Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the book of Romans. Tonight is study 4 of Romans, chapter 1, and we will begin by reading Romans 1:1-4:
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
I will stop reading there. We saw how Saul of Tarsus became known as Paul the Apostle, and we read (especially in the book of Acts) of the history of God’s plan to send Paul to Rome, and Acts 28 concluded with Paul being in his own hired house (in Rome), receiving all that would come unto him, no man forbidding.
We discussed how Paul is a picture of God’s elect and he is a pattern for the elect believer and, especially, at that point after the shipwreck as he was no longer in the land of Israel or Judaea. Now he was in Rome. He was out in the world, the time that points to the Latter Rain, spiritually, at the time of the end when God would save that great multitude. That is how the book of Acts ended, and we see that the book of Romans is very well-placed because you turn the page from Acts 28, and you are in Romans. That is where Paul was left in the book of Acts, and it picks up in Romans 1:1:
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
We have looked at the name “Paul,” so now we want to look at the other words in this verse. He is a servant of Jesus Christ, and no longer a servant to sin and to Satan. And that is what happened when God saved a sinner. Prior to salvation, the sinner was a servant to sin and to Satan. Sin had dominion over us. Satan had dominion over us, and we were taken captive at his will. We did service to him by obeying the lusts of the flesh and by not obeying God. We see a clear example of this back in the Garden of Eden. God told them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but Satan told them to go ahead and eat: “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods.” So they ate. They disobeyed God, and in disobeying God, they obeyed another – they obeyed the devil Satan, the evil one, and they became his servants. The one we obey is whose servant we are, and that is why mankind came under the power and authority of Satan. All mankind was in subjection to the lusts of the flesh.
We find some people that have a lot of “will power” and they do not smoke or drink, but they have nothing to do with God, and we wonder, “Why do they have so much will power?” But if one looks closely (and, of course, that is not our business), and God certainly does look closely. God looks upon the heart of man, and He sees that sinner that is on a health kick and he eats properly and exercises to stay fit physically and he does not put anything harmful into his body, but what is going on in his heart and mind? Within he is like a dead man’s bones, and a dead man’s bones inside a crypt are not a pretty sight. There is all manner of spiritual ugliness, filthiness and dirtiness within that beautiful outward appearance of that individual. He is keeping his physical body so clean and pure, or so he thinks, but the physical body has seen corruption. The outward body can appear fine for a little time, which is like a flower that blooms for a week and then withers away.
But man will serve his master. We are not “free agents.” We are not our own, as people like to think: “I will do it my way. I am an independent spirit. I do not serve God, and I do not serve man, and I certainly do not serve Satan. I do everything according to my desire, my will and my dictate.” But they have no idea that they are making that great speech while being a resident of that spiritual dungeon with its bars, and bound in the cords of their own iniquity. They have no idea of the degree or level of their service to sin and to Satan, as they think they are as free as anybody could be. And it is exactly the opposite. They are in deep bondage to sin, and they are given over to it, and dead in it. They are dead in trespasses and sins, and it is because of their spiritual deadness that they cannot even see it. They do not see the “corpse” that they have become in the inner man.
And, yet, this is what God would deliver the sinner from, and when He delivered the sinner, He gave life in the soul. He gave eyes to see and ears to hear, and spiritual legs to walk in His commandments. And they began to see the light shining in the darkness in the world they had been living in, and they see for the first time just how sinful they had been. They began to realize that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, “of whom I am chief.” That was the testimony of the Apostle Paul, who would previously have thought what a good guy he was, and what a righteous man he was because he was a “Pharisee of the Pharisees.” He was a Benjamite, zealous for the Law of God, but God shone the light from above down upon him and he saw the truth of his actual condition, and he began to see himself as worse than the tax collector and worse than the harlot and worse than the worst! If you are the “chief of sinners,” it means you are the supreme or top sinner, and there is no sinner more sinful than you. You know, Paul was not alone. Let us take a look at that verse in 1Timothy 1:15:
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation…
He is talking to you and me, the readers of the Bible. Are you reading 1Timonthy 1:15? “Yes, I see it – I am reading it.” Well, then it is worthy for you to accept of yourself and worthy for me to accept of myself, in 1Timothy 1:15:
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
There is no one worse than I – no one more despicable, dirtier, rottener or uglier in sins than I – as we look in the mirror. That is the true teaching of the Bible. That is what the Apostle Paul learned about himself, but if we go away thinking, “Oh, that was Paul. He was the chief of sinners,” then we have missed the point if we do not accept it and apply it to our own life and our own sinful condition. And, yet, it is true. It is true. When God is first operating in a person, we might start off by answering the question, “Are you a good person?” by saying, “Well, yes, I am basically a good person.” We might start off there because that is where the world is, and they only say “basically” because they are trying to be a little humble about it, but they believe they are very good people and that God is smiling down on them constantly because they are very good persons. They believe in every situation, every circumstance and in every meeting with others that they are “right ones” and their point of view is correct, and their ideas are informed, and whenever there is a dispute, they are always right because they are “good.”
Yet the Bible teaches us, as it starts to work in us, that “none doeth good, no not one.” Not you. Not him. Not her. Not me. Not anyone. None are good. None are righteous. You can go on to read in Romans 3 what it does say about men and how the things we say are like serpents or asps, and so forth. The Bible is an amazing book because it will not lie. It will not flatter us like the writings of men always tend to do. “You have it within you,” says the writings of men, “and you just need to reach your potential. You are a good person. You deserve good things.” But the Bible does not use any “buttery language” of any kind. God tells us the truth: “You are a sinner.” And then God tells us what it means to be a sinner, and when we start putting all these statements in the Bible together, we can only say, “Wow!” It should floor us! It should humble us to no end because it is speaking about us and describing our condition, and what we are actually like in our sins. We have hearts of stone, desperately wicked and deceitful above all things. The way the Bible talks of men, you would think we are the “slippery serpents” sliding around on the ground from beneath a rock. Well, that is our nature. We are liars, ever since we fell into sin. God is true and every man a liar.
So the Lord revealed these things to the Apostle Paul and, even in that, he is an example and a type of God’s elect children, as God has revealed it to us. As He came to Paul, He began convincing him, working in him and turning him from the power of sin and Satan to the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was turned from obedience to sin and to Satan to obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, which would be obedience to the Word of God, the Bible. He was turned from the dominion of sin and Satan where he had bowed down and served the devil and all the evil lusts of men, and he was turned to serving the good and great God, the Lord Jesus, and the good Word of God, which is everything that is good and right and proper. So this was the transformation. This is the impact when God makes us a new creature in our soul, and we become born again and receive an ongoing desire to do the will of God. Before then, we had an ongoing desire to get drunk, to smoke, to do drugs or to pursue unbiblical sexual relations or to pursue a lust for money, or whatever it was. We had desires of the world, and we know the power of those desires, but God has broken it with the new spirit He has placed within us and the indwelling presence of His Spirit, and now we seek to follow the things of God and the wonderful teachings of His Word.
Going on, it says in Romans 1:1:
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle…
The word “apostle” is #652 in the Greek concordance, and it is almost always translated as “apostle” or “apostles.” A couple of times it is translated as “messenger” and it is translated once as “sent” in John 13:16. That is basically what it means, as it is derived from #649 in Strong’s concordance, which means “to send,” so Paul was “sent” of Jesus Christ. And, again, Paul is a pattern to the elect true believer, and we are also “sent” of the Lord Jesus Christ, and this is something we have understood correctly for some time. When we are saved, we are elevated and lifted up to the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, and during the day of salvation, we were then dispatched, as it were, back to earth with our new spirit and new heart, and it was as if Jesus said, “Now I send you forth into the world. Carry my Word.” It is the same idea as “messenger,” so that is why this word is translated as “messenger” a couple of times.
It says in Matthew 28:18-20:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
This particular command had its time of application during the day of salvation, because “baptizing” has to do with salvation, and it was fulfilled when the last of the elect became saved. Then “all nations of them which are saved” were spiritually baptized. (And there is a verse in Revelation that defines the “nations of them which are saved,” which are the nations of the elect.) These were taught and baptized one hundred per cent, thus fulfilling the command of this Great Commission.
If we thought this only had to do with the physical nations of the world, then the fulfilment of this command has been a miserable failure because Jesus commanded to go to all nations and to teach all nations, and to baptize all nations. But very few of “all nations” of the political nations of the world were taught, and even fewer of them were baptized, so it would have been a miserable failure, until we realize that we must search out that word “nations.” And we see in Revelation that it must refer to “the nations of them that are saved” or the elect, so we can now see and understand that “all nations” were, indeed, taught, and “all nations” were, indeed, baptized with the baptism of the spirit in salvation.
So the Great Commission was, indeed, fulfilled by May 21, 2011, but then we find in John 21 a “second Great Commission,” as it were, to “feed my sheep.” In order to feed the sheep, we must go into the world, carrying the message of the Bible to “all nations” so that we might feed God’s sheep, that great multitude that became saved at the time of the end. So we are still “sent,” but with a different message. The message of salvation has ended, but now the message is that God’s judgment is on the unsaved inhabitants of the earth and the door of heaven is shut.
Going back to Romans, it says in Romans 1:1:
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God…
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, was “called” to be an apostle. We did not look at the word “called,” but this word is familiar to us in many places (in the Bible), and God says in Matthew 20:16:
So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
Actually, all professed Christians or anyone that has ever heard the Gospel have been “called,” and when we hear the call, the call is to obey the Word of God, the Bible, and to submit to it. We are to do what it tells us to do. And over the course of the church age, multitude that heard and, therefore, were “called,” flocked into the congregations. At the end of the church age when the Gospel message went worldwide with the warning that May 21, 2011 was Judgment Day, they heard the “sound of the trumpet” and they heard that Gospel declaration, so the whole world that heard was “called.” Many were called and among the many were the few that were elect. This was true during the church age, and it was true during the Great Tribulation that many were called, but among them were the few that were chosen. That is why God decided not to separate the wheat from the tares during the church age. He would allow them to come together and sit in the same pews and both groups would listen to the preacher, sing hymns and read the Bible. But one group was called (not being chosen), but the other was called and chosen, so God’s elect were also among those that were called. However, we had the additional blessing of having been chosen, elect of God and selected by Him before the foundation of the world. And our sins had already been paid for from the point of the foundation of the world in eternity past.
So God was not getting into that description where he uses the word “called” in regard to Paul and, yet, maybe He was doing so because in the next part of the verse it says he was “separated unto the gospel of God.” So Paul was “called” and “separated.” We also read in Galatians 1:13-17:
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Paul was saying, “when it pleased God who separated me from my mother’s womb,” and this goes back to God’s election program, as we read in Deuteronomy 32:8:
…he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.
When did He do this separation? It was before any had done good or evil. It was before the world was. God had to make choice in order to lay the sins of the “few” upon Christ who would then perform the atonement on our behalf.