Romans Week 3 – Sermon Notes

By January 22, 2017Sermon Notes

INTRODUCTION

*I’ve read and heard many times of very successful men when asked about their success or any regrets they have say something like this…

“I wish my father was still around, maybe he would finally see me as being successful, or not a failure, or worthwhile.”

*These men I’ve read of and talk to are not in their 20’s…they might be 60, 70, 80 years old.

*I’ve talked to people who heard something from a parent when they were young…that decades later is like an abscess in their soul…whether the parent meant it or not…what they heard and believed was…”You are not secure in my love…you cannot fail and still experience my love…you must perform at a certain level or you will never earn my love.”

*Insecurity, inadequacy, attempts to earn love and feel secure…dwell deep in the hearts of many men…and women.

*It is at the heart all of the world’s religions…but it is not at the heart of the gospel.

EXPLANATION

Rom. 1:16   I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

*Some say that 16-17 is the text of which the rest of Romans is commentary or explanation.

*Whether this is true or not…I couldn’t say…but they are certainly crucial verses in this letter…a lot is packed into two verses.

  1. Paul is not ashamed of the gospel
  2. Because the power of God for everyone’s salvation is revealed in the gospel
  3. The gospel has the power to save because it reveals the righteousness of God
  1. Not ashamed of the gospel

*I have long seen this verse as evidence that Paul was a courageous, fearless…champion…full speed ahead…bold as a lion.

*I have long see this verse wrong.

*He was a courageous, champion of the faith…he didn’t perceive himself as being that way.

1Cor. 15:9   For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

*Look again at what he told the folks at Corinth.

*1 Corinthians 2

*”I didn’t come with eloquence or great wisdom when I told you about the gospel…because I was resolved to not make it about me…because clearly its not about me…it is about Jesus…If you want to know the truth…came in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.”

“But that’s okay…because my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”

*Paul knew himself…he knew how others often perceived him.

*In 2 Cor he wrote “some say about me…His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.”

*So imagine as he is preaching people he hears people in the audience whisper “That’s the guy who wrote that letter we’ve been passing around…look at him, listen to him.”

*Acts 26…Once Paul was telling the governor of Judea about the gospel and the governor couldn’t take it anymore…he interrupted him…shouting…

“You are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you insane.”

*That encounter was part of what eventually got him to Rome at long last…as a prisoner.

*Paul was not an impressive person, tradition says he was not much to look at or listen to.

*So I don’t think he said “I am not ashamed of the gospel” because he was full of such confidence…in fact we know why he was not ashamed…he tells us directly.

*”Because it is the power of God.”

*This was not a declaration of self-confidence “I’m not ashamed…because I am Paul and I don’t get embarrassed.”

*His confidence was based on the power of God not in himself.

*The first century, when Paul lived…and places were Paul went…were not more open or more friendly to the gospel than Wichita is in 2017…not more open than you workplace, or school, or neighborhood.

*In fact the opposite is probably true.

*I say this as a reminder that the gospel spread in a time and in places that were openly hostile to the faith…still does.

*We must not use opposition we face or insecurity and inadequacy we feel as reasons to back off or back down on speaking and living the truth.

*Not in annoying, intentionally controversial ways…but we must kindly and calmly…live an unashamed of the gospel life.

*So don’t read this “I am not ashamed” as Paul communicating great feelings of self-confidence, adequacy, never having hesitation or being intimidated…this is clearly not so.

*Read the entire verse…”I am ashamed of the gospel because.”

*Because of what Paul?

  1. Because it is the power of the God for the salvation for everyone who believes.

*Everyone has a worldview…it is the fundamental perspective from which one addresses every issue of life.

*Alvin Toffler said that “Every person carries in his head a mental model of the world–a subjective representation of external reality.”

*We see “out there” what we are seeing “in here.”

*This has many relational implications by the way…for instance when we take personality inventories(colors, flag page, Myers Briggs) we should spend more time studying the results of our spouses and friends than we do our own.

*We need to do the work to see the world as others do…we are already proficient at seeing the world as we do.

*At any rate some conclude…all perspective is subjective (in here) and the real “out there” is unknowable.

*So “you have your truth and I have my truth”… is the prevailing belief system.

–Post modernism…in part is the belief that absolute truth is not real or at least unknowable.

–Attempts to claim absolutes exist are always power plays to try and control others.

*Worldviews are about: beliefs, values, actions.

*People believe things, that shape what they value, that determine what they do…how they live.

*If I believe that “absolute truth is unknowable”

*What I most value is… “I must self-actuate…I value what makes me feel good.”

*What I will do then is “live for myself”

*What we believe shapes what we value shapes what we do.

*Worldviews matter in the most practical of all possible ways…its not just that what we “see” in here is what we “see” out there…its another step…

*What we “see” in here…inevitably is what we “do” out there.

*A philosopher named Wittgenstein, an early post-modernist…believed that no one can really have a coherent worldview…because its impossible to really know what is real.

*He would disagree with me that everyone has a worldview.

*What has he just done when he says that no can have a worldview?

*He has given us his worldview…it is a self-refuting statement.

*Its like saying “There are no absolutes; everything is relative”…a statement that, if true, is false.

*In the same way his anti-worldview is a world-view…everyone has one…you cannot escape it.

*But there is only one ultimate reality…so not everyone’s view of the world is true.

*I am not chasing rabbits here…this ties in to the power of the gospel.

*Gospel means “good news”…it is the good news of the power of God to save all who believe.

*This is a statement of exclusivity…the gospel above all other belief systems…all other religions, all other worldviews…is the one that is real, true, matches what is out there.

*You can see when Paul said he is not ashamed of the gospel…it is because it is THE power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.

*As he traveled 10,000 miles proclaiming the gospel and planting churches for 20 years prior to writing this letter to the church at Rome…how many different worldviews do you think he encountered?

*How many of those who held those belief systems…believed they were right? 100%

*I don’t mean what they professed to believe…but what was the actual worldview that existed inside them.

*Paul was beaten, stoned, imprisoned because what he was convinced of ran counter to the prevailing belief systems of his time…and those belief systems are always tied to values and then to actions.

*What they believe determines how they live…what they do.

*The gospel, like all claims to truth…messes with how we live…not just how we think.

*Even though Christianity is likely the most professed belief system in Wichita…it is not necessarily the actual worldview of many who profess it.

*The prevailing worldview is something like:

-Belief: You only get this one life (heaven is a hoped for back up plan)

-Value: I better get all I can out of this life…

-Do: Leave family, lie, satisfy self, pursue money, pleasure first…avoid sacrifice and service…whatever.

*But ultimately what we do flows from what we believe…our worldview.

*So Paul is not ashamed of the gospel…BECAUSE…it is the power of God for salvation.

*He may have felt intimidated, or insecure…but ultimately what drove his actions…was what he really believed.

*The gospel is God’s power for our Salvation:

-From sin and death

To relationship with God…and all that that relationship entails.

*Aaron Lewis did CPR on a man in the WSU library a few weeks ago.

*Physically speaking Aaron saved him both from something and to something.

*He saved him from physical death (temporarily of course)…Aaron resuscitated the man he didn’t resurrect him.

*But also saved him to physical life…more time with kids, grandkids…friends, service, meals, walks.

*In a similar way we are saved by the gospel from the results of separation from God and saved to the results of relationship with him.

*I will not elaborate here…but what we are saved to is worth thinking much about.

*Especially when we are struggling with some aspects of our life now…it valuable to consider all that God has saved us to when he gave us relationship with him.

*This salvation is for everyone who believes

*This is the inclusive nature of the exclusive gospel.

*The gospel is an invitation to all to leave what it not real, true, and believe…value…do what is real, true, and meaningful.

*There is only one way…but all are invited to this one way.

*First for the Jew…they were the first to receive the invitation…and God still has an open invitation to them.

*Then for everyone else (non-Jews).

  1. The righteousness of God revealed in the gospel

Rom. 1:16   I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

  1. I am not ashamed of the gospel (why?)

Because…

  1. It is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe (how so?)

For

  1. In the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed.

*The gospel, the good news, the message of what God has done in Jesus Christ reveals…God’s righteousness.

*Its very important to know what this phrase means…it is the turning point for this passage.

*I should say it’s very important that we know how this verse “lives”…even people who have not studied this passage…but live its reality…live with freedom.

*And some who know its meaning…might fail to live its freedom.

God’s righteousness:

*There are several ways people have viewed this phrase.

*Martin Luther before his conversion saw this as a description of God’s character…he is holy, just, does what is right.

*This was certainly not good news for a man acutely aware of his own sins…God’s righteousness in this sense revealed our hopelessness.

*When Luther realized that God’s righteousness was not just a standard by which we fail to measure up…but rather a gift by which we are set free…his life changed.

*Righteousness from God.

*This is describing God’s gift to us and his power in us in the gospel.

*When we by faith, believe the gospel and receive God’s gift…we are declared “not guilty” and at the same time we are plugged into a new source of power for change to live out this righteousness.

*Legal righteousness precedes moral righteousness (change)

*President Obama, like all presidents has the authority (power) to pardon those guilty of crimes.

*He can commute a sentence (shorten it) or he can pardon a sentence…erase it…he cannot, however, provide new power to change a person’s heart and life.

*God has pardoned us through Christ…he has laid on him our guilt…we are declared not guilty.

*But God has also given us the power through his Spirit to live in freedom…increasingly so as we walk in obedience to him.

*The order is important here…we will come back to this…the pardon precedes the change.

*We do not clean ourselves up first…we cannot…we come as we are.

*We do not earn the pardon by our actions…but the pardon will show up in in our actions.

*So let’s go on…

*Paul says that this gift and power of God is by “faith from first to last.”

*My understanding of what this phrase means is that what we experience in the Gospel…relationship with God that transforms the rest of our lives is always about faith…it never really about our ability or efforts.

*Faith from first to last…doesn’t mean that effort doesn’t matter, it just means that effort doesn’t earn.

*Example: When I was a boy I wanted to be near my dad because I enjoyed his presence and his pleasure.

-I put forth effort to please him and be near him…not to earn what I didn’t have, but to experience what I wanted more of…his love.

*This is even more true of God.

*A friend told me last Wednesday…that of all he has experienced and seen…nothing means more to him than when God has spoken to him…and he told me, with tears, of a meaningful, well-timed experience of God providing just the word he needed at the time he needed it.

*I thought as he spoke, and wept…”My friend really loves God…that’s why he is telling me this with tears.”

*Its not that my friend loves or needs special experiences…it’s that he loves God.

*He is living by faith not by effort…and in his faith he has made great sacrifices in order to draw near to God…there is no contradiction here.

*What God does to declare us “not guilty” is received through faith.

*What God does to make us “like Christ” is also about faith.

*What Paul calls “the obedience of faith” (we talked about before) is not “obedience leading to faith” but “faith leading to obedience”

*Faith receives the gift…the gift changes both our status before God (we are not guilty) and our essential orientation in life…we are free and we want to move farther into that freedom.

*The righteousness of God that has been revealed is a past, present, future reality.

*Justification: We have been saved: declared “not guilty”

*Sanctification: We are being saved: become more like Christ…learning to live in his freedom.

*Glorification: We will be saved: the final transformation of our whole selves in the future.

*All this is from God…by faith, from first to last.

APPLICATION

“Be Kind to Yourself” Peterson

“How does it end when the war that your in is just you against you against you…gotta learn to love, learn to love, learn to love your enemy too.”

*Of course in the song…the enemy he is saying that you need to love is yourself.

*We can easily become our own enemy…even when God is not.

*There are those…who believe that they can earn God’s favor through their own efforts…and they think that they are doing a pretty good job of earning his favor…”look at how much more I’m doing than that person over there.”

*There are those who believe that don’t need to earn God’s favor…they have it already…they presume on God’s grace.

*Heinrich Heine, German poet allegedly spoke these last words…”Of course God will forgive me; that’s His job.”

*I’m not going to address these positions in our application because I think for the people I know personally…they are not the main struggles.

*I’ll quote NT scholar Doug Moo to set up our application…

“In justification God does not change us…but accepts us as we are…to be sure he insists on changing us once we have been accepted…but acceptance always comes first.”

*If you struggle with thinking of yourself as “worthy” to be in relationship with God, or loved or used by God…you really need to get this.

*In the past when I shared the gospel I would use an illustration I borrowed from somewhere about trying to “jump to Hawaii”

*Imagine the entire human race is lined up on the California Coast…in order to be saved you must jump to Hawaii…several thousand miles away.

*The very worse jumper…simply falls off the shore into the surf.

*The very best jumper…goes significantly farther…almost 30 feet, the world record.

*In comparison to one another…huge difference (30 feet)…

*But in comparison to the goal, the place of safety…they are both equally, hopelessly far away…thousands of miles away.

*The gospel is good news…that’s the meaning of the word…because it announces that God accepts us anyway.

*We don’t look around and compare with each other…that is a silly and useless comparison.

*I read about a pastor who died last week…someone close to him said he was “The greatest Christian since Jesus.”

*First of all Jesus was not a Christian…(a Christ follower)…he was the Christ.

*Second…it is an empty statement…in the end, when we are in the presence of the Lord Jesus…the maker of heaven and earth…there will be no comparison…there is no comparison now.

*Not us to him…or us to each other…we are all equally hopeless without him…and equally hopeful with him.

*All we have to do is receive his offer in faith…a faith that will by its very nature be accompanied by obedience.

*If you have not transferred your trust to God…would you do so this morning?

 

*You will never become acceptable to God through your own efforts.

 

*Perhaps you are a Christian but feel perpetually hopeless…inadequate…always falling short.

*Could be through commission or omission…doing what you should not, not doing what you should.

*Obedience is not how we stay saved anymore than it is how we were saved.

*”I thought you just said faith shows up in obedience.”

*It does…but is about a life direction not life perfection.

*Your feelings of failure and inadequacy may be well founded…and even helpful if they drive you continually to God.

*But feelings of insecurity are not helpful…or useful.

*Example: Two very different ways of living life

  1. A person who fails to live up to what they know God would want them to be and do but who is secure in his or her relationship with God.

*Not taking it for granted…but failing and then moving back toward God and being forgiven.

*Failure in this care does not lead to rejection or wrath…failure leads to correction, and redirection…and restored relationship.

*Failure leads to repentance and grace…and grace leads to hope for ongoing change.

  1. A person who fails to live up to what they know God would want to them to be and do and is insecure in his or her relationship with God.

*Failure for them feels fatal…failure breeds more failure…failure breeds fear of trying…fear of being exposed.

*Failure leads to faking…”I’m supposed to be better than this…I cannot let anyone see the truth.”

CONCLUSION

*We are after application…not just information…we want to know what is true (believe)… so we will know what is important (value)…so we will know how to live (d0)

We want the God who made the world…

1. To shape our beliefs about the world

2. So our values will align with what is true about the world

3. So our choices will reflect what is ultimately valuable and we won’t waste our lives.

*I said that it is not just important to know what Scripture means but we must know “how it lives.”

2 Cor. 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

  1. Hide and Slide (insecurity)
  1. Mess up, Fess up, Move on (Security)

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