Other Foundation Can No Man Lay – Romans 1:1-7

 In writing to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul brought up the disunity which was in their congregation. He described many of the people there as spiritual babies and carnal. They had actually formed little cliques within the church, claiming membership within various parties. There were those loyal to Paul, and others who preferred to study the teaching of Apollos. I’m sure that there were a few with Jewish backgrounds who preferred Peter. And then there were the truly-pharisaical who chose to identify only with Christ Jesus. Without giving any praise to this last group, because they really didn’t deserve any, Paul confronted and attacked them all. Their parties and cliques weren’t based on any differences in theology. It was nothing but petty personalities, which neither Peter, Apollos, Christ or Paul condoned. And then, in I Corinthians 3:11, he said, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” This morning, I don’t intend to preach about disunity, party spirits or denominationalism. I want to go back to the one foundation which has to undergird every Christian’s theology. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” And the scripture which I’d like to use in this task is the introduction to the Book of Romans. This Epistle of Paul to the Romans was written with a variety of purposes, but its great theme is salvation. This is an explanation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to which the Lord had called and separated Paul. It begins in the need of the gospel and describes some...

Paul and the People – Romans 1:1-7

 It is an interesting fact, that this Epistle to the Romans, which is so full of the gospel, was actually written to a Christian church – the first Baptistic church at Rome. Undoubtedly the Lord needed an avenue through which to do some serious teaching on salvation, but it seems to me that He could have written an extensive letter to the editor on the subject, or some kind of theological text book about nature of the gospel. Yet He didn’t, and it’s not my place to criticize the Author and Finisher of our faith. This letter was written to “all that be in Rome, beloved of God and called to be saints” – Christians. Its postscript says that it was “written to the Romans from Corinthus, and sent by Phebe servant of the church Cenchrea.” As you may recall from our study of the Book of Acts, Cenchrea was one of the suburbs of Corinth, one of the two seaports of the city. Perhaps when Paul learned that this Christian lady was going to Rome, he sat down and penned this letter for her to carry with her. As hard as it is for some people to realize, there was no public postal service 2,000 years ago – no e-mail. Generally speaking, it’s to the Christians in Rome that we will be looking this evening. But I want us to briefly think about Paul as well. Our title is “Paul and the People.” It needs to be understood that Paul was really just like one of those people. The only thing that made him different from any other...

The Gospel of God – Romans 1:1-7

 I received a rare e-mail on Thursday from one of the members of Judy’s family. Generally speaking, the Price family is quite conservative, and some are fanatically conservative. At least in that regard they would fit in among us quite easily. The only communication that I get from the male members of the family always has a political overtone. They rarely ever send family news and never any silly e-mail which seem so common from others. Anyway, this particular note was in regard to the new George Washington dollar – the coin. It was a request that if anyone offers me this coin in change, I should refuse it. It recommended that I ask for the Federal Reserve paper money, which used to be just as hated – long before the arrival of the Susan B. Anthony dollar. And speaking of the Susan Anthony, that coin had something the George Washington dollar doesn’t. At least that hated coin bears the words “In God we trust,” and apparently this last coin doesn’t. So the request was made that Christians should reject this coin and keep it out of circulation. Now, I can understand the logic of the request, and I understand the testimony and the desire. I don’t have a problem with trying to follow the recommendation. In fact, if the Apostle Paul had written to the Romans to avoid any coin with the head of Caesar on it, that wouldn’t surprise me a bit. But I would be very, very surprised if I found that kind of exhortation here in the introduction to Romans. If we found it at...

Be Ye Warmed and Filled – Romans 1:7

 I have not been stopped by the police very many times in my life. I say that not to boast, because there have been occasions when I could have been stopped and ticketed. I don’t know if the Lord has been especially kind to me, or if that blessing came from another source. But it’s safe to say that I am not an expert in the protocol of the traffic stop. On the other hand, I have seen a number of fictitious stops on television – both serious and humorous. And often, as the officer finally let’s the man drive away, he says something like: “Have a nice day.” Isn’t that kind of silly after the poor driver has just been given another $110 ticket for speeding? That’s not much different than giving a guy a black eye and a broken nose and saying, “Now, you have a nice day, ya hear.” When James, the Lord’s brother was sharing his analysis of false religion with us in chapter 2, he said, “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” If we have ability to be a blessing, but we are not, then we are either poor Christians or poor human beings. If we wish someone good, but then we afflict them with evil, we are criminal not Christian. And that brings us to the very common Apostolic Salutation or Benediction. Over and over...

The Divine Transmitter – Romans 1:8

 As we are all aware, technology is in constant change – and sometimes even making a few improvements. For example, when I started preaching 35 years ago, I was asked to tape my messages. So we went down to Radio Shack and bought a small tape recorder, which I placed next to my notes on the lectern. When I remembered to turn it on that machine did a relatively adequate job recording what I said. Then as time went on, we had a better tape recorder in the back of the auditorium, just as we have here. There was a microphone on a stand in front of me, with cables that took my voice to the back, where it was recorded in a much clearer and more professional fashion. Then came the lapel mike and the transmitter, which I have to clip to my tie and my belt. Now we don’t have to have to use those wires going from the microphone to the recorder. With the wireless mike, the message is transmitted through the air. Your ears are being assaulted with my words, and at the same time my words are flying past your ears in ways you cannot receive them. I have also been in churches where my messages were recorded on video tape. Of course, the technology has since passed up the elemental things that we have around here. There is digital audio-recording and digital video-recording. There is technology today to put all our messages on the computer and instantly onto the internet. For the sake of illustration, let’s step back to where we are, not...

Famous Faith – Romans 1:8

 I wish that there was some way to take a exit poll of all those people who visit our church. I wish that there was some way to determine what they liked about our services – and what they didn’t like. What was their first impression? What was their last impression? Were there any lasting impressions? If we had that kind of information, it might be helpful in keeping future visitors. On the other hand – if we had that information, there might be the temptation to try to compromise the truth or other principles in order to keep them. In addition to this, wouldn’t it be good to know what our brethren in other churches thought of us? Does anyone find our website to be helpful? What do they know of our doctrinal position? do they think that we have compromised the Truth? What do the brethren think are the most predominant traits of our church? What comes first to their minds when they hear the name “Calvary Baptist Church, Post Falls, Idaho”? I have no doubt that Paul was writing to the church which was at Rome. There are no such thing as maverick Christians in the Word of God – unattached, unaffiliated Christians. To the Ephesian church, Paul said: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church BY Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” The Epistle to the Romans was sent to the Christian church, the Baptistic church, in...

Paul’s God – Romans 1:8

 When was the last time that you reverently said the words: “my God”? I’m not talking about swearing or taking the Lord’s name in vain – the exclamation: “Oh my God!” I’m referring to speaking about the Lord, or calling Jehovah “my God,” in same way that you might refer to “my house,” “my car” or “our kids.” I have to confess some degree of negligence, or even guilt in this case, if there is actually guilt involved. I often speak about “God,” and “the Lord,” and I constantly refer to “the Saviour,” but rarely if ever do I call Jehovah “MY God.” I can’t say that it’s a sin if we don’t do this, but neither can I say that it shows great Christian maturity if we don’t. I can’t say that it’s a sin, because those two words are found together in the New Testament only twelve times, and exactly a third of them come from the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself. But, when we move back into the Old Testament, the tally is quite different. Not only do we have Jehovah and Elohim called “my God,” over a hundred and twenty times, we also have a host of related possessive statements. We have references to “my King,” “my glory,” “my shield,” “my buckler,” “my deliverer” and so on. David liked to sing: “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength – in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” Why don’t we talk like that outside the walls of...

God is my Witness – Romans 1:9

 Generally speaking, most of us are not proficient enough in speaking to hide who we really are. By that I mean – as two people converse, they expose their hearts. It’s definitely not the same as when the pastor gets up to preach. When I get up here with a sermon, it’s after spending hours preparing that little 30 minute discourse. For the most part, what I am going to say to you tonight has been thoroughly prepared. That doesn’t make it perfect or theologically correct, but there won’t be many slips of the tongue. But when three or four people casually start talking, they usually just shoot from the hip – or the heart. And so sometimes there are things said which are later regretted. Probably you all know what I mean by that. Having said that, I think that many times we can control some of the specifics of our language. We might not control the thought that we express, but we ought to control how it is uttered. For example, we ought to have enough self-control to keep ourselves from ever telling a lie. Lying should be so contrary to our nature that it becomes impossible to do it – I say “should” be impossible. And I think that every Christian should have the ability to completely avoid blasphemy. While the world around us may be saying things like “God damn it this or that” that kind of language should be impossible for us to utter. I find that it’s embarrassing to say it even to condemn it – it is that foreign to me. And...

Whom I Serve – Romans 1:9

 Generally speaking, I do not call people derogatory names, and I don’t think that any Christian should. Name-calling is related to swearing – in that it shows a lack of vocabulary as well as a lack of decency. On the other hand, when the Bible makes a declaration or makes a designation, that is not casting an insult or verbally abusing someone. I don’t mind calling someone foolish in a religious context, because my Bible authorizes me to do so. For example, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” There are some foolish people who say that Jesus of Nazareth was a mere man who started a religion. Some say that He was deceived or insane, and some echo the Jews, saying that He was a deceiver. Some say that Jesus never claimed deity, and that it was his disciples who taught that He was divine. And then on the other hand, some say that His disciples never claimed that Jesus Christ was God. Some of the most foolish among those fools say that the Bible never suggests that Jesus Christ is God. Even if we ignore what Jesus did – some of which only God could do – we still must conclude that He is divine. At least half a dozen times, Christ’s spiritual enemies, the demons in their defeat, testified of Jesus’ deity. If we assume – as did the Jews – that to be the Son of God, is to be as much God as God the Father,...

Paul’s Prayer for the Romans – Romans 1:8-12

 Paul’s prayers are filled with important theological instruction, and we need a constant supply of that. If we ever think that we’ve reached the pinnacle of theological perfection and knowledge, the Lord will humble us in ways that we have never imagined. We can and should constantly refine what we know about the Lord and about our relationship to Him. So we need the spiritual vitamins that the Word of God can supply to our souls. And many times some of those vitamins are contained in the prayers that we find in the Bible. I haven’t counted them, but they probably number well over a hundred. We also need the impetus and example that comes from the fact that these are prayers. We need to pray more, and we need to pray more purposefully. Paul isn’t preaching in this passage, he is discussing his prayer life. And he prayed in ways that we need to pray. In learning about Paul’s prayer, there is a similarity to eating a good meal. No matter what it is that we’re eating – a vegetable, fruit or meat – we are eating something which earlier was doing the eating. That beef only a few weeks before was eating its own grass or grain. And that tomato was sucking up moisture and nourishment from the soil that it was growing in. They ate, and now we are eating them. There is Paul praying for the Romans, and in reading about that we learn to pray better. We should be strengthened in prayer by feasting on the prayer of Paul. As I was meditating on...

Spiritual Need – Romans 1:7-12

 I suppose that every church has its own distinctive finger print. There are no two churches in all the world that are exactly like, and there never have been, because different churches are made up of different people, and they all have different finger prints. Of course there are many that have the same faith and doctrines, but after that the differences multiply. I would assume that the church in Rome believed the doctrines that we believe. But times have changed over 2,000 years, and so have customs, manners, tastes and even traditions. For example, toward the end of this book Paul exhorted the saints to “salute one another with an holy kiss.” There are probably churches in this world which try to practice that exhortation in a literal fashion, but I tend to think that the modern counterpart of shaking hands is just as Biblical – and more socially acceptable, at least in this country. As far as most of the customs and organization of the church in Rome are concerned, we know very little. Unlike ours, there are lots of church have lots of deacons – did the church in Rome have deacons? Some churches observe the Lord’s Supper every week, or every month, or every three months. How did the church in Rome keep the Lord’s Supper. Maybe they didn’t observe it at all. We don’t know for sure that there were any pastors in that church. Elsewhere we read, “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” But we...

Hindrances – Romans 1:13

 Some preachers call them “undesigned coincidences,” but I’m not sure that I like that term. There are hundreds of cases where a tiny reference in one scripture authenticates another scripture. I don’t like the words undesigned coincidences” because I think that they really are designed. For example there are the great many New Testament references to God’s act of creation. They weren’t exactly meant to teach the doctrine. They were only mentioned in passing because the authors thoroughly believed that doctrine. And last week I pointed out how that comparing verse 1 to verse 9 we have proof of the deity of Christ. Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ and a servant of God. He was also a minister of the gospel of God and of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Another of those coincidences is Paul’s desire to visit Rome. Here he states that desire, and in the Book of Acts we actually see that desire. Acts 19:21 – “After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” I can’t speak for all of you, but I am to the point in my Christian life, where a link like this is so natural that I don’t consider it of great importance. This is exactly the sort of thing we should expect, because we don’t doubt the honesty of either book. But the truth is, despite Paul’s desire to visit Rome, he had not yet done so. It wasn’t that he hadn’t...

I Am Not Ashamed – Romans 1:14-16

 Try to picture yourself as a civilian in the heart of Bagdad, Iraq. You aren’t in the military, and you aren’t wearing a uniform, although a bullet-proof vest might not be a bad idea. In fact, that’s what I’d like you to consider. You are there in Iraq to help build schools, water treatment facilities and utility stations – all good things. But you are also a committed Christian – a child of God who believes that the Lord Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of Lords, even in Iraq. You believe that Christ is the Saviour of those who repent and believe – no matter what their heritage. And you also believe that when someone dies apart from faith and love for Christ, he will be eternally lost. You are demonstrating your love for those people by risking your life to give Iraqis physical necessities, but you also know that their greatest need is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, so you share that as well. Now you are really putting yourself at risk, not only as an American in a place which hates Americans, but you are even worse than that, you are flaunting your “infidelity” by spreading the Name of Jesus. You are in grave danger – mortal danger. If you are able to make that mental picture, you might also be able to picture Paul and other Christians in their pagan and idolatrous world. Paul eventually died as a martyr, just as did Stephen, and nearly all of the other apostles. They lived in a world that hated Christ Jesus from...

Praise God: We are in Debt – Romans 1:14-15

 The Bible has a lot to say about indebtedness. Maybe that was to combat the economic mess that we have created for ourselves in these last days. But then again, it may just be a part of our general human depravity to be in debt, and there have always been debt problems and abuse. The Bible doesn’t forbid borrowing per se. It says things like: “IF a man borrow ought of his neighbour … he shall surely make it good.” And it says: “the wicked borroweth, and payeth not again.” It makes general statements which need to be learned by absolutely everyone: “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” This is a scripture and a scriptural principle which every parent needs to drill into the mind of his child. It is true no matter what the interest rate or even if there isn’t any interest charged at all. When we borrow something, especially money, we give up some of our freedom to that lender. On the other hand the Lord actually encourages people to lend what they can in order to help others. “Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.” “A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.” Unlike today, the Old Testament teaches some strict rules, protecting not the lender – but the lendee. For example, only certain things could be taken as pledges or collateral. And in many cases they had to be returned even before the loan was...

The Dynamite of God – Romans 1:16-18

 Saul of Tarsus, one of the up and coming leaders of Israel, was on a business trip to Syria. He was traveling first class, but it wasn’t on board a 747 or the Amtrak train from Jerusalem. You could say that he was minding his own business, because, despite what he thought, it was not the business of God. But then not far from the gates to Damascus, the power of God struck that man to the ground – literally. Contrary to his nature, contrary to his religion, and in a sense contrary to his will, Saul of Tarsus became a citizen of Heaven – a child of God. He became “a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” There was no more hated and offensive religion in the world at time, than to what that man was converted. As Saul became an Apostle of Christ and eventually changed his name to Paul, Christianity remained the most hated religion in the world. And I believe that Bible Christianity is still, the most hated religion in the world, Judaism, Mormonism, and Russelism, not withstanding. It might be argued that the abundance of Christians prove it could not possibly be as hated as I suggest. The statistics tell us that Christianity is the third largest general religion in the world. But I don’t think that Christianity can be measured by those assemblies of people who deny half the Bible, live like the world, have pleasure in sin, and still call themselves “Christians.” I think that the measure of Bible Christianity is seen in...