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Romans 1.19

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Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

Remembering that our last verse told us the wrath of God was revealed against unrighteousness; and that the wrath of God is the judicial punishment of God – not the violent anger of God, then we can see in this verse WHY God is punishing sin.

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them – and them here is referring to the people who are ungodly and unrighteous.

God is right to punish the ungodly and the unrighteous, because what may be known of God is manifest in them.

What does this mean?

It means this: every person knows there is a God. Every person knows that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, all-loving being that created them and created the universe.

That is what the Bible teaches. That is why it is correct for God to punish sin, because everyone who sins knows that they have sinned, knows that they have done something wrong.

This “knower” is called the conscience, and it is a great Trojan horse when you are evangelising someone.

It is part of their mind, part of their inner being and it knows there is a God. It knows that God is good and it knows that they have not always kept the standards of this God. Athiest, Hindu, Muslim, JW, whatever – every human has this conscience, this knower.

When you evangelise, ask people if they think they are a good person – if they say no, then ask why. If they say yes, ask them why. Ask them if they know any of God’s commandments and if they have ever broken any of them.

Awaken the conscience inside the person and evangelise them there. You won’t win over someone with an intellectual argument unless you awaken their conscience. As soon as it is awakened, it will start to deal with the person. Let them know what Jesus has done for them on the cross and that Jesus has redeemed them from all sin.

The Bible says in John 16.13 that the Holy Spirit convinces us of sin because we do not believe in Jesus. That is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, by the way, not to convince us of lying or stealing or adultery, but to convince and convict us of not relying on Jesus, not putting our faith in Jesus, not relating to Jesus, not trusting Him and His goodness.

Now when you have shown someone what Jesus did for them, and maybe illustrated it with an example or two from your life, then the Holy Spirit has material to work with.

That person walks off, but the Holy Spirit walks with them… you cannot escape the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit will work at convincing the person that they have failed to trust Jesus. They have to accept redemption from Jesus.

Most Christians seem to think the Holy Spirit goes around saying “sin, sin, sin, repent, you sinned, you are useless, you missed it again, you failed.” No – the Holy Spirit goes around saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, trust Jesus, put your faith in Jesus, Jesus has rescued you, Jesus has set you free.”

Same applies for us as Christians – it is not the Holy Spirit that is harping on about your sins. He harps on about Jesus and His redemptive power!

So, next time you share your faith realize that the person you are talking to, deep down, knows that there is a God. And that if you clearly show them Christ crucified and explain why (see Galatians 3.1), then the Holy Spirit can convince them of this truth and their spirit will bear witness to the Holy Spirit and they will be born again.

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 1.18

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For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

This is a very serious verse and one that needs considerable contemplation by all Christians. Let’s first of all define the phrase “wrath of God”. The Greek word is orge (pronounced or-gay) and it can mean violent emotions or it can mean punishment.

Most commentaries I read seem to lean towards defining orge in this verse as violent emotions. This goes back to the Calvinist idea that God is angry with the world. I even read one commentary that said that God hates sinners – that if you sin, God hates you until you repent.

I believe whole heartedly that this idea of “sinners in the hand of an angry God” is a false one. We are not sinners in the hands of an angry God, and we were never sinners in the hands of an angry God! We were sinners, but God was not angry. Now, as Christians, we are not sinners any more: we are righteous saints in the hands of a loving Father.

The preacher of “sinners in the hands of an angry God” first transcribed sermon was about how God will not save anyone who comes to Him in sincere faith, as God can do what He likes and God will only save who He wants to save! People in his church were so depressed by his preaching that some of them committed suicide, including his own uncle. He then said that it was God that made them kill themselves! If I thought that unless I was specially chosen by God there was no way I could be redeemed from sin, no matter how much I wanted to be, I think I would be suicidal too! It is utterly Biblically incorrect to say that we are sinners in the hands of an angry God, yet many Christians use this era of Christianity as their benchmark of living Christianity and ignore the book of Acts!

Let’s look at this topic of the wrath of God across the wider Biblical teaching of God and then let’s look at this within the context of Romans 1 and unpick what this verse means. I believe it means that the legal punishment of God is revealed, not God’s emotional anger.

Firstly, let me say that the Bible is clear that God is pure and righteous and holy. Godliness is about being pure and acting right and living holy. I am not for sin – sin is a killer: sin will keep you enslaved and take you places where death can attack and destroy you. However, the sin problem has been dealt with. Sin will never affect your relationship and intimacy with God.

You see when God created Adam and Eve and when they first sinned, God did not punish them. Pain in childbirth, having to work and sweat to make the world produce, difficulty in relationships, being dead spiritually and eventually dying physically were not placed on Adam and Eve by God – they were just the natural consequences of kicking God out of your life and your planet. God gave Adam and Eve planet Earth and they booted God out of it – no wonder the planet is in a mess! No wonder marriages are in a mess – they booted God out of marriage! No wonder child-rearing and producing a living are such hard work – they booted God out of these things!

God wasn’t punishing them, they were just dealing with the natural consequences of their actions. If you live a promiscuous lifestyle and catch a sexually transmitted disease, God didn’t put that on you – it is simply the natural consequence of you actions. If you eat 5000+ calories a day, and you have a heart attack – God didn’t do it. If you drink and drive and crash your car, God didn’t do it. If you sin and end up in hell because you never accepted the redemptive work of Christ at Calvary, God didn’t send you to hell – it is simply the consequence of your actions.

God found Adam and Eve and clothed them with the skin of an animal. God brought death into an animal, so that Adam and Eve could live. That is not the actions of someone who is “violently emotional and angry”. You don’t make a sacrifice for someone you hate.

Now, God continually showed love and affection to the human race. Cain murdered his brother and God marked him. The mark of Cain wasn’t judgment it was mercy: it said that you couldn’t punish Cain. It was protection. You don’t protect a murderer if you are violently emotional and angry.

However, people took the love and mercy of God and the goodness of God for granted. The world became more and more wicked, and people such as Lamech said essentially if Cain could murder and God still loved him, I will go and murder who I like. The goodness of God leads to repentance (Romans 2.4) but not if we take it for granted.

So God had to develop a system of laws. He had to wipe out everyone in a flood. But God did it as a discipline and a punishment for sin – not out of a temper. He is our Father – if a father disciplines and punishes a son, that is fine. If my son was rude or stole something, I would punish them in some appropriate way. But, if I did it out of violent anger (which I have on occasion lost my temper at my children and had to repent of it) then you would say that this was bad parenting. How much more is God a good Father?

He flooded the world because He was the judge of the world, not because He violently hated mankind. Someone in a violent emotional state would not have led Noah to build an ark and waited 100 years to discipline humanity, spending that time calling them to repent with a powerfully anointed preacher. Violently angry people do not wait 100 years pleading with people to change!

He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because He had to stop their wickedness spreading. Violently angry people don’t wait until people escape before destroying a city – God did.

You see this idea of God being violently angry and needing to be placated is actually a pagan idea, not a Christian one. The truth is that sin does need a punishment, a death, but God is the one providing the lamb that takes away the sin of the world, not the one looking for it. We are the ones looking for it, and we found it at Calvary – the love of God in a human, giving up His life for us. That is the nature of God.

God must punish sin. The wages of sin is death, and if you die in sin you will go to hell. Sin cannot enter heaven. God’s justice demands that sin is punished. But the love of God triumphs over sin through Calvary. Mercy has triumphed over justice.

This is what this verse is talking about, not a God in heaven looking at people enjoying getting them and blasting them and being violently angry at them. It is a God who knows that sin must be punished and needs to deal with that so that He doesn’t have to punish sin. God doesn’t want anyone going to hell, God doesn’t want anyone sick, anyone suffering, God loves people! Your ungodliness must be punished, your unrighteousness has to be punished! But Jesus was punished so you don’t have to be!

The context of Romans 1.18 is the gospel. The whole reason we need the good news of Jesus is the wrath of God. Not the capricious anger of God, but the punishment of God. God must punish every sin you have ever committed, every impure thought you have ever had. But far from being violently angry with you, God loves you so much that He gave up His only Son to die your death, to bear your iniquity, to take the punishment for your sin – so you could have eternal life, so you could be righteous and pure and so you could have a relationship with God! Selah!

You deserved hell, Jesus went there so you don’t have to. You deserved death, but you are going to live forever if you accept by faith that Jesus took your place. This is the good news. The wrath of God is what makes the good news good news. If there is no wrath of God, then the gospel is meaningless. If sin did not warrant death, then the gospel is useless.

But let that realization of a clear punishment for sin lead you to say that God is an angry God – He is a God who only has thoughts to prosper you not to harm you. Angry people cannot think like that. God is angry – but not at humans, He is angry at injustice, He is angry at ignorance, He is angry that the devil keeps tripping people up and lying to them and making them think that He hates them. He is angry at anything that stops you and Him enjoying fellowship and friendship. But He is not angry at you.

Look at Isaiah 54.7-8:

8In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
9For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

God compares His never being wroth (angry) with us again like the promise that He will never flood the earth again. They are as important to Him. Every Christian knows that God will never flood the world again like He did. You need to know as well and as deeply in your spirit that God will NEVER be wroth with you. Ever.

Next time you see a rainbow, thank God that He is not and will never be angry with you. The wrath of God was entirely poured out on Jesus, the entire punishment for the sin of the world was laid entirely on Him.

That is good news!

Romans 1.15

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So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

I want to show you this verse in a couple of other translations before I dig into it:

So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News. (NLT)

So, for my part, I am willing and eagerly ready to preach the Gospel to you also who are in Rome. (AMP)

Paul was eager to go to Rome to preach the wonderful, happy, good news. He was also ready to go.

If you read the KJV it says Paul was “ready”, if you read the NLT you find Paul was “eager”. The Amplified does what it does best and amplifies the word to “willing and eagerly ready”.

The word used here is the same word used by Jesus when He says the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. In fact, I think in Mark’s gospel it is translated “the spirit is ready” in the KJV.

Paul was willing and ready to preach the gospel. Are you?

I believe that Paul was willing because he was ready. Being ready makes you willing. No one is willing to do something they are not prepared to do.

I believe that because Paul knew the gospel so well, knew its wonderful power and wonderful benefits and knew he could preach and present it powerfully with signs and wonders following – that is why Paul was so eager and willing to preach. What you are prepared to do, you are enthusiastic to do.

If you start praying for boldness, start praying for open doors to preach the gospel, start studying the books of Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews (the three books Paul wrote explaining and defending and outlining the gospel) and start realizing what the wonderful news of our redemption actually is.

I guarantee that as you start getting ready to preach the gospel, you will start being willing. You will start getting excited to preach the gospel, start getting passionate about going and telling people in the street, in your work – even in your church (because not everyone in church knows!) – the good news.

Many people try and pray for willingness. “Oh God, give us a passion for souls.” “Oh God, make me love the lost…”

That is not a prayer God can or will ever answer. God is not going to give you emotional pain to motivate you to do something! That is not the nature of our Father. We are willing to do what we are ready to do.

If you want a passion for evangelism, get ready to evangelise! Study the gospel, study common objections and find Scriptures to counter those objections.

If you want a passion for worship, don’t beg God to force you to worship Him – God is not a forcer, rather get your Bible out and study the concept of worship. You will soon be singing praises to God.

If you want to be willing to give millions into the gospel, get ready. Find out what the Bible says about giving and receiving. Understand what the tithe is and how it functions. Soon enough you will be giving what you have and shouting with joy. You will start a life of financial fruitfulness that will change the world.

If you want a passion for the Word, study it, get into it, get ready to understand it.

What you are ready to do, you will be eager and willing to do.
What you are not ready to do, you will not be eager and willing to do.

So – don’t beg God to make you willing, but get ready, get ready, get ready!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 1.14

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I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

In the last verse, Paul says that he would not have the church ignorant. That is Paul’s calling – to educate and provide information about grace and faith to the body of Christ. A very high calling – but it is your calling too.

As an apostle Paul’s ministry was to equip the saints to do the works of ministry (Ephesians 4.11ff). His life was to train the church to do the works of ministry.

We have to, utterly and totally, get away from the superstar ministers that do all the work and get back to the Bible bueprint: the fivefold ministries equipping, training and discipling the church and the CHURCH doing the works of ministry. The church being every single Christian.

We often read statements that Paul makes and we dismiss them as being for superstar ministers. Rubbish – Paul tells us clearly: copy me as I copy Christ (1 Corinthians 11.1).

Why I have said all this is to say this: Romans 1.14 is not just for Paul, not just for Oral Roberts, not just for Billy Graham, not just for Mike, but for every single Christian in the body of Christ. It is for you!

Paul says this: I am a debtor to people. The Greek word is opheiletēs. It means to be bound to someone by duty. Paul’s duty to ensure the church had knowledge bound him to people. So much so that his writings are still rescuing the church from ignorance, generations after he penned them!

Everyone of us is bound to people by duty. For Paul it was four groups of people: the Greeks, the Barbarians, the wise and the unwise. (Actually the wise and unwise covers everyone!), who is it for you? Who are you bound to by duty?

I used to be in a denomination where pastors moved around all the time, then they found out that you do not build a church by moving around, you build a church when a pastor comes to a people and the people realize that the man of God is bound to them, that he will never leave them or forsake them, that he is there for their good and will keep being there. He may move on like Paul did often, but he will still be there in his heart and still be with them in spirit.

Who are you bound to by duty? Who do you owe your destiny to? There is no destiny that does not involve people. No Christian has a destiny that does not involve them being bound to a group of people by destiny.

No Christian can avoid saying what Paul says here: I am a debtor to people. If you cannot say this and know which people you are in debtor to, go and find out. Go and pray and ask the Lord – go and find out.

I have just entered into the first step of my ministry, but I could not enter it at all if I did not know from the Lord who I am a debtor to.

I am a debtor to the people of London and of Essex, people who have lived there all their lives and people who have moved there from every nation and ethnic group.

I am bound to them by my duty to God. They will rise or fall on my obedience.

It is a weighty matter when you deal with destiny because it is not just a game – it is about people. Every single person is worth an infinite amount because that was the price that Jesus paid for them. Every single person on the planet will in one million years time either be a being of pure light and love, or a creature of torment and hatred.

When I make decisions such as where shall our church meet, when shall it meet, what shall I do this evening, where and when shall I go on holiday, what book shall I read I need to realize I am not a free man. I cannot ever just do what I want. I am bound to London and bound to Essex by duty and by destiny.

I take this seriously and soberly. It is not just enough to know the function of your destiny, you must know the geographical and ethnic boundaries of your destiny.

I will say it again – if you do not know who you are bound to by duty, you must find out. Then act bound!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 1.12

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That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.

Paul wanted to visit the Roman church to be comforted with the Roman church. The word comforted in the Greek is symparakaleō which means: to comfort and encourage each other at the exact same time.

It is one thing that we need to realize is true: we encourage each other in Christ at the exact same time. If I come and find you and have a teaching for you or a prophetic word, you will be encouraged, but I will be encouraged at the exact same time.

We don’t realize this. We think our ministers are supermen, who live in the rarified atmosphere of heaven, who don’t need people but just walk with Jesus. It simply isn’t true – we all need people. There is no-one who can walk entirely with the Lord alone, that is why the Lord puts us in church, in congregrations, in groups, and so on.

Even the great apostle Paul who spent time in the heaven of heavens, who to live was Christ and die was gain, knew that being around the Roman Christians would be comforting and encouraging.

Even if Paul was the one doing the teaching, watching the other Christians respond and grow in Christ encourages them.

Last week I held a healing crusade in London. Many people have told me how encouraged they were by the messages. What they don’t realize is that seeing them respond, seeing them attend, seeing them grow in freedom and in love encourages me – at exactly the same time. Someone told me this week that what I am teaching in the meetings, in Tree of Life Church, is just not taught anywhere else. They were telling me how encouraged they were – but at the exact same time, I was being encouraged.

Whenever you share something to encourage people – you are encouraged at the exact same time. Some people come back from a church service and complain it wasn’t edifying, it wasn’t comforting and it wasn’t encouraging.

What these people need to do is go to the church service with something to bring: go and take someone after church for dinner; go and tell someone what a great job they do as an usher, as a singer, as a preacher, as whatever; go and tell someone their hair looks nice; go and give someone a Scripture or tell them your testimony.

As you encourage that person, I guarantee symparakaleō will take place: you will be encouraged at the exact same time! It is a spiritual law that cannot be denied. I challenge everyone reading this to try it next church service you go to; next cell group; next time you go to the supermarket if you want!

If you get a testimony from doing this, please post it to encourage me – and you can get encouraged at exactly the same time!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 1.11

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For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;

Here is a question for you: do you long to see the church? I mean do you long to be with the crowd of Christians, worshipping Jesus, living with the church, helping them in their problems, putting up with their carnality, helping them to grow up, laying down your life for them.

Listen the body of Christ is the church. If you don’t long to see the church, you don’t really love Jesus. You might have emotional feelings about Him, but love is expressing in how you treat someone.

Paul longed to see the Romans. In the midst of 2 Corinthians 11 when Paul is talking about some of the situations he went through in his life, he puts the burden of his love for the churches as being more difficult than being beaten with sticks or lashed with a whip!

How much do you long to be with the church?

And what was Paul’s motivation for being with other Christians? It was not to get.

I will say this, most Christians go to church to get. That is true. It is an absolute indictment on the church, its structure, its understanding of love, its understanding of the kingdom of God.

Most Christians leave church and they rate the service. They comment on what the worship was like (I won’t spend the time necessary to explain how you cannot rate worship!), they make their judgment on how anointed the preacher was, and they assess how good the offering was. They never came to give, they never came to offer.

Well, they came to offer some cash, to tip good and pay their protection money, and to sit on the seat. But that is not the offerings that God is looking for.

Paul longed to be with the church to offer (impart = Gk. metadidomi – to offer, cf. Luke 3.11) a spiritual gift to the church. Paul wanted to go to church to offer spiritual life to the church – to impart faith, to teach the Word, to inspire with His testimony, to give a message in tongues, to prophesy over people, to have a word of wisdom for someone, to help a sheep find their way.

Why do you go to church?

Are you imitating Paul the way he copied Jesus? (1 Cor. 11.1).

Are you longing to go to church to offer something?

Not for your glory, not so people write about you or praise you or thank you, not to establish your ministry – but to establish (Gk. sterizo – to make constant, to make strong or to make stable) the church.

Is your joy found in going to church?

Is your goal in going to church to strengthen the church and offer something?

Is your motive in giving and imparting spiritual wisdom and revelation and gifting, selfless and to make strong the church?

If so, you can say that you are copying Paul like he is copying Christ.

If not, you have some adjusting to do in the way you think about the church and about Christians!

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Romans 1.10

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Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

Paul is requesting that he might have a prosperous journey to visit the Romans. The NLT makes this verse very simple:

One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you.

Paul is praying for the Romans what he is praying for is the chance to see them. We all know Paul’s great hymns of praise (cf. Romans 11.34-36) and Paul’s theological prayers (cf. Ephesians 1.16-23) and they are beautiful. Paul was a deep man.

But just because someone is deep doesn’t mean that they are not a human! Paul is praying for the Romans – not for deep revelation, not for truth and life, for wisdom, for the will of God – no, Paul is praying that he can get a chance to see them and visit them.

It is perfectly acceptable to pray for things that you might think are mundane. Not every prayer has to be for a worldwide revival and power and glory sweeping the earth!

It is ok to ask for a parking space, to ask God that you would bump into an old friend that you miss, that someone in church would give you a lift home. That is great.

Notice as well that Paul did not know the will of God – here he prays that he would journey to them by the will of God (Paul was not asking for the will of God to be that his journey was prosperous, but that God would allow him to go!).

Paul prayed about things that he didn’t know what God wanted. That is fine. It is ok to say “if it by Thy will” when we pray.

Sometimes as faith people we get the revelation that when we are praying for something that the Bible clearly tells us is the will of God, then it is sin and doubt to pray “if it be Thy will”, and then we go overboard and never pray “if it be Thy will” again!

Listen if the will of God is clearly revealed in Scripture or by revelation, DO NOT pray “if it be Thy will”. The Bible says “By His stripes We Are Healed.” Never pray for healing “if it be Thy will” – what an insult to the stripes. Never pray for prosperity or joy “if it be Thy will” – pray the Word.

But some things we don’t know. Paul didn’t know at that stage if God wanted him to go to Rome or not. You might not know if someone is the right person to marry, or if a church is the right church to go to. At times like this there is nothing wrong with asking God “if it be Thy will, I want to go to Rome”, “if it be thy will, I will marry her/ him or not”, “if it be Thy Will, I will join this church”.

Or whatever. Don’t get silly about it, there is no need to pray for which breakfast cereal to eat. Grow up – remember God is our Father. If my children asked me to tell them what cereal to eat, I would be stunned. If I replied to such a ridiculous question it would be to say “Eat the one you fancy, it doesn’t matter”.

If at any point it did matter, I would let my children know. “Adam, the milkman hasn’t come, don’t have cereal because you will use all the milk, have some toast and a croissant.” He is my son – the lines of communication are open, so I don’t expect silly questions.

Some of ask God the most silly questions – I know someone who used to pray what socks to wear in the morning. Now if it bothers you, then He is touched with our infirmities. God is our Father and loves us – and that is fine. If you ask him “look, Father, which tie looks best with this shirt”, He will tell you if it matters to you. He knows what is important to you.

But in general, we should not be asking about trivial things – God expects you to just do them. Even in the street, people ask God should I talk to that person when the Bible says preach to every creature. If you are asking the question, you should be speaking to that person!

But for important things – which church should I go to, should I go here or there, where should I go on holiday – ask Him, and freely say “if it be Thy will”. By saying this you are letting God know that He is GOD! That if He says go to Rome, you will go to Rome. If He says don’t go, then you won’t.

Be that kind of person and you will very soon find out the will of God for your life. If you are prepared to do anything, you will quickly find the something you are called to do.

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