Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the book of Romans. Tonight is study 5 of Romans, chapter 1, and we will begin by reading the first couple of verses in Romans 1:1-2:
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,)
I will stop reading there. We have been looking at verse 1 and the various words God has given us there, and we have seen how following words in the Bible can give us all kinds of information.
Now we will look at the last part of Romans 1:1:
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
We know that back in Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas were specifically singled out by the Holy Spirit, as it says in Acts 13:2-4:
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
By the way, this is a proof text verse that shows the personality of the Holy Spirit. We do not read that God the Father separated Paul and Barnabas or that Jesus Christ separated them (at least not in this verse), but it was the Holy Ghost that said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work,” and they were sent forth by the Holy Ghost. We do not know how that worked itself out regarding how the Holy Spirit made this known to the people in that church at that time, but He did. And that just confirms that He is one Person of the Triune Godhead. The Holy Spirit is a Person. So the Holy Spirit is the one who separated Saul (who became Paul) for the work of being an Apostle to the Gentiles. And, remember, the word “apostle” can be traced back to the idea of “being sent,” so he was called to be an Apostle or called to be one “sent,” separated unto the Gospel of God.
We should not think that Paul had some kind of special commission that we do not have, or that Paul or those that become pastors and elders are especially set apart by God and sanctified by God for that kind of ministry, while the majority of people do not have that kind of task. Remember that Paul was a pattern or example to the elect child of God, and as he was set apart and sent forth for the work of the Gospel, so are we. So are we – every one of us, as a matter of fact – commissioned from the moment we became saved. If you recall, in John 1 when the Lord Jesus was having a discussion with Nathaniel, it says in John 1:50-51:
Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
Do not be led off course by the use of the word “angels.” Remember that in both the original Hebrew and Greek, this word can be properly translated as “messengers,” and it should have been translated that way here: “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the messengers of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” In the day of salvation (which is now past), at the moment of salvation when God reckoned salvation to that person, he was lifted up into heavenly places to be seated with Christ Jesus, as it were. He ascended up to heaven in salvation, and for the rest of time, he is “in Christ” who is seated at the right hand of the Father. You can look at Ephesians 2:6 where that is stated: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” How did he get up there? And if we are up in heaven in Christ and seated in heavenly places, what are we still doing on the earth? How can both things be true? How can we be up in heaven in Christ at the right hand of the Father and, yet, here we are on the earth? If you are listening to me, you are still here, just as I am still here on earth. How can we be in both places at once? It is because God “reckons” it or counts it toward us because our lives are “hid with God in Christ.”
So we ascended, as it were, at the moment of salvation, but not prior to that moment. Yes – Christ died for our sins at the foundation of the world, but there had to be a (time of) application of that blood. He shed His blood for all our transgressions, and the blood was, as it were, in a basin and the Gospel, the Word of God, was the applicator of that blood, down through the centuries of the history of the world. God sent forth His Word in various “times and seasons,” and when it found an elect person, the Word, like hyssop, was dipped in that blood and applied to the hearing and life of that chosen individual and he became saved in “time.” Prior to that, it could be said that we were children of wrath even as others, but once the blood was applied, all our sins were washed away and we ascend, as it were, into heaven to be seated with Christ Jesus. And, immediately, we were dispatched and descended upon the Son of man (Christ). Both the ascending and descending was upon Him, and we were immediately sent forth with the Gospel in the day of salvation to be a messenger of the Bible. It was just like Barnabas and Saul (who became Paul), as Paul was said to be “separated unto the gospel of God.”
I think we understand that, but now let us ask the question: “What is the Gospel of God?” Some people say, “It is the good news.” They would limit it, really. “It is only the good news of the Bible, God’s salvation program. That is the Gospel.” And, yes, there is some evidence for that because the word “gospel” that is found in Romans 1:1 is related to another word that can be translated as “glad tidings.” It is related to a word that means “good,” so some people think, “Well, you have to teach Christ and Him crucified,” and by that they mean that we must stick to that central message of redemption, the saving work of Christ. “You can tell people they are sinners because we have to know what we are saved from. We are sinners and Christ is the Saviour that died for our sins and made payment for them.” And, of course, how they think we come to receive that salvation is “a mess” in Christendom, both inside and outside the churches. They would limit the Gospel to just this basic information, and even in that they are unfaithful and they cannot deliver a faithful Gospel message through their own terms and definitions of what the Gospel is, but they start off with a major error that is limiting the very definition of “Gospel” to very a very specific teaching. In other words, if the Gospel is only “Christ and Him crucified,” or “Christ on the cross,” or just a salvation message, what they are really saying is that all other doctrines – although important – are not the Gospel.
You see, they are never pressed on this, but just notice how it sounds if we would say that the Biblical doctrines regarding “marriage and divorce” are not the Gospel; or, the qualifications for deacons and elders during the church age was not the Gospel; or, a woman’s role regarding her not teaching or usurping authority over the man is not the Gospel; or, the matter of the end of church age and God’s judgment upon the churches is not the Gospel, and so forth. All these matters regarding extremely important things that God has written about in His Word are not the Gospel. For example, if the Gospel is just “Christ and Him crucified,” then does that mean that you can add to the Bible and it is not “another gospel” if you add a dream, a vision or a tongue? Can you add to the Gospel a dream you had last night wherein God, supposedly, told you that Saturday is still the Sabbath, like that woman who started the Seventh Day of Adventists? (She claimed she had some kind of a vision highlighting the fourth commandment.) Would you say that because they talk about “Christ and Him crucified,” do they have the right Gospel if they are adding to the Word of God by speaking in tongues, falling over backwards and they are wide open to all kinds of supernatural occurrences (even though the Bible says in Revelation 22:18 that we are not to add to or subtract from the Word of God)? Do they have the true Gospel if they understand “Christ and Him crucified,” but they want to teach these other things? You see, when people follow up their first error of limiting the Gospel to their “preset” series of verses and doctrines that mainly deal with Christ on the cross, they leave themselves vulnerable in these other areas.
In the late 80s or early 90s, I went to a Presbyterian Church and they had a sister congregation that went after tongues, and this church I was going to was thought by many to be very faithful and, yet, they would not denounce this sister church as “another gospel.” And it was probably related to this issue of not properly defining the Gospel of the Bible. When people say that the Gospel is only the “good news salvation program” of the Bible, and nothing else, they are making a big mistake.
Let us look at a verse that, by itself, disproves that, in Romans 2:16, and it uses the same word “gospel” that is used in Romans 1:1. It says in Romans 2:16:
In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
That is not speaking of salvation or Christ on the cross. He is talking about Judgment Day: “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ…” The Bible establishes Jesus Christ as that Judge, in John 5.
Then it says, “…according to my gospel.” Now there is a problem, because when someone holds to an understanding concerning a word (in this case, that the Gospel means only that which relates to the cross or relating to salvation, then that is their conclusion, but now they have to harmonize it with the whole Bible, No exceptions. If there is an exception to their conclusion, then their conclusion is wrong, and Romans 2:16 does disprove their conclusion. It is saying, “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel,” because the “Gospel” is a synonym for the Word of God, the Bible. All Scripture is the Gospel – every word, every jot, every tittle, from Genesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21, and everything in between. It is all the Gospel. It is the Law of God. It is the Word of God. And by the Law and by the Word, God will judge the secrets of men. John 12 tells us that the Word will judge in the last day. The Word of God, the Bible, is the Gospel and it is the standard of righteousness that God uses to exercise His judgment in determining if someone has done right or wrong, or good or bad. And that is exactly what God is doing today, since we are presently living on the earth in that Day of Judgment.
So, here we see that the word “Gospel” must be expanded (beyond just salvation), so when we come to Galatians 1, it will make several references to the “Gospel” in this passage. It says in Galatians 1:6-16:
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 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:
It says in verse 16 that God revealed His Son in him, the Apostle Paul, that he might preach Him among the heathen. Who was he preaching of? He was preaching of Christ. That is what happened after the time of his conversion, as it says in Acts 9:19-20:
And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
He preached Christ. He preached Him, and we cannot forget who Jesus is. It is one thing to teach “Christ and Him crucified,” but if you do not truly know who Christ is, then your preaching of Him would be lacking. And that is because Christ is the Word. Christ is the Word that was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, full of grace and truth. So Christ is the Word, and to preach Christ is to preach the Word – all of the Word, the Bible.
You know, if someone that insists that the Gospel is only, “Step 1, step 2 and step 3, and I am going to preach the Gospel,” then we could ask, “Are you going to preach Christ?” Christ is the essence of the Gospel. He is the embodiment of the Gospel. If you are going to preach Christ, then you have to preach the whole counsel of God. That is what the Apostle Paul said, in Acts 20:26-27:
Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
He declared all the counsel of God and, of course, that would include all Scripture. The Bible says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” All Scripture is God’s counsel, and Paul did not shun it; that is, he did not fail to declare it all, whatever God had opened up to him. As we read in Galatians 1, when he received revelation from the Lord, he declared that revelation, and part of that revelation was the mystery revealed to him that the Gentiles would be fellowheirs with the Jews. And that was declared to him because it was part of the counsel of God, and all the counsel of God is the Gospel.
Christ is the Word, and you cannot declare just portions of the Word, like limiting yourself to the New Testament, forgetting the Old Testament. And in the New Testament, you cannot limit yourself to the (four) Gospel accounts, and forget the rest of the New Testament. And when you limit yourself to the Gospel accounts, you are concentrating only on the cross, and you have “shredded” the Word of God. You have emptied it of all its power and glory; you have ruined the Gospel. You are not declaring the Gospel, but you have emptied the Gospel and made it void and a thing of vanity. That is not what God has in view when He says, “preach the Gospel.”
Also, it says in Galatians 1:23:
But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.
He preached “the faith” because “the faith” is Christ. Faith is another synonym for Christ, the Word.
We will have to end this study with this, so let us go to 2Corinthians 11:4:
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Another Jesus, another spirit or another gospel are all synonymous, meaning the same thing. To preach Jesus is to preach the Gospel, and all Scripture is God-breathed; that is, the Spirit of God “breathed” and moved holy men of old to write down the things they did. And that is why the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than a twoedged sword, because it is all the Gospel of God.