JULY 1, 2007
Romans is a book filled with quotable passages, some of the most famous to be found in the New Testament. The Roman Road to salvation is clearly one of the most utilized segments of Scripture for evangelism and for introducing the plan of salvation.
Chronologically, Romans was written well after Revelation, Galatians, First and Second Thessalonians and First and Second Corinthians. It is the threshold and passageway to Ephesians and Colossians, with streaming lines to anchor them in the Messiah.
In Romans, the central theme of Paul's doctrine is profoundly displayed. With him, it is all about Messiah and the relationship of Y'shua (Jesus) interacting with the saints. Directed to the Jews, though clarifying the role of the Gentile believer, he surgically investigates religious belief and "What is accepted and what is rejected by God." He views all activities of spiritual domain from the visage of the Father.
In chapter forty of the book "Sealed Unto His Coming," the book of Romans is characterized as being the "scope of the seal of God." Within those pages, explanation is made about the height, depth, and breadth of the "love seal" by which Jesus covenants with His people.
Any study of Romans must first posit into the mind of the student one cogent truth: In Romans is found the expansive mind of Paul (Shaul). He pushed to the breaking point any theology or belief system that operated short of the goal of the "image of Jesus Christ."
The Roman church was comprised of both Jew and Gentile; therefore, the Spirit used the scholarly Paul to define the role of each in the new covenant. Paul refused to view the church as an eclectic or culturally flavored body. For him, there was but one body, that made up of the Holiness Ones-which comprised the ekklesia (the church). The ekklesia is ONLY populated by those who are "the saints."
Limiting the audience: Romans 1:1-7
From the first word of this epistle, Paul began limiting his audience and those with whom he was willing to identify. In Paul's view, it was "all about the Messiah." He used the Hebrew word "Messiah" which has been translated "Christ" as many times as he could. (Messiah in Hebrew means, "The One with the anointing on Him." If one counts the number of "Christ" references in Paul's work, he/she will find that the word "Christ" (Messiah) was planted like road markers through his works in order to keep the reader on target.)
Separated (v. 1): Paul was a "separated" servant and he expected his audience to be the same. His calling in the Divine order was that of apostle (which he openly declared gave him no rank). What gave him identity was that he was "separated" to the gospel of the Almighty God by the Almighty. Authority flowed from the Father, to the Son, to the servant. His covering was his calling. His lineage was not Abraham, but Jesus.
Promised Before (v.2): The origin of his gospel of God began before the world was made and it centered on Jesus, the Messiah. Immediately, Paul's rabbinic background kicked in.
He (was) promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Messiah our Lord (vvs.2,3)Four quantifiers emerged and had to be reckoned with by the Jews in Paul's audience:. (1) Their God used (2) their Scriptures and (3) their prophets to declare (4) Jesus as their promised Messiah. No portion of the Torah needed to be cited; this was evidence enough.
Engendered by this passage, the power of Jesus' humanity was revealed, as well as the power of His Divinity. Jesus' flesh power came through the lineage of David (not a priestly line, but a Kingly line who served God as His own priest in a different tabernacle from that of Moses).
What identified Jesus' heavenly power was:
(He was) declared from heaven (to be) the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. (v. 4)Jesus' ministry came through a commission from heaven. Paul's ministry came through a commission from heaven. Both had a ministry "with power." (Paul did not believe one could minister without this element of heaven.) The anointing of Jesus came through the "Spirit of Holiness" and was proven through Jesus' resurrection from the dead.
Much was wrapped into this passage. None of the "service giftings" (apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher) must emanate from any other source than the calling from "heaven." They are never to come from the will of man, but only by the will of God. These giftings are to be sanctioned with "power" from on high and come through the Spirit of Holiness.
Spirit of Holiness:
Saints need to know that it is not so much the "baptism of the Holy Spirit," which empowers one, but the mikvah in the Spirit of Holiness. The qualifying mark of the "saint life" is holiness. Would to God that the next worship service one attends would break out with multitudes shouting, "Hallelujah, I have received the Spirit of Holiness!" That would produce a fellowship almost unknown in Christian circles, "The Spirit of Holiness Fellowship."
The Spirit of Holiness fellowship was the only one Paul would later identify with by using the pronoun, "We." (Later in Romans, Paul identified those who are unrighteous, unholy and "approve those things which are the objects of wrath." They are not to be a part of his "we.")
An important question now rises, "Who are included in the "WE" of Paul's writings?"
Called of Jesus Messiah (v.6):
The "We" starts by being called of Jesus Messiah, hearing His voice, and obeying His commands.
(Jesus) Through whom WE have received grace and apostleship For obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among Whom YOU ALSO are the called of Jesus Christ. To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to (be) saints: Grace to you and peace From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (v.5-7)Incorporated in these verses are all sorts of qualifiers for the "saints." It is the saints who have received grace from Y'shua. They comprise the "WE," that Paul identifies with.
Their "Obedience to the faith" worldwide was the key of distinction that marks indelibly the true saint. Such obedience gave Paul his apostleship and made him understand that grace is administered to bring about holiness. His apostleship's reward were those brought into holiness through grace and the Spirit of Holiness. The same grace and apostleship ministered to him from Damascus forward was what he looked for in converts worldwide. (A church "Without spot and blemish" is not some future fiat state, but the product of embraced holiness!)
Called to be saints (7):
If no other aspect of this study in Romans is conveyed, let it be this phrase. (The Lord has been working into my heart to write a text on, "Called to be Saints.") Making one's calling and election sure is all about being sure one is a "Holiness One." In Deuteronomy 33:2, saints are identified as Holiness Ones ("And He shall come with ten thousand of His Holiness"). Those who stand beside Him in the end time drama will only be the "Holiness Ones." (One must review the many times Paul used this phrase in his epistles. One such occasion is found in I Corinthians, a document written before the book of Romans. It must be an important statement for Paul to repeat it!)
Grace and Peace to you (v. 7):
Obviously it is to the "we" group that such grace and peace was to be constantly administered. Throughout all of Paul's introductions and closings, this admonition of grace and peace was a recurring theme. (No, it is not grace and peace to an unholy and unfaithful gathering; it is wrath and turmoil and the inevitable consequences of rebellion for them. Note v.18).
Just how important is this passage found in verse eight?
I thank my God through Y'shua Messiah for you all, THAT your faith Is spoken of throughout the whole world (v.8).Apparently, size of ministry, notoriety of one's visage, reverence of one's religio-politico power or the strength of one's financial empire (all the things which are characteristic of the modern Roman church and its approved and unapproved affiliates) meant nothing to Paul. What kept Paul on his knees, in behalf of their plight, was a world shaking faith, feared by devils and respected by all the saints. They exercised unaffrontable Holiness.
God, who I serve with my spirit (v.9)
The power of the believer is having one's spirit in unison with the Spirit of Holiness; it is an act of will. Within the Holy Temple of the heart, where man's spirit ministers to God, is a sanctuary where prayers are made before an altar--where no other may come. Here, Paul, without cessation, lifted up to God unknown faces, nameless frames and unseen places. Through faith, they were a part of the "WE." Though he was a stranger and had not visited their ranks, he defined their place in the kingdom. (Is it any wonder satan targeted them?)
Find a way in the will of God (v.10)
This phrase speaks volumes. It has parameters. Paul knew that one must always chart a "way in the will of God." Approval in heaven, and having the safety of His will, were basic considerations for this man of three missionary journeys. He knew both closed and open doors and who made the choices. (No committee approved or board determined his path.)
Impart some spiritual gift (v.12).
Paul's desire to be with them was associational and was based on a desire for them to receive from him, to grow, to expand their abilities to function in the Lord. If every evangelist, every convention speaker, every pastor, every special gathering had this motive in view-what joy it would be to hear what was being said. (Later in verse 13, Paul spoke of having "some fruit" among them.)
For years, I traveled with a man of God named Carlos Gruber from Brazil who was born in Riga, Latvia. Carlos was a true missionary, and he often spoke before entering a particular mission point, "I will be satisfied to see some fruit come of this."
Could if be that mindless programs and pointless exercises which are the usual fair of the modern church are sponsored by a people who have never seen the real fruit that Paul describes?
Mutual Faith (v. 12):
There it is! The bond of true fellowship spelled out in two words! Most of the time, one comes away from Christian gatherings wondering, "Where is the ground for our mutuality?" Many times even harsher thoughts course the brain, "What's the problem with these people?" Paul knew "mutual faith" was the glue of the church. Baptized by the Spirit of Holiness, receiving continual grace to Holiness and residing in the will of God---these were the things that one must build upon. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of this edifice and the apostles are the foundation stones. The living stones of this fellowship need not post their beliefs in doctrinal statements, but simply point to the acceptance of their association. If Paul considered them part of the "WE," that was sufficient. With whom would Paul associate today?
Debtor to Greeks and Barbarians…the wise and unwise (v. 14-15):
"Debtor" might better be rendered as "I am obligated (to preach and minister) to Greeks and barbarians…the wise and unwise." This was Paul's assignment. He went on to say that he was not ashamed of his gospel or his assignment. Just as Jesus ministered to the Jews primarily and occasionally to others, so Paul ministered primarily to the Gentiles, and sometimes to the Jews. The gospel he preached was the same for the Gentile and the Jew. There was no such thing as "two ways" or two gospels. He later claimed "my gospel (2:16)" would be the basis for God's judgment.
The Power of God to salvation (v.16):
Gentiles and Jews have just one port in which to tie their ark of salvation: it is the gospel port of Messiah. IN IT and IT alone is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith. They share one common thread, "The just shall live by faith." It has been so from Abraham to the present.
These saints have a common enemy, however-those to whom the wrath of God is revealed. Notice the use of the word "reveal" in differing situations. In the gospel is revealed the righteousness of God. In unrighteousness is revealed the wrath of God.
The wrath of God revealed (v.18):
Beginning with verse eighteen, Paul showed the justice of God in revealing His wrath.
Holding to these attributes causes one to become an enemy of God.
But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness-indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek (2:9).Paul did not mince words, neither must we.
Until Next Month, when we continue with Romans 2…
Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.
Missionaries From Paraguay: Rick and Kimberly Sutton
This month, I have chosen to feature another "real live missionary," his family and his work. Before January, 2007, I had never met Bro. and sister Sutton. However, one Sunday, I was invited to the First Assembly of God to hear a "missionary." I was told, "You will like him because you like missionaries and you love to see those who hear the Spirit of God and wait upon Him." I was not disappointed.
During that morning service, no less than a dozen times, this brother would stop and wait on the Lord. To some it was a distraction, because it caused a silent pause often in the middle of a sentence. From those "off moments" came prophetic utterances, words of knowledge and wisdom. Call for healing, special appeals to repent and out and out rage against sin in the body of believers issued from these occasions. Some were frightened; I was delighted. I haven't heard preaching like that for years.
His message struck the very heart of the congregation, and he offered no excuses for roughness and no salve for the cutting resolve. He stated that "church as it has been would no longer be tolerated by the Almighty." (I figured the missionary was going back to Paraguay in the next month and was letting the power fall with abandon.)
I wanted to make his acquaintance, so I brought him a copy of The Sons of Zadok, figuring that once he bit into that work, I would know his timber. A few days later, he called me to say "that book is turning me upside down." What a compliment, Hallelujah to the Lord. We designed to meet and share, which we did over several occasions.
Brother Sutton's ministry in Paraguay was phenomenal. Almost from the beginning, he had favor with the people. He had such favor that with or without denominational approval, his ministry broke out into the countryside and he became "one of the uncontrollable agents of the Lord." Hallelujah for that! Instantaneous healings, outpouring of the Spirit in salvation and baptism became the order of the day. To use his phrase, "I stood by and watched as God did His work and was grateful to be used of Him."
Brother Sutton's heart is pliable and sweet spirited. That Sunday morning in January, 2007, I watched him as he submitted to the authority of the pastor of the church he was visiting, but my spirit witnessed that there was a greater submission going on---that of submitting to the will of God.
Here are some of the many pictures that reveal the character and blessings of his years in S. America, especially in Paraguay. I hope you enjoy them and the sense of glory that accompanies them.
Ven a Jesus hoy, no te esperas! (don't wait come to Jesus today!)
Brother Sutton is pictured calling for repentance and being used by the Spirit to call out those in the audience who have special needs.
The following is a youth convocation with comments from Rick:
"Missionaries David & Rose Dtrolio invited me to speak at there annual School camp this year for LACC and I was honored to do so. Here is a picture of the altar call. God showed up and moved upon their hearts. Some of them are being touched by the power of God for the first time."
The next set of pictures depict some of the wonderful opportunities to minister to groups of pastors and folks who assist in various ministries to the people; they speak for themselves.
Next, is the last of our picture series for this feature, but it speaks volumes to the type of ministry Bro. Sutton has in Latin America. He has been invited recently to several foreign countries and special meeting throughout the U.S. while currently involved in a mission endeavor stateside.
In His words:
"This was one of the poorest churches we have been to and oh! how they needed a drink of the New Wine. The land was dry and thirsty, which shows you how poverty can literally rob you of life. In this Campaign, there were several healings of physical problems and I must add, demonic problems.
Pastor Rick and Kimberly Sutton
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