- Sermon Notes
The theme of the book of Romans is victory, even surpassing victory through Him who loved us. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is found in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Paul said. The church in Rome was living in difficult times; difficult and getting worse. They would need surpassing victory in the midst of troubles.
We are certainly living in difficult times today; difficult and getting worse. We need to know how to have surpassing victory in the midst of troubles also. In other words, these words are not just for the church at Rome, they are for us today.
The key to surpassing victory is understanding the relationship God wants to have with you. We read earlier in chapter 8 about that relationship; the Spirit bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God. The Spirit helps you in your weakness, even interceding, praying to the Father, in your behalf. God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
And what can we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? “For I am convinced,” Paul wrote, “that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
That’s compelling. What an amazing relationship God desires. “I am convinced, I’m persuaded that God is able,” Paul wrote. God wants you to be convinced. In other words, it’s all about faith.
But what about Israel? Were they not God’s chosen people? Did something happen? Did they not receive the law and the commandments? Did they not receive the promises?
Yes, Paul would say, they had all those things. But they missed the point. They were pursuing righteousness through the law, but they did not arrive at that righteousness. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.
Faith is everything. Israel had good news preached to them, just as we have had good news preached to us. But the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard it.
In other words, Israel missed the point. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. Instead of receiving the promises God gave through His Son, they took offense.
What Paul is saying is this. Don’t you miss the point. God wants you to have surpassing victory; the Spirit even bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God. God helps you in your weakness. God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. Therefore, if God be for us who can be against us?
The promises of God will profit you only when it is united by faith when you hear it. That’s what Paul is doing in these verses; he’s strengthening your faith so you will take hold of the promises of God and live according to them.
By the way, God is not finished with Israel. Paul loves Israel so much that he said in chapter 9 that if it were possible, he would stand accursed and separated from Christ if it meant the salvation of his brethren, the Jews.
I myself am a supporter of Israel. I stand with them because I know that God has not given up on them. And even though they stumbled over the stumbling stone and took offense at the Son whom God sent, though they were faithless, nevertheless, God remains faithful. His promises never fail. In the end, Israel will be restored, and they will receive Jesus as their Messiah when He returns at the end of the age.
The question is this; will you take hold of God’s promises? Will you live according to them? You will need faith; and in these verses, Paul intends to strengthen your faith.
I. Have Zeal with Knowledge
- Paul says that he prays for them, for their salvation, because they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.
- Zeal is good. Many are lacking in zeal. But zeal without knowledge is not good.
Proverbs 19:2, It is not good to have zeal without knowledge; and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.
- Lack of knowledge can be dangerous; it can also be embarrassing.
Illus – Several years ago we had an old Chevy bus. Some of the guys from our church were on the bus headed to Eugene for a Promise Keepers event, but the bus started acting up…
- It’s a tragedy to have zeal for God but miss the point. The entire Old Testament points to Jesus Christ, but they stumbled over Him and took offense because He claimed to be the Son of God who could carry their burdens and fulfill the law. They preferred the “self-righteousness advance module.”
John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
A.Be subject to the truth
- Not knowing about God’s righteousness, they did not subject themselves to it, Paul said. But they could have known and they should have known.
- One day some Jewish leaders, who were Sadducees, (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him. They hoped to trap Him in what they thought was a spiritual conundrum, but they received a sharp rebuke instead.
Matthew 22:29, Jesus answered and said to them, “You are in error, not understanding the scriptures nor the power of God.”
- Paul himself had great zeal for God, but he was in error and became an enemy of the church until God literally knocked him off his high horse…
John 16:2, “An hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they do because they have not known the Father or Me.”
- They knew the scriptures, but they didn’t know the Father and so they didn’t know the Son.
John 8:42, Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.”
- How is it possible that someone could have the truth and not be subject to the truth? By having a hard heart.
Acts 7:51, 53, “You men are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears and always resisting the Holy Spirit… You received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”
- Jesus is the truth whom God sent. If you subject yourself to the truth, He will bless your life.The truth must have authority in your life.
B. .Jesus is God’s final word
- In verse 4 Paul said, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
- It means Christ is the finale, the completion and fulfillment of the law and the beginning of grace.
John 19:30, When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
- The word, “It is finished,” is based on the same word, “Christ is the end of the law.” The requirement of the law has been fulfilled, everything has been paid in full.
- But let me ask a very important question. How do you know that the Christian faith is right?
Illus - Maybe Islam is right and we should all join ISIS, or maybe the Jehovah’s Witnesses are right, or maybe Mormonism is right; maybe Buddhism or Hinduism is right. How do you know?
- I would like to give one definitive answer. This is how we know that we are standing on the truth – because Jesus Christ declared that He was the Son of the living God and was raised from the dead on the third day!
It comes down to this: is Jesus who He said He is or not?
- If Christ Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, you are most to be pitied and you’re still in your sins.
- However, He is raised from the dead and He has made a way to the Father and everyone who calls out to Him will be saved!
1 Corinthians 15:17, 19, If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless, and you are still in your sins… If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But Christ has been raised from the dead… For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.
Acts 17:30-31, “Having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to all men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
II. The Word of Faith is Near You
- Paul says that Israel did not pursue righteousness by faith, but as though it were by works, that’s why they stumbled over the stumbling stone.
- Faith is everything here. If they had faith they wouldn’t have stumbled over the rock of offense.
A.Christ is the end of self-effort
- Paul wrote in verse 6 that the righteousness based on faith does not say… Who will ascend into heaven? Who will descend into the abyss?
- In other words, who will take it upon himself to go into heaven or down to the abyss to find the hope of the Messiah? No, faith doesn’t say that.
- People often want the way of self-effort because they want to be the hero of their own story.In other words, many prefer the “self-righteous advance module.”
Illus - If people cannot achieve their own righteousness, they will often pursue their own penance, they will make their own punishment.When our daughter, Nicole, was in first grade, she got in trouble because she cut the shirt sleeve of one of the boys in her class.Later, as I was talking with her about what happened, I noticed her shirt also had a cut…
Illus - There was a movie in the 80s called The Mission.It was about a slave trader in South America named Rodrigo Mendoza who was hard and cold of heart. When Mendoza found his brother in bed with his fiancée, he killed his brother and fell into despair. Finally, he turned to Father Gabriel, a Jesuit priest, who gave him a penance.He must climb to the top of the mighty Iguazu Falls carrying a burden, a net filled with his armor and weapons…
It was touching and moving, but he's the hero of the story.He pursued righteousness by carrying his own burden of penance.But Jesus carries your burden and in Him your debt is paid in full.Simply receive it by faith.
Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
- In verse 8 – “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” – that is, the word of faith, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.
- Salvation is not difficult because Christ Jesus took the entire burden on Himself. Your part is to simply believe, and, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
- You confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord as a result of truly believing in your heart. But words without the heart are empty.
Illus - My partner in the restaurant became a believer and was full of zeal, but it was zeal without knowledge. In his exuberance he wanted others to also believe. One day, I came into the restaurant and saw that he had button-holed one of the cooks and was saying, “Just say the prayer; just say the prayer…” But prayer without the heart are just empty words.
Illus - The point is the heart. It’s like bringing flowers on Valentine’s Day, tossing them onto the counter and then saying, “There’s your flowers.” Why bother?
It’s also true when we worship. The instrument is not the worship; the song is not the worship; true worship of God can only come from the heart.
- Paul goes on to say that God receives the authentic heart of faith without distinction. The same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him. “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Illus - Some years ago I received a call from one of the guys who was witnessing to a friend and asked me to come over. His friend was convinced that he couldn’t be saved because God put his name was on the wrong list. My answer, “I have a word from God personally for you…”
2 Corinthians 5:20, It is as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
C.Faith comes from having ears to hear
- Not everyone heeds good news. Therefore, Paul says, faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
- But this is more than just simply hearing, faith comes from having ears to hear, from heeding, from listening, from taking the words of truth to heart.
- Jesus gave a parable about a sower who went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road; other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil, other seed fell among the thorns and the thorns came and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. Other seed fell on good soil and as they grew up, they increased and yielded a crop 30, 60 and 100 fold.
Mark 4:9, And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”