START A REVOLUTION – INTRODUCTION TO ROMANS

START A REVOLUTION – by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

September 2, 2012

“Every time in history, someone read the Book of Romans in a fresh way, new way, in a way it was originally intended, it started a revolution. Every time someone came to this book looking for answers, willing to let God teach them, they became revolutionaries.”

Romans 1:1-7  1Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. 5Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Overall Background:  Paul wrote 14 books in the New Testament – that is just about half of the New Testament. We are familiar with most of them—the book of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Corinthian letters, and letters to Timothy and Titus.  These are powerful books that the Holy Spirit has used to guide the church through the ages. They all play a vital role in our spiritual growth and ministry. You and I need every one of them. But, there is one book that stands in a class by itself—it is the Book of Romans. There is something about this one book that has challenged and transformed the most powerful people who ever lived. They came to this book as ordinary people but they walked away as extraordinary men and women.

One person read Romans 1:16 and started a revolution. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes . . .”

Background: In the 1730’s and 1740’s, the nation of England was in a bad state. They were going through something called the Gin Craze. Because importing liquor was banned, the people were making their own cheap gin. Someone said that drinking this home grown gin made the English people cruel and inhuman. The rich got richer, and the poor got poorer. There were street children everywhere. They were being mistreated and the insane were being mistreated. The London Mafia was raking all the money. Gambling was everywhere, and stage productions were obscene even by today’s standards.

At a time like this God raised a young man by the name of George Whitfield. His own father was a saloon keeper who died when he was two. In 1742, George Whitfield (just 27 years old) was invited to come and preach at the fair west of London. A Quaker coal merchant made a platform for him to stand on to preach. George came and the sun had gone done and all the characters were out. Gin was flowing freely, the bare-knuckle fights were going on, and gambling was going on. George got up on the platform and started preaching. Before long the people left the booths and the brothels and started coming to hear the message. This made the bad guys made and they headed for him. Fear came over him. Just then his wife, Elizabeth, tugged on his coat and said – “Be a man for God.”

The Holy Spirit brought to him the verse Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes . . .”

Just then his platform started wobbling and those prize fighters tried to push him off but a group of men formed a circle around him and Whitfield kept preaching. Someone threw a rock at him; someone threw an egg at him; someone threw manure at him. He kept on preaching. Tears began to flow and God touched many lives that evening. Someone even swung a sword at him but a friend blocked it with a cane.

That’s what Romans 1:16 did for George Whitfield and for England.

Application: Are you afraid to stand up for your faith? Read Romans 1:16

Another person who read this book and started a revolution read Romans 1:17 “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Background: The year was 1510 (almost 500 years ago), an Augustinian monk and Professor of Bible in the University of Wittenberg , Germany was visiting Rome. His name was Martin Luther. This was the place that many martyrs had died; this was the place of the holy relics; this was the place where Paul and Peter had walked. He went from place to place saying mass at all the holy churches. He was really into it. Strange as it may seem, the local clergy mocked him. They made fun of his prayers. He noticed that they had no reverence for the Lord’s Supper. In Rome, there were steps leading to the Chapel of St. Lawrence called the Scala Sancta – 28 steps. Supposedly these steps came from Jerusalem on which Jesus had walked down after he faced Pilate. It was said that if a person were to climb these steps on his knees, for each step, he/she would get 15 years of indulgence. As he was climbing the steps on his knees,  he was startled by a sudden voice, which seemed as if it spoke from heaven, and said, “The just shall live by faith.” He almost stood to his feet. That was the third time he had heard that voice. Later he said, “I was no closer to God on the top than I was on the bottom.”

He went home and began reading the Book of Romans. One day he was in the heated room (his study) of the tower of the Black Cloister in Wittenberg when the light broke upon him. He understood time that God gives us His righteousness when place our faith in Jesus Christ. What is faith? It is the confidence that God has forgiven our sins. The Protestant Reformation was born that changed the face of Europe and the West forever.

On the evening of 24 May 1738 an unwilling and unconverted Anglican clergyman went to a meeting of Moravian refugees at Aldersgate Street, London. He was a graduate of Oxford University; he had even tried being a missionary to the Indians of North America. There was still emptiness in his heart. Someone was reading Martin Luther’s Preface to his commentary on Romans. This young man later wrote, “About a quarter before nine, while [the reader] was describing the change wherein God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given that he had taken my sins, even mine; and saved me from the law of sin and death.” That young man’s name was John Wesley. He preached 40,000 sermons, travelled nearly a quarter of a million miles on horseback, and through his ministry saved England from something like the French Revolution. He was the founder of the Methodist Church.

He once said, “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth.”

Application: What do you trust in for your salvation? Your baptism, church membership, church attendance, prayers, good works. Because none of those can bring you the righteousness of God. It is received freely when by faith you receive that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins.

Someone else read this book and started a revolution – Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

Background: We have all heard of the famous evangelist Billy Graham. Many have even heard of his son, Franklin Graham. In his teen years, Franklin was a rebel. He ran from God bringing much pain to his parents. By 1974, He says: “The sinful life was not satisfying any longer. There was an emptiness—a big hole. . . I felt miserable.” One day when he was 22 years old, his father said to him, “Franklin, your mother and I sense that there’s a struggle going on in your life. You’re going to have to make a choice either to accept Christ or reject him. You can’t continue to play the middle ground.”

A little while later, Franklin was hanging out with his friend David Hill. David began to read Romans 7 that talks about our struggle with sin. Franklin, in his words, “broke out in a sweat and lit a cigarette to ease the tension. David didn’t say another word at that moment—he just stared at me.” Franklin goes on to say that “he made some excuse and left but the words stayed with him. He realized for the first time that sin had control over his life. He went to his room, opened a Bible and turned to Romans 8:1—“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus . . .”

For several days he struggled with that thought and what his father had said to him. He kept reading Romans 8:1 again and again. He finally got it! He says, “I put my cigarette out and got down on my knees beside my bed. I’m not sure what I prayed, but I know that I poured out my heart to God and confessed my sin. I told him I was sorry and that if He would take the pieces of my life and somehow put them back together, I was His. My years of running and rebellion had ended.

Franklin Graham went on to become the President of Samaritan’s Purse—a relief organization that also sponsors “Operation Christmas Child.” It is estimated that by this year 100 million shoe boxes filled with gifts will be distributed to needy children all over the world.

Application: All because one man stopped running long enough to read Romans. He found peace, purpose, joy in life. Now he is bringing joy in the life of countless millions all over the world. What is the purpose of your life? Unless God is in your life, it will remain aimless and empty.

The fourth person who started a revolution read Romans 13:14  “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

Background: This verse was read in the summer of AD 386 by a North African professor of literature and rhetoric, living in Milan, north Italy. His name was Augustine. His father had a fiery temper and some very bad habits. Augustine followed his father’s footsteps. He got into all kinds of immoral lifestyle and drunkenness. He got into a relationship, fathered a child, got into a cult and living with a mistress. It was a mess. His mother was a Christian. She tried everything she could to get Augustine to see that he needed Christ. She tried to get him to go to church. She never stopped praying for him. At thirty two years of age, he sat weeping in the garden of a friend. He was weeping, because he was too weak to break his immoral lifestyle. As he sat, he heard the voice of a child coming from a neighbour’s house, ‘Tolle, lege! tolle, lege!’ ‘Pick up and read! Pick up and read!’ As he heard the sing-song words of the child’s game, he saw a scroll nearby that his friend had been reading. He picked it up and began to read. It was the Book of Romans!

Romans 13:14  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”

He says, “Instantly at the end of the sentence, as if a light had streamed into my heart, all the darkness of my doubt fled away.”

His mother died soon after but he went on to become the pastor of a church in Hippo (modern-day Algeria) in North Africa, a great pastor, leader, and Christian theologian. His writings shaped the Western Church for more than 1500 years.

Application: Many of you are just like Augustine. You are running. Somebody in your life has been praying for you; someone in your life has been reaching out to you. It is time to realize that you are running away from what could radically transform your life forever.

The fifth and the last person (we can go on forever) who read this book and started a revolution read Romans 15:21 “but as it is written: ‘To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand.’”

Background: Some of you are here this morning will remember that day, January 8, 1956. After months of planning and prayer, 5 young missionaries made contact with the Waodani people of Ecuador. They were feared by all the neighboring tribes. They were extremely violent towards insiders and outsiders. Those 5 young men were brutally stabbed and killed. When the Ecuadorian government was about to send the army against the Indians, the widows of the five missionaries asked them not to. One of the missionary was a man by the name of Nate Saint, whose sister, Rachel, was reading from this book.

Romans 15:21 “but as it is written: ‘To whom He was not announced, they shall see; And those who have not heard shall understand.’”

She felt that God was speaking to her and so in the fall of 1958, Rachel along with Elizabeth Elliott (wife of another missionary who had been killed) and her little girl moved to live among the Waodani people. The leader of the tribe was a man named Gikita. He led the party that killed Jim, Nate, Ed. Roger, & Pete. He got saved and became a missionary to his own people. Two other men came to Christ and became leaders of the church.

After he got saved, he told Rachel: “I used to hate and kill but now the Lord has healed my heart…My heart was black with sin, but Jesus’ blood having dripped and dripped, God has erased my heart. Now I want to live loving Him.”

Conclusion: We think to start a revolution you have to go out there and do something different, wild, crazy, and rebellious. That is powerless. It doesn’t last.

To start a revolution you need power. The only power strong enough to sustain a true revolution is God’s power. To get it, you have to bring your life in the path of His power. The truths in Romans are like fire. You and I are firewood. When we come in contact with His fire, we begin to burn for the whole world to see.

Many of you are empty; many are in bondage to sin; many are crippled by your past.

Only Christ can set you on fire like Whitfield, Luther, Wesley, Franklin Graham, Augustine, and Rachel Saint.

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