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The Gospel According to Paul

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Next to Jesus Christ there was no man that made a greater impact on the word besides the apostle Paul. He wrote most of the New Testament, he established the first churches in the Roman Empire. He was a great man of God. Tonight we're going to get an insight into this man's life, what it takes to make an impact on people, on the world.
The first seventeen verses in the book of Romans are really an autobiography. Paul talks about himself. He speaks in the first person, he shares his heart, he exposes his life. Tonight we're going to look at Paul: the man, his message, his ministry, his motivation (because he serves as a model for us).
Romans 1:1 NIV84
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—

Paul - The Man

Paul says three things about himself.

1. A Servant

Romans 1:1 NIV
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—
Everyone is a servant… to something or someone. Who are you a servant to? Everyone has a master. It may be someone or something, but everyone is serving something or someone.
Paul changed masters. He had been a slave to legalism and sin, now he gladly served Jesus…
Romans 6:16 GW
16 Don’t you know that if you offer to be someone’s slave, you must obey that master? Either your master is sin, or your master is obedience. Letting sin be your master leads to death. Letting obedience be your master leads to God’s approval.

2. An Apostle

Romans 1:1 NLT
1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.
You are called to serve the Lord and to use your gifts in ministry. If you are not serving the Lord you are AWOL because we are all called into service. You may not be called to be an apostle, or a pastor, but you are called to minister. And you are called to do something with your gifts and talent.s

3. Set Apart for the Gospel

Set apart means you have been streamlined for the Gospel. It narrows your purpose. You are set apart specialize in the Gospel.

Paul’s Message

Paul’s message is the Gospel.
Romans 1:2–3 NLT
2 God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. 3 The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line,
Gospel means Good News. Any good news is gospel. The Gospel of Jesus is really good news.
Paul says several things about the Gospel.

1. Paul says the Gospel is promised.

Romans 1:2 NLT
2 God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.
God promised long ago that Jesus was coming.
Hebrews 1:1–2 NLT
1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.
IN Luke, Jesus is talking to a couple of guys after his resurrection and shares the scriptures about himself.
Luke 24:27 NLT
27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
The Gospel didn't start in the New Testament. Moses preached the Gospel. David preached the Gospel. Abraham preached the Gospel. All through the Old Testament we see this good news. We see it through signs, sacrifice, symbols, promises of God, predictions.
The Old Testament says one thing, "He's coming...he's coming... he's coming..." First, back in Genesis, it's kind of veiled and vague but then you start seeing symbols and types and illustrations. As it gets closer and closer to the time of the Messiah, it gets more and more specific. Paul says that the first thing we can say about the gospel is it's promised in the Bible.

2. Paul said the Gospel is a person… Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:3 NLT
3 The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line,
It’s about Jesus. The Gospel is about Jesus.
If you take Buddha out of Buddhism, you still have a good philosophy.
If you take Mohammed out of Islam, you still have a lot of rules to follow.
If you take Jesus out of Christianity, it falls apart. Christianity is based on a relationship with Jesus.
Jesus was an actual human being. He was a descendant of David.
There are 2 genealogies about Jesus… one in Matthew 1 and the other in Luke 3. One is of Joseph and the other is Mary.
Jesus was a real man, not part God and part human. 100% both. If he hit his thumb with a hammer, it hurt. If he cut himself, he bled.
Hebrews 4:15 NLT
15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.
If Jesus Christ had not been a whole human being He couldn't be an example for us. He couldn't die for us because He took a man's place. He couldn't experience the suffering we experience. He couldn't comfort us because he wouldn't know what it was like. But because He was 100% human, He went through what we went through and we can come to Him and say, "God, I'm struggling today" and He understands. He was 100% human. He had real hurts and actually died.
Jesus was not only human, but he was 100% God…
Romans 1:4 NLT
4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.
The resurrection proves Jesus was God.
1 Corinthians 15:14 NLT
14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.

3. Paul says the Gospel is about Grace.

Romans 1:5 NIV
5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
What dies Grace mean? God’s Riches at Christ Expense. God doesn’t give us what we deserve, he gives us what we need… Grace. The Gospel is the good news of Grace.

4. Paul said the Gospel is for the Whole World.

Romans 1:5–6 NLT
5 Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. 6 And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ.
Paul stated the Gospel is not just for the Jews, but for everyone.

Paul’s Ministry

In the next few verses, verses 7 and following, we see Paul's relationship to the Romans. The Bible says that not one word is in the Scripture by accident and that it's all profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness. So we can learn from Paul's model here a lot about his relationship to the Romans about how we are to have a ministry. If you want to know how to have a ministry, key into these next few verses.
Romans 1:7 NLT
7 I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Grace and Peace was a common phrase. Grace means to rejoice, and peace means Shalom. When you have grace you will have peace.
Romans 1:8 NLT
8 Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world.
Paul begins with a compliment.
If you want to influence people, develop a ministry of encouraging… be an affirmer. You build people by lifting them with a word of gratitude. Paul was a master at this.
Be an affirmer and an encourager. Let your words build people up not tear them down. You build people up and it brings out the best in them.
There were Christians in Rome, even through Paul did not start the church there. Peter did not start the church there either because there's no mention of it in the Bible and no reputable church history that states it either, although some people believe it.
What probably happened is that some of the converts of Paul moved to Rome. Priscilla and Aquilla got there. We know that others that Paul knew were there from the last chapter of this book. They started a church and it began to grow. They met in the catacombs but soon there were Christians throughout the great empire city of Rome. There were Christians even in Caesar's palace. Paul said, "I thank God for you.
Notice the reputation of this church, "... because your faith is being reported all over the world."
The Christians in Rome had a world famous faith. They were famous. He said everywhere I go, all over the world, people talk about your faith. What a reputation! In Rome it wasn't exactly an easy place to be a Christian. Rome was sin city. Nero was emperor at this time and there were all kinds of orgies and things going on. It was a totally corrupt city. Just the very fact that Rome was so decadent and so opposite of what God wanted, the Christians there stood out like stars on a dark night.
The church in Rome wasn’t famous for their buildings, but for their faith.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 NLT
3 Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.
That’s what we want God to think about us.
Why was their reputation so strong?
Romans 1:9 NLT
9 God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by spreading the Good News about his Son.
Paul prayed for them all the time. Do you think we would be stronger if Paul were praying for us everyday? Sure it would. Here is something to think about. Paul is praying every day for people he had not met.
Praying members makes our church stronger. If we would commit ourselves to pray daily for our church what kind of difference would that make? What kind of change could we see? I want us to stop right now and pray.
Prayer
"Lord, I pray that my own faith will grow. Lord, I pray that my love for other Christians will increase." Pray for that person on your right. "Lord, fill that person with Your faith. Help them to grow in faith. Lord, fill that person with Your love." Then pray for that person on your left. "Lord, will You fill that person with Your faith. Help them to grow. Help them to be stronger. Help them to believe You in a greater way this week. Help them to love You more and to love other Christians." Father, I just want to thank You right now for these who have come tonight as we look at this study of Your word. Help us to grow in faith. Help us to grow in love. Lord, may we become a world famous church like the Roman church who was famous not for buildings, programs or pastors or music or ministry, but because of our faith and our love. I pray that people will look at Saddleback and they'll say "That's the church that really believes God and they believe Him for miracles." I pray that our church will be one that they will say, "That's the church where they love each other" and that our love for each other will increase. In Jesus' name. Amen
Romans 1:10 NLT
10 One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you.
Paul not only prayed for them, but wanted to come help them. We need to be like this and build up each other.
Romans 1:11–12 NLT
11 For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. 12 When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.
Paul is talking about Mutual Ministry. He wanted to help them and have them help him. Paul wanted them to use their gifts. The HS gives the gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:11 NLT
11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
So what does he mean by, I want to impart a gift. The key is the word "impart". It simply means share. The way it can read best is "I want to come and share a spiritual gift." He wanted to share his gift of teaching. Paul had the gift of teaching. Paul planned to come to Rome eventually and to introduce himself to the church, he sent this letter. This letter is an outline of what he's going to teach when he gets there. If this was an outline, imagine what he taught when he got there! When he didn't have to limit it to paper.
When spiritual gifts are shared two things happen. "...it will make you strong..." -- that's the first thing that will happen when we share our gifts with each other. "...that you will be encouraged..." -- we are encouraged. This is a mutual thing. Even though Paul was an apostle he needed encouragement. We need each other. Paul was a spiritual giant but he's humble enough to say, I need to receive as well as give. Christian sharing is a two-way street...

Four things you need to do if you want a ministry

1. Encourage People.

Develop an attitude of affirmation. Compliment people. Thank God for people, praise people, praise what Jesus is doing in people. It's hard to have a ministry when you're critical

2. Pray for People.

Be willing to be the answer to your prayers for them.

3. Spend Time with other Christians

Romans 1:11 NLT
11 For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord.
Get with them as often as possible. It is not enough to get together with Christians one day a week. We need each other. Paul says, I long to see you. (v. 11) In the Greek, he's literally saying, I'm homesick. I can't wait to be with other Christians. Is that your attitude? Paul says that's the kind of attitude you've got to have. I really can't wait to get with other believers.

4. Use Your Spiritual Gift.

Every one of you have a talent, a gift, a special ability that God gave you when you became a Christian. You may be unaware of it. You may not even know what it is. But as you begin to live the Christian life and begin to serve Him in any way it will float to the top and you will discover it. As you use your gift, people are strengthened and people are encouraged.
Romans 1:13 NLT
13 I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you, but I was prevented until now. I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles.

Paul’s Motivation

What was the key to Paul’s heart? Three things… in verses 14, 15, 16… three I am’s. I am obligated. I am eager. I am not ashamed.

1. I am obligated.

Romans 1:14 NLT
14 For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike.
Let's say I discovered the cure for AIDS this week. I discovered how to wipe it out with a simple injection. If I knew something that powerful and life changing and could change thousands of lives, would I be under obligation to do something with it? Sure. If you discovered the cure for cancer, would you keep it a secret or would you be obligated to share it? Of course you'd pass it on. If you have Christ in your life then you're obligated to share Him. You're responsible to tell the gospel. It's too important to keep a secret. The greatest thing you could do for somebody is to share the gospel with them. Those people who are around you, who do you think is responsible to share Jesus with them? Who's closest to them?
Acts 1:8 NLT
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Where were they when He said that? In Jerusalem and Judea. Jesus said start with the people closest to you then work out. We're obligated to share the gospel.

2. I am eager.

Romans 1:15 NLT
15 So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News.
It wasn't a duty. He was prepared, no hesitation. Have you ever met a salesman who was sold on his product then six months later he's working for the competitor? His commitment was not to the product as much as his percentage of the profit. Paul's not that way. He's totally committed to the gospel. He's eager and ready. It's the greatest thing in the world to share Christ with somebody.

3. I am not ashamed.

Romans 1:16 NLT
16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.
Paul's talking about his confidence. He's obligated, he's ready and he's confident, ready to share the message. "I'm not ashamed" is emphasis by understatement. (Like "She's not a bad singer!" meaning "She's good!") When Paul said "I'm not ashamed" was understatement. He was bold, proud. The sad thing though, do you know any Christians who are ashamed of the gospel? They're embarrassed to be known as a Christian, they don't share their faith. They're afraid they won't be accepted at work. They might be unpopular.
Why are people ashamed of the gospel? Sometimes because the gospel reveals our helplessness. It shows we can't do it on our own. We need God. We can't save ourselves. We have to depend on Him. It pricks our pride and hurts our ego. You can't hear the good news if you haven't already recognized the bad news: I can't do it on my own.
Paul says "I'm not ashamed." You've got to understand the background of this statement. For the sake of the gospel he had been imprisoned in Philippi, chased out of Thessalonica, smuggled out of Berea, laughed out of Athens, shipwrecked, beaten five times, stoned twice, left for dead once. Paul says, I'm proud to be a Christian. Nothing stops me from being proud of it. He knew the greatness of it. He says, I don't apologize for telling other people about Christ. Why was Paul not ashamed?
Romans 1:16–17 NIV
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Three Reasons Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel
It’s the power of God that brings salvation. This word power is the Greek word from which we get our word dynamite. He says, God's word is dynamite. It's man's only hope. It is the power of God -- the power of God to change lives. He says, I'm proud of the good news because it has the power to change lives.
It’s for everyone who believes. You only believe. God made it so simple nobody could say it was too hard to understand. Anybody can share the gospel because you can say you believe.
God gives righteousness to us. Righteousness is a fancy word that literally means a right relationship to God. How do we do that? Paul says by faith from first to last. It's completely faith. It's not work for it, earn it, be baptized into a church. It's faith from first to last.
Habakkuk 2:4 NLT
4 “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.
We can learn a lot from Paul's example. We learn a lot that applies to our own life. How can you make an impact? Nobody made an impact greater than Paul. How can I make an impact on my world? How can you make an impact on your world? How can you make an impact on your family? Do the things that Paul did.

1. Clarify your relationship to Christ.

Paul says, "I'm a servant of Christ." Are you? "I'm called to serve Him." This is not a volunteer army. If you're not serving the Lord, you're AWOL. "I'm set apart" -- God takes priority in my life.

2. He understood the Gospel.

What is the gospel? It's in the Bible. It's about a person -- Jesus. He was 100% God and 100% man. God comes and works in our lives by grace. That's the gospel. And it's for everybody.

3. Recognize the importance of other people.

You can't make it in the Christian life by yourself. You need other Christians. Paul says, we need to get together so we can encourage each other and strengthen each other.

4. Right motive for sharing the Gospel.

The things Paul said about himself every Christian can say about him/herself. You are called to say these three things:
I'm obligated. If I'm a Christian I've got the greatest news in the world; I have to share it. Otherwise I'm robbing somebody else.
I'm eager. I want to share it. I know what it will do; it will change lives. It's the best thing I can do with somebody, to share Christ with them. I'm enthusiastic about it.
I'm confident. You don't have to apologize for the gospel. You don't have to be afraid or ashamed that you're a Christian. These Christians were undergoing much worse things than we are. It's difficult being a Christian where you work but is it worse than Rome? They were having to hide in catacombs. They were thrown to lions.
We have just barely scratched the surface as we've looked at the introduction in the first 17 verses of Romans. I imagine God brought you here for a purpose. There was something here tonight that God wanted you to here. Paul shares his life. He says, this is my gospel. This is my good news I want to share with the world. Can you think of one person in your life who needs the good news this week? A relative, friend, work associate, neighbor? Does it scare you to share your faith? Relax and say, "Lord, would You work out a way to make it natural and easy to share my faith?" He will. I guarantee that if you start praying for that person and praying for an opportunity to share your faith, God will make one so easy that you will not be uptight about it. It will come naturally. We get uptight when we try to force something. Say, "Lord, Thank You. I realize my obligation to share the gospel. Help me to be ready, enthusiastic, confident and not ashamed."
Prayer
Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your word. As we begin to look at this great book of Romans and start on this journey together, teach us, feed us even as the Romans were that we will be mutually encouraged and mutually strengthened. In Jesus' name I pray.
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