Good morning, from here on out we will be seeing a change if most don’t already know that the preaching will focus it’s efforts from a specific book and that of Romans. Romans as most might know is a pre-eminent pit-stop in the Bible and is filled and brimming with doctrine, truth and the gospel. In fact it contains the foundations of Christianity. The author is Paul, and it’s interesting to note that Abraham, a non-Jew was used to be the father of the Jews, as God used Paul, a Jew to be the Apostle to the Gentiles.
In my opinion, the key and grounding verse for the book would be Romans 1:16 “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”.
But let’s move forward into the scriptures this morning and let us read Romans 1:1-17.
Romans is a doctrine heavy book but also a strong focus on christian living, and I believe as we commence this portion we see Paul emphasizing three key to unlocking this book, the doctrines contained in it and the christian life, and it’s:
- The call of God (3 times ‘called’) - your identity
- The call of Faith (6 times ‘faith’) - the building block to godly relationships
- The call of the Gospel (4 times ‘gospel’) - the power of God and work of men
I. God’s calling - Your identity in Christ
a) Called to be an Apostle (vs. 1)
- Paul’s Accomplishments
- Paul was called to by God to be an Apostle.
- If we recap his accomplishments, he met God on the road to Damascus, he was missionary, wrote most of the NT (14 books), he led many (Gentiles) to the Lord, he has basically defined our Christian doctrine in Romans and is our a pattern for christian living.
- Paul’s History
- Yet with all these many accomplishments, let us not forget his history. He was a zealot, involved the great persecution of the church in Jerusalem, he was even consenting unto death, he entered into homes, dragging out men and women.
- Such a starkling contrast.
- But now we read his words, and in this the Book of Romans we draw our the majority of our doctrine, God has chosen the unthinkable of men.
- Application: The Wonder of God
- The wonder here is not in Paul, but in a God who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.
- A God who is able to look into the darkest hearts, and see what can be.
- A God, a potter who can shape useless clay, into a magnificent instrument unto his glory.
- What a mighty God we serve!
b) Called of Jesus Christ (vs. 6)
- Not just Paul
- Paul shifts his view, from his call to ours. He highlights that we too have been called like him.
- No cause for confusion
- We are not like the world, bereft of purpose, looking to connect, looking for belonging, confused about our direction.
- For certain we may be lost, confused or misguided in certain life situations, but as children of God, our destination is set, our journey is clear, our purpose defined, our hope sure and roadmap defined.
- Application: If lost, then Jesus
- But amidst all that if you had to lose your way, there stands Jesus Christ. Wait let me rephrase that, there stands the PERSON Jesus Christ. Look at Him, look unto Him, ask Him, knock, pray, yield, go!
- It’s not an idol we serve, but a living God
- Run to Lord I say, run Christian, go to Jesus.
c) Called to be saints (vs. 7)
- Definition of Saint
- Saints are defined as those who are sanctified, set apart, holy and good person.
- The high standard
- Let me just park here for a moment.
- There was man of God, a pastor.
- He had exceedingly high standards for christian living. Loved the Lord.
- But his zeal, let’s call it his own of standard of christian living surpassed that of scripture. But because it looked so high, when he was around us it put them under conviction, it put the congregation under conviction, well me too. His music standards were high, what he watched, what he read, his life style practices - it bordered legalism.
- The gold standard
- Sadly his standard for Christian living started to become the gold standard for others.
- He started to meddle in areas that were not his too in the lives of his congregation, preaching his standard for holiness.
- And if you didn’t bend to that standard, things would get uncomfortable for you.
- Many followed
- Many people and families initially grew close to them as a family, they were godly and wise, but after a while left the church HURT.
- But those standards came at a price. Broken relationships. Pain. Perhaps for some bitterness (God forbid).
- The standard dropped to silver
- What was interesting to note though, that over time and testing, some of those standards dropped. Perhaps it was maturity, God’s moulding, age - I don’t know, between him and God.
- Application: The lesson
- This story is not character assassination, or stick one into the side of pastors.
- He is human - learning, failing and improving like us all.
- The point is that we need to be careful of falling into a trap of someone’s else standard or expectations for God’s holiness, however high or low.
- You are called to be saints according to God’s standard, he’s defined it in this book. This is why it’s so crucial to study to show thou self approved, a workman needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Men learn, but God knows.
If you are going to be a slave, make Christ your master, not men.
Don’t let your identity and how you should live, be man confined, but God defined.
II. Faith’s calling - the building block to godly relationships
a) A known faith (vs. 8) -
- Secular definition
- The Century Dictionary > The assent of the mind to the truth of a proposition or statement for which there is not complete evidence; belief in general.
- That’s rather verbose. When someone always sounded more lofty then they should, my English teacher would say > “stop parabulating on the outskirts of verbosity”.
- Atheists faith in the origin
- But that statement is correct, the mind is ascending to a statement for which it has some evidence but not all.
- Atheists today are stumped at the origin question, what created it all? It is here they makes leaps from an electric spark, molecules left on clay, life began deep sea, life brought here from somewhere else. So basically, belief in something else other then a moral God.
- Faith is human trait
- Faith is a general human trait, it’s tied to our design because we are not omniscient, theist or atheist.
- Faith to us as Christians is nothing more, than belief in what God says, or the words of God.
- Not individual
- Interesting to note, the faith referred in this portion is not individual but the faith of the church as a collective
- Isn’t that an amazing testimony, despite the challenges within the church of Rome, their differences, their different backgrounds, their different skills, talents and thinking, they were known by the world. That was their testimony.
- And to the extent, it fills our minds 2000 years later and is preserved in the Word of God
- Application: Church overcame their differences to focus on whats important
- Where are you today?
- Are you building this church, not the physical building, but the people?
- Are you building up, or tearing down?
- Are you casting stones, or humbling yourself to God’s leading?
- Are you more concerned about you, or are you concerned about us?
- What does your mind, actions and conversations reflect?
b) A mutual faith (vs. 12)
- That is (vs 11)
- The “that is”, tells us that we need the previous verse, v11 is the statement, and v12 the clarification to that statement.
- Read verse 11.
- Paul has a strong love for the Church at Rome “I long to see you”.
- He wants to impart a spiritual gift - perhaps supernatural, perhaps some teaching, perhaps preaching.
- To the affect that they might belief and be built-up
- Paul’s in affliction
- This is no small thing, as in amidst these deep doctrines that fills the books of Romans, in the midst of Paul’s distresses, he takes the time to pen how he is soothed in his time of affliction - through fellowship around spiritual things.
- Application: Momentary relief vs comfort
- When we meet as a church, to sit under preaching, teaching or just in the simplicity of casual conversation about spiritual things, we are edified, we are encouraged and we are comforted.
- A warm hot croissant and a cup of coffee may be a momentary relief in affliction, but nothing is as comforting as sweet fellowship around the Christ the saved us, about the wonders of our Holy Word and joys of the Christian life - rejoicing in our commonality and mutual faith. It is satisfying down to the innermost parts of man and this is real comfort.
c) A just faith (vs. 17)
- The Perfection of God revealed in evangelism
- Explain the verse
- Paul is saying, in the context of the gospel God’s righteousness is revealed from the faith of the person witnessing, to the person believing. Isn’t that a marvel to be part of?
- Clarify the definition
- For a little more clarity, righteousness as defined by Websters 1828, is “the perfection of God” or “the holiness of his nature”.
- The beauty of evangelism
- When we act in faith, and lead someone to salvation, God is exemplified, in fact, we reveal the perfection of God and the holiness of His nature.
- What a privilege and honour, not only in the soul being saved, but in us participating in revealing God’s righteousness
II. Gospel’s calling - the power of God and work of men
a) It’s Gods gospel (vs.1, 9)
- Paul seperated unto the gospel to serve
- In verse 1, we see Paul seperated unto the gospel of God
- Paul was yanked from his role as church oppressor, to gospel professor (literally and figuratively)
- Paul immersed in the gospel to effectively serve
- In verse 9, immersed in the gospel of His Son.
- Not only was Paul seperated unto the gospel to serve, but he was also immersed in it to be effective.
- Application: Effective evangelism
- Effective evangelism is not only the act, but the immersion of self in the gospel prior to the act (having the right heart)
b) Prepared to share the gospel (vs. 15)
- Paul was ready
- Paul was ready to suffer physical assault, ready to endure prison, ready to die for the gospel.
- Preparation is not ready
- Don’t confuse preparation and ready in this context. Paul knew the gospel in and out, God knocked him off his horse to give it to him.
- We may prohibit ourselves from evangelising from the fear of what we don’t know, and being unequipped to witness.
- But that’s not the issue here, the question is, are you ready?
- What’s holding you back?
- At what cost are you willing to get the gospel out? What are you willing to ensure?
- Right now in South Africa, it is unlikely you will face physical assault, it unlikely that you will be imprisoned, it is unlikely you will be martyered for spreading the gospel, what’s holding you back?
- Is what’s preventing you from evangelizing in whatever form a real challenge? Or an orchestration of your own mindset?
- Compare your cost with Pauls.
- The oppurtunities you have today, are growing smaller, consider your ways, are you READY?
c) Not ashamed of the gospel (vs. 16)
- What it means to be ashamed
- Are you ashamed of the gospel this morning?
- Ashamed is when you hide who you are at the workplace. Ashamed is when you follow the world and act as the unsaved.
- Ashamed is when we sit in silence afraid of the repurcusions.
- Ashamed is when we see a need for the gospel, and we don’t act.
- Ashamed is when we simply do nothing.
- You have the tools
- A common struggle I’ve heard from people, is that they concerned about what they don’t know.
- What if I was asked this? Or what if I was asked that? I’m inexperienced.
- No friend, focus on what you do know and that’s the glorious power of God unto salvation.
- All you need do, is put on the armour, step out in faith with what you do know, and trusting God for what you don’t.
- We have nothing to be ashamed off, but only to go out BOLD as lions.
Conclusion (vs. 17)
In closing friends, we have looked at the 3 foundational pieces to any Christian’s life, a) The call of Christ, that is their identity in Christ as saints b) The call of Faith, the building block to godly relationships c) The call of Gospel, the effectual working of God in and through us
God is calling friend, God is calling you. In the week to come, will you answer!!! I pray at least one thing has impacted or stirred your heart, and if so, make the change. Hold on to the one thing, and decide today and follow through on it throughout your week. Dark are they days, but glorious is light of our LORD.