I’ve grown accustomed to people charging me with exaggeration whenever I speak about Paul’s letter to the Romans. After you hear what I have to say, you may join the choir of those who insist I’ve gone too far. So here it is. Paul’s letter to the Romans, quite simply, is the single most important and influential piece of literature ever written.
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Sept 12, 2021
Give me all the Bacon & Eggs you Have
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If you were to sit down over coffee or lunch with an unbelieving friend or co-worker and they asked the question, “What is Christianity?” how would you answer? I hope you wouldn’t point to a building with a steeple, as if a physical structure defines what Christianity is all about. And I hope you wouldn’t point to any individual, even one as godly as the Apostle Paul or Billy Graham. My hope and prayer is that you would say, “Well, that’s easy. Christianity is Jesus Christ!” Here is how John Stott put it:
Rome. It is only one word, and yet it evokes an entire world of history, drama, and political intrigue. One cannot speak the word without thinking of the Coliseum and the Catacombs, not to mention the many Caesars: Julius, Octavian, Augustus, and Tiberias. The pomp and circumstance of Rome, its social influence, military might, as well as its moral decadence, have made it perhaps the most famous city in all of human history, second only to Jerusalem.
I still vividly remember the first time I shared the gospel with another person, face-to-face. I had spoken at a couple of evangelistic rallies and shared my testimony about becoming a Christian. But this was the first time I sat across a table from one person and talked about Jesus.
Last week we talked about the reality of shame when it comes to sharing the gospel with unbelievers. I related my own experience with a high school classmate who, by God’s grace, actually came to saving faith. But as I told you last week, I was afraid that he might ask me a question that I couldn’t answer. The fear of being challenged in a way that we feel inadequate to address often keeps Christians silent when they know they should speak.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many non-Christian religions in the world? Have you ever wondered where they came from? How and why did they develop? Are they all simply variations of the truth or perhaps imperfect pathways to the one true God? What relationship, if any, do they sustain to biblical Christianity? And is it arrogant and judgmental of us to suggest that they are all in error and that Christianity alone embodies the truth about God and eternal life?
I face an immediate and unavoidable challenge in talking about homosexuality. In Romans 12:9 Paul exhorts us to “let love be genuine.” And in Romans 12:10 he commands us to “love one another with brotherly affection.” Here is the challenge. He also says in our passage in Romans 1 that some expressions of human sexuality are impure, dishonorable, contrary to nature, shameless, and deserving of eternal judgment. So, how can one be loving and yet say such things about homosexual conduct?
Last week we examined what the Bible says about homosexuality, both in the OT and primarily in Romans 1 in the NT. Today we turn our attention to two topics. First, I want to say a few words about the so-called “transgender” movement. Second, I want us to think deeply about the practical implications of how to live consistently with what the Bible says on these two highly controversial subjects.
In his acceptance speech for the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1983, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn addressed the reason for the Russian Revolution that resulted in the slaughter of 60 million people. After spending fifty years studying this question, Solzhenitsyn summarized his conclusion with this statement: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
To the extreme frustration of most preachers, sermons are frequently forgotten moments after they are delivered. I ought to know, I’ve preached my fair share of truly forgettable sermons!