Temple Baptist Church - 5-28-2017
A. As we finished 2 Thessalonians, I tried to get the mind of the Lord as to what Pauline Epistle that I needed to begin. The Book of Romans kept coming to mind so we will begin a long series of preaching through this delightful book of the Bible.
1. This epistle to the Roman believers is said to be the “greatest letter every written.” Though several of Paul’s epistles were written at an earlier date, the Holy Spirit saw fit to place it as the first or prelude to all other epistles. It possibly set forth first because it gives a comprehensive overview of the salvation, justification, sanctification and responsibility of the child of God.
2. I have spent years preaching through the Pauline or Church Epistles. If I had it to do over with, I would have preached them in the order in which they are placed in the Bible. At least, in the beginning of my ministry here at Temple Baptist, I taught through Romans in Sunday School.
B. The Book of Romans is a doctrinal book.
1. I read that it has been called “An anchor in the shifting sands of human theology.” I can find no better title to give to this epistle. Rome was the center of Satanic suppression. As Caesar was Rome’s “god,” Satan used Rome as his stronghold to hinder and stop the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. Notice that Paul was writing to individual and not to a local church or churches. Rome would have been a hard and dangerous place for Christians to assemble! That further amplifies the importance of the Roman Epistle.
3. The time of Paul’s writing this epistle is also important. It was written somewhere between 60-62 AD.
a. Nero Claudius Caesar (58-64 AD), called the most despicable manifestation of human flesh every born, was the Emperor of Rome. He was the Caesar that Paul appealed to and apparently won his appeal because his deliverance was noted in the Book of 2 Timothy, chapter 4.
b. 2 Timothy 4:16-18 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. (17) Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. (18) And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
4. Nero later put Paul to death.
C. Nero hated Christianity and destroyed many of the Christians living there. The Neronian persecution was vicious indeed.
1. Tacitus (c. A.D. 60-120), a Roman historian, has preserved a record of this situation. We quote the following from his Annals (XV.44).
“And so, to get rid of this rumor, Nero set up [i.e., falsely accused] as the culprits and punished with the utmost refinement of cruelty a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Checked for a moment, this pernicious superstition again broke out, not only in Judea, the source of the evil, but even in Rome.... Accordingly, arrest was first made of those who confessed [to being Christians]; then, on their evidence, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much on the charge of arson as because of [their] hatred for the human race. Besides being put to death they were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clothed in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed. Nero had thrown open his grounds for the display, and was putting on a show in the circus, where he mingled with the people in the dress of charioteer or drove about in his chariot. All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, even towards men whose guilt merited the most exemplary punishment; for it was felt that they were being destroyed not for the public good but to gratify the cruelty of an individual.”
2. Because of the time frame in which Romans was written, these were relatively new believers and, were possibly without a pastor or local church; therefore, they had possibly had little or no doctrinal grounding.
3. Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, knew that the only thing that would protect and stabilize these new believers was sound, biblical doctrine. The Word of God was to be their “anchor” in a turbulent sea of wickedness and persecution.
D. “The shifting sands of human theology” is befitting of the times in which we also live.
1. Virtually every major denomination has left the “old paths” of the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures, the practical sanctification of the believers, and doctrines of the faith once delivered that were so precious to Christians in years gone past.
2. Paul, when writing his second epistle to Timothy (a young pastor in Ephesus), prophesied of the turning away of the churches from hearing the Truth. It was also prophetic of the days in which we live.
3. Doctrinal preaching will do one of two things: ground the recipients in the Truth of the Bible or run the rejecters off. In both the Old and New Testament, people in general refuse to hear the Word of God, especially when sound doctrinal preaching and teaching go forth.
Zechariah 7:8-14 And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying, (9) Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: (10) And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. (11) But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. (12) Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts. (13) Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts: (14) But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; (2) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (4) And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (5) But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
4. The result will always be the same: churches permeated with worldly, lost people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2) For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (3) Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, (4) Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (5) Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
E. Sound Biblical Doctrine is the foundation of the church. Psalms 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
1. The question was asked and the answer was evident: NOTHING! Without sound doctrine, the church will drift and the people will be destroyed.
2. Therefore, Satan has “chipped away” at the foundation as a termite undermines the foundation of a home: subtle and unnoticed to the casual observer.)
F. God’s house is a house of doctrine. Satan hates God, hates the child of God, hates the local church, and is actively working to destroy all.
1. De-emphasizing of Sound Doctrine - A tactic of the devil to bring about the ecumenical movement which teaches that where you go to church is not important. This form of doctrinal ignorance is leading to the rise of the modern day ecumenical movement. It does matter where you go to church and it does matter what that church teaches doctrinally.
2. Demonizing of Sound Doctrine – A tactic of the devil that portrays God’s men in a pharisaical light and the Bible believing local church as cultic. This form of doctrinal ignorance drives away those who listen to such tactics and opens wide the door for false teachers and preachers.
3. Dividing of Sound Doctrine – A tactic of the devil to bring about division within the fundamental churches. Fundamental churches once had basically the same doctrine. Today, the word “fundamental” has become an irrelevant term.
G. There is a decline in the teaching of Bible doctrine in the churches today as many churches, pastors, and teachers shy away from it and go from “heart pricking” to “ear tickling.” To these, doctrine is neither important nor is it relevant to our day. I want to reiterate that sound doctrine is imperative! Sound doctrine is imperative to:
1. The stability of the local church - 1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (If the church is not doctrinally correct, then it cannot be trusted. The Head of the church is Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ is the Word of God; therefore, if the Head and the Word are right, the local church can be trusted to be right also.)
2. The detection and rejection of the infiltration of false teachers - Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (God gives to the local church pastors who rightly divide the word of truth, feed the flock of God, and equip the saints to be able to discern false teaching. Theological “food poisoning” is a good term describing false doctrinal teaching. It brings joy to the pastor’s heart when his people can detect false statements.)
3. The spiritual well being of the believer - Colossians 2:6-8 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: (7) Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (8) Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (One of the greatest accolades that can be given to the local church is that of a people who know what and why they believe. A knowledgeable people are both productive and protected. Too many churches are characterized by biblical ignorance. Paul often addressed the believers with the statement, “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren.”)
4. The biblical training of our children - Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (The Bible and doctrinal truth are essential to the spiritual upbringing of our children. Our children need to be taught the Word of God, not just entertained and the Bible taught must be right and the doctrine correct. I have seen people purposely confuse their children in order to show rebellion toward the preaching and teaching from the pulpit.)