Romans – Wayne Barber/Part 2B
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2007|
|It is not man’s good news, it is God’s good news. Verse 1 says, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,…”|
Turn to Romans 1. You have probably been wondering when I was going to get to the text. Well, we are ready to begin now. We are not going to go very far, though, just verse 1. I want to entitle this, “Paul, the Deliverer of God’s Good News.” It is not man’s good news, it is God’s good news. Verse 1 says, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,…”
The word “gospel” is the word from which we get the word “good news.” It comes from two Greek words, the word ε_, eu, which means good and the word _γγέλoς, aggelos, which means message or news. So it means good news. Paul describes this good news in I Corinthians 15:3-4, and it has to do with what Jesus Christ has done for us. He describes it as the death (of course, the implication there the life), the burial, and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The good news of God is what Jesus Christ has done for you and me. Jesus, God’s Son, has come to this earth, paid a debt He did not owe when we owed a debt we could not pay, fulfilled the law that we are condemned by and now stands as the door to allow us into fellowship with the Father. That is the good news of God. Man could never have come up with that. That is God’s good news.
Paul was assigned to preach the good news of God’s love to the Gentile world. Aren’t you glad because most of us today are Gentiles? I am thankful. It was promised to Abraham in Genesis that he would get a seed and through that seed all nations on earth would be blessed. When Jesus came the doors were opened. Jesus said, “Paul, I want you to preach that gospel to all the world.”
This gospel he preached, the good news that he preached, liberated him. Paul is a converted man. He is a man who is convicted and assigned to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentile world. In Acts 9:15 it says, “But the Lord said to him,…,” speaking there to Ananias, “‘Go, for he…,'” speaking of Paul, “‘…is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles…'” So therefore, we have the Apostle Paul, the deliverer of the good news of God.
Verse 1 tells us three things about his role as the deliverer of that good news. First of all, we have already seen as a deliverer of the good news of God, he is a committed man. He is committed as a deliverer of the good news of God. It says in verse 1, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus,…” That means just what it says. A bond-servant is a love slave. He doesn’t do what he does because he has to. He does what he does because he wants to. He has been loved by God and, therefore, out of the freedom of choice, he has chosen to be a slave and to preach that love to others. He stands at his Master’s disposal. He is the man who is committed to the good news of God.
Then secondly we see him as he is commissioned to preach and deliver the good news of God. “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle.” The word “apostle” there is the word _πόστoλoς, apostolos. It comes from the words _πo, apo, from or away from, and στέλλω, stello, which means to send. So the word means to send out and away. Paul has been sent out and away with a message. The message is the good news of God.
Galatians 1:1 says, “Paul, an apostle, (not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),…” No church commissioned him. No man commissioned him. Jesus Christ commissioned him. I said to my church body, “If I ever stand in this pulpit and call myself an apostle, pack your bags and leave.” The apostles first of all had to be a witness of the resurrected Christ and secondly, had to be appointed by Christ Himself. They gave us the doctrine of the New Testament. Paul was a man appointed by God and commissioned by Jesus Christ to be a deliverer of the good news of God.
But it is the third point that we are going to look at closely. Not only is he committed as a deliverer of the good news of God and commissioned to deliver that message, but thirdly he himself is a converted man by the very message that he is preaching. He is converted as a deliverer of the message of God. This is the thing that excites me. The Apostle Paul has been converted by the very message that he is preaching. In other words, there is something about it. There is an unction there. There is an excitement there. When you have been touched by the very message you are assigned to preach, that makes all the difference in the world. There is nothing mechanical about Paul. This is from the heart of Paul. Paul was literally and radically changed by the very message he was assigned to deliver.
Let’s focus on the term “set apart” in verse 1. It means to be selected by God. But there are several things about it that I want you to see. First of all, when was Paul set apart, selected by God to deliver the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Turn with me to Galatians 1:15. When was Paul set apart to preach and deliver the message, the good news of God? It wasn’t just in Acts 9. That is when it was revealed to Paul that he was set apart, but the setting apart, the separating took place a long time before. Verse 15-16 say, “But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles,…”
Now this tells us something. God is a sovereign God. If you think the gospel started with Paul, you have missed the whole point. The gospel was prepared before the foundation of this world. Jesus stood in the portals of heaven as the Lamb willing to come and be sacrificed for man’s sin, even before creation had taken place. It was in the heart of God, the sovereign God, to have a man like Paul to preach the message of the good news of God to the Gentile nations of this world.
You see, God wanted Paul to be a Jew. It is important that you see this. He wanted Paul not only to be a Jew, but to be a Pharisee. The Pharisees were the strictest of all the sects of that day. The Pharisees were the most legalistic. The Pharisees were the ones who had separated themselves unto the Law. God wanted him that way. God wanted him to be a zealot. It was all the plan of God. Everything you see in Paul’s life was by the very act of God Himself.
He had separated him from his mother’s womb. How perfect! God orchestrating a man. You see, his message was the message of grace. Until you understand the Law and the condemnation brought on by the Law, you can never stand as a candidate for God’s grace. God said, “I want Paul to be my messenger. Let’s make him a Jew.” He was born in Tarsus, schooled by Gamaliel in Jerusalem and grew up a legalistic, zealous Pharisee. God wanted a man like Paul to preach the message of grace.
Now let me explain something to you. The Law is God’s standard of righteousness. He accepts nothing less. The Law is very important. But the Law condemns every man of their unrighteousness. Before you can get saved, you have to get up under the Law. You’ve got to see yourself as a sinner. We have so watered down the plan of salvation that people don’t even understand anymore. You cannot attain to it. You cannot do enough work. You can’t come to church enough. You can’t pray enough. You can’t sing enough. You can’t do anything enough to get into the kingdom of God because all men under the Law have been condemned by God’s standard and are being condemned as unrighteous.
The Pharisees didn’t understand that what they were using to condemn others was in fact condemning themselves. These pompous, pious, bigots…that is what I call them. As a matter of fact, that is one of the nicer things I can think of to call them. As a matter of fact, let me go a step further, they were stupid. Stupid is when you know better but you won’t do anything about it. They knew good and well they weren’t living up to the very Law they were holding other people accountable to. And these were the people who brought on such heartache among God’s precious Israel and Zion during those days.
The Pharisees, for instance, had taken ten commandments and made 613 laws out of them. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. I guess they were bored, but they were sitting around one day and said, “You know, you can’t take a journey on a Sabbath Day.” What is a journey? They had decided a long time before that man was made for the Sabbath rather than the Sabbath made for man. They completely perverted what God had set up. So they decided to determine what a journey was. Somebody said, “Well, it is this far and no further.” So all the people would drive a stake in the ground and that distance from their homes and they could walk that far and no further. If they walked any further the Pharisees said they had broken the Law of the Sabbath because you cannot take a journey on the Sabbath.
But not only that, they said you could not carry a burden on the Sabbath. But what is a burden? They realized that some people were stronger than others, and what one person could carry another person couldn’t. So they decided anything you carried on the Sabbath was a burden. So if you have a handkerchief upstairs and you want to take downstairs, don’t carry it, tie it around your neck. That is the only way to get it downstairs. You can’t carry a burden on the Sabbath. That is how stupid these people were.
They said you couldn’t work on the Sabbath. You can’t plow a furrow. Do you know what a furrow is? That is the little ditch that a plow makes through the ground. Historians say that two men of that were standing there and one of them turned around and spat on the ground and when he did, he made a furrow. It is so dirty an dusty over there that it made a furrow in the dust! The other fellow said, “You have broken the Law of the Sabbath. You have created a furrow. You cannot plow on the Sabbath. Go repent. Go and make yourself right under a vow.” As a result of that, if you spit on a rock instead of the ground you are spiritual because it didn’t make a furrow. But if you spit on the ground you were unspiritual. That is how stupid they were. I am trying to tell you something. These people were idiots.
The Pharisees used the Law to condemn everybody. They would walk around pointing people out, “Uh huh! Yeah, you!” They were like the police force of the scribes, not realizing that everything they were doing was turning right around and condemning themselves. Look in Luke 11.37-44 and see what Jesus said to these people who were His favorite people. I say that factiously. “Now when He had spoken, a Pharisee asked Him to have lunch with him; and He went in, and reclined at the table. And when the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before the meal. But the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the front seats in the synagogues, and the respectful greetings in the market place. Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it.'”
Listen to what he is saying. Verse 45 continues, “And one of the lawyers said to Him in reply, ‘Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too.'” That is what He intended to do. “But He said, ‘Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even tough the burdens with one of your fingers.'”
Look at verse 52. “‘Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.'” The Pharisees were the judgmental bigots of that day. They were legalists, always going around judging everybody else, never realizing the very standard they were using to judge others was in turn judging themselves. Because the Law is a standard of God’s righteousness and no man can attain it. No matter how hard you try on the outside, you cannot do it.
Paul himself says in Romans 7, when God opened his eyes, “I once was alive without the Law, then the Law came and sin revived and I died.” Look over in Romans 3.9 at the understanding God gave him. It took a while for Paul to see this. He shows that everybody is under the Law, even the Jews, even he was under the Law. Verse 9 reads, “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;…” Look at verse 19. “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law…,” now listen, “…no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”
Paul realized that the Law did not produce righteousness. In fact, Paul himself, a person who preached the Law, stood and watched Stephen stoned to death. He held their clothes and justified it by saying it was righteous to do that. This is how wicked a person becomes when he submits himself and sets himself apart to the Law. What he is preaching to others he cannot in fact live himself. No wonder Paul later on calls himself the chief of all sinners when God finally showed him the very Law that he was using to condemn others had condemned him. God had sovereignly planned it that way. But oh, in Acts 9 Jesus met him and changed him. He was on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians and the Lord Jesus stopped him in his tracks, turned him around, and set him apart, having already been set apart years before. God said, “Now it is time, son, that you understand what I have been trying to show you. You are right on schedule. Now it is time for grace to transform your life.”
So we see in the term “set apart” that is very important to know when it was that God set him apart. It wasn’t just in Acts 9. It was way back in his mother’s womb, and God planned for him to be a Jew. God planned for him to be a Pharisee. Because only then would he understand the Law and its condemnation and would be a perfect person to preach grace throughout the New Testament.
But secondly, we also need to look and see what it means to be set apart. The word is _φoρίζω, aphorizo. It is not the normal word you find for set apart. _γιoς, hagios, the word translated “holy” or “saint,” is usually the one that means set apart ones. But this word is _φoρίζω, aphorizo. Now you may say, “What is so important about it?” Well, first of all it is in the perfect tense and the passive voice. What does that mean? There was a time in the past, and Galatians 1:15 tells us when it was, when he was set apart, in his mother’s womb. But it is in the passive voice. Oh, this will never get out of me like it got in. I get more excited about it every time I mention it. Paul did not set himself apart for the gospel. Now listen to what I am saying. God set him apart for the gospel! You see, you can set yourself apart for the works of the Law, and you can set yourself apart to religion and all those things, but no man can set himself apart for the gospel. God has got to set him apart for the gospel. Jesus said, “No man comes to me except my Father draw him.” It is God looking for His creation, not creation looking for its Creator. It is God who seeks man and when God finds him, then God sets him apart unto the gospel.
You say, “Now why is that so important?” Well, _φoρίζω, aphorizo, separated ones, is the word that the Pharisees used to get their name. Now listen to me. This is saying something here. Why did he choose _φoρίζω, aphorizo? Why didn’t he choose _γιoς, hagios? Why didn’t he choose one of the normal words? Because he is trying to deliver a message to us. He is dealing with the legalists of the day, those who said you are saved by grace and kept by the Law. Paul says, “Guys, I know where I am coming from. I once set myself apart unto the Law, but one day God set me apart unto grace. I have been changed and I am no longer the same.”
There are a lot of people in churches today who still don’t understand that they have been set apart unto the gospel. They still have the hang overs of that old legalistic tendency. “Oh, look at that person, Brother Wayne. That person’s hair is too long. Why he couldn’t be spiritual!” “Oh, Brother Wayne, that person wore slacks to church. They didn’t come with a tie and a coat. They can’t be spiritual!” That kind of bigotry, that kind of critical type of junk is exactly what the Pharisees gave to us for all time. Jesus says, “You can’t set yourself apart to the gospel. I’ve got to set you apart unto grace.” God has got to free you of that. I can’t free you from it. God has got to free you from it. There is not one single work I can ever do that would begin to measure to a standard of righteousness. But what God did for me and His work, that is what I rest upon and that is what set me apart unto the gospel. Paul needed to know the very condemnation of what he had set himself apart to so God could set him apart unto the gospel. How perfect!
Do you know what I see in the Apostle Paul? I see a masterpiece of God’s work. He took that ole boy and put him in the depths of legalism. He let him get wet in it. He got him down to the point that he was using it to condemn others and then one day he woke up and realized everything he was doing was condemning himself. Then God met him and showed him what grace was all about.
Let me show you the understanding God gave Paul, this old legalist. Look in Galatians 3. Do you want to see how he understands the Law? Is the Law bad? No, the Law is not bad. It is very necessary if you are ever going to receive grace. But look at what Paul says about it. I think it is so significant that it is Paul saying it. I love to see a person come out of legalism and have grace transform him. I just love to see that. They take all that zeal that they have set themselves apart unto and now they transfer it. God has set them apart and now they are bond-servants lovingly of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes you end up doing the same things, but the motivation is entirely different. You don’t do it so God can love you, but you do it because God has already loved you. Boy, the whole motivation changes when you are changed by grace.
Galatians 3:10 says, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, to perform them.'” A religion of works always condemns because no man can live up to his own standards. Verse 11 continues, “Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, ‘The righteous man shall live by faith.'” That quote out of Habakkuk is also quoted in Romans. Read on in verse 12. “However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, ‘He who practices them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ — in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
Drop down to verse 19. “Why the Law then?” That is a good question. “It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made.” Verse 21 goes on, “Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God?” Paul was looking at people who were struggling with this. “May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture…,” I love this, “…has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor…” The word “tutor” means like a babysitter. It has given us the boundaries. It was very necessary. Man would never have known he had sinned unless the law had come. Verse 24 continues, “…to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
Thank God for that. He didn’t throw away the Law. Jesus fulfilled the Law as a man and now when we receive Him into our hearts we say yes to Him. He wrote it on our hearts. He put the Spirit of God in our life and now what does a Christian do? He just simply says yes to Jesus and by saying yes to Jesus, the Law is continually being fulfilled. It is not like you can work your way up. There is always a rung that you can’t reach. Paul said, “I tried and tried and tried, and it didn’t work. Finally God said, ‘This is the way it is. I have come to be the righteousness for you.'”
What a deliverer of good news! Paul now knew the liberating good news of God. Set apart? When? Back before he was even born. God wanted him to be a Jew. Set apart? What does that word mean? Separated. The word “separated” is the word that he knew very well because he used to call himself a separated one. He had separated himself unto the Law and that Law now had condemned him. But God had separated him unto the gospel of grace, set apart for the good news of God.
Have you read through Romans yet? Are you reading through Romans? Or are you just letting me do it for you? I hope you are reading it through. That is one thing we try to do in our church. It is not me doing it for you. Let’s study it together. Have you noticed the Old Testament quotes? In my Bible they are in capital letters. I am not smart enough to figure out when he is quoting from the Old Testament, so they put them in capital letters for me. I love that, because I have been checking out where he is referring to. All through he refers to the Psalms. He refers to Jeremiah. But one of the places he refers to, particularly in chapter 9 and some of the later chapters, is Isaiah.
I want to show you something. I can just see the mind of Paul, that ole legalist. He knew God had redeemed His people in the Old Testament, but he had no idea that the redemption of Israel in the Old Testament was simply a shadow, a picture of what was really going to be redemption in the New Testament. He couldn’t see that before but now he sees it. The scholar of the Old Testament now sees it in the New Testament fulfillment and goes back and quotes out of the Old Testament. Do you think God didn’t know what He was doing when He picked the Apostle Paul? He was the most intelligent man in the New Testament outside of Jesus Christ. He had been so zealous as a Pharisee and he so understood the Law and the Old Testament. Once God sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of Paul, He turned the Light on and for the first time Paul saw what God had been saying in the Old Testament.
The word “good news” is not just a New Testament word. Go to Isaiah. Paul quotes from there quite often. I want to show you something. I want you to see what God was talking about in the Old Testament that Paul now understands. That is why Paul keeps taking the Roman church back to the Old Testament. Chapter 40 of Isaiah and verse 9 says, “Get yourself upon a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news,…” Good news. In the Septuagint (when I throw out that word I am not trying to act like I know more than you) there is no other word for it. They translated the Hebrew, the Old Testament, into the Greek and called it the Septuagint. So when you look at the Hebrew word, you also want to look at the Septuagint to see what word the Greeks brought forth to see what they are talking about. The word “good news” there is the word we are looking at in Romans 1:1. “…O Zion, bearer of good news, lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!'”
Look with me in Isaiah 52.7, and we will find it again. Oh, these verses are so sharp. Verse 7 says, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good new of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!'”
Look at 60.6. “A multitude of camels will cover you, the young camels of Midean and Ephah; all those from Sheba will come; they will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news of the praises of the Lord.” Look in chapter 61 and verse 1. Whoa, this one will light your fire because if you know anything about the New Testament you know where this one comes up again. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring…,” now watch, “…good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners;…”
We know that in the Old Testament this announces good news for Zion. Who is Zion? Zion is God’s people, specifically Judah, the southern tribes. During Isaiah’s time they had been in captivity for 70 years in Babylon. What he is announcing is it is two-fold. First of all, it is immediate. “Immediately you are going to be set free. Good news!” The word “good news” in Hebrew even takes on another meaning. It means fresh, absolutely fresh, refreshing. “Good news! You are going home, men! You are going to be delivered from the bondage to men. Why were you there? Because of your sin. You are going to be delivered from that bondage. You are going home.”
But it had a future meaning to it also. Paul was saying, “You will be delivered from the bondage to men now, but the Law will continue to condemn you. Every year you are still going to have to sacrifice the bulls and the goats and be reminded that you will never attain the standard of righteousness. The good news is not just immediate, it is future. There is somebody coming, the seed, Jesus, the Messiah. He is coming and He one day will not set you free from men, but He will set you free from yourself. That is what he is saying.
Paul couldn’t see it before, but now Paul, having been freed from Paul, sees it and he continuously quotes from Isaiah. Look in chapter 40 of Isaiah and verse 3. I am telling you, this lit my fire. I was in a motel room in Des Moines, Iowa when I was studying this. I got to shouting and kicking on the walls, crying and doing everything else. They were cleaning the rooms next door and I quit because I was afraid they wouldn’t know what was going on. Isaiah 40.3 says, “A voice is calling,…,” now watch, “…’Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.'” You know the immediate prophesy there. He is saying, “Hey, guys, God is going to prepare a way for you to go back to your homeland. He is going to make a way smooth and straight. You are going to go right back to where you came from. He is going to set you free from your captors.”
But we also know there is a future prophesy here. In Mark 1:3, Luke 1:7, and John 1:23, that same verse is quoted. Do you know what it is talking about? It is talking about a man who is going to come on the scene that is going to make the way smooth, that is going to make the way straight. The man’s name was John the Baptist and he was the man who was preparing the way for the person who was coming out of God, the Son of God, who became our freedom and set us free from ourselves. We get to go back now to what God originally purposed for us to be. Adam let us out. But Jesus is going to bring us back. That is the future prophesy of what he is talking about.
Look in Luke 4, beginning in verse 16. Do these scriptures mean to you what they mean to me? When I get in that and start seeing it open up, the only thing that frustrates me is that I can’t seem sometimes to find the words to say it effectively enough, as effective as I want to say it. Look in Luke 4:16. “And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.” Ohhhh, this is no fluke. This is no accident. Jesus knows what He is doing. Verse 17 says, “And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found…” The word “found” there has the idea that He knew exactly where He was going so He turned to it. He wasn’t thinking, “I must read the Scripture, so I will read that one.” Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. Jesus knew exactly what He wanted to say. He was making an announcement. “The favorable year of the Lord has come. Yeah, you have come out of your land, but the Law still condemns you, doesn’t it? I have come to give you life and that life is eternal.”
Look with me in verse 18 where He quotes out of Isaiah 61:1. “‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.'” Oh, but I thought that came when we went back to Jerusalem. Oh, no. Oh, no. You don’t understand. Now it is come.
Look at verse 20. “And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down;…,” I love this, “…and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him.” They were probably saying, “Why did He read that? Boy, did He read that with anointing! What is He trying to say?”
Look in verse 21. “And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.'” Jesus was saying, “I am here. I am the favorable year of the Lord. Do you want to be free? Really free? Not just to go back to your land? But to have a life that is eternal, to be free from yourself. I am here. Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your ears.”
Thank God for an old legalistic man by the name of Paul whose life God orchestrated and planned for him to be just like he was. “Paul, I want you to be intelligent. I am going to make you intelligent. Paul, I want you to know the Law. I want you to know every bit of it. I want you to use it to condemn others because I am going to use it to condemn you. Then, Paul, I am going to save you and by grace, I am going to set you apart to the gospel. You are going to become the greatest preacher of grace in the New Testament.”
Do you know what I have discovered? The word “mercy” is not used very much with the Apostle Paul, even though I am certain he believed in it. Do you know which word he chose to use instead of mercy almost every time? Grace, grace, grace. Why? He reminds me of the Apostle John who said, “I am the disciple whom Jesus loved.” It is like Paul was saying, “I am the old legalistic, condemning Pharisee, set aside to the Law, who Jesus stopped in his tracks one day and set apart for the gospel.”
Paul was a declarer of good news, a deliverer of good news. Committed? Yes. Commissioned? Absolutely. But also converted by the very message that he was out to declare.
The picture of that freedom is found in Leviticus 25. Turn over there. We are free in the Lord Jesus Christ, not free to do as we please, but free to be what we ought to be. You see, freedom doesn’t mean license. Freedom means now that I have been set free, I have the choice and can make it lovingly to do the things in God’s power that He has always commanded me to do. There is a difference. There is still obedience. There is still discipline. There is still dedication. There is still determination. But the motive has completely changed when God has set you apart by His grace. Leviticus 25:1-5. “The Lord then spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, “When you come into the land which I shall give to you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field, nor prune your vineyard. Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather;…”‘”
Verse 6 continues, “‘”And all of you shall have the sabbath products of the land for food; yourself, and your male and your female slaves, and your hired man and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you. Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all its crops to eat.”‘” What is he saying? “Now listen, this is My land.” Everything in the Old Testament is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. The Sabbath…we don’t worship God just on one day. We worship Him everyday. But the Sabbath is our rest. Jesus is now our rest. Everything foreshadowed the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “In the land on the Sabbath year, you shall rest and do no work whatsoever. You shall let your land rest for a whole year. You don’t plant any crops. You don’t reap any. You just let it sit there. Don’t touch it.” You say, “Now wait a minute, if I do that, how am I going to eat the seventh year and the eighth year?” He goes on to share in verse 20, “‘”But if you say, “What are we going to eat on the seventh year if we do not sow or gather in our crops?” then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years.”‘” God was telling them, “You will have enough for the sixth, enough for the seventh, when you don’t do anything, and enough for the eighth while you are waiting on the harvest the following year. But do what I tell you to do.”
Verses 8-10 say, “‘”You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. You shall then sound a ram’s horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month;..” This is in the 50th year. What is the tenth day of the seventh month? That is the Day of Atonement! I am sorry. I know where I am going. This thing has overwhelmed me. What is the Day of Atonement? That is when the offering is given for the sins of the people. The Day of Atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month. On that day a sacrifice was made in Jerusalem and a ram’s horn was to be sounded. “‘”…on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land. You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you,…”‘”
Do you know what the word jubilee means? Liberty! Freedom! Fiftieth year, you are free to do what? To go back to the land that He had already given to you. “Now wait a minute. I don’t understand, Wayne. Why would I ever leave the land to start with?” Well, debt came around. They had debt back then like we have debt today. As a result of that, there was a provision that you could sell your land during that time to pay your debts off. However, the time left for the fiftieth year determined the price of the land. If, with three years left, you sell your land for $100,000, the fellow you sell it to got gypped because that land is coming back to you in three years. If you sell it 40 years before that time, it makes the price. It changes, higher or lower, depending on how many years are left.
On the 50th year you have to go back to your land. But not only that, not only could you sell your land, you could sell yourself as slaves, even to sojourners or foreigners. Verses 47-54 of chapter 25 talk about that.
Let me give you a picture here and see if I can wrap this message up. Let’s just say we have sold out because we are in debt. We couldn’t pay the debt. Of course, Adam sold us all out, didn’t he? We are out of our land. We sold our land, and we sold ourselves. Of course, in the family you would sell your children and your wife, first. I mean, what man wouldn’t do that? Then finally you had to sell yourself. Let’s just say you sold yourself to a stranger, a sojourner. You didn’t sell yourself to one of your kinsmen. You see, your kinsmen come into this thing. If you sell yourself to a sojourner, your kinsman can redeem you. But if you don’t have anybody around who can do that, you are going to have to wait until Jubilee before you are set free.
Let’s just say you are over in a strange land. Isn’t that what happened to all of us when Adam sinned. We got off into a strange place, a life, not the one God originally intended for us. Here you are working for an old slave master. He has a whip over you every day. “Come on, get to work!” You are digging and digging and sweating. Every day it gets harder. The more you work the more you owe and you just can’t get out from under it. It seems like you are digging a hole that is so deep you will never get out of it. Then the 50th year comes and in the 50th year they sound the trumpet when the sacrifice is made. But you don’t know about it. Why? Because you are in a strange land. You haven’t heard it yet.
One day, a few years later, you are still working. You didn’t even know you had been set free three years back. Here comes a man walking down the road. We will call him the Apostle Paul. He is singing, “Be ye glad, be ye glad.” He is singing all the good songs. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.” You hear it and it sounds good to you. You think, “How in the world can that guy sing like that?” He looks over, sees you and says, “Hey, buddy. What are you doing?” “What do you think I am doing?” About that time, the ole task master cracks that whip. Boy, the law is tough on us, isn’t it? “I’ve got to work. Sorry, I have to work.” Paul says, “Man, don’t you know there has been a sacrifice in Jerusalem? Don’t you know the ram’s horn sounded to make an announcement that everyone could come home, back to that which God originally intended for you to have?” “No, I didn’t know that! Tell me.”
All of a sudden, man, you throw the shovel down. The old task master starts to crack the whip, and the Apostle Paul holds his epistles up and says, “Hold it. Read!” Boy, Satan loves the old Law, doesn’t he? Satan cracks that whip and the Law is his whip. Boy, all of a sudden you get free. Not because of anything you ever did but because of what the Redeemer did, the sacrifice that was offered in Jerusalem. The first thing you want to do is go get your wife. The second thing you want to do is go find your children. You start running down the road saying, “Man, man, man. Who can I tell?” There is your evangelism. There is your missions. Why? Because God has restored the life that He originally planned to give to you. But because of sin we sold out and because of sin we have been estranged for all this time.
The Apostle Paul says, “I am a bond-servant, and I am commissioned. I am commissioned and set apart to the good news of God. You can be set free by what Jesus did for you on the cross.” Why do we have missions? Because now we are the ones who have to get the message to the Gentile world. To the Jew first and then to the Gentile world. You see, there are a lot of people out there who don’t know what happened in Jerusalem. They don’t know they can be set free from the Law of sin and death. Do you want to give yourself to the religious work? Do you want to be one of those legalists? Don’t you like legalistic people? They say things like, “I don’t like that boy because he has hair over his ears and sin in his heart.” Do you know what I am going to say? I don’t like that ole boy because he has hair over his heart and sin in his ears. “I don’t like Saturday night services. People don’t wear ties and coats. I don’t like that stuff. It is not spiritual.” Where did you come from? We are not made spiritual by whether we wear a tie or not. Jesus makes us spiritual.
That is what the book of Romans is all about. The gospel is needed by the pagan Gentile world. But do you know what he also says? The gospel is needed by the religious community of the Jews. On the one side you’ve got ignorance and paganism. On the other side, you’ve got knowledge, ignorant knowledge and religious works. The law condemns every bit of it. It is only by grace that a man is saved. That is all. Colossians says, “As a man therefore has received it, so walk ye in it.” What does that tell you? If you couldn’t get it, you can’t produce it. Just keep on surrendering and saying, “God, I can’t. You never said I could. You can. You always said you would.”