he came into Jerusalem and they saw him in there and they accused him of things that were false, saying that he brought the Gentiles into the temple. They brought all kinds of accusations against him. We see how people can cause riots through that part of the world through what we observe. That was the type of people rioting against Paul, and crying out to get rid of him. What anger! What meanness! So he came up and said, ”What are you doing beating a Roman citizen?”
So let us pick up on Paul’s testimony.
1 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
Prior to that time he was speaking Greek. Paul spoke in numerous langauges. They became quiet when they heard him speak in the language of Jerusalem.
Then Paul said: 3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city [of Jerusalem]. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way
That is what they used to call the followers of Jesus, the people of the Way.
to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
Now he is going to tell his testimony.
6 “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
8 “‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
“ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied.