Tuesday 28 September 2021


ROMANS 1. V.16/17


This week’s sermon is based on Romans 1 v16/17


Two of the most of the significant verses and perhaps most encouraging in the Bible, are those in the first chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Romans.


‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: the righteous shall live by faith’.


Paul is writing to Christians in Rome, the mightiest city of the day, a city full of learning yet also full of immorality, where Christianity would not be appreciated, and he was ready and eager to go and preach the gospel without fear or favour, no matter what the cost, even though Christians were in danger of persecution; a sort of London of the day. We need to be encouraged by these verses.

Paul’s greatest desire was to make people Christians, a noble cause and one we could wish all preachers to-day to adopt.  He was concerned the Jews were being misled to follow the wrong way to salvation, which can only be achieved by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord.

Paul says he was not ashamed, in fact he glorified in the gospel and that is what all Christians should do. But sadly, I fear we all do not. How many Church members are embarrassed when asked if they believe? Indeed, how many are ready to acknowledge they attend Church? How would we answer is asked to give our opinion on moral questions?

If you are not ashamed you are ready to speak out about your faith. Some people are fearful of their friends finding out they attend Church in case they get mocked, or because it might restrict the way they want to behave. Some will worry will they be called narrow minded or old fashioned. Remember the words of Jesus, ‘for whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this sinful and adulterous generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of the Father’.


These verses were what sparked the most important event in Christian history after the birth of the Church, the Protestant Reformation. An obscure Monk in Germany posted a set of 95 theses on a Church door intending to initiate a theological debate, without any conception as to what would follow. There was a religious firestorm which swept across Europe when he made the statement, which should be proclaimed from every Church pulpit, ‘the true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God’.


It has to be accepted that the Church exists primarily for one purpose, to proclaim the Christian gospel  Any other issue must be considered secondary, the gospel is central and anything which threatens to challenge the gospel must be ignored.


The gospel is the story of Jesus Christ who gave Himself to be crucified for our sins in order to reconcile us to God. Why should anyone be ashamed to tell that story? We all no doubt are ashamed of things we have done in our lives, and the things we have said but wished we hadn’t, and that is understandable. But we allow ourselves to become ashamed of something for which there is no need to be ashamed of.


For it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.  This power is for everyone who believes. This means more than just believing there is a God; the devil accepts that; believing means making a commitment. Too many say they believe but do nothing, which is why regular preaching of the gospel is important so that people may come to live by the Scripture.


Some are religious and even show some outward inclinations toward Christianity. They come from a Christian background. They think that Jesus was a great religious figure. But they have not believed in Christ. Though the gospel is God's power for salvation, because they have not believed, they have not experienced this power nor have they known the gospel for what it truly is.


The reason so many people are not willing to accept the Bible they are more ready to listen to the strident outpourings of nauseating, insulting, self-indulgent secularists. For others accepting the gospel would mean a change of hedonistic lifestyle. It means accepting a standard of morality they are not prepared to accept.


God’s purpose for the Church is to lead people to salvation; to proclaim the gospel story to an unbelieving world. In order to help us do this according to his wishes, God created spiritual boundaries, and we should not wander beyond what the Bible sets out for us.


There is false teaching being given from within the Church that all will go to heaven. It is said that God would not send anyone to hell, and that is right, but people choose to go there by their own neglect.


To believe as some do, and preach that everyone will go to heaven is nowhere stated, nor can be found in the Bible, and is totally misleading. This perpetuates the belief, that as long as someone is kind and honest, they must be a good Christian and will go to heaven. Atheists and people of other faiths are kind and honest, but would be offended to be called Christians.


Jesus made it very clear that He is the door to heaven, and the only way. Jesus was sent to this earth by God to tell that God loves all people and is willing to receive them into His heavenly Kingdom.  Entrance into heaven is limited to those who trust Jesus Christ, and him alone for their salvation.

Confession that Jesus is Lord, and singing the hymn, is not an intellectual title or a casual statement, it means much more.  You have to believe fully in your heart this is so, and have no doubt that God raised Him physically from the dead; that is the heart of the Christian message.  So when you do believe and are prepared to confess with your mouth, God accepts you as righteous.

But first, they must be cleansed of all sin and this can only be done by accepting that when Christ died on the Cross to obtain forgiveness of sin, He was including you in His death for the sins you have committed, and He must be accepted as your Lord and Saviour.

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed. We cannot make ourselves righteous before God, but we can be through Jesus’ atoning death. Jesus acts as a bridge between God and us, putting us in good standing in God’s eyes, making it thus possible for us to be acceptable to God. This is God’s powerful way of bringing all who believe to heaven. It’s what our Lord achieved when he died and rose from the dead. We are saved by grace (Great Riches At Christ’s Expense) through faith. The gospel is the power that gives us salvation. But the gospel is bad news for non-believers, for it offers no future hope.


This righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: the righteousness is not ours. We receive it by faith as a free gift from God. All you have to do is reach out with the empty hands of faith and cling to the Lord Jesus Christ. If you dare to let go of your good works and come with empty hands to the Saviour, Jesus will meet you with open arms. That's how you receive the righteousness of God. It is by faith from first to last


You must have faith and believe. We are prepared to place our faith in many people, but reluctant to trust in God.


The Bible states, ‘by grace you have been saved through faith, it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God and not by your own works.’  God in His infinite goodness has graciously forgiven you of all the wrongdoing in your life, past and present. .

Something in us always wants to add to God’s free grace. It’s humbling to admit that we can do nothing to earn our deliverance from sin. Imagine what heaven would be like if we had to earn our way there. People would be trying to outbid each other and probably boasting how important they had been in the world. Grace saves us through faith, there is nothing we can give or add, it is a free gift of God, but like all gifts has to be taken in order to appreciate.


We like to sing the most popular hymn across the world, especially in the United States, ‘amazing grace’. The word ‘amazing’ indicates something completely special, and we apply it to the grace of God, which is sadly not understood by most people, even many within the Church. I can only pray that all here this morning, and those who read on the internet, will then realise the gift that God has offered to all who turn with a true heart to Him.


 When I was being inducted to one parish, the Rural Dean who was a real traditional English gentleman (and there’s not many of us left), introduced me to a man who wanted  me to know how important he was. Heaven would be just like that if you had to earn your way there. But it won’t be like that, when Jesus died on the cross, he paid the full price for your salvation. God alone gets the glory in your salvation. Jesus did all the work when he died on the cross.

The Bible states , ‘if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’.

You have to accept in your heart that Jesus has done for you, something no one else possibly could, made you righteous in God’s sight. You accept this by faith, and live that faith.

Faith. You must have faith and believe. We are prepared to place our faith in many people, but reluctant to trust in God. We travel by plane and put our faith that the pilot knows what he is doing although we know nothing about him. If you go to the doctor for some illness and he gives you a prescription, you then get dispensed and take, trusting the doctor and the chemist, but you don’t just leave it in a cupboard if you want to get better. So with the gospel; there is no point in just seeking a spiritual prescription; you have to take that by faith, which means reaching out to God and accepting the gospel.


We have to accept we live in a country where moral absolutes have been abandoned, and the country is being influenced to follow an agenda by atheists, secularists who want to force Christianity from the public arena, and especially from aggressive activists in the LGBT Lobby who want their ways of life generally adopted and accepted, without any dissent..


How individual people lead their lives is a matter entirely up to each person, but the activists are deliberately creating situations which intrude on other lives. There is objection to any alternative opinion being expressed, but the Church must be given freedom to state what the Bible teaches. However even that is becoming difficult for a Court in Bristol fined two street pastors £2000 each plus costs, for hate speech by quoting from the King James Version of the Bible.  Fortunately, this was reversed on appeal, which a charity funded.


Do you believe the Church is at the present time is able to face up to such pressures? Is it not a fact that the mainline denominations have bought into what is being put forward from outside? God set out guidelines in the Bible as to what He expects us to teach, and the Church has gone beyond that teaching.


Liberalism is tearing the Church apart by trying to supplant biblical authority for cultural expression and denying the infallibility of the Bible with trendy social issues replacing the Cross of Christ.


It is not too strong to say immorality is permeating into Churches. People are not being taught the thoughts of God, but following blindly after the culture of society. The Methodist Church has betrayed its founders by agreeing to perform same sex marriages, as has the Church in Wales and Scotland, and the Church of England is fully in support and operating by stealth, and it is only a matter of time before they officially support it.  They are ashamed to state God's definition of marriage as one man and one woman.


To preach fundamental truth will inevitably cause some upset. But let us take heart from Paul who faced all that could be put against him, and so caused Christianity to spread throughout the ancient world. The Bible states, ‘preach the Word’ and those whose responsibility is to do so will one day have to account before the Lord for betrayal. Preachers should remember they are called to preach the gospel and abandon sin, not preach sin and abandon the gospel.


The Bible states everyone is on one of two roads to eternity, either the narrow road, which fewer choose, is the one which leads to heaven by faith in Jesus Christ; or the broad one, which is always overcrowded, and leads to hell.


If you are on the broad road, you should change direction by turning around, and get on the highway to heaven, like Martin Luther and millions of others who chose the Jesus Christ highway.


Martin Luther was so inspired by this passage it caused him to start the Protestant Reformation and if all preachers were inspired similarly there would be fewer empty seats in Churches.


All Christians at this perilous time need to think of what we can offer to God. To paraphrase a famous saying, ‘think not what God can do for me, but what can I do for God’.


The glory of Christianity is that it has a message that is grounded in history. It is objective truth, not just something that someone has made up.  It is not some feeling that you are following that you hope will work out; it is the story of historic events. One of these events is the coming of Jesus as a baby in the manger of Bethlehem, the coming of the wise men from the east and the uproar and unrest that it caused in the kingdom of Judea, beginning with Herod the king himself. That is all part of history. Then there was the resurrection and the events that followed in the church. These are all historic events -- objective truth. That is our message.

Let us proceed by faith and never be ashamed of being a Christian. Paul said he was not ashamed, and nor am I, but what about you.

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