Living in the Confidence of the Gospel

Dr. Steve Viars January 12, 2020 Romans 1:1-17
Outline

1. Aren’t We Better Off Without Religion?

2. Doesn’t Christianity Crush Diversity?

3. How Can You Say There’s Only One True Faith?

4. Doesn’t Religion Hinder Morality?

5. Doesn’t Religion Cause Violence?

6. How Can You Take the Bible Literally?

7. Hasn’t Science Disproved Christianity?

8. Doesn’t Christianity Denigrate Women?

9. Isn’t Christianity Homophobic?

10. Doesn’t the Bible Condone Slavery?

11. How Could a Loving God Allow So Much Suffering?

12. How Could a Loving God Send People to Hell?

3 reasons for eagerness to share Christ

I. Because of the Impact it Had on Paul

A. A recipient of divine grace

v. 1 - …a bond-servant of Jesus Christ…

v. 5 - Through whom we have received grace…

Acts 6:8 - And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.

Acts 7:58-60 - When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 8:1-3 - Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.

1 Timothy 1:12-17 - I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

B. Recipient of a divine call

1. as a herald with a message

v. 1 - …called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…

v. 5 - …through whom we have received grace and apostleship…

v. 9 - For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you…

v. 14 - I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.

John 15:16 - You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

2 Corinthians 5:20 - Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

2. in fulfillment of ancient promises

Romans 1:2-3 - …which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh…

3. proven by Christ’s powerful resurrection

Romans 1:4 - …who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord…

II. Because of the Impact it Has on Its Recipients

Romans 1:5-6 - …through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ…

A. Obedient faith

B. Diverse faith

v. 5 - …among all the Gentiles…

Romans 1:16 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

“The focus on Jew-Gentile issues suggests that tensions existed between Jews and Gentiles in the church in Rome. The Roman church probably began as a Jewish church, though it is not known exactly when it was established. Perhaps Jews from Rome returned from Jerusalem after Pentecost (Acts 2:10) and founded the church, or perhaps the church was established later. Some have suggested that Peter founded the church in Rome, but no significant evidence supports this premise. As time passed, of course, Gentiles in Rome also became Christians. The Roman historian Suetonius records that the Roman emperor Claudius (reigned A.D. 41-54) expelled Jews from Rome in A.D. 49 because of strife over ‘Chrestos.’ Suetonius likely misunderstood the name, so that the dispute probably was about ‘Christos’ (Latin for Christ). The expulsion of Jews from Rome is confirmed by Acts 18:2. Because of the expulsions, the Gentile churches would have developed for a number of years apart from the Jews. Over the years the Jewish Christians slowly filtered back into Roman churches. It is not difficult to imagine that tensions would develop between law-observing Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians who lived free of the restrictions in the Mosaic law. It seems, however, that the church was made up mainly of Gentile Christians (see Romans 1:5-6, 13; 11:13; 15:15-16). Paul’s selection of themes (gospel and law; the significance of Abraham; the future of Israel) suggests significant tensions between the Jews and Gentiles in Rome. Paul wrote Romans so that they would be united in the gospel he preached, and so that they would comprehend how the gospel spoke to the issues that divided them.” Crossway Study Bible, Introduction to Romans, pp. 2151-2152

C. Noticeable faith

Romans 1:8 - First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.

D. Growing faith

Romans 1:11-12 - For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.

E. Fruitful faith

Romans 1:13 - I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles.

III. Because of the Impact it Can Have on You and me

A. Eager

Romans 1:15 - So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

B. Unashamed

Romans 1:16 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

C. Humble

“I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, ‘the righteousness of God,’ because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is righteous and deals righteously in punishing the unrighteous.… Night and day I pondered until … I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before ‘the righteousness of God’ had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gateway to heaven.” Cf. Barend Klaas Kuiper, Martin Luther: The Formative Years [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1933], pp. 198-208

- at the end of each year, the Gospel Coalition, like many groups, publishes a list of their favorite books…

- one that made the list for 2019 is Confronting Christianity by Rebecca McLaughlin

- the subtitle of the book is “12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion”…

- I’m about half-way through and am finding it to be delightful for all sorts of reasons…

- one is – the 12 questions she poses:

1. Aren’t We Better Off Without Religion?

2. Doesn’t Christianity Crush Diversity?

3. How Can You Say There’s Only One True Faith?

4. Doesn’t Religion Hinder Morality?

5. Doesn’t Religion Cause Violence?

6. How Can You Take the Bible Literally?

7. Hasn’t Science Disproved Christianity?

8. Doesn’t Christianity Denigrate Women?

9. Isn’t Christianity Homophobic?

10. Doesn’t the Bible Condone Slavery?

11. How Could a Loving God Allow So Much Suffering?

12. How Could a Loving God Send People to Hell?

‑ I think we would all agree that she certainly did not shy away from the toughest and most controversial issues…

- I also like this book because it is extremely well-researched…Rebecca holds a PhD in Renaissance literature from Cambridge University…and in addition to hearing her answers to these twelve questions, you’ll learn about all sorts of other studies, and authors, and resources that will broaden your understanding of these matters considerably…

- This is also the kind of book that you could easily give to someone in your life who has not yet chosen to become a follower of Christ, perhaps in part because one of these 12 issues is making it harder for them to believe the gospel…

- it’s also very readable…and strikes that often illusive balance between being highly technical and confusing…or just fluff that’s not very compelling intellectually…you could easily read a chapter a day and have it knocked out in 2 weeks or less…

- I would heartily recommend it for our small groups…and if you have the pleasure of having one or more teenagers in your home…before you follow Mark Twain’s advice of placing your child in a barrel when they turn 13 and feed them through the knothole, and then at age 16, plug the knothole – I would encourage you to find a way to read and study this book together…

- not necessarily because anyone is going to agree with all of Rebecca’s takes on these questions – that’s not the point…

- but it is excellent way to get some of the most important questions on the table…

- one other observation is the courage that it took to write this book…Rebecca is seeking to speak into a world of culture and academia that consists of people who in some if not many cases will object strongly to what she has to say…

- what’s admirable is the humble confidence God has given Rebecca in the gospel…

- my question for you, and for us today is – how do you…Living in Confidence of the Gospel…?

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to Romans 1 this am…page _____ of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- this morning we’re beginning a verse-by-verse study of the book of Romans…

- this is part of our annual theme for 2020 of Celebrating God’s Truth…

- we explained the thought process behind this theme last week…

- it’s undeniable that we live in a world that tries to squeeze the people of God into its mold…

- and to some degree that has always been true…

- but the pressure is clearly more intense…and if you are going to be a follower of Jesus Christ who takes the Word of God seriously, and if you’re going to align yourself with a church that openly does the same…

- get ready for the stink eye…”a look expressing annoyance, resentment, or disapproval…”

- our world wants to shame and silence biblical believing Christians and Bible believing churches…

- and regrettably, the stats would say that a diminishing number of people in this country are willing to stand up to that kind of pressure…

- they would rather protect their career, or their reputation among their friends, family, neighbors, co-workers…than take a kind, yet, courageous, and principled stand for her faith like Rebecca McLaughlin just did…

- here’s another way of thinking about this…

- you may know that several years ago our church had the privilege of being part of the group that founded the Biblical Counseling Coalition

- it is amazing how much has been accomplished for the Lord around the world by this group of men of men and women in just a decade or so of its existence…

- one of the council board members is Steve Midgley, who pastors a church in Cambridge, England…

- at our leadership retreat in GA last month, Steve was telling me that he has a man in his church who works for L’Abri …the organization founded by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1960’s…

- Steve asked this man to give a series of talks in his church recently about the role of the church in culture…

- and this man suggested to his audience that an important shift has occurred in the way many people in culture view evangelical, or Bible-believing churches…

- that is that in the past…evangelicals were thought of as being annoying good…

- in other words, our beliefs and the way we chose to live was annoying…prudish, or backward, or legalistic, or unsophisticated – but still having an overall positive impact on culture because our beliefs resulted in more stable families, or more reliable employees, or more loyal citizens…

- but now we’ve gone from being annoyingly good to destructively wicked…in other words, our beliefs [even when kept to ourselves and those who voluntarily choose to believe] have a decidedly negative impact on culture – we’re the reason people feel guilty about their abortions or sexual orientation, we’re responsible for wars or holding back cultural advancement…

- that justifies the pressure to shame or silence us…which is why even in IN, a group of elected officials just announced proposed legislation that prevent low-income parents to use school vouchers for any school in Indiana that has hiring standards consistent with their conservative biblical view of human sexuality…

- and legislators might want to step back and think about where the money came from to begin with…

- but that’s the endless pressure…the world wants to squeeze you into its mold…

- so what do you do?...what do we do?...

- please tell me the answer isn’t to cave…too many godly men and women over the course of our church’s 55 year history have stood firmly and sacrificed greatly to get us to this point…

- and so we’re not going to be ashamed…and we’re not going to be silenced…

- but neither are we going to be aloof, or judgmental, or mad, or hateful, or hyper-separational…

- we’re going to do what Rebecca McLaughlin courageously did…we’re going to throw a party…we’re going to celebrate God’s truth…

- the verses before us this morning are a great way to launch the celebration…because here we can find 3 reasons for eagerness to share Christ…

- Read Romans 1:1-17

- so we’re talking this morning about Living in Confidence of the Gospel…and with the time we have remaining, let’s look for 3 reasons for eagerness to share Christ.

I. Because of the Impact it Had on Paul

- conservative Bible students are fairly united in the belief that the apostle Paul wrote this letter to the churches in Rome in the year 56 or 57AD, from the city of Corinth, at the end of his third missionary journey…

- and it’s very important to note the way he introduces himself…as simply…

A. A recipient of divine grace

v. 1 – a bond-servant of Jesus Christ

v. 5 - Through whom we have received grace

- the reason for that will become very apparent as we unpack this book together this year…

- but even though Paul is addressing people who live in the city of Rome…that would be like writing to someone in New York City today, or LA, or London, or Paris…of wherever you might think of as an example of a center of intellect and culture…

- but Paul had nothing better to say about himself than that he was a humble recipient of the gospel of Jesus Christ…

- now, the fact that that is true goes a long way to explain both the confidence and the celebration…

- because the recipients of this letter would know what Paul used to be like…

- think about the chronology…on what day was the church of Jesus Christ born?...fifty days after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (that’s the essence of the gospel)…the Day of Pentecost….we read about that in Acts chapter 2…

- in what year was that?...

- we don’t know that for sure – but most conservative Bible scholars would place it sometime between 30-33 AD…

- a few chapters later the Bible reports that a problem arose in this baby church in Jerusalem…do you remember what it was in Acts 6?...the Hellenistic Jews (those from places outside of Palestine) complained against the Hebrews (the Jews from inside Palestine) because they said their widows were being neglected in the daily serving of food…

- so a new office was instituted so the elders so focus on prayer and study of the Word…what office was that?...

- the office of deacon…

- and some of those new deacons immediately began having powerful spiritual ministries in the church…and who was the very first one whose ministry was more fully described in Acts 6?...

- a man named Stephen…Acts 6:8 - And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.

- well, what happened next?...the unbelieving Jews put forth false charges against him and put him on trial…

- and Acts chapter 7 records Stephen’s defense – which is a great chapter to read because it is Stephen’s summary of the OT and connection to the gospel…so if you’re looking for a quick summary of the entire Bible, you could find it right in that chapter…

- well, how did that trial end?... Acts 7:58–60 - When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.

- [so I guess whatever pressure we think we might be feeling should be tempered by this story – this is the “stink eye on steroids]…

- but here’s the point for our purposes this am…did you notice who was there?....a young man named Saul…

- the very next chapter contains these haunting words…Acts 8:1-3 - Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.

- now, we won’t take time this am to look at Saul’s marvelous conversion on the Damascus road recorded in Acts 9…

- and friends, Paul never forgot that…He told Timothy…

- 1 Timothy 1:12–17 - I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

- now let’s do the math – let’s assume the church was founded in AD 33…and the book of Romans was written in AD 56…how many years is that?...23…

- is the gospel powerful enough to radically change someone’s life?...

- that’s why it was worthy of Paul’s confidence…and why it was worthy of the Roman’s confidence…and why it was worthy of Rebecca McLaughlin’s confidence…and why it should be worthy of ours…

- change of this magnitude isn’t something to be ashamed of…or to be silenced about…it’s something to throw a party over…

- Paul goes on to say – but the good news doesn’t stop there…

B. Recipient of a divine call

- that’s part of what was so amazing to Paul – the gospel wasn’t just a message to be personally received, but truth to be joyfully and faithfully proclaimed…

1. as a herald with a message

- v. 1 – called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God

- v. 5 – through whom we have received grace and apostleship

- that’s the kind of grip the gospel had on his life….that’s why we read additional phrases later in the text like…

- v. 9 - For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you,

- v. 14 - I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.

- well, would that be true of people like you and me?...how hard of a case would that be to make biblically?...

- John 15:16 - You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

- 2 Corinthians 5:20 - Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

- people who are overwhelmed by the grace necessary to bring them to Christ are delighted with the mission to share that great news with others…

- I am very thankful for the staff and volunteers who served in our recent winter break ministries…

- we do that because we recognize many working parents don’t receive as many vacation days around Christmas and New Years as their school-age children do…

- and because child-care can be so expensive – for some parents, after taxes they are paying practically 100% of their wages for those days on child-care…at a time of the year that is already filled with all sorts of expenses…

- and I very thankful for staff members who want to seize ministry opportunities regardless of the sacrifice…and volunteers who live exactly the same way…

- and here’s what just happened at our 3 campuses…

- we provided shuttles from FW and FN and held the ministry at the FE church and CC

- we had the privilege of serving 161 children (a 23% increase)

- there was a total of 85 different volunteers covering 266 serving positions

- 6 children made professions of faith…

- that’s called living confidently in the gospel…celebrating God’s truth…by people who view themselves as recipients both of divine grace and a divine call…

- then Paul puts intellectual meat on that skeleton…remember the kind of people he’s addressing…

2. in fulfillment of ancient promises

- Romans 1:2–3 - which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,

- the subject of fulfilled prophecy is a powerful apologetic…

- this is one of the reasons we place so much emphasis on God’s people knowing their Bibles well…because as you see it fit together, you grow in confidence in the central message of the gospel…

- then he gives the most powerful evidence of all…the empty tomb…

3. proven by Christ’s powerful resurrection

- Romans 1:4 - who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

- this is why there is a sense in which every Sunday is Easter Sunday…because the proof that the price Christ paid on the cross was accepted by the Father is His resurrection from the dead…

- a man like Paul was not going to base his life’s passion and his eternal destiny on a fairy tale…and neither would he call the Romans to do that…

- the gospel includes the evidence of a changed life, and the precise fulfillment of hundreds ancient prophecies and promises, and the undeniable existence of a tomb that is empty…

- there is no greater reason needed for confidence and celebration than that…

- and the question before the house is – have you allowed truths like this to have the effect on your heart, life, and ministry that our powerful God desires?

II. Because of the Impact it Has on Its Recipients

- Paul then turns his attention to his readers…and the impact the gospel has had on them…

- and a controlling theme in this part of the argument is the nature of their faith…

- do you see the shift in the middle of verse 5?...it’s good when reading the Bible to look for the purpose clauses…

- Romans 1:5–6 - through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

A. Obedient faith

- this brings up a very important point about the gospel…

- it’s not simply a message to be contemplated – it’s a command to be obeyed…

- truth worth celebrating is truth worth obeying…

- that’s why, if you are here and you have not yet placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord – you’ve not embraced the gospel for yourself – we would urge you to do for all sorts of reasons…including the fact that the God of heaven and earth commands you to do so…

B. Diverse faith

- we saw the phrase in…v. 5 – among all the Gentiles

- Paul said in verse 14 - Romans 1:14 - I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.

- then he picks up the ethnic aspect of the discussion in verse 16 again…Romans 1:16 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

- we’re going to see this theme throughout this book in some very powerful ways…because just like in many of the other epistles, there is this clear tension as God is bringing men and women of various ethnicities together under their common love for their Savior…

- and there’s even a historical detail in the case of the Romans that makes that challenge more pronounced…

- it gets at the very issue of how the church at Rome was started, and what particular ethnic challenges they were facing because what had recently happened…The Crossway Study Bible says it this way -

- The focus on Jew-Gentile issues suggests that tensions existed between Jews and Gentiles in the church in Rome. The Roman church probably began as a Jewish church, though it is not known exactly when it was established. Perhaps Jews from Rome returned from Jerusalem after Pentecost (Acts 2:10) and founded the church, or perhaps the church was established later. Some have suggested that Peter founded the church in Rome, but no significant evidence supports this premise.

As time passed, of course, Gentiles in Rome also became Christians. The Roman historian Suetonius records that the Roman emperor Claudius (reigned A.D. 41-54) expelled Jews from Rome in A.D. 49 because of strife over “Chrestos.” Suetonius likely misunderstood the name, so that the dispute probably was about “Christos” (Latin for Christ). The expulsion of Jews from Rome is confirmed by Acts 18:2. Because of the expulsions, the Gentile churches would have developed for a number of years apart from the Jews. Over the years the Jewish Christians slowly filtered back into Roman churches. It is not difficult to imagine that tensions would develop between law-observing Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians who lived free of the restrictions in the Mosaic law. It seems, however, that the church was made up mainly of Gentile Christians (see Romans 1:5-6, 13; 11:13; 15:15-16).

Paul’s selection of themes (gospel and law; the significance of Abraham; the future of Israel) suggests significant tensions between the Jews and Gentiles in Rome. Paul wrote Romans so that they would be united in the gospel he preached, and so that they would comprehend how the gospel spoke to the issues that divided them.

(Crossway Study Bible, Introduction to Romans, pp. 2151-2152).

- this is why it so valuable and important for some of you to consider the challenge I mentioned last week about serving at the Northend [develop joining the 11:00 service and/or volunteering one evening a month at the NCC – let your confidence in and celebration of God’s truth of the gospel motivate you to do that]

C. Noticeable faith

- Romans 1:8 - First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.

- that too shows how powerful the gospel was…

- think about how young this church was…and how limited the means of communication were compared to today…and yet their faith was being broadly proclaimed…

- [develop – the number of people signed up to attend the BCTC, and the diversity of the states/countries – we would all say that anything we have ever done right is only because of the power of the gospel…and we’re gathering, not to celebrate us, but to celebrate God’s truth…

- When we think about counseling – our confidence isn’t in us – it never has been – it’s in the power of the gospel…

- I would encourage you to find ways to serve…to help us throw the party…[cf – “you people don’t seem afraid or intimidated…but nor do you seem mad or hatful – that’s because we’re too busy partying – “Faith Church – Party animals”…

D. Growing faith

- this is another aspect of this that is so exciting…

- do you see all the emphasis on growing in this passage?...sure there are challenges in the church, but just like in Acts 6 when the whole “neglecting widows thing” came up…they sat down and solved it – the gospel is powerful enough to enable us to communicate and solve problems…the same is true for the Romans now…

- Romans 1:11–12 - For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.

- as you think about steps of spiritual growth God wants you to take this year – part of what ought to give you confidence that change actually can take place is your confidence in the power of the gospel…

- [develop – conversation with a counselee from quite a distance away about the family’s analysis of their time together at Thanksgiving…other’s remarked – “your husband was different”]

E. Fruitful faith

- Romans 1:13 - I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles.

- it appears that Paul was hoping to use the churches at Rome as a launching pad to his desired missionary journey to Spain…and perhaps that their churches would send him and support him financially…

- before that could happen – it was important that everyone be on the same page about the essence and the nature of the gospel…

- that was the foundation on which the fruit could be produced…

III. Because of the Impact it Can Have on You and me

- ultimately the question is – are you like the apostle Paul?...are you like the Christians at Rome…are you like Rebecca McLaughlin?...

- because do you see what impact the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and the joyful mission of proclaiming that message can have?

A. Eager

- Romans 1:15 - So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

- you know, we all have to decide what we’re going to be eager about, don’t we?...

- and we can find opportunities to be this way regardless of our life situation…

- [develop the request we recently received from a community leader who now lives in a senior living community who asked us to joining with him and other evangelical churches to provide a vespers services that is always gospel centered]…

B. Unashamed

- Romans 1:16 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

- friend – could you say those same words with integrity?...

- does your life and your tongue demonstrate a confidence in the power of the gospel?...

- what would have to be different in 2020 to make that truer of you?...

C. Humble

- we could spend months, not minutes, unpacking Romans 1:17…

- because this is the core message of the book…and is actually what the Lord used to bring people like Martin Luther to himself…

- I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, “the righteousness of God,” because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is righteous and deals righteously in punishing the unrighteous.… Night and day I pondered until … I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before “the righteousness of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gateway to heaven. (Cf. Barend Klaas Kuiper, Martin Luther: The Formative Years [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1933], pp. 198–208.)

- [as time allows, explain how Luther went to incredible lengths to achieve righteousness through his own efforts – but when he came to understand that the righteousness Paul speaks of is not the righteous acts of man, but the imputed righteousness of Christ – it is the gospel truth that was used to bring him to a saving knowledge of Christ. This will make even more sense as we move further into the book]

- Conclusion – thank the Lord for authors like Rebecca McLaughlin

- people who are willing to put it out there because of her confidence in the gospel

- let’s look for ways to do the same…and in so doing, celebrate God’s truth…

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video