Received Grace… For Obedience

Romans 1:1-7


Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which He had promised before, by His prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, which was made 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, by whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith, among all nations for His name. Among whom are you also called of Jesus Christ, to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, we pray for Your wisdom, we pray that You would give us insight and understanding as we look at Your word today. Continue to transform us by the renewing of our minds, Lord, that we would show forth Your glory here in the world in which we live. Lord, we do pray for our nation, as we stand here at the beginning of an election week, and Lord we pray that You would cause Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Lord, we recognize and know that this nation is not Your kingdom, but people of Your kingdom, ambassadors of Your kingdom, are throughout this nation, and so we pray that as ambassadors, Lord, we would represent You well, and honor You in the way that we live, and even in the way that we vote. We pray in Jesus’ name, and all God’s people agreed, saying, “Amen.”

You can be seated.

As an aside to where we’re actually at in Romans, I just wanted to make note of the fact that just days before Jesus was condemned to die by a Roman court, which ultimately was pressured by a Jewish court there in Jerusalem, Jesus was inquired of by a group of people who did not like paying taxes. Anyone relate to that? And they came and they said, “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar?” And Jesus knew that they were trying to catch Him, if He says, “No, you shouldn’t pay taxes to Caesar,” then He’s going to have some people that like Him in Jerusalem, in Israel, but He’s going to have a problem with the Roman government, and then if He says, “Yes, you should pay your taxes,” then, of course, He’s going to have a problem with those people who don’t like to pay their taxes in Jerusalem, and so forth. But He says, “Bring Me a piece of the money,” and they brought it to Him, and they said, “Who’s inscription is this? “Caesar’s.” And so He says, as you know well if you know the passage, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God, that which is God’s.” And so He answered that as Jesus always does in the perfect way. And some of us may not like His answer there: “Render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s.” But I think we should also note, not just in paying taxes, but as a citizen of this country, we have the right to vote. And so we should. We should do so. Now obviously I’m not going to stand up here and tell you who you should vote for, you should look at the candidates that are there and you should consider the way that they have voted in the past, you should consider their record, and you should consider their character, and you should take that all into account. And not just for the President, but all the way down to city council here in Escondido, or the school board here in Escondido, or the board for Palomar Hospital. You should consider who these people are and you should vote accordingly. And render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. That is part of one of the things that we have been called upon to do, as a citizen of this country. So I just exhort you as your pastor to do so. I sent my absentee ballot in the other day, and I was very grateful to be able to do so, and thankful that we live in a country where we get to be a part of that process, even if sometimes you don’t necessarily feel that your vote counts. You should still vote. Amen?

Romans, chapter 1. “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which He had promised before, by His prophets in the holy scriptures.” As we considered last time in our study, Paul calls himself a servant of Jesus. And any person who puts their faith in Christ Jesus as Lord, receives Him as Christ and Lord, they are receiving Him as the Master over their lives. And so we become, in title, His servants. The issue is whether or not we actually serve Him once we become His servants. We are called servants, and therefore we should serve. And as we serve, we discovered last week, that God begins to reveal, through the gifting that He gives to us. At the new birth, God gifts us, by His Spirit, with spiritual, supernatural giftings. We spent a lot of time, 17 weeks in fact, looking at the gifts of the Spirit, and their place in the church, and their place in the individuals within the church, as we were going through the book of 1 Corinthians. And you can find that on the church’s website, if you want to listen to those messages. But we discover there that we are gifted as followers of Christ, by His Spirit, with gifts, and as we begin to discover what those gifts are, then we begin to see how the Lord has called us. He has saved us, He has gifted us, He has called us. Paul was called to be an apostle. And as we’re going to see in the text before us today, I believe that every single one of us, to a certain extent, have a calling as apostles. Meaning that we are sent as those with a message. We are all called to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That commission that Jesus gave to His disciples was not only given to the 12 that stood there with Him, or the 11 that stood there with Him there, just before He ascended into heaven, in Matthew, chapter 28. That commission is given to every disciple, every follower of Jesus Christ; to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Every single one of us who have put our faith in Christ have been called to that task, so we’ve been separated to a work as well. And we looked at that last week; that we are saved, and therefore we become servants of Christ, and as we serve Him, we discover our gifting and our calling. And then, as we discover that calling, God appoints us specifically in areas within His body, where He has created us and given us talents and abilities and unique gifts. He places us perfectly in that place, for His glory, for the building up of the body of Christ, until that day when we come into His presence. Which, I would say that probably every single one of us are looking forward to that day, more and more so as time goes on.

And so Paul reveals that he is a servant of Jesus, called to be an apostle, separated, or appointed unto the task of proclaiming the gospel of God. And his calling was specifically to a group primarily Gentiles. Even though he came from a Jewish background, and everything about his upbringing, and everything about his heritage would seem to say that he should be a minister to Jewish individuals, and yet God says, “No, I’m going to use you among Gentiles.” And God is able to take the foolish things of this world and confound the wise, and He’s able to take those things that are weak. And Paul recognized his weakness in being able to do that, as he confesses in 2 Corinthians, chapter 3, “I’m not sufficient of myself to think anything as being of myself, but my sufficiency is of God, who has made me an able minister of the new covenant.” So, God enables us to do those things that we otherwise cannot, could not do in and of our own strength. How many of you have experienced that in your life, as you’ve walked with the Lord? I know as I’ve been talking with Eric, as he’s been preparing to go to China, and he does not feel sufficient to go and teach a group of Bible college students in an underground Bible college in China. And, you know, the reality is, you’re not sufficient to do it, but God is the one who makes us able ministers of his new covenant. So we need to rely upon Him, we need to trust in Him.

So, Paul goes on here, and in many English translations, it’s kind of a parenthetical break, in verse 2. He says, “…which He,” speaking of God, “had promised before, by His prophets in the holy scriptures.” He’s speaking, of course, of the gospel of God, that he references there at the end of verse 1. So, Paul was separated unto the gospel of God. Now Paul has just introduced a topic, to a group of people, as we’ve already discovered, Paul is writing to people there in the city of Rome who are a part of a church that is a young and growing church, predominately made up of people who don’t have a Jewish heritage, they don’t have a common cultural perspective to understand some of the key things that a Jewish mind, who understood the Old Testament, would be able to register with. And so Paul is starting at the very basics here because this, as I’ve said, is a doctrinal primer, and Paul is writing this to disciple and equip people, to bring them to full maturity. And so he starts at square one, he starts at the building blocks of our faith. And so he introduces a topic there, at end of verse 1, the gospel of God; and now he’s going to begin to explain just what is meant by the gospel of God.

And so he says, “The good news of God,” the euangelion of God, that’s what the word is in the original language. And it just simply means good news. Now, there is a, the Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language, but in the 2nd and 3rd Century BC, it was translated into Greek, which is called the Septuagint, and this word, euangelion, is used in the Old Testament when news came to the captive Israelites, when they were captives in Babylon, and news began to come to all these people who had been under slavery, they’d been prisoners of war, and under captivity for 70 years. Now news is coming to them and saying, “You’re free. You’ve been set free. You can go back to your country.” That was good news; news to these people who had been under oppression, news to these people who had been taken from their homeland, and who had been forced into labor and had taskmasters over them. And now good news comes to them. And so Paul uses that same language here and he says, “It is the good news of God.” So we know the origin is not of man, it’s from God. It’s God, sending a message, and proclaiming to humanity, who are all prisoners of war, who are all slaves of sin, and saying to them, “The prison doors are open. You’ve been set free.” This is one of the prophesied ministries of the Messiah, given in Isaiah, chapter 61; Jesus quotes it in Luke, chapter 4, when He stood before His own people, in the city of Nazareth, and He says, “The scripture is fulfilled; I’m come to preach liberty to the captives,” that He’s set us free. And that is the good news at its most simplistic form that we need to recognize that you and I have been given. As those who have been set free by God, we go back into the prison, we go back into the place where people are still captive, and we say, “Listen, the prison door is open, you’ve been set at liberty by Christ, because of the work that He has done. The payment for your sin, my sin, has been dealt with by Christ Jesus there on the cross. And we can have liberty.” This is God’s good news. It didn’t come from man, it didn’t originate with man. There are people today, and there have been people for a long time, who’ve said that the Bible is just a collection of works written by men. No, it is the good news of God, revealed to man. It’s inspired by God. God declaring to people who, because of the fall of humanity there in Genesis, chapter 3, have forever since that time, been captive to sin, and God sends word and says, “You’ve been set free” by Him, by the work that He has accomplished.

And so this is something that was planned before the foundation of the world. The scripture declares, in Revelation, chapter 13, the last book of the Bible, tells us that the payment for our sin was accomplished before time ever began; the plan was accomplished before God ever said, “Let there be light.” Because Jesus is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. So it wasn’t like God’s backup plan. You see, unfortunately, there’s a way in which we sometimes we process, as Americans, who think we understand the gospel, we sometimes process the gospel through a lens that seems to think that this was kind of God’s backup plan, plan B, because plan A didn’t work. And so God says to, there where He creates, He says to Adam, “You shall eat of all the trees of the garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for the day in which you shall eat of it, you shall surely die.” And we know the story; that Adam and his wife Eve, they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and sin entered in. We’re going to look at this in depth later on in the book of Romans, Romans chapter 5 and 6. And so sin comes in and death through sin, and death spreads to all humanity, and we’re all sold under sin. And so there’s sometimes a way in which we can look at that and we can say, “Well, you know God had hoped that Adam would have been able to keep that whole thing.” No, God knew that he would never be able to keep it. And so, ultimately we know that a couple of thousand years later, God gives Law to people of Israel, there at Mt. Sinai. God calls His people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt, and He gives them the Law, and so some people say, “Well now God wants people to be saved, or make themselves righteous by following His perfect Law.” And the Law is holy, just, and good; we’re going to see that in the book of Romans. But the reality is is that the Law cannot save you. The Law reveals your sinfulness. We’ll see that in Romans, chapter 7, Paul says, “I would not have known covetousness except the Law had said, ‘Thou shall not covet.’” And so what the Law does, is it effectively convicts, it shows us that there’s no possible way that we can save ourselves. But again, sometimes we look at the Law and we say, “Well, God wanted us to follow it, and we couldn’t do it, and so His backup plan was Jesus.” And there, outside of time, outside of space, God in heaven looked at Jesus and said, “This whole Law thing’s not working,” about 2,000 years ago, and said, “You think You can take care of this?” “Yeah, I’ll go down there, I’ll try and fix it.” That’s not how it happened. He’s the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.

And we know that’s not how it happened because of verse 2 of Romans, chapter 1, “which He promised before, by His prophets in the holy scriptures.” You see, the salvation that God gives to humanity, until the coming forth of Jesus in the incarnation, which we’ll look at in just a moment, until God became a man, and tabernacled among us to deal with our sin through His sacrificial death, prior to that happening 2,000 years ago, salvation that God intended was a mystery. It was a mystery. But it’s a mystery in the sense that it’s not unknowable, it’s just only known by revelation. You see that is what a biblical mystery is about. You know, we have the idea here in our world today, in our culture, that a mystery is something that we just can’t figure out, never figure out, so it’s an unsolved mystery. But a mystery in a biblical sense, it’s like a Christmas gift. Its wrapped up, and so you can’t see what’s inside, but the whole point of a Christmas gift is that at a certain point it’s going to be opened and you’ll see what’s inside of it. Now, perhaps some of you are like my wife, who doesn’t do well with surprises. In fact, she hates surprises, both for herself and for others. So, when she has a gift for me at Christmastime, she cannot help but try and get me to guess what it is. Any of you like that? And she’ll ask questions like, “Don’t you want to open it? Don’t you want to know what it is?” So for weeks leading up to Christmas, and we’re approaching this very, very quickly, this is going to happen, that we’re going to have some Christmas gifts under the tree, and she’s going to want me to know what they are. Now, we know there is a date we’re going to figure out what they are, it’s going to opened, we’ll see what it is. But, it just drives her crazy, she just wants so much for that gift to be opened. And you know what, God’s like that. God is like that. How do we know? Because there is this mystery, called salvation, that God wants to offer as a gift to humanity. And He has a specific date…Christmas, actually…when He’s going to unfold that mystery…when He’s going to reveal that mystery, and the Person and work of Jesus Christ, who came on Christmas. We celebrate His birth on Christmas. So God’s going to unfold this. But for thousands of years leading up to that, He can’t help but contain Himself, and He’s trying to tell us what it is through His prophets. So He’s revealing bits and pieces of it. “This is what it is. This is what it’s about. The mystery; can’t wait to reveal it. This is how it’s going to be revealed.” So throughout the old covenant, throughout the Old Testament, are hundreds and hundreds of prophecies where God is revealing the mystery to humanity through inspired prophets. There are over 300 prophecies in the old covenant, the Old Testament, that were fulfilled in Jesus, at His first coming. There’s more that is yet unfulfilled. And we’re looking forward to the fulfillment of that. But just in the first coming of Jesus, we see that God, in heaven, having already planned the gift, and the day that the gift would be given, and the way in which the gift would come forth. All of it is planned, all of it is in His purpose throughout eternity, before even He said, “Let there be light,” it was planned. And in the Old Testament, He’s revealing to Jeremiah, to Isaiah, to David, He’s revealing to Moses, He’s revealing even to Abraham, these promises, these prophesied prophetic promises about what is to come. And so Paul says here, “The gospel of God,” the good news of this gift, that God planned, that God ordained, and “He has promised before, by His prophets in the holy scriptures.”

And so what we see here is that God gave prophetic promises. Where? Well, like I said, there’s 300 of them at least, for His first coming. Now, we’re not going to go through every one of them, I know you are very sad about that. But I do want to at least look at a few. Turn in your Bibles, if you would, to Isaiah, chapter 1, Isaiah, chapter 1, this was written 700 years before Jesus came. The nation of Israel, to whom this was spoken, at that time, was in a terrible place – sinful, had departed from God in their hearts, although they continued their religious practices. They had a show of righteousness, because they would continue doing religious works, and they would observe the feast days, and they would fast at the appointed times, and they would offer sacrifices. And yet their hearts were far from God. And they were fast moving towards a time when they were going to be in bondage, because of their sinful idolatry. And God says this, in Isaiah, chapter 1, verse 18, through His prophet, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet they shall be,” future, “they shall be as white as snow; though they be like red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Now, this is on the heels of Isaiah saying, “You’re doing all these religious things, and you think that those religious things are making you righteous, but those things will not make you clean.” As so the nation of Israel is saying, “Well then how do we get clean? If we can’t make ourselves clean by the Law, how do we get clean?” And God says, “Come, let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. I’m going to do a great work.”

Well, 200 years later, through the prophet Jeremiah, 500 years before Jesus would come, we read this, Jeremiah, chapter 31, just turn to the right from Isaiah, Jeremiah 31, verse 31, 31:31, God now speaking to the nation of Israel, who now is in bondage, they’ve been taken from their land, out of the land of Israel and in to Babylon, by Nebuchadnezzar; Jeremiah is still in the city of Jerusalem, but the nation is about to be completely subdued, because of their sinful idolatry; and God says this through the prophet Jeremiah, Jeremiah 31:31, “Behold, the days come,” future, “the days come, says the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; which covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto to them, says the Lord: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, says the Lord, I will put my Law in their inward parts, I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for they shall know Me, from the least of them, even to the greatest, says the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.” Five hundred years before the package is opened, God can’t contain Himself, He wants them to know, this is what it is, take a guess at it, try and figure out what it is. Don’t you want to open it? Don’t you want to see what the mystery is? “I’m going to forgive their sins and their iniquities.”

Well, at that exact same time, several hundred miles to the east of Jerusalem, where Jeremiah was, was another prophet. He was an Israelite who was in captivity in Babylon, because of the sin of idolatry, because of the wickedness of his own people, their departure from the first covenant, from the Law, and God speaks to the nation of Israel through Ezekiel – Ezekiel 36. Continue to the right – Jeremiah, Lamentations, keep going, you’ll find Ezekiel. Ezekiel 36, look at verse 26, actually start in verse 25: so here is the nation of Israel, they are in bondage because of sin, and God says this, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you,” future – I’m going to do this, “and you shall be clean from all your filthiness and from your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away your stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a new heart of flesh, and I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.” These are just a few of the great Messianic promises that God gave there in the old covenant, of His planned and purposed work that He was going to do; the good news that God was speaking to a fallen humanity because of sin. They’re in bondage, they’re in captivity because of their own sin, and God says, “This is what I’m going to do. This is my plan. The gift is wrapped; it’s a mystery to be revealed, to be opened.”

Now turn in your Bibles to 1 Timothy; New Testament, 1 Timothy, right after 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, chapter 1. Sorry, 2 Timothy, chapter 1, 2 Timothy 1. Paul the apostle is writing, this is his last letter before he would be killed by a Roman executioner; verse 8, he says to Timothy, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but be a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel,” the good news, “according to the power of God; who has saved us,” God has saved us, “and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works,” old covenant, “but according to His purpose and His grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus,” When? “before the world began, but now,” verse 10, “is manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” The gospel opens the package. It reveals the gift that was accomplished before the world began. It reveals that our salvation is not according to our works, but it’s according to His purpose, and His grace, through His Son, who was revealed, incarnated 2,000 years ago. God became a man.

So Paul says, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which God had promised before, by His prophets in the holy scriptures.” So, God gave prophetic promises. God always makes good on His prophetic promises. Deuteronomy, chapter 7, verse 9, “Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God” the faithful God, “which keeps His covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.” God made prophetic promises; God makes good on His prophetic promises; Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s prophetic promise. 2 Timothy, chapter 1 – so very clear.

Well, what is that gospel about? Well, Paul is continuing, remember, this is a doctrinal primer to disciple new believers, to fill in the blanks of what they don’t understand, what they don’t know. They’ve received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior because someone preached to them and said, “Listen, you’re on your way to hell because all creation has fallen under sin and under a curse. But God gave His Son to redeem you.” And so they put their faith in Christ and now they’re being discipled, they’re being taught. God promised these things before in the holy scriptures. Now, verse 3 – “Concerning His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, which was made 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.” The gospel, which Paul speaks of in verse 1, which he says was promised by God in verse 2, before, in the prophets of the old covenant, the gospel is that which concerns His Son. The gospel that brings salvation is that which concerns His Son. Listen, there’s a lot of things being espoused today as gospel, as good news. There’s a lot of things that are being given forth from pulpits like this, in churches like this, all across our country and the world, that are speaking things that sound really good. They’re saying things like, “Listen, the gospel is about social renewal and social justice, the gospel is about kingdom transformation here upon the earth. The gospel is about living eternally here upon the earth, like the 2 Jehovah’s witnesses who knocked on my door a couple Mondays ago, and stopped by to talk with me had to say, that we’re going to live on a rejuvenated earth. Listen, that’s not the gospel of God that brings salvation. Now, does the work of Christ transform communities? Yes. Our own nation is a show of the power of the gospel, and the ability to bring about good things unto a nation. But the gospel ultimately is not about social transformation. It’s not about social justice. Although those things are bi-products of the gospel, the prime product is this: the salvation of lost souls. And that comes about by Jesus Christ. And so the gospel is that which concerns God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, the Son of God. Jesus Christ, our Lord, which was made, or became, or came upon the scene, of the seed of David.

See, people get tripped up, like the ladies that were at my door from the Jehovah’s Witness church; they get really tripped up by that word “made.” That English word “made” seems to them to imply that He’s a created being. But really that word “ginomai” in the Greek, it means to come on the scene, to become by. In our earthly realm, God’s Son was incarnated through the seed of David, the kingly seed of David, in the nation of Israel. The great king of Israel, David. We have 2 genealogies in the scriptures that show His line through David: one in Matthew, chapter 1, and one in Luke, chapter 3. They reveal the important fact that Jesus is royalty in His earthly being, His earthly flesh. But He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The Son of God, verse 2 says, or verse 4, declared to be the Son of God, with power. Now again, people have a hard time, like those from the Jehovah’s Witness church, like those from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, they have a hard time with this concept of Jesus being the Son of God. They say, “Well, that seems to cause us problems because then it seems as though He was begat by God.” And the Latter Day Saints take this to an extreme, a big extreme. That God, in their theology, actually came down to earth and impregnated Mary in a carnal sense, to bring forth Jesus. That’s just false doctrine at it’s worst. That’s not what the scripture reveal in the least. You see, the Son of God is a title given to Jesus, who had a different title before He came a man; He had a different title in the scriptures before He came a man. Would you turn to John, chapter 1, and let’s consider what His title was. John, chapter 1, verse 1, “In the beginning was the” what, Word, “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. And all things were made by Him; and without Him was nothing made that was made.” You see, what we find here, is that this individual, who, in verse 14, we’ll see is going to become human flesh, the Word, and then, from that point on, is going to be called the Son of God, before He became human flesh, His title was the Word of God. And He is eternal. And He is equal with God the Father. And He is involved in creation, as Colossians, chapter 1 says, Colossians 1, verses 15-17, “Jesus is the image of the invisible God,” God the Father, “the firstborn of every creature,” that means He is supreme and before all things, before creation, “for by Him,” Jesus, “were all things created that are in heaven, that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by Him, and for Him, and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” The Word of God, that is the title given to this One that is called the express image of the invisible Father God; the visible representation of Him. John, chapter 1, verse 1, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God.” Of course the Jehovah’s Witnesses have added a very important, small, very small, one-letter word to this verse, and they say that He was a God. That’s not in the scriptures, and it goes against all Greek interpretation and translation. Every Greek scholar says that is a wrong translation. And they’ve gotten away with it. And a lot of people are seduced by it. And if you’ve got that wrong, you can be certain they’ve got a lot more wrong in their theology. I will tell you right now, and I will hold firm to this ‘til the day I breathe my last, the Jehovah’s Witness church is a cult. They have diminished the deity of Christ, and they fail to recognize salvation in Him alone.

And so, the Word of God, John 1, verse 14, “became,” again, they have a problem with this, because in many English translations, it says in John, chapter 1, verse 14, “and the Word was made flesh.” But it’s that same Greek word “ginomai,” He became, He came on the scene as an earthly human being. “The Word became flesh and He dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” You see, He’s given the title “Son of God” not because He was begotten by God, but it differentiates that it is God in the flesh, so that we don’t misunderstand that God, in His eternal state is human flesh. And when we read that He’s the Son of God, it implies that He has the very nature as God, the exact nature as God…just here, on earth, tabernacling among us. This is what we call, for those of you that are really into theology, this is what we call the hypostatic union, the hypostatic union. And that word, hypostatic, comes from a Greek word, hypostatis, which is what we find in Hebrews, chapter 1. Turn to Hebrews, chapter 1; Hebrews 1, verse 1, “God, who in past times, and in divers manners, spoke unto our fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed the heir of all things, by whom also He made the world.” So, Jesus, everything was made by Him. Verse 3, “Jesus, who being the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of His person, upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, and sat down at the right hand of majesty on high.” Now, in that verse, Hebrews 1, verse 3, when we read “He,” Jesus, “is the express image of His person,” His persona, in the English Standard Version, it reads, “…the exact imprint of His nature.” Jesus is the exact imprint of God the Father’s nature in human flesh. That word “nature,” or “person,” is the Greek word “hypostatis.” What does it tell us? It tells us that Jesus, in His earthly, physical form, when He was born as a boy, there unto a woman named Mary, in Bethlehem, He is God, the very God of gods, in human flesh, and He has two natures, fully God, and fully man. He did not put aside His deity to become humanity, and then reclaim His deity after His resurrection. No, He is fully God and fully man; having all the power of God. And how do we know He has all the power of God? Well, what does Paul say here in Romans, chapter 1, verse 3 and 4, he says He’s declared, or proven, to be the Son of God, with power, by the Spirit of holiness, through what? What’s it say? “The resurrection from the dead.” As we’ve looked at many times before, 1 Corinthians, chapter 15 gives us a summation of the gospel, the gospel is this: Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried, and raised again the third day, according to the scriptures, and He was seen by over 500 witnesses, including the author of that passage, the apostle Paul. And then he goes on to say, the resurrection is the most important fact of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If Christ be not raised from the dead, we are all dead in our sins, our faith is in vain. If He did not raise from the dead, we’ve got nothing. And yet He was raised from the dead, and He is alive today; He ascended into heaven, and we know that He is raised from the dead, not because we were told so by someone who heard it from someone, who heard it from someone, who heard it from someone. Over 500 eyewitnesses saw the risen Lord. The authorities in Israel who put Him to death, could not find His body. Why? Because the tomb was empty, because He raised from the dead. They had to bribe the Roman soldiers who were there at His tomb, that they would, you know, basically say that they fell asleep and His disciples came and took Him away, because they couldn’t prove what had happened. But the reality was…He raised from the dead. Jesus is alive, and His life proves that He is God incarnate when He came here to earth. It proves that what Hebrews, chapter 1 says about Him in verse 3 is true, that He, by Himself purged our sins and now is seated at the right hand of majesty on high. It proves these things to be the case.

And so Paul says here in Romans, chapter 1: Jesus, he’s starting at the very beginning, the gospel has to do with Him, that Jesus Christ is our Lord, He was come onto the scene in the earthly realm, by royal blood, of the line of king David, but He is also the Son of God, proven to be the very nature of God, with power, by the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Verse 5, “By whom, we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith, among all nations for His name.” By, or through Jesus, who, in His earthly, human form comes by the seed of David, but is the very Son of God, by Jesus, or through Him, we receive… What do we receive? Well, first and foremost – grace. We receive grace. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, John, chapter 3. But that the whole world would be saved through Him, that whosoever would call upon the name of the Lord would be saved. That’s grace. By Jesus, we have received grace. But not only have we received grace, Paul says, “and apostleship.” Now, there’s a couple different ways you can read this. Paul could be speaking specifically of himself, because he referenced earlier that he was called to be an apostle. I think it goes a little bit further than that, as I mentioned earlier, that every single one of us are called, by God, to be an ambassador, representatives of God, in this world. So we are given an apostolic calling. Not that what we speak therefore becomes scripture, not that we’re able to walk on water, or raise the dead, but that we have been given the words of eternal life, and we have been sent on mission with a message to this world, so that they would know the grace and calling of God as well, like as we do. So, by Jesus, we receive grace and apostleship. Why? Notice this…for obedience…for obedience. Now, the progression of this is awesomely important. We receive grace, and then a calling, for obedience. We don’t obey to receive grace and a calling. Incredibly important. You see, we are “saved, by grace, through faith, that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” But, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works,” for obedience. So, we don’t become saints by saintly living, we’re made saints to live saintly…made saints, by the grace of God, to live saintly. And so he says: we’ve received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith. What does it look like to obey the faith? Because, a lot of times, we just take this word “faith,” and we boil it down to a mental recognition that something happened. “Yeah, I believe that.” We say, “Well, Jesus died on a cross and raised from the dead.” And people say, “Yeah, OK, I’ll accept that. I believe that,” in their minds. Is that saving faith? Well, there’s obviously a lot of discussion in the church, and has been for a long time about these things. There’s certain passages of scripture, like the book of James, that certain people don’t like, because he says, “Show me your faith without your works, and I’ll show you my faith by my works.” Because, as Warren Wiersbe once said, a great Bible commentator and Bible teacher, he said, “A faith that doesn’t work can’t be trusted.” And so, we can’t just have a mental recognition of something, “Yeah, OK, I believe that that happened,” and say, “OK, I’m saved.” Because saving faith produces a whole new life in us, by His grace. And so, as we put our trust, our confidence in Him, we begin to obey the faith. What does it mean to obey the faith? Well, I suggest to you that obedience to the faith would involve, first and foremost, to obey the gospel by believing it…to obey the gospel by believing it. Jesus said, in John, chapter 6, verse 29, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.” So, to obey the faith is to believe the gospel. But, continuing on from there, to obey the faith is to live the gospel…to believe the gospel, and then to live the gospel. What does that mean? Well, in Philippians, chapter 2, the incarnation, God becoming a man, in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnation is described in verses 5 through 11 or so. And there, in that passage, he opens the passage in Philippians, chapter 2, verse 5, saying, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” So if we’re to live the gospel, we need to live incarnationally. What do we mean by that? Jesus, the Message Bible, the Message translation, which some people balk at, and yes there are some bad things in it, but there are some really great things in it, the Message translation says, when it speaks of His incarnation, in there it says, “Jesus moved into the neighborhood.” A few months ago we had a friend from, what ministry is Jeff from, was it Pioneers or was it Frontiers, I don’t remember, Frontiers. You remember Jeff, the guy walked back and forth and scared some people because he got too close to them or something. He said, “Move into the neighborhood, learn the language, learn the culture, and bring them to Jesus.” That’s what it means to obey the gospel, to live incarnationally: to be the hands and feet and mouth of Jesus in your neighborhood, in your workplace. That’s what it means to obey the gospel. If you’re not doing that, you’re not obeying the gospel.

So, we have received grace and a calling, so that we would do that, for obedience to the faith. And then don’t forget the last few words…among all nations…among all nations. Very same root words that are used by Jesus in the great commission, where He says, “Teach, among all nations,” panta ta ethne, in the Greek. It’s a little bit different, because of the tense and form here in this passage, but it’s exactly the same…among all nations. The gospel is to be received by grace, through faith, so that we who receive it carry it into all the world, among all nations. Speaking of nations, Paul says in verse 6, “…among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ.”

Now, those that lived in Rome, and we know this from some of the writings, ancient writings of the time, counted themselves as pretty high and mighty class of people. They were Romans, and not just in the Roman empire, but in the capital of Rome. They counted themselves as above all other nations, all other peoples. They showed that in the way that they conquered these peoples, and they held that over every other person. But Paul here classifies them as just one among all other nations. You see because, in Christ, all of that falls apart. You see sometimes we take great pride, and I can understand it, and I wouldn’t belittle it, we take great pride in the fact that we, most of us here, are Americans, born in the U.S.A. The reality is, although you may be born in the U.S.A., you’re still a sinner who needs salvation by grace. And God is not a respecter of persons. And so he reminds the people at the church in Rome, “You’re to be sent to all nations, and you’re just among all those nations, and you are also the called of Jesus Christ.” And so, later on, in chapter 12, verse 3, he’s going to say, “Hey listen, you ought not to think of yourself more highly than you should.” I love that. “You shouldn’t think more highly of yourself as you should.” Why? This is again, Romans 12, verse 3, “…but you should think soberly, according as God has given to every man a measure of faith.” You see, all humanity is on a common footing, although there are some within the body of Christ who hold to a certain 5-point standard of salvation, who don’t necessarily believe that. We do believe that God has given to all humanity a measure of faith, gives to all humanity an opportunity for salvation. We believe that because the scriptures teach that. Well, you say, “How is it then, if all have received a measure of faith, how is it then that not all believe unto salvation?” Well, I believe that another verse from Romans is really important to answer that question. In Romans, chapter 10, verse 17, after Paul says, “You need to send people out into the work among all nations,” he says, “…for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” You see, the word of God is like a fan, fanning the flame of faith that God has imparted to every human being. God has blessed us in a great way, that we live in a nation where the word of God is everywhere. But you know, there are places throughout the world today where there is no opportunity for people to hear the gospel, the word of God; no opportunity to hear the name of Jesus Christ. And that’s why it’s so important that we get a passion for these people in the world who don’t have a witness among them. But there are still, in the year 2012, when we have planes to get anywhere in the world, we can travel all over the world, we can get there with information so quickly, and yet there are people groups in the world today who have no access to the gospel. They are called unreached or unengaged peoples. How insane is that? Jeff, how many unreached people groups in the world? Two thousand, two hundred people groups, that’s what that word “ethne,” “panta ta ethne,” nations, nations doesn’t mean groups separated by boundaries. It means people separated by culture or linguistic separations. There are 2 thousand, 2 hundred unique people groups that still have no witness for Christ. This is why Paul says, “We need to have a heart for all nations. To carry the gospel to all nations, among whom, you also are called of Jesus Christ. Verse 7, and we’ll finish with this, “…to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called saints: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

And so now Paul focuses his letter to those that were of the church at Rome, he says, “You are the beloved of God.” “Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God.” Beloved of God; he calls Him God our Father, in verse 7. He’s God our Father, He’s not distant and separated, as the deist would say. He is intimately involved in our lives; He is God our Father. And He has called us saints. Now there’s two different ways you can read this in verse 7, “called saints,” because some translations put the words “called to be saints,” but those words are in italics, or they’re in brackets, which means that those words were added by the translators for clarity, but they’re not necessarily in the original language. And so there’s two different ways to read this, you can read this as “called to be saints,” meaning that God has called us to ultimately be saints, to live saintly, or you can read this as God has already called us saints in Christ. And I don’t necessarily have a problem with either way that you read it, because both are true. You see, God has, in Christ, called us, who put our faith in Him, He’s called us saints. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we live like saints. But God’s goal is to bring us along to maturity, where we live in a way that represents Him well. “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called saints, grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Nearly every New Testament letter, epistle, opens with these words, “grace and peace.” Always grace before peace. And if you’ve been a part of a Calvary Chapel for any length of time, you’ve heard that before, that there, Pastor Chuck has called them the Siamese twins of the New Testament. Grace and peace, and grace is always the first born, because you cannot have peace with God until you’ve received the gracious gift of Jesus Christ. But more importantly, Paul finishes by saying here, “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” What we find in that, is that God the Father is the source, Jesus is the channel through which God’s grace is dispatched to humanity. God the Father has extended His loving grace to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, when Jesus died on the cross for our salvation. And in Him, we receive grace and a calling to obey the gospel by incarnating the gospel among all nations. And for us, it begins at Escondido, or San Marcos, but that’s always the beginning point, because God’s plan is for all peoples. And there are people called of God in every tribe, and every nation in this world. We know that because we have prophetically the endgame in the book of Revelation, where we know that at that day, the Lord is going to be worshiped by every tribe, and every tongue. And so, would to God that He would raise up within us a passion to see all nations know His name. Amen?

Let’s stand.

Father, we pray that You would work this into our hearts. We thank You for Your gospel of grace, Your good news. Lord, stir in us a passion to carry the good news to those we come in contact with, be it at the grocery store, or the gas station, out on the softball field, at the post office, or in our neighborhood, wherever we are, Lord, stir us with a passion to share the truth that You incarnated, You became human flesh to save us who are fallen. Work in us, Your church, Lord, make Your gospel alive in us. Cause Your word, through the apostle Paul here in the book of Romans, to transform, to revolutionize the way that we see the world around us. Give us a new perspective. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.