Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 20
INTRODUCING ROMANS CHAPTER 1:10-15
Once again we are going to go back to Romans Chapter 1, and pick up where we left off in verse 16. I would like to stress that when you start teaching the Book of Romans, you might not find it as exciting as maybe Genesis or some of the things in the Old Testament or prophecy, But when you get into the nitty gritty of today, and we teach Paul’s Epistle, we are teaching where we are right now, today, and it’s hard to keep people’s attention, because they would rather be talking about something exciting out there in the future, and I can see that. But bear with me because this is what the Church today is about. And when I talk about the Church, I’m talking about that whole realm of people who claim to believe The Bible. I don’t care what denominational handle they have. But when the Church gets back into the fundamentals of Paul, then I think we are going to see some exciting things happen in the Church. And if it doesn’t, we won’t see anything happen, because things will get worse. Now Romans 1:16 and what a tremendous verse. Most kids learn it in Bible School, or Sunday School.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:…”
Now the first thing we have to do is find out what the Gospel of Christ is according to Paul’s writings. So come with us to I Corinthians Chapter 15. I’d like to mention an incident regarding this chapter and our TV program, and how a Sovereign God works. It involves just one little family; a husband, his wife and her mother. The chain of events began because one day in the middle of one of our tapings a gentleman came up to me and said, “Les, it’s been a long time since you mentioned I Corinthians 15, The Gospel by which we are saved. Isn’t there any way to work it in for one of the lessons?” So I digressed that next half-hour and spent the whole thirty minutes on The Gospel. We started with I Corinthians 15:1-4. When that program aired one Sunday, this little family was watching and it was exactly what they needed to hear. Weeks later, this young man called and said a unique thing had happened. After watching the program on The Gospel, they said, “If only the other person of the family could have seen this.” Then, by God’s Grace, that same station in Indianapolis just happened to play the same program the next Sunday also, and the individual who needed it was there. They were so thrilled that all of this had just clicked right together. Well, that’s what makes all of this so exciting. Now let’s look at the Gospel as outlined in I Corinthians Chapter 15, and beginning with verse 1. I never tire of repeating it, and I hope you never get tired of hearing it.
I Corinthians 15:1
“MOREOVER, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;”
“…wherein ye stand” is a positional term. That’s why he writes in another place that we are not to be blown about with every wind of doctrine. Some people are so shallow in their understanding of Scriptures, that they see someone on television or someone can come to their door and they have a good line, and a nice approach, and they fall for it. We are supposed to be so well versed in the Scriptures that something like that won’t happen. We are to be like an anchor, steadfast, immovable. Now verse 2.
I Corinthians 15:2,3
“By which also ye are saved (it’s only by this Gospel that you are saved. It’s not by something else), if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”And now here comes Paul’s Gospel in verse 3:
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received (here he’s talking about what we saw in Galatians in our last lesson, how that by revelation, “He made known unto me,” Paul says. This is what the Lord revealed to him. We will find that Paul’s Gospel is not based on the Judaistic Law, or just on the fact that Christ was the Messiah of Israel, but it’s that The Messiah of Israel, The Son of God, died on that Roman Cross, shed His Blood, was buried and rose again, and here it is), how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;” This was in the Old Testament. It was all in the pre-eternal mind of God, that all of this would fall into place.
I Corinthians 15:4-6a
“And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” That’s the Gospel! And to prove that Christ rose from the dead we see in verse 5 and 6 the following.
“And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once;…”
Paul tells us that he also saw Him in person. Paul knew that He was alive. Now back to Romans 1:16. That’s The Gospel – that Christ died for the sins of the world. And that’s what Paul expressly desires to get across to people. It’s so hard for people to comprehend that this is all they have to do. Just believe the Gospel for Salvation. If you really believe He will save you. Now you know that I’m not an easy believer. You know that. I’m not just talking about making a mental acknowledgment and you’re all right. No, what I’m talking about is a Holy Spirit driven belief, that my eternal destiny is based on what He did for me on that Cross. And we will be seeing more and more of that, especially when we get into Romans Chapter 6, where Paul just begins to draw that simple analogy of a little seed that’s planted in the ground, but before that plant can come forth, and bring forth fruit it must die first. So the whole analogy is that, “When Christ died, we died. When He was buried, we were buried. When He arose from the dead, we also arose out of deadness in the old Adamic sin nature to a new life.” Verse 16 again:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it (The Gospel, not our works, or denomination, not anything that we can do, but rather The Gospel) is the power of God unto salvation…”
One of the newer translations waters this down by using the word `salvation’ as a better way to heaven. Salvation is much more than a better way to heaven. Salvation is that all inclusive work of God on our behalf, whereby we are forgiven: He justifies us, He sanctifies us, He glorifies us, He baptizes us into the Body, He seals us with the Holy Spirit, He fills us with the Holy Spirit, and on and on you can go in all that was accomplished on your behalf by an act of God instantly the moment you believe. And you’re not going to necessarily feel any of those things, but they have happened to you if you were genuine in your belief. But how do I know that these things have happened to me? The Book says so. And that’s where faith comes in. That’s what The Book means when it says we are saved by faith and are to live and walk by faith. Taking God at His Word. So, you just simply have to know what The Book says. When you come to Salvation, and say, “I don’t understand this or feel any different,” remember The Book says that it has happened. And that is what God is pleased by. Remember Hebrews 11:6:
“But without faith it is impossible to please him:…”
You should be able to say, “Yes, I know that I’m forgiven,” not because I’m so perfect, or any better than anybody else, but simply because I believe what this Book says! I can’t make it any plainer than that. So when an individual realizes that he’s in the cesspool of sin, in that old slave market, and there is no hope of getting out, unless the power of God takes him out; God pulls him out of that deadness in sin, and gives him new life, sets his feet as the Scriptures say, “On a Rock,” and does all these things for him. That’s what believing does! After that, you become a totally new person in your outlook on life, in your desires, and you don’t work for that. Remember, you won’t become a mature Christian overnight. It’s going to take time. The Christian life is like coming into physical life. We come into the Christian life as a babe in Christ, just an infant that needs tender loving care. An infant that needs nourishment, and protection. That’s what a new believer is.
But God doesn’t expect a new believer to stay a babe in Christ. He expects them to begin to grow in Grace, and knowledge and wisdom. To grow in a new lifestyle. Over the years I’ve told my classes the basic fundamental aspect of a Christian life, the part that will immediately become visible to our friends and relatives, and yes, the whole community; a true born again child of God is going to be a good citizen. Have you ever thought of that? When we are a practicing believer, we will be a good citizen. In other words, you won’t find a true child of God giving the police department fits. Now there may be isolated instances, that’s always a possibility. But the basic believer will be a good citizen, and a good parent. He will be a good grandparent. He will be a good child. He will be a good teenager. Now that doesn’t mean we are perfect. Nevertheless, we will be the kind of person that will enhance society. If you could have a community of 100% born again believers, then you would have a pretty decent place to live.
I’m not saying that it would be perfect. It’s just like the local church, no church is perfect. I said on this program once, if it was perfect I’d like to find it, but I wouldn’t dare join it because it would be no longer perfect. But, for the most part, God’s power unto salvation has imparted all these things on our behalf and they will make us different. That doesn’t give us the right to walk around like we are perfect, or better than everybody else. But what we have is an imputed position that God has accomplished on our behalf. We will look at that more in depth later in Chapter 3.
“…for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
I said at the close of the last lesson that there were many things in there that normally people would think should be. Over the years, I have taught to be aware of what is not in Scripture that many of us think should be. Well, here is a good one. Let me read this verse the way a lot of people think it should have been written. This is just an example: “For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that repents, and is baptized, joins the church, gives ten percent of his income, does good works, and believes.” But it doesn’t say that does it? There are a lot of these things that people just automatically think are requirements for Salvation, and they’re not! They are all right in their rightful place after Salvation. But so far as our salvation is concerned it’s based totally upon our faith in the Gospel, and what God has said concerning the finished work of the Cross. Now verse 17:
“For therein (that is, in the power of God in the Gospel) is the righteousness of God revealed (being unveiled)...”
Remember when Christ was hanging on the Cross, and when He finally gave up the ghost, as it says, what happened in the Temple? The veil was rent from the top to the bottom. What did that indicate? That now the way into the very Holy of Holies, the very presence of God, had been opened up and made available, not just to the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, but to everybody. And that is what we must understand, that when Christ died, He completely fulfilled everything that a Holy God could possibly demand. That’s why when man tries to say, “But I’ve got to do this, or I’ve got to do that,” then it’s an embarrassment to God Himself, because He said it’s done! Everything that we need has already been accomplished. Now completing the verse we find:
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, `The just shall live by faith.'”
Now who are the just? Well, the justified ones. What was my best definition of justification? That judicial act of God whereby He declares the believing sinner just as if he had never sinned. Now that’s the way God sees us. Remember, God hasn’t changed and sin hasn’t changed, it’s still all that it ever was. But the whole sin problem began in Adam, and everyone of us, so far as God is concerned, were in Adam. That’s the beginning of all of our troubles. We were in Adam, but when Christ died on the Cross, and we believe what He says about the Cross, then every believer is removed out of Adam, and placed in Christ. Do you see that difference? And now instead of God seeing us in that cesspool of sin which we were in Adam, now He only sees the righteousness and Holiness of Christ, because we’re in Him. And if you’re in Him, He doesn’t see you at all. He sees Christ. Let me show you a verse in the Book of Colossians Chapter 3. Paul is writing to Gentile believers. He could just as well be writing to you and I in Oklahoma or wherever you are.
“IF ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above (because we now have a whole new mental attitude about things), where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”
Notice that Christ is not on the throne tonight, that’s why I maintain that Christ is not the King of the Church. I’ve said that over and over. He’s not on a throne tonight. He’s not a King. In His title He’s King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but experientially He’s not on the throne, He’s seated at the right hand of it. Now when He returns and sets up His earthly Kingdom, yes, then He will sit on His throne. Now reading on:
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
You see that’s what has happened to the Christian community today, they are not setting their affection on things above, they are setting their affections on material things. I read a book by an Indian missionary (and I’m sure many of you have heard of him), where he was decrying the wealth of the Christian community in America compared to the abject poverty of Christians in India. I could see his point. He said he came here and visited a great Church in one of our huge cities, and was appalled at the sumptuousness of the whole set-up. I am, too. Whenever I go into some of these places, I am just appalled at the money that is being poured into these beautiful buildings that someone can come in and sit for thirty minutes and enjoy, be entertained, and then go home and forget about it for a week. I personally don’t think God is pleased with that. And this was the point that this missionary was making. That over in India those poor little pastors would just exist on almost nothing for the sake of getting The Gospel to those towns and villages. In this light, we are to set our affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
“For ye are dead (that is to the old Adam, that which we were born in. The nature that is rebellious against God, and sinful in all of its appetite. Oh, we try to clean it up, and try to keep it in check with a good home upbringing. That’s why so many of our younger generation are adrift tonight, this is why so many have no principles, and are in trouble with the law. That old Adamic nature is free for the most part. But Paul says we are dead to that as believers), and your life is hid (if the God that created this universe hides something, then I guarantee you that no one but He will ever find it. Isn’t that right? And that’s where we are. We have been hidden by an act of the Almighty God. But look where He hid us) with Christ in God.”
That brings to mind an old walnut. That old walnut falls off the tree and here’s that big outer shell, and the only way you can get down to the next shell is to break off the outer one. Then you get down to the real tough part, and break that shell, and then way down in the crevices are the meat of the walnut. Every time I break open one I have to say, “Thank you Lord that’s me.” I’m inside that shell hidden in the crevices where no one but God can find me. And that’s you and I. Satan and the world can’t get at us there, no one can touch us, we’re hidden with Christ in God! Can’t you go to sleep knowing that? Now that’s assurance, that’s a promise. I don’t feel some outer covering around me. I’m just as vulnerable and so are you, but faith tells me that this is the way it really is. Because this is what God has said. And God is looking for your faith, you’re believing Him, you’re telling Him, “Yes God You said it and I believe it!” Now back to Romans, and closing verse 17 we find:
“…The just shall live by faith.”
Now what great reformer came to that sudden realization? Martin Luther. Do you remember when Martin Luther began the Reformation? What was his great eye opening statement? Just that! “The just shall live by faith.” Not all the rituals that he had been inundated with, not all the do’s and don’ts of religion. But it was to be by faith and faith alone. And you see when we come into Romans Chapter 4, this is what Paul is going to say about Abraham. He lived by faith!