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Archive for the ‘Romans 1’ Category

“And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.

And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.

And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.

And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.

And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” Acts 28:16-31

 

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ…

 

Delivered by the Jews into the hands of the Romans, just like his Master, Paul’s experience recounted in these closing words in the book of Acts presents us with some striking similarities to that of the Saviour of whom Paul preached, the Lord Jesus Christ. Before his final missionary journeys to the far corners of the Roman empire, and his eventual execution at the hands of the Romans, we read here of Paul’s time spent in house-arrest at Rome, during which he preached the kingdom of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, unto all who came unto him. But behind all this is seen the remarkable way in which the message of God’s grace was delivered to the Romans, that ‘faith which was once delivered unto the saints’.

 

 

Separated unto the gospel of God…

 

By the time Paul reached Rome a church had already been established in that city. This is that church, that assembly of the saints in Rome to whom Paul’s epistle to the Romans was addressed. But how had the message of Jesus Christ already travelled so far, before Paul, God’s messenger of the Gospel unto the Gentiles, had even set foot in that city? The answer may be seen in the close of the Gospels and the opening chapters of the Acts of the Apostles.

 

 

…concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh

 

Jesus Christ having been handed over by the Jews into the hands of the Romans, an innocent man against whom were laid false accusations, was left to the mercy of the people when Pilate, the Roman governor of Judaea, who wished to release him, asked, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?”, to which the people replied, “Let him be crucified.” Matthew 27:22

 

“And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.”

 

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness…

So Christ, this man of Nazareth, was taken to a place called Golgotha, nailed to a cross and lifted up in the heat of the sun to die, “And set over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

 

“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani? That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

 

“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”

 

By the resurrection from the dead

And truly He was the Son of God for…

“In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week , came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.”

The women having run to tell the other disciples, those disciples then…

“…went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:16-20

These things being done the opening chapter of Acts tells of the promises made to the disciples by Jesus just before His ascension,

“And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:4-11

 

By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations

The dramatic fulfilment of these promises came soon after on the day of Pentecost:

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:1-11

This remarkable event preceded Peter’s powerful declaration of the work of Christ, a declaration which culminated with the salvation of three thousand souls on that one day who, believing the message delivered unto them, then “continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:42

It is amongst this diverse company of people drawn “out of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5) that a people were saved, both Jews and Gentiles, who would then take the news of these things back with them to the city of Rome, where they began to meet as a company of people who believed on Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It is this people, and the others who would come to be gathered with them, to whom Paul addressed his epistle to the Romans. And it is that epistle and the Gospel which it sets forth, which is the subject of this very website.

 

Paul… to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints

But what was the purpose of Paul’s writing – why write to the saints at Rome who had already believed on Christ? Romans 1 declares Paul’s desire to “preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also”, but in the meantime he would set forth that very Gospel in the form of an epistle, a letter, which was delivered to those gathered at Rome. To what end? “To the end that ye may be established.” Established in what? In the truth of that Gospel, which up to that point the saints in Rome knew but in measure, but now they should know in such a way, in such fullness, as to be established in the faith. The means which Paul employs to this end is the doctrinal exposition of the truth  – the truth of just who Christ is and just what He did when He laid down His life upon the cross. Paul wrote to answer the questions that lay behind the facts. To put the sinews on the bones. To present not just the truth that Christ died, but why He died, and for whom He died. To present not just the truth that Christ was crucified, but to reveal just what happened when He hung upon the tree, when the light of the sun was taken away for three hours and the face of the earth was darkened. It is these, and many other such-like questions, which Paul answers and which he opens up, in this most profound, this most complete and most glorious of epistles – the epistle to the Romans.

In Romans the apostle Paul, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, presents to us the truth of God’s Gospel concerning His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. In this tremendous epistle we read God’s message to mankind regarding His work through the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, by which He has saved His people from their sins. Here is a message greater than any other. A message which is vital. A message which concerns you and me. A message of life and death, of heaven and hell, time and eternity, sin and salvation. A message of truth. The only message which really matters. The Gospel of God.

But what do we know of the Gospel? What do you know of the Gospel? That Gospel of which Paul was not ashamed, knowing it to be the power of God unto salvation: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith”.

In the following articles we will look into the truth of this Gospel as it is revealed in the epistle to the Romans. That Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation. That message which we need to hear above all others. That message upon which our life depends.

 

The Gospel of His Son

Paul introduces his epistle to the Romans with these words:

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1-7).

Oh, the stupendous truths set forth in these opening sentences! In a few words Paul summarises that message which God gave to him to declare, a message he preached even unto the ends of the earth, even to those at Rome.

 

This message is God’s message. It is His to declare, His to apply. He sends it by the mouths of those, like Paul, whom He calls and sends to preach it. And the message declares a person. That man of Nazareth, that man of Galilee, that man who was crucified on a tree between two thieves, even Jesus Christ – the Son of God.

 

Yes, the Son of God. The One who created the heavens and the earth, the One who created mankind upon that earth, the One who was Himself “made of the seed of David”, made man, yet very God, in order to redeem that people, whom the Father gave Him, from their sins. How? Through death, His death upon a cross, in the place of that people who themselves deserved to die.  For “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). But to what end? To this end: Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living” (Romans 14:9).

 

Your Lord? My Lord? Surely, for whether we be dead or alive, Christ is Lord of all. And though death may hold us in unbelief, though death may blind us to who that man of Nazareth really was, though we may not care whether we be found on the right hand or the left of that crucified One, though death may have such power over man in his sin, nevertheless death had no power to keep Christ in the grave. Yea, could death hold the Son of God, did death hold the Son of God? No, for He was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). Oh, the power of His resurrection!

 

What truths there are set forth in just these opening verses. What depths to be dug, what riches to be unearthed! Oh, that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, should be pleased to be made man, to be “made of the seed of David according to the flesh”, to be “made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9), in order to redeem His own. Oh, that He should come in the lineage of David, born in Bethlehem the city of David, of that royal line in order to be that Prophet, Priest and King of all His people to whom the promises made to Israel pertained. Yet, these are the truths that Paul preached, and these are the truths of which he wrote, which he but hints at in these opening verses – and this is that message he took to all nations “for obedience to the faith”, that through faith, they believing might be saved.

 

This is the message of Romans. And this message is known as the “Gospel of God… concerning His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

What follows in the next sixteen chapters are not facts to be proved or reasoned out, but truth to be believed. What follows is the truth of the Gospel of God – ‘The Faith’.

 

A Message of Faith

This truth, this message, is a message of faith. Having introduced himself Paul then presents the Gospel of Christ, the Son of God (first His Person, and then His work), as facts, as truth to be believed. Paul doesn’t seek to prove the truth, but to state it, to proclaim it, to preach it. And as the message he preaches is of God, so too Paul’s own sending to preach that message, as the “LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message” (Haggai 1:13), is very much a part of that Gospel which he presents. For the Gospel is entirely of God. He purposed it, He wrought it, He fulfilled it and He preaches it – and He does so by His Spirit through those whom He sends to preach.

Not only that, but this message of the Gospel which is to be believed is God’s message to be believed. It is presented to the belief of faith, it was wrought by faith, it is received by faith, it is “from faith to faith”, and so much is faith at the heart of its very message that scripture even refers to the Gospel itself as ‘The Faith’“the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).

With this in mind, the following articles have been divided into seven sections which present the truth of the Gospel, as God wrought it, and Paul preached it, under the following titles:

 

The Word of Faith

The Want of Faith

The Coming of Faith

The Fight of Faith

The People of Faith

The Life of Faith

And, The Faith Once Delivered

 

May the Lord be pleased to bless His word for His glory.

Amen.
(Read this in Portuguese)

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Paul introduces his letter to the Romans by stating his desire to preach the Gospel to them, “the gospel of God… concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead”. He places his absolute confidence in it as being “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” on the grounds that “therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith”, and then he commences in chapter 1 and verse 18 to open up and expound the truths of this very Gospel. 

 

But where does he start? Where would you start? Most churches today would start with the love of God or the kindness of God to humanity. Or perhaps by offering people something they are missing in their lives, something to help them feel fulfilled. Not so Paul. He doesn’t even mention the love of God until chapter 5, and that but in passing. So where does Paul start? …Where? At the beginning! 

 

But what is the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Take a look at Mark 1:1-3 which tells us…. 

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”  

 

The Gospel begins with a voice “crying in the wilderness”, preparing the way for Christ. That’s the beginning of the Gospel. But what does that voice cry? 

 

In Romans 1:18-20 the voice which prepares the way for Christ has the following declaration: 

“…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it into them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” 

One Beginning: The Wrath of God Revealed

 

Yes, that’s where the Gospel of God begins – with a declaration of the fact that God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. It begins with a voice which prepares the way of the Lord by telling men what they are by nature – sinners – and that God’s wrath is revealed against that sin.

 

This is where the Gospel must begin. For the Gospel reveals Jesus Christ the Saviour of sinners, it is the power of God unto salvation, and if so, the way to Christ must be prepared by seeking out sinners in need of salvation, by revealing to them their state before God and their need of the Saviour. For who needs salvation but those who are lost, those who are dead, those to whom God has sounded an alarm…. an alarm that His wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men?

 

Most of religion today is seeking to convince people to become Christians, to show them a ‘better way’. But those sent of God to preach the Gospel aren’t sent to ‘twist people’s arms’ or to educate them about religion through ‘courses’, but to seek out the lost, to preach a message of salvation to them, to find those who are desperate, hungry for the truth, those whom the Spirit has convinced of sin, of righteousness and of the judgment to come – those who know that death and eternity awaits them – those who need to hear of the Saviour and the Gospel of their salvation. Because until God shows us our need of salvation the message of a Saviour is meaningless. Sinners first need to hear that they are sinners!

 

For Jesus said “…I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” Matthew 15:24.

 

“When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” Mark 2:17.

Yes, the alarm needs to be sounded… and to this end, Paul, as it were, cries out in Romans from chapter 1:18 to chapter 3:20, and sounds forth an alarm, in order to prove all men to be under sin… and to warn of its eternal consequence (Romans 2:8-9).

 

Two Classes of Men

In these chapters Paul divides mankind into two classes of men, into which all men fall, either into the one class or into the other. They are either Jews or they are Gentiles. They are religious, or they are irreligious. They may be church-goers, or they may be party-goers. They may be devout, or an aimless lout. But whether they have the scriptures like the Jews of old and profess to follow God, or whether they be in the world, with no thought for God, living for themselves and for selfish gain or pleasure, Paul in this epistle shows that all are alike in this respect: all are dead in sin. Outside of Christ, whether religious or irreligious, Jew or Gentile, there is no difference – all have sinned, all are guilty before God, all stand condemned before Him, all have turned their backs on their Maker, all in their ungodliness and unrighteousness have rejected the revelation of truth regarding God, so all are without excuse.

 

Three Revelations of Light

Why are all without excuse? Because all have had truth regarding God revealed to them in one way or another – whether they comprehend it or not. From Romans 1:20 to Romans 3:9 God the Holy Spirit points us to three clear revelations of light regarding the truth which God has made to man, to which mankind is accountable. Light which leaves men without excuse.

 

There is light in the Creation, light in the Conscience and light in the Scriptures.

 

Firstly, there is light in Creation. We read “… that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” Romans 1:19-20.

 

Secondly, there is light in the Conscience. Romans 2:14-15 tells us “…when the Gentiles, which hath not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another”.

 

Both these revelations of light regarding God are made to all men, whether Jew or Gentile, religious or irreligious. All men have the witness of the creation, of the world around them, to the eternal power and Godhead of their Creator. And all men by nature have a conscience which bears witness to the truth, by which they have some understanding of right and wrong. Yet all men, by nature, look not upon these things. They ignore the light outside them, and they ignore the light within them, being blinded to both by the depths of their sin and depravity. This depravity is vividly described in the rest of chapter 1 which makes for sober reading regarding the state of man in sin – the state of you and me. Yet how contemporary is the picture painted therein.

 

But there is a third revelation of light which Paul points to and this is that found in the Scriptures. Romans 3:1-2 tells us “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” So the Jews had this advantage over the Gentiles of possessing the scriptures, yet they too were under sin. Indeed because of this advantage they, like many who are religious today, so easily fell into the trap of thinking themselves better than others, of having more light, and judging others, yet in reality when that light remained outward, and never truly penetrated their hearts, they remained just as blind and just as sinful (See Romans 2:17-29). “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly…. But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” And the law which God gave the Jews made them no better – no, it made things worse, simply condemning them, just as it does us, “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” Romans 3:19.

 

So God has revealed light about Himself in the Heavens, in the Heart and in the Holy Bible. Yet who sees it? Who comprehends it? “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23.

 

No wonder then that all men are without excuse before God. No wonder then that His wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who resist (hold) the truth in unrighteousness. Why? Because despite three revelations of light to mankind regarding the truth, man still turns away from the truth, from the light and from God.

 

Yes, despite these three revelations of light and despite the fact that today we have the benefit of the full written revelation of the Gospel in the scriptures, nevertheless man’s heart is so sinful, so darkened by nature, so hard that none of this light penetrates. It just washes over us! We may look, we may listen, we may read, yet all the while we see and hear nothing. Man by nature cannot, and he will not hearken. Mankind is without understanding and by nature no man seeks after God. There is no neutral response to God – we have all gone out of the way. As Romans 3:9-12 tells us:

 

“… for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not one.”

An Inward Revelation

No, man in the depth of his sin simply cannot and will not come unto God. Not unless, and not until, God the Spirit opens the heart and shines the light in! Not until God reveals the truth to us, not only outwardly, but inwardly. Until then we remain in darkness. You may hear the words of a preacher, or read the words on a page, but have you heard the voice of the Spirit of God sounding an alarm in your heart? Has He spoken to you inwardly? Have these things been revealed to you?

 

For when God, through the preaching of His Gospel, opens the ears to hear and opens the eyes to see, when God the Spirit gives us light to see things as they really are, then we come to see just what we are before God by nature – just how bad we are! How vile we are, how unrighteous we are – and how “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men”. And then, and not until then, we will look for, and cry out for, mercy.

 

But what an answer God has for needy sinners in the Gospel! When shown our sin, when shown our state, when the alarm has been sounded and the way prepared, then we are brought to hear of the Saviour of sinners, even the Lord Jesus Christ, and just what He did upon the cross to save sinners. Then we are brought to the “But now” of Romans 3:21 and to the glorious revelation in the Gospel of the righteousness of God by the faith of Jesus Christ.

 

But have you been brought there? Have you indeed heard the beginning of the Gospel? Is this where the gospel you heard began? Have you heard that voice which prepares the way of the Lord?

 

Have you been shown that you’re a sinner in need of salvation… or in your wisdom have you become a fool (Romans 1:22)…? 

(Read this in Portuguese)

RELATED AUDIO MESSAGES

“Listen” Isaiah 49:1

“Grounded and Settled” Colossians 1:23

“The Word of Life” 1 John 1:1

“Who is This?” Matthew 21:10

“The Fool… And The Heart That Says, There Is No God” Psalm 14:1

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ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL?

In the epistle to the Romans the Apostle Paul declares boldly that:- “…I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” Romans 1:16-17.

Most professing Christians would also claim, with Paul, not to be ashamed of the gospel. However in this day and age of great confusion the question we must ask ourselves is, Do we really know what the gospel is? Well Paul certainly did, and knowing the power of it he was bold and unashamed in its proclamation. I’ve heard one preacher break down Romans 1:16 into five helpful headings. Let’s consider the verse under these headings to draw out five clear aspects of the gospel which the Holy Spirit reveals which are essential to its character and important for us to see.

Firstly, the gospel is DEFINITIVE

It is the “gospel of Christ”. The gospel is not something abstract, something vague, something to be guessed at. It isn’t a collection of testimonies or subjective experiences. It is defined. It is the gospel, the good news of Christ. As Romans 1:1-3 states “the gospel of God… concerning his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord”. The gospel is God’s message concerning the Person and the Work of His eternal Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. It declares Him, it sets Him forth. And any message, any ‘gospel’ which fails to set forth Christ, in all His fullness, is no gospel, and has no power to save.

Secondly, the gospel is OBJECTIVE

Paul states “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation”. The Gospel is an objective message, not subjective. IT is the power of God unto salvation. What is? The Gospel is. For the Gospel, in and of itself, when proclaimed by God the Holy Spirit through those whom He sends to preach it, is the power of God unto salvation.

Paul here does not say that the Spirit is the power of God unto salvation, but that the Gospel is. It is of course true that except the Spirit apply the word inwardly to the hearts of His hearers, they will remain dead in trespasses and sins, yet nevertheless the Spirit does not work in isolation. The Gospel is the power of the Spirit, His sword, which He uses to save sinners, to quicken them unto life in Christ. The Gospel itself, as an objective message, is the power of God unto salvation, and it is by the preaching of this objective message that God is pleased to save sinners: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” 1 Peter 1:23-25

Thirdly, the gospel is EFFECTIVE

Yes, the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation”. The power of God. It is effective, it saves. There is no other power like it, and yet to the world, to them that perish, to the wise in their own understanding it is ‘foolishness’. As 1 Corinthians 1:18 states “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness” and yet “unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

What makes the gospel so effective, so powerful? Romans 1:17 tells us: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith”. That makes it powerful. For here is a message that declares that though all men are sinners, though all fell in their father Adam into sin, death and ruin, though all sin daily being at enmity to God, though man stands in his fallen nature guilty before God, deserving of eternal wrath and damnation, nevertheless God, in His great love, sent His Son to take His people’s sins away through His own death, to deliver them from judgment and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and everlasting life, which He freely gives them by grace (2 Corinthians 5:21). And this justifying righteousness is what is revealed in the gospel, hence its power to save.

Fourthly, the gospel is ELECTIVE

The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation”. Not of man. The gospel is God’s – it is His message concerning His work in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died to “save His people from their sins” Matthew 1:21. This gospel was God’s to purpose, God’s to perform, is God’s to proclaim, and is God’s to apply. Consistently, and repeatedly, throughout its message the gospel clearly sets forth the salvation of that people of God, chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) who have been “predestinated … unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”. This people, described in the scriptures as God’s “sheep” (John 10:15) are those for whom Christ died, and none else, and are those who are saved, not according to their will but God’s (John 1:13, John 15:16). Yes, the gospel, the power of God unto salvation, being God’s to apply to whom He wills, is by definition, elective (See Romans 9).

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” 1 Peter 2:9

And fifthly, the gospel is REDEMPTIVE

Finally Romans 1:16 declares the effect of the gospel – the redemption of God’s people. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation”. The Gospel saves, and it does so, because Christ laid down His life for His own in order to redeem them from their sins. His own blood was the redemption price He paid to deliver them from death and secure their freedom. He died in their place, bearing their sins “in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24), suffering under the outpouring of God’s wrath against sin, that through His death, by the shedding of His blood, they would be delivered from death, from sin, and from condemnation and have everlasting life in Him (Romans 3:24, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14, Hebrews 9:12).

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” 1 Peter 1:18-19

No wonder then that Paul was not ashamed of this gospel! For he knew its power, he knew what it was to be redeemed, to have his sins forgiven, he knew that it was God who saved him, by His will, not Paul’s (see Acts 9), he knew the glorious revelation of the righteousness of God in the gospel, put to his account, he knew what it was to be born again by the mighty operation of the Holy Spirit, and most of all he knew the Saviour who loved him, and gave himself for him, the Lord Jesus Christ….

But do you? Do you know this gospel? Has it been revealed to you? Do you believe it? Is this the gospel of which, like Paul, you can say that you are not ashamed?

Have a listen to God’s message of salvation in the gospel on the Video Page of Grace and Truth Online.

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Revelation 14:6-7

http://www.graceandtruthonline.com

(Read this in Portuguese)

 

 

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“Unashamed of The Gospel of Christ” Romans 1:16

“Grounded and Settled” Colossians 1:23

“Listen” Isaiah 49:1

 

“Perfect In Christ Jesus” Colossians 1:28

 

“The just shall live by faith” Hebrews 10:38

“I have preached righteousness in the great congregation” Psalm 40:9

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“EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM”?

“So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.” Romans 1:15

We live in days where we seem to be showered with ‘How To’ books on how to be effective in evangelism, or how to see more growth in the church, or how to see more results from ‘outreach’. Christian bookshops seem to have their shelves filled with such titles as “Effective Evangelism” or “10 Steps to a Successful Church”, or “Dynamic Church Growth Methods”. Glossy books written by friendly ‘with it’ pastors, of full and vibrant congregations, aim to provide us with the all the advice we could need on how to get our message right, how to put it across effectively, how long sermons should be, how short sermons should be, whether we should have sermons at all, what language we should be using, what visual aids are needed, how to appeal to the young, the old, the short and the tall. With an ever-changing, constantly-updating, moving-with-the-times package of proposals and methods, such books, videos, courses and seminars attempt to ensure that Evangelicalism remains up to date, fresh, vibrant and ‘relevant’, and, most importantly of all it seems, that the congregations are filled, by whatever means it takes, with enthusiastic worshippers, keen to embrace such methods and through demonstration of their success encourage yet more sales.

 

What merit there may be in some of these books, it has to be said that more often than not, what is conspicuous by its absence is a strong emphasis on the centrality of the preaching of God’s word in all its truth. There is no doubt that the systems themselves can be very effective at filling congregations. Likewise the underlying wisdom behind them, and the methods employed, have a proven track record in many fields, especially in the arenas of business and marketing upon which so many of these ideas are modelled. If you wish to fill a meeting with enthusiastic people, keen to be in each other’s company, happy to gather to ‘worship’ a god who promises them much, especially in this life, then there are many effective ways and means of achieving that aim. I’ve seen it done several times.

However, to see sinners, “dead in trespasses and sins”, brought to conviction of their sin before a Holy God who holds their eternal destiny in His hands, to see them brought to the point of crying out for mercy and salvation from the only One who can save them, to see them born again by the mighty inworking of God the Holy Spirit in their souls, to see them delivered from death and the darkness of sin into everlasting life and light in Jesus Christ, to see them gathered in amongst God’s people as One Body united in Christ, as one people who worship “in spirit and in truth”, requires a very different method, a very different power and a very different message from that espoused by the sort of books I’ve just described. In Romans chapter 1 the Apostle Paul sets forth clearly his absolute and confident assurance in that which God has given as His one means of achieving “effective evangelism”. There Paul declares:-

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” Romans 1:16-17.

 

Yes, Paul was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. It is that gospel, that evangel, which he preached (evangelised) at Rome, at Corinth, at Ephesus, at Galatia. It is that which he preached to the Colossians, the Thessalonians, and the Philippians. It is that which he preached to both Jew and Greek. And it is that by which God saved His people, adding them to the church, building the church, and sustaining the church. Why? Because it is the power of God unto salvation. It is effective. It works! It saves! It is God’s means of saving His people and building His church… and nothing else is.

 

Hence Paul could write in 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

 

Whilst the ‘How To’ guides may effectively propose an evangelism without an evangel, whilst such guides may point us to any and every method of ‘evangelising’, other than the plain, simple preaching of the gospel, the evangel of Christ, whilst they may demonstrate that their authors are, in fact, ashamed of the gospel of Christ, Paul wasn’t. For Paul knew that the only thing which is effective in saving the souls of sinners is the preaching of the gospel of Christ. Why? Because it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. And whilst professing churches may, in their wisdom, in their prudence, effectively shut their ears to both the message of the gospel and to those whom God sends to preach it, may God yet be pleased to give us grace to see that there is no power on earth as effective as the preaching of the gospel of Christ, that IT and IT alone is the power of God unto salvation, and to gladly receive and open our ears to both God’s message and His messengers and be fervent in prayer that God would continue to open doors for His glorious Gospel of salvation to be preached in power, in the Spirit, in this day and age, to the saving of souls, the building up of God’s church and to the praise and glory of His Name for evermore.

Amen.

“Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ” Colossians 4:3.

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-7

http://www.graceandtruthonline.com

(Read this in Portuguese)

RELATED AUDIO MESSAGES

“Listen” Isaiah 49:1

“The Word of Life” 1 John 1:1

“I have preached righteousness in the great congregation” Psalm 40:9

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