Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Reader's Tour of the Book of Romans


Message #6 from "NT70 - 70 Days through the New Testament" by Pastor Jeff MacLurg, Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash.; www.oursaviorsbaptist.org; Sunday, Aug. 7, 2011 (My notes from the 9 and 10:45 am services - I pray my notes will be useful to you.)

--- ABOUT HIS FAVORITE BOOK ---

First book he ever memorized, as part of an 8-week bus trip back and forth between Europe and the Middle East after his first year of Bible college. this is a thinking book - Paul lays it out and then goes from here to here to here.

Becoming RIGHTEOUS and living RIGHTEOUSLY in light of a RIGHTEOUS God.

Good news isn't getting to go to heaven someday, it's about being able to be right in front of God now.

--- THINKING THROUGH ROMANS ---

Intro: Paul's Greetings and Gospel - 1:1-17

He was paving the way for his future visit, but also lays out incredible explanations of Christianity.  The good news of Christ took about 24 years to make it from Jerusalem to Rome. Paul gives them some more insight into their newfound faith.

Conclusion: Plans and Greetings - 15:14-16:27

Even though he hasn't yet gotten to Rome, he knows many people there and he knows he will go there. He names at least 27 people in Rome who are part of the new church. He knows them well.

Righteousness Lost and Gained - 1:18-5:21

How all people have become unrighteous and deserves God's wrath.

God's wrath on the unrighteous - 1:17-3:20

... on the DOWN AND OUTERS (the pagan among pagans, the worst of the worst) - the person who ignores the reality of God. Worshippers of idols, worshippers of the earth, turns to perversions (sexual and other).  Happens in every society. The people who would hear this and say "Yeah, let them have it!" These are the kinds of people no one would dispute deserve God's wrath (by our judgement) - the Hitlers and Bin Ladens - no one's saying "that's not fair" - but Paul is just sneaking up on them - 1:18-22

... on the UPPITY AND OUTERS - the religious frauds (they just know how to cover it up better, but they too are idolaters and sexually immoral). They're nom better, they're just better at covering it up - 2:1-16

.... on the IN, BUT OUTERS - the Jews - the special chosen people who live according to laws instead of God's love - people who teach something they themselves aren't doing - Paul is saying being a Jew never saved anyone, that it's not a birthright but a heart-thing - 2:17-3:8

... on the ALL AND OUTERS - um... Yeah... We're all sinners. We deserve an eternity away from God based on our hearts and minds. - 3:9-20

There are people in this room who are looking at the sins in their own lives and thinking they don't deserve to be in this room learning about God's love.  And they are looking around at all the other people in the room who look so put together and spotless. And not noticing those people looking around just as much. The ground is equal as far as sin and the cross is concerned.

There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3).  And there is no one here today thinking "I've got it all together.". We, who are so wrong with God, how can we be right?

Since we can't be good enough to earn it, God needs to be good enough to give it.

--- GOD'S GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS TO THOSE WITH FAITH - 3:21-5:21 ---

* How God gives righteousness - 3:21-31 - he paid for it, you get the benefits. Such a deal.

* Abraham's faith illustrates it - 4:1-25 - how can you say everyone was equal? We were given the law by Moses and we were told we were special, chosen.  Look at Abraham - he wasn't declared right by being good, but by his faith.

* The results of righteousness - you have access to God, you have hope and joy in God, you are no longer at war with God - 5:1-11

* The history of righteousness - 5:12-21 - Paul wants to make sure you understand how you got here. You are a descendent of Adam, who chose to sin.  He passed that down the line. So you were born into sin and also choose sin.  But Jesus changes all that. Adam got you into this mess, Jesus gets you out.

--- RIGHTEOUSNESS IN PERSONAL LIVING - 6:1-8:39 ---

* Becoming free from personal sin - 6:1-23 - believe what Jesus did and consider it true. Make the decision to say no to sin.

* Being realistic in the struggle with sin - 7:1-25 - everybody knows we all struggle with sin. How is it that a person who's been declared "free from sin" still struggles with sin? Who will set us free? God will. (Future-tense.  It will happen.  Repeatedly.)

* Being empowered in Spirit-ual living - 8:1-39 - God works for the good of those who love Him.  If God is for us, who can be against us? Many other passages that speak to God's love for us. Another syrupy Christian song about God's love. Yes, pour on that syrupy goodness.

--- GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS IN THE CASE OF ISRAEL - 9:1-11:36 ---

Even if you didn't have the special benefit of birth, of being a Jew, you still get the benefit of God.

But... What if you're a Jew? What about God's promises? About the land, about being God's chosen people?

Whatever God chooses to do is right. Salvation has always been by faith, it has never been by birthright. Moses said this, Abraham said this, King David said this, the prophets said it.

So... Is there any advantage to being born into the people of Israel?

God chose Israel as His chosen people. He wanted them to bring the message of salvation to the world.

But wait... Did God give up on us?

No, but insomuch as you've rejected Jesus, you put yourselves up against God.  God still has great plans and will fulfill His promises. Establishment of the country of Israel in 1948 was a miracle - that was an event like no other, for a country to come into existence after not existing for nearly 1900 years.  God still has a plan.

The Seahawks have a lot of faith in a ground game, but it's not been working.  God switches it up and throws the long bomb to Jesus who runs it into the end zone. They still favor the ground game, but they need to recognize God called a new play. (In this case, there was a Plan B - it was very disruptive and painful.)

--- RIGHTEOUSNESS IN SOCIAL LIVING - 12:1-15:13 ---

* 12 Special Relationships - 70 commands for living. (Only 6 in Romans previously.)

* 13 With respect to authorities - respect them.

* 14 Other Christians - lighten up. (And stay tuned, we'll revisit this in a month.)

--- APPLICATION ---

So what?

1. Receive God's gift of righteousness.

Believe - believe that God wants to give righteousness to you.  If you're already a Christian, double-back and believe more.

Receive - it's a gift.  It's not something you work hard to accomplish.  It's not something you became by trying harder.

2. Lean on the Holy Spirit to change you.

You keep trying to do it yourself with no luck. But give over your life (your mind, body, plans, desires) daily to the Holy Spirit and ask him to work in you.

3. Live in God's hope.

You are loved, your are cared for. He wishes for your best. We can never follow enough rules, never be good enough. We cannot earn salvation. But with God's help, we can be a light in the world, helping others to come to know God.
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