Sun, Feb 19, 2017

Unashamed

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42 mins 48 secs
Pastor Anthony continues the teaching from Romans 1

“Unashamed” - Romans 1:16-17 (Part 1)
By Pastor Anthony DeChristopher of Calvary Chapel Redmond, Oregon

Romans 1:16-17 -

“For 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 also for the Greek for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written the just shall live by faith.”

Let's pray. Lord, thank You for Your Word and for another opportunity to come, as a church, to worship You, to encourage one another and to hear Your Words from You. We know that when Your Word goes out that it's powerfully working in our lives and hearts. We ask that You would be glorified and that You would minister by Your Spirit, in Jesus' name, Amen.

The apostle Paul longs to go to Rome and he wants to spend time with the Christians in Rome, whom he had never met. There was a big thing going on in Rome as we saw in Romans 1:8 (“... your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” ), every step was being talked about. Now, it was not all good, because even back then there was fake news and fake media. That's nothing new. The term, fake news, might be new, but the concept has always been around. The devil is always there to tell a lie. He's always been there to twist the truth from the very beginning and that's a strategy that he sticks with because it works. When it's called out as being fake news and pointed out that the devil is the father of lies, wherever there's a genuine work of God being done, the devil is there to try and counterfeit it and bring in the lie to subvert the gospel. That's always his intention. In a sense, he deploys counter-measures, like fear. It wouldn't be many years later that the church in Rome, as well as the church in other parts of the world, would be heavily persecuted. Caesar Nero was like a Hitler of that day. It got so brutal, at times, that he would take the Christians, cover them in lamb skins and put them in the arena, letting wild dogs, lions or whatever beasts go. Then he would say to them 'Where's your great Shepherd now, little sheep?' as they would be torn apart. He would also take Christians, cover them with pitch, put them on poles and light them on fire and say 'What is it like now to be the light of the world? How does it feel now to be the light of the world?' What was very important is that they were solid in their faith, and that sort of fear would be what the devil would use to turn Christians. He used other tactics to undermine the Word of God which is what we have going on in this country today - the undermining of the Word of God rather than the fear, that happened in Rome. Character assassination is another tactic. The bottom line is that whatever the devil's tactics would be, we need His strength and power in our lives in order to stand for the Lord.

The theme of Romans is salvation by grace through faith. This is foundational to the book of Romans and to any believers' life, as they stand firm in the Lord, knowing its importance, so the devil wouldn't have all these different angles to undermine their faith. Paul, in the book of Romans, quotes the Old Testament more times than in any of his other epistles combined. The reason for this is because he's letting them know that this message has been established in the Old Testament. The gospel is not new: Jesus Christ had been foretold to come and die, just like He died, for our salvation. Paul is giving them the Old Testament Scriptures because the Bible says in Romans 10:17 - “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” and that was the Word of God to the first church: the Old Testament came to be written before the New Testament. He (Paul) was equipping the saints by giving the Word of God. We know that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, so in the battle that would ensue, they would have the sword of the Spirit against the enemy that would come to undermine their faith.

In Romans, he addresses just about every doctrine of the Christian faith. Martin Lloyd Jones taught his church the book of Romans for 14 years and never finished it when he finally resigned from being a pastor. You can't get through Romans very quickly. Donald Grey Barnhouse had a radio

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ministry and he took 11 years just for the book of Romans. Is there a lot in Romans? Absolutely! And what is taught in Romans is foundational. Paul is directed by the Holy Spirit – remember, we talked about this format that is being presented - knowing that this young church is going to be attacked by the devil because the devil will attack these young believers. He or his representatives are there (he can only be in one place at one time) but there is a spiritual battle and spiritual hosts of darkness accomplishing his (the devil's) work. Paul is laying this out so they would be equipped because this first church is getting so much press. Paul would know how to minister to them, to get them ready, but he is not there nor is he able to get there. It isn't God's timing for him to be there, so he's sending this letter off. Take heed to the order for our own personal lives. It would be like a template to set a precedence in our own heart, seeing how Paul addresses this young church. I think it's important to briefly mention how Paul addresses the church. First of all, they would know of the apostle Paul. They would also know of the work of God throughout the world because those who brought the gospel to Rome would also communicate these things to them. When Paul, in verse 1, identifies himself, he says I'm a bondservant and then an apostle. Remember, self-identification is important! All of us need to know our place: that we're servants of the Lord first and foremost. In verses 2-3, he lets us know the gospel is prerecorded in the Old Testament, and it's the message of saving grace. This isn't new. This is recorded in the Old Testament in verse 4 and confirmed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, verses 5-7. Paul wanted them to know that they were called and received the grace of God just as he had, and they're set apart by God. 'We, as apostles, don't have any sort of inside connection. You are just like us, saved by grace, set apart by the work of God.' In verses 8-12, he reveals his thankful and prayerful heart, showing that he longs to be with them; not only to minister to them, but also to experience mutual benefits in the encouragement of the fellowship. This shows that codependent tendency no matter who you are as a believer. In verses 13- 15, Paul wanted them to know his heart, how he was hindered from being able to get to them. But his willingness and desire was to go to Rome, to be with them, to minister to them.

All of that has huge implications when the church begins to evaluate this word coming from the apostle Paul. That's why I say that it should be a template in our own heart, because people will assess what we say to them. They want to know, 'Who do you think you are? What's your self identification? Who are you?' If you tend to be the person who's proud, high-minded and a holier- than-thou kind of an individual, well that's going to be abrasive, because that's not how the Gospel is presented.

Paul writes this comprehensive letter to equip them, to teach them, to warn them. It's almost like a briefing for battle, because it is the sword of the Spirit - Intel is vital when it comes to conflict . . . the right Intel, or you're misled. Paul stresses that it is the message of the gospel that is the power of God that brings salvation to mankind. Some think gospel means a type of music, and it's not. Really, the gospel is not a type of music. The gospel is the message of Jesus Christ, the power of God unto salvation. In Romans 1:16 - “for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” The word ashamed means to feel shame. Paul does not betray his convictions, and if a believer is ashamed of the message of Jesus, then it brings shame to dishonor the Lord. That's the result of it: Paul could say 'I am not ashamed,' there's nothing that's bringing shame into my life that I do because I am not ashamed of the gospel, the message of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, regarding those who would deny Him, in Matthew 10:32-33 - “Therefore, whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father Who is in heaven.” So, confess Me, those who are unashamed. Then He says “But, whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father, Who is in heaven.” Now that word denied there is to reject, refuse to identify or to make a claim of being a believer but unwilling to embrace the message. It's the idea that those who deny Jesus before men, He will also deny before the Father in heaven. Then there's a warning in John 15:18 - Jesus says “If the world hates you,
you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” ln a sense, don't be surprised if the world hates you because it hated Me first. This, we need to expect, but even more than that; He didn't come to bring peace - how many of you think that's strange? It's important that you know why He said that,

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because He is the Prince of Peace. Why would He say, “I did not come to bring peace?” He explains very well regarding the family: In Matthew 10:34-39 - Jesus says “Do not think that I came to

bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

The bottom line is that regarding those close family relationships, you cannot choose them over Jesus Christ. That's what Jesus is talking about. Even in those close-knit relationships, there's going to be a division, because within homes you'll have believers and unbelievers. There's no reason why they can't coexist and have a wonderful life; but if ever push comes to shove and you have to make a choice between Jesus or... then as a believer you have to stand for Jesus. That's what's described here. The sword is brought, even within the family. Jesus warns regarding that.

The apostle Paul knew the pressures they would be experiencing. As the world would come in like a flood, they would need to be ready. Once He would expose societies' sin (which would take place from verse 18 forward) all of a sudden, all hell might break loose. To say, wait a minute this is happening all around us. What does this mean in my life? How am I supposed to respond? It would mean extreme challenges as they would be standing for Jesus in Rome; and this young church would be targeted because they would be embracing the gospel message and most likely proclaiming it. Why would Paul stress this? Because the idea of the gospel is mocked, as it is in our day, and we face the same challenges. In our day Jesus is a myth, but we know better. Yet that's what's being propagated by the humanistic society, the world, even the religious community who oftentimes believe differently. Someone will say, 'you know I don't believe in that. I believe in science.' By making that statement, for those that are listeners or seekers of truth, it's almost like science is in conflict or contradicts the message of the gospel or the Bible. That's absolutely not true, because anything that is factual or scientific, has never been in conflict with the Bible. Those things that are in conflict with the Bible are scientific theory, like evolution. Evolution is a theory and it opposes what the Bible teaches. There's not one bit of evidence of evolution, yet it's taught as factual. That is the strategy of the devil. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:23 - “but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.” The Jews thought 'this is a scandal, this gospel,' because they couldn't accept that this is the nature of their Messiah, that He would come suffering, so they rejected Him.' The Greeks would look at it as 'this is ridiculous, you're talking about one God and Him being a man and the resurrection, this ridiculous.' For the Greeks, it was just plain foolishness. They were mocking the gospel. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:14 - “But the natural man does not receive the things of

the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are

spiritually discerned.” Unbelievers reject the gospel and mock it because they do not believe it. It doesn't make sense to them because spiritually, there needs to be a transformation before blind eyes are open to the truth. That's where you and I can look up at a night sky (which Romans in this chapter is going to be speaking of) and we say, 'There's a Creator. We know Who He is and it's clear to us.' We don't short-circuit regarding that because otherwise how do you explain what's all around us if there isn't the presence of God? You can't! There isn't a blob somewhere that some sun ray hit that somehow turned into life and then with all its variety'? Really? I mean, come on!

Our understanding is awakened when we think of the power of peer pressure that would force a person to conform or compromise. My first thoughts go to school age kids, but doesn't stop there. How about those in college that are still feeling the peer pressure and believing what the professors say because that's the popular way to believe? What about adults in their workplaces and neighbor- hoods? I read of an experiment that was conducted on the effects of peer pressure regarding decision-making among teenagers. Ruth W. Brenda and her associates brought ten adolescents into a room and told them they were going to study their perception. To test this ability, they plan to hold up

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cards on which three lines were drawn. The lines were marked A, B and C and were of different lengths. As the cards were held before the class, the researcher would point to A, B and C consecutively asking the students to raise their hands when the pointer was directed at the longest line. The instructions were simple and repeated. What one student didn't know, was that the other nine had been brought in earlier and told to vote for the second longest line. The purpose was to test the effect of group pressure on that lonely individual we'll call the stooge. The experiment began with nine teenagers voting for the wrong line. The stooge would typically glance around frowning in confusion and slip their hand up with the group. The instructions were repeated and the next card was raised. Time after time, the self-conscious stooge would sit there saying a short line is longer than a long line, simply because they lacked the courage to challenge the group. This conformity occurred in about 75% of the cases. Peer pressure? Definitely! In the spiritual realm? Absolutely! In colleges? For sure! Even my son told me 'Dad, if I didn't know what I know, those professors would have persuaded me.' What did he know? He was raised learning the Word. None of my kids are perfect. If you did a perfect job, let me know how you did it. I always said, 'If my kids decide to rebel, they're going to do it with their eyes wide open, because they're going to know right from wrong and who to turn to. What happened to Peter? Was there peer pressure there? Was there fear? Peter was a bold individual, so what you have to understand is that personalities don't matter; you could be bold and confident or you could be shy - the pressure is the same. When we look at the account of Peter, we see him being under pressure as it says in Matthew 26:69-75 - “Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard (this is after Jesus was arrested. Peter said, I will follow You if nobody else follows You, I will follow you and no matter what, to my death I will follow you.) And a servant girl came to him

saying, 'You also you were with Jesus of Galilee.' But he denied it before them all saying, 'I do not know what you are saying.' And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, 'This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.' But again he denied with an oath, 'I do not know the man!' And a little later, those who stood by came up and said to Peter, 'Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.' Then he began to curse and swear saying, 'I do not know the man!' Immediately a rooster crowed and Peter remembered the Word of Jesus Who had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows you will deny Me three times.' So he went out and wept bitterly.” That's the shame that comes when

you deny the Lord. Beware of hearing the rooster crow by traveling the path of least resistance. Further on in Romans 1:22 - “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” When we study the Bible, it's going to show us that unbelievers look up into heaven and they know there's a God, but they deny Him. Teenagers in that experiment, made a planned false confession, but the flip side of that is, if nine out of ten students were ascribing to a worldly philosophy and not God, and the Christian is pressured or ashamed, what would they do? Who would they choose? When you look at the movie, God Is Not Dead, that's basically the theme of the movie, peer pressure. Will they stand or will they not stand? It's a good message, but I think this hits all of us, not just the kids in school. This is for adults. The young church in Rome, like us, has to be willing, when the system challenges us, as the Gospel message is never popular, to stand up for Jesus. This is why Paul puts this bug in their ear. I call bugs, Believers Under Grace. You're under God's grace. Let that message echo in your heart. That's why Paul laid out to them the letter the way he did. He would say, do not be that spiritual stooge (in the experiment) because even unbelievers will actually respect somebody who has strong convictions, rather than somebody who doesn't have a compass, or any convictions, or any passion. They tend to listen to you if you have that passion and at least they respect you. Paul would say don't be that wishy-washy person. In Revelation 3:16 - Jesus says to the Laodicean Church “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” Is it good to be lukewarm when it comes to your faith? Absolutely not!! It's not a good thing!

Paul went on record that this is who I am and this is what I do. Those of us standing for our faith might not use many words but when we're challenged, we'll stand up for the Lord and say 'I'm not ashamed of the gospel message.' The second half of verse 16 “for it is the power of God to

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salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Notice, the salvation message goes out to all, it's not exclusive to a select group, but to everyone who would believe. The God of the gospel transcends ethnic groups, religious groups, social groups, and cultural lines. It transcends all. Speaking to the Jews first, then to the Greeks. Now, the Jews and the Greeks were polar opposites in their belief systems, socially, culturally, religiously, and philosophically. All other belief systems of men would fit neatly between the Jews and the Greeks. All those who would believe could receive salvation. The word power is the Greek word, dunamis. It's where we get our English word, dynamite and dynamic. In the spiritual realm, it's the idea of the explosive power of God, this mighty work of God that He works in the spiritual life of a person. It's irregardless of a person's response to it or their personality. Some people get saved and they're jumping all over the place, they can't hardly believe it. Something's really happened and they're bouncing off the walls, they're excited. Somebody else gets saved and they're subdued, contemplative. Our response has nothing to do with the explosive power of God's work in someone's life. This is a separate work of God not related to us, except that we would just believe. The Gospel message is like an atomic blast detonating and splitting atoms. Why do I say it like that? So you would remember, in the first Adam came judgment, sin and death. In 1 Corinthians 15:22 - “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” All condemned in Adam, why? Because original sin originates in every one of us, not that we are blamed for Adam, but because we are all like Adam. Through the first Adam comes judgment and death, but in 1 Corinthians 15:45 - “And so it is written,'The first man, Adam, became a living being.' The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.” There's this explosive power of God unto salvation that separates the atoms and we become in the second Adam (Jesus Christ), a living spirit. Hopefully, we'll remember that power of God that separates us from death. That penalty of death that was against us, Jesus took away! Now we're made alive. From death to life: this is the good news, this is the gospel. Consider that our old self could never have spiritual life without Jesus! The gospel is God's atomic energy unto salvation and it separates sin from the sinner. That's the power of God. Another thought: the gospel itself is a very simple plan of salvation and first you have to admit that you're a sinner, Romans 3 tells us. You also have to acknowledge that you can't help yourself. You have to know that you're dying and that you need a Savior.“The wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23 and James 1:15 tells us that sin brings forth death. We have to know that salvation is in Jesus alone, He bore my sin, the Word tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21, also in 1 Peter 2:24 - “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, so that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by Whose stripes you were healed.” I know there is no other way to salvation, that Jesus had to do this. Both in Leviticus 17:11 - “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” and in Hebrews 9:22 tells us “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Believing God's Word and promises, we can rest in the knowledge of His grace, because our sin was laid upon Jesus. Jesus died in our place and He defeated that last enemy, death. The penalty of our sin is death. The Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas 'what must I do to be saved?' Their answer, in Acts 16:31 - “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved...” We can thank the Lord. Why? Because it is His finished work that saved us and it's by His power that we have salvation and the promise of everlasting life. In Romans 10:10, 13 - “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Jesus summarizes it in John 5:24 when He says,“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My Word and believes in Him Who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment.”

We have to enter into the place where we rest in the Lord. Maybe the peer pressures of life and relationships has kept you from stepping up and making that decision of a confession of faith. We used to say 'I don't really care what people think about me, what I care about is what God thinks. Maybe you've been in a place where you haven't really made that decision for Christ. The gospel is

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that power of God unto salvation and of course the devil wants you to think otherwise - that somehow you have to do some meritorious work to achieve that respectable place to then get saved - that's completely the opposite, that's religion and that could be real legalism - it's a false teaching. Let's pray.

Father, thank You so much, Lord, for Your love for us. We thank You that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. We thank You, Lord, that we just need to call upon You. You finished the work so that we would be set free. Lord, we thank You, for You know that explosive, powerful, spiritual work in our lives that took a dead Man and made him alive. Our spirit was dead and now we're alive. Lord, we want to thank You for that. You set us free from that bondage that we might follow You, so I pray for all those that are reading this, and I ask You, Lord, that none of us would pass on the opportunity of walk, serving You with our whole heart. So, God be glorified. We ask this in Jesus' name, Amen. God Bless.

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