Impressions and Expressions of the Gospel (Romans 1:16-32)

As our pastor is preaching through this most images powerful of Paul’s letters (to the Roman Christians) my desire is to make note of the impressions that the Lord is leaving on my own heart and life; with the prayer that the gospel to which Paul was called and set apart, and was not ashamed, would be revealed in me, so powerful and impressive; so as to be the expression of my own life.

In the middle of the first chapter of Romans (vs. 16-17) he speaks of “the power of God,” a reference of the same “power” in verse 4 ~ “the Son of God in power.” It is the same power and the same “gospel of His Son.” (vs. 9)  In these verses he also is setting the stage for the whole of the letter, as it refers to “salvation,” “righteousness” and “faith.”

Before he goes on to encourage with the main elements of the gospel for salvation he inserts the reason for this salvation, the knowledge and need of the gospel, using the backdrop of God’s wrath. Why can we not look over the wrath of God when we speak of the gospel? Why can’t the gospel be preached simply from the center of God’s mercy and love?

Before we can know where we need to be we must know where we are. Without understanding the power and depths of our depravity we cannot fully understand the need for the gospel and its power.

Oppression and Suppression of the Truth
“The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.”   In Romans 1: 18-32 we have a description of humanity in its lowest state of sin and misery. Since the antithesis began in the garden oppression has a grip on the hearts and minds of the creatures that God created to be His image-bearers. Instead of obedience to God man has rebelled, and stirred the wrath of God upon us all.

Instead of accepting all that God has created as evidence of His rule and reign over us, man continues to suppress the truth. “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God, but became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”

Even as God proved the weakness of our thinking and living on our own, with Adam and Eve, so in giving man up to their own lusts, He reveals how deep into our own depravity we come without Him. Under the power of oppression and sin man suppresses the truth and love of God; and becomes as the lowest creatures, following their own lusts as they have no power of righteousness within them.

Having read and studied Paul’s letter to the Romans, meditating on the truths that are written there, I was not prepared for the tears that came during this sermon. Knowing the mercy and love of God that comes through the power of the gospel of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and how Paul was not ashamed to live and proclaim this salvation for righteousness, I am amazed at how the ungodly are not ashamed of their sin, and of those who “give approval to those who practice them.”

We, as a congregation, were reminded that we, though believers are part of this fallen humanity, still subject to the oppression and temptation to sin.  It is only through the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ that we have any hope of righteousness and of escaping God’s wrath.

I praise the Lord for such power of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit that works faith by His grace, (Ephesians 2:8-10) to make known to us and overcome the ungodliness and unrighteousness in us who believe.  This power is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  (Ephesians 1:19-20; Ephesians 2:1-6) a power greater than the oppression of this world and our sin.

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11

Dear Father in heaven, thank you for this letter to the Romans. Please open our hearts to hear, and obey the gospel wherein your righteousness is revealed from faith for faith to us. Keep us aware of our own nature; keep us close to you. Search us and know our hearts; try us and know our thoughts; see if there be any wicked way in us; and lead us the way everlasting. Fill us with the power of your Spirit to speak the truth of Christ ~ not ashamed but eager to share the gospel of Christ wherever you lead us.

Related articles:
The Purpose of Paul’s Letter to the Romans
Obligated and Eager
The Father’s Glory and Mother Nature

Humility in the Disciples of Jesus ~ Chapter 5


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If you have been with me from the beginning of this review on Humility you know that we have gotten into something that is beyond any of our speculations. We have learned that humility is not just another commodity that we can add to our purchases in this life.

For a long time I have observed that Christ in Christianity is not just another order that we place before God, but a supernatural work of God in our hearts, minds, and lives, as He is preparing a people with whom to share His kingdom and His glory.

I am now concluding that no one will be a part of His glory without the preparation for it, and this includes the humility of Christ. Yes; are we not learning that humility is the first, the chief, and the root of all His gifts of grace? “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8

Is it not His mercy that brings us to Christ in a supernatural new birth of His Spirit (John 3: 3, Romans 8:1-9) to grow us in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?
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2 Peter 3:18)

His purpose for His grace and our faith is given in Romans 8:29 “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

As we see this development of God’s grace in the lives of Christ’s disciples in this chapter in Andrew Murray’s Humility (PDF) we are encouraged in the thought of “how real our participation can be in the perfect triumph of Christ’s humility over the pride Satan had breathed into man. “

As we remember key words from this book we see in this chapter the repetition of the word power. We understand that just as we have no power to birth ourselves, whether physically or spiritually (this is the supernatural work that we referred to earlier) we have no power of our own to cast out the power of pride and self; or to grow and to conform ourselves to Christ’s image.

Three points keep us on track in this chapter.
1. How much there can be of earnest and active Christianity while humility is still sadly wanting.
2. How weak all external teaching and all personal effort are, to conquer pride or give the meek and lowly heart.
3. It is only by the indwelling of Christ in His divine humility that we become truly humble.

There were times when Jesus used the expression “O, ye of little faith,” knowing that his disciples were not yet mature in their understanding of His calling. We, like them are eager to serve in our roles as newborns, yet we are not developed in our faith. For most, we leave off the study and devotion that is needed to grow and learn what we need to know. And even with our study and prayer and earnest seeking of the kingdom of God and His righteousness we cannot by these acquire this power of humility.

During this year’s desire for the humility of Christ there has been a continual reminder of our limitations. We are limited by our lack of knowledge, understanding, and power; but more by God’s own will, His choosing, His timing, and His good pleasure.

We see this limitation in Jesus’ disciples. They spent three years with Him, in His presence, seeing His example, and hearing His teachings. They had a limited knowledge and understanding until the supernatural power of God came upon them at Pentecost.

pentecostThose years with Him were only for preparation. The power of the Holy Spirit that came after Jesus’ ascension was the fulfilling of Jesus’ words of the promise of the Father, (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4) after He had finished His redemptive work. It was to establish their leadership of the church, through which the work of Christ would be known, where believers would receive the teachings of Jesus; grow in their knowledge and understanding; and be conformed to His image; and by which others would be brought to follow Christ.

Other Reminders From Jesus’ Ministry
We remember Jesus’ words to Simon Peter before he understood what Jesus and His kingdom was about; “ And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Was this not the change that would come after His ascension?
In his pride he responded; “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death”. (Luke 22:31-33) Then he denied Jesus three times.

Jesus’ words in Luke 11:13 reveals the place and need of the Holy Spirit; “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

“The law of the Spirit of life in Christ has delivered us from the law of sin and death,” (Romans 8:2) bringing us to the knowledge and understanding of this life in Christ; to experience His nature and disposition in us.

As in all of life we want things immediately, but as this life in Christ is totally different than any we have ever known, we are learning that it does not all come at once. Jesus at one point told His disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12)

The Preparation
From this chapter we see the work of Christ and His Spirit in our hearts and lives for this necessary grace of humility.
1. The teaching (revelation from the written word and the Holy Spirit) and example.
2. Our convictions, our desires, our prayers and our vain efforts.
3. The reality of the Spirit of Christ living in us and producing His own nature and disposition.

“Nothing can avail but that the new nature, in its divine humility, will be revealed in power to take the place of the old. It will become as truly our very nature as the old ever was.

“Pride is ours, from Adam, and rules in us with such terrible power, because it is ourself—our very nature. Humility (from Christ) must be ours in the same way; it must be our very self, our very nature.   As natural and easy as it has been to be proud, it must—it will be—to be humble. The promise is, “Where,” even in the heart, “sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5;20)

How long must we pray, desiring what is promised in His word. It is not for me to say. I pray and wait, even as the disciples did for the promise of the Father. I know that He is doing His work, for I desire to desire what He desires. I live each day in anticipation of His will and His work, grateful for a crumb from the master’s table; waiting for the feast, and telling others about it. I pray this humility of Christ for me and all His people, so that we may receive all that He has promised to us and prepared for us ( 1 Corinthians 2:9).

All the Work of Christ
In whatever category we find ourselves listed at the end of this chapter we can in His timing understand, desire and pray for; and eventually experience the deliverance and victory. Even so, we will always need to expect more of the fullness of Jesus, our Lord, our Savior, our Redemmer.

Jesus life and death was all for this purpose ~ the abundant life that is rooted in His humility. From heaven to earth; from earth to heaven; from heaven, by His own Spirit, to the hearts of His people Christ has come, and continues to live and reign in our hearts and lives ~ in our preparation for His eternal glory.

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

 Dear heavenly Father, we wait on you, desiring the fulfillment of the promises that are ours in your Son, for His humility to be revealed in us, for our conformity to His image; for the abundant life that is in Him alone.  Forgive us for our impatience, and anything that may prevent our receiving all that you have prepared for us.

“Of your great goodness make known to me and take from my heart every kind and form and degree of pride; and awaken in me the deepest depth and truth of that humility which can make me capable of your light and your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name I pray.   Amen.

Related Sermon:  Al Martin ~ The Indicatives of Grace

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