Saturday, February 23, 2008

Welcome to Rome

Welcome to Rome – introduction to the Book of Romans[1]- 1:1-7
· Tony Campolo mailman Illustration

In the passage that we will address today, Paul seems to have found his calling, not as a letter carrier, but as a letter writer.

1 The messenger of the gospel - 1:1
Rom 1:1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God

a. his captivity - v. 1a - Paul relates to us in his writing that he is a slave to Christ, that his will is bonded to Christ. Dr. Thomas Constable of DTS says that Paul should not be called a slave here, but an alternative translation is a better fit. He states that Paul should be called a servant. He states some translators have rendered this word "slave," but Paul was a willing servant of Christ (cf. Phil. 2:7). This term is the equivalent of the Old Testament "servant of the Lord" (e.g., Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Nehemiah, and especially David). Paul shared this status with his readers. This would seemingly give Paul a historic role and establish him in along line of Spiritual Heroes, but from his writing we can see that being inducted into the Believer’s Hall of Fame is far from his goal.
b. his calling - v. 1b Paul moves quickly from his captivity to his calling which he says is directly from Christ. He is an ambassador of Jesus, a Gospel Messenger and Representative of the Messiah. In revealing this, the Jew, Saul, uses his Roman name, Paul, because he is specifically to the Gentiles as he addresses the Roman Churches. He was so well known that one had only had to mention his first name among believers and they knew of whom he was like when we mention: Elvis, Cher, and Britney. Yet Paul’s status is not just simply that of a messenger, he is much more. The title "apostle" gives Paul's gift and office in the church. He was Jesus Christ's special appointee. This status gave him the right not only to preach the gospel but to found, to supervise, and even to discipline churches if necessary.
c. his consecration - v. 1c The columniation of his captivity and his call is found in his concretion. Paul’s slavery to Christ and his call to Him means that he is set a part fro the use of Christ. His life’s sole purpose is the gratification of God and the Glory of Christ. The human author of Romans states to his readership that he is designated and set apart by an action of God to some special sphere and manner of being and of consequent activity One last comment must be made about Paul and his status in the kingdom, and that is that Paul never thought of himself as a man who had aspired to an honor; he thought of himself as a man who had been given a task. He saw himself as a lowly servant of the Most High King Jesus.
2. The message of the gospel - 1:2-4
Romans 1:2-4 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

a. its source, or, where did the gospel come from? (the OT promise) - v. 2. Paul begins to exalt the gospel that God had called him to proclaim. It was a message that God had promised, not just prophesied, in the Old Testament Scriptures. The words "his" and "holy" stress the unique origin of the gospel. God had inspired the Old Testament by speaking through men as He gave His revelation. Paul did not preach an unanticipated gospel but one that God had promised through His prophets. This is the reason Paul appealed to the Old Testament so fully in this and other of his epistles. Specifically Paul's gospel was not a human invention that tried to make the best of Israel's rejection of Jesus Christ. He calls their minds and ours to the hope we have which was established many years go. Paul reminds us of the words of the Prophet Isaiah in the 53 Chapter. He calls our attention to Moses and his treatises. He speaks of the Psalms and echoes Genesis. For Paul and for us the Gospel begins in the Old Testament
b. its substance, or, whom does the gospel concern? (the NT person) - vv. 3-4 This is what Paul articulate in the next two verses. He moves from the Promise of the Old Testament to the Person who fulfilled it in the New Testament. He fleshed out the Good News that all of the Law and the Prophets spoke of as he reveals again that Salvation is found in Jesus

1) the gospel of God concerns "His (God's) Son" - 3-4a
a) his humiliation & humanity - v. 3
b) his exaltation & deity - v. 4a

2) the gospel of God concerns "Jesus Christ our Lord"- v. 4b
a) his deity
b) his dominion

3. The motivation of the gospel - 1:5-7
Romans 1:5-7 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 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.

a .the power - v. 5a the power is from Christ, Paul is not the source of the power, but Jesus. His apostleship comes from Christ. So we must answer one Question before we can go further.

Who were permitted to serve as apostles?
(1) Only those whom Jesus chose for this office were ever, in any real sense, apostles, this being a necessary deduction from Acts 1:24, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen." In that remarkable event, the apostles themselves had been able to narrow the choice for Judas' successor to the two men alone who fulfilled the other qualifications for the apostleship;
(2) They had to have been companions of the Master from the time of John's baptism until Christ's ascension - Acts 1:22 beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection."
(3) An additionally requirement was to have been a witness of the resurrection of Christ, that is, having seen him alive after his death and burial .Paul's apostleship was different only in this, that he had not been a personal companion of Jesus during the Lord's ministry, as were the others; but, by special appearances to Paul, the Lord commissioned him as a true "witness" of the resurrection - Acts 26:15-16 So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.
(4) that commission as an apostle being by Christ himself and not by men - Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)

Romans 1:5-7 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 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
b. the purpose - vv. 5b-6 - obedience
c. the people - v. 7 brings us to why Paul is what all about, reaching his fellow man to Glorify Christ.

Verse 7 really continues the thought of verse 1, verses 2-6 being somewhat parenthetical. "Grace" and "peace" were common salutations in Greek and Jewish letters respectively in Paul's day. God's grace is both His unmerited favor and His divine enablement. It is the basis for any true human peace. The Hebrew concept of peace (Heb. shalom) did not just mean freedom from stress, anxiety, and irritation. It included the fullness of God's blessing. Paul desired a continually deeper and richer experience of spiritual blessing for his readers.
[1] Outline from Dr. Sam Storms,

worse than a paper cut

This is a reprint so to speak. But I think Elrod, Lead Pastor of Compass Point Church, tackles a subject that not many are wanting to even say exists or ever has to take place. So I have presented it here for your edification.

Breaking Fellowship
By Chris Elrod on Leadership

This week I had to do something I rarely do…something that always causes me great pain…something that is a necessary evil of church leadership. I had to cut someone out of my life. The fantasy world of their mind was a stark contrast to the reality of their actions. After three years of being blamed for all their failures and everything that had gone wrong in their life…enough was enough…it was time break fellowship.

I can count on one hand the times I have broken fellowship with someone. It is never an easy thing to do and it always causes you to take a hard look at your own life. However, the reality of leadership is that breaking fellowship has to happen on occasion. There will be those that get mad…get offended…wear their heart on their sleeve…look for the negatives in life…or just can’t face the fact they are to blame for their misfortune. Instead of handling things in a Scripturally mature manner or moving on…they stay and make problems. Negative correspondence, a constant barrage of verbal attacks, a desire to cause division, endless unproductive “meetings”, public displays of anger and other things that can just completely drain your energy. It can come in the form of church members, others pastors, friends, family or staff members. Whatever the case it will cause sleepless nights, great frustration, abuse of your calling and many wasted hours that could have been better spent actually making a difference for cause of Christ. Go the “extra mile”…but don’t hesitate to break fellowship when the distraction from evangelistic ministry becomes too great.

Over the last 20 years of ministry I have discovered several things about the need and process of breaking fellowship:

1. Some people can’t be reasoned with. No matter how talented a pastor, leader or counselor your are…there are some people that can’t be reasoned with. Some have too much baggage, live to be offended, are only content when they are angry at someone and some are simply not emotionally unstable. Try your best to reason with them…but know when to walk away.

2 . Cancer always destroys. You can do two things with cancer…cure it…or cut it out. Cancer grows and destroys with an alarming rate. Some people are just cancer…spreading negativity and destruction throughout your church, ministry or life with lightening quick results. Try to cure it…but if that fails…move quickly to cut it out!!!

3. Always run to the conflict. It is too easy to hide from areas of trouble…especially with people…and think that it will go away naturally. Like the warning light on a car…it will not go away until the problem is fixed. Yes, there is prayer…yes, there is love…but there is also you…the leader that God put into place to protect the flock. You never want to hurt the sheep…but never hesitate to confront the wolves.

4. Strive for restoration. Some people just need a swift kick in the butt when it comes to their attitude and behavior. Don’t break fellowship until you have confronted…and offered a structured plan for restoration. Forgiveness and restoration are two separate things. Forgiveness is immediate…but the trust that comes with restoration takes time…many years…much submission…and incredible oversight.

5. Make the break clean. As harsh as this sounds…if the time comes to break fellowship…make the break clean. Leave no bridge in place for the person to return. There will be other churches, pastors or leaders that God will use in their life…but your time is done. Forgiveness is a Biblical mandate…but it does not mean that the person needs to be allowed back into the fellowship to cause problems again. If restoration and submission is refused…make the break quick…clean…and complete.

6. Don’t let it become baggage. If you don’t want to be attacked…don’t lead. However, when the attacks become too much to bear…and breaking fellowship becomes a necessity…don’t let it become baggage for you. Not every case is the same…don’t judge someone today over something someone else did in the past. Yes, you will hurt. Yes, you will have moments of regret. Yes, you will not feel total resolve in the matter. However, move on…know that tomorrow is a new day…and follow God without fear or reservation.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

a must see

feel free to sing along
Abraham Kuyper famously said, "Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!'"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

sunday leftovers

Membership Matters: A Bride with a Spot February 20, 2008

Acts 20:25-31 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.

I address this passage because Paul makes the pastor, aware that the world is not safe and we need to take care and protect the Bride of Christ.

We live in a day when in a day of non-commitment. Marriage is noncommittal now as we have more divorces in the church than we do out side the church. We have no-fault divorces. If you are found with child, you can abort the young one. If you begin to feel bad about having sex outside of marriage and think you might be pregnant you can take the morning after pill. If you do have baby and decide it would just be too hard to raise or that raising one would cramp your style then you can drop it off at the firehouse – no questions asked. If you commit a crime, it is no longer your fault as you can blame society, your parents, poverty, genetics, chemicals, and a myriad of other things and the court of law will not hold you accountable.
  • This is evident is our churches. We have lackadaisical Christians who find the Church not worthy of time, tithe, energy or attendance because such little emphasis is placed on membership.
  • Membership is a one time commitment in the standard, modern, Baptist Church. Simply raise your hand, walk down the aisle, or worse yet, just fill out a card and you will be counted on the roll. It would seem that numbers are all about. May be this is why a church will a membership of 1,200 will fill blessed to have an attendance of 300. While this is appalling, many pastors are proud as peacocks to tell you of their membership numbers but know the shame of an unredeemed and apathetic membership.

While there are numerous problems with this, it seems to stem for two common sources: 1) Consumerism and 2) Biblical Ignorance.

  1. The first of these, Consumerism, has eaten away at the American Church and now infects Churches around the world. Consumerism was turned churches in the wrong direction as their focus has been more about their commercial success and customer satisfaction than their Relationship of Christ and their responsibility with His Church. This influence has further caused a rash of easily believe-ism, once heretical thoughts are okay, backslidden Christians just need a hug, unregenerate membership ruling the voting of the Church as well as the self-serving Christian. Furthermore, Pastors have been transformed from Elders, Bishops, and Shepherds to Managers, CEO’s and Life Coaches. The sweetness of Consumerism is rotting the teeth of Church and now the Church as no bite in the community.
  2. The other source of our blight is the Biblical ignorance of the day. This has only compounded as people are moved by emotion and personal devotions as they fail to consider Holy Scripture and enter into prayer. With out attention to the Word feelings have ruled the day and Churches have gained the attendance of the World. The overwhelming ideas that have perpetrated the Church are well intended even if misguided. The have been done for Aunt Sally and to widen the gate to open the Church to as many people as possible. Yet this is not what Christ said, Mat 7:13-4 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Jesus says the road is narrow and hard. Yet for most Churches, to it is easy to enter membership.
    But Christ warns us that there are problems with allowing wide open entrance to the Church.
  • The next verse of Scripture reads, Mat 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
  • Jesus warns us that Jesus’ own brother, Jude even wrote to us about this.
  • Jude 1:3-4 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
  • The King James puts it better, crept in unawares, while the NIV read that they, have secretly slipped in, and The Message put it this way, some people have infiltrated our ranks.

Sneak thieves and unsaved hornswagglers fill the membership of most Churches. As spiritual dead people the vote and make decision on spiritual matters, vote for teachers, remove pastors, and adopt doctrines for the Church

These are powerful word left by Christ and his follower/brother. Words that needed to be heeded like those written in Eph 5:24-27, Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Christ Died for His Church! And the Church is to submit to Him! Yet in Churches just like this and in those not at all like this, they have a horrendous habit of submitting Christ to their ideas, their preferences and even their whims. But Christ purchased the Church with His blood. He washed her in the Crimson that flowed from His wounds. And when he returns he expects a splendorous Church. One that is without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Not a Church that makes excuse for what it has: approved, allowed, overlooked and purposely done. Woe to us if we are not more watchful in our care of His Church for what Groom awaits a Bride pilfered over and tattered by inappropriate relationships.
While this is a high calling, we are responsible for achieving this and held accountable for doing so.

The double headed snake of Consumerism and Biblical Ignorance is manifested in members who do not know what they are getting into. The either do not have a Biblical background or do not have a proper Church History. Furthermore they lack knowledge of the Purposes of the Church. They don’t see the value of membership nor understand its requirements and responsibilities.

  • In truth, your satellite provider requires more of a commitment than the local church. They require a minimum commitment of service while the church does not. They require you to financially support them on a predetermined amount that you are notified about upfront. The church hopes you will and celebrates with dancing when you do!
  • Many clubs and fraternal groups hold to a greater expectation of devotion. They require you to actually attend their meetings and work special projects. And if you miss more that two or three scheduled meetings you are dropped from their roll. They church will beg you for your support and keep you on the roll like this would save you. They will keep your name in their membership even if you they can’t find your pulse or find an address for you.
    To go to work for a new employer they will run background check and you will sign a contract, the church will take you simply at your word and not investigate your testimony and it is modernly considered inappropriate for to have you sign a Church Covenant that you are expected to uphold.
  • To enter into a purchase of a new car the future owner would take the car out for a drive, check the gas mileage, read consumer reports, have their credit checked and sign on the doted line before they took the keys. The only thing typically required of to enter into membership is … well you know how little.
  • It is odd how the word requires more from us than we require of ourselves as the church. If we hold such a low view with such a minimum entrance then it is easy for us to see why others do not see it as worthy of their time, energy or attention.

Lowering the standards of the Church does not make us more evangelistic or loving. Just less holy. The standard for Church membership is ever lessening to the point one must thing of the Caribbean Limbo as you hear the would temp us with cries of “how low can you go” The world temps us to reject the high calling of Christ. Yet the very word that we use to describe ourselves, Church, comes from the German word Kirk which is from a corruption of the Greek word, Ekklesia. That word means to be called out from. As a church we need to be a truly born again membership that is called out from the rest of the world. Yet our membership requirement many times is less than the local bar. They require you to have a card.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Oprah-Ization of American Christianity

Commenting on recent findings, LifeWay Research’s Ed Stetzer said, “We found a real openness to hearing about matters of faith, but the study also clearly documents what I call the Oprah-ization of American Christianity. It’s very much a generic ‘big guy in the sky’ view of God and a ‘you believe what you believe, I believe what I believe’ viewpoint on theology. People say, ‘Who am I to judge?’” BP News 1/9/08

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My Dad died today

My dad, Lee, died to day. He had a stroke and that caused a massive cerebral hemorrhage that was compounded by the blood thinner that a dr. had prescribed him. He was lifeflighted from Crockett, TX to Tyler, TX where he stayed on a respirator until the Drs.’ could ascertain that that He was brain dead and that there was nothing they could do.

Good news is that he was a Christian. He had make Christ the Lord of his life when i was in the 8th or 9th grade. He later was baptized and tried to live the faith the best that he could.

Dad is better, but mom is not, yet at least. Please prayer for her.

In Christ,

Chris <><