THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL (32)
THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE GOSPEL
During the Sunday service, Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh continued preaching about the power of the Gospel. Her main text was taken from the Books of Romans: “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:1-17; NKJ)
We remind ourselves that our primary purpose as believers is to give glory to God, to worship Him! The second purpose is to become like Jesus! This is the foundation of our faith! The Book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Rome, who were mostly Gentile believers. The Holy Spirit inserted the Book of Romans immediately after the Book of Acts because of its importance in presenting the major doctrines of salvation. In the history of the Church, God has used the Book of Romans more than any other Book in the Bible to ignite revival. Many great men and women of God have been converted thru the Book of Romans.
“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God” (Rom 1:1).
The Gospel is called ‘the Gospel of God”. It was invented by God. It belongs to God. It is God’s property. He is jealous over His Gospel! Do not ‘mess’ with it! Apostle Paul, formerly called Saul of Tarsus (4-64, AD) is the author of the Book of Romans. The first word in the Book of Romans is ‘Paul’. God has prepared His vessel in a special way. Even the unbelievers admit that he is one of the greatest minds among men. He was born in Tarsus, one of the three main cities of Greek culture (after Athens, Greece and Alexandria, Egypt). Paul was well acquainted with the Greek poets and philosophers. Paul was a Jew. He went to Jerusalem and was trained by the most famous professor of the Old Testament at that time: Gamaliel. Paul knew the scriptures and how the Jews think. He became an advocate for the Law. He also became a Pharisee, one of the best. Paul was born a free Roman citizen. This was a great honor. He knew the Roman law. Also, he knew his rights as a Roman citizen, and he used this privilege from time to time. He was extremely intelligent and zealous to do good religious works. He believed that Jesus was a blasphemer and he hated Him. He persecuted the Christians and put them in prison. In God’s time he had a dramatic crisis conversion on his way to Damascus. He saw the Resurrected Christ in person who commissioned him to preach the Gospel he once hated. He became an Apostle, a Teacher, a Pastor and an Evangelist. He died in Rome, beheaded by Emperor Nero. He wrote three quarters of all the Books in the New Testament. God used his background after his conversion to argue with the Jews against Judaism. Many Jews were confused at the beginning how to combine the faith in God in the Old Testament and the New. Paul even opposed Apostle Peter when he made a mistake becoming afraid of the Jewish leaders. Apostle Paul was used by God to preach mostly to the Gentiles who did not know the Old Testament. Paul understood the mind, the culture of both Jew and Gentile. Paul is an example of how God uses the natural gifts of a man who becomes saved. This is a good lesson: Surrender your natural gifts to God!
THE PURPOSE OF WRITING THE LETTER
“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Romans 1:11, 12).
Paul was a wonderful teacher and pastor. He did not write the Book of Romans to professors or lawyers. He wrote it to the mostly simple Gentile believers living in Rome. The purpose was to establish them spiritually. He wanted to impart some spiritual gifts, to give them a fresh revelation about the Gospel of Christ Crucified and Resurrected. He wanted to increase their faith, for them to become spiritually mature and fruitful. This is the effect of the Word of God in general and especially the Book of Romans, on all who believe! Conversion is not the end of your story. It is the door, the beginning. Salvation is free because Jesus died and paid it all on the Cross. But spiritual maturity is not automatic. There is a price to pay. You must study the Word of God and pray! To be established it means: strength to stand, to be confirmed, fixed and firm on a permanent foundation; to spiritually mature and fruitful; to gain full recognition and acceptance from God and man! The opposite of being established is to be destroyed, uprooted, and confused.
THE MAJOR THEME OF THIS LETTER
The major theme of the Book of Romans is the Gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected. The Book of Romans is divided in two subsections: In Chapters 1-11 we discover the doctrines related to salvation and in chapters 12-16 we find the application of these doctrines. Both are equally important. Doctrine is like the skeleton. It gives structure and strength to the body. The application is like the muscles and the internal organs. It gives life to the body!
The word Gospel means ‘Good news’. What is that? God has done something new! God has sent His only Begotten and Beloved Son to take human flesh upon Himself, to teach men God’s will. On the Cross, Jesus died for our sins. Anyone who believes in the death of the Son of God as atonement for His sins, shall be saved from the judgment of sin, which is death. Anyone who does not believe that Christ died for him, he is already condemned. Salvation to man comes by faith in Christ alone! No one is saved by good religious works.
This is the major doctrine in the Book of Romans: Justification by faith! In other words, we are saved: by Grace alone, by faith alone, thru the Word of God alone, in Christ alone, and for the glory of God alone! The Holy Spirit applies the truth of the Word of God to our spirits so that we can believe. Man must repent of his sins and become born again! Salvation is a miracle! The Gospel of Christ Crucified and Resurrected is the Power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Faith means trusting in God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God and increases ‘from faith to faith’. Apostle Paul explains that ‘justification by faith’ is the only method God could have used to save sinful man. God is holy and He hates sin. He is also merciful and loving. God cannot forgive sin just by His Word. Jesus, the sinless Son of God died on behalf of sinners so that they may live.
The people for whom He died are called ‘the elect, or the chosen’. God has decreed, even before the foundation of the world, that some people will be saved. Apostle Paul explains that the New Testament method of salvation by faith is the same as during the Old Testament. Men like Abraham and King David also lived by faith. God saves by His Grace alone! God’s will cannot be frustrated. God decided to place the believers in Christ. The doctrine of the unity with Christ is foundational in understanding salvation. We were crucified with Him, died with Him, were buried with Him and resurrected with Him. We now are seated in Christ and with Christ, in heavenly places. Salvation is sure. A sinner who became born again thru faith in Christ can have total assurance of his salvation. He cannot lose his salvation! The Apostle Paul also describes the process of sanctification. Our soul and spirit are already saved. But sin is not removed from the mortal body. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body. In this way, we mature spiritually. Salvation is first to the glory of God! Secondly, is for our good.
This is the general view and understanding of the Book of Romans. You must have faith to feel its power! If by reading it you are not able to worship God and give Him all the glory for your salvation, then you have not understood it well. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes to see King Jesus, full of Grace and Truth, seated on His throne! Glory! Worship the Lord!