on moving right along

Well, we began our series in Romans today. I managed the exposition of the first word: “Paul…” I was quite pleased with the result. Our title and subtitle for the message is this: “Paul: or, what would it be like if Osama got saved

In a real way, the name Paul represents the whole theme of Romans. If ever there was a name emblemantic of ‘a soul set free’, it is that of Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, the apostle to the Gentiles. His biography occupied the bulk of our message, causing us to consider in vivid personal illustration the gospel of God, the theme of Romans.

In this message, a good deal of introductory material prefaced the body of the message. I dealt with my method of exposition [glacial], noting it’s similarity with D. M. Lloyd-Jones. In fact, I shared this quote:

I do not announce a programme, and for this reason, that when you are studying the Word of God you never know exactly when you are going to end. At least, I have a very profound feeling that such should be the case, believing, as we do, in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. We know from experience that He suddenly comes upon us û He illumines the mind and moves the heart û and I believe that any man who expounds the Scripture should always be open to the Holy Ghost. That is why some of us do not broadcast sermons, because we find it difficult to reconcile ourselves to a time-limit in these matters. I wonder what would happen to an occasional broadcast service if the Holy Ghost suddenly took possession of the preacher! Well, it is exactly the same on an occasion like this. I may have planned to map out a certain portion and to say certain things, and I might therefore draw up a syllabus, but, as I say, it is my profound hope that the Holy Ghost will overrule me and my ideas, and any little programme I may have. So I will thus go on from week to week trusting to that leading and that guidance, not promising to do any given amount every Friday.

I also dealt with the importance and place of Romans, with a few additional quotes. If you care to see them, you can check the pdf of the outline, linked above.

I took the proposition entirely from v. 16: “The gospel of Christ … is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Three points covered the message, with the emphasis on the first point: The likeness of Saul’s sin to every man’s sin. Saul’s sin (threatenings and slaughter) is only separated from hatred by a matter of degree. In this way all men are connected in their sins, whether they be an Osama or a me. The second point: A life changed by the supernatural work of Jesus Christ. Here we see the confrontation of Paul by Christ, after goading Saul towards the truth of the gospel by means of things like conscience, his knowledge of God’s standard of righteousness revealed in the OT, and the testimony of believers whom he persecuted. In the vision, Saul is confronted with his sin, with the revelation of Christ, and essentially with the call to ‘Follow me!’The closing point is this: The likeness of Paul’s new life to Christ’s holy life. Immediately he is baptized, stands for Christ in the Damascus synagogue, experiences the persecution he once performed, goes on to faithful pastoral and evangelistic service in the work the Lord separated him to. What a transformation. What would it be like if Osama got saved? Well, Saul (meaning ‘desired’) was changed to Paul (meaning ‘little’) and Paul made much of Christ, and little of self. Paul’s name stands at the head of the epistle as exhibit A of the transforming power of the gospel, the theme of the whole book.

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In our afternoon service, we returned to our discussion of my philosophy of the local church. Last week was ‘It’s a Body’, this week was ‘It’s a Growing Body: it grows into the head by the ministry of the parts‘. In this message, we went through Eph 4.11-16 talking about the process of the church, looking at ‘the body’ not as a static body but as a living, growing organism, growing up into its head, which is Christ. The Lord gave gifts to the church (men in authority) to equip the saints to do the work of serving and building so the body can grow to the goal of Christlikeness, unswayed and undeceived. For this to succeed in the local church, the saints in the body need to see themselves as essential role players in Christ’s body – the effort needed to ‘grow the church’ must come from saints (who are equipped by the leadership). The growth process can break down at several points: the leaders may fail to equip, the saints may fail to serve, the ‘neophytes’ in the body may fail to grow to take their place as servants in the body and the whole body can collapse when one part of the body fails to fulfill God’s plan.

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In my last post I said I had planned three more posts right away… they didn’t happen, but there is still a plan. I don’t know when I will get a chance to update the site next, however. My wife’s mother is very ill and we are getting my wife down to the airport in Seattle for Tuesday to go be with her. We are a bit in busy mode over the next few days.

Regards,
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

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