Like a man with only 30 seconds to live in which to speak his departing words; Paul with his finger on the trigger, fires out no less than 32 heart searching commands. Each command is like the bullet of a trained marksman, finding its way to its given target! Every word counting to encourage, reprove, exhort and edify the Body of Jesus Christ. If there was a word to sum up the vast array of words found in the passage before us, it would be the word love! If there was a container in which the whole sum of words could be stored, it would have written across it the word love!!
This sermon is a mighty challenge and a call to earnest examination of the heart and conduct. The single greatest sign of maturity in the life of a Christian is not how much knowledge is contained in one’s head but rather, the degree to which one’s life is conformed to a life of love.
As one considers the general perception of what Church is supposed to be, one cannot help but sense that there is a great misunderstanding on the part of many regarding this matter. Content it seems the great crowds are, Sunday after Sunday, to pour rank and file into a building to occupy the pews and receive their full. Yet, Jesus’ great high priestly payer in John 17 was that His body the Church would be one; united in a love so evident that the world would believe that we are His disciples!
Wrong perception breeds wrong attitude, which in turn breeds wrong conduct. In this sermon the picture of a functioning body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies is set firmly before the listener. Are you operating in your calling/gifting and if so, to what degree of sacrifice and service? Oh that we might be not just be receivers and takers! Would to God that we would become givers, serving and blessing one another in our calling and gifting, growing up as one body in love!!
Well the words of an old hymn serve to adorn the passage of Scripture before us – A Living Sacrifice. “I fail to find a sacrifice, or fitting gift to bring: Earth’s treasures have too little worth to offer to my King. My gift is small, it is my all, accept it Lord I pray; let self be slain, let Jesus reign, within my heart alway”. Oh, dear soul…is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid? What yet remains to give Him who gave all to us?
The world is ever seeking to fashion us into its pattern but we must hold fast and withstand that temptation. The exhortation given by the Apostle Paul in this twelfth chapter of Romans is for Christians to be transformed by the renewing of their mind in order that they might prove that good and acceptable and perfect will of God and in so proving to grow up in maturity.
When one surveys that peculiar and special people group known as the Jews; one would think them to be altogether cast off by God. How so few it seems have come to saving faith in Messiah; how many vehemently oppose the gospel of Jesus Christ!! With a deep groaning and an inescapable burden for his people, Paul lays down the case as to why it is absolutely not the case that God has cast off His covenanted people Israel!!
With careful exegesis and passionate preaching, the case is made in this sermon teaching in favour of Gods continuing plan for national Israel in the salvific purposes of God. Their rejection on account of divine judgment has proven to be the blessing of the nations; their partial hardening, the coming in of the Gentiles!! Yet there is coming a time when God shall turn His mercies back again to His covenant people as foretold by the prophets and in that day all of national Israel shall be saved!!
The Apostle Paul continues to pour out his heart and affection for his countrymen, his kinsmen according to the flesh. Well noting their zeal for God, Paul points out the sad reality that their zeal is not according to knowledge. Seeking to establish their own righteousness via the merits of the law, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God which come by faith in Jesus Christ.
In absolute simplicity and beauty, Paul lays out for his brethren the means by which they might be saved by faith, confessing with one’s mouth the Lord Jesus and believing in one’s heart that God raised Him from the dead for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord in sincerity and truth shall be saved!! In an age where the gospel is so misunderstood, this sermon comes as a refreshing reminder of exactly what a man must do to be saved!!
Paul’s great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart was for his own kinsmen according to the flesh. Such was his great love for his nation that he wished himself were accursed from Christ for his people Israel. Nationally, they had not come into the salvation of Messiah with only a remnant being saved. Paul in seeking to reconcile this fact with the faithfulness and justice of a covenant keeping God, demonstrates from history that God has always chosen to call by election showing mercy to whom He will, calling for Himself not only a remnant from Israel but a people also from among the Gentiles!!
Admittedly, this ninth chapter of Romans is a very difficult passage of Scripture over which many have argued and debated. In seeking to be faithful to the text of Scripture, we endeavour to exegete the passage faithfully!!
Jesus told His disciples plainly,"...In this world ye shall have tribulation: but be of god cheer; I have overcome the world (Jn. 16:33). The Apostle Paul in echoing the same sentiments, spoke too of a necessary suffering with Christ that we might receive our inheritance as beloved children in an age yet to come. The great hope of our glorification with Christ at His appearing ought to be a great source of encouragement to us as believers, not least when enduring under trial and hardship.
In these final verses of Romans chapter 8, Paul is relentless in his argumentation, mounting one case after another; all designed to lift the believer’s eyes heavenward. The gist of his reasoning is this: We are the children of God, foreknown of God before the foundations of the world, predestined, called, justified with the sure hope of being glorified. If this be so then what weapon formed against the child of God can prosper? If God be for us, who can be against us? Be of good courage!!
Paul continues in this chapter to set forth the redemptive purposes of God in Christ Jesus for mankind. Turning away from looking at the believers experience in the here and now, Paul now looks ahead to the future wherein shall be revealed the full redemptive purposes of God in the glories which await us at the coming of Christ. When asked how this can be? The answer lies in our adoption as sons and daughters of God! As such we have been grafted into the family of God and have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father!! As such we have now become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together!
This sermon seeks to lift believers’ eyes above this world to see the wonderful inheritance that has been laid up for us in the ages to come when the Saints shall inherit the earth in a Kingdom that is yet to come wherein creation itself awaits the manifestation of the sons of God at which time it too shall be delivered from bondage into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Romans chapters 6-8, when taken as a whole, form one of the most powerful portions of Scripture in the whole Bible as it relates to regeneration. Chapter 6 sets forth the power of sin broken…chapter 7, the strength of sin through the law…and chapter 8, freedom sin through the Spirit. Many it seems like to live in the realm of theological head knowledge and fancies but where is the practical application that grasps the precious truths contained in these chapters and brings beauty of godliness down to earth!! Though many read Romans 6 and 8 as though written across the pages are the words “do not touch”; every page cries forth “try me”!!
In the chapter before us we turn to look at the power through which men find victory over sin, namely the blessed indwelling Holy Spirit!!
One of the most abused and misunderstood chapters in the whole of New Testament is the chapter before us in this sermon, namely Romans chapter 7. I say abused, because for many this chapter offers a supporting crutch for them to continue to live in habitual sin; for after all they’ll say, if Paul struggled with sin doing those things he desired not to do and not doing those things he desired to do – then who are we!! I say also misunderstood, because so often in the exegesis and application of Holy Scripture, we must first establish beyond all shadow of doubt what a passage/verse cannot be saying!! Romans 7 is sandwiched between two chapters either side (6 & 8) which refuse to allow for the position of defeat in the area of sin in the life of the believer.
This sermon seeks to debunk the myth of Romans 7 offering a seeming safety net to excuse sin and brings out the true understanding of the chapter so that a proper application can be made to our lives.