The Just Shall Live by Faith – Romans 1:16-17

 If I made the statement, “it is good to be a democrat,” you might be a little shocked and angered. But that statement could mean several different things. It could mean that I was a welfare recipient, being paid by the government to sit at home and watch TV. It could mean that I was a an incumbent from a Democratic State guaranteed to be re-elected again. It could mean that I don’t like some of the leading principles of the Republican party. Or it could simply mean that I don’t like the despotism of a dictator or communist form of government. In other words, it could mean that I prefer a democracy over a dictatorship. It could be that tomorrow someone found this sermon on the internet and quote me to have said: “It is good to be a democrat.” That could be used to mislead others, but it’s a true quote as far as it went. Paul likes to quote Habakkuk 2:4, but he did it in at least a couple of different ways. And yet he is always right, led of the Holy Spirit to make that quote. “The just shall live by faith.” What did Paul mean by that statement, and what did Habakkuk mean by it by 626 years before Paul? Before we get to Habakkuk, let’s start with Hebrews 10. Please turn to Hebrews 10 and take a look at verses 1-6: “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually...

Truth Held Prisoner – Romans 1:16-23

 Secular literature abounds with stories about kidnapings and unjust imprisonments. Perhaps the story was about a child who was being held for ransom and how his parents got him back. Perhaps it was an imprisonment something like “The Count of Monte Christo” by Alexander Dumas. Or maybe it was like Dumas’ “Man in the Iron Mask.” There are hundreds of these tales, fictional and historical, modern and classical, which are very entertaining and filled with emotion and excitement. Using my imagination only slightly, I can see that same sort of thing in these few verses of Scripture. The prisoner is Truth, one of the children of the Great King Jehovah. This Truth was freely roaming throughout His Father’s realm, hurting noone and blessing multitudes. But then some wicked men, out of nothing but hatred for the King, took his Son, Truth, and imprisoned him. Of course, the King had no alternative – justice demanded that He hunt down those kidnappers & prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. The Bible demands that kidnappers pay the ultimate price – their lives. Miraculously, Truth was impervious to the torture, the abuse, and the mistreatment of those wicked men. But for a while, the good people of the kingdom could only enjoy His memory. He had been taken from them, and from His Father and had been kept a prisoner in a dark, dank dungeon. I I believe that with a little time and trouble, we could probably come up with a reasonably good allegorical short story, or perhaps even a Christian novel, running along this theme. But for this...

The Sinner’s Summary – Romans 1:18-32

 Banff National Park, in the province of Alberta, is one of my favorite places. In driving from Post Falls, to Calgary, the southern route is a little shorter, but I prefer the road that passes north through Banff. Not only are the mountains and rivers spectacular, but so are the animals. In the nearly 60 years that I have been driving through there and visiting there… I’ve seen moose, elk, wolves and coyotes, and even deer that let you pet them. I’ve seen multitudes of bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and eagles. I’ve seen grizzly bears and black bears, and even watched my dad chase one away from camp. Banff is simply a wonderful place. But the abundance of apparently friendly, wild animals can be a bit misleading. Quite a few years ago my family and I stopped across the road from a couple of bears. A man drove up right next to those bears in a flashy sports car and rolled down his window. As he leaned over to pick up some food to hand to the closest bruin to him – Something which is illegal and can land a person in jail, if not in the mortuary – As this man this man took his eyes off the bears and reached for some bread or food, one of those bears almost came right through the passenger’s window into the car. All those animals I just mentioned may be cute and apparently friendly, but everyone of them are wild. There are many people who are hurt by them every year, even by the deer and sheep. And anyone with...

Ignorance of God – Romans 1:18-21

 Let’s pretend that someone has brought a man to America from the most remote corner of the world. Let’s pretend that his profession back home was murdering other men. He killed people at the command of his tribal chief, or his king, or the leader of the cartel. And sometimes he murdered simply because he didn’t like the way that people looked at him. The man is a total barbarian, just like hundreds, if not thousands, of American gang members. Let’s say that the place from which he came has no laws whatsoever against what he was doing. Murder is not only not illegal, it is a way of life. It isn’t a sub-culture, as it is in America; it is the culture of that place. It is so common that it is the #1 cause of death. But now, he has just arrived in the civilized country of the United States. And while he is riding a bus or subway someone makes fun of his primitive clothing. Immediately, he takes exception to the man’s laughter, pulls out an 18 inch blade and runs it through the man’s heart, right there in front of a dozen witnesses. Then he reaches into the dying man’s mouth, and pulls out his tongue and cuts it off. Should that heathen man’s public defender argue that he should be free to ride the bus again simply because he was ignorant of the laws of the United States? The barbarian’s lack of formal, public education, doesn’t mean that he is stupid. He knew that the one that he killed was a man just like...

The Immeasurable Difference – Romans 1:22-23

 It is so far back in my memory, that I can’t remember if I was the subject or if it was my sister. For the sake of the story, let’s say that it was me. Some time after our family moved from Calgary to Omaha, Nebraska, we were in a store, and I wanted to buy something. I was old enough to know the cost, and I knew that I had the cash to make the purchase. So as mother watched, I reached into my wallet & pulled out a couple of dollars, handing them to the clerk. She laughed and said something like, “Honey, we can’t accept play money for purchases like this.” I was hurt, confused and embarrassed, until my mother came to my rescue. She hadn’t noticed that all I had were a couple of Canadian dollar bills in my wallet. If that clerk had just known that the Canadian dollar would one day be more valuable than the U.S. dollar she might have been a little more helpful. Obviously, play money doesn’t have the same value as good, old fashioned, U.S. federal reserve notes. Or is that really obvious???? There seems to be a measurable difference between the two. Similarly, most people, if they had a choice, would much prefer grandmother to a picture of grandmother. And to a really hungry person on a diet, a tiny bowl of cottage cheese with a few sprinkles of sunflower seeds on top is not as exciting as a great big banana split. These illustrations make perfect sense to just about all of us. It doesn’t take a...

When God Gave Up – Romans 1:20-32

 Let’s start with a sad, but totally fictitious story. There is absolutely no truth in this story whatsoever. But I have made up the names in order to protect the guilty. Mr. and Mrs. Dog, had a new puppy born into their family. Their master was as delighted as they were. He immediately gave this new dog a name and bought it a beautiful collar with “Fido” engraved into it. Soon they went for walks together; they played together and ate together; they slept in the same room. Fido was a handsome, happy dog that got along with absolutely everyone – but he was still a dog. For example, somehow he acquired a taste for leather, cloth and plastic, and he started chewing things. He ate his master’s shoes, the kids toys and even household furniture. When he refused to be broken of this terrible habit, he was expelled to the back yard. Out there he dug up the flowers and killed the potatoes and tomatoes. He ate the sprinkler heads; he tried to tear down the fence and tried to dig under it. it. When he felt that he was being ignored, Fido would bark and howl – constantly, day or night. And when some of the neighbors tried to get him to be quiet, he decided that he didn’t like them. Whenever they walked by, he would snarl, growl and attack the fence in a very threatening manner. But he loved the kids in the neighborhood. When he grew to be big enough, he began to climb over the fence to run and play with those kids....

When God Gives Up – Romans 1:20-32

 At this point, I feel that this will be our last message from Romans 1. The only way that I will come back here next week, is if the Lord twists my arm, and I can’t move on. And yet, despite what I said this morning about the delicate nature of this material, I feel that it is important that we touch upon it – as carefully as we can. The sins of these verses pervade our society, and if our children aren’t aware of them yet, they will be sometime in the next few days, or weeks. But I thought that I’d begin just a step off Paul’s path for just a moment. This morning we looked at “When God GAVE Up,” and tonight we think about “When God GIVES Up.” One of my commentaries made a reference which might also come to some of your minds. This commentary prepared by the three Presbyterian divines: Jamieson, Fausset and Brown says: “The practices here referred to, though too abundantly attested by classic authors, cannot be further illustrated, without trenching on things which ‘ought not to be named among us as become the saints.'” I both agree and disagree with that assessment – in two regards. First, there is the aspect to which I referred this morning – some of this is wretched sin, is so contrary to human nature, so bestial, that young children should not only not be exposed to it, but they cannot even conceive of it. That means that to condemn it requires considerable care. But then there is that commentary’s reference to “ought not to...

Judgment – True and False – Romans 2:1-16

 Can you imagine what our world would be like, if there were no judges? What if there was no Supreme court, no traffic court, no county court or appellate court? I think that since the heart of man is so corrupt and evil, you can be sure that the majority of our neighbors would throw morality and ethics to the wind. They would do as they please because, without judges, there would be no immediate consequences. Most Bible students say that the darkest days in the history of Israel are found in the Book of Judges. At least that is what I would say. And there is an interesting phrase which keeps coming up in that book: “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” The Lord was not King, no one man was the supreme commander in Israel, and justice was rare. During the days of that book, life in Israel was cheap and not very pleasant. When every man does that which is right in his own corrupt and sinful heart anything can happen. That doesn’t mean that everyone will become rapists, murderers, thieves or disrespectful to parents, because there still resides in every sin-corrupted human heart a lingering testimony of the Creator. That was a part of Paul’s message in Romans 1. Take homosexuality for example, when man turns his back on God, God gives him over to vile affections. But even the most godless societies have some people who can see and hate that unseemly behavior. Homosexuality will never be universal because...

The Goodness of God – Romans 2:14

 After I fixed in my mind that I wanted to speak from this verse, I started to do my usual research and study. In that process I discovered one of the messages of C.H. Spurgeon. After listening to him preach for a few minutes, I decided to invite him to speak to you tonight. This message is essentially his, and I make no apology for that. But unlike some preachers that I have known, I will tell you that I have edited this message. It’s not because I disagree with Bro. Spurgeon, and I’m trying to deceive you about what he said. It’s just that his message was going in a direction that the Lord hadn’t burdened me to follow. What I am interested in is an exposition of the goodness, forbearance and longsuffering of God. In his introduction, Spurgeon begins by pointing out that the apostle is intensely personal. He fixes his eyes upon a single person, and speaks to him as “Thee” and “Thou.” “Despisest THOU the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth THEE to repentance?” It should ever be the intent of the preacher to convey his message to each hearer in individuality. It is always a very happy sign when a man begins to think of himself as an individual, and when the expostulations and invitations of the gospel are seen by him to be directed to himself personally. Preaching at me, Spurgeon said, I will give nothing for that indirect, essay-like preaching which is as the sheet lightning of summer, dazzling for the moment,...

The Appointment – Romans 2:1-16

 How happy would you be, if I told you your favorite author or preacher was scheduled to come to our church? I would hope that you’d be pretty excited. But what if I didn’t tell you the day that he’d be here, just that it would be sometime in the next six months. I’d guess that you’d still be happy about the visit, but that you’d probably not be too happy with me. Most of us would want some specifics about something that important. Would it make any difference if I was talking about a favorite loved one – whom you hadn’t seen in a while? I suppose that we could be talking about the return of the Lord Jesus in just this way. I am absolutely convinced that the Christ Jesus is going to return to earth soon. I am reasonably convinced that it will be during my lifetime, even though I know that Paul thought the same thing about his lifetime. I hope that you’re not too upset with me, if I don’t give you a date for the Lord’s return. There have been teachers, both false and true, who have tried to do exactly that. They have all been foolish, but some were true servants of God and some were servants of Satan. Not only don’t we have enough information revealed to us to mark our calendars about the date of the Lord’s return, but I believe that we are specifically commanded not to even try. The Christian should be looking for, and living for, the Lord’s coming each and every day. We should be looking...

Things to Come – Romans 2:7-11

 As our Lord Jesus was going about and ministering one day, a certain young man came running up to him. He threw himself on the ground before the Lord and asked a most important and earnest question: “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” This is recorded in all three of the Synoptic gospels, in almost the same language. Matthew tells us that the said, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” The thing to notice is that he specifically asked about “eternal life.” I have to believe that the man was honest and sincere in this question. Luke’s account of that visit is in chapter 18. But earlier, in Luke 10, a similar question was posed by a completely different kind of person. “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” I bring this to your attention, because I’d like you to see that where a Christian often speaks about “salvation,” an Hebrew might simply speak about “eternal life.” And the Bible reflects that back ground. “Search...

God Leadeth Thee to Repentance – Romans 2:4-11

 Bro. Asmundson called me Thursday morning as he was driving past Ellensburg toward Seattle. He asked, “To whom was the Book of Romans written?” My answer was that Paul was writing to the church in Rome – or perhaps “a” church in Rome. (If the Lord is gracious, He might give us time to get to that particular subject one of these days.) And then I took Bro. Bill to chapter 16 which speaks about the church which met in Aquilla’s house. A corollary was then proposed: “Why is there all this talk about SALVATION if he is writing to Christians?” I suppose that there could be several possible answers: The Holy Spirit could have been leading Paul to expound on salvation on behalf of the millions of sinners from Paul’s day to this day – we all need this important subject. But then more practically, Paul didn’t know many of the people in that church. Perhaps he assumed that there were people among the saints there who may not have been saved. Or perhaps he had been told by Aquilla that there were people associated with the church, even as there are many today, who only think that they are children of God. Their lives lacked any evidence of the new birth. Perhaps there were people concerned about those folk and about the church. Bro. Bill then suggested that there may have also been Judaisers among the Romans as there were in so many of the other early churches. There is also another question: Was Paul thinking about a specific individual – some hypocrite – when he said,...

Judgment of the Hidden Things – Romans 2:14-17

 I don’t know about you, but I have internet accounts of all kinds by the dozens. I have access to my bank account through the internet. I have an eBay account and a PayPal account, with different passwords. I have an account to buy my vitamins, books, shoes, water-filters, Judy’s crafts and printer supplies. There are half a dozen that are connected to the church or the church website. And that’s before I get to my stamp collecting accounts and various membership accounts. Most of those three or four dozen accounts all have passwords to access them. And when you set up those accounts, they usually tell you to write down the password in some safe, hidden place, away from the account itself. In other words, you don’t want a file folder on your computer called “Passwords.” I probably am not as security-minded as I ought to be, but most of my passwords are related, and I keep all of them together in a notebook on my desk. I use only half a dozen on a daily basis, so if I don’t have them written down and close at hand, I’d never be able to use the account because I’d loose or forget the password. By the way there is not one of those accounts of which I am ashamed. There isn’t one that I would be embarrassed to show to my wife or to you. I don’t visit any secret blogs, chat-rooms or questionable web-sites. But I’m sure that is not true of everyone. Nevertheless, I don’t want you to buy things on my eBay account or use...

Practical Religion – Romans 2:17-29

 When I was in Bible school, I bought and read a book called “You Can Lead Roman Catholics to Christ.” It was written by a Canadian missionary who claimed that Quebec was the most rabidly Catholic place in all the world. Since then I have heard that same thing said of a dozen other places in the world. And then we hear of the fanaticism of Orthodox in Romania and of the Hindus of some other country. And we have heard of some branches of the Jews and then of the Amish which are strict beyond measure. And the newspapers tell us of the fundamentalists among the Muslims, etc. etc. etc. Until we stop and think for a moment, most people even picture the United States as a very religious country. Obviously, the religions that I’ve just mentioned are all radically different from each other. The Muslims hate the Jewish religion, and the Jews believe that the Hindus, Christians, Muslims and others are heretics. Orthodox Catholics think that the Roman Catholics have forsaken the truth, and they both hate the Amish. From what I read in that little book, Quebec Catholics think that the average American Catholic is not much better than a Protestant heretic. Obviously, those differing religions cannot be all be true, and in fact they might all be Satanic. And my point is that religion is nothing in itself. This isn’t just my opinion; it is the opinion of the Holy Spirit-directed Apostle of God – Paul. In Romans chapter 1, Paul’s theme was that mankind has rebelled against its Creator – Jehovah. Thinking primarily about...

The Ministry of Teaching God’s Word – Romans 2:17-20

 I have hesitated on several occasions, thinking about whether or not to continue our study of Romans. My problem has been that this is not only deep and heavy, but it is dark and heavy. Even though there are some positive points in these first three chapters, their main thrust is negative. These are not fun chapters to preach. But before we can get to the dessert, we have to eat the Brussel sprouts and baked squash. Before we can get to the joy of salvation, we have to understand the depths of our sin and the depths of the Saviour’s sacrifice for us. For example, our message this morning was not a happy one. “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.” But it needs to be recognized that before Paul accuses those people of adultery, he admits that they correctly taught that “a man should not commit adultery.” Before he accused them of stealing he said that they knew that “a man should not steal.” When he said that they had broken the law, he reminded them that they had first boasted in the law. There are tens of thousands of people, who have completely unlearned that adultery and theft are evil. What a blessing there is in having that knowlege. Was Israel wrong in boasting in the law? Absolutely not! Should we teach our children not to lie, cheat and steal? Of course we should. There are positive aspects to Paul’s message here. And it’s about some of these positive things that I’d like to briefly address you here this evening. And by...