"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


Bookmark and Share

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – “On the Road of Righteousness” Concluding Chapter One

~  By James J. Fire

As we now pick up where we left off, I want to examine vs. 16 in Chapter One of this powerful epistle of the Apostle Paul a bit more closely:

ROMANS 1:16 
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek

I wonder if one could read the writings of pastors from a hundred years ago, and see which of these echoed the  sentiment that Paul here expressed, and then compare their convictions with those of pastors today and note the differences; how divergent those differences would be.

I fear that too many are losing, or have already lost such conviction in favor of ‘accommodation’, that is, being tolerant of extra-biblical views expressed even by those intellectual (and liberal!) Bible scholars who downplay, or even deny the inerrancy of God’s Holy Word and the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the sins of the world (Follow the tracking of this downward spiral into apostasy in Paul Smith’s newest release New Evangelicalism: The New World Order.
Anne Kisly has posted a recent book report on this!

Note how Paul describes the Gospel: “. . . it is the power of God unto salvation* . . .”

This Gospel is effective, capable and self-contained in its ability to bring fallen humanity into a genuine salvation experience and communion with God as their Father – no supplemental philosophies, rites, rituals, dogma; no borrowing of other religious views and, or convictions and, or beliefs are necessary, be they based on Christian perspectives or otherwise

To be more exact, anything added to the Gospel is considered blasphemy – whether it’s our own works or alternative spirituality, because such things presume that they have an innate quality comparatively worthy to supplement the work of Christ Jesus on the cross!

* For a comprehensive view of salvation and all of its component parts, follow this link to Scofield’s notes: Salvation – An Exposition of Romans 1:16

No genuine need exists (except in the minds of Emergent teachers, and synergistic New Agers) to ‘make the Gospel more relevant’ or create a ‘new spirituality’ to redefine a Gospel which these blind guides (MATT 23:16,24) think that “no one has gotten it (the Gospel) right yet”. The power is of Almighty God, and only He ALONE via the Gospel of Christ is able to convert sinners of dead spirits to saints with resurrection power and new life in Jesus! No one has the right to re-define, change (from old to ‘new’), or re-imagine the Gospel or any biblical doctrine for that matter, and that means NO ONE!!
From The Berean Call: The Shameful Social Gospel

We are responsible to believe the Gospel; and this omits any works or efforts of our own!

ROMANS 1:17 
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith

My quandary in my ‘B.C. days’ was, ‘How could I possibly obtain righteousness before God, and thereby find acceptance with Him?’ I grew up as a Roman Catholic, and early on, I saw the vanity of ritual and ceremony as being incapable of producing any real righteousness in me.
(For any who have not read my testimony and would like to do so, please follow this link [but I have to warn you, it’s no short story!])

When I realized that by simply placing my faith and trust in the LORD Jesus and what He accomplished for me, by dying for my sins on that cross, it obviously revolutionized my entire life! And most of my family came to believe as well, once they realized that what I had was not ‘another religion’ or a ‘conversion to some wacky cult’.

“. . . from faith to faith . . .” 

There are various views on this expression; some suggest that our faith is an individual matter (which it is) and that we must all exercise our God-given faith in believing the Gospel, that is, from one person’s faith to another person’s faith, each must place their faith in Christ. 
Others see this as meaning the faith of Jews and Gentiles, each coming from their own vantage points of the Old and New Testaments to the cross and thereby the salvation offered through the Lamb of God. 

Still others state that this refers to the progressive faith of any particular individual, as it develops into stronger recourse and depth in their life towards Christ Jesus.

I see merit in all three positions, but most especially the first, for as Paul quotes Habakkuk, “the just shall live by faith” that is, the individual that places faith in the LORD will find life inherit in the LORD Himself. 

An interesting note from Chuck Missler is that this quote from HABBAKUK 2:4b is cross-referenced in three New Testament books: GAL 3:11; HEB 10:38 and here in ROM 1:17. These three epistles in a sense form a trilogy that expresses the three different aspects of the verse in Habakkuk. 

- The theme of Galatians is the obtaining of life in Christ Jesus apart from works, thus “the just shall live by faith". 
- The theme of Hebrews is the expression of faith in Christ Jesus alone, and putting away the shadows of things as found in the Old Testament, thus “the just shall live by faith” 
- And as we will see, the theme of Romans is how we may become justified and thereby made righteous before a Holy God, thus “the just shall live by faith”. 

ROMANS 1:18-19 
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them

Wrath is the result of holy judgment against sin; it’s the inevitable consequence of how a Holy God must deal with rebellion, sin and transgression from His creation. To do otherwise would be contrary to His holy nature as Creator and Judge. Of course we realize that God’s nature is also love, and that He is unwilling that “any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” as it says, 

2 PETER 3:9 
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance
See JOHN 6:51; 7:17,37; 10:9; 12:26; also MARK 8:34-35

ROMANS 10:11,13 
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved

Every soul ever born on this planet has a choice as to whether or not they will receive salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, once presented with these truths; and by God’s grace, will receive the promise of eternal life. However . . . 

ROMANS 10:16 
. . . they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 

Skeptics and disbelievers will ridicule the love of God, saying, “So your God is such a loving God that He extends welcome to any and all, but if they refuse Him, then its all hell fire and brimstone! What kind of love is that??” As if the latter is the consequence of refusing the former! Yet such is not the case. The fact of the matter is that we are all condemned already because the sinful nature is inherent in our very beings, for we are all children of Adam, who fell into sin with Eve by rebelling against the command of the LORD.

It is the Divine grace of the LORD which has made this provision of salvation through Jesus Christ, and if any reject such, then this glorious intervention of the Gospel is circumvented by the disbelief of such lost souls, and they simply continue unimpeded on their way to the wrath of God’s judgment and its consequential damnation (See 
JOHN 3: 16-19; 2 THESS 1: 7-9). We Christians are not appointed to wrath but to obtain salvation (ROM 5:9; 1 THESS 5:9
; the completed work of salvation which will result in our glorification, that is, the redemption of our corrupt bodies at the rapture of the church); yet this Christ-rejecting world shall indeed suffer the wrath of the Lamb of God during that time period known as the Great Tribulation of seven years (see the recent article on 24 Signs of the LORD’s RETURN As Found in Matthew 24 – on TTUF.

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? 

A graphic illustration I use that demonstrates God’s willingness to show mercy and not judgment is that ‘He drags His feet when it comes to Judgment, but sprints to deliver mercy’. 

A great example of this is the man Methuselah, the oldest man that ever lived in all history! It was prophesied by bestowing him this name that he was given that the year in which he died (his name actually means, ‘his death shall bring’) the Judgment of the Flood would come; yet God also made immediate provision for Noah and his family long before the first drop of rain ever fell.

Also, the judgment of the tribes of people in Canaan didn’t fall upon them for well over four hundred years, during which time, God waited for them to repent, another demonstration of the long suffering of the LORD.
Scripture is also abundant in the revelation of the mercies of God:

1 CHRON 21:13; NEH 9:19; PSALM 25:6; 51:1; 106:45; ISAIAH 55:3; 63:15; LAM 3:32 – all of this from the ‘God of the Old Testament’ Who supposedly is all about wrath and judgment; and He is, for those that reject His grace and mercy, but only fools do such things! 

And getting back to ROMANS 1, and our text, such are these ungodly, unrighteous fools who “hold the truth in unrighteousness” – “hold” in this reference is from the Greek word, katecho, meaning “to hold back, detain, retain from going away, to restrain, hinder (the course or progress of), that which hinders, Antichrist from making his appearance; to check a ship's headway i.e. to hold or head the ship to hold fast, keep secure, keep firm possession of to get possession of, take to possess”. Katecho is the word used also in ROMANS 7:6 where the law held us captive due to our sinful nature and crimes committed against the Throne. It is used in the positive sense in HEB 10:23

Yet here we see that while there are those that have access to the truth, and have the means by which they could benefit from it, they damn themselves by restraining and hindering it in its effective ministry. Even the truth of God as Creator which is manifested obviously in the orderly design of creation, they have rejected (as Paul will elaborate in a moment); instead they favor the fantastical theory of evolution* and deny any evidence of a Creator-God. 

[*Note to TTUF readers: We will. LORD willing, engage in an ongoing series dealing with evolution, utilizing various resources; please keep this endeavor in prayer! Thanks!] 

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse

The incredible complexities and infinite detail as found in the macro-cosmic as well as the microcosmic world is astoundingly mind boggling, where ever and what ever might be examined. The very positioning of the stars and planets, and our distance from the sun, the size of our atmosphere and the depth of the Earth’s crust are all established with very impressive parameters: alter any one of these things, and life on Earth would not be possible. The supposition that it took billions of years for these factors to resolve to the precision we now see them in is utterly false as the idea of an ancient Earth is easily disprovable. For information on this, visit this site:

Evolution Handbook - Chapter 4: The Age of the Earth

The more we learn about “the invisible things” such as cells, DNA, molecules, atoms, sub-atomic particles and quantum mechanics, the more we understand that our observable reality is not derivative of a ‘happy accident’ or randomness. Rather, they are all a demonstration of the LORD’s “eternal power and Godhead” and thus any nay-Sayers skeptics, humanists and evolutionists are “without excuse”.

ROMANS 1:21-23 
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 
And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things

In reference to vs. 21 and spiritual darkness, see also – MATT 6:23; JOHN 1:5; 3:19; EPH 4:17-19

While the evidence in creation is readily available, the rejection of such is a rejection of the God of such handiwork and thus the glory of God is not exhibited in their lives; and since ‘God is dead’ in their eyes, they see no need to be thankful; a heart devoid of thankfulness to God is a heart prone and susceptible to blinding pride. 

As Paul states, darkness filled their hearts and in their blindness they attributed wisdom to themselves. This resulted in the devilish ‘wisdom’ of the worship of creation (JAMES 3:15). This wisdom is not only demonic, but sensual, that is, pertaining to the senses only; such is the philosophy of materialistic science that insists that nothing spiritual exists; only the physical universe is a reality. Anything of the soul or spirit, love, beauty, honor, truth, etc. are not the products of mind or Mind, but merely the product of chemical reactions in the brain), rather than the Creator. This phenomena is not only something attributable to the pagan tribes of ancient history that worshiped sun, moon, stars and mountains, rivers, wind and fire, and also animals of all kinds, perceiving them with god-like abilities, but also a practice of modern day ‘religionists’:

We see the same phenomena today with the New Age movement, various shamanistic religions, those that espouse witchcraft, and even elements of the Emergent crowd that sees ‘God in everything’ that is, panentheism (God in all things, as something similar but different than pantheism, which is all is God, and God is all). 

We see the same thing in science when Carl Sagan states that “the Universe is all there is, all there was and all there will ever be, and that if there is a God, then it’s the Universe itself”; also with those who are zealous in preserving the Earth in an ecological war that would make all humanity P.O.W.s or even casualties of war, for the sake of preserving a little known, almost extinct fish, bird, turtle, what have you.

How ironic that that which God created to be of service to humanity (the Earth and all therein), human wisdom has determined that we are the obligated servants of this planet; how very like the blinding power of rebellious sin to reverse the priorities that God laid down in His Divine Order!

And speaking of ungodly, unrighteous reversals . . .

ROMANS 1:24-27 
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet

Referring back to vs. 18, note that the foolish “hold (down) the truth in unrighteousness” and yet they proceed even further by “chang[ing] the Truth of God into a LIE…” in vs.25. Such devilish deterioration and devolution! 

The word used for “change” in vs. 25 is metalasso, which means, “to exchange, to surrender one thing for another, and exchange meaning a supposedly equivalent swap.” This is relativism at it’s ‘finest’; where one may view Truth as truth, but no more so or less than any other ‘truth’/lie. I believe that it’s in the willingness to make such an exchange that the spiritual principle of deception comes into play in the hearts and minds of such willing to do so. Paul makes a connection between such deception and the sexual perversions he relates to it as a resultant experience. 

I know that those who claim to be Christian homosexuals have brushed off such verses as the one above as not referring to ‘godly homosexuals’ – a misnomer, most certainly – but refers to the pagan prostitutes (male and female) of ancient religions, most common in Greek and Roman cultures. While such practises were in fact present among pagan religions, such as the worship of Aphrodite (and other gods in the pantheon), there is no substantiation to assume that Paul was referring to these at all. Such verses in scripture are abundantly clear, whether homosexual people want to view them as such or not: LEV 18:22; 20:13; 1 KINGS 14:24; 1 COR 6:9 (refer to “effeminate” and “abusers” in context); 1 TIM 1:10 (“defile themselves with mankind”). Let me be clear on this extremely sensitive issue: 

First of all, these statements of truth are not coming from me, but from the Scriptures – this is what God says about sin; this sin, like all sin can be forgiven in the Person of Jesus Christ, and we are all sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation!

Secondly, I know that there are Christians who were previously in this perverse lifestyle or at the very least have had one or more homosexual encounters (either consensual or not) and as a result find themselves drawn towards more experiences of the same. 

I know that afterwards the feeling of shame and guilt can be overwhelming, even to the point of attempting suicide. I also know that the LORD Jesus is an able Deliverer and Healer of such sin, guilt, pain and struggles; even for some Christians (or non-Christians for that matter), those that have struggled for so long but to no avail and in despondency have given in to their feelings and surrendered the fight. 

Let me tell you that there is hope – you do not have to be a slave to your passions, impulses, feelings and drives, but can find freedom from such. For more on this pertinent issue please look at this article -

Christianity and homosexuality and at these videos – (Be advised, mature content contained in these presentations):

Ex-homosexual Shares His Testimony (6 mins, 51 secs) 

and Nathaniel’s Testimony of Deliverance – Part 1 (8 mins, 12 secs) of 2 (note: the views and perspectives of The 700 Club are not necessarily those of us at TTUF).

It's the earnest and prayerful hope that those who are reading this article, that find themselves bound by this sin will know the sweet freedom in Christ Jesus that these men in the video presentations above have found!

This ‘gay liberation’ movement of the past thirty years plus was highly controversial at its beginning, but now society has been so conditioned, that it no longer sees homosexuality as an ‘issue’. There are other issues now that are no less controversial, rather the reverse, far more so – that are beginning to demand the same rights and freedom that homosexuality has gained (and continues to do so):

Mainstreaming Pedophilia (WARNING: Some statements made in this article are graphic and offensive; please be advised!).

ROMANS 1:28-31 
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 
Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful

It has been eloquently and rightly said that there really is no such thing as evil; this is not some Hindu or New Age dogma I’m speaking of here. Obviously, in the world we see examples of evil every day. So what do I mean by this statement?
In a comparative sense, there is no such thing as cold; cold does not exist in a measurable sense in and of itself. Cold is the loss of caloric energy or heat, and when we say something is cold, what we are really saying is that it lacks heat energy.

Likewise there is no such thing as darkness – we measure the amount of light in any given environment and the extreme lack of photons present in any given situation is perceived as simply being ‘dark’.

So in this sense, evil is the lack of God’s Spirit and all that this entails – where there is a complete void of God’s presence and influence, there is evil (a lack of all that is holy, good, righteous, etc. For those who wonder how a God of love could allow such evil in this world, the above analogies offer much insight!).

When one has such a lack of God’s influence and presence the result morally speaking is listed above and ultimately resorts to a state of reprobate existence. Other passages that speak of the deplorable condition of mankind, absent the Spirit of God in life are found in:

And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 

Also: GAL 5:18–21 and 2 TIM 3:1-9

From Matthew Henry we have this commentary on that period of early history as found in GENESIS 6
The Spirit of God strove with men, by sending Enoch, Noah, and perhaps others, to preach to them; by waiting to be gracious, notwithstanding their rebellions; and by exciting alarm and convictions in their consciences. But the Lord declared that his Spirit should not thus strive with men always; he would leave them to be hardened in sin, and ripened for destruction.
This he determined on, because man was flesh: not only frail and feeble, but carnal and depraved; having misused the noble powers of his soul to gratify his corrupt inclinations. God sees all the wickedness that is among the children of men; it cannot be hid from him now; and if it be not repented of, it shall be made known by him shortly.
The wickedness of a people is great indeed, when noted sinners are men renowned among them. Very much sin was committed in all places, by all sorts of people. Any one might see that the wickedness of man was great: but God saw that every imagination, or purpose, of the thoughts of man's heart, was only evil continually. This was the bitter root, the corrupt spring.
The heart was deceitful and desperately wicked; the principles were corrupt; the habits and dispositions evil. Their designs and devices were wicked. They did evil deliberately, contriving how to do mischief. There was no good among them. God saw man's wickedness as one injured and wronged by it. He saw it as a tender father sees the folly and stubbornness of a rebellious and disobedient child, which grieves him, and makes him wish he had been childless.
The words here used are remarkable; they are used after the manner of men, and do not mean that God can change, or be unhappy. Does God thus hate our sin? And shall not we be grieved to the heart for it? Oh that we may look on Him whom we have grieved, and mourn! God repented that he had made man; but we never find him repent that he redeemed man. God resolves to destroy man: the original word is very striking, 'I will wipe off man from the earth,' as dirt or filth is wiped off from a place which should be clean, and is thrown to the dunghill, the proper place for it.
God speaks of man as his own creature, when he resolves upon his punishment. Those forfeit their lives who do not answer the end of their living. God speaks of resolution concerning men, after his Spirit had been long striving with them in vain. None are punished by the justice of God, but those who hate to be reformed by the grace of God.”
Full web content on Scofield's commentary on Genesis 6 Some of the views expressed by Dr. Scofield are not necessarily those of this writer.

ROMANS 1:32 
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them
Such is the deplorable, irremediable condition of humanity whose ability to genuinely reform, much less transform their nature is abjectly non-existent. It isn’t enough that humanity happily partakes of sin and behavior that is offensive before the Holy God, but that we have that tendency to take delight in those which partake of the same sins as we ourselves, making us doubly guilty before the Judge of the whole Earth!

Paul continues to lead us through this epistle with charges and declarations most fitting for fallen man; he lays down such a logical, practical foundation in establishing our utter hopelessness and futility in obtaining righteousness by our own efforts, whether we are Jew or Gentile in the next couple of chapters, that no argument can assail against it!

This concludes this study, and we will pick up beginning at chapter two, next time on TTUF!

No comments: