SERIES: Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained & Applied
SETTING: North Kelso Baptist Church
SERVICE: Sunday AM (February 1, 2015)
SUBTITLE: The Man and His Message Part 3
SUBJECT: The Man and His Message
SUMMARY: The book of Romans was written by a man named Paul
SCHEME: that the Christian grasps the ingredients that went into the making of this great man of God
Our theme is: the man and his message
This is a good reminder for us all that we need to understand all the ingredients that God used to make this man such a valuable player in the eternal plans of God.
Proposition: The book of Romans was written by a man named Paul
Interrogatory Sentence: What were the ingredients that God used to make Paul into the man who played such an important role in the life of Christianity and the Church?
Transitional Sentence: This introduction and overview of the man and his message identifies four ingredients that help us see what God used to make Paul, Paul.
1. The Childhood
2. The Conversion
3. The Credentials
The Man and His Message
What is true repentance? This is a question of the highest importance. It deserves our closest attention. The following is probably as good a definition as has yet been given.
“Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace… [whereby] a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous Law of God, and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for and hates his sins as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.”
That this definition is sound and Scriptural will appear more and more clearly the more thoroughly it is examined. True repentance is sorrow for sin, ending in reformation. Mere regret is not repentance, neither is mere outward reformation. It is not an imitation of virtue, it is virtue itself… (Dr. William S. Plummer)
So, this morning I want to continue to examine the lessons that we can learn from Paul’s conversion. And I want us to take a close look at conversion. But before we do, let’s take a minute and…
Our theme continues to be: The man that God chose, the apostle Paul
Our theme is a good reminder for us all that we need to understand the various ingredients that God used to make this man such a unique player in the eternal plans of God.
Proposition: God uses various ingredients to make a believer useful to His plans.
Interrogatory Sentence: What were the ingredients that God used to make Paul such an important player in the life of the church?
Transitional Sentence: Romans 1:1-6 identifies four (4) ingredients that God used to make Paul such an important player in the life of the church:
· The childhood of Paul
· The conversion of Paul
· The Credentials of Paul
· The commission of Paul
We are looking at the ingredients that God used to make the Apostle Paul into the man that made such an influence. Thus far we have looked at the childhood of Paul and have begun to look at the conversion of Paul.
The second ingredient we looked at was his conversion. When we looked at Paul’s conversion we saw:
• The allegiance that Paul had to Judaism – Paul had been raised Jewish
• The abhorrence that Paul had towards Jesus – Paul hated Jesus & “the way”
¨ We saw this abhorrence in the passion that Paul displayed
¨ We saw this abhorrence in the plans that Paul deployed
• The adjustment that Paul had by Jesus – conversion by force.
It is so foolish to say that God will not save you against your will. If he didn’t save you against your will you would never be saved. Your will is in bondage to sin and you are not able to choose or will yourself to salvation. Through the HS God renders you will to repent.
We also began looking at the first crucial lesson that is to be learned from Paul’s conversion and then we had to quit. Last week we saw that…
· God determined when Paul would be converted
So, let’s continue to examine this second ingredient, the conversion of Paul.
2B Paul’s Conversion (continued)
1C Jesus Adjustment of Paul
2D What can we learn about Paul’s conversion (continued)
[The second lesson we learn from Paul’s conversion is that…]
God is able to convert the most unlikely of sinners.
-salvation does not depend on the fallen state or condition of man
“But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, those who believe in his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13, NKJV)
“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18, NKJV)
Who is the “of his own will he…” God of course!
-there is no sinner that is so sinful that God cannot save them.
Paul said, “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
-salvation is not dependent upon merit/or points earned
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5, NKJV)
Do not avoid sharing the gospel with the vilest of sinner that you know or encounter. No human being is beyond the ability of God to save, if God has so desired and decreed to save them.
That means if you come in contact with a blasphemer, an idolater, a murderer, a fornicator, immoral, or even worse, God can save them if he chooses to.
So, God is able to convert the vilest of sinners.
[The third lesson that we learn is that…]
God revealed Jesus in Paul
This is very important and we may just stop right here with this lesson and pick the rest up next week. Let’s see how far we can get.
According to the apostle Paul, Jesus was not merely revealed to Paul by some external, or auditory, or even visual manner. Jesus was revealed in Paul! What is the difference?
The difference is the essential difference between saving faith and an intellectual profession or mental acknowledgment of the truth. This is the inward effectual call of the HS.
This is the internal call of God, and it is just like the one Luke described in Acts when he said that God opened the heart of Lydia to believe. God opened Paul’s heart resulting in belief.
Paul was converted by the means of an overwhelming and supernatural revelation of Jesus to His Soul. This is the same thing that Jesus meant when he said, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him. This is the same thing as when Jesus said, “No one can come to me except it has been granted him of my Father.”
So those who don’t come do not understand that they need to come, they are unwilling to come and they do not come because Christ has not been revealed in them as the means of salvation. This is why there are so many professors in the church today who think they are saved and profess a salvation experience with no effect in and on their lives.
[The fourth lesson that we learn is that…]
· Paul was a pattern or example for all who would be converted
“However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.” (1 Timothy 1:16, NKJV)
Paul tells Timothy that his conversion was intended by God to be a pattern or an example for all who after Paul would come to saving faith in Christ Jesus.
First of all, Paul was telling Timothy that God was so gracious and so forgiving that God could save anybody, including anybody as sinful as Paul.
Second, when you look closely at Acts 9, Galatians 1, 1 Timothy 1 we also see a pattern of God’s sovereign grace at work in the conversion and salvation of Paul. What was Paul’s conversion a pattern of? It was a pattern of God’s absolute sovereign grace and mercy! This is why it is so important to take such a close look at Paul’s conversion.
[The fifth lesson that we learn is that…]
When God converts a man, He leaves inevitable marks on that man
There are three (3) major marks that God leaves on the people He saves. You might want to write these down:
--There is the mark of deep conviction of sin. You must know your sin, you must own your sin and you must know your soul, or as Spurgeon put it, feel the weight of your sin.
Psalm 38:3-4 speaks of the burden of sin. Sin is heavy. It weighs on a person. David certainly felt the weight of his sin, he wrote about it in Psalm 38. Here are verses 3-4
"There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me."
In verse 8 David says the guilt associated with his sins have crushed him. Sin is heavy.
Some women feel the weight. As 2 Timothy 3:6 reminds us, "For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,"
"Weighed down" the scripture says. We all know what it feels like to be weighed down by something.
In another verse we see the weight of sin upon a nation, not just an individual, as Ezra describes.
Ezra felt the weight of sin. He prayed to God in Ezra 9:7, saying: “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens."
Again, we read the allusion of sin piling up to over our heads. As MacArthur explains the meaning of this verse, "Even though Ezra did not participate in Israel's sins, he understood that the sins of the few contaminate the many."
George Whitefield (1714-1770) said; “There are so many stony ground hearers who receive the Word with joy that I have determined to suspend my judgment till I know the tree by its fruits ...Do you think any farmer would have a crop of corn next year unless he plowed now? You may as well expect a crop of corn on unplowed ground as a crop of grace until the soul is convinced of its being undone without a Savior. That is the reason we have so many mushroom converts, so many persons that are always happy! Happy! Happy! And never were miserable. Why? Because their stony ground is not plowed up; they have not got a conviction of the law . . . they fall away . . . That makes me so cautious now, which I was not thirty years ago, of dubbing converts too soon. Now I wait a little, and see if people bring forth fruit; for there are so many blossoms which March winds blow away that I cannot believe they are converts till I see fruit brought forth.”
If you don’t have a deep conviction of personal sin, then what is there to be saved from? Is salvation just and entrance to heaven? Is salvation just streets of gold? It salvation just a happy life on earth?
No – salvation is a release and a freedom from the guilt, burden, and penalty of sin.
[There is a second mark on a believer from salvation:]
--There is the mark of drastic humbling. Every knee shall bow!
“…I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3, NKJV)
These are strong, powerful words of Jesus Christ, but most people will read right over the life and death seriousness of these words without them registering on their minds or understanding what they really mean. When Christ says something, He means what He says, His words are weighty, meaningful and purposeful. He is not mealy-mouthed, wishy-washy, compromising, nor will He back off from what He says or has written!
Christ is saying no one can truly be converted (which is turning from one's sins, one's own way of pride, high-mindedness, and self-righteousness, the way of the flesh, to the spiritual life and way of God) unless you change to have the heart of a little child and can understand the humbleness and meekness and teach ability of the heart of a little child.
Christ is saying very plainly "you shall not enter God's Kingdom" unless your attitude and heart is as it is in a little child.
What is the heart of a small child? In Mat. 18:4, Christ gives a basic characteristic of a small child as being humble, and says true greatness can be obtained by whoever will humble himself. Christ continues to say in Mat. 23:12,
"He who in this life exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted." Peter writes in I Peter 5: 5, "God resists the proud (the exalted ones) and gives grace (His favor, His mercy, His power) to the humble."
Christ describes this humble heart of a small child in His Sermon on the Mount, Mat. 5:3-10, that humility is defined by Christ as one being poor in spirit, meek and pure in heart. People who have these child-like characteristics is what God desires, and requires Pro. 16; 18-19, Isa. 57:14-15, and will be blessed because they will receive and inherit God's Kingdom and because God says He will dwell with him.
Isa 57:15-----"I (God) dwell in the high and Holy place, (and I will dwell) with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
Why? Because Christ can teach them truth about what is sin, repentance, true conversion, the True Gospel, saving faith, being born again, the true Christ and how one receives eternal life, all because they have a child-like, humble heart.
A humble heart is one that is poor in spirit, meaning lowliness of mind, yes, low self-esteem, needing Christ's help to direct one's steps, not haughty, proud or assertive, but meek, submissive and teachable to Christ and His Word. As this lowliness of mind becomes an established manner of your heart, you have become a meek and humble person that Jesus Christ can teach, live in, walk with and choose for salvation.
Did Christ set this example? Study Mat. 11; 29 and Zech. 9:9. This lowly, meek and humble heart becomes a person that is pure in heart (Mat. 5:8) without guile, hypocrisy, deceit, duplicity, but one that develops a child-like innocence, sincerity, with a plain and open heart.
Jesus Christ said He did not come to call the righteous (the religiously proud who feel secure in their self-righteousness, following a perverted Gospel, a false church with a false Christ of their own creation) but to call sinners to true repentance--the lowly, who are not blind to their sins, but who can truly see their sins and repent of them, Mark 2:17.
--There is the mark of submission to the Lordship of Christ
“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.” (Luke 9:23-24, NKJV)
“…I beseech you…that you present your bodies a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1, NKJV)
Submission and Lordship was at the very heart of Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross. Paul makes this clear in Romans 14:8-9 (NKJV):
“For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died, and rose and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”
It is also important to note that even when we fail to obey, God has made a provision for that so that we can remain in fellowship with Him. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Even this is part of submission and obedience—to confess our sins to God so that we can remain in fellowship with Him. It is important to note that when tough decisions arise, the first thing we should do is pray, asking the Lord to help us to make the right decision and/or be obedient to what we already know from the Word.
To sum up the idea of the Lordship of Christ, it does not consist of one act of obedience but rather is measured by the sum of our obedience, and it cannot be accomplished in our own strength or power, but by the power available to us by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are strongest when we are relying on Him (2 Corinthians 12:10).
A true convert will call out, what do you want me to do, Lord?
[A sixth and final lesson that we learn from Paul’s conversion is that…]
God uses converted sinners as instruments to spread the gospel
“Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Then in verse 15 –“…go for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.”
You may not share the gospel with kings or maybe Jews, but you are saved and called to share the gospel with gentiles.
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ…” (2 Corinthians 5:20, NKJV)
So, we see at least six (6) very important lessons from Paul’s conversion. We must see these things in the conversion of any other sinner in order to consider their conversion to be real. These lessons are:
· God determined when Paul would be converted
· God is able to convert the most unlikely of sinners
· God revealed Jesus in Paul
· God used Paul as a pattern for every believer
· God leaves a mark on those whom he truly converts
· God uses converted sinners as instruments to spread the gospel
Now, before we quit this point, the conversion of Paul and before we move to our next point which is the credentials of Paul, I want us to look briefly at some thoughts about conversion.
What do we learn about Conversion?
The Christian life is a different life from the life we used to live before we were made Christians by God through His Holy Spirit. Christianity is a new life.
Even though Christianity is eternal, our Christian life had a beginning. The first step of the Christian life is conversion.
If any passage totally gives us the absolute picture or definition of conversion, it is Ezekiel 18:30-32. Listen to what God says and see if you can catch the definition:
“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to His ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies, says the Lord. Therefore turn and live.” (Ezekiel 18:3-32, NKJV)
Did you hear the definition? God said to “Repent and turn from all your sin” Repent – repudiate sin, and turn from sin to God.
Let’s look at some thoughts from the New Testament.
The main word for conversion is the Greek Word, epistrefw. This word means “to turn back, turn around, or to go back.” We see this idea in Acts 3:19:
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” Acts 3:19, NKJV)
Even in everyday language the meaning of conversion is clearly seen:
“Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved…” (John 21:20, NKJV)
When Peter turned from the direction he was going and turned to the direction behind him, he was able to see John following behind him. This is an everyday, non-theological term used in a non-salvific way, but it shows you that “conversion” means to turn around.
Conversion is a turning away from sin toward God. Conversion is not merely or simply a change of mind or thinking. The active life that is imparted to a sinner by the HS in the process of regeneration is made to move the senses in another direction than the one in which they had been going.
There are two (2) major and important elements that are the results of being made alive or regenerated by the HS. First…
There is a turning away from sin – this is called repentance
“To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” (Acts 3:36, NKJV)
“…and saying, ‘men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them.’” Acts 14:15, NKJV)
“to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:18, NKJV)
“For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” (1 Thess 1:9, NKJV)
What is prevalent in these passages is that there is an abandonment of sin, a repudiation from sin.
Second element that is a result from being made alive or regenerated by the HS is…
A TURNING TO GOD
“So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” (Acts 9:35, NKJV)
“And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.” (Acts 11:21, NKJV)
“…men why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God…” (Acts 14:15, NKJV)
“Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Acts 15:19, NKJV)
The common thread is that there is faith. Faith that causes men to turn to God. Now sometimes this turning is instantaneous and sometimes it is a process. Sometimes God allows a man to labor for days, weeks, months, and even years under conviction of sin before he finishes the process. But the truth of the matte is this, whether it is instantaneous or a process, conversion always, always, always, follows regeneration.
There are two (2) results of conversion in a person’s life:
· Expiation of sins – “Repent therefore and be converted, that you sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3:19, NKJV) conversion leads to the removal of sin
· Spiritual illumination – “Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” (2 Corinthians 3:16, NKJV)
Why is all of this so important? Why have I labored over this topic so much? Well, there are two (2) main reasons, the first, is there are false teachers and teachers in our churches who are teaching bad doctrine; and second, there is the problem of false conversions.
First of all – let’s deal briefly with false teachers and teachings in evangelical/fundamental churches. Let me quote from a message from John MacArthur:
One argument against repentance that is invariably found in no-lordship books goes like this: The Gospel of John, perhaps the one book in Scripture whose purpose is most explicitly evangelistic (John 20:31), never once mentions repentance. If repentance were so crucial to the gospel message, don't you suppose John would have included a call to repent?
Men are writing and/or teaching against repentance being anything other than a change of thinking. Some bad examples of men who have redefined repentance are:
Lewis Sperry Chafer wrote, "The Gospel by John, which is written to present Christ as the object of faith unto eternal life, does not once employ the word repentance" (Systematic Theology, 3:376). Chafer suggested that the Fourth Gospel would be "incomplete and misleading if repentance must be accorded a place separate from, and independent of, believing. No thoughtful person would attempt to defend [repentance as a condition of salvation] against such odds, and those who have thus undertaken doubtless have done so without weighing the evidence or considering the untenable position which they assume" (3:376-77).
More recently, Charles Ryrie has written,
It is striking to remember that the Gospel of John, the Gospel of belief, never uses the word repent even once. And yet John surely had many opportunities to use it in the events of our Lord's life which he recorded. It would have been most appropriate to use repent or repentance in the account of the Lord's conversation with Nicodemus. But believe is the word used (John 3:12, 15). So if Nicodemus needed to repent, believe must be a synonym; else how could the Lord have failed to use the word repent when talking with him? To the Samaritan harlot, Christ did not say repent. He told her to ask (John 4:10), and when her testimony and the Lord's spread to other Samaritans, John recorded not that they repented but that they believed (verses 39, 41-42). And there are about fifty more occurrences of "believe" or "faith" in the Gospel of John, but not one use of "repent." The climax is John 20:31: "These have been written that you may believe ... and that believing you may have life in His name" (SGS 97-98).
[One of the worst...)
But no one camps on this point more fiercely than Zane Hodges:
One of the most striking facts about the doctrine of repentance in the Bible is that this doctrine is totally absent from John's gospel. There is not even so much as one reference to it in John's twenty-one chapters! Yet one lordship writer states: "No evangelism that omits the message of repentance can properly be called the gospel, for sinners cannot come to Jesus Christ apart from a radical change of heart, mind, and will."
So, in order to make the gospel easier to accept and to provide a wider and easier gate for sinners to go through, men want to take the element of repentance out of the gospel. Rather than turn from sin and turn to God, they want you to merely change your mind about what you think of sin.
Our theme has been: The man that God chose, the apostle Paul
And our theme is a good reminder for us all that we need to understand the various ingredients that God used to make this man such a unique player in the eternal plans of God.
Proposition: God uses various ingredients to make a believer useful to His plans.
[Well, let’s wrap this up, shall we?]
The conversion of Paul provides us with various practical lessons. It gives an example of the care with which God provided for the instruction of sincere inquirers in the Jewish Church. It shows, in a very striking light, the efficacy of conversion. It illustrates the necessity of a great spiritual change, even in the case of such as are regular in their attendance on ordinances, and conscientious according to their light. It affords a beautiful exemplification of the relative functions of the Word and Spirit in the work of conversion, and enforces the duty of combining diligence, in the use of means, with a spirit of dependence on the divine blessing. And it shows how different are the feelings of one 'whose heart the Lord has opened' towards his faithful ministers, and those of the ungodly multitude.
And So, I exhort you as genuine believers to give all diligence to make your calling and conversion sure. Leave nothing uncertain that concerns your immortal soul. Labor to have the witness of the Spirit with your spirit, that you are a child of God. Assurance is to be had in this world, and assurance is worth the seeking. It is good to have hope--it is far better to feel sure.
Remember the Apostle Paul said in Romans 12:2…
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2, NKJV)
Let’s pray! J
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Philippians 4:23, NKJV)