The Gospel of God's Glory and of Our Glorification (Romans Sermon 1 of 120)
January 02, 2000 | Andrew Davis
The Gospel, Church History, Book Overviews
Why don't you take your Bibles and open to the Book of Romans. We're beginning a new series of sermons in Romans today. Some of the things I've enjoyed as we reach the end of the millennium, the end of the century and started moving on, are the lists that people/experts have been making of the top 100 this or the top 50 that. Have you read any of them in the newspaper? Some of them have to do with athletics or different sports. Some of them have to do with significant events in history or significant personages. I know that Life Magazine had a book out all year, the top 100 events and the top 100 people of the last 1,000 years. And as I look over church history, over the last 2000 years since the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, I think that the most significant moment was the moment that a Jewish rabbi sat down and wrote the Book of Romans.
As I look over church history, I see the number of times that God has used Romans to bring revival or to bring conversion or to transform an entire situation or to bring conversion to individuals. So I think the writing of Romans maybe if not the most significant, is one of the most significant moments in history. And isn't that kind of funny? If you had been back there at that time and just seen that man hunched over a table with pen to paper, you would've thought nothing significant is going on here. It's just somebody writing a letter, but this is the greatest letter ever written. And in these words is the gospel of your salvation if you are going to be saved.
So I come to the brink of looking at Romans with extensive trepidation. I wonder if it's going to swallow me up. Donald Grey Barnhouse preached 11 years worth of sermons out of Romans. Rest easy I'm not going to do 11 years, but there's a lot of truth in here and there's a lot of things. What I'd like to do for you this morning is three things. Number one, I'd like to give you a sense from history of how God has used this book. Second of all, I'd like to look carefully at verse one, just the first verse about the man who wrote it, the Apostle Paul. And then third, I'd like to take you somewhat on a jet tour across the scope of all 16 chapters so you can see how the whole thing fits together. And I think it's a tremendous opportunity that we have. I've never heard any series of sermons preach on Romans. The things I've learned from Romans, I've learned from reading it myself or reading books or hearing individual sermons. So it actually is a tremendous opportunity that we have to look at the whole book and to go through it in a careful way.
Romans in History
The Conversion of Augustine
Let's begin by looking at how God has used this book. I'd like to start around the year 387 with a man named Augustine. A long time ago when the Roman Empire was still in power, their was sitting in a walled garden in the City of Milan, a man named Augustine. And at that particular moment, he was a professor of philosophy and of rhetoric, and he was also in deep torment about the course of his life. He was grieved over what had happened up to that point. He was tearing at himself and tearing at his soul. The reason why is that he had lived a life of debauchery and of sexual immorality. He had fathered a child out of wedlock, he had a godly mother who had been praying for his conversion for many years, but to no avail. And he continued more and more to burn with lust and with passion, and yet at the same time to feel the burn of God's indignation of a sentence of wrath and of judgement in his heart and he could not escape.
And as he sat in that walled garden and he was tearing at himself and just saying, "Oh God, how long, oh Lord will You make me wait? How long until I finally believe? How long until You transform my life?" He kept praying, and he said "Will it be tomorrow and tomorrow?" Always tomorrow. And at that moment as he was crying and crying out to God, he heard a delicate voice of a child from the yard next door. He was singing a child's rhyme and in Latin it said, "Tolle lege, tolle lege" like that, which means "Take up and read, take up and read." He thought he'd never heard anything like this before. Children don't generally play singing "Take up and read." He'd never heard that as a child rhyme when he was a child and it got him to thinking that perhaps this was God's answer to his prayer. It just so happen that there was nearby a copy of the scripture. And he decided if this was a message from God, he would open up randomly to whatever scripture God might have for him and he would look at it and allow that to speak to him. Have you ever done that? Have you ever just opened the Bible and said, "Oh God, speak to me," and there it is.
But this was what Augustine did. And he opened it up and just by “chance” (if you believe in chance), he opened up for Romans 13:14, and this is what Romans 13:14 says, "Not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to satisfy it's lust." Is that an accident? At that moment, he believed in Jesus Christ. His mother was nearby, he ran and told her, I can't even tell you the joy that she felt that all her years of prayer had finally been answered and her son had given his life to Jesus Christ. One verse of the Book of Romans converted arguably the greatest theologian of the ancient church.
The Conversion of Luther
Move on ahead in history now over a 1000 years. Now we're going to move into the Holy Roman Empire and into Germany. In the Holy Roman Empire and Germany, there was a monastery and within the walls of the monastery was a monk, an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther. He was every bit as much in bondage as Augustine had been over a 1000 years before that, but he was in bondage to religious legalism. And he felt the same sentence of the wrath of God and the judgment of God inside his heart against him for he was a sinner, and he knew it, and he was afraid. He had entered the monastery because of a thunder and lightning storm. He fell on his face on the ground covered with mud, and he cried out to St. Anne (they prayed to saints). He prayed to St. Anne, he said "Oh, Anne help me, I will become a monk." Well, apparently she did help him, and he survived the thunder and lightning storm, so he did enter the monastery. And there he decided and began to work out a salvation from the fabric of his own good works, can that be done? No, but he tried and he said if ever anyone could have entered the Kingdom of Heaven by monkery, it would have been me. He spent long nights in fasting and prayer just about destroyed his health. Many, many hours he spent in that cold monastery. Comfort is a thing of the 21st century and the 20th century. It is not a thing of the Holy Roman Empire in the early 1500s. He just about destroyed himself with his fasting and prayer. And as he worked on it and as he continued to struggle over his soul, he grew to hate the things of God because nothing brought him comfort.
And he came across a specific verse, actually two verses in Romans 1. Romans 1:16-17, “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed, a righteousness that is from faith to faith just as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” Now when he looked at that expression, “righteousness of God,” it brought him terror and fear. He thought the righteousness of God would come crashing down on him on judgment day and convict him as the sinner he was until somehow the light came through. And he realized verse 16 was testifying of a power for salvation, not for condemnation, and that this righteousness from God was the very thing that brought about the salvation. And he said the righteousness of God is not God's righteousness, but the righteousness, which God gives as a gift to any who will simply believe by faith. And the reformation was born. One section, one small section, two verses of Romans, and the reformation came out of that. That's the power of the gospel and that's the power of the Book of Romans.
Assurance for John Wesley
Move on ahead, over 200 years later to the story of John Wesley. Now, Wesley was a Christian. He was an ordained minister in the Anglican Church, but he had no peace, no fruitfulness, nothing in his life to testify to him being a child of God. He had been on missionary trips. He had tried everything, much like Martin Luther had before, but he had no assurance of his own salvation. It does not mean he was not saved, just meant he had no assurance that he was a Christian. And he testifies that he came very unwillingly to a meeting of a society, a religious society of Aldersgate Street. Note the words very unwillingly. Isn't that wonderful? Do you think that Paul who wrote this came very willingly into the gospel? Oh, No. But he said "I don't want to go but I will go anyway." I don't know what his reasons were, maybe he was people pleasing, maybe his brother Charles invited him, who knows, but he went very unwillingly. And at that meeting, guess what they were reading? They were reading Martin Luther's preface to the Book of Romans. And as he began to unfold the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which is found in the words of Romans, this is what Wesley wrote.
"About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change, which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, in Christ alone for my salvation and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine and had saved me from the law of sin and death."
John Wesley was the Father of Methodism, which swept the American frontier and saved many souls, but it all started with him coming face-to-face with the truths found in the Book of Romans.
Karl Barth Confronting Liberalism
One more study, in 1919, a young Swiss theologian was finishing a commentary on this very book, commentary on Romans. Now at that time in Europe, the prevailing doctrine, the prevailing theology was called liberalism and the basic idea of liberalism was the fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. But that idea seemed to lay in ashes on the fields of the World War I battle fields, which were there in Europe. Liberalism seemed to be bankrupt and yet it still was holding a grip on the minds of the people until Karl Barth wrote a commentary, a verse by verse commentary on the Book of Romans. Now Barth's theology was somewhat skewed in some places, but just the power of the commentary and the verse by verse destroyed liberalism forever. Some liken Barth to a Swiss pastor going up into the belfry in a spiral staircase and losing his footing, starting to fall and grabbing the rope of the bell and as he grabbed it, the bell clang loudly and woke up everyone in the sleeping village. Because after Barth's commentary to Romans, nothing was ever the same again.
These are four case studies of Romans that worked throughout history. We have the first Augustine, who was inflamed with lust, a prisoner to his own sin nature and he could not escape, the more he tried, the worse it got, and he could not get out, he was a slave to sin and he knew it. One verse from Romans freed him forever. Martin Luther was a slave to religious legalism. He thought by his own prayer and fasting he might escape the wrath of God, but he could not and he knew it, it was impossible for him by his own good deeds to come to any piece of mind, any assurance that he was saved. One little section from Romans transformed everything, even one phrase, “the righteousness of God” understood properly. And then John Wesley, perhaps a Christian, maybe not, but certainly with no assurance doing good works, even having a ministry. And yet the gospel came in through the power of the Book of Romans and transformed him and transformed his heart and gave him assurance. And then the case of Karl Barth, sweeping away false teaching by a verse by verse exposition of this book. This is a powerful letter is it not? Have you ever seen anything, which has the transforming power of the 16 chapters of the Book of Romans, the greatest letter ever written?
Now Romans has a power the goes beyond our ability to comprehend. This Book of Romans will strip you naked and then clothe you in robes made in heaven. It will do both. There is strong meat in here, not everyone has the teeth to chew it, but it still needs to be proclaimed. And this gospel, the gospel of Romans needs to be preached to believers as we shall see. Because it's not just a gospel of our justification, which we'll talk about this morning, but it is also a gospel that brings us all the way perfect into heaven. Until our journey is complete, we need to understand the truths in the Book of Romans. That's the power of Romans.
Overview or Romans
The Apostle Paul
So what I want to do, is I want to go in a kind of an omni-vision sense, kind of soaring over the 16 chapters. I remember when I was in Boston I saw a film taken from the Space Shuttle going around the globe from North Pole to South Pole like that, going down across Europe. And they covered Europe and the Earth in about ten minutes. As you looked down you could see everything, and they were describing the cities that they were flying over. That's about what I want to do with these 16 chapters. As we look across, I think it's very important for us to understand the argumentation. Some of you perhaps have seen the “Romans Road,” and I want to kind of fill it out for you this morning. But let's begin by looking at verse one and try to understand the man who wrote this tremendous letter. The Apostle Paul, a trophy of God's sovereign grace. It says in verse one, "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God."
Now, the key question here is not so much "Who was Paul?" I think as you look at these three titles, these three things that he says about himself, in which he calls himself a servant of Christ Jesus, called, which is passive, called by someone to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God. The question therefore is not who was the apostle Paul, but whose was the Apostle Paul? You know these days we're in kind of angst all the time, trying to determine “who am I?” Who am I? That's the question of the late 20th century into the 21st. Don't ask that question. Ask “whose am I?” For if you belong to Jesus Christ then you have eternal life. That's the significant question, “whose am I?” Now, whose was Paul? He belonged to Jesus Christ, and these three things that he says about himself show it.
The first is a shocking title for him to say, he calls himself "a bondslave." It's somewhat tame, "a servant of Christ Jesus." But it really means “bondslave” of Christ Jesus. In Roman society, (and he was writing to Romans), the bondslave was the lowest rung of culture. Absolutely the bottom. You did not want to be a bondslave, but he calls himself a bondslave of Christ Jesus. Paul seems to even delight in that title because he uses it about himself frequently. Now there are three aspects to being a bondslave. Number one, you are purchased with a price. Someone paid money for you. If you were going to be a bondslave, they paid for you. Is that true of us as Christians? Are we paid for? Are we purchased with a price? Oh yes we are. 1 Corinthians 7:23, "You were bought at a price; therefore do not become slaves of men." Someone paid something for you, something very valuable, the blood of Jesus Christ. Bought at a price and Paul knew that he had been purchased by the blood of Christ.
Secondly, you are not your own. What does that mean? It means your time isn't your own. A slave or servant doesn't get up and say, "What will I do today? It's a beautiful day. Maybe I'll get the family and we'll go for a picnic." Do you think that would work? If you're a bondslave? You didn't even think it. It torments you to think, "What will I do today?" Instead you go to the master. You're not your own, your time isn't your own, your resources are not your own, your body is not your own. Well that kind of grates a little bit for us Americans. We love freedom, don't we? Paul spoke of being free in his bondage to Jesus Christ. Everything he owned was Christ. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "You are not your own, you were bought at a price." That means your things belong to Him. Thirdly, living for the pleasure of the master. You live moment by moment for the pleasure of the one who purchased you, and Paul knew that. And this gave him tremendous freedom in his ministry. He was not afraid or intimidated whatsoever by what people thought about him. It didn't matter what they thought. He says so in Galatians 1:10, one of the most freeing verses for a minister of the gospel if you'll just believe it.
Galatians 1:10, Paul says, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I was still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." He's free from that. He's not a second-hander getting it all on reflex from other people. "Do you like me? Do you like what I'm saying? Well, then I feel good about myself. That's such bondage. He only had one person in mind every day... Jesus Christ. And if Jesus was pleased with him, then he was pleased with himself. He was a bondservant of Christ. And it's good because you know the doctrine of Romans is heavy stuff, and there are things in here, which are unpopular. And if somebody is not this kind of a bondservant, they won't preach this book, they won't live this book or believe it. Paul could never have carried on his ministry if he were a pleaser of men and of women. Instead, he would stand up here and he would simply say, "This is the truth, whether you believe it or not. I hope you believe it for your sake, but not because I'm concerned what you think about me while I change even a single line of this gospel." That's the freedom that he had. He was a bondslave of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, he was an apostle of Christ Jesus. Now there were certain requirements to be an apostle. First, you had to see Jesus with your own eyes, the resurrected Christ with your own eyes. Secondly, you had to be commissioned by Jesus Christ to preach and teach the gospel for the building of the church. Paul met both of those criteria. And therefore, Paul with the other apostles and also with the prophets who was in Ephesians 2:20, the foundation of the church. The doctrine that he taught and that the prophets bring forth, which we have a record of here in scripture, is the foundation of the church. It's unshakable, it will never move. There is no, as I heard earlier today, I love this, "There is no millennium bug in the Bible. It roles over just fine, it never changes." And so it's an unshakable foundation. And Paul preached it. And a large section of the New Testament was committed to him by Revelation, and he communicated it to us. He was an apostle of Jesus Christ and
Finally, he was set apart for the gospel of God. Now, “set apart” means you have to be set apart from something. He was set apart from the world, he was set apart from his own career. He was a career person, he was climbing the ladder of success in Pharisee as in getting higher and higher. He turned his back on it all, turned his back on it for Jesus Christ. He was set apart for a different purpose. Well, when was he set apart? He was set apart from his mother's womb. Now, this is interesting. Galatians 1:15 says, "When God has set me apart from birth, was pleased to reveal the son in me." He was called to preach, but set apart from birth to do it. Well, you could say, "What a detour, Paul. What happened to you, so that you became an enemy of Jesus Christ? You hated him, you rejoiced when Stephen, his martyr, was slain and then you went on the war path and personally destroyed Christian household after Christian household. What happened to you?" And you know what he would say? "I'll tell you what happened to me, the grace of God happened to me. So that I might be a trophy for God's grace. God allowed me to wonder into rebellion, to be a prosecutor of the church." He says in 1 Timothy 1:16, "I was shown mercy, so that in me the worst of all sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." "God let me wonder into rebellion so that I could be an encouragement to others who would do the same. "
And for centuries, he's been just that, hasn't he? You look at the apostle Paul, almost a paradigm example of conversion. The Damascus Road Experience, as he's riding into Damascus, going into Damascus, trying to arrest Christians. And just like that, God's grace grabs hold of him and brings him into the kingdom. And what does he set apart for? He set apart for the Gospel of God, he set apart to preach this gospel. And I love that expression, “Gospel of God.” We'll talk about it more next week. This is God's gospel. This isn't Paul's gospel. We had a discussion earlier today about the authority of Paul and in effect, "Who does Paul think he is?" Well, it really doesn't matter that much who Paul thinks he is. He is a prophet, communicate in gospel, but the gospel comes from God. This is God's gospel. And it is the gospel of salvation. "I am not ashamed therefore of the gospel, [says Paul] because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."
Now, as we've looked at Paul and we've tried to understand him, I would like to now move to his gospel and try to understand what this gospel is. What is this message of our salvation and how is it the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes? I think that Romans answers one central question. Many others as well, but one main question for us. How can a sinful, human being escape the just wrath and condemnation of God and come into an eternal relationship with Him in glory, in face-to-face fellowship? How can that happen? How can we be moved from vessels of wrath and just condemnation into vessels of glory in his presence, in heaven forever. And Romans answers that story. It describes the whole journey. Describes the power of God to accomplish it all. But it is primarily the gospel of God's grace. We're going to talk a lot about grace, but you have to understand grace properly. You will understand grace properly when we go carefully through chapters one and two and three. And when you understand from the scripture who you were apart from Christ, you will know grace at that time. But we'll wait for that.
I'm going to ask now nine major questions to partition the book into nine major divisions. We're going to see the book divided in this way. The first has to do with justification itself and that is, "Why do we need it? Why do we need justification?" So we subtitle this, The Universal Problem of Sin, Romans 1, 2 and 3. The second division is in Romans 3 itself and that is, "How is justification made possible? How is it possible for sinners like us to be saved?" Romans 3:21-26, I believe, is the center theologically of your entire Bible. I'll say that again, Romans 3:21-26 is the center, theologically, of your entire Bible. If you understand those verses properly, you get it. You understand the gospel. So, like Christ's atonement. Number three, "How does one receive justification?" Okay, Christ provided justification, but how does it become beneficial for me? How do I get it? And that is justification by faith alone, Romans 3 and 4. Question number four, "How does justification guarantee final salvation? How does justification guarantee that in the end we will be saved?" Romans 5, assurance of salvation. Romans 5:1-12, 12 of the most encouraging verses you'll find in all scripture. Assurance of salvation, alright? Next question, how should a justified person wrestle with the ongoing problem of sin in his or her life? And may I say to you, if you're not wrestling with sin, you're not a Christian. If you're not struggling and fighting sin, if you're not seeking to put sin to death, you're not a believer. Romans 8 tells us that, we'll get to that. The spirit of God is put in you and leads you to put sin to death in your life. Romans 6, 7 and 8, answer that problem, that question of ongoing struggle with sin in your life. Romans 6 talks about sanctification. Romans 7, the problem of indwelling sin in our fleshly nature. In Romans 8, the liberating power of the Holy Spirit of God and all that that means, Romans, 6, 7 and 8.
Then the question, what about the Jews? If all this is true, then how can it be true in effect if the Jews aren't receiving their own messiah? If so many Jews are rejecting Christ, how can it be true? And so Romans 9, 10, and 11 are set apart to answer that. First he answers it personally, talking about God's freedom in election personally in Romans 9. Romans 10, some great verses on calling on the name of the Lord so we understand how people are saved. They quote it all the time. Romans 11, talking about the national election or choosing of the Jews as God's people. Romans 9, 10, and 11, dealing with the problem of the Jews. And then, how should a justified person live daily life in this world? Well, in the beginning of Romans 12, it says we should be “living sacrifices.” We should be living sacrifices. And that will mean certain things, Romans 12 and 13. Number eight, how should a justified person live with other weak believers? We have to get along with one another don't we? And how do we do it? Freedom tempered by love, Romans 14 and 15. And finally, how should a justified person follow Paul in service to Christ? The gospel for the Gentiles, Romans 15 and 16.
While I've given you a big overview now, my strategy always in teaching the Bible is give the big picture and then come in a little bit more and then come in more and more that way. So now let's look at each of these topics a little bit and try to understand them.
Why do we need justification? The Universal Problem of Sin (Romans 1-3)
Topic one, the universal problem of sin. Why do we need justification? That is the purpose of Romans 1, 2, and 3. Paul introduces the whole gospel in Romans 1:1-7. And he says that his ministry is to bring about the obedience of faith among the Gentiles. And to that end, he's going to preach the gospel. It is the gospel, which brings about the obedience of faith. Verses 8-17 of chapter one, Paul says that he desires to visit Rome. "Don't think Romans that I've neglected you. I haven't forgotten you. Yes, I'm the apostle to the Gentiles and yes, you are the pinnacle church among the Gentiles because you're at the center of the Roman Empire. I have not forgotten you, but I have been prevented from coming to Rome up to this point. I've been praying for you. And I'm yearning even now that I might be able to visit you."
Romans 1:16-17, as I've said is the thesis statement of the entire book. "I'm not ashamed of the gospel because of the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. First for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed. A righteousness that is by faith. And first to last, just as it is written, the righteous will live by faith." Now in verses 18-32 of chapter one, God or Paul, goes through verse by verse to explain God's wrath against sinful humanity. And he talks about two descents, they go down from the glory in which they were created. They were created in glory. Remember we saw that in Genesis. Created in the image of God, but there is a descent down from that. It's not a matter in history of evolution, but of devolution, going down.
And the descents are described in chapter one. A descent into gross idolatry in which the images of God were made to look like moral man and birds and animals and reptiles, idolatry. And the descent into gross immorality where the natural function between man and woman was exchanged for perversion. The twin descents of chapter one and God's wrath against that. Chapter 2:1-16, he says that everyone who lives in this life is storing up wrath against themselves for the day of God's wrath, when His righteous judgement will be revealed. That is the problem the Romans seeks to address whether you believe it or not. If you're a non-believer, you are storing up or accumulating wrath for the day of judgement. This message is the only one that will save you from that wrath. And that's why it is the power of God for salvation.
Wrath of God verse 5, key verse, Romans 2:5. "Because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." In the end of chapter two, he deals with self-righteous Jews who feel that just because they are Jews, just because they have the law, just because they have circumcision, they're okay. And He says, "It isn't true. You don't keep the law. Now if you're truly a Jew, circumcised on the heart, now that'd be a different thing. But you're only circumcised in the outside, it hasn't transformed you from within. And so the Gentiles, they will be judged apart from the law. You Jews will be judged by the law. But either way, you will be judged if you don't believe this gospel." He culminates the whole thing in a tremendous statement of the universality of sin, Romans 3:1-20, in which he cites one verse after another from the Old Testament to show that sin touches everybody and everything. There's no one righteous, not even one. He says in Romans 3:9-10, "There is no one righteous, not even one." Jesus said this, "There is no one good but God alone." This sin has come and perverted everything and therefore, we need justification. That is the first great lesson of the Book of Romans.
How was justification made possible? Christ’s Atonement (Romans 3)
Second of all, how is justification provided? Romans 3:21-26 explains it plainly. Romans 3:23-25 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation or a sacrifice of atonement through faith and His blood." That's the gospel. Jesus died in your place. He took the wrath of God on Himself and extinguished it for all who believe in Him. And there is no wrath, there is no condemnation for those who have faith in Christ because of Romans 3:21-25.
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement. Well, was that good for everyone? No. It's good for those who believe. The gospel is the power of God for who…? For the believers, for those who believe its message, not for the unbelievers, but for the believers.
How does one receive justification? Justification by Faith (Romans 3-4)
So, how do I get it? How does it come to me personally? How do I receive the benefits from Christ's death? He says so on Romans 3 and 4. How do we receive justification? We receive it simply by faith. Key verse there, Romans 3:21, "But now righteousness from God apart from law has been made known to which the law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." There is no difference. Everyone gets it by faith.
And Abraham was set up as the example of our forefather in faith. Abraham heard a promise of good news, and he believed it and he was justified. So, you also, even now, even right now are hearing a promise of forgiveness through faith in Christ's name. And the believers receive it. They say, "Hey man. I want it. I believe it." Do you realize that salvation could be going on right this moment? I prayed this morning it would. I'm opening my heart to you, I'm telling you that I prayed when I got to this point in my sermon that someone would be saved because faith comes from hearing this message. I'm quoting Scripture, I'm quoting Romans, Augustin's example, Luther's. It could be happening right now. Look at your neighbor, you can't see it, but it might be happening.
Justification by faith might be occurring right this moment. If you have faith, if you trust in this message and in the savior portrayed here, you will be saved. It's just that simple.
How does justification guarantee final salvation? Assurance of Salvation (Romans 5)
What of assurance? We don't see it, God doesn't send the angels down, what do we do? How do we know? Well, God just deals with that, in Romans 5, the assurance that we have. But not only the experience we have now is just not one-time only, but it will carry on till the end of our lives. What we have begun, we will finish. We can't fail, but God will bring us right on through Judgement Day and to heaven. Praise God. Judgement Day hasn't occurred yet. And so, we're all standing in confidence.
Is it going to work? It's one thing for an athletic team to be confident, they're going to win the victory, or for a student to say, "I'm going to pass that test." but that test hasn't come yet. The game hasn't occurred yet, how do you know? You know, because God keeps his promises, Romans 5, assurance of salvation.
How should a justified person wrestle with the ongoing problem of sin? Sanctification by the Spirit: (Romans 6-8)
Alright. What about the problem of sin in my life? Alright. If I'm justified, then why do I still sin? Have you ever asked that question? Are you wrestling with sin? Are you weary of it? Are you weary of temptation working? Aren't you tired of it being effective? I wish that temptation would come and not touch me, the way that magnetic attraction doesn't touch wood, I wish I would be like a block of wood in a magnetic field, doesn't touch me, but it does touch me, and I grieve over it. Why is that? What can I do about it? Romans 6, 7 and 8. Romans 6 says you're free. You're not a slave to sin anymore. The son has made you free. You don't ever have to sin again. There's no compulsion to sin anymore. Romans 6, you're free. You're a slave to righteousness now. You're the slave the way that Paul was, a slave to goodness and to obedience. So therefore, if that's true, then present the parts of your body to God, to serve him.
Don't use the parts of your body for sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather use the parts of your body in slavery to righteousness leading to ever increasing holiness, that's how you should use your body now. Alright. I want to. It's new year's, let's make some resolutions. You know how I love to do that. From now on, I'm never going to sin again. Does that work? No. And if it works for you, I want to know your secret.
Romans 7 tells you why it's not going to work, because of the power of the flesh. Oh, it's strong. And the key verse there in Romans 7, Paul says, "What a wretched man I am. Who will free me from this body of death?" If this body had its way, it would take me right to hell. Who's going to free me from it? It's good at sin, it's been doing it a long time. Oh God, free me from it, but thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And that brings us in to the great answer, Romans 8, the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit in your life, for triumph over sin, by the spirit you can put to death the misdeeds of the body. By the spirit, you have the power to say, NO! "No. Satan I won't do that." and he will flee from you. Praise God. Romans chapter 8, the spirit filled life. And now comes all kinds of fruitfulness, you can say, "Okay. Now, here I am. Filled with the spirit. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. It's absolutely guaranteed. It's... Nothing shall separate us from the love of God. Shall trial, a persecution, a hardship or nakedness or peril or danger or sword, nothing will separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus."
Why are so few of the Jews justified? God’s Chosen People (Romans 9-11)
But wait a minute Paul, what about your countrymen there? What about the Jews? It seems like they've fallen away from God. If then can fall away, then I can fall away too. Not so. And Paul explains it in Romans chapter 9, God bringing together an elect group, 7000 who have not bowed their knee to bail. He says, "I'm an Israelite, I haven't fallen. I believe. I'm a Jew. And I'm praying for my people that they may be saved." You should pray for the Jewish people that they may be saved. Paul did. Nowadays Jewish evangelism is very unpopular, did you know that? We caught some heat…Southern Baptists did on this. We'll talk about it more next time. The Jewish people who do not yet believe in Jesus as their messiah, they need to be saved. Paul said so. Because he prayed for his own people that they would be saved. Romans 10 explains how if they confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead, they will be saved. And the gospel is going out to the ends of the earth, they're hearing it. That some of them are responding and some aren't. Why is that? The remnant chosen by grace, he explains it very plainly. But what about the nation, aren't they God's chosen people? Yes they are God's chosen people. And therefore in the end, all Israel will be saved. That does not mean every single solitary individual Jew will be saved. That's not true. Judas was a Jew and he's in hell. It's not true that every single solitary person (Jewish person), is going to be saved but the bulk of the Jewish nation will come to understand that their messiah is Jesus Christ. Praise God. You should pray for that, Romans 11:25, "All Israel will be saved." So that's God chosen people, Romans 9, 10, 11.
How should a justified person live daily life in this world? Living Sacrifices (Romans 12-13)
Alright, now we've looked at 11 chapters of doctrine. It's good to ask at that point, how should we then live? How should I live? How should I live my life? It's just another Sunday, it's just another Monday. I have to get up and go to work. How should I live? What should I live for? Only God would bring me to heaven when I become justified, wouldn't that be great? Born again, you disappear, wouldn't that be great? God doesn't do that. At least not for most people. For most of us, we have years to go before we see God. Well why are we here? Romans 12:1-2 says that we are in view of all of God's mercy to present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship. Don't be conformed by the ways of the world and thinking like the world does. But be transformed. How? By reading this. Can I challenge somebody to memorize Romans this year?
Can I challenge somebody? I'm not going to ask for a show of hands, alright then just pick your favorite chapter, pick Romans 8, its 39 verses, some of the greatest, it will transform your life to just understand it. Saturate your minds in the Word of God, saturate your minds. Romans 12:2, alright well then what? Okay now that my mind's saturated, I'm a living sacrifice, what am I to do? I am to do, you know what the answer is? Spiritual gifts. Isn't that amazing? That's Paul's answer. I'm going to use my Spiritual gift to build the body of Christ. Oh it's very same thing he said in Ephesians 4. That key moment after three chapters in Ephesians of doctrine. The answer is what should I do? Spiritual gifts. Use my gifts to build up the church. Each one of you has a Spiritual gift, are you using it? If your gift is teaching, you should teach. If it is encouraging, you should encourage. If it's administration, we need you. Give us a call. Anything. Whatever... However God has gifted you, if you don't know what it is, it's part of our job as ministers to help you find out what it is so that you can use it. I've said before about Spiritual gifts, it's not yours. God's going to want it back with interest. Are you using it? Spiritual gifts, that's how you're used.
And you're also to walk in holiness, Romans 13, the very verse that converted Augustine. You put on the lord Jesus Christ and you don't walk in ungodliness, you walk in purity and in holiness.
How should a justified person live with other weak believers? Freedom Tempered by Love (Romans 14-15)
Alright, how do we get along with one another? Not very well. That's the answer to that. Well we should. Romans 14 and 15, we're not to be judging someone else's servant. We're not to be criticizing one another. We're supposed to be building each other up in love. We're supposed to build up one another in love. Yes we can eat food sacrificed to idols. Yes we can drink but if my eating and drinking causes someone else to stumble, I'm not going to do it. Because I love my brother and I love my sister. Romans 14, 19 is the key verse there. "Therefore let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." Mutual edification, that means building up the body of Christ. I'm going to do anything I can to build you up in your faith. You should do anything you can to build me and others up in our faith. Anything that leads to peace and to mutual edification that's what we're going to do.
How should a justified person follow Paul in service to Christ? The Gospel for the Gentiles (Romans 15)
And finally, what shall we do for the rest of our lives? How should a justified person follow Paul in service to Christ? Preach the gospel. Paul's determination was that he would preach the gospel in a place where Christ have not yet been named. He was going to take the gospel to regions beyond. He was a tent making missionary. We should let his example challenge us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. The lord will not return until the work is finished. We are to follow Paul as an example. Relentlessly pursuing unbelieving gentiles until they come into the obedience of faith and praying for Paul's countrymen, the Jews that they may do the same.
Well you now have the jet tour through the Book of Romans. Are there some details we skipped? Well, according to Barnhouse, 11 years worth of details. So of course there's all kinds of details, but you see the big picture, it is the gospel of your salvation, it takes you from being dead basically as it says in Ephesians in your transgression and sins under the wrath of God takes you all the way into glory in heaven. That's what this message does. By the way of application I guess I want to urge you as we preach through this. Make the most of this opportunity. I think of the New Year in terms of opportunity. Opportunity, there's time. God has given us time today. Let's make the most of it.
As I go through Romans, allow yourself to be saturated by it's message, don't blow it off. You may never again hear the book of Romans preach through, you may never hear it again, I've never heard of up to this point, it's the first time for me, make the most of it, learn the gospel, it is a scandal in American churches today how little we understand this book. It's the scandal how little we understand the doctrines in this book and this is the gospel of our salvation. May God be pleased to bless First Baptist, that that can't be said of us after we get finished. Make the most it, if you are a believer take in the message, allow it to challenge you along those twin paths of sanctification in service to God. And if you're not a believer, I pray that you entered here not a believer, but you're believer now, you heard the gospel today. Jesus Christ dead on the cross raised from the dead by the power of God, all you need to do is confess that He is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved. Let's pray.