Beginning with Romans 1:18 we move into the main body and theme of this Epistle to the Romans. That theme is the righteousness of God. Here, we have the most logical, comprehensive and powerful treatment of this theme found in the Bible. It is known as the Gospel of God, the Good News of Salvation.
This theme was the major theme of Paul’s life and it has been the major theme of my life as a Gospel preacher. That’s why God’s faithful preachers are known as Ministers of the Gospel.
This theme is found in four words in verse 17, The Righteousness of God. Let’s consider now this vital theme which we must understand to be saved from our sins and have a reservation to our Home in Heaven.
MAN’S DESPERATE NEED OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS
This theme is found in Romans 1:18 through 2:29. It involves bad news and good news. It is essential that every truth seeker know the bad news before he can understand and appreciate the good news.
The reason salvation is man’s desperate need is because he has departed from God by falling into sin in the person of our first father, Adam. You will see and understand this relationship with Adam as we progress through this passage in Romans.
To understand this Romans passage, we must also know the story of Adam and Eve, which you can read in the first three chapters of Genesis. There we read of the creation and the fall of man into sin. Let me warn you in advance. You are going to read some information which appears to be very unfair of God. But hold your thoughts. By the time we are finished, you will agree with me that God is not unfair. Indeed, He is most fair and exceedingly gracious.
Here’s the seemingly unfair part. We read in I Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam, all die.” But it doesn’t stop there with the bad news. It quickly adds the good news. “Even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” In other words, we are sinners because Adam, our first father, led us into sin and we inherited a sinful nature from Him.
But the good news is that because Jesus came as God in human flesh and as such, is perfectly righteous; because of His death on the cross for us and because of His resurrection from the dead, we can be given His righteousness as a free gift of God’s grace. Wouldn’t you agree that is more than fair? It’s the best news I’ve ever heard and I love sharing it with others.
You remember how Adam sinned with his wife, Eve, in the Garden of Eden by disobeying God and eating fruit from the forbidden tree. As a result, they immediately died spiritually and years later physically. They also passed on their sinful nature to their progeny. As a result the entire human race is born with a sinful nature and cursed by sin.
Those of us who put our trust in Christ, are born again into God’s family with a new nature that although not sinless yet, hates sin and desires to please God. See I Corinthians 15:22-23.
Not only is man spiritually dead, but he is also under the wrath of God. God’s wrath is not like man’s wrath, capricious and sometimes irrational and out of control. God’s wrath is a settled, perfect wrath against sin and against those who reject His salvation through Christ. Nahum 1:1-8 gives us a good description of God’s wrath. We as Christians must learn to have the same anger against sin, as David prayed in Psalm 139:21-22. The day is coming when God’s wrath will be revealed openly against His enemies on this earth. See Psalm 2:1-12, Psalm 7:11, Romans 1:18 and Revelation 6:12-17.
If you are familiar with some of the great Bible stories, you are already familiar with God’s wrath. They include God sending Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and cursing the earth. God sending the Flood in Noah’s day that exterminated the entire human race, except for Noah and his wife and their three sons and their wives and the birds and animals on the ark. The physical evidence of the universal flood is found throughout the earth where fossils of creatures are found, some with grass in their mouths, evidence of a sudden catastrophe that killed them instantly and buried them under tons of earth and rock. Read John Whitcomb’s book on the Flood in Noah’s day. Every death is a testimony to the truth of the curse God placed on man for his sin. God had warned Adam and Eve, “in the day you eat of the forbidden fruit you shall surely die. ”
THE DOWNARD SPIRAL OF DEGENERACY
As a result of man’s sin, three times in Romans 1:24, 26 and 28 we read of how God gave mankind up to live in sin as he chose to do. Read the warning in Proverbs 29:1 and Hebrews 10:28-31 of how God gives up on those who have been warned and continue in their sins. The mind of an unrepentant sinner who rejects Christ grows more warped, twisted, corrupt and demon-possessed until he reaches the border of spiritual insanity. Romans 1:32 The unrepentant sinner is like a man rushing at 100 mph towards a washed out bridge, in spite of multiple signs warning of the danger ahead. He rushes on ahead at top speed, enjoying the ride and taking his family with him to certain destruction in Hell.
THE NATURAL MAN HATES GOD
The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, including salvation, according to I Corinthians 2:14. He is filled with self-righteousness and pride and has no use and no desire for God’s righteousness. He is antagonistic to Him. He refuses salvation and it is foolishness to him.
SALVATION, A SUPERNATURAL WORK OF GOD
One can only be saved as the Holy Spirit works in his heart, convicting him of sin and the need of trusting Christ. Salvation is not a trick which a preacher pulls on an unsuspecting prospect. Winning a soul to Christ does not happen as a result of psychological skills on the part of a preacher or a soul-winner. Winning souls to Christ is not something we can take credit for. It is the supernatural work of God. Our responsibility is to pray for the lost and watch for opportunities to present the Gospel to them. God alone does the saving.
REWARDS FOR LEADING SOULS TO CHRIST
We don’t save anyone. As Andrew brought his brother, Peter, to Christ, that’s exactly what we do. We simply introduce people to Jesus and let God do the saving. Proverbs 11:30 tells us “He that winneth souls is wise.” And Daniel 12:2-3 tells us that those who turn many to Christ will shine through eternity.
Dear friend, you are on the road to eternal destruction in Hell unless you have been born again by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour from sin. God in His love, according to Romans 5:8, has provided His Son to be your Saviour from sin. Jesus promises in John 6:57 “Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.” You must come when He draws you by His Spirit, or you will NEVER be saved. John 6:44 It is impossible for you to come on your terms and on your time schedule! God help you to turn to Him immediately if He is speaking to you. Now is the accepted time. Now is the day of salvation. Read II Corinthians 6:2 and invite Christ to come into your life and save you from your sins and from eternity in Hell.
In Romans 1:14-17 Paul shares his testimony as one who was radically transformed by the power of the Gospel of Christ and saw himself :
1. As a debtor with an obligation to preach the Gospel to a lost world.1:14
2. As one ready to preach the Gospel wherever Christ led. 1:15
3. As one who had such confidence in the power of the Gospel that he was not ashamed nor embarrassed with the Gospel. He knew it was powerful enough to save if he simply preached it. 1:16-17
I AM A DEBTOR!
Paul in I Corinthians 15:8-10 thoroughly understood that he was undeserving of God’s grace. He understood that his salvation was totally a gift of God’s grace, a gift that he could never repay. In the light of that, he sensed that he owed the rest of his life to God for all He had done for him. That’s why he presented himself to Christ to serve Him as His bond slave for the rest of his life.
That’s also why in Romans 12:1-2 Paul challenges us as Christians to present the rest of our lives as our reasonable service to serve Christ as He leads. That’s the least we can do for Him in the light of what He has done for us. This total surrender of our lives to Him has nothing to do with legalism, just as giving money to His cause has nothing to do with legalism.
It’s all a matter of responding to His gracious Gift of salvation.
You understand that Paul saw himself as a debtor to take the Gospel to a lost world. More importantly, do you understand that YOU are a debtor to take the Gospel to a lost world?
Every sinner is a slave to sin and Satan. As slave owners purchased slaves from the slave market with money, so Christ purchased us with His own shed blood from Satan’s slave market of sin, as alluded to in Acts 20:28.
Every Christian is a debtor to a lost, hell-bound world within our sphere of influence as far as it reaches. When Paul talked about the Greeks and the Barbarians he was referring to the educated and the uneducated, the upper class and the lower class of society, Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to tell us in chapel at Bob Jones University “The measure of our gifts and opportunities is the measure of our responsibility.”
The amazing fact today is that the whole world is coming to America. We can be missionaries to the whole world without leaving America. That puts the responsibility at our own doors. Are you willing and anxious to pay your debt by reaching out with the Gospel to those within your sphere of influence?
I AM READY!
Paul was ready to preach the Gospel. Are YOU ready? In the Upper Room just before Jesus went to the cross the next day, Peter boasted in Luke 22:33 that he was ready to follow Christ; but under pressure, he miserably failed His Lord. His spirit was willing, but his flesh was weak. However, later when he was filled with the Holy Spirit, he truly was ready to preach the Gospel, even to gentiles whom he had despised.
Paul was ready after spending three years being personally tutored by the risen Christ in the deserts of Arabia. In fact, he was more than ready. He was anxious to go to the ends of the world with the Gospel of Christ, even though it eventually led to his execution in Rome.
Like Isaiah, centuries before him who answered “Here am I. Send me!” Paul was willing to answer Christ’s call with “Lord, what will you have me to do?”
As a boy, shortly after I was saved at the age of nine, I sensed God’s call on my life to be a preacher or missionary.
Though I have never been totally at ease in social gatherings, and have never had much to say about anything when others are conversing and though I have never been “the life of the party”; when it comes to preaching the Gospel or sharing it personally with others, I am perfectly at ease. I lose myself in the message.
In college I struggled academically, especially with Greek. However, thanks to tools in my library and the internet, I can find the shades of meaning of every Greek word in the New Testament and every Hebrew word in the Old Testament.
I know what it is to sense my weakness, as a preacher; but in my weakness, I have learned to rely upon God’s strength which is perfected in my weakness. Read how Paul learned this lesson in II Corinthians 12:7-15. I love to study God’s Word and prepare messages, which become burdens from the Lord. Others could deliver them with greater skill, but God deigns to use me in my weakness. For that I am eternally grateful. I say all of this to encourage anyone who may think God could never use you because you “do not have the gift of gab”. You don’t need it. God’s presence and power is all you need.
Through years of studying the Bible, I have the big picture and see how it all fits together and am never happier than when unfolding it to others. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that I have a perfect understanding of every doctrine, nor do I believe any other preacher has that perfect understanding of every doctrine.
It’s that mindset that we have a perfect understanding of every doctrine that causes us to be divisive. Let us remind ourselves what Paul said in I Corinthians 13:9 “For we know in part and we prophesy or preach in part“. I encourage you to read the entire 13th chapter of I Corinthians and recognize the importance of love and humility in our ministry, even as we preach what we believe to be a correct understanding of Scripture.
As Jeremiah, let us rejoice in the truths of Scripture and as we present them to others. “Thy Words were found and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart, for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16
Young men, I challenge you to earnestly seek God’s will about going to a sound Christian college to prepare yourself to serve the Lord. He may not choose to use you as a pastor, but make yourself available to His will. As you follow Him step by step, He will open up His wonderful will before you.
Young women, God has a plan for your life also. Though not in the pulpit, God can use you in a ministry with women and children, a ministry just as influential as your male counterpart in the pulpit. See I Timothy2:12 and read the qualifications of a bishop, another name for pastor. God may lead you to be a pastor’s wife or a Christian school teacher or missionary. Talk about influence! Go to category INFLUENCE on this web site to learn how Christian single women have perhaps had a greater influence on my life than men in making me the man and preacher I am today.
I guarantee you, that God has a prepared place for His prepared servant. In Genesis 24:27 Abraham’s servant, when seeking a bride for Abraham’s son, Isaac, said when he found Rebekah, “I being in the way, the Lord led me.” The Bible says it is not good for a man to be alone. If that is true, and it is; you can be sure that God will bring into your life the young woman best suited to be your wife.
Proverbs22:29 says, “Seest thou a man diligent in his business. He shall stand before kings.” Daniel is a good example of that. As a young man he purposed to stand true to God and God used him over a period of eighty years to influence world leaders such as Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and Darius of Persia. You can read his exciting stories in the Book of Daniel.
Are you actively watching and praying for God to lead you in His perfect will for your life? He’ll not disappoint you and He promises to “meet all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
The question for you is not “Was Paul ready?” The question for you is, “Are YOU ready?”
I AM NOT ASHAMED!
Finally, in Romans1:16-17 Paul announced that as he preached the Gospel he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. He did not doubt, nor was he embarrassed that the Gospel would fail as he preached it.
He understood what Isaiah had written about God’s Word centuries earlier in Isaiah 55. I encourage you to read the entire chapter. Especially focus on verses 8-11. There we learn that whenever the Word of God is proclaimed to people, it is never in vain. It always accomplishes God’s purposes. How that has encouraged me throughout my ministry!
So Paul was never embarrassed or ashamed when he preached the Gospel. He was convinced that it would always accomplish God’s purposes.
Paul was always aware that he was handling dynamite when he preached the Gospel. I did not say that Paul thought he was a dynamic speaker. The facts are that he was NOT a dynamic speaker and he knew it. Read what he said about this in I Corinthians 2:1-5. So I take comfort in this truth. Though I am not a dynamic speaker, I preach a dynamic Gospel that is able to change lives. I’ve seen it happen repeatedly throughout my ministry and it is a source of great comfort to me.
The Gospel transformed self-righteous, Christ-hating Saul of Tarsus and Paul, that former Saul of Tarsus, knew this better than anyone else.
Paul saw the Gospel humble the cultured people of Athens.
He watched it change the immoral people of Corinth.
He was aware of how it changed the idolatrous people of Ephesus.
The Gospel is as powerful to save as the word of God is powerful to create and sustain His universe.
Our personalities and our approaches may be flawed and inadequate.
Simply present the Gospel facts and watch God perform the miracle of salvation.
1. Make sure the one to whom you present the Gospel first of all, has a clear understanding of his own sin and the consequences of sin. He MUST recognize this before he is ready to listen to and accept the Gospel.
2. Then show Him from the Scriptures how Jesus died on the cross to bear the punishment for his sins. God’s wrath, which we sinners deserve, was being poured out on God’s Son, the Lord Jesus, instead.
3. Show him that Jesus arose from the dead the third day and was seen by a huge number of eye-witnesses. This proves that Jesus is God and that His death on the cross was sufficient to pay the penalty of sin for all who will believe.
God help us to always remember that we are debtors to share the Gospel with others God brings into our lives.
God help us to take steps now to prepare ourselves, so that we are ready on a moment’s notice to share the Gospel with people He brings into our lives.
And God help us to never be ashamed or embarrassed by thinking God is not big enough or someone is too sin-hardened for God to save.
And God help us to not short out God’s power to save souls by our disobedience, rebellion, fear of man or lack of surrender to Christ.
The Apostle Paul addresses all his Epistles to saints in the various churches. See Romans 1:7, I Cor. 1:1-2, Ephesians 1:1, Philippians 4:21-22 and Colossians 1:2. Every Christian, no matter how young in The Faith, is a saint. Thus even I am a saint, Saint Malcolm, although I have a long way to go in becoming saintly and you are a saint if you are trusting Christ for your salvation.
Who are the saints?
They are not people who think they are better than others nor are they people whom the church has declared saints. They are those who have recognized themselves as sinners in need of God’s gracious provision of salvation. They have been justified by grace through faith in the blood sacrifice of Christ and are in the process of being sanctified or set apart from the rest of the world as God’s holy possession.
Though every Christian is declared a saint, most of us are not saintly. Becoming saintly is a lifetime process. I liken a saint to a prince. A prince is born a prince, but he is not very princely. It takes years of training by tutors and governors to become princely.
Old Testament Saints
Being saintly is not just a New Testament idea. We read of saints throughout the Old Testament. Here are some examples.
In Jude 14-15 we read of Enoch, seven generations from Adam. Enoch, walked with God. His story is told in Genesis 5:18-24. There in Jude we learn of how Enoch prophesied of the time when one day Christ would return with all His tens of thousands of saints to rule over this earth.
Moses writes about Israel, God’s saints, in Deuteronomy 33:1-3
In Hannah’s prayer, found in I Samuel 2:1-9, this mother of Samuel speaks of God’s protection of His saints.
King Solomon in his prayer of dedication of the temple he had built, prays in II Chronicles 6:41-42 that God’s saints may rejoice in God’s goodness.
Eliphaz, one of Job’s false comforters speaks the truth about saints in Job 15:14-15. “Behold He (God) putteth no trust in His saints; yea the Heavens are not clean in His sight.”
The Psalms refer repeatedly concerning saints. Read about them in Psalm 16:1-3, 30:4, 31:22-24, 37:25-28. 97:10, 116:15-19.
Proverbs 2:8 tells us of how God protects the paths of His saints.
In Daniel 7:18 we read of the latter days when God’s saints will possess the Kingdom of God.
What do these Old Testament references to the saints, teach the saints of this Church Age? I believe it shows us that we His saints can study the Old Testament and be edified as we apply Old Testament promises to ourselves. When we, His saints of this Church Age read of the inspired Scriptures, we are profited as we read and study both the Old Testament and the New Testament. I do not agree with those who teach that the Old Testament was only for Israel and the New Testament is only for the Church. I believe and I have preached from both the Old and New Testament to the church throughout my ministry. There are lessons for the Church in all 66 books of the Bible, we learn in II Timothy 3:16-17.
In Romans 1:8-13 Paul is thankful for the testimony of the Church in Rome and longs to come to them and be comforted by them.
Next time you as a Christian fail the Lord by dabbling in sin, don’t be so quick to brush it off by saying to yourself or to others, “After all, I’m no saint!” Yes you are a saint if you as a sinner have put your trust in Christ for your salvation. So get into the Bible, surrender to Christ and start becoming saintly. That is, live a life of integrity, a life that integrates with the Word of God.
When I think of preaching, three words come to my mind to describe what a preacher preaches: sermon, message and burden. Let’s consider each of these designations.
What is a sermon? Webster defines a sermon as a discourse, grounded on a verse or passage of Scripture delivered in public, usually by a clergyman.
What is a sermonizer? A sermonizer is one who prepares and delivers sermons; however, his emphasis is more on the preparation or crafting of the sermon. A sermonizer delights in finding numerical points; preferably three. He also takes great delight in finding and using alliteration in a passage of Scripture because this helps the listener to grasp and remember what was said. In a sense, every true preacher is a sermonizer and delights in discovering Scriptural truth and preparing sermons.
A pulpiteer is a preacher who does a masterful job of presenting his sermon from the pulpit. At least he thinks he does; and he comes across to his audience as somewhat pompous. Webster says it is a contemptuous term for such a preacher. We preachers should give much time and prayer to the preparation and delivery of sermons. We should be our best, but not be overly concerned about trying to impress others with our sermon or presentation..
In my expository preaching I have found that every Scripture verse or passage does not always lend itself to a perfect three point sermon, complete with perfect alliteration. On rare occasions I will preach such a sermon, but my week is not ruined if I do not produce one.
Every sermon should be a message from God. Not every sermon does have a message or a purpose other than to show off a preacher’s scholarship or preaching ability.
A message is a sermon that regardless of style, conveys to the heart of the listener practical truth from God’s Word. When a message is preached, the listener is almost oblivious of the style of the sermon or the messenger. His whole focus is on the message.
How does a preacher get a message from God? He must walk with God, having an intimate relationship with Him and with His Word, the Bible. He must have a pure heart and be fully surrendered to God, available for God to use. Like Samuel, he must pray, “Speak Lord, for Thy servant hears.” Like Isaiah he must cry out, “Hear am I, send me” Like Paul, his prayer is, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Like the man Jesus talked about in Luke 11:5-8 he must beg God for Bread for his congregation.
Those of us who preach should realize that our main purpose in preaching should not be to simply give Bible facts to our listeners; but seek to know God’s message for them from the Bible and faithfully deliver it.
What is a burden? It is more than a sermon. It is more than a message. A burden is a message God has laid on your heart. It is so heavy that it MUST be delivered. It is not a burden that exhausts or wearies a preacher. God invigorates him to deliver it. When God has burdened my heart with a message, I can do nothing else but deliver that message. No other message will do. I come to the pulpit “chomping at the bit.” I can hardly wait to deliver it and when it is over I am totally exhausted.
The Old Testament prophets were given burdens from God to deliver to different people. Examples are found in Isaiah 13:1; 15:1; 17:1; 19:1 and Nahum 1:1 Ezekiel chapters 2 and 3 record God’s call to the prophet Ezekiel and the burden he laid on Ezekiel to bring a particular message from God. He was told what to say and was warned how the message would be received and rejected.
I am working on sermons, usually several weeks in advance. What a wonderful blessing the computer has been to me as I am able to write and store my sermons and continue to rework them right up to the day I deliver them. They normally start out as sermons. As I continue to meditate on the Scriptures and pray, I see God’s message in the sermon. Often by the time I am ready to deliver the message it has become a heavy burden on my heart.
Preacher, be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else. Avoid trying to have a ministerial tone in your voice. Speak normally to your congregation on Sunday as you would if you met them in town on Monday. If God has given you a burden to deliver to your congregation, your voice and manner of speaking will have a natural intensity. It won’t be something you need to think about nor try to generate.
Finally, when you’ve finished preaching, don’t concern yourself with how well you did or what a failure you were. Don’t be discouraged! If you delivered your burden from God, leave the results in God’s hands. It may be years later that you learn of how your ministry touched lives. Certainly when we stand before God in eternity, we will learn the full impact of our ministries.
I wish I had another fifty years or more to continue studying and preaching God’s Word. But now at 78, I know my time on earth is limited. I first learned the joy and value of preaching book by book, chapter by chapter and verse by verse through the Bible back in 1963. Through the years it has grown increasingly more exciting as in my search for God’s truth I have unearthed truths for which I was not even seeking. It’s been amazing how God has led me to deal with pertinent truths just when they were needed.
Most of the articles in HIDDEN TREASURE have come from my expository preaching. Expository preaching is not simply parroting a Bible commentary. It is more than simply explaining the meaning of verses. Of course, it includes that; but an expository message comes as a preacher prayerfully seeks first the meaning of the verses to be covered. The passage being studied must be seen in its context and in its relationship to the whole Bible. Most importantly, the preacher must study the passage until he sees the message God has for his church in that passage. There must be a practical application of the passage to his own life first and then to his congregation. By the time he is ready to face his congregation he ought to be so filled with the message God has given him that he is thrilled and anxious to deliver it.
The word Gospel means good news. The Gospel of God is the good news from God. The natural man, a sinner in the sight of God, cannot appreciate the good news until he has heard and comprehended the bad news.
Until one understands the Gospel of God, he has a perverted idea of Christianity. He thinks that only good people go to Heaven and that bad people go to Hell. He spends his life wondering whether he is good enough to deserve Heaven. That’s why people are so religious. All the religions of the world are man’s efforts to seek favor with God and they all lead to futility and hopelessness.
As you proceed through our study of Romans, read the first three chapters of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and you will become well aware of the bad news, the worst news you could possibly imagine. By the time you’ve finished that third chapter, you should be feeling utterly helpless, hopeless and in despair. All false sense of self-righteousness with its pride will be gone.
Only then will you be ready for the Gospel, the good news of Romans chapter 4 & 5. Go ahead and read those first five chapters in Romans right now. You don’t have to wait until we’ve written and you have read the future messages covering those chapters on this web site.
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST
Though we won’t get into the details of this good news until we come to Romans chapters 4 and 5, Romans 1:3 introduces us to the Gospel of God which concerns the good news of Jesus Christ, that news prophesied by nearly all of the Old Testament prophets. Read Isaiah 53 for a good example. It won’t take you very long to recognize that the promised Saviour spoken of in that prophecy concerns Jesus Christ. The Acts 8 account of the conversion of an Ethiopian eunuch confirms that Isaiah was speaking about Jesus, our suffering Saviour, in Isaiah 53.
Christ was that Seed promised to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15 after their fall into sin. This is that promised Seed to Abraham in what is known as The Abrahamic Covenant, in Genesis 12:1-3. This is that Seed promised to David in what is known as The Davidic Covenant, found in II Samuel 7:12-17.
Romans 1:4 teaches us that the final and ultimate proof that Jesus is the promised Saviour in found in the truth of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead after His crucifixion. That fact proves that Jesus is God in the flesh, for only God Himself could rise from the dead and give that resurrection power to us who belong to Him by faith in Him.
The Gospel of Christ is what Paul delves into in detail in his Epistle to the Romans. Paul tells us in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Galatians that he received this Gospel directly from the risen Christ Himself. My prayer is that this Gospel of Christ will excite you the way it excites me.
If you teach or preach or sing or play a musical instrument in church, this article is especially for you. If we are to be a blessing to others, we must minister to the heart. The heart of a person includes his intellect, his emotions and his will; the very innermost part of a person’s being.
If we only reach the intellect, but never reach the emotions and the will; our ministry has fallen short. If it only reaches the emotions, but has no connection with the intellect and the will, again it falls short. Heart-felt teaching, preaching and music reaches the intellect, the emotions and influences and moves the will to obey God.
Consider Christian music.
There is nothing sinful about rhythm and beat. But Christian music must reach deeper than simply moving the emotions and the body. The problem with much Christian music today is that the beat is so pronounced that it overwhelms the emotions and the body and drowns out the intellect. Furthermore, much of this music has a shallow non-Biblical message. If that is the case, the music has failed to reach the heart and will not move the will to obey God.
Or Christian music can go in the opposite direction. It can be so intellectual and that it passes over the average person and again it fails to reach the heart. Whether music is old or contemporary has nothing to do with the issue.
The same goes for preaching.
It can go to one of two extremes. It can be so emotional that there is no intellectual connection and fails to move the will to obey God. Or it can be so intellectual that it can leave the listener cold and unmoved. A walking Christian encyclopedia is not necessarily a spiritual Christian.
Reaching the heart is so important as we preach, teach and minister in music that we are instructed in Ephesians 5:18-19 to be filled with the Spirit constantly. Only a Spirit filled Christian can bless others with his preaching, teaching and music.
“I have been young and now am old; yet have I never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.” Psalm 37:25 If that’s true, why do Christians beg?As I’m writing this article, I have just left my living room where I have been watching scenes of one of the worst natural disasters in recent American history; the ravages of the 2005 hurricane, Katrina, in Louisiana and Mississippi and the surrounding area. My heart is aching with grief for those destitute people in need of water, food and shelter who have lost loved ones, as well as everything they owned. For some answers as to why God allows such disasters, go to my link, Acts of God.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED
Especially in times of crises, civic and religious relief organizations need our help. For organizations, such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross or perhaps your denomination or local church, to solicit funds and volunteers is a selfless act of mercy. We all need to do whatever we can to help those in genuine need. Rescue Missions and Christian homeless shelters deserve all the help we can give them as their employees and volunteers do an often thankless job of meeting spiritual, emotional and physical needs.
But as we do what we can to help the truly needy, we need to be aware of the Scam artists who go down through the phone book calling and begging churches for money. It’s amazing the detailed hard-luck stories they tell. I’ve heard some of the same stories repeatedly year after year. I guess some stories work well and make money for the beggar.
Some of the most sacrificial, unselfish, kind, thoughtful people I have ever met are in full time Christian service. On the other hand, some of the rudest, most thoughtless, selfish, self-centered people I have ever met are also in Christian service.Some people in Christian service have the mentality that since they are in full time Christian service that everyone owes them money and special attention. Some are rude and demanding and expect other Christians to go out of their way for them. It’s a joy to show hospitality and sacrifice for selfless, appreciative Christian servants; but it takes all the joy out of sacrifice when dealing with rude, thoughtless people who have the attitude that since they are in Christian service, everyone should cater to their whims and give them whatever they need.
Some missionaries need to raise their own support before they can be sent out to a field of service; but they must beware of developing a beggar’s mentality, expecting everyone to do special favors for them because they are “in the Lord’s work.”
Some evangelists I have known have a fixation on love offerings and travel expenses. If evangelists would concentrate their attention on avoiding canned-messages and seeking God’s message for a particular church, love offerings would meet their needs and expenses would be met. God’s people are generous. Feed the sheep and be honest with them and they will provide the wool willingly in abundance.
Pastors, get over self pity. Don’t whine because the people do not love you or care about you. Don’t whine because they do not offer you free baby sitting or yard service. I have seen some good preachers ruin their effectiveness and ministry by expressing self-pity to their congregations. Don’t complain or even hint that you are over- worked or underpaid. That is a pathetic attitude in a man of God.
Learn to live on what God supplies. Above all, understand that GOD is your source of supply. Quit looking to man for your source of supply. If you depend on your congregation, you are going to find yourself trimming your preaching so as not to offend your source of supply.
Beware of taking advantage of business people. They don’t owe you a ministerial discount. If they want to do something special for you, accept their generosity with appreciation to them and with thankfulness to God for His supply of your need.
If you are guilty of coveteousness, recognize it as a sin and confess it to God. Everything we have received has freely been given to us by the grace of God. Jesus says to us in Matthew 10:8 “Freely ye have received, freely give.” Jeremiah reminds us in Lamentations 3:22-23 “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.
“Paul encourages us in Philippians 4:6 ” Be anxious for nothing; but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Did you note that Paul does not tell us to let our needs be known to others?
The child of God who is faithfully doing God’s will can always count on God to meet his needs, whether he is a pastor, missionary, teacher, evangelist or involved in a secular job. Note also in this verse that there must be an attitude of thankfulness to God. Thankfulness should not be difficult when we realize that we deserve nothing; that all we have, we have by the grace of God.
May God teach us to be content in whatever situation we find ourselves. Philippians 4:11-12 May we be thankful for the way He supplies all our needs Philippians 4:19 and much, much more. Ephesians 3:20-21 May we be sacrificial and discerning in our giving to the truly needy.
Understanding the Book of Romans is the key to understanding all the major doctrines of the Christian Faith, especially the salvation doctrines of justification, sanctification and glorification. I am convinced that Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is the clearest, best organized, most logical and most complete treatise on God’s plan of salvation and Christian living of any book of the Bible.
Though the Holy Spirit is the divine author of the entire 66 books of the Holy Bible, a wide variety of holy men were the human authors who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the sixty-six books of the Bible from Genesis through The Revelation are inspired of God and thus they are the inerrant and the perfect Word of God with the power to save sinners and edify saints.
The human author of Romans is the Apostle Paul, who before his conversion was the Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, the hater of Christ and the chief persecutor and murderer of first-century Christians.
In Acts 9 Luke records the miraculous conversion of Saul. Paul also recounts in Acts 26 his conversion in his trial before King Agrippa years later. Saul, who was an eye-witness of the stoning of Stephen (one of the first deacons in Christ’s Church), never got over the deep conviction of the Holy Spirit as he was party to Stephen’s murder and as he watched this saintly man die. Trying to drown out the voice of God, Saul grew even more hateful as he went everywhere killing Christians.
On the road to Damascus, as Saul was rounding up Christians to persecute; God in His sovereignty confronted him, beating him over the head, so to speak, and knocking him to the ground. It was the only way God could get his attention. You can read the details of that confrontation in Acts 9.
Years later Saul, whose name was changed to Paul after his conversion, shares his testimony of conversion in his Epistle to the Philippians in chapter 3. In the first 6 verses of that chapter, he describes his life before his conversion and in verses 7 through 14 he describes life after his conversion. Before his conversion his confidence of pleasing God was all centered in himself. After his conversion, his only confidence was in Christ alone. That’s the story of everyone who is regenerated by the power of God. Before we are saved, our confidence of attaining God’s favor and Heaven is in ourselves and our self-righteousness. After we are saved, as we understand our hopeless, lost condition; our confidence is in Christ alone.
BOND SLAVE OF CHRIST
Radically changed by the power of God, his name was changed from Saul to Paul. So radical was that change that from his conversion he saw himself as a bond-slave of Jesus Christ. Doulos is the Greek word for bond-slave. A doulos was an involuntary forced slave. However, Paul by his life shows us that as we are constrained by our love for Christ, we become His loving, voluntary slaves. That has been my status for most of my life and it ought to be your status if you are a Christian. As bond slaves of Christ, we have no rights. Our only rights and our only desires are to please Christ in all our attitudes and actions.
CALLED TO BE AN APOSTLE
Though not one of the twelve Apostles with whom Jesus spent three years, living with them and teaching them spiritual truth; Paul spent three years in the Arabian desert learning directly and personally from the risen Christ. Though Paul ministered to Jews, the major emphasis of his ministry was to gentiles whom he won to Christ and to the churches he helped to establish throughout the Roman Empire, He is the major human instrument God used to give us His New Testament. Paul is the human author of nearly all the New Testament Epistles, including the Epistle to the Romans which we are presently studying. Read Acts9:15 and Ephesians 3 concerning Paul’s special calling.
As Paul, so every preacher is called of God to spend his life ministering the Word of God to people, even though sometimes he may be called upon as Paul to make tents temporarily to meet his needs. Though Paul’s calling and ours is to serve Christ; that service can best be expressed by having a servant heart to serve others, rather than lording it over them, as Peter taught in I Peter 5:1-6
In the messages to follow we will learn the fullness of what it means to be saved from our sins and to be a Christian. Paul explains it logically and fully in Romans and by the end of this series in Romans, if you are now confused about spiritual truth; you should be rejoicing in a clear and complete understanding of God’s plan of salvation
In Proverbs 1:8-9 we are exhorted to remember the warnings and instruction of our mothers and fathers. By remembering them and following their instruction, we honor them and our character is beautified.
My mother and father were missionaries in Peru, S.A. where my father died when I was only four, leaving my 27 year old widowed mother with my one year old brother and myself.
She returned with us to her home in Toronto, Canada where we lived until I was 10. From ages 5 to 10 I lived with various relatives in Toronto while Mother traveled throughout Canada and USA sharing her burden for missions. Then from age 11-16 I lived in Westervelt Home and School for missionary children with about 100 other children and teens in a rural area outside Batesburg, S.C.
When I was 13 mother married a bachelor missionary and together they served as missionaries in Haiti and had a son and daughter.
So mother did not directly have much influence on my life. However, my relatives, especially my preacher uncle, as well as my teachers at Westervelt Home had a tremendous influence on my life.
Through those important, years, I never felt unloved nor became bitter by my lot in life. Somehow I understood that Mother was doing the best she could for us under her circumstances. In fact, as I look back, I am filled with praise to God for the way He led me during those early, highly impressionable years.
Even when it seems to us that our parents are too old fashioned and do not seem to understand us, we should under God, love, respect and obey them. After we are married and are no longer subject to them; yet we can continue to love and honor them.
Let me share with you some important guiding principles and lessons I learned from my Mother and later from my Christian teachers at Westervelt: principles that have served me well down through the years. principles that have guided my relationship with God and have guided and helped me in relating to others.
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
1. God’s glory is the most important reality in life; not my happiness nor my seeming success in life. I have learned that when God’s glory is first in my life, I am fully fulfilled, satisfied and content.
2. I can NEVER get away with sin without facing the consequences. God catches me and chastens me every time and I am comforted in the sometimes painful chastening. I learned well as a boy the truth of Numbers 32:23 “Be SURE your sins will find you out!!”
3. I stay right with God by dealing with sin when I am convicted. Keep short accounts with God. Don’t try to ignore or brush aside the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Don’t try to make flimsy excuses for your sins. Don’t allow unconfessed sin to drag on for months and years. Such years are wasted and fruitless.
4. God’s will is the most important concern I can seek. His will is the ONLY road of happiness, fulfillment and success. Romans 12:1-2 I dare you! I challenge you to prove it for yourself.
5. Spend time in prayer and in His Word each day. Read and memorize Psalm 27 which teaches us the secret of confidence and success in life.
6. When in doubt concerning choices and the right direction in life, give God and not the devil, the benefit of the doubt.
7. Seek God’s wisdom for your life from God’s Word. That’s God’s warning found in Proverbs 2. Here’s a good hint to keep you on track. For God’s wisdom as you make the decisions of life, read a chapter from Proverbs every day and you’ll read it through every month. Read several Psalm each evening to keep your heart in tune with God.
8 Even when you don’t feel like it, by faith be thankful to God for every thing and every one He brings into your life. I Thessalonians 5:18.
9. Don’t worry about the things you don’t understand about God and His ways. He is GOD. You and I are only human. Romans 11:33-36 and Isaiah 55:8-9. When you don’t understand Him or His dealings with you, worship Him.
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MYSELF
1. All Christians have a sinful flesh nature. Keep it in subjection. Don’t let it tell you what to do. Don’t coddle it. I Corinthians 9:27
2. Put no confidence in your selfish, fleshly nature. Romans 7:18 Run from temptation and sin. II Timothy 2:22
3. Keep a humble, open mind to learn from others; especially other godly people, even if you disagree with them in some matters. Proverbs 27:17
4. Rest in God’s sovereignty. He is in control and has all circumstances under His control, regardless of how circumstances look to you.
5. Rest in His victory. Yes, we are in a warfare with the devil, but we fight best as we rest in Him and watch Him win victories for us. Hebrews 4:9-11, Romans 6 and Ephesians 6:12-13.
6. Always remember, you and I have no rights. We deserve nothing but Hell. All that we have, we have by the grace of God. So be grateful for your lot in life. Don’t whine that you have not been treated fairly by others. The world is not fair. If we got what we deserved, we would all be in Hell.
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY FRIENDS
1. Don’t be so concerned about finding friends. Be more concerned with being a friend to the friendless.
2, Listen to wise counsel and test it by the Bible. Determine what is right and do it; regardless of circumstances.
3. Respect others, especially our elders, our teachers, authority in general. but especially, our mothers and our fathers.
4. NEVER be rude to anyone.
5. Make no friends with angry people. Avoid them. Proverbs 22:24-25
6. Don’t co-sign for anyone; unless you love them enough to pay off their debt if they cannot pay it. Proverbs 22:26-27
7. Recognize that ALL contention comes only from PRIDE! Proverbs 13:10
8. Remember my preacher uncle’s motto which he practiced all his 96 years. “NO ATTACK: NO DEFENSE!” He was speaking of personal attack. I believe in my 78 years of life so far, God has enabled me to live by that warning also. When personally attacked stand still and as Moses in Exodus14:13, watch God defend you. But as a preacher, I am called upon in Jude 3 to earnestly contend for The Faith and the eternal truths of God’s Word. Preachers are called upon to attack the devil by exposing him and warning others of his devious ways.
9. Be empathetic. Always be aware of the feelings of others. Be kind, patient, gentle and thoughtful of others. Try to understand them and their viewpoints.
10. Always seek the unity and peace of God’s people. That is more important than your and my interpretation of Scripture and position on questionable issues.
11. Keep your word. Be true and faithful. Others are counting on you.
12. Recognize and appreciate the difficult people God brings into your life. They are tools in the hands of God to mold and refine our character. Get your eyes off them and upon God.
13. Be quick to forgive and never hold grudges.
14. Take every opportunity to warn sinners of God’s coming judgment and offer them the Gospel, the truth that Jesus died to bear God’s judgment and condemnation for our sins. John 5:24
MY RELATIONSHIP IN THE WORKPLACE
1. All work is honorable.
2. Do a good job at whatever you’re called to do. Do it as though God were your employer.
3. Be honest and fair in all your dealings.
4. Learn to be self-reliant. Don’t expect government or others to meet your needs. Don’t beg or hint for money.
5. Don’t be concerned about salaries and benefits. Rather, seek to please God and let Him take care of your needs. Remember this all your life. God is the source and provider of all your needs. Philippians 4:19. We’ve proven this true over 78 years so far. He has NEVER failed us.
6. Be clean, bathe, brush your teeth, comb your hair, shine your shoes. Keep your house and car clean as a testimony for Christ.
7. Always live within you means. Avoid needless debts. Remember the borrower is a servant (a slave) to the lender. Proverbs 22:7
8. Endure hardness and difficulties without complaining. II Timothy 2:3
9. Be on time for appointments. Don’t keep others waiting. You steal their time. It is rude and arrogant of professionals or anyone to make a habit of this.
10. Don’t procrastinate. When you have an assignment, get started on it right away. By staying on top of your schedule you avoid needless pressure.
11. Finally, if you’ve started on something, finish the job!
WHY SHOULD I LEARN FROM MY PARENTS?
1. These principles and guidelines will beautify your character.
2. They will enhance your testimony. I Timothy 4:12
3. They will open up doors of opportunity to you. Proverbs 22:29
4. They will give direction to your life. Proverbs 6:20-23
5. They may prolong your life. Exodus20:12 Ephesians 6:1-3
6. You will bring glory to God.
TO DESPISE YOUR PARENTS AND WHAT THEY HAVE TAUGHT YOU
1. Will bring shame to God’s name.
2. Will break your parent’s heart. Proverbs 10:1,15:20
3. Will bring God’s judgment on you. Proverbs 1:24-33, 20:20, 30:17.
Proverb’s place in the Old Testament.
The Old Testament has 39 books, divided as follows.
5 Books in the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
12 Books of History: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings,
I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther.
5 Books of Poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon.
5 Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel.
12 Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum,
Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
Focusing in on the Poetic books they speak of our relationship as Christians to:
Job speaks of our relationship to Satan, the Accuser of the Brethren.
Psalms speaks of our relationship to God, our Heavenly Father.
Proverbs speaks of our relationship with people.
Ecclesiastes speaks of our relationship with the world system.
Song of Solomon speaks of our relationship with Christ, our Heavenly Bridegroom.
Focusing in on Christ in the Books of Poetry
Job speaks of Christ, our Redeemer Job 19:25, I Peter 1:18-19
Psalms speaks of Christ, our Life, Psalm 27:4, Colossians 3:4
Proverbs speaks of Christ, our Wisdom. Proverbs 1:7, I Corinthians 1:30
Ecclesiastes speaks of Christ, our purpose in life. Ecclesiastes 12, Philippians 1:21
Song of Solomon describes Christ, our Heavenly Bridegroom Ephesians 5:25
Introductory facts about Proverbs
The author is King Solomon, Proverbs 1:1
He followed his father, King David, and he ruled for forty years during the Golden Age of Israel. I Kings 4:30-34
The Book of Proverbs, as all 66 Books of the Bible, was inspired of God.
Solomon received his amazing wisdom from God by simply asking for it as a little child. I Kings 3:5-15 It’s so sad that later in life, Solomon surrendered his wisdom for sin and brought destruction to his family and to his kingdom. Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon in old age, reflects back on his life with pessimism, sadness and grief.
To whom is the Book of Proverbs primarily addressed?
It is primarily addressed to children, teens and young men and women. Proverbs 1:4,8
These are truths parents should be teaching to their young children while they are still at home. It teaches rules, restraint and discipline.
These young children are described as simple, innocent children void of insight and perception who can be easily deceived, misled and taken advantage of. These qualities are not necessarily evil traits.
Children need not become wise concerning sin and the evil world system which insidiously perverts their thinking through sin-glorifying television, movies, literature and music. It is the responsibility of parents to set the right example and protect them from this.
Counterfeit currency is not studied in order to recognize it. Rather genuine currency is studied so that when faced with the counterfeit, it is easily recognized. Romans16:19 teaches us that we are to be wise unto that which is good and simple concerning evil.
The purpose of Proverbs according to Proverbs 1:2
To know wisdom and instruction.
To perceive or grasp the truth of Scripture.
To recognize and avoid false doctrine and sin.
Remember these basic truths concerning wisdom.
Wisdom is found in knowing and being properly related to Christ through faith in His death and resurrection for our sins. Colossians 2:3, 8-10,
I Corinthians 1:30-31
Wisdom begins with a reverential fear of the Lord. Proverbs 1:7
One who has no fear of God has not even begun to be wise.
God invites us to ask Him for wisdom as we sense our need. James 5:1-8
When we ask Him for wisdom, we find it by reading and searching the Scriptures. Proverbs 2:1-5