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Chapter 1 Verses 1 – 4 • So Paul has introduced himself and last week we looked at his credentials, his qualifications…what it was that not only enabled him but also straight-up compelled him to write this letter to the Romans. It was his desire to serve Jesus…his immeasurable love and appreciation for the One who had rescued him from the hell of his life… • And in light of that rescue, he had left all to serve Jesus even taking on the title of slave willingly, accepting the high calling of God upon his life as we see there in verse 1, and then coming out from this mess of a false reality…unplugging from the Matrix that has been set up around us to control us and to use us and to ultimately end us, man… • This filled him with desperation to set others free, to write this epistle to the Romans…a dangerous epistle (as he was a Roman citizen who along with all the other Roman citizens were to be bondslaves, worshippers of Caesar)…an authoritative epistle, which meant many would hate him for it…and an epistle that poured out his own heart for them and for Jesus…which would cause many to think him weak. He was anything but weak. • And you know what occurs to me? For not only this letter but the other 12 that Paul wrote that we have here in the New testament…all 13 dangerous, authoritative and risky letters…what occurs to me is that I’d like to thank him one day. People do things for us and we think it normal. Oh they work for me…or they’re a Christian, I expect that…April does things for me…her life is filled with routines actually of doing things for me…and for you for that matter…and so often we, and I fall into what we would say nicely, “taking it for granted.” Said honestly, we’re ungrateful… • We don’t think about that Paul left all, lost all, risked all…and because of that we have such a wonderful and enlightening and rescuing testimony of Jesus Christ inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself. But we should. We’re such a consumer-society that we’re used to getting, getting, getting…so used to it that we get flustered when we don’t get, don’t we? • We should deliberately look to see what others do for us…they know. April is fully aware of every action she does that doesn’t benefit her specifically…but only me…and I don’t want to grow spiritually lazy and hard hearted…I want to live a life that doesn’t just say, “thank you,” but man actively expresses it…and one day, I’d like to say, “Paul, thank you. You didn’t have to do this…but you did…and I honor you.” • His qualifications inspire me, his dedication and effort absolutely humble me and cause me to open my eyes to see how so many do so much for me specifically and in that man, there is such joy. There’s no joy in taking folks for granted…and Paul here presents the One to us in verses 3 and 4 that he most absolutely does not take for granted… • He says the prophets and the Holy Scriptures…they’re ALL about Jesus Christ, who is my Lord and our Lord, who was just like you and me…born according to flesh of the seed of David…fully man…yet also completely unlike you and me…fully God…perfect and holy and therefore the grave could not hold Him. He lived, just like us…He died…just like us…He rose…supremely and distinctively unique! • Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the absolute proof of the power of the gospel that we preach. Evidence, confirmation, substantiation of the gospel in which we pour in all of our hope! • Siddharta Gautama, otherwise known as “Buddha,” we have his bones…in the grave he remains, pillaged by death and decay. Confucius, we have his tomb and in it he remains, overwhelmed by death. Epicurus, Muhammad, Charles Taze Russel, Joseph Smith, Krishna…they are all dead and death cannot save! But as Job said even deep in torment and suffering, “I know my Redeemer lives!” • The thrust of the gospel, the authoritative authentication of our hope, and the declaration of Paul that Jesus Christ was and is indeed fully God and fully man, the Savior of the world according to the Spirit of Holiness…is the undeniable and accepted fact of that day…that this man Jesus, was dead…yet lives! Chapter 1 Verses 5 – 6 • Through Jesus, the given Son of God, His work upon the cross validated by His resurrection, which once and for all removed the separating power of sin between God the Father and His creation, Paul says we have received grace…and notice…AND apostleship! Grace…unmerited blessing, undeserved, unearned favor…love showered upon us even as we have sinned and fallen short of God. • And when we glimpse grace…what do you mean glimpse grace? Well look, grace is given by God, originating from God and therefore without God, we cannot begin to understand it. But when the Holy Spirit is welcomed into your heart, He brings with Him revelation. Understanding of something that is beyond humanity, further than intellect and reason…I call that glimpsing. It’s when God Himself speaks directly to your spirit on a matter and your brain just drools in wonder and your heart fills with awe. And when you glimpse grace…Paul says apostleship follows closely after. • He couples them together, man, because truly if you have received the grace of God then you know Him and you know God’s desperate desire, so desperate that He gave His all, His only Son, is for all men to receive His grace…and therefore you are mission-on-a-fide! You’re on a rescue mission, sent to all those who have not this grace…an apostle. • And what else does that filling of grace do? Paul says it here, it produces a heart that doesn’t have to be obedient, doesn’t have to serve Jesus…the One who has set you free…God Himself, “El Shaddai,” “God Almighty,” “El Elyon,” “the Most High God,” “El Olam,” “The Everlasting God,” “Jahovah Jireh,” “my Provider,” “Jahovah Nissi,” “My Banner,” “Jahovah Shalom,” “The Lord of Peace,” we don’t have to serve this wonderful Father and Lord…but the heart that has truly met grace…will whole-heartedly yearn to serve Him! • And Paul says here, through Jesus, man grace has arrived and because of that…my life is to be used by Him, my heart’s desire is to obey Him, trust Him, know Him…among all the nations…and that high calling Romans, is upon you also! Chapter 1 Verse 7 • Notice this is a letter written to the church there, the believers there in Rome and also notice Paul begins his letter as he did often with the Siamese twins of Christianity…grace and peace. • To the Romans, “grace and peace.” To the Corinthians, “grace and peace.” To the Galatians, “grace and peace.” To the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians…to Timothy, Titus and Philemon…all, man, “grace and peace.” And always in that specific order…why? Because once the grace of God enters your life, peace has arrived! Peace first with God…sin no longer accusing, guilt no longer weighing, and then the peace of God man…the peace that knows the end, man. Jesus has paid the price that all might know…but there are many that stop grace at the door! • Many flat out reject Jesus all together in unbelief, and they do so to their own demise, their own eternal and “ternal” (as in here-and-now) disadvantage! But even in the church, even in THIS church maybe there are those that stop grace at the door and say, “hold up, you don’t want to come in here…it’s a mess in here…” But not so! God cares nothing of the mess, it’s you He saved…He punted your sins, man…He couldn’t care less of what you’ve done, where you’ve been, what you’ve said, what you’ve lost…He cares only for you! • And so no, covered in your sin, clinging to your mess and identifying with your regret…you’re not good enough…and it’s not Him that’s saying that…you are…and unless you give all of that up, repent and accept His grace then, man your life as a believer will be full of turmoil and regret heaped upon regret. • But man when you submit to His grace…that although He is perfect and holy and you’re not, you’re accepted and washed clean in Him, set free from the power and penalty of sin, then look…we just covered this…what springs up in you? Yes Jesus said a fountain of everlasting life…and what does that look like practically? A heart completely and utterly given over to serving Him. Following Him. Denying your stupid damaging and detrimental flesh…taking up your cross and getting after His glory! • Then what? Another secret is out of the bag…the fundamentals here…making champions out of y’all…then what? Peace man. Peace is to be found only in receiving grace and following the Lord. Chapter 1 Verses 8 – 12 • Paul just said, “grace and peace,” and the close family member to those two…another fundamental…thankfulness. “I thank my God….” Paul says. • And then the next as the family continues to grow…the family of fundamentals…why was my family dysfunctional growing up, maybe yours too? Why can’t we seem to “function” in a victorious life as Christians? Taking you once again all the way back to the beginning of the book, it could be that you have not yet been infiltrated, filled by the Holy Spirit as Paul says in verse 1 and finding yourself desiring to serve Him as a slave. No matter what happens, you could care less about rights and comfort and whatever…man truth has arrived, grace has landed and peace has come…and then you’ll tell ‘em man…Paul bondslave, called and sent to on a rescue mission…an apostle…and completely other than this world, separated Paul calls himself…TO the gospel…these are the fundamentals folks. • Then grace, obedience and peace…which spurs thankfulness as you wake every day FREE and alive and you had no part in it…Jesus did it all…so very thankful…and then here in verse 9…prayer…man all this and what does Paul do without ceasing…talks to God! • How do you do that? How do you pray without ceasing? The phrase there in the Greek for “without ceasing” is “adialeiptos” which literally speaks of a tickle in the throat. So in other words to pray without ceasing is to go through the day praying as often as you’d cough when you experience an incessant tickle. As you drive to work and see someone waiting for the bus, as you see people looking weary and dreary sitting at a stoplight…as you checkout in King Soopers, as you wait in the drive through line at Chick-Fil-A…life becomes an adventure when you pray without ceasing… • Why? Because man when you pray, your eyes are opened to what God would bless you with…ministry! Your heart is prepared for the opportunity…and man most of all you’re just talking to the Lord bro! The Maker of the universe, the One who set the captives loose…we dream of a day to talk with the President of our company or Michael Jordan or “the most interesting man on the earth” but don’t you know you can talk to the One who hung the stars in the sky? And look, He talks back! I love that! Try it…read His word, hear His word, and then talk to Him…see if He doesn’t talk back…even more than you talk! (well maybe some of you, probably not me…I tend to talk too much, as you know) • Look at Paul’s life, mighty in adventure to say the least. And so another wonderful fundamental…prayer…not forced prayer, “oh man I gotta make 30 minutes for prayer today…pooooooor me…..” NO! Pleasurable prayer! We don’t have to pray, we get to pray! • And Paul says his prayer is to hang with them, to impart some spiritual gift to them, in other words to encourage them, to worship with them, to share his faith with them, to teach and be taught by them…all wonderful gifts…not from within you, man, but from the Father we receive these wonderful things… • And through that fellowship, that imparting of gifts Paul says here that great encouragement…and what is encouragement, it’s strength! Hope. Joy….and notice Paul says here, you can’t minister without being ministered to. “We will be encouraged together by our mutual faith…you and me.” Ministry always blesses both parties! • One last fundamental this morning and then we’re through… Chapter 1 Verses 13 – 15 • He says his heart is to come to them…possibly because he failed last time and did not come to them…as we talked about last week that many scholars believe he indeed had been to Rome already but it was that Acts 17 scene, that sermon without Jesus that caused the church at Athens to not be planted that day…but since then it appears that it had been…he desires to share the fruit of the Spirit with and among them… • And then he explodes a wisdom bomb…a fundamental of fundamentals in verse 14…I am a debtor…notice, not to Jesus…that is grace received man. God is not holding your salvation mortgage note that you’re making payments on monthly…that’s religion…you’ve been set free, He’s grafted you into the family and all that we do and all that we live…for Jesus is not out of debt…its out of love man…thankfulness…it’s a reasonable response for the forgiveness of our debt… • Paul says here, he is a debtor to his fellow man. His heart is that he owes them man. For every moment spent living for himself. For ever night he slept soundly in his comfort while others suffered hunger and sleeplessness. For every lesson he received in school while children elsewhere were searching through trash heaps to survive the day…he is in debt. • For every thought of his own gain without care for those that already had much less…even now, as he follows Christ, every opportunity missed…such as the one we read of in Acts 17…he is not ignorant to it…and neither are we…we just suppress the truth so that we can live with ourselves…we’ll read that next week… • Well that’s what sets us apart Christians…many say, “I’m not a bad guy, I’m not a bad gal…a bad person…God knows me man…he knows I love folks and understands my situation,” not me. I’m guilty. I accept that…you know why? It’s true. I’m guilty of caring for me and manipulating for what I want. I’m guilty of laziness and living my life for me, I’m guilty of eating lavish meals and caring not for the little one who has never even seen a full meal…I’m guilty of not caring, not wanting to care…I’m guilty! I’m guilty of the cross of Christ. My sin held Him there...that’s the difference maybe between you and me…not faith, not gifting, not calling, not God’s favor, not ability, not skill…I am debtor both to Christ and to you…I’m guilty…. • Not April when we argue…not my kids when they disobey, not my coworkers when they disrespect, not you when you offend me…me…I’m guilty…because of my sin I can’t humble myself to my wife. Because of my sin my kids cry out for love and leadership. Because of my sin my coworkers are able to harm me…hurt my feelings…it’s my sin that craves revenge on the weak in the faith…and I detest that sin. Yet, I am no fool. It remains…and therefore…I am your debtor April, I am your debtor Chin…I am a debtor to, and of and for the Lord’s grace. • And in that, you know what, I’m free to love. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that odd? That my friends, is fundamental. And Paul says here, “so much as is in me, I am ready…” in the Greek, I will to do and will do nothing else! “I am ready to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ man.” • You too. Hear the fundamentals. Reset your faith based and anchored afresh upon God’s Word and be alive!
Marshall Shelley encourages living a life of righteousness as we dress ourselves before the Kingdom of God.
The Righteousness of God is Needed
Vince Lombardi was hired by the Green Bay Packers as their new head coach and general manager in 1959. The year before he joined the Packers, they finished the season with the worst record in franchise history: 1-10-1. He called the team all together on the practice field on his first day and with all eyes on him he held up a football and simply said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” That’s it. He paused. Nothing more..and the faces of the pro football players and coaches grew confused and questioning. Then he explained. “As a team last year we were horrible at the fundamentals of the game of football. Nobody here knows how to block and nobody knows how to tackle. All I saw last year was grab, grab, grab! What we’re going to do now is go back to basics and we’re going to learn, we’re going to drill and we’re going to practice the fundamentals until we become better at them than anyone else in the game. If you do this with me, I will make you champions.” Lombardi created punishing training regimens and expected absolute dedication and effort from his players. The 1959 Packers immediately improved to 7-5, and rookie head coach Lombardi was named coach of the year. In his second season, Green Bay won the NFL Western Conference for the first time in 15 years. The team then went on to win 9 post-season games in a row (a record streak not matched or broken until Bill Belichick won 10 in a row from 2002 to 2006). Under Lombardi, they also won the first two Super Bowls ever played! Why? Fundamentals! The Green Bay Packers became famous for their precision and consistency in the fundamentals of the game and even when opponents knew certain plays were coming, they were unable to stop them. You see it was their attention to (and discipline in) keeping solid their fundamentals that made them great, powerful and victorious! I have come to understand that same truth for a follower of Jesus Christ and it’s the Book of Romans which masterfully lays out the strategy, the plan, the practice schedule of the fundamental truths and practical points of Christianity. Man’s sin, God’s grace and the magnificent and uncomplicated truth of God’s provided salvation through Jesus! Martin Luther said that the Book of Romans is “the chief priest of the New Testament.” Because you see it was a very discouraged and lost Martin Luther sitting at his monastic desk…being attacked by thoughts so ungodly that he picked up an inkwell and threw it against the wall, aiming at what he believed to be an image of the devil. Then he read something that broke his chains…set him free…”the just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17 So basic, so fundamental, so foundational….and so missing from his busted and defeated religion! At last, his eyes were opened and his life was changed…and because of this, Romans 1:17…the entire world was changed as God would use him and this absolute basic of the Bible in this Chief Priest of the New Testament to usher in the Great Reformation Movement! You see the Book of Romans is the believers guide to simple faith. It is a beacon of light that will draw all who invest their desire and confidence in it right into a life lived well and good, man. Jesus said, “well done, good and faithful servant…enter into My rest.” Man, this book, as we walk through it together, will walk us right up to “well” as Jesus would say “well done,” and will introduce us face to face with “good” as Jesus would say “this is how to be good and faithful servant.” This is the book that set free Martin Luther. This is the book that set ablaze John Wesley. This is the book that Chrysostom read once a week, every week throughout his entire powerful ministry! This is the book that blew Augustine’s mind man and caused him to be enlightened with the righteousness and peace of God! This is the Book that brought the realization to Chuck Smith in 1965 as he taught through it at a Foursquare Church that he could throw off the yoke of religion…that God loved him simply because he was His creation, His Son…and that nothing could separate Chuck from God’s love and grace…and forever his life was changed. And through him, my life also! You see it’s foundational. It’s fundamental. And if you too will join me as we get back to the basics man…then your life will never be the same again. You will walk in newness of life, armed with the practical and theological weapons to utterly anhialate the tired wiles of evil…and just be free man. As we saw with Luther, Welsey, Augustine, Smith…truly the road to revival leads through this book. And great will be the growth of your relationship with Jesus should you choose to give yourself wholly over to what is contained within it… The religion of the law and of man thunders, “responsibility!” But relationship with the Lord simply says, “respond, just respond…the work is done. The price is paid. Just come know Me. Come and be with Me. Come and Follow Me…and I promise you more than Super Bowls and lasting legacy…but everlasting life…eternal life…enlightenment and power…eyes to see truth…a heart with the strength to endure and navigate righteousness…and a soul soaring through the skies of freedom man…” Wiersbe once wrote, “if you are tired of all the wrong things in your life, in the lives of others, and in this world, then Paul’s epistle to the Romans is the book for you. The theme of this book is the righteous love of God…if you press in to understand Romans, you will have the key to understanding the rest of the Bible. Better still, you will have the secret to successful Christian living!” Romans Chapter 1 Verse 1 • And so immediately we are introduced to the author. This is a Pauline epistle written around the year AD 56 while Paul was in Corinth. Paul himself did not deliver this letter to Rome, it was actually carried to the Christians at Rome by one of the deaconesses in the church at Cenchrea, which was the port for Corinth on the eastern side…here name is Phebe. (Romans 16:1) • Paul had just concluded a journey through Athens and had arrived in Corinth before moving on to Antioch and so his burden for Rome was fresh as he penned this epistle. (All of this is found in Acts 18) • And I love how Paul opens this letter, just as anyone would open a letter in those days, he presents his credentials. What qualifies him to write this authoritative, doctrinal and highly practical letter to the Romans? What enables Paul to speak and to teach that which would cause life and power to surge with revival within Luther and to Wesley? • Its not his schooling…as you know Saul of Tarsus, which he was before changing his name to Paul after getting saved, received the finest of religious educations. The top of his class with the best mentor, Gamaliel. Its not his professional accomplishment…as you know he was more accomplished as a Pharisee than any of his contemporaries…Its not his reputation, its not his studies, its not his bloodline which was pure and documented within the tribe of Benjamin…its not his intellect, his energy, his strength, his ability…its simply that his hearts desire is to serve Jesus Christ…his credentials, his qualification is simply and wholly comprised of his love for Jesus man… • Paul, a bondservant…that would lose most folks right at the gates. Essentially he is saying, “Paul, a slave. Paul, the lowest of the classes. Paul, the one who has no rights and doesn’t want any…I wonder how many passed the parchment at that point. I wonder how many of you pass on Christianity at that point also. Claiming the comfort of heaven and the promise of eternal life but disinterested in serving the Lord today…taking the title and the responsibility of being completely His…and man, hot tip, that is what a Christian does… • The word bondservant is “doulos” which literally means bondslave. For Paul to introduce himself in this fashion would be meaningful to the Romans, because this word slave, represented an estimated 60 million people within the Roman Empire. Or let me put that another way, 60 million pieces of property. • What qualified Paul to lead the people of the Lord? What caused him to surge with power and purpose and authority and love? What set him absolutely free? Willfully becoming the doulos of Jesus Christ. The first secret is out… • Why are we as a corporate church so watered down? Why are there movements such as the prosperity gospel and the word faith movement and religions of men that replace worship with ritual so that man can live as sinful as they please and then once or twice a week have their sins forgiven by some religious exercise? Why are our marriages without love? Why are our lives without power? Why are our nights without sleep and our children without peace and without a desire for truth and righteousness? • Because we claim the high calling of Christ to take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Him…but only just as long as it is compatible with my own convenience. Just as far as I don’t suffer. Just as much as Jesus serves me, you might say…yet He is not our bondslave…right? • He is our Lord. He is our deliverer. He is our Father. He is our Leader…not the other way around…and all these movements, and even the false doctrines of the cults that we see flourishing today…and even the lukewarm church that will follow Jesus into a mall but not into the Garden of Gethsemane…at the very center of it all, is self. Everyone’s favorite radio station, WIIFM (Whats In It For Me?). • We have effectively reversed in our hearts and minds and churches and lives what it means to know Jesus…and many on that day when all is reckoned will call out to Him “Lord Lord” and with pain in His voice Jesus will reply, “depart…I never knew you.” • He said to them in Luke 6:46, “why do you call me Lord, and do not what I say?” Why do you believe (and I believe people truly believe) that you are a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ and yet you do not serve even your spouse, let alone an entire nation as Paul is doing by traveling around, planting churches and writing epistles. Why on earth do we think we are fooling God? Please hear me…the first of many secrets is out…lest you be a slave of Jesus, the truth is you may not know Him. Lest your heart’s desire and purposeful plan is to lay down your rights in true humility, that is without complaint against others, without accusation against others, without abuse to others, you very well may not know Him. • And if this is the first church service you’ve ever been to you may be saying, “welp, warm up the car, time to get…I didn’t come in here to choose to be a slave,” well hear me out for just a few more minutes because you see you came in here a slave already. A slave to sin. Like a horse with a bit in his mouth being pulled this way and that…sin is playing you man. Your emotions and your senses and your logic they make you dance like a puppet on strings and the end of serving that master will be great loss. • Paul wasn’t born a slave. He was born into nobility amongst his people. Paul wasn’t dumb. He wasn’t unintelligent. He wasn’t un-thoughtful and uncalculated. He was brilliant, the top of his class, the leader of his people and he willingly laid it all down because the end of all of that is regret. He found something more. He found peace, power, purpose, love, joy, strength…he chose a new Master. One that is good and One that will care well for Him not just in this life (and maybe not even at all in this life) but throughout all of eternity man…and in the light of eternity, what is today? A vapor. • Yes, being a bondslave to Jesus is what it is to be a Christian. To choose His will, His ways…to follow what He says and wants while simultaneously denying what you may say and want…but in so doing, you give up what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose…you hand over death and decay and destruction and you are given life, liberty, freedom from all this mess around us and within us, and ultimately an incorruptible inheritance in heaven…any fool would take that deal…let alone any wise man. • But Satan says, “serve you man.” Forget this hard and narrow path…I have this wide and easy one prepared for you right here…lets do this, together…I’ll escort you myself…and many, many, many…even in the church…buy that ticket. Not Paul. • That is why he is so powerful! That is why he is so loving! That is what qualifies Him…He is a Christian man, a bondservant, a doulos of the One that is Power, the One that is love… • And he says in that I have been called to be an apostle…which quite simply and quite literally means “one who is sent out.” Paul says, Romans…I’m a slave of Jesus and He has given me great purpose…great direction…you see I’m on a mission man! God has sent me out…sent me to you… • Fundamentals peeps. The Christian serves Jesus Christ…and the Christian lives on a mission…a rescue mission.. • And yet Paul continues his credentials, continues the fundamentals…separated to the gospel of God. Notice he doesn’t say “for,” he says “to.” Oh Paul is a super Christian, called by God to be a pastor, and evangelist, a preacher, an apostle, a missionary…but not me.” Not correct folks. The same Spirit that dwelt within Paul, that dwelt within Luther, that dwelt within Wesley, Billy Graham, Chuck Smith, even Jesus Christ Himself…dwells within you believer… • We dream of the day when we can ask the mighty King David in heaven what it was like to slay the lion, the bear and the giant Goliath! To run without armor or sword head first, pedal to the medal, right at the largest and fiercest of enemies…and he’ll look you right in your eyes and ask you to tell him what it was like having the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of you…yet so often the smallest and weakest of opponents thrashed you…What happened? And the cause…failure…in the fundamentals. • Paul simply responded man. And he changed the world. The entire world…he continues today to change the world…me, you, our neighbors, our friends, our enemies…all because he answered the call of God to “come away with Me…” • The fundamentals folks…Paul wrote, and we’ll read in the weeks and months to come as we march through this magnificent book, the letter to the Romans, that if you train hard, keep at it, apply what you read and hear and learn…in other words, take up your own cross, deny yourself and follow Jesus…choose the Lord, just as He choose you that fateful day upon the cross of Calvary, then He’ll make champions out of each one of you…as you serve Him completely, go forth as one sent directly from His throne in Heaven, and come out from this sham of a world unto the gospel, the good news man, of Jesus Christ.
God's indictment of mankind in order to show us that we need Christ.