Tower Hill Church

The Road: From Romans to the Gospel, Part 1

January 10, 2018
Tower Hill Church
The Road: From Romans to the Gospel, Part 1
Chapters
Tower Hill Church
The Road: From Romans to the Gospel, Part 1
Jan 10, 2018
Tower Hill Church / Pastor Jason
You can't do anything to make God love you more... or less
Show Notes Transcript
Discipleship is not the process of knowing more about God, but rather, it's the process of knowing God. Therefore, we don't grow spiritually based on information but a relationship. Join us as we discover the power of a relationship with God through Paul's letter to the Romans.
Speaker 1:
0:03
Why learning more about God doesn't necessarily grow you closer to God. We're going to be talking about spiritual growth and what that means for us in this new year. You're on the tower Hill podcast.
Speaker 2:
0:25
[inaudible] [inaudible]
Speaker 1:
0:25
Hey everyone. Welcome to the podcast of tower Hill church, a church for all generations. This is pastor Jason. I hope that you're having a great day, a great week, however, this podcast do, however you're listening. I pray that you are blessed, feeling blessed by God. Well, we just snapped. If you're listening in real time, we just snap this horrible cold spell here in New Jersey. My goodness, it was, it was the bomb side. Clune right? Whatever that even means. But there's all this talk about this, about this low pressure system that bottomed out and brought all this Arctic air to New Jersey. And I F it felt like we were just living in the middle of a block of ice. So I never thought 40 degrees could feel so balmy. Anyway, it is a great week. We had a great time of worship here this last weekend at tower Hill.
Speaker 1:
1:19
Uh, even despite the cold, uh, we had a great time. We started a new sermon series that we're going to be talking about today. Today's the first installment of that series called the road. And that's from Romans two, the cross. And this whole idea of the road comes from, um, really the, the evangelical idea of the Roman road to the gospel that has been around for many decades as a tool for evangelism as a tool for sharing the gospel with people that you walk through passages in the book of Romans in order to explain the gospel. So this sermon series is a play off that idea. We're going to travel this road of Paul's letter to the Romans as a way of accessing the gospel. So I hope you're in for that. It's going to be, I hope, really engaging and interesting and that you will be all in.
Speaker 1:
2:14
And that's what we're really talking about the beginning of this new year. We're talking about being all in, in our spiritual growth. And you'll hear me talk about this in the sermon, but the whole idea that we have to own our spiritual growth, spiritual growth, that just doesn't happen. Uh, God, waters God plants, God cultivates God prunes. But at least as far as Jesus is concerned, he says that we are responsible to be good soil. So it's a partnership and a, and I pray for you and for me that we are good soil, that God wants to grow his fruit. And uh, anyway, we got a couple of things coming up in the life of the church. We have a men's breakfast happening in a couple of weeks. While I encourage you to go our website towel, tower Hill church.org to check out all of our upcoming events and activities in the life of the church.
Speaker 1:
3:07
And also I'm really excited about this. Um, we are working on a Facebook group that's going to be a devotional group during the season of lent. I'm going to do 40 videos, um, as a daily devotional and we're going to kind of respond and talk in that face Facebook group in real time. So we're in the process of setting all that up, but I just wanted to get you a, an early peak, uh, at that that's coming around the corner. And I hope that you will be all in on that and I'm willing to grow and learn together. Okay, well now here we are with installment number one of the new sermon series called the road. Have a great week. Everyone
Speaker 3:
3:51
worship. It was a traditional service. And because I wasn't raised in church, I, they just weren't speaking my language. I didn't understand what they were doing. I didn't know why they were standing up and sitting down. I didn't know why they were reading the things they did. I didn't know all the prayers. I didn't know all the things that aren't written in the bulletin that they say. Um, there's a lot I didn't understand. I felt like it wasn't connecting with me. And I said to a Christian friend of mine, I actually don't remember who I said it to you, but I remember saying it to a friend of mine saying, this church isn't really feeding me. This church isn't feeding me. Maybe you've heard somebody say that before. Maybe you felt that before. Dare I say, maybe that's something you feel even now. Of course, that's impossible, but let's pretend that this, this church isn't feeding me and I'll never forget. My friend said to me, he said, Oh, your church isn't fitting. You then get a fork and dig in.
Speaker 3:
4:46
Well, like, what were you talking about? He said, look, can you feed yourself? I'm like, I mean obviously, yes, and who needs to get fed? And I said, babies. He goes, exactly. Are you a baby? No. You know, start to get a little bit offended. Nobody is saying, you know, the point that he was making is you're not a baby in your faith anymore. You don't need to get spoonfed you're content. You can learn to feed yourself. And in fact, if you don't learn to feed yourself, you will never grow spiritually because no churches job is to feed you exclusively to give you all the content you ever need. That is not the churches job. The church's job is to train you to feed yourself. And that's, that stuck with me. And I've had other times in my life where I felt that I'm not really being fed.
Speaker 3:
5:42
It's time to time to church shop. You know, I am not feeling it. And, and I come back to this and I'm like, okay, maybe it is a church thing. Maybe they're not equipping me to do that, which is legit. But on the other hand, maybe the, I'm not feeling closer to God has to do with me. One of my friends who wrote a book called move toward the mess, it's named John Hambrick. He puts it this way. He puts that much harder than than I do. He said, here's the thing, if boredom is more about your choices than your circumstances, then it won't be long before you're bored by any kind of church service. If you allow yourself to be. And then you'll start looking for another church and then another, and then another. The problem is not the style of your church. It's not the minister or the music. The problem is you and me,
Speaker 2:
6:31
how much
Speaker 3:
6:35
now listen, sometimes, I mean, I'm going to be honest. Sometimes you had a church and you gotta make you gotta make a change, you gotta make a change. You got to go, go somewhere else. You know, we've had people who are here for a long time and they had to go find something else. They were stuck. And I think honestly that's healthy. Like if you're stuck and you got to make a change, go make a change, whatever it's going to take to get you closer to God. But most of the time it's not the church. Most of the time it's you and me. So this sermon series that we're starting today is designed so that it can help you think about how to feed yourself and your spiritual journey. So we're going to be digging in, get your forks ready. I want to encourage you, if you have a Bible at home that's collecting dust or something, you know, bring it in, bring it in.
Speaker 3:
7:23
Um, the reason is I think one of the things for me that's helped me grow the most has been like ownership in my Bible. Like I write in my Bible. I don't know if that's allowed, but I do it. I write in it, I highlight, I make notes. In fact, every couple of years I have to get another Bible because I don't want the old notes to influence my thinking every time I read a passage, but I have them all so I can always go back to them if I want to go back to my notes. But I think that's a big part of it. Here's, here's the bottom line. We're not going to grow in our faith unless we take ownership of our faith. If we're waiting for somebody else to give us all the answers, you're gonna wait until a really long time.
Speaker 3:
8:04
So we gotta grow. We gotta dig in and here's the thing. Information is not going to get you there alone. You can't grow closer to God because you know more facts about God. You're not going to go closer because you know more Bible stories because you have more scripture memorize. That's not growing closer to God. It's about a relationship. And I never grew close to somebody in a relationship because of the information about them. Like my wife Karen, I'd been married 16 years if we never would've got married. It was just about information. It was just like, let's tell the up. Jason's information about his life. She even ran the other way.
Speaker 3:
8:44
It was a good thing. I played guitar. I'm just gonna throw it, throw that out there. Played guitar and sang magic. All you musicians, you know it. You know it magic. But the point is, it's a, it's not just information and it's the same thing with God. We grow closer to God by relationships. So let's take a step on this road together. We're talking about the road and it's going to serve us as we go through the book of Romans together. Paul's letter to the Romans and it's a two fold reason. One is it talks about our road. Our journey of faith is like walking on the road with Jesus. You've heard that a lot, but I love it because it's active. It involves you walking. It's not just waiting for Jesus to drag you on the road. You're walking on the road. It's a partnership together as he walks alongside of you.
Speaker 3:
9:33
But also there's something in Romans called the Roman road. Maybe you've heard of this before. This has been popular for many decades in evangelical circles in that if you read the book of Romans, there are certain scriptures that lead you kind of on a road to the story of the gospel that you can by reading these scriptures, explain what the gospel is and who it's for. And so we're going to notice each marker on this road as we go through the book of Romans together. So before we jump in the book of Romans, just a little bit about it, remember it was written before the gospels. Paul's letters were written prior to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They came later. So the earliest windows we get into the life of the Christian Church is through Paul's letters. That's why we Revere them so much, is that we really get a glimpse at what was it like to be the first Christians figuring out who Jesus was, how to live a life in the way of Jesus.
Speaker 3:
10:31
We get this from Paul's letters, Paul, and most of the letters that he writes, he's writing to address a certain problem going on in the church. So the Corinthians, he's addressing different issues that they had and so on and so forth. The book of Romans was, was not like that because Paul didn't start the church in Rome. They didn't know him, they knew about him, but they didn't know him. And so his whole point for the book of Romans is before he went to go visit the Roman church, he wanted them to understand what exactly he believed about Jesus and God and how it all fit together, which is why it's a really nice theological path to the cross. Now, Romans was written between 57 around the year, 57 56 57. So not too many years after the resurrection. If the resurrection is around 33 or 34, that's about 20 ish years after the resurrection.
Speaker 3:
11:27
So that's early and uh, and you have to understand the lenses through which Paul wrote. I think this is really helpful and maybe you want to jot this down next to the verse in your bulletin to help you remember as we go through Romans, everybody has a point of view and Paul had his own point of view that helps us understand what he's talking about as we read Romans. The first is he's coming from a Jewish apocalyptic point of view. What's Jewish apocalyptic? Jewish apocalyptic is a genre of literature in the Bible, so just like you go to Barnes and Nobel and there are different genres of books. This is a genre of literature literature that we see throughout the Bible. We see it in the old Testament. In Daniel, you see all the visions of Daniel that he had. That's apocalyptic literature. That's symbols and you know that's where you get like the winded creatures and all the eyes and all of that. You see that very famously in the book of revelation. You see lots of SIM symbology and symbolism and all the signs and the numbers, all of that. That's all Jewish apocalyptic literature and the point of that literature is to tell the people of God, Hey, I know the world looks pretty bad.
Speaker 3:
12:44
I know it looks like evil is in control. I know it looks like God is nowhere to be found, but don't worry. God is in control and one day he will make it all right. One day God will bring everything the way that it's supposed to be. He will destroy evil for good and only good will remain. God is in control. Isn't that a message? I think the church has to offer the world right now. God is in control. God will make everything right. This is what Paul believed to his core and you see it come out in the book of Romans. The second lens that Paul had was I'll call the forensic lens. He saw the divine justice of God to be like a courtroom, that God was going to punish evil and reward good, much like a court of law. So he uses a lot of legal language.
Speaker 3:
13:42
He believes we're before the divine bar of justice. We are all guilty and we have no defense. We stand before the judge, we are condemned and that the last minute Jesus comes in and takes our place and he is found to be innocent. So therefore we are found to be innocent. This is what Jesus did on the cross. And then if I would say a third lens has to do with his Pharisee lens, the fact that Paul was a Pharisee. And so what the Pharisees believed, and this was the understanding of the Jewish people at the time of Jesus, was that you had to follow the law in order to be righteous. And it wasn't just the 10 commandments. There were 613 commandments in the old Testament that you had to follow or you were out of bounds. But it was even worse than that. Then you had something called the mid rash, which were the interpretations of all the rabbis about the 613 commandments that you also had to follow. So for example, keeping the Sabbath Holy, you can't work on the Sabbath. Well, there were 39 different definitions of what it meant to work on the Sabbath. So you had to follow all those. So you see how six and 13 can balloon out of control and they believed unless you followed all of them, you could not be righteous and they prided themselves that they could do it. This is the Pharisee way of thinking.
Speaker 3:
15:05
Okay? The funny thing is is is, and this is why Jesus is always telling them they're getting it wrong, like work on the Sabbath. Remember, Jesus healed somebody on the Sabbath and the fairy shoes are like, no, no, that's work. And I feel like Jesus was like, really? Because they're missing the point. They're so interested in the letter of the law that they're getting it wrong. It's sort of like if I went to my kids, this is hypothetical, if I, if I went to my, my, my daughter and I said, don't punch your brother. And then 30 seconds later I hear, I hear him go out, what are you? What are you doing? I told you not to, but I didn't punch him. I pushed him, technically followed the law, but found a little end around this. I believe it's God's point. It's not about the law.
Speaker 3:
16:01
The law is not what makes you righteous. It's your heart. The problem is a heart problem, not a behavioral problem. In this is what the Pharisees were getting wrong and this is why Jesus spoke against it. Okay, let's dig in. Romans chapter three starting in verse 19 now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. I highlighted those phrases because those phrases go back one. Those phrases are come from verbs that talk about like forensic legal terms, so the whole idea that nobody has a defense to give because of their sin, their mouths are held shut and they will, the world will be held accountable by God. This is again Paul's legal understanding of the gospel. Therefore, no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law. The law's not going to get you there. The law is not going to make your heart right. It's a heart problem, not a behavioral problem in and of itself.
Speaker 3:
17:25
In other words, since much worse than you thought it was. It's like a, it's like a pitcher of water that has been tainted by a drop of ink, right? The ink ruins the whole picture. It doesn't just ruin a little bit of it. It diffuses into the whole thing. The whole thing's the only way that you get clean water. Again, it's got change out the water, and this is what we believe that Jesus did on the cross. He changed out the water to his living water that's inside of us, but since much worse than you thought, everybody who is under the law, you thought that the law could save you that if he does, did it just drive. You didn't punch your brother, you'd be set, but the problem is your hearts still broken by sin. The problem isn't behavior and listen, the law isn't why you give your heart to somebody relationally, right? It's, it's about love. Yes, marriage has a legal part of it, but that's not why you're in love, because you follow the law. That'd be like somebody coming to me. Jason, do you love your wife? Well, I didn't cheat on her
Speaker 3:
18:51
slap. Not a good answer. I don't think that's one of the five love languages like, well, I didn't cheat on you. No, I mean that's that because love is relational. Love is relational and you see this all throughout the scripture. Even the whole idea of adoption that we were adopted, sons and daughters of God has a legal transaction to it, but why do you do it in the first place? Because of [inaudible] love always proceeds
Speaker 2:
19:20
the law.
Speaker 3:
19:25
It's about knowing God, not just information about God. Okay, let's keep going. Second part of verse 20 no, just kidding. We'll go with, I thought it was at a different spot. Okay. The whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law, rather through the law, we become conscious of our sin. In other words, that's Paul thinks that's the real use of the law is that it shows you that you're broken, that you can't measure up. It lets you know that seen as a problem for you. Now, here's the radical thing he says, but now apart from the law, now imagine you are a Jewish believer and you are hearing this, that you believe the law is what creates righteousness. And he says, but now apart from the law, this would have been like an explosion in their ears. They would've thought this was total blasphemy says, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been made known to which the law and the prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to who believe
Speaker 3:
20:48
that Jesus is the way that we receive the righteousness of God. There's a little rabbit trail here that I just want to let you know about because it gets a lot of ink spilled on it. And that is this little phrase, faith in Jesus Christ. If you've ever been to seminary, are you taking seminary classes? Or maybe you've heard of this in your travels, um, is that the Greek in this place can offer two different definitions equally. In fact, it's debated as to which one it is, and it just has to do with law. Like in English, you have a genitive tents and it's, is it objective or subjective? Don't worry about any of that, but you could translate this phrase that this righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ, which is what most of you have in your current Bibles. Or it can read this. Righteousness is given through the faith of Jesus Christ
Speaker 2:
21:40
to all who believe
Speaker 3:
21:44
that it was the faith of Christ that makes us righteous. It's not our faith that does it. We believe in him and actually even our faith is imperfect. So it's the faith of Jesus that makes us righteous or faith in Christ. I think, uh, the reason why I think this matters is I like both. I think both work. Interestingly, it's not until Martha Martin Luther comes around that they translated it faith in Christ before that it was faith of Christ all the way through first 1500 years of Christianity. Interesting, right? But the whole idea and the point is this, righteousness is not something that we can create that we can earn rights into. This is a gift. That to me doesn't sound like an obligation of the law. It's out of love that we give gifts. God gives the gift of righteousness through faith
Speaker 2:
22:42
and Jesus Christ.
Speaker 3:
22:47
File that away in information. That's slightly interesting. All right, well let's continue. Verse 22 there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. In other words, Jewish folks, if you thought just the fact that you lived under God's law was going to make you right with God. Sorry, you're just as bad as the Gentiles. Reason is that it's a heart problem, not a behavioral problem for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God in all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came
Speaker 2:
23:25
through Jesus Christ.
Speaker 3:
23:28
In other words, sin is much worse than you ever thought, but the grace of God is much better than you ever imagined. Sin runs deeper and further than you ever thought, but so does God's grace.
Speaker 2:
23:53
[inaudible]
Speaker 3:
23:53
so what did we do with this? How do we land this in our everyday life? Cause that's the important thing, right? It's not just information about God, but how does this inform our everyday walk with God? How does this help us take a step of hearts on the road of faith? And so we asked what is the Roman road? The Roman road is this journey of taking a step of your heart each each step along the way. So what the first marker on the road marker one is for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This is the fundamental understanding of what it means that Jesus did for us on the cross. If we don't get this, we don't get the gospel that we can't measure up. We actually need a savior. We cannot save ourselves. You would think that this is painfully obvious just looking at the world, but it's not. There are many believe that. Well, it's just human nature. It's just how people are. At least I never killed anybody. It's not that bad. Yeah. If I might tell a couple of white lies, right? We love to talk ourselves into being the heroes of our own story. You know, I had a really good reason that I did that horrible thing. Yeah, it wasn't great.
Speaker 3:
25:18
But no, this is the fundamental understanding that we are not our own saviors. We fall short, all of us. But that's why the gospel is such good news is that we all can be forgiven. I don't care how bad you've been on care, how far away from God you've been. I mean, thinking about this [inaudible] there's nothing you could do to make God love you any more than he already loves you. And there's nothing you can do to make him love you less than he already loves you. How does that impact your life? How does that change the way you live it? By knowing that about God?
Speaker 3:
26:00
I think for some of us it's like, it's very practical. You know, it's not, um, well, you didn't go to church enough. Your attendance at church is not what saves you. You're just like, Oh, thank God. Oh, thank you. It's not about that. And then other people are like, dang, I've really good attendance. It's not, our behavior comes from the relationship of love. The reason why I care for my wife, well, clean off her car after it snows, what? Whatever it is that I do to show an act of love. It's because of the relationship and my behavior is to support the fact that I love her. This is the same in our relationship with God and relationship because I love God so much. I want to be with God's people at church to learn more, to worship him together, to receive communion together, to feel the presence of the Holy spirit in my life. I want to do those things because I love him and I want to love him more. It's not about legalism. It's about freedom. It's about saying, I love God so much. I don't want to be without him. You know, like when you've been in those stages of relationship where you're just obsessed with somebody, you know, you just can't stop thinking about them. What if? What if it was like that with God? Here's the thing. I've never met anybody in my life who felt like they were growing closer to God who said their life got worse
Speaker 2:
27:48
ever.
Speaker 3:
27:51
A hundred percent a hundred percent every person that I ever knew that ever said they were growing closer to God, it felt like their life was better. Maybe now, maybe this year, that longing in our hearts can be satisfied fully. And finally
Speaker 2:
28:27
[inaudible] [inaudible].
×

Listen to this podcast on