Living the Promises of God
Faith Service Worship Vision
There may be times when you find it difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds. These sessions are not about opinion, they are about learning truth, the truth contained in the Bible, together we are going to focus on how we apply God’s truth, black & white in a grey world. To set godly priorities, grow in Christian character and live according to God’s standards so that we are a living witness to others. Notes from previous sessions are available from the Bible Study Section of www.ashingdonelim.co.uk.
15 February 2011
The Promise of the Gospel If you were shipwrecked on a desert island what three things would you like to have with you? If you could only choose one book of the Bible to take with you which one would it be and why? In this study we’re going to consider the book of Romans, a book that has changed the lives of many people. Martin Luther was a Roman Catholic monk. Luther had tried to get right with God by ritual, by penance, by good deeds, by all of the accoutrements of the church, but his heart was empty. He took a pilgrimage to Rome. In Rome there were some stairs, that by tradition were said to be the stairs that Jesus ascended in Pilate’s judgment hall. Martin Luther went to Rome, got on his knees on the stairs, and on his knees he began to pray on every step, kissing each step as he went up, asking God to bless him, trying to get closer to God. Luther said, “I was no closer to God when I got to the top than I was at the bottom.” His heart was hungry, but Martin Luther had been studying the book of Romans. And Romans 1:17 burst alive in his heart and his mind – ”the just shall live by faith.” And Luther saw justification by faith, the theme of the book of Romans and he was saved, converted, born again. The Protestant Reformation began, there was a Great Awakening, it swept Europe, it swept the world. Augustine was a young college professor who lived a wicked, wild and sexually imoral life, but he had a burden of sin and he tried to alleviate himself of that burden of sin. On one occasion he was in a garden seeking God and he heard a little girl singing a song over a garden wall, a little song, “Take up the Book and Read, take up and read.” He thought, What is this about? He opened the Bible, began to read the Romans 13:13-14, “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.“ This verse stabbed him in his heartand he found came to Jesus Christ and became the man the people today call St. Augustine, one of the theologians of the early church. John Wesley was very religious and very motivated, so motivated that he left England and went to America to be a missionary, to convert the American Indians. He went to Georgia, stayed there a while and had a fruitless ministry. He got on a ship to come back home, discouraged, dispirited, feeling a failure, and he met some Moravian missionaries and these Moravian missionaries had the life, the beauty, the joy of Jesus! He knew they had something he didn’t have. He went back to London. There he was at a place called Alders gate. He went to a little meeting, and there they were studying the book of Romans. Wesley said, I went to America to convert the Indians, but who will convert me? He said, I felt my heart strangely warmed and I had the assurance of my salvation. Out of that experience the great Wesleyan Revival began that swept across England.
The Book of Acts portrays Gamaliel as a man of great respect (Acts 5:34).
Romans was written to Believers in Rome around 58 A.D. Paul was likely residing in Corinth at the time of the writing.
Paul met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, was gloriously, wonderfully saved, and now what do we learn about him.
With regard to the people of Rome, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia writes:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1-6) 1
“As to Rome itself, we may picture it at the date of the Epistle as containing, with its suburbs, a closely massed population of perhaps 800,000 people; a motley host of many races, with a strong oriental element, among which the Jews were present as a marked influence, despised and sometimes dreaded, but always attracting curiosity.”
A quick overview Sin The first three chapters of the book deal with sin. They tell us what’s wrong with the world.
Do you know the meaning of the name Paul?
Salvation chapters four, five and six deal with salvation;
The name Saul was Hebrew; the name Paul was Roman and it means little. You see, his name wasn’t always Paul. At first his name was Saul. Named after King Saul of Israel. The Bible does not tell us how or when Saul’s name was changed to Paul. In the book of Acts, Luke simply identifies Saul as the one who is also called Paul. “Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him.” (Acts 13:9)
thank God He doesn’t just show us our sin, He shows us a way out.
Sanctification chapters seven and eight deal with
sanctification. What does sanctification mean? We are saved when we trust in Jesus as our Saviour, but that is not the end of our journey, we are meant to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Sanctification means becoming more like Jesus, that’s all it means.
Is there any indication in the Bible why he changed his name?
Sovereignty Romans nine, ten, and eleven deal with sovereignty – how God is sovereign over the universe, how Almighty God from eternity past to eternity future is in charge.
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given.” (Ephesians 3:8) “For I am the least of the apostles.” (1 Corinthians 15:9) Paul saw himself in the sight of God as a nobody; it doesn’t mean he has an inferiority complex, he just knew that he was what he was by the grace of God.
Sacrifice & Service Beginning in chapter twelve
where we present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, right on through the end of the book, it deals with service, it shows us how to serve this sovereign God, how to be in a very practical and a very real way the Christian we ought to be.
Do you ever worry that you are “too small” for God to use? Now, you may be at sometimes too big for God to use, but you’ll never be too small for God to use you.
Who is the author of the book of Romans and what do you know about him?
“A servant of Jesus Christ”
Well, we know ultimately the Holy Spirit is the author, but the human author is Paul, a privileged highly educated Jew fluent in many languages, a world traveller, strict in his religion, very much a student, and very much aware of world affairs. Paul was also a Roman citizen with the privileges that Rome, he was a free man not subjugated like other Jews and he could travel as he wished.
Would you describe yourself as a servant of Christ? The word translated here in the NIV as servant in the greek is δοῦλος (doulos), which means slave. It means a particular kind of slave, it’s a word that means bond slave. In Bible times, if a man got into debt and could not pay the debt, he became the property of the man that he owed money to. He was a bond slave and he had to work for that individual because he’d indebted himself to that individual. In the Bible, in mercy, therer is a law (the law of jubilee) that said after seven years all of the bond slaves had to be set free.
Paul was a part of the most strict religious sect in Judaism, the Pharisees, and not only was he a Pharisee, but he said later on he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, he was the highest of the high, he was at the very top. Christian tradition teaches that Paul was a student of Gamaliel a Pharisee doctor of Jewish Law.
Sometimes a bond slave, at the moment of his freedom, would say, I don’t want to be set free, I’m better off than I was by myself, my master feeds me, he clothes me, he cares for me, he loves me, I’m like one of the family, I don’t want to be free, I love my master, I want to stay under him, I want to be his bond slave. If he made that decision then they called the judges of Israel, and they would put a mark on him. They would take him to the doorpost, take his earlobe and an awl, and put it through his earlobe as a mark that he was a bond slave.
Disciple means one who followed after and was taught by whomever they were following. The disciples of Christ were followers of and taught by Jesus Christ himself. Apostle means that they have actually seen the person who they are now teaching others about. There were 12 main disciples whom Jesus selected to be closer to him and learn more from him. These 12 would have also been apostles as they obviously saw him too. Paul (also known as Saul before he converted) is not a disciple, but is only an apostle. This is because he did not follow Jesus and his teaching before Jesus death and resurrection from the dead. When Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, Paul was converted and believed all that Jesus said and did. He then went on to teach others about who Jesus was, thus making him an apostle.
The apostle Paul said, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Paul became a bond slave and that means he is a willing slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Servant or slave Are you a slave of Christ? Either you’re a slave of
Paul didn’t say, “I’m looking for a profession, I think I will try to be an apostle.” He says, thanks be to God who counted me worthy of putting me in the ministry.
The unsaved person said I want to be free, I am my own person and them proceeds to go down into the worst degradation and bondage there is, the bondage of sin, Satan and sin and self are cruel taskmasters.
What ministry has God called you to? Are you following the call He has placed on your life?
Christ or you’re a slave of sin. Everybody is in bondage somewhere.
Paul said, You follow me as I follow Christ. Paul is an example for us. He was saved, he was surrendered, he was sent, he was called of God; he had a purpose, a mission for his life. He was also separated (set apart).
When a person says I will become the bond slave of Jesus, I love my master, then the Bible says, “If the Son shall make you free you are free indeed.” Then the person discovers the most glorious freedom in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Christ, through that perfect bondage, that sets us free.
A bond slave is not somebody who says, “since I’m his slave, it’s no longer my will, I’ll do his will.” A bond slave says “his will is my will.”
Paul had already been separated, he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, people who lived a “separated life”, that is, they had all of the outward sins of the flesh abhorred, walking the straight and narrow. They were so careful that they paid tithe of mint, anise, and, cumin, that is when they were paying tithes, they had a little mint plant, they’d count all ten leaves, take one of them, the tithe, and give it to God, one tenth of every sprig of mint.
Lord I love you... Think about this verse “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). This looks like a good promise for God to make, doesn’t it? You say, “Lord, I love you, I want a million pounds.” God says No. Why? Because if you say, Lord I love you, now give me a million pounds, what was the desire of your heart? Money.
“...for the gospel of God” Now it’s very important, the key word here is not separated, the key words are for the gospel of God.
Or you say, “Lord, I love you, give me the desire of my heart-fame and popularity.” No, the desire of your heart is popularity.
Paul as a Pharisee was supposed to be living separated from sin. If that’s all the separation a person has, you know what it’s going to make you? A proud, bitter, haughty Pharisee like the apostle Paul was when he was persecuting the church before he met the Lord Jesus and before he found the grace of God.
But when, when you say, “I delight myself in the Lord” you can have the desire of your heart because your desires are His desires and His desires are your desires.
Paul says, I am no longer a big shot, my name is now Paul, not Saul, I am saved, I am surrendered.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and so if you get these things out of your life but you don’t get Jesus Christ into your life, if you are separated from but not separated to, you’re going to become like a Pharisee. We’re to be separated for the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
“Called to be an apostle”
In practical terms what does it mean for us to be separated for the gospel?
What is the difference between an “apostle” and a “disciple”?
The word separated here is the word we get our word horizon from.
Do you sin because you want to, or more than you want to?
Do you know how to change your horizon? Change your location. Every time you change your location you change your horizon. So what determines your horizon is your centre. When Jesus Christ is your centre, then that horizon is your world – you are separated to him. When you find the Lord Jesus Christ, you will find a new centre.
Why are so many churches filled with moral people who have never been born again? Sadly, many “do church” just for social reasons (or the free refreshments). Church is supposed to be a sheepfold, but it can be more like a zoo. Why? Because people have met religion, they’ve not met Jesus; they’ve met denominations, they’ve not met Jesus; they’ve met programs, they’ve not met Jesus; they’ve met causes, but they’ve not met Jesus.
Do you focus more on the things you gave up for Jesus (or should give up!) rather than on what you have been given in the Lord Jesus Christ?
The Lord Jesus Christ.
Real Christianity is not a creed, not a code, not a cause, it is relationship with Christ. It’s about Jesus!
Right at the beginning of the book of Romans, Paul explains exactly that he is the one who’s writing the book, and that he is writing about the Lord Jesus Christ. The book of Romans is a book about the Lord Jesus Christ and, that’s what Christianity is. Christianity is Christ.
Someone once said “You can take Confucius out of Confucianism and still have Confucianism. You could take Buddha out of Buddhism and still have Buddhism. You could take Mohammed out of Islam and still have Islam. But you cannot take Jesus out of Christianity and still have Christianity. To take Jesus Christ out of Christianity is like taking the water out of a well, the blue out of the sky, notes out of music and numbers out of mathematics.”
Gospel truth When was the last time you had an opportunity to tell someone about your relationship with Jesus?
The source of the gospel is God. The subject of the gospel, Jesus Christ. And the supply of the gospel is in verse 5: “Through him we received grace and apostleship”
When was the last time you chose not to tell someone about Jesus? What stopped you?
Do you know what grace is?
Notice how it begins again. Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God. Here he tells us the source of the gospel.
Grace is what makes God save people like us apart from works of any kind. It is the sheer, absolute gift of God.
Paul didn’t think it up. He said I didn’t receive it from man, neither was I taught it by man. It is the gospel of God, so don’t tamper with it, don’t pervert it.
The just shall live by faith, by faith we receive the gift of God. By faith we receive the grace of God. A young boy went forward in a church service and asked to be baptised. The minister said, “tell us how you got saved?” The boy said, “Well I did my part and God did his.”
Paul said to the Galatians, But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (Galatians 1:8:9)
The minister wasn’t sure about that answer so he said, “tell us about your part.“ The boy said, “I did the sinning and God did the saving.”
Why? Because a false gospel will lead to a synthetic salvation that will lead to a very real hell. Paul is not trying to be politically correct. He said if an angel comes and preaches any other gospel let him be accursed. Paul said if I preach any other gospel unto you than that which I’ve preached, I need to be accursed. It is the gospel of God.
When you have an opportunity to tell another person about the gospel, what do you say? Do you need to rethink how you talk about God to others?
The Promise of the Gospel If you were shipwrecked on a desert island what three things would you like to have with you? If you could only ch...