We conclude our study of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans with a doxology of praise to God in Romans 16:25-27. In this doxology we see:
- The Gospel which establishes us in The Faith
- The Mystery which establishes in The Faith and
- God who establishes us in The Faith
In this doxology is the answer to how we can be established or settled in The Faith and avoid being misled by false teachers.
THE GOSPEL WHICH ESTABLISHES
Paul repeatedly refers to the Gospel as HIS Gospel. Romans 16:25, 2:16,
II Timothy 2:8. I Thessalonians 1:5 It was Paul’s Gospel in that after his conversion on the Road to Damascus, God had personally taught it to him in his three years sojourn with God in the Arabian desert which he referred to in Galatians 1:15-18
That Gospel is the Gospel which Paul explains in detail in this Epistle to the Romans which we are concluding after 46 messages in this study. In this study we have explored Justification and Sanctification and Assurance of salvation. If you are still confused or uncertain, I encourage you to go over this series carefully and prayerfully.
Don’t be confused concerning the Gospel. Don’t base your understanding of the Gospel on the Old Testament. The Old Testament is filled with important spiritual truth for Christians and I have preached through many parts of it for years. Though it foreshadows and illustrates the Gospel repeatedly and throughout the Old Testament, it does not spell out and explain the Gospel in detail.
Don’t base your understanding of the Gospel on the Book of Acts. It also is filled with spiritual truth for Christians, but it does not give a detailed, organized explanation of the Gospel.
Don’t base your understanding of the Gospel by reading the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These four Gospels are filled with four accounts of important Gospel truth concerning the life, death and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus. These truths are foundational and essential for the seeker of salvation, as well as for the Christian follower of Christ. We must have a knowledge and an understanding of the four Gospels, especially the Gospel of John before we are ready to study Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.
But it’s not until we read and study Paul’s Epistle to the Romans that we are given a complete understanding of the doctrine of salvation; including the doctrine of sins’s curse on the entire human race; (including you and me), the doctrine of Justification, the doctrine of Sanctification and the doctrine of Glorification.
It’s only as we have an understanding of the doctrine of Salvation as found in Paul’s Epistles; primarily his Epistle to the Romans, that we experience assurance and begn the process of spiritaul maturity. If you base it on anything but Paul’s Epistles, you will go away confused. This is the Gospel that establishes us in the Faith, Paul declares in Romans 16:25.
THE MYSTERY WHICH ESTABLISHES
Romans 16:25 also refers to the Gospel as the mystery which was not clearly unfolded in the Old Testament, nor even in the Gospels. The privilege to unfold it and explain it was given to Paul in his Epistle to the Romans and in his other Epistles
For example in Ephesians 5:22-32 Paul compares our salvation to a spiritual marriage with Christ. Jesus in the upper room the evening before His crucifixion hinted to it in John 15:1-11 and 17:23, but Paul unfolded it. Ephesians 1:11-23, Galatians 1:11-24, Colossians 1:25-29.
GOD WHO ESTABLISHES
Romans 16:27 concludes this Epistle with the truth that it is God Himself who establishes us in the Gospel. He alone is all wise, we see in Colossians 2:3-4
He alone is glorified in His creation. Psalm 19:1-6
He alone is glorified in Jesus. John 17:4
He alone is glorified in His Church, the product of His salvation.
Ephesians 1:12 and 3:20-21
My prayer is that you be saved through faith in Christ and glorify Him with your life. With that, we have concluded our study of Romans. May God be glorified.
Paul concludes his epistle in Romans 16:17-20 with a sober warning of the danger of those false teachers who would by their beautiful, pious sounding and uplifting-sounding messages draw us away from the Truth of God’s Word. All these are deceitful servants of Satan. In verse 20 we read of how God is using us to bruise and crush Satan under our feet. This reminds us of that first promise God made to Satan in Genesis 3:14-15 of how He would bruise and crush and eternally destroy Satan one day. We long for that day when sin and Satan will be forever forgotten.
False preachers are not in the ministry to serve Christ, but rather to take advantage of their churches and earn a comfortable living and live a lavish lifestyle. Romans 16:18 warns us.
May we value and guard our precious Faith, our precious Salvation. II Peter 1:1
We have a precious Saviour. I Peter 2:7
We are saved by faith in the precious shed blood of Jesus. I Peter 1:18-19
As Christians, we enjoy a precious unity made possible by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:3-16, Psalm 133
We feed on His precious Word and are blessed. II Peter 1:4,19-21.
These are the precious Gifts of God we are to guard. That’s what the warfare of Ephesians 6 is all about. It is a spiritual warfare against Satan and the influences of his deepening evil world-system today. Paul’s preaching included this warning. to the Ephesian Church in Acts 20:28-31. We Christians today need to take heed to these repeated warnings in every generation. We ignore this warfare to our own peril.
WHO ARE OUR ENEMIES?
Today it is fashionable for Christians to look back on the Fundamentalist Movement of the first half of the 20th century that fought the battles against Theological Liberalism and brand such Fundamentalists as being negative and judgmental. They believe they have progressed beyond such negativity and that all that is needed is a positive preaching from the pulpit.
This fight against error has been fought down through the centuries and it is needed more than ever before in our present day of immorality, theological error, confusion and unbelief. The Apostle Paul warned young Timothy over two thousand years ago in II Timothy 3:13 that from generation to generation evil men would grow worse and worse, that the apostacy would grow deeper and deeper until Christ returns. He reminded him that his only protection would be the Holy Scriptures which he had known from childhood.
Note Paul’s repeated warnings to “stand fast” in God’s Word. I Corinthians 16:13, Philippians 1:27 and 4:1, I Thessalonians 3:8 and II Thessalonians 2:15
In this message, I warn you of the dangerous people, movements and influences which would attempt to rob you of your precious Gift of salvation. In II Corinthians 11:13-15 Paul warned then and the warning is just as relevant today. The Apostle John also warned of this danger in his short, one chapter Epistle of II John verses 7-11.
Our enemies are people, movements and influences espousing another Christ. They are under the curse of God, according to Galatians 1:6-9. Other warnings are found in II Corinthians 11:13-15 and II John 7-11.
Satan himself is known as the accuser of the brethren in Revelation 12:10.
Not only Satan, but those who reject God’s Word are by default Satan’s servants. Notice, for example in II Timothy 4:14-15, a man by the name of Alexander was an enemy of God and of God’s people.
WHO ARE NOT OUR ENEMIES?
Our enemies are not fellow Christians who have honest differences of opinion and interpretations of Scripture, as long as they adhere to the Fundamental doctrines of the Christian Faith: the verbal, plenary, inerrant inspiration of the Bible, the deity of Christ, His virgin birth, atonement for sin through faith alone in the shed blood of Christ and Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead. These are absolutely essential to being a Christian. No other Christ can save us. Galatians 1:6-9.
We are to endeavor to guard that unity in Christ with fellow believers with whom we have honest differences of opinion on lesser matters of understanding Scriptural interpretation and church polity. Read Ephesians 4:3,13, and I Corinthians 1:10-18.
Let us learn to distinguish the enemy (those in Satan’s army) from Christians with whom we have honest differences of opinion on many matters. Let us receive them as brothers and sisters in Christ, but not to doubtful disputations. Romans 14:1.
WHY ARE THE ENEMIES OF CHRIST DANGEROUS?
They are deceptive. II Corinthians 11:13-15
They are divisive. Acts 20:29-30
They are debased. II Peter 2:14,19.
They are hirelings. They are in the ministry just for the money with no heart for the people. John 10:12-13
We learn in II Timothy 3:1-8, 13, that as we approach the end of the Church Age just before Christ returns the apostasy grows deeper and more deceptive and thus more dangerous.
HOW DO THEY OPERATE?
They use good words and preach impressive messages that draw in the people. II Timothy 4:1-4
Don’t be impressed with impressive sermons.
Don’t be charmed by charming personalities.
Beware of preachers who always make you feel good about yourself and never make you feel uncomfortable.
Remember false preachers are skilled at making merchandise of you.
II Peter 2:1-3
False preachers are hirelings, just in it for the money. John 10:12-13
Watch your own heart if God’s Truth makes you angry.
Be warned, be clothed in the armour of God described in Ephesians 6. and stand fast in The Faith; making progress in the battle against the growing darkness of Satan’s Kingdom.
The Apostle Paul concludes the main body of his epistle to the Romans with a benediction in Romans 15:33.
In chapter 16 he concludes his epistle with:
Warm greetings to his friends in Rome 16:1-16
A final warning 16:17-20
Greeting to his friends in Corinth. 16:21
Tertius, his secretary, adds a PS in 16:22-24
Paul concludes with a doxology in 16:15-27
GREETINGS TO HIS FRIENDS IN ROME
In this message we consider his greetings to his friends in Rome. You may wonder how Paul knew these Roman Christians when he had not yet been there. We learn in Acts 18:1-2 that persecution by the Roman emperor had caused the Christians with Jewish as well as Gentile backgrounds to be scattered. Paul had met and knew some of these Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ in the churches of Greece and Asia Minor. Now some of these had returned to Rome.
Here in Romans 16 we consider some of Paul’s friends: both men and women.
Paul began by mentioning Phebe, a Christian woman from Cenchrea who had a servant heart and helped many Christians, including Paul. She is probably the one to whom Paul had entrusted the delivery of this Epistle to the Roman Christians. Basically, Paul in this closing greeting encouraged the Christians in Rome to help Phebe in whatever way they could.
The most valuable Christians in any church are those who have a servant heart to help meet needs. They may or may not be leaders in the church. Certainly every pastor, elder, deacon, as well as other worker in the church ought to have a servant heart; otherwise, they are useless and disqualify themselves from church leadership positions.
Priscilla and Aquila
Paul continues his list of friends by mentioning in Romans 16:3-4 a husband and wife team, Priscilla and Aquila, who opened their home for the church in Corinth. More information is given concerning them in Acts 18:1-3. This godly couple was used of God, we learn in verses 24-26 of that chapter, to teach and encourage a young up-and-coming preacher by the name of Apollos to have a clearer understanding of Pauline doctrine. The truths Paul had learned directly from Christ at the time of his conversion were just as much a part of the inspired Word of God as anything Jesus Himself had taught.
We learn in Romans 16:5 of Epenetus who was the first of Paul’s converts to Christ in Asia Minor. There was a special bond of love between these two as there is between every new believer and the one who led him to Christ.
Mary, of Romans 16:6, one of many Mary’s in the New Testament, was another of many Christian friends who blessed Paul and was blessed by him.
Andronicus and Junia
Andronicus and Junia was another Christian couple who were well known by the Apostles. Romans 16:7 informs us, they were fellow prisoners for the cause of Christ. They had a spiritual kinship with Paul; not only because they were both in Christ, but also because they were Christians even before Paul was converted to Christ on the Road to Damascus.
The list of names continues in Romans 16:8-15. From the comments Paul made, it is evident that these were precious, personal friends who had suffered with Paul and had shown him sacrificial love.
All of us involved in ministry for Christ could list our own personal friends who have helped us and been true friends, especially in times of great stress and persecution for Christ. In Heaven we will have eternity to get better acquainted with those who have meant so much to us in what we call time on this earth. Think of it, in eternity time will be no more. We will have eternity to deepen and strengthen those bonds of friendship. Who will be waiting for you in Heaven whose life you have touched for Christ on this earth?
I think of what Jesus said in Luke 16:9. There Jesus encourages us to use our time, energy and money to reach out to lost men, women, boys and girls, to influence and lead them to Christ, so that when we arrive in Heaven, they will be there to welcome us and thank us for sharing our lives, our resources and the Gospel with them.
In Romans 16:21, Paul sends greetings from some of the Christians in Corinth, including Timothy.
In Romans 16:22 Tertius, who was taking dictation from Paul and actually writing the letter, inserted a personal word of greeting to the Roman Christians.
Purpose of these personal words of greeting
The Holy Spirit directed Paul to include these personal words of greeting to teach us Christians the importance of being gracious, warm, kind and loving in our dealings with fellow Christians. Paul had a personal interest and concern for each one, naming them in his prayers as well as in this Epistle inspired of God.
How this should encourage each of us as Christians as we understand that God sees and knows each of us by name and loves us intimately as a Friend who “sticks closer than a brother.” Though sometimes unknown, unnoticed and unthanked by others; God never forgets what we do for Him and for His glory. I am encouraged in Hebrews 6:10 that “ God is not unrighteous to forget our work and labor of love which we have showed toward His name, in that we have ministered or served others.”
In Malachi 3:13-18 we read that Christ has a Book of Remembrance in which are written the names of those who have a reverential fear of God and as a result, have come to trust, love and serve His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Such are as precious jewels to Him.
There’s no question that Paul was successful in his ministry. What made him a success? What makes any pastor or any servant of God a success in God’s eyes? We’ll find the answer in the passage before us, Romans 15:13-33.
Let me begin with a simple Biblical principle which you and I must never forget. Our calling and responsibility is to GO with the Gospel and PROCLAIM the Gospel. God’s responsibility is to DO THE SAVING. You and I cannot save anyone. We cannot change anyone’s heart. Only God can do that. I’m glad I learned that principle early in my ministry. It has taken immense pressure off of me to attempt to try to do what only God can do.
Here are the six secrets of Paul’s success, secrets that will work for any servant of God in any age.
I HIS CONCERN FOR THE SPIRITUAL WELFARE OF OTHERS.
His dual concern was for the salvation of sinners and for the maturity of the saints. Romans 15:13, 9:1-3, 10:2, II Corinthians 5:13-15, Galatians 4:19. That concern results in a two-pronged ministry; that of preaching the Gospel to the lost and teaching and edifying (building up the saints) in the truths of God’s Word. As you read through Hidden Treasures you will soon note that this is also my dual concern.
II HIS CONFIDENCE IN WHAT GOD WAS DOING IN THEIR LIVES
Paul, in Philippians 1:6, writes of his confidence in God’s ability to complete what He alone had begun in the hearts of those who trusted in Him for salvation. That confidence has taken the pressure off of me to attempt to do what only God can do. My responsibility is to preach the Gospel to the lost and to take every opportunity to feed God’s people the Word wherever and whenever I have the opportunity. God does the saving of sinners and the edifying of the saints. Hence this Hidden Treasures web site. His responsibility is to do what I cannot do: save people and cause them to grow and mature as saints. What an unnecessary load that takes off my shoulders!
III. HIS CONSCIOUSNESS OF HIS DIVINE COMISSION
In Romans 15:15-20 we learn that this consciousness resulted in holy boldness. 15:15, direction, 15:16,20, and Holy Spirit power to do what he never could have accomplished in his own ability. 15:17-19 What an encouragement this has been to me as a preacher, once a bashful, timid boy who was afraid to stand up in front of people and talk.
IV. HIS CONSIDERATION OF GOD’S WILL
In this same passage in Romans 15 Paul writes of the importance of seeking and knowing God’s will for himself.
Someone once asked a ship’s captain how he guided his ship safely into a harbor. The captain pointing to some harbor lights replied. “See those three lights out there? When those three lights appear as one light, then I know I am right on course to enter the harbor.”
The three lights for you and me as Christians are;
1. God’s Word Romans 15:21
2. Our circumstances Romans 15:22
3. Our heart’s desire Romans 15:23
When seeking God’s will about anything, all three of these factors must line up as one. There must not be any contradiction. Paul always desired God’s will and His will has always been my primary concern as a Christian.
The Psalmist had the same concern for God’s will. See it in Psalm 37 and Psalm 40:8. Is that the deepest desire of your heart?
V. HIS CERTAINTY OF RESULTS
Paul speaks of this certainty in Romans 15:24-29. He was always ready to preach the Gospel, assured that it was powerful enough to accomplish God’s will. There was never a hint of depression or of self-pity. It was not a self-confidence in his ability; but in the power of the Gospel. We see that same assurance of success in Philippians 1:12-14 and II Corinthians 2:14.
VI HIS CALL FOR PRAYER PARTNERS
That call is found in Romans 15:30-33. Note the use of the word beseech.
That word is found three times in Romans.
In Romans 12:1 Paul beseeches us as Christians to consecrate and present our bodies, our lives and our strength, to God for His use.
In Romans 15:30 he beseeches Christians to be prayer partners with him for Jesus’ sake, striving together with him in prayer as he ministers in his dangerous situation in Rome.
In Romans 16:17 he beseeches them, warning them to recognize and mark or identify publicly the dangerous false teachers who were straying from the doctrine Paul, by divine inspiration, had taught them.
He gives them two reasons for praying. First, for Jesus’ sake. He died for a lost world. The least we can do is to pray for our lost world. The second reason we are to pray is for the love of the Holy Spirit. Our human love can’t get us concerned enough to pray, but the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and controlling us can enable us to pray with burdened hearts.
How are we to pray? Romans 15:30 describes it as striving together with Paul. Colossians 4:12 describes effective prayer as laboring together with Paul.
For what should we be praying? In Romans 15:31-32 he request his brothers and sisters in Christ to pray that he would be delivered from the unbelieving Jews who rejected Christ. As he himself had been a persecutor of Christians before he was saved, so now he was being persecuted by the Jews who rejected and hated Christ.
He also asks them to pray that his ministry and message would be accepted by the saints, the Christians in Jerusalem, when he returned to them.
Finally, he asked them to pray that God would enable him to return to Jerusalem by the will of God and that together they would be spiritually and physically refreshed.
He concludes by asking that the God of peace would be with them. May God help us as we study the prayers in the Bible to learn to pray in the will of God.
As we move into the concluding 15th and 16th chapters of Romans note that Paul is winding up this great doctrinal epistle with some concluding concerns for Christ’s Church. He loves the Church and desires God’s best for her. Paul’s God-inspired desire of blessing for the Church at Rome and for Christ’s universal Church then and today is book-ended between two benedictions. The first benediction in Romans 15:5-6 and the second in 15:13. Let’s consider now Paul’s desire for The Church of Rome and for Christ’s Church today as we consider Romans 15:5-13. His desire could be summarized in one thought, spiritual unity of all believers in Christ.
Consider this theme of spiritual unity using the following outline.
- A Pastor’s Burden.
- The People’s responsibility
- God’s Provision for His Church
- God’s Purpose for His Church
I A Pastor’s Burden
Paul’s burden and every true pastor’s burden is that the Church enjoy Christian unity, peace and joy as it is edified (built up) through the preaching of God’s Word. A false pastor ( a wolf in sheep’s clothing) does not feed the Church God’s Word. Rather, his desire for the church is to milk the sheep for all the money he can get, leaving the flock divided, distressed and in danger of Satanic attacks.
Note in John 17 that the unity of believers was the concern of Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the Sheep just before He left His disciples to die on Calvary’s cross.
II The People’s Responsibilities
The responsibilities of the Church are summarized in Romans 12:1- 15:4. We’ve already dealt with them in the previous studies in this Roman’s series. They can be summarized in receiving one another with our strengths and weaknesses and being concerned for meeting the needs of others, thus glorifying God.
III. God’s Provision for His Church
God’s provision for the stronger Christians in His Church is found in Romans 15:4-5. Patience is needed for getting along and working with weaker Christians. Comfort and consolation are needed by weaker Christians who don’t always understand why other Christians, who although they preach the Gospel, do things and believe things differently from them. God’s hope, joy and peace, spoken of in verse 13, are needed by all of us for getting along with others.
In Ephesians 4:3 Paul teaches us that it is the Holy Spirit working in the lives of yielded believers which enables us to enjoy that unity as we are yielded to His control.
IV. The Purpose of this Unity
In Romans 15:6 we learn that the purpose of the Spirit’s unity is that God would be glorified as we, His Church, are a united witness to a lost world. That was also Jesus’ concern in John 17:20-21 just before He went to the cross to die for our sins.
It’s His concern for His Church today that we may have an appreciation and understanding of the value and purpose of each Christian. Let’s not be so quick to write off Christians who differ with us as being weak and of no value to Christ and His Church. How we need to learn to value and appreciate one another with all our differences.
Let us learn to recognize and receive fellow believers as brother and sisters in Christ and learn from them, whether they are weak or strong spiritually. We’re going to love one another throughout eternity. Let’s start learning to do that now.
I conclude with Paul’s benediction for us in Romans 15:13. “Now the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing that we may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
In the light of our previous study of Romans 14:10-12 concerning the Bema Judgment of Christians it should concern us how we relate to weaker brethren; that is, Christians whom we believe are misled concerning Bible doctrine and who are over-influenced by Satan and his world system.
By weaker brethren I am not speaking of those who deny the Bible as the inspired, infallible Word of God and who deny salvation through the shed blood of Christ. They are not weaker brethren, but enemies of Christ and are of their father, the devil. John 8:34-44.
How can we help our weaker brethren?
Receive them as brothers. Romans 14:1
Don’t argue with them over non-essentials. Romans 14:1
Don’t despise them for their perceived weakness, Romans 14:3
Don’t judge or condemn one another for these differences. Romans 14:3-4
Remember that none of us live to ourselves. We’re all interdependent on one another. We can’t make it alone as Christians. We need the prayers and encouragement of each other. Romans 14:7
Don’t stumble and offend a weaker brother by our conversations and actions. Romans 14:13, Matthew 18:6
Be charitable and loving in our relationships and dealings with one another. Let love rule. Romans 14:15
Guard your reputation. Romans 14:16 Dr. Bob Jones Sr., founder of Bob Jones University, used to tell us in chapel, “Your character is what God knows you to be. Your reputation is how others perceive you.” Your reputation is important for your testimony’s sake.
Focus on the essentials of Scripture, the Gospel, salvation through the shed blood of Christ.
When it comes to Christ’s Kingdom, yes, there is a promise of a coming Millennial Kingdom of Christ. At the same time, there is a spiritual truth for every Christians to grasp. The Kingdom has already begun in the heart of every Christian. Christ reigns now. Matthew 5:3,10,20, Luke 17:20-21, Romans 14:17, Colossians 1:13, I Thessalonians 2:12, and I Corinthians 4:20. Let’s focus on these concerns that edify rather than the picky differences of opinion that divide.
Endeavor to try to keep peace in God’s family. Romans 14:19, Ephesians 4:3,13.
Here’s one with which I especially have problems! Keep your personal opinions to yourself. Don’t burden down other Christians with you convictions of right and wrong. Romans 14:22 Live by your convictions.
Bear with, that is, put up with the weaknesses of others. Romans 15:1 Christ is our example in this matter. Romans 15:3 He did not live for self-fulfillment and for self-satisfaction. Rather He lived and died for others.
May God help us as Christians to live by these Kingdom Concerns.
In the 14th chapter of Romans Paul warns us concerning our relationship with weaker brethren and of the danger of judging them and determining their spiritual state He warns us in verse 7-12 of our eventual meeting with Christ at the Bema Judgment Seat when Christ will judge accurately.
Let me pause at this time to define several judgments everyone should understand. Then we will focus on The Bema Judgment.
Because this is such a crucial topic to your future, I urge you to take the time to read the Scriptures along with my comments.
Christ bore the judgment for our sins on Calvary.
We read in I Peter 2:24 how Jesus took our judgment and bore the penalty for our sins in His own body on the cross.
We are saved when we understand this truth and by faith trust in Jesus’ sacrifice of His blood on the cross as the full penalty for our sins
Romans 8:1-4 and John 5:24 assure us that because of His sacrifice we are forever freed from the penalty for our sins. Do you understand this judgment and are you resting fully in His accomplished work on the cross? As Jesus died, He cried out, “It is finished!” There is no further penalty or payment you or I must make for sin. Jesus paid it all. If you are trusting in Jesus, your war with God is over. The full penalty has been paid and according to Romans 5:1 and Colossians 1:20 He has signed the peace treaty with His own shed blood and reconciled us to Himself.
Now you can build on that foundational truth as you learn to know God and learn how to live for His glory through His Word, the Bible. That’s what Christian growth is all about. Find a church where this Gospel is clearly preached and where the Bible is faithfully taught and learn how to walk with God as a Christian.
The Bema Judgment
The Bema Judgment is a judgment reserved only for Christians. It takes place after Christ returns to earth to catch up into Heaven all who are trusting in Him for salvation, including the living and the dead. This Bema judgment has nothing to do with a penalty for sin. That was borne by Christ as He died on the cross two thousand years ago.
The Bema Judgment is somewhat like the Olympics where winners of athletic contests are given medals for their physical accomplishments. This judgment concerns rewards for living for and serving Christ. faithfully. Some Christians will receive rewards. Others will suffer loss of rewards. But none will pay the penalty for their sins. That was accomplished by Christ on the cross. We will learn more about this Bema Judgment later in this message.
The Great White Throne Judgment
The great White Throne Judgment is yet to come at the end of time. It is only for unbelievers who refuse to trust Christ to save them from sin and Hell. Its terrifying description is given in Revelation 20:11-15. Thank God that no Christian will ever face God’s wrath at that judgment for their trust is in Christ who bore the wrath of God in our place for our sins in His own body on the cross.
The Daily Self Judgment of Christians
There is one more judgment for Christians and that is our daily self-judgment as we become aware of our sins and failures and confess them to God as sin. When God convicts you of sin, don’t make excuses for them or try to lessen your guilt by calling them a weakness, or excusing them because other people’s sins are just as bad or worse. Instead of trying to make excuses for your sins, simply confess them to God and I John 1:9 promises us that “God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
It’s as we “walk in the light (of God’s Word) as He is in the light that we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son cleasnses us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:7
Christians will never go to hell for those sins, but unconfused sin will cut fellowship with God and result in physical, mental and emotional suffering in this life right now. I Corinthians 11:20-34 warns us as Christians to confess our sins daily, especially as we come together for the Lord’s Supper or Communion. To take Communion as though you were right with God when in reality there is unconfessed and unforsaken sin in your life is an extremely dangerous matter. Read David’s genuine confession to God in Psalm 51 in which he pours out his heart in repentance after he had committed adultery and murder. In spite of these awful sins, God, looking at his heart, described him in I Samuel 13:14 as “a man after His own heart”.
So having considered these other judgments, let’s focus now on the Bema Judgment.
FACTS CONCERNING THE BEMA JUDGMENT
The Judge is Jesus Christ who died and rose again as our Saviour and who lives in Heaven today as our Lord and who, according to Revelation 22:12, is returning to reward those who faithfully serve Him now. How dare we who are Christians attempt to judge the faithfulness of other Christians or attempt to lord it over them! In Matthew 7:1-5 we are warned to never judge other’s motives. Leave that to God who alone can read and discern hearts and motives.
The Bema Judgment Seat is not a judgment of condemnation. We who are trusting Christ for salvation will NEVER face a judgment of condemnation and be cast into Hell. That, according to Romans 8:1 was borne by Christ on the cross. Rather, this judgment concerns Jesus’ rewards for faithfulness to Him as Christians.
Romans 14:10-13, I Corinthians 3:10-15, II Corinthians 5:9-10 warn us that in this judgment we as Christians will give an accounting of ourselves to God. In Matthew 5:11-12 Jesus encourages us to face persecution for Him with the assurance that we will be greatly rewarded. Even Moses, as well as other Old Testament saints who lived in Old Testament times lived and suffered in the light of future reward. according to Hebrews 11:24-40
When we give an accounting of ourselves before Christ, that will include an accounting of our time, strength, talents, financial resources and use of spiritual gifts entrusted to us as His stewards, as taught in Luke 12:35-48.
In that passage are some troubling truths we dare not overlook nor ignore. Though it is clear from Scripture that Christians will NEVER be condemned nor sent to hell for their sins, for Jesus took the full condemnation for our sins in His body on the cross; yet there is clear teaching that the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ involves not only reward for faithfulness, but pain and sorrow and loss of rewards for unfaithfulness. Christians, we will be sorry and shed bitter tears for ignoring God’s will for our lives and living only for ourselves. Jesus talks about being beaten with stripes. Whether that is literal or figurative, I am sure it will be painful and tears will be shed. Later, in the eternal state, all tears will be wiped away, we read in Revelation 21:4.
I Corinthians 4:1-5 referring to the Bema Judgment, declares that this judgment of Christians will be based on our faithfulness to Him. Here we are taught that we as Christians have no business attempting to judge the hearts or motives of fellow Christians. Only God can read hearts and judge correctly.
In Christ’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 we are taught in 7:1-2 to NEVER judge nor condemn others as individuals. Government alone through the court system has the right and the God-given responsibility to condemn and sentence law breakers. In fact, according to Genesis 9:6 and Romans 13:1-7 human government has the God-given responsibility to avenge victims and put to death those guilty of capital crimes.
Keep in mind, aging, faithful Christian, we are warned in II John 8 and Revelation 3:11 that it is possible after a life of faithfulness; to ruin our testimonies in old age and lose the rewards we could have received.
WHAT WILL THE REWARDS BE?
The rewards we receive in Heaven are all described as crowns. These crowns indicate that we will rule with Christ over the world in the Millennial reign of Christ. See Revelation 5:9-10 II Timothy 2:12
The Crown of Righteousness Christ is our righteousness and our only glory. II Timothy 4:6-8, Galatians 6:14,
The Crown of Glory I Peter 5:1-4 This crown is given to faithful elders and pastors. Why to them? Because to such there is little glory in this life. Rather, for the faithful pastor, it is a life of suffering, heartache and shame.
The Crown of Life James 1:12, Revelation 2:10 This crown is given to Christians who endure temptation, love Christ and are faithful to Him to death.
The Crown of Rejoicing I Thessalonians 2:19 This crown is actually the people whose lives we have touched for Christ. I believe this will be one of the most surprising and amazing crowns we will receive in Heaven. I look forward to meeting you, my presently unknown reader of Hidden Treasures and those to whom I have ministered over the years. May God use you in a greater way than He has used me.
The Incorruptible Crown The Christian life is a race. Death or the Rapture is the finish line. The Bema Judgment is the throne of Christ before whom we will one day stand to receive our crowns or suffer the greatest loss of our entire lives as castaways. I Corinthians 9:24-27
ALL FOR HIS GLORY
Because Christ is the only One worthy of glory, one day, faithful Christians in Heaven will have the glorious privilege of casting their crowns at His feet. Revelation 4:10-11
As we move into Romans chapter 14 the topic before us concerns the relationships of stronger and weaker Christians to one another. All of us are at different stages of spiritual maturity. Most of us who have been Christians very long consider ourselves stronger than we probably should. We all tend to think we have a better understanding of Scripture than others. Be cautious concerning such an attitude.
WHO IS A WEAKER BROTHER OR SISTER IN CHRIST?
We are all weak in some areas of spiritual understanding or practical living. That’s one reason we go to church and sit under the teaching and preaching of God’s Word. Because all of us are sometimes blind to our areas of weakness, we need to learn to esteem and prefer one another to ourselves, as we learned in Romans 12:10. Because we are often blind to our own faults and weaknesses, Paul challenges in Philippians 2:3 to esteem others as better than ourselves.
That’s quite difficult for most of us who have been Christians very long. We each tend to think we have a more accurate understanding of Biblical truth and that we are stronger Christians and know the best methods of church polity and worship.
In Romans 14 we’re going to identify two kinds of Christians who needed to recognize and receive those they considered as weaker Christians.
First, the new Christian coming from Jewish background. His conscience was weakened by holding on to the ceremonial system of the Old Testament Law. He was offended by and looked down on the new Gentile believers who saw no problem with eating meats forbidden by the Old Testament ceremonial law and by failing to observe the special days proscribed by that Law.
And then there were the Gentile believers. They had their weaknesses also. They were calloused and unloving as they looked down on and despised the new believers coming out of Judaism with all their Jewish “baggage” just as many Christians today look down on and despise as “legalistic” Christians who simply desire to please God by doing what they believe to be right and avoiding what they believe to be displeasing to God. The Jews judged their Gentile brothers in Christ and the Gentile believers despised their brothers in Christ coming from Judaism.
This still goes on in churches today. We tend to judge or despise those who do not meet our criteria for being “good Christians”. Do we fail to understand that all we are and all we have is by God’s grace? Do we understand that in Christ we are free from the Old Testament Ceremonial Law? Read of that wonderful truth again in Romans 8:1-4.
At the same time, we love God’s moral law, His standards of right and wrong taught throughout the Bible from both the Old and New Testament. Like the Psalmist, that Law is written in our hearts and we delight to do His will. The fact is that if we are Christians, the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts and He gives us the desire and the enablement to fulfill God’s Law as we are surrendered to Christ, whose Spirit dwells in us as Christians. Read Romans 8 again until you fully grasp this vital truth.
Though all of us have areas of weakness, we are growing stronger if we are in the Word as we learn in I Peter 2:2 and I John 2:12-14. But the Christian who ignores God’s Word is growing weaker and more susceptible to the snares of Satan. He is carnal or fleshly rather than spiritual, as Paul explains in I Corinthians 3:1-3.
How can you recognize a fleshly, weak Christian? He boasts of his supposed spiritual gifts and yet does not know how to use them to be a blessing to others. Read I Corinthians 4:7-10 on this. He is full of himself and proudly and judgmentally looks down on others, as described in Romans 15:1. On the other hand, Jesus is “touched by the feelings of our infirmities”. Hebrews 4:15
HOW THEN ARE WE TO DEAL WITH WEAKER BRETHREN?
We are to receive them warmly. Romans 14:1 God’s love flowing through us is the secret of interpersonal relationships with other Christians.
We are not to argue with them. We can discuss doctrine freely and lovingly with strong, mature Christians. But be cautious about arguing with a weaker Christian.
Don’t despise or judge another Christian. Romans 14:1-3
Be settled in your mind as to how God wants you to think and live. Romans 14:5 But at the same time, be open to growth and change. We change as we grow. I’ve been saved seventy years now and throughout those years, even to this day, I am constantly changing and growing in grace and in the liberty which we have in Christ. See II Corinthians 3:18 on this truth.
Give God thanks for everything. Romans 14:6
Live for others. We’re members of churches for others; not just for ourselves. Romans 14:7
Live for God’s glory. Romans 14:8
Remember this as you seek a church home. A healthy growing church will always have weak saints who are in the process of growing stronger and maturing as saints. Get involved in such a church, but avoid churches that are ingrown and have no interest nor desire to reach out to others.
The Bible is not just a book of knowledge and wisdom to satisfy our minds. It is filled with urgent challenges to action.
THE CALL TO SALVATION
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” II Cor. 5:11
“God commands men everywhere to repent.” Act17:30
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9
“And the Spirit and the Bride say come, and let him that heareth say come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17
THE CALL TO HOLY, VICTORIOUS, SEPARATED LIVING
“Likewise, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:11
“Awake thou that sleepest and arise form the dead and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:14-16
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness? Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you.”
II Corinthians 6:14,17
THE CALL TO SACRIFICIAL SERVICE
Listen to Paul’s urgent call to service to every Christian. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice; holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world system; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2.
As we turn to our text in Romans 13:11-14, we are urged to:
1. wake up,
2. get dressed
3. and start walking.”
WAKE UP! Romans 13:11
The alarm clock of Scripture rings, rousing us from our lethargy. “And that knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Romans 13:11
Read Jesus’ Olivet discourse to His disciples in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Though we cannot know the day nor the hour of Christ’s return; the troubling events throughout the world, especially in the Mideast and Israel all point to the soon return of Christ.
The ecumenical church of Anti-Christ is growing. We are warned of its danger in I John 2:18 and it’s final destruction as the harlot church in Revelation 17-18.
We are warned of the false peace being preached; a psychological peace which ignores the only true peace with God which comes through faith in Christ’s shed blood. I Thessalonians 5:1-3
Another evidence of the age in which we live is the growing crime and immorality. It’s everywhere as television and the internet brings it right into our homes. II Timothy 3:1-7, 13-17
Not only are we to awake to the opportunity to be saved, but as Christians, we are to awake to the opportunities to serve Christ. Ephesians 5:14-17
Awake to this day of harvest. The day will soon pass away. John 4:35 The night comes when no man can work. John 9:4 Acts 16:9-10
GET DRESSED! Romans 13:12
The night of Satan’s rule over this world system is almost over. The day of Christ’s return and reign will soon be here. Therefore “cast off the night clothes of the old life and put on the armour of light.” Romans 13:10-14 Colossians 3:8-14 Christ is that armour. He is our life.
START WALKING Romans 13:13
Though we are still living in the night of this sinful world, we Christians walk as in the day. The Holy Spirit living in us makes that possible. Galatians5:16-25, Ephesians 4:1, 5:15-16 Note the urgency of salvation and the urgency of living for Christ and serving Him. There’s nothing casual about the Christians life. It is a life and death matter.
May God help you and me to wake up, get dressed and start walking with Him, serving Him with all our heart.
Although Romans 13:8-10 is not primarily warning about going into debt financially; avoiding financial debt is wise. Proverbs 22:7 warns us “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Let that truth sink deep into your mind and heart and let that principle guide you financially throughout your life.
But the warning of Romans 13:8-10 is dealing with a debt far deeper than mere money. The point of this text is we all owe a debt of love to others and Romans1:14 reminds us of our debt as Christians of sharing the Gospel with the lost all around us.
WHY ARE WE TO LOVE OTHERS?
The answer to that question is because we owe it to them. II Corinthians 5:14-15 reminds us that if we have received by faith the Gift of eternal life, we are obligated to share the Good News with others.
Picture a group of lost people thirsting and famishing in the intense heat as they wander lost in a desert. Finally one person discovers a hidden oasis with trees and an abundant, unending spring of fresh water. Immediately that person is obligated to share his good news with the rest. How unthinkably selfish he would be to keep this good news to himself and refuse to share it with others.
How much greater is the debt of those of us who have heard the Good News of salvation and have received God’s Gift of eternal life. We owe that Good News to those who have never heard it, beginning with our friends and neighbors and extending that good news to the whole world.
II Corinthians 5:14-15 teaches us that we as Christians are constrained by Christ’s love to us to share the Gospel with others.
People visit a church hoping to find love and acceptance by the people. They have every right to expect it. We can’t exist without love anymore than food. Every visiting child and teenager, has a right to expect love and acceptance by his teacher and the kids in his class. And yet in some churches there are cliques of young people and even adults who will not open their hearts to welcome and love strangers. It’s normal and common for people after a Sunday School class or church service to gravitate to their friends when in reality we should be gravitating to the strangers first. To do otherwise is selfish, thoughtless and sinful.
We all thrive on love and acceptance. Thank God that we who have received Christ as our Saviour know the joy of God’s acceptance and to those of us who have discovered that relationship with God is given the challenge of II Corinthians 5:14-15 to share that Good News with others.
Every child deserves a teacher who loves him. How selfish and evil is the teacher who carries their bad attitude over something that happened earlier and snaps with impatience and meanness at their children who are observing them closely to see if there is any reality to Christianity. Read the severe warning in Matthew 18:5-10 to those who offend little children by snapping at them in anger when they should be showing them Christ’s love. Yes, you can correct a disobedient or disruptive child in your class, but you owe it to love the children in your class, both obedient and disobedient. If you honestly love them with Christ’s love, they will see it, even as you correct them.
Our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ reveals our true love for Christ. See I John 4:7-8, 11, 20-21 and II Peter 1:5-11 concerning this.
I Corinthians 13:1-8 exposes us as NOTHING without love. As preachers and teachers of children, youth or adults, we need to search our heart regarding our love or lack of love for those to whom we minister. If we lack that love we are worthless and do damage to the cause of Christ.
HOW DO WE GAIN THAT LOVE FOR OTHERS?
We gain that love for others by being genuinely converted to Christ. Read Romans 5:1-5. For me it happened at the age of nine when I, a self-righteous son of missionaries, heard and understood the Gospel for the first time. I had heard it since I was a baby, but now I understood for the first time that I was a sinner, condemned to hell. I understood that Jesus is God in human flesh and that He lovingly and willingly endured death on a cross to shed His blood as a sacrifice for my sins. I understood that if I would receive by faith Christ as my Saviour from sin, God would forgive and save me from sin and sin’s consequences, Hell.
I received Him that evening and God’s Holy Spirit came to dwell in my heart. That was seventy years ago. Though I did not become perfect, God imputed Christ’s perfection to my account and changed my heart. I have loved Christ ever since and my desire has been to share the Gospel with everyone. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, whether it is preaching from the pulpit, walking down the street, eating in a restaurant, or visiting an amusement park or the zoo with my family, I have always been aware that there are lost people all around me for whom my heart aches. I must love and find a way to share the Gospel with them.
If you are a Christian and desire that love for others, please take some time to read the following passages and surrender your life to Christ. Romans 5:1-5, 12:1-10, Galatians 5:22-26, Ephesians 4:29-32, and finally back to our text, Romans 13:8-10.
The masses of people are approaching the cliff of eternal destruction. See the picture in Ezekiel 22:30. We as Christians are to stand at the edge of the cliff and warn the lost of that destruction. God is looking for those who will make up the hedge to warn them of destruction and point them to Christ who alone can save.
As this Age draws to a close, defiance to authority increases, as was prophesied in II Timothy 3:1-7. This defiance to authority and anarchy was also seen in the days of the Judges just before Solomon’s Kingdom Age was inaugurated. You can read about it throughout Judges summarized in Judges 21:25.
As we continue our study of Romans, we come to chapter 13 which deals with the Christian’s relationship and responsibilities to human government.
In this chapter we learn
1. Government and authority are of God.
2. Government is for our good.
3. Our duties and responsibilities as Christians to government.
I. HUMAN GOVERNMENT IS OF GOD
This fact is true, regardless of whether it was the Roman dictatorship under the Caesars during New Testament times or whether it is the monarchy of England or the United States Republic of our times or whether it is a different form of government under which you live today. All human government is of God.
Read Romans 13:1-7 and Proverbs 8:15-16 for a sampling of what the Bible says about our responsibilities under human government.
The best government is a Theocracy, that is, a government where God rules supremely. The Bible foretells the coming Kingdom of Christ over all the earth. Go to my series on PROPHECY to learn more about the wonderful coming reign of Christ.
Israel was a theocracy until she begged and whined for a human king to rule over her so she could be as everyone else. Finally God gave them their choice, a Monarchy under King Saul, a handsome young man lacking character. Under his rule, Israel suffered defeats.
In the sovereignty of God He later gave them King David and later, King Solomon, David’s son. As these kings sought God’s wisdom, God blessed them with eighty years of prosperity; forty years under each of these two kings.
The years following Israel’s rebellion against God, led to the spiritual decline of Israel’s kings and eventually, the downfall and scattering of Israel among the nations of the world. Nevertheless, God has eternal plans for His people. All of this is explained in my PROPHECY series.
Presently in this world of sinful men who cannot be entrusted with too much power; the best form of government is a Republic which we Americans have been privileged to enjoy for the past 230 years. Forces are presently at work within our nation to destroy our republic form of government, outlined and described for us in our United States Constitution, with its three branches of government: the executive, legislative and judicial branches which keep sinful leaders in check from gaining too much power.
If we lose our republic, we will find ourselves in a state of anarchy until we are finally enslaved by a dictator. That has been the dismal course of many nations and could be the course of our beloved America.
Would you note as you study the life of Jesus and Paul, that they never rebelled against the unfair government which highly and unfairly taxed them? Rather they taught us to pay our taxes and to be in subjection to government leaders. That is, according to Matthew 22:17-21 we are to render our subjection and respect to our leaders in every area except our conscience. In matters of morality, we are to remain in subjection to God alone.
Thankfully, in America, through the power of the ballot box, we have the power to remove unfit leaders and replace them with charactered leadership- if we, the people, have the character to do it. Usually the character of the people is reflected in the character of the leaders they have elected.
II. GOVERNMENT IS FOR OUR GOOD Romans 13:4
Government has the responsibility of protecting our freedoms under the Law, and to protect our lives and property from foreign and domestic enemies and to insure and enforce equal protection and opportunity under the Law.
Government further has the responsibility of punishing law breakers. Political leaders, police officers, judges and executioners and our military are all servants of God for our protection and for our good.
The justice system is not to make evil men good, but to punish law breakers. Only God can make men good. Read Romans 13:1-4 and I Peter 2:13-14 concerning these matters.
Those who steal or harm others should be forced by government to make full restitution; whether it is those who destroy public and private property with graffiti or those who rob individuals, homes and business establishments. Parents of minors who are involved in such crime should be held responsible for the crimes of their children. Read Exodus 21 and 22 on this subject.
God’s Word required the death penalty for those who had been proven guilty of capital crimes beyond any reasonable doubt. Read about them in Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21, Leviticus 20 and from the New Testament, Romans 13:4
Government has no responsibility nor business providing for all our needs from the cradle to the grave. It is evil to over tax those who will work in order to pay for the needs of those who refuse to work. The Bible teaches in II Thessalonians 3:10 that if one will not work he should not eat. In my ministry I have met men on welfare who when they had the opportunity to work, refused for fear of losing their welfare checks.
Families and churches should care for their aged and infirmed.
For further information on the role of government and the role of families, I encourage you to go to the FAMILY category and read The Family, the Basic Building Block of Society.
GOVERNMENT AND EDUCATION
Government has no business in the educational field. Education of children and young people is the responsibility of parents and their churches. They can carry that out either through home schooling or through private schools or public schools. By the term public school, I mean parents gathering together in local communities to plan and supervise the education of their children. The Federal government has no business being involved in the education of our children. The more local the control, the better the education.
THE SIZE AND SCOPE OF GOVERNMENT
Good government is limited government which frees us to be all that God designed us to be. As a lion in the wild or on a reserve is better off than a lion in a zoo with its security, but very limited freedom; so we are better off living in freedom and depending on God for our strength and health and supply of all our needs than being a slave to government and depending on it to supply all our needs.
Our Federal Constitution wisely limits the scope and power of government.
Citizens need to reduce the size of our present government and get the government out of the business of running a “nanny state” and of robbing working people and their families with oppressive income taxes. Government today stifles the economy by discouraging hard work and the investing of capital into business.
Our tax system needs a major overhaul. Think of the billions of tax dollars and hours and massive paperwork involved by everyone in the tax system today. Think of the billions of dollars hidden from taxes by tax cheats.
A national sales tax could replace the income tax and meet the limited needs of our States and Federal governments.
The best government is limited government which protects us from foreign and domestic enemies who would harm us and which gives us freedom to be all we can be.
III. OUR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES AS CHRISTIANS TO GOVERNMENT
Regardless of our current state of government, even as we seek to bring about needed changes; Romans 13 teaches us that it is our responsibility to submit to the laws of our land and pay our taxes, even if we think they are unfair. It is never right to resist our government. Those who resist can expect to meet deadly force. Submit for wrath’s sake and for the Lord’s sake. For Christian’s to resist, I Peter 2:13-17 teaches, brings shame to the cause of Christ.
In addition to paying our taxes, let us honor the office of those in authority. Let us as Christians pray for them and for our nation, as we are admonished in II Chronicles 7:14 and I Timothy 2:1-4.
The issue before us in Romans 12:14 and 17-21 is the question of personal revenge
Liberals tell us that the God of the New Testament is not the God of the Old Testament. They tell us that over the centuries man’s understanding of God has progressed from a vengeful, angry God of the Old Testment to a God of love and kindness, as seen in the New Testament. They are wrong.
The God of the Old Testament and the New Testament is identical. He is a God of righteousness, justice and wrath and also of love, mercy and grace. “Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8,
God in His amazing wisdom and grace took on a human body, Jesus Christ. Born of a virgin, Jesus was fully God and fully man. He never inherited the sinful nature of Adam from a human father. Then God, in His love for sinners permitted wicked men to carry out their evil plot and fulfill God’s eternal plan to have Jesus crucified as He bore the death penalty for all the sins of the human race. God raised Him from the dead, proving that He was satisfied with the shed blood of Christ as the full atonement for sin.
Those who refuse to recognize themselves as sinners and who refuse to receive Christ as their Saviour from sin will experience the eternal wrath of God in Hell. By the grace of God alone, those repentant sinners who receive Christ as Saviour, have Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed to their account and are made fit to dwell with God in Heaven for eternity.
THE OLD TESTAMENT ON VENGEANCE
The Old Testament in Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21-22 and Deuteronomy 19 teaches us that human government; not individuals, is charged with the responsibility of carrying out vengeance. It is not a sin when it is carried out by human government. These principles of vengeance by human government are just, merciful and good.
THE NEW TESTAMENT ON VENGEANCE
The New Testament teaching on vengeance is not contradictory to the Old Testament, but concentrates more on personal vengeance. In Matthew 5:38-48 Jesus teaches us as Christians how to deal with our personal enemies by loving them and doing good to them. His standard for us is perfection which we cannot attain on our own. By justification, He imputes that perfection to us.
But beyond justification, He empowers us to live by those standards. Not perfectly, of course; but by His indwelling Holy Spirit, we can make constant progress in holy, righteous living. Through the 55 years of my pastoral ministry by God’s grace, He has helped me to grow in Christ-likeness and accept the attacks and lies of others and to not try to get even with those who would harm me. God has always avenged me and given me His love for my enemies and a desire to see them blessed.
PRINCIPLES FOR DEALING WITH OUR ENEMIES
1. Don’t recompense or pay back evil for evil. Romans 12:17 Jesus did not avenge, even in His speech. I Peter 2:21-23 You’ve, no doubt, said it and heard children say, “He hit me first!” If you’re a parent, you’ve probably even taught them to avenge themselves by hitting back. You’ve probably taught your boys that it is not manly to not hit back. But look at the verses again.
2. Don’t avenge yourself. Romans 12:19 It’s not manly.
Dr. Oswald Smith, had a Biblically-based motto that I learned early in life and have tried to live by it all my life. ‘NO ATTACK! NO DEFENSE!” Let God be your defense and avenger. He can do it much more effectively than you and I can.
3. Don’t be overcome with anger by evil done to you. Romans 12:21. This makes for miserable, sick Christians. There’s nothing like holding a grudge for bringing on aches and pains and even ulcers.
4. There IS a time to be angry. Ephesians 4:26. It is right to be angry when God’s glory is at stake. Listen to Jesus blister the Pharisees throughout Matthew 23.
Such holy anger must NEVER degenerate into selfish anger for personal offenses. Read and meditate on Psalm 139:19-24 to learn how to hate as God hates for His glory and not allow it to degenerate into hatred for personal offenses.
1. Rather than trying to hurt or punish our enemies, we should bless them. Romans 12:14. Bless them with kindness as the Good Samaritan helped the one who despised him as a Samaritan.
We can bless our enemies by praying for their good. Jesus prayed for His crucifiers, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
2. Speak honestly about our enemies. Romans12:17 When angry and vengeful, we tend to lie about our enemies to put them in a bad light.
3. “Live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 That is, as far as you can control a situation, live peaceably with all men.
4. “Give place unto wrath.” Romans 12:19 Let your enemy have his say. Let him do his worst. God will avenge you.
5. “Feed your enemy and give him something to drink.” Romans 12:20
In his distress, give him a hand. Love is the only revenge we are to give. Let God have His way. He is well able to avenge you and bring blessing out of evil.
6. “Overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 Cry for vengeance and you are conquered. Show kindness to your enemy and conquer your own vengeful spirit and you are victorious. That is a much greater feat. Proverbs16:32 teaches us “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that rules his spirit is greater than he who takes a city.”
On the other hand, Proverbs 25:28 warns us “He who has no control over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and has no walls of protection.”
I challenge you to test God’s Word next time you are tempted to avenge yourself. Experience the joy and exhilaration of enjoying victory over your own sinful flesh nature. It beats giving your enemy a black eye.
The world has lots to say and sing about love, but the world doesn’t know the first thing about it. There are those who claim to have spiritual gifts, but don’t know the first thing about them.
I Corinthians 12 is a major chapter on spiritual gifts and their use. Chapter 13 follows teaching that without love, spiritual gifts are useless. They bless no one, but simply puff up the people who claim to exercise them.
We see the same pattern in Romans 12. Verses 6-8 speaks about spiritual gifts followed by verses 9-16 on the topic of love. Christian workers who exercise their spiritual gifts must exercise them in love for the good of others; otherwise, they benefit no one.
The world is searching for love and integrity in the lives of those who claim to know Christ and who claim to exercise spiritual gifts. If we do not have love for those for whom we claim to minister, we are nothing but hot air and perhaps fanatics.
Love wins when nothing else will.
Though I Corinthians 13 is the major chapter in the Bible on the topic of love, we are presently studying love from the 12th chapter of Romans, So let’s examine now what Romans 12:9-16 has to teach us concerning love.
I. TRUE LOVE IS WITHOUT DISSIMULATION. Romans 12:9
That is, true love is without pretense. It’s not an act we put on. True love hates! It hates all that is evil. Did you hear that? A husband who loves his wife, hates any influence or person who would bring her harm. A father and mother who love their children, HATE any sinful influence that would bring harm to them. That would include the garbage on television. That would include the sinful, harmful influences of the wrong kind of schools. You don’t put up with it. You hate it passionately. You protect your impressionable children from it. That includes the wrong kind of colleges. Yes, your college-aged young people are still impressionable and many have been destroyed spiritually by colleges that reject or compromise the truths of Scripture.
The same goes with churches. If a church is harming you and your family with false doctrine and sinful influences, you separate yourself and your family from that church. You don’t stay with it, hoping that the evil influences will not affect your family. Romans 12:9 teaches us that we are to abhor (hate) evil and cleave to that which is good. That’s what it means to “let love be without dissimulation.”
II. TRUE LOVE IS EXPRESSED Romans 12:10
True love is expressed with kind affection. It is a brotherly, sisterly love. It is natural, and unforced. In fact, it is super-natural, given by God. It is not put on by drooling superficial piety.
III. TRUE LOVE IS CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS Romans 12:10
It involves preferring others before ourselves. It involves esteeming others better than ourselves, as Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:3-8 That’s not difficult when we consider that we are aware of more sin in our own lives than in the lives of others. Note in that passage how the Lord Jesus is the prime and perfect example of true humility.
IV. TRUE LOVE IS OBEDIENT TO GOD Rom. 12:11-12,
Love for Christ is our highest motivation for serving Him. We gladly sacrifice for Him and give Him our best.
V. TRUE LOVE IS A LIBERAL, SELF-SACRIFICING LOVE Rom. 12:13
Christians have needs. God promises to meet all our needs, but He uses sacrificial saints who give out of love, not simply for what they can get out of it.
VI. TRUE LOVE IS A HOSPITABLE LOVE Rom. 12:13
The early church, though persecuted and poor, gave out of their poverty.
Acts 2:44-47. What a wonderful example to us! Don’t forget the stranger. Hebrews 13:1-2. And yes, let us not forget to show love to our enemies. Romans 12:14
VII. TRUE LOVE IS A SYMPATHIZING LOVE Romans 12:15
That can only happen as we see situations from the viewpoint of others. Jesus wept with and for Mary and Martha for their brother Lazarus was dead. He didn’t have to weep for He knew He would raise him from the dead; nevertheless, He wept with these sisters for He saw things from their viewpoint. Read the story in John 11.
VIII. TRUE LOVE SEEKS UNITY OF CHRIST’S BODY Romans 12:16
The Holy Spirit who lives within the body of each Christian gives that unity. We are simply to endeavor to keep it by putting ourselves in other’s shoes and attempting to see situations from other’s viewpoint. We must remember that our ideas and positions are not always correct. Be open to correction.
IX. TRUE LOVE IN MANIFEST IN HUMILITY Romans 12:16
Though we may have high ideals and standards; we can condescend or slow down for those who are slower to catch on and learn and we can learn from others, even to those who are of low estate.
X. TRUE LOVE IS PEACEABLE Romans 12:18
As much as we have control of a situation, we are to live peaceable with all men: saved and unsaved. Certainly we ought to strive to live in understanding and peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
XI. FINALLY, TRUE LOVE IS PRACTICAL
It’s not enough to talk and sing about love. We must show it practically to others in physical or emotional need. Certainly we should help those in spiritual need by pointing them to Jesus who is the ultimate answer to every need.
God showed His love to us as undeserving sinners. Read Romans 5:8. Have you received that love? Have you received Christ as your Saviour? People are hungry for love all around us. Perhaps you are a new Christian and a new member of your church. What can you do for the cause of Christ? You can reach out in love to others and show Christ’s love to them.
We move now in our study of Romans 12 from our relationship with the cosmos (world system) in 12:1-2 to our relationship with Christ’s Church and her members in 12:3-8. This inter-relationship of the Body of Christ with one another is also referred to in I Corinthians 12:12-27 and Ephesians5:23and 30, as well as in other passages. I encourage you to read those passages in connection with this message.
In these verses we learn that we care for one another as the members of our physical body care for the whole body. We love one another with a brotherly love as brothers and sisters in Christ. We learn to be faithful to one another as we learn to depend on, count on, protect and trust one another.
We also learn to honor one another where honor is due. This is just the opposite from what we find in many churches today: vicious gossip and destructive criticism and hatefulness in some churches; even in churches that claim to be true to the Bible.
If unconverted sect members and members of secret societies can care for one another; surely the true Church, The Body of Christ, should shine in this area.
God measures out to His Church His undeserved, supernatural gifts given to each of us as Christians according to His grace. Note that these spiritual gifts are not limited only to pastors. Every genuine Christian has a spiritual gift which he must discover and use for God’s glory and for the blessing of others. I encourage you to read the following verses regarding these gifts and their use. Romans 12:3-8, I Corinthians 12, 14:1, II Corinthians 9:8, Ephesians 4:8, I Timothy 4:14, II Timothy 1:6, James 1:17.
THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS
Romans 12:6 begins with the gift of prophecy. That is the gift of preaching or proclaiming the Word of God. The only prophetic preaching or foretelling the future we can do as preachers is to declare what God’s Word has plainly stated.
For us to go beyond what the Bible has plainly declared and attempt to prophesy the future is evil, dangerous and destructive to the souls of men. For us to look to extra-biblical writings as equally authoritative as God’s holy infallible Word is forbidden in the Bible and damns the souls of men. Read this solemn warning. Galatians 1:6-9
That’s why I have warned you repeatedly in this web site to test everything by the infallible Word of God. Anything that claims to be according to the Word of God, that does not square with the Bible is to be rejected as spurious, dangerous and worthless. Read and heed the grave warning at the end of the Bible in Revelation 22:18-19.
For more instruction concerning this gift of prophecy, preaching, I encourage you to read I Corinthians 14. There you will learn how it is to be carried out in a church service and how it is to be tested for accuracy. Here you will also learn who is forbidden to preach.
Each preacher is different as to his own ability and style of preaching. Allow him to be himself, but reject anything that does not square with the Bible.
2. Ministering or Serving
Romans 12:7 lists this important gift. Jesus taught by His example that apart from the exercise of this gift, we are nothing. Beware of those whose only desire is to be in the limelight and appear as “big shots”. If you lose such people from your church because you do not give them that opportunity, you are blessed.
The men we have chosen as elders, and spiritual leaders in our church, are in such positions of authority because they have first proven themselves ready by having servant hearts. If you are not willing to volunteer to sweep the floors and help clean the church kitchen or rest rooms and serving others, you are not ready to assume the responsibility of an elder or a teacher or preacher.
All saints have a ministry, Ephesians 4:11-12 teach us. It is a beautiful thing to see each member of a church exercising his gift and fulfilling his ministry. Such a church runs smoothly and accomplishes God’s purpose for it with no arguments nor personality clashes.
The pastor is the God-gifted primary teacher of the church, according to Ephesians 4:11 His purpose, according to II Timothy 2:2 is to teach other God-gifted teachers to teach others God’s Word thereby multiplying his efforts. That’s exactly what I am attempting to do as a retired pastor through this web site.
Romans 12:8 continues listing the spiritual gifts with exhortation, or encouragement to do right. According to II Timothy 4:1-2 and Hebrews 10:24-25, we encourage and exhort others to do right. We do that primarily by our own example.
Romans 12:8 encourage us to give with simplicity with no other motive but to please Christ. Our giving must not be with pride, nor should we give sparingly, but generously, knowing that God loves a cheerful giver.
Romans 12:8 also lists ruling as a gift to the Church. A ruler is anyone who is given the responsibility of oversight. This would include pastors, elders, deacons, as well as others given responsibilities of oversight. Such are required to be diligent and faithful. Proverbs 20:6 reminds us that faithful men and women are scarce.
Again, we don’t rule by throwing our weight around, that is, by trying to impress people with our self- importance. Such would-be leaders hinder the work of the Lord. Patience is valuable virtue for a leader.
7. Showing Mercy
Finally, spiritual gifts include showing mercy towards others. Certainly we all need to show mercy with cheerfulness. That’s the opposite of impatience.
THE PURPOSE OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS
It is evident that the purpose of spiritual gifts is not for pride and self glory, nor to call attention to one’s self. Rather the purpose of gifts are as the members of our physical body. As members of our physical body each carry out their function for the good of the whole body, so each member of Christ’s Body fulfills his purpose and function for the building up of the Body of Christ that Christ may be glorified Such a healthy Body attracts others to Christ.
As we continue in our study of Romans 12:1-2 I remind you of the two major divisions of this Epistle. Chapters 1-11 deal with the doctrine of our salvation, concluding with the doxology of praise to God in 11:33-36. Chapters 12-16 deal with the practical applications of the doctrinal truths of the earlier chapters.
In these chapters we deal with our relationship as Christians with the world, the church, our enemies, human government, our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
THE WORLD SYSTEM
First, let’s consider our relationship as Christians with this world. We’re not referring to God’s beautiful creation which He has given us for our enjoyment and for our reflection on and worship of Him who created it. Instead Paul in Romans 12:2 and II Corinthians 4:3-4 warns of the cosmos; the world system presently under the domination of Satan, “the god of this world”.
This includes the man-centered religious system, educational system and entertainment system: including music, art, the Hollywood film industry and the immodest clothing fashions. Most of this comes from the minds and hearts of the wicked and unregenerate of this world and it enters and affects our lives through television and the internet.
Let me warn Christian parents of little children. Guard the influences you allow to come into your home. Guard your children from them as you would guard them from child-molesters.
HOW THIS SATANIC WORLD SYSTEM AFFECTS US
All of us; both sinners and saints, are touched, influenced, permeated and contaminated by Satan and his wicked world system. It’s sad, but it appears that most Christians are enamored with and influenced by Satan and his polluting world system, even though Paul warns us to not be conformed to it in Romans 12:1-2.
In John 17:9-19 the Lord Jesus, in His last evening before His crucifixion, prayed for His disciples and for us that we would not be trapped and enslaved by this Satanic world system.
Not one of us is untouched by the world’s philosophies and influence, Paul writing to the Christians of Ephesus in Ephesians 2:1-3 reminds them and us that “we all” have been enamored, touched and indoctrinated by Satan and his evil world system. No one escapes it. It taints our thinking and influences our values in every area of our lives. We are permeated and contaminated with Satanic influences every day. We have been blinded and enslaved by it, II Corinthians 4:4 reminds us.
In I John 2:15-17 we are warned not to love this world system. We are reminded that it is headed for damnation and destruction.
THE CHRISTIAN’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS WORLD
It’s God’s plan that we live in and are surrounded by this wicked world system. God could have saved us from it and instantly whisked us off to Heaven, nevermore to be contaminated by Satan and his world system. Instead, He leaves us here after we are saved to share the Gospel and impact this world for Christ.
Jesus reminds us in His High Priestly prayer in John 17:15-20 that He desires His redeemed children in this world throughout their lifetime to be a witness and a blessing to others. We are IN the world, but not OF it, John 17:16-17 reminds us. But we are to separate ourselves from the lies and false, sinful philosophies and contaminating influences of the world by our immersion in His Biblical Truth.
Do you know what we are as Christians? Hebrews 11:13 teaches that we as Christians are to recognize ourselves as pilgrims and strangers in this sinful world. Think of it, pilgrims and strangers; not at home and well adjusted and comfortable in this world!
Furthermore, although we are never to be hateful towards others, we are to expect the hatred and persecution of this world. Jesus said so in John 15:18-21. The reason most of us in America do not experience persecution as Christians is because we are so at home and well-adjusted in this world. At the same time, many Christians in other parts of the world are being persecuted and martyred for their faith in Christ, perhaps more than at any time in history.
HOW ARE WE TRANSFORMED?
Our hearts are immediately transformed at the moment of salvation. We call it conversion. The moment we are saved, we are converted and God begins the process of transforming us by the renewing of our mind. The Christ we once ignored or even hated, we love. The sins we once loved we hate. Salvation is more than an instant mental transformation.
It is far more than that. It involves a supernatural transformation that begins in the heart and gradually extends to every area of life. That’s the message of Romans 12:1-2. It involves first a receiving of the Truth of God. Then as we yield out lives to Christ we are constantly being renewed in our thinking as we read God’s Word and receive it into our hearts and lives. We are constantly being renewed in our thinking as we read and ponder this and other biblically-based web sites and books and as we hear Biblical messages in churches where the Bible is faithfully preached. That’s the major reason for faithfully attending a church where the Bible is faithfully exposited and taught.
The attraction and affection for this sinful world system is gradually changed by the cleansing and renewing of our minds as we receive and absorb the engrafted Word of God into our hearts. It is an ongoing process that gradually drives out the contaminating thinking of the world. The Psalmist refers to it in Psalm 119:9, Paul talked about it in such passages as Colossians 3:16-17.
DANGERS AND REWARDS
This decision as Christians as to whether or not we are going to yield our lives to Christ and allow Him to direct our ways in every area of our lives: including marriage, education and life work, is not a casual take it or leave it decision. It is a life and death matter.
The danger of refusing to surrender to Him means staying in the world system and suffering the consequences. James 4:4 addresses such unfaithful Christians. “You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship with this world system means that you are at enmity with God? Whoever is a friend of this world system is an enemy of God.”
To get a picture of how things are going to turn out for such a Christian, read the story of Lot and the choice he made in Genesis 13:1-13 and the consequences of his wrong choice in Genesis 19.
My wife and I, now in our late 70’s, rejoice together that life for us has been a wonderful adventure. We don’t regret receiving Christ as our Saviour, nor do we regret turning our lives over to God as young people, even before we met each other. God has given us wisdom for every decision and has blessed us with fulfillment and joy beyond measure, meeting every need of our lives. We highly recommend God’s perfect will for you. “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed in the man who trusts in Him.” Psalm 34:8-10
The first eleven chapters of Romans are about what God in His love and grace did for us by sacrificing His Son to die on the cross for our sins. We gratefully receive His salvation, His gift of eternal life, as a gift of His grace, apart from any works of self righteousness.
Now, beginning in Romans 12, we begin to learn in verse 1 what our response to God should be as Christians for His wonderful Gift of salvation. Paul writes, “I beseech you therefore brethren” (fellow Christians) in the light of what you have learned about your salvation in the first 11 chapters. “present your body as a living sacrifice to God.” Nothing less than the total surrender of our bodies; including our life, time and strength is worthy of Christ who made the supreme sacrifice for our salvation.
This surrender of our bodies, our time and our strength to God our Saviour is the theme of not only Romans 12:1-2; but also I Corinthians 6:19-20 and II Corinthians 5:14-15.
Notice that Paul does not command our submission and obedience to Christ. That would be painful, useless legalism. Rather he beseeches us to voluntarily present ourselves and surrender ourselves to the control of Christ by His indwelling Holy Spirit in consideration of the great sacrifice He made for us on the cross.
WHY SHOULD WE PRESENT OURSELVES TO CHRIST?
Let me give you ten reasons for your consideration. These are all reasons that drew me to make that surrender to Christ as a young man. I had already received Christ as my Saviour at the age of nine.
1. In the light of what I had learned about Jesus and His Great Commission I was aware of my responsibility to share what I had learned and experienced. In Luke 12:48 Jesus says. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”
2. Jesus bought me, body and soul, with His precious blood sacrifice for my sins. I am rightfully His, according to Acts 20:28 and I Corinthians 6:19-20.
Let me share a story I heard as a child that illustrates this. Bobby carved from a block of wood, a little sail boat and then took it to the lake to see how it floated. Suddenly a gust of wind took it out on the lake beyond his ability to retrieve it. He was saddened, but could do nothing about it. It was gone!
Several months later he happened to be in a small town miles away on the other side of the lake. There in a hobby shop show window he spotted his boat for sale for $25.00. He went to the owner of the shop and told how he had lost it. The owner insisted that if he wanted it back he had to pay the $25.00. Sadly he walked away and returned home.
In time, he finally earned the money needed and returned back to the hobby shop. There was his boat in the shop with the $25.00 price tag still on it. He went in and laid the money on the counter and asked for his boat. The owner sold it to him. As he walked out the door with his possession, he was heard to say, “Now little boat you are mine twice. I made you and I bought you.”
That’s exactly what God did for us. He created us to be His. In our sins we wandered away from Him. But because of His love for us, He purchased us back from Satan with the shed blood of His Son, Jesus. We are twice His. He made us and He purchased us from Satan’s slave market of sin.
3. A third reason I should present my body to God is because He needs me. He could have chosen to use angels, but He chose to use you and me, redeemed sinners. All that He asks is that we be clean II Timothy 2:19-20 and available for His use. Ezekiel 22:30
4. I ought to present my body to Him because it is the least I can do for Him, in the light of all He has done for me.
5. I ought to present my body to Him for His use because it is my reasonable service. Romans 12;1
6. It is the safest investment of my life. There is no way I can lose. Jesus, the owner, assumes all the risks. He keeps me and provides for all my needs. II Timothy 1:12, Philippians 4:19
7. It’s the most rewarding investment I can make. Take it from me. I’ve served him all my adult life, and though I have made personal sacrifices, the rewards far outweigh the sacrifices. I’ve been richly rewarded in this life and look forward to the eternal rewards yet to come. Hebrews 11:26-27 and II Timothy 4:6-8
8. It’s the most worthwhile investment of my life. I’ve remembered this little verse since childhood. “Only one life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
9. The life not yielded to Christ is open to the devil’s control. Romans 6:16-18 You are either being used by Christ or the devil. Which will it be for you?
10. Do you love Jesus? Is He your Lord and Master? Read the story of the pierced ear in Exodus 21;1-6 Read II Corinthians 5:14-15. Who is your Lord? Christ or Satan? It’s one or the other.
HOW DO I PRESENT MY BODY TO GOD?
1. Come just as you are with your strengths and weaknesses. He made you as you are for His special purpose. He has all kinds of vessels. Each one is different. II Timothy 2:20-21 He can use us with our strengths and weaknesses, if we are clean.
2. He’s cleansed and made us holy by His shed blood.
3. Trust Him. He loves you more than you can imagine. He’s concerned for your happiness and your fulfillment. Will you trust Him with your life?
4. He wants you as a living sacrifice while you are young and have energy.
Don’t wait until you are old when you can only offer him your wasted life.
God does not promise to reveal all your future to you now. He leads us one day at a time, one moment at a time. Will you trust Him? As a Christian, you have no rights to your body. You belong to Him. II Corinthians5:14 God doesn’t let you test His will on a 30 day free home trial.
I entrusted my life to Him as a teenager. He’s never let me down. My wife and I can testify that His will is best. Life has been an exciting adventure for us throughout. He has already rewarded us beyond our wildest imagination. “As for God, His way is perfect!” Psalm 18:30
As we come to the end of Romans 11, we not only conclude our immediate study in this chapter of God’s plan for Israel as it relates to our salvation; but in these first 11 chapters we conclude the most exhaustive and complete study of God’s plan of salvation found anywhere in Scripture; unless it would be Ephesians 1-3 which is rich in the doctrine of salvation.
If you are still without understanding and assurance of your salvation, I encourage you to go back to the beginning of this series; and with your Bible opened to Romans, read through these studies again asking God to give you a clear understanding and assurance of your own salvation.
Remember, our recognition and confession of our sinful condition before God and our rejection or acceptance of Christ as our Saviour from sin, determines our eternal destiny in Heaven or in Hell.
Now in Romans 11:33-36 we conclude this section of the book with a doxology of praise to God for all we have learned, some of it perhaps too deep for any of us to fully comprehend.
I. THE DEEP THINGS OF GOD
1. The wrath of God
That wrath is described in Romans chapter 1. All are born sinners and are described in this chapter. Until we understand our fallen state and God’s wrath on our sin; we have no desire nor ability to move on to understand the love of God. John 3:36 explains the two categories of people who end up in Heaven or in Hell: those sinners who refuse to recognize their fallen condition and continue to reject Christ, continue under the wrath of God. Those sinners who have seen their fallen condition and reached out in faith to Christ to save them are regenerated and made fit for Heaven. Each of us stands this very moment in one of those categories. Which is it for you?
2. The Love of God
The song writer describes the love of God as an ocean, far greater and deeper than anyone can fathom or explain or understand. Think of it! God, reaching down in His love to a world who hates Him and reviles Him and providing our salvation by sending His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus, into this world to be hated and despised and eventually crucified on a cross, thus paying the death penalty which each of us who deserved to suffer in Hell fire for eternity.
Thank God, He rose from the dead on the third day and is in Heaven today, willing and ready to save anyone who puts his trust in Christ’s blood sacrifice onCalvary’s cross. That, according to Romans 5:8 is the way God shows His love to us as sinners. You and I must take our place as sinners and receive that love by faith, or suffer the eternal consequences in Hell.
3. Justification by Faith Alone
Romans 3:21-5:21 clearly teaches God’s plan of salvation, through faith in Christ alone. Our own works, including our efforts to try to keep God’s holy laws do not save us, nor add even one ounce of righteousness to our account. Observing religious ceremonies, including baptism and partaking of the Eucharist, that is, the Lord’s Supper, do not help us gain Heaven. Read Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 3:5-6, and Romans 3-5. You must grasp and rest in this truth of justification by faith alone apart from any works of self-righteousness, before you are saved and ready to learn more about the Christian life.
4. Our Sanctification through our identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
Once we’ve come to the place of saving faith and rest in the sacrifice of Christ’s shed blood for our sins, then and only then are we ready to progress in an understanding of the truths that enable us to experience victory over sin, and grow and mature in the Christian Faith.
The basics of these sanctifying truths are found in Romans 6-8. If you struggle with victory over sin, I encourage you to review the previous studies covering these chapters.
5. The on-going sinful desires of the Old Nature
All of us, regardless of how long we have been Christians, struggle with sinful desires. Why does God not remove the temptations of Satan and our old sinful nature when we are saved? Romans 7 teaches us that God does not presently remove Christians from the temptations of this world of sin nor deliver us from our sin-loving flesh natures. Instead, God gives us as Christians His overcoming power to live victorious lives in the midst of the sin all around us. In Heaven we will be delivered from the very presence of sin forever; but not until then.
6. The power to live out the righteousness of God’s Law
That’s the theme of Romans 8. That power to live victoriously over sin is the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit as we stay surrendered to Christ.
7. The dual truths of God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility.
How and why God chose us to salvation from before the foundation of the earth and yet how and why we are given the responsibility to choose to receive or reject Christ are both true facts, and yet mysteries beyond our full comprehension.
8. How God hardens our hearts and yet man hardens his own heart.
That again is a mystery Paul discusses in Romans 9. But more than a mystery, Read the sober warning in Hebrews 3:7-19 to Christians to guard our hearts from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
9. The Fall and Restoration of Israel and how the Gentiles are blessed through Israel‘s Fall.
This is a great mystery and theme of both the Old and New Testament, which Paul explains in Romans 9-11
II. HOW DO WE RESPOND TO SOME OF THESE DIFFICULT TRUTHS OF SCRIPTURE?
Are we so brash and foolish as to think that we have a full and complete understanding of God’s sovereignty and all of His ways?
Or do we, as the unbelievers, rebel at His ways?
Or do we reverently humble ourselves, knowing that our understanding is finite and limited, and bow in reverent praise and submission to all His ways which are beyond our ability to fully understand in this life. Read Romans 11:33-36. and simply worship Him and give Him praise for His inscrutable ways.
Take time to read through the wonderful doctrine of salvation as it is found in Ephesians 1-3. Note also how Paul ends his explanation of these wonderful truths by bowing his knees to God breaking once again into a doxology of praise to God in3:14-21 for these wonderful truths that are almost beyond our power to fully grasp.
As we have continued our study of Romans 11, we have been struck with the obvious fact that God’s relationship with Israel is the major theme. We’ve noted that Israel has been described as the cultivated olive tree; the main branch which was cut down when they rejected the Lord Jesus as their Messiah and into which we Gentiles, the wild olive branch, have been grafted.
God is not through with Israel!
Read now Romans 11:25-32 and learn the following truths.
1. Israel’s blindness is temporary. Romans 11:25
2. All true Israel is eventually going to be saved. Romans 11:26-27
Going back to Deuteronomy 30:1-6, the fact of their restoration is not a question of IF but WHEN!
Read the following prophecies of the Jew’s recognition and reception of their Messiah when He is revealed. Ezekiel 34:11-16, 23-24, 30, 36:17-21, 23-28, 37:11-28.
Presently Israel hates and rejects the Gospel of Christ. Romans 11:28
This is the age of The Church, composed of regenerated Jews and Gentiles, who have put their trust in Jesus, the Messiah.
God has not forgotten His everlasting covenant to the Jews. He still loves them and will restore them to Himself.
We are all sinners and in need of God’s mercy. Romans 11:30-32
As Christians, let us show mercy to the Jews to whom we are so indebted, by reaching out to them with the Gospel of Christ that they will also see the big picture of what God is presently doing in this Church Age and what lies ahead as He restores them to Himself in the Age to come.
In Romans 9 we dealt with Israel’s past as a nation. Though they had a great heritage as God’s chosen people of all the people on the face of the earth, they rejected God when they rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, calling for His crucifixion. They were temporarily switched to a side track, as far as God’s purpose was concerned. The Church Age began at Pentecost and has been on the main track of God’s purpose ever since.
In Romans 10 we see Israel spiritually blinded and sitting on that side track through the Church Age. When the true Church is raptured to Heaven, Israel will once again be switched to the main track of God’s purpose for a week of seven years, known as The Great Tribulation and described in The Revelation.
In Romans 11 we learn of Israel’s future; when through their sufferings during The Great Tribulation, they will come to know and receive Jesus, their Messiah, who died on the cross for them; as well as for the rest of the world. At that time of conversion to Christ, Israel will be given a new heart.
Throughout Israel’s history there has always been a remnant of Jews who have turned to God, as for example in Elijah’s day. Throughout the Church Age there has been a remnant of Jews who received Jesus as their Messiah. Read of that remnant in Romans 11:1-6
The remainder of Israel has been spiritually blinded, according to Romans 11:7-10. The reason for their spiritual blindness has been hearts hardened by sins to the message of Christ. See Matthew 13:10-17 concerning this blindness.
When people reject the Light given to them, it results in hardened hearts, as we learn in John 12:30-41. This was prophesied in Psalm 69:20-28
In God’s sovereignty, Israel’s spiritual blindness and rejection of Christ opened the door to God’s blessing of the Gentiles. See Romans 11:11-22. But in the future, perhaps soon, Israel will turn to Christ as their Messiah and through Israel’s restoration, the entire earth will be blessed, according to Romans 11:12.
THE OLIVE TREE ILLUSTRATION
In Romans 11:15-24 we read of two olive trees. One, picturing Israel, is cultivated and well cared for. The other, picturing Gentiles, is a wild, uncultivated olive tree.
In this 11th chapter of Romans we read of the cultivated olive tree, picturing Israel, being cut off. That took place when Israel rejected Christ, calling out at the cross, ” We will not have this man reign over us. We have no king but Caesar.”
At that time the branch from the wild olive tree, (The Gentiles), was grafted into the cultivated olive tree, (The Jews) That’s what happened when Israel rejected Christ. We Gentiles began to be blessed by our relationship with Israel’s God. The warning to us as Gentiles is to not be high-minded and mistreat the Jews, because of their rejection of Christ. We Gentiles are grafted into the cultivated olive tree. We are blessed through that relationship withIsrael.
Read Romans 11:25-32. Israel, after undergoing the purification of persecution during the Great Tribulation, is going to turn to Christ and receive Him as Saviour and Messiah.
This is prophesied in Deuteronomy 30:1-8 and Ezekiel 34, 36 and 37. Romans 11:25-36 concludes with the wonderfully good news forIsrael, and concludes with a benediction of praise to God for His amazing mercy and grace shown us, as well as Israel. Is this too much for your mind? It is also too much for my mind. Rejoice with me in the truth of God’s unsearchable wisdom described in Romans 11:33-36.
Earlier we pointed out that Romans 9 deals with Israel’s past, Romans 10 deals with Israel’s present and Romans 11 deals with Israel’s future. In the previous message from Romans 9, we dealt with Israel’s past. In this message from Romans 10 we deal with Israel’s present state.
Picture Israel and The Church as two trains on the railroad track of God’s purpose. In the Old Testament we saw Israel on the main line of God’s purpose and the Church had not yet come into view.
When we come to the New Testament, we begin in the Gospels with Israel still on the main line. The Church is still out of sight. After Israel rejects Christ as their Messiah and crucifies Him, Israel is moved to a siding as we enter the Book of Acts. We see the Church appearing for the first time on the main track of God’s purpose. That’s the way it has been these past 2000 years. The Church has been on the main line of God’s purpose and Israel has been sitting on a siding.
When Christ returns for His Church, composed of regenerated gentiles and Jews, the Church will be whisked off to Heaven and Christ-rejecting Israel will once again be on the main track of God’s purpose on this earth for a period of seven years, known as The Tribulation. During this time, all Israel will be saved, at the cost of their own lives, by receiving Christ as her Messiah and Saviour. That’s the message of Romans 9-11 and prophesied in many Old Testament Scriptures, such as Ezekiel 36-39 and Zechariah 12-14.
Reading Romans 10, we become aware of three divisions of the chapter.
Romans 10:1-3 The need of the world
Romans 10:4-13 God’s answer to that need.
Romans 10:14-17 Our responsibility as Christian in the light of that need.
I. THE NEED OF THE WORLD Rom. 10:1-3
In these verses we find Israel as sinners in desperate need of God’s righteousness just as we found ourselves and the whole world in that sinful state back in Romans chapters 1 and 2. We’re all in the same boat, sinful, helpless to do anything about it and condemned by a Holy God and in need of His Salvation through Christ.
Note Paul’s concern for his own people, the Jews, as expressed in Romans 9:1 and 10:1. Like Paul, known as Saul of Tarsus, before he was converted to Christ; they have a zeal for God, but without the true knowledge of God. Zeal without knowledge is terribly dangerous. It makes for wild-eyed, hateful fanatics, just as Paul was before his conversion to Christ when he spent his life persecuting and murdering Christians.
Such are as the enthusiastic crowd of Jews were a week before Jesus’ crucifixion. Those same people, under the influence of their hateful, religious leaders, a week later became the murderous, Jewish mob when they shouted for the crucifixion of Jesus; not recognizing Him as their Messiah.
Today, enemies of Christ, as cultists come to our doors with their distorted religious propaganda; ignorant of God’s righteousness as it is revealed in the first five chapters of Romans. If you missed it, I encourage you to go back to the beginning of this series in Romans and learn how we are made righteous and fit for Heaven in the eyes of God.
II. GOD’S ANSWER TO MAN’S NEED Romans 10:4-13
Why does sinful man not submit himself to the righteousness of God? He is willfully ignorant and rebellious. See John 5:40.
How are we saved? Just believe what God says in His Word, the Bible concerning Jesus Christ. God’s only begotten Son, who died on the cross, shedding His blood for our sins, is the only answer. Romans 10:4. His salvation is near. Romans 10:8.
If you believe Him, confess Him openly and unashamedly with your mouth.
Romans 10:9-11. Confess that Jesus is your only righteousness and your only hope of salvation. To simply confess Christ as your Lord, without first recognizing Him as your Saviour, will not save you. Confess Him first as your Saviour and then you will desire to confess Him as your Lord. Don’t be ashamed to make that confession before others. Read Romans10:11 and consider this carefully.
Note in Romans 10:11-13 that this salvation is available to both Jews and Gentiles. Those two designations cover everyone in the world. You are ether a Jew or a Gentile. Note the designation “whosoever”. Read it in John3:16 and Revelation 22:17, the last invitation in the Bible.
III OUR RESPONSIBILITY Romans 10:14-17
Every true Christian has been given the responsibility to share the Gospel with others. We are all witnesses first. Everything else is secondary.
Don’t be sidetracked to lesser concerns. such as cleaning up the environment, solving social problems, being involved in political causes, or any other cause. Meeting eternal spiritual needs is much more crucial than meeting temporal material needs. Meeting temporal needs such as providing clean drinking water and food and clothing are important, God can use that effort to open doors to share the Gospel. But limiting your involvement to meeting social needs and ignoring spiritual needs can send well fed, well clothed sinners to Hell.
The supreme task of the Church is the evangelization of the world. Every one of us as Christian should take that Great Commission seriously and personally by either going personally or helping to send others in our place. We do that by praying the Lord of the Harvest to send forth reapers into the harvest fields of the world and giving to help support them.
Will you read and consider how you fit into God’s plan, as you read Isaiah 6:8 and Matthew 9:37-38 and Romans 12:1-2 ?
Romans chapter 10 concludes with a problem. Not our problem, but God’s.
Paul asks whether everyone in the world has had a chance to hear of God? The answer is yes according to verse 18. Review Romans 1:18-21. God has spoken to everyone of His existence and love through His Creation. See also Psalm 19:1-4.
Today the Jews are provoked to jealousy by God’s grace shown to us Gentiles who have been saved. See Romans10:19 Nevertheless, many Jews continue to reject their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, according to Romans10:21 Would you pray for the Jews that they may find their Messiah yet in this Church Age of grace?