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The Gospel of God

 
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto Salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Gentiles. For in it is the righteousness of God reveled from faith to faith; as it is written, “the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17)
 
Introduction:
 Nearly every day we read of some new criminal act which continues to “stun the nation”. Now we have another mass shooting at Ft. Hood, Texas killing at least four and wounding another number of individuals who are as yet unknown. A massive random shooting which has again brought almost universal statements such as “what went wrong?” “How can things such as this be prevented so that they never happen again?” Random acts of violence which appears to be totally unrelated to anything that anyone previously knew about the perpetrator. Additionally, the Russians have already annexed Crimea from Ukraine and are now massing nearly one hundred thousand troops on Ukraine’s border, apparently threatening to invade the remainder of Ukraine.


 War continues to rage in Syria; Iran continues to ignore the so-called agreement to discontinue the work toward obtaining a nuclear bomb after the United States and others have lifted the sanctions which were apparently having an effect and now, of course, have no effect. High governmental officials apparently having no regard for the truth have either refused to testify regarding the events that took place in Benghazi, Libya or the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of specific individuals, to the multiple misrepresentations and perhaps outright lies that were fed to the American public in order to get the passage of the Affordable Health Care Act under  the so-called assurance that the approximately 30 Million people who were without health insurance could obtain coverage under it.


 From that approximately 30 Million people who were uninsured, it is now reported that there are approximately 46 Million people who are uninsured and a health care system (which admittedly was not perfect, but was the envy of the world), has been wrecked. The American president has through the exercise of “executive orders” apparently “modified” the Affordable Health Care Law what is reported to be 38 times. The President’s unfavorability ratings are in excess of 50 percent, and more than 50 percent of the people polled now believe that the country is weaker and in worse position that when the present President first came into office. We continue to spend like crazy and are in excess of Seventeen Trillion dollars in debt- SEVENTEEN TRILLION DOLLARS .


 We are in a period of time, by nearly all accounts where there is an increased need for military capability but we are reducing our military capability apparently to pre-World War II strengths. Jesus once answered the Pharisees and Sadducees who had come to him testing him to try and get him to show them a sign from Heaven by saying the following:


 “When it is evening you say it will be fair weather for the sky is red; and in the morning, it will be foul weather today for the sky is red and threatening.” “You hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the sign of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”(Matthew 16:2-4)


 There is a trend in this country for the leadership to continue to refuse to discern the signs of the times. There seems to be no understanding that the cause of the events perpetrated on Ft. Hood and Benghazi, and the Internal Revenue Service scandal, and the multiple misrepresentations and lies taking place surrounding the Affordable Health Care Act, not to mention, abortion, sexual promiscuity running rampant, violence, and a bent toward the pursuit of pleasure, sexual immorality of all kinds, covetousness, envy, maliciousness, murder, strife, deceit, evil mindedness and so forth, including violent proud boasters, inventors of evil things, and disobedience to parents are all products of one thing. The Bible calls it sin! In Genesis chapter 6 we read about Noah and God says this:


 “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of this heart was only evil continually.”(Genesis 6:5) Jesus himself said in Matthew 24 “but as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the son of man be.” (Matthew 24:37)


•         Lack of Commitment to the Truth
 Are we not seeing that which is spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 59? “Justice is turned back, and riotousness stands afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity can not enter. So truth fails and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” (Isaiah 59:14-15) For many Christians it is increasingly clear that we do not need new political, economic, military, or domestic policy! What is needed in America – WITHOUT EQUIVOCATION – is repentance toward God, and a return to the Lord God through the Lord Jesus Christ. “…there is no other name under Heaven, given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)


 We have reached a point in this nation where First Amendment freedoms are being withdrawn. We have removed the Bible from the public schools; we have prevented public prayer in the schools and now other places; we have prohibited the publishing and display in the public schools of God’s Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, all of which is a result of allowing ungodliness to control. The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly over the last sixty-five to seventy years struck down virtually every law that promotes godliness and upheld virtually any law which promotes ungodliness.


•         The Consequences of the Lack of Commitment to the Truth
 While the word of God clearly tells us that we are to memorize and hide his Holy Law in our hearts and to display it prominently in our houses and teach it diligently to our children and to be careful that we do not forget. (Deuteronomy 6) The unelected justices of the United States Supreme Court, being vested with lifetime appointments have repeatedly violated the law of God. The US Supreme Court is accountable to no one consequently, the court has declared itself to be the ultimate authority on the law which has “trumped” the design of our founding fathers to have “co-equal branches of government”. The court seems to have abandoned all semblance of God’s holy truth on which the founders based our constitution.


•         The Holy Law of God
  The Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Church at Galatia that God’s Holy Law is our “school master to bring us to Christ.” (Galatians 3:24) We are now living in the midst of a people that is becoming increasingly pagan and the actions of the capital city have become increasingly pagan. What did the Apostle Paul do when faced with similar circumstances in the midst of a pagan culture and a capital city that was without doubt pagan? The great apostle to the Gentiles wrote to God’s people! There was a church in Rome the pagan capital of a pagan culture. The Christians living in Rome were well known and so also was their faith. (Romans 1:8) Paul wrote to these Christians, and to the pagan culture and his message is one continual theme:


 “I am a servant of Jesus Christ!” Jesus is my life! Can you say that? Paul in his writing to the church at Philippi said “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”! (Philippians 1:21) Can you say that? The whole of Paul’s message, really the whole of Paul’s entire teaching is that Jesus is the Christ! Jesus is the Messiah! Paul the apostle repeatedly makes clear three things. (1) “The Christ must needs have suffered”; (2) “Jesus whom we preach unto you is the Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:22-25); (3) I am the bond servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. We all need to be bond servants of the Lord Jesus Christ!


 We see that we are now living in a pagan culture and that Washington, D.C. is the capital of this pagan culture. From this capital emanates the doctrines of the pagan culture. Ungodliness of all kinds is promoted and godliness is discouraged in every way, if not in fact outlawed. The public acknowledgment of God and His holy word is discouraged and prohibited at every turn by the United States Supreme Court. It is God’s holy word only that can give us answers to these repeated mass violent acts resulting in multiple deaths such as the shooting at Ft. Hood; the bombing in Boston, the shooting in several schools, the repeated misrepresentations and in some cases outright lies of Governmental officials regarding the Internal Revenue Service, Benghazi, Iran, Syria, the Affordable Health Care Act and many others.


•         Examples of US Supreme Court’s Disregard for God’s Law
 The United States Supreme Court in the case of Everson v. The Board of Education 330 U.S. 1 (1947), a case authored by Mr. Justice Hugo Black, first authored the phrase “separation of church and state”. Of course, there is no such principle, wording, interpretation, or phrase contained in any of the founding documents of the United States, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Indeed, this awful metaphor (a wall of separation between church and state) is just a lie. It clearly is bad law and does not exist. Our founding fathers actually thought that “those things that make a man a good Christian makes a man a good Patriot.” It was not “separation” of church from state which concerned our founding fathers, rather it was to make certain that the state would be controlled and state business enacted in the name of God through principles set forth in the Bible, to the praise and glory and propagation of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, George Washington said that “vain would that man claim the title of patriot who did not know the Lord Jesus Christ!” Nevertheless, “truth has fallen in the streets.”


 In the United States Supreme Court decision of Engle v. Vital 370 U.S. 421 (1962) public prayer in the public schools was declared to be illegal. When we consider all of the problems that are existing in virtually all of the public schools of this nation clearly what is needed is prayer in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! We need to begin asking that God would change the hearts not only of those in the schools but those in control of the nation. Not only has prayer been outlawed but in the Supreme Court decision of Abington School District v. Schemp 374 U.S. 203 (1963) Bible reading in the public schools was declared to be illegal. Of all of the places where the Bible should be free to be read and discussed, the marketplace of education ought to be number one or very close thereto. Indeed, Benjamin Rush, one of the founding fathers, declared that the great enemy of mankind could devise no more effective way to subvert the school children of America than to outlaw Bible reading in the public schools. We are seeing the results in this present age of these ungodly court decisions.


 To be sure, there remain many Christians in Washington, D.C. and across this country who have not “bowed the knee to Baal”. Nevertheless, our country is increasingly becoming a pagan country controlled by pagans who are not much different from barbarians other than perhaps they dress better. Because Paul’s epistle to the Romans is the first of his various letters to the churches contained in the New Testament cannon our purpose is to take a brief look at it to answer the questions posed herein.


I.                    A Brief Consideration of God’s Use of the Book of Romans in Church History


 Paul’s letter to the Church at Rome has frequently been recognized as the epistle in which is contained “all the foundation truths of the scripture”. In the book of Acts we are reminded of the basic foundation truths on which we must always stand. “Other foundation can no man lay than that which is layed which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:11)


 Throughout the history of the church it has been revealed for nearly two thousand years that the epistle to the Romans has possibly, played a more important and crucial part in the history of the church than any other single book in the whole of the Bible. When Augustine of Hippo was converted and later came to be known as Saint Augustine the book of Romans was what he was reading. Particularly in the thirteenth chapter of the epistle to Romans did he read the following: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh.” At this Augustine saw the truth of God in Christ revealed unto himself and was converted and saved and became a guiding light in the Christian church.


 Obviously the epistle to the Romans was certainly the crucial document in connection with the conversion of Martin Luther which therefore led to the real beginning of the Protestant reformation. Through his reading of the epistle to the Romans Luther was convicted and convinced by God of the truth of justification by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ. Additionally, the life of John Bunyan was changed when the Lord God used the epistle to the Galatians and Romans and Luther’s commentaries to bring about his conversion, as well as the conversion of John Wesley on May 24, 1738 in Aldersgate Street in London. There are numerous other men in church history to whom and for whom the Lord God used the epistle to the church at Rome for their conversion and growth.
 
II.                  A Servant of Jesus Christ
 The very first verse of the very first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans sets out three important facts concerning the Apostle Paul.  First, he declares himself a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Second, he declares that he was “called” to be an Apostle. Third, Paul declares that he was “separated unto the gospel of God”. Paul saw himself as “a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.” This man who had once been so opposed to Christians, indeed, threatening violence and attempting to stamp out Christians and Christianity had an encounter with the risen Christ which is set forth in Acts chapter 9 and Acts chapter 16. When one has an encounter with the risen Christ he is changed forever! That is exactly what happened to the Apostle Paul. From Saul of Tarsus a freeborn Roman citizen, a Pharisee of Pharisees, a Hebrew of Hebrews, Saul becomes “a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ”. That is both who he was and what he was. Everything that Paul did resulted from his identity in terms of THE BLESSED PERSON. We see here that the first and most important thing about the Apostle Paul is that he thinks of himself as a “servant of Jesus Christ”. Consequently, Paul is called to introduce every other person with whom he comes in contact to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wants them to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Jesus himself says, “and this is eternal life that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent”. (John 17:3) Jesus is the only mediator between God and man and no man can know the father except through the son. So Paul wants each and every person to know the complete truth about the Lord Jesus Christ. He wants them to know of the word of God who became flesh and came into the world as a human person and lived in this world. He wants them to know the babe of Bethlehem and the boy and the man and the carpenter Jesus of Nazareth. The Christ! The term “the Christ” means the anointed one, the one who has been anointed by God to do a particular work.


 Paul wanted King Agrippa to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is not just a man who came talking about moralistic actions. He did not found a club for men “to join” following certain rules and regulations. Jesus is the God man. All God and all man—not half God and half man—but all God and all man. “The same yesterday, today and forever.” He knows his sheep. He cane that “they might have life and that they might have it abundantly.” Jesus comes to those to whom he will and enters into them and changes them from the inside out. This is precisely what is needed in America and in every society around the world today!


 We don’t need new regulations, new rules, new laws, what is needed by every person who does not know the Lord Jesus Christ is a new creation in themselves. It is amazing that that is exactly what Jesus promises. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed away, all things are becoming new.”  The Apostle Paul declares himself to be the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore he had determined “not to know anything among [the people] save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” This was his only theme. Jesus is the person whom he always puts in the forefront of his teaching. This was the message that was being delivered and was delivered to the pagan culture in Rome. It is the message that needs to be delivered to the pagan culture in the United States. There are men all over the United States who are in positions of authority “to shepherd the flock of God”.  I call on them to get busy “shepherding the flock of God.” “Tell them of Jesus who is mighty to save”. He is “able to save to the utter most those who come to God through him.”


 As for you, is Jesus Christ your life? Can you say as Paul said “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain?” Are you a bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you know him? The Apostle Paul writing to the Church at Colossi says the following:  “if you then be risen with Christ seek those things which are above where Christ sits on the right hand of the Father. Set your affection on things above and not on the things of the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2) Does this describe you, if not purpose in your heart now to repent from your own known sin and commit your life to Jesus. “Present your body a living sacrifice wholly acceptable unto Him which is your reasonable service and be not conformed to the world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds in Christ Jesus.” Seek those things which are above where Christ sits on the right hand of the Father and set your affection on things above not on the things of the earth. Resolve to do that. Be disciplined. Ask the Lord God to help you to do that.


 Purpose in your heart to be separated unto the Gospel of God.


III.                The Culture of Rome
 
 The Culture of Rome was not unlike what we have as the culture of the United States of America in the 21st Century. In the first chapter of his letter to Rome Paul describes that culture as follows:


 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.  And even as they did not like to retain  God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:18-32)


Thus we see that which characterized the culture of Rome. Notice that the result of such a culture is stated at the first part of that description. “For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in righteousness…” There are many in America today who are suppressing the truth and they know it! Indeed, they are without excuse! For those who are abiding in the ungodliness and the unrighteousness that is going on in our nation the wrath of God awaits. For all the atheist, sexually promiscuous, haters of parents and disobedient to parents etc. as is set out herein above, know and understand that you need to flee the wrath of God. The only place to flee is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ himself calls you and others to “come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” If you already know the Lord Jesus Christ, use this devotional and pass it on to others. Tell them in God’s holy word, of Jesus who is mighty to save. Urge them to commit their way to Christ at this time of year when we remember the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some people are more willing to hear and receive the truth at Easter. Tell them the truth. “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes unto the Father but by Him”.


a.      Individual Repentance and Saving Faith
 While we need a national revival, repentance is a personal and individual matter. It is the surrender of one’s own will to the Lord’s will. It is a gift. Ask God to give you, as well as, every member of your family “conviction of sin” and the gift of repentance. Also ask the Lord to give you the sheer gift of saving faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for all those you know who do not seem to know Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord.
 Look at Paul and make him an example for you and your family. He details what the Lord led him to do in his epistle to the Church at Philippi. He says the following:


“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:  Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;  Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” (Phil 3:4-15) In conclusion we should all seek to be bond servants of the Lord Jesus Christ and emulate the Apostle Paul in these matters.


Finally, pray for our nation; pray that God would grant a great awakening and a great revival. Read and meditate on the holy truths set forth in Paul’s epistle to the Romans. Meditate on them. Tell them to others. Pray for those of your family who do not know Jesus. Maybe even who think your kind of crazy because you need the “crutch of Christ” not only do we need the crutch of Christ we need the life of Christ flowing in us. We all need to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that we can say as Paul said “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Your friend and brother in Christ,
 
Bill Gray (a.k.a. Daniel)