God Wants Us to Live Like the Apostle Paul
God Wants Us to Live Like the Apostle Paul
The Book of Romans
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - August 14, 2016
(Revised February 8, 2021)
*We have been going through Romans verse-by-verse, and we just finished chapter 8. That great chapter includes some of the most uplifting, encouraging words we can ever hear as Christians.
*In Romans 8:1 Paul began by saying, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." In Romans 8:28 he said, "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
*Then in Romans 8:31-35 Paul asked:
31. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32. He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
33. Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.
34. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
*And Paul finished Romans 8 in vs. 38-39 by saying, "I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
*Praise the Lord for Romans chapter 8! Later in Romans 12, Paul will begin to focus on the practical side of our new life in Christ. But in chapters 9-11, Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to discuss the Jewish nation.
*In Romans 1:16 Paul already boldly said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek."
*But what about the Jewish race? What about the Jewish nation? And what about the promises that God made to them as a nation? Warren Wiersbe explained, "It seems strange that Paul would interrupt his discussion of salvation and devote a long section of three chapters to the nation of Israel, but a careful study of Romans 9-11 reveals that this section is not an interruption at all. It is a necessary part of Paul’s argument for justification by faith.
*To begin with, Paul was considered to be a traitor to the Jewish nation. He ministered to Gentiles, and he taught freedom from the Law of Moses. Paul also preached in many synagogues, and that led to trouble from the Jews who rejected Jesus. No doubt many of the Jewish Christians in Rome had heard of his questionable reputation. So, in these chapters, Paul showed his love for Israel and his desire for the welfare of his people.
*This was the personal reason for this part of his letter, but there was also a doctrinal reason. Someone might ask, 'What about the Jews? Did God fail to keep His promises to Israel?' In other words, the character of God was at stake. If God was not faithful to the Jews, how do we know He will be faithful to the Church?
*The emphasis in Romans 9 is on Israel’s past election. In Romans 10, it's Israel’s present rejection. And in Romans 11, it's Israel’s future restoration." So, here in Romans 9, we will look at Israel's Old Testament past. In Romans 10, we will see Israel in the present Church age. And in Romans 11, we will see all of God's promises fulfilled in Israel's future. (1)
*Tonight, our focus is Paul's opening thoughts on these topics, and as God lets us look into Paul's heart, we see a man who loved the Jews as much as anybody possibly could. We see a man who loved lost people as much as anybody could. And Paul's heart for the lost shows us how God wants us to care for them too. God wants us to live like the Apostle Paul.
*Please think about these things as we read Romans 9:1-5.
*The Apostle Paul must be the greatest Christian who ever lived. He wrote 13 or 14 of the 27 books in the New Testament. He suffered greatly for the Lord and was executed for the cause of Christ. As he got near the end, Paul wrote his last letter. It was written to Timothy. And in 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
*Where would we be if Paul hadn't "fought the good fight" and "finished the race"? Which great books of the New Testament would be missing today? Would the gospel have spread throughout Europe, over to the United States, and to us? Thank God that the gospel did come our way! -- in large part because of how Paul lived his life.
*Now God wants all of us to live like Paul. This may be hard for us to grasp because Paul was so devoted to the Lord. But God wants all of us to live like Paul, and we know this because in Philippians 4:9, the Holy Spirit led Paul to write, "The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."
1. GOD WANTS EVERY CHRISTIAN TO LIVE MORE LIKE PAUL, SO FIRST, WE NEED HIS SINCERITY.
*We need the kind of honest heart on display in vs. 1-2, where Paul said:
1. I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,
2. that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.
*Paul told the truth, and God surely cares about truth. One way we know is because the word "truth" is found over a hundred times in the New Testament. The truth always matters to God, and it ought to matter to us.
*Tragically, we live in what's called the "postmodern era." Many millions of people have been deceived to believe that there is no such thing as objective truth. You can have your truth, and I can have mine.
*How bad has it gotten? In October 2018, the Christian Institute of England reported on a survey for the Coalition for Marriage. Among the 2,000 people asked, 32 percent supported self-definition of race. Nineteen percent thought it was okay for people to choose their age. They think if I get up in the morning and decide I want to be 43, I can! But for that matter, why stop there? I'll be 23.
*Ten percent of those people also said it was okay for you to choose your own species. In other words: If I get up tomorrow and decide I want to be a horse, that's what I will be. (2)
*This is the kind of nonsense people can believe when they reject the reality of truth, -- especially when they reject the greatest Truth of all: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
*Multitudes of people reject truth today. They think truth doesn't matter. But the truth is that the truth always matters. The next time I get on a plane, and the gauges say there's plenty of jet fuel in the tank, I want those gauges to be telling the truth!
*Thank God, Christians, we can always count on the truth of God's Word. We have received the eternal Truth, Jesus Christ! And we know that the truth matters to God.
*In Ephesians 4:15, Paul was talking about us growing up in all ways to be like Christ, and there Paul specifically mentioned that we should be "speaking the truth in love." Then in Ephesians 4:25 Paul said, "putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another."
2. GOD WANTS US TO LIVE LIKE PAUL, SO WE NEED HIS SINCERITY. WE ALSO NEED PAUL'S SORROW FOR THE LOST.
*In vs. 1-4 Paul spoke about his great sorrow for lost Jews, and he said, "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites."
*The original word for "sorrow" in vs. 2 is also translated as "heaviness," "pain," and "grief." It's a word they used for people in grief over the death of someone they loved. It's also a word Jesus used when He spoke to His disciples on the night before the cross. In John 16:20 Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy."
*Here, the Apostle Paul was weeping and grieving over his lost countrymen. Have we ever done that? Many Christians have wept over lost family members and friends. But Paul was weeping over lost people he had never met, people who hated him, even people who wanted to kill him.
*I point this out because all of us need to care more about lost people. I know I do. Do you think I wept over those people who thought you can choose your own age or species? I surely did not. At first, I laughed a little when I read about it. But all of those people are eternal souls that God created, and the vast majority of them are as lost as they can be.
*God wants us to care like Paul cared. But our care for the lost needs to go beyond our sorrow. It needs to show up in the things we say and do. Author Lewis Grizzard wrote about a Christian like that.
*It happened at the little Methodist Church where Lewis grew up in Moreland, Georgia. Two other teenage boys from the community had gotten in trouble. And the very wise judge sentenced them to go to the Youth Group at the Moreland United Methodist Church for six months in a row.
*Lewis remembered when those two rowdies came to the Youth Group. The first night there, they beat up two other boys in the youth group. Then they threw a hymnbook at the kind lady who volunteered to meet with them every Sunday night.
*Lewis said that sweet Christian woman nimbly dodged the book. Then she said this to the two young delinquents, "I don’t approve of what you boys did here tonight, and neither does Jesus Christ. But if He can forgive you, I guess I can too." Then she passed those boys a plate of cookies and told them to help themselves!
*Years later, Grizzard was standing at the door of that little Methodist church, and he remembered that night. Then he learned that those two delinquents had grown up to be good fathers with steady jobs. And they rarely, if ever, missed church on Sunday morning. Lewis finished his column by writing: "It was the first miracle I ever saw!" (3)
*That senior adult lady fought the good fight of faith with a quick move, a kind word, and a plate of cookies. She stuck with it because she cared, and those two boys were miraculously saved.
*They were transformed by the Lord because she cared, and God wants many more people to be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But how much do we care? Paul cared so much that he could honestly say, "I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart" over my lost countrymen. Now God wants us to care more for the lost people around us.
3. GOD WANTS US TO LIVE LIKE PAUL, SO WE NEED PAUL'S SORROW FOR THE LOST. WE ALSO NEED HIS SACRIFICIAL WAY OF LIFE.
*In vs. 3-4, we can see just how much Paul was willing to sacrifice for his kinsmen. Here Paul said, "For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites."
*In vs. 3, Paul was even willing to give up his salvation for the lost! And of course, no one could ever do that. But Paul was willing to bend over backwards. He was willing to go to any length to see other people get saved.
*In 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, Paul said:
19. . . Though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;
20. and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;
21. to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;
22. to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
*Paul was willing to sacrifice it all for Jesus Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, he was very concerned about other men preaching a false gospel. And Paul reluctantly gave this resume of his sacrifice for the Lord:
23. Are they ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.
24. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
25. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26. in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27. in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness
28. besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
*Paul became a prisoner in chains for the Lord. He even gave his life to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we probably won't be called on to die for the Lord. But we are certainly called to live for the Lord in a sacrificial way.
*We know this because in Luke 9:23-24 we hear Jesus say, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it."
*The Apostle Paul and countless other Christians have died for the cause Christ. But we know that Jesus is talking about more than physical death, because He tells us to take up our cross daily.
*Fred Craddock gave this great explanation of a sacrificial life for the Lord: "To give my life for Christ appears glorious, to pour myself out for others, to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom: 'I'll do it. I'm ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory.' We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table. 'Here's my life, Lord. I'm giving it all.'
*But the reality for most of us is that He sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. Then, we go through life putting out 25 cents here, and 50 cents there. We listen to the neighbor kid's troubles instead of saying, 'Get lost'. We go to a committee meeting for the church. We give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home," or we help in VBS. We take some kids to camp. We give a donation so more kids can go to camp.
*"Usually giving our life to Christ isn't glorious in this world at all. Most people won't even notice, because it's done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time." (4)
4. GOD WANTS US TO LIVE LIKE PAUL, SO WE NEED PAUL'S SACRIFICIAL WAY OF LIFE. BUT MOST OF ALL WE NEED PAUL'S SAVIOR.
*How can we be more like the Apostle Paul? -- Only through the help of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
*In vs. 3-5 Paul began to list some of the great blessings of being a Jew, and in vs. 5 Paul listed the greatest blessing of all: That the King of Kings and only Savior of the world chose to come into this world as a Jew.
*With this in mind, please listen again to vs. 3-5 where Paul said:
3. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,
4. who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;
5. of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
*Jesus Christ "is over all, the eternally blessed God!" For in Him Colossians 2:9 says, "dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." That is why Jesus is the only hope for this lost and dying world! There is no other way for anyone to be saved.
*Jesus Himself affirmed this truth in John 3:16-18, where He said:
16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
*Then in John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
*THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO HEAVEN BUT BY BELIEVING IN JESUS CHRIST. Peter confirmed this truth in Acts 4:12, where he said, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
*James Merritt explained: "Jesus said the path to Heaven is a PERSON, -- not a principle, practice, precept, or philosophy. The path to Heaven is not the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, loving our neighbor, or clean living. . . All of these are good and godly things, but all of them put together could not pave one inch on the road to Heaven. Jesus is the only way. If you're going any other way, you're going the wrong way." (5)
*A lot of misguided people are like the man who said getting to Heaven was like getting to Boston. There are a lot of roads that will get you there.
*But a wise Christian told him, "No, getting to Heaven is much more like flying into the Boston airport. The pilot has to land that plane on just the right runway, at just the right speed, at just the right time, and at just the right angle." (6)
*There is only one way to land that plane. And there is only one way to get to Heaven, and that is Jesus Christ!
*Church: This is the main reason why God wants us to live like the Apostle Paul. The nicest person you will ever meet is utterly lost without the Lord Jesus Christ. And Jesus cares so much for us that He was willing to leave Heaven and come down to earth as a man. He cares so much for us that He was willing to suffer all kinds of abuse, and even die on the cross for our sins.
*Now the risen Christ will save anyone who realizes how lost we are without Him, anyone who realizes that Jesus already took the punishment for our sins on the cross and rose again from the dead, anyone who believes in Jesus and receives Him as Lord and Savior.
*Call on the Lord to save you now and begin to grow in Christ. Jesus is not through with us yet! He wants to make us more like Paul, so we can help more people get saved. Let's trust the Lord to help us as we go back to God in prayer.
(1) Adapted from "Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament" by - Warren W. Wiersbe - Published by David C. Cook - Colorado Springs, CO - Romans 9:1-33
(2) "The Christian Institute" - Wilberforce House 4 Park Road, Gosforth Business Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE12 8DG - The Christian Institute is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England as a charity. Company No. 263 4440 Charity No. 100 4774. A charity registered in Scotland. Charity No. SC039220. - Copyright The Christian Institute.
(3) Maxie Dunnam, "This Is Christianity" - Nashville: Abington Press, 1994 - pp. 83-84 - Source: Peachtree Presbyterian Pulpit - Series: "What I Believe!" - #4 - "What I Believe about the Church!" by W. Frank Harrington, Matthew 18:19-20; Ephesians 1:1-5; 22-23 - March 23, 1997
(4) Adapted from KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 2687 - SOURCE: Leadership Vol. 5, no. 4 - TITLE: The Practical Implications Of Consecration - AUTHOR: Darryl Bell, Maple Grove, Minnesota - DATE: 1984 Fall
(5) Adapted from Sermons.com sermon "What Are Your Chances of Going to Heaven" by James Merritt - John 14:6
(6) Original source unknown