Series - Romans

The Gospel Applied: “Mission Impossible” (Romans 13)

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When I was a kid, Peter Graves used to get his spy assignments for a secret team of agents on a reel to reel tape recorder. Every episode, we heard the words: “Your mission, should you decide to accept it is…” The fun part was the end of his listening to the message when it ended with: “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.”

The tape would start smoking, then evaporate! During the whole series (1966-73), producer Bruce Geller kept us guessing at how the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) would trick one bad guy after another. Every enemy seemed clever. Every problem seemed insurmountable. Yet, episode after episode, the “Impossible Mission Force” pulled out some new magic.

Romans 13 is a simple passage. Its plain instruction is not written in a style that demands too much of any reader to grasp. Yet, though it is simple, the passage requires an understanding of the broader context. Otherwise, we will read God’s Word, seek to do what He told us, and find ourselves defeated and depleted.

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The Gospel Applied: “The Look From Above” (Romans 12, Part 2)

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In Romans 12, Paul speaks of God’s expecation of surrender. That expectation of my surrender to God is based on two things: knowledge of His Person and acknowledgement of His work on my behalf.

In light of the incredible work of God in saving men that will believe, and in light of the astounding Mastery of God over all, He expects that I will surrender to His plan and not try to “write a better plan” for my life.

Look again at Romans 12:1 and read it carefully with me as I translate each word from the original language with some additional fullness:

Therefore: because of all that I have told you about God’s magnificent person and His wondrous saving work for you.

I urge you brethren, I come beside you, as a paraklete—“one brought alongside to brace.”. Don’t forget that he addressed them as brothers—a term Paul uses of other believers. The call to inspection will not work for someone who does not know Jesus personally already.

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The Gospel Applied: “The Look From Above” (Romans 12, Part 1)

The massive dome at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome rises nearly four hundred fifty feet in the air, with its interior is nearly one hundred forty feet wide. It is the highest dome you will ever see, but not the largest one. The dome of the Pantheon built in the second century is a few feet wider and Brunelleschi’s massive dome on the Duomo in Florence is a few feet wider still.

To me, what is striking about the dome found in St. Peter’s is that you can make out, if you look ever so closely, the shape of people walking around the catwalk who dared to take the elevator up to the dome for what I am told is a fantastic view of Rome. They look like tiny specks and perhaps ants, but they are people at a great distance above your head if you are within the massive church. Those who know me well, know that I enjoy watching from below, because—though some would call me afraid of heights—I like to believe I merely have a “more healthy respect for gravity.” 

What I can easily imagine is that the view from above is a different view.

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The Gospel Applied: "The Artist" (Part 3)

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At this point in his argument, Paul changed his tone a bit. He saw a problem emerging that has become profound over the centuries—the conceit of pagans who come to Christ in the face of rebellious Jews who await a promised return to God. Paul warned we of the church must walk…

Not with Conceit: There Is Danger!

There is a temptation to see what God is doing in US as the apex of what God desired to do in the ages. Every figure, when painted onto the canvas, can begin to feel as though the whole picture frames only them. Paul made the problem clear:

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The Gospel Applied: "The Artist" (Part 2)

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God’s rejection of those who led Israel, and the dark curtain He placed over many of their hearts, is not the final layer of the canvas. His veiling is …

Not final: There is a promise!

God still has a future for the Jewish people. Paul wrote:

What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8 just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, Eyes to see not and ears to hear not, Down to this very day.” 9 And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, And a stumbling block and a retribution to them. 10 “Let their eyes be darkened to see not, And bend their backs forever.” 11 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. (NASB, Rom. 11:7-11)

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The Gospel Applied: "The Artist" (Part 1)

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Almost in the perfect center of the north end of the city of Paris, the hill of Montmartre and its grand white Cathedral of “Sacré-Cœur” (Sacred Heart) seem perched above the city. From the church you are afforded one of the most magnificent views of the “city of lights” that doesn’t require going up in a rickety elevator on an old “erector set” called the Eiffel Tower.

Montmartre is noted for several things, but probably best known for the quarter’s daily working street artists. Gathered near the square due west of the church, these artists sit in front of easels painting either in oils or watercolor, while others around them are sketching, chalking and creating in a host of artistic media.

Though I could not do what they do, I confess that I love to walk around and see artists at work.

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The Gospel Applied: "Intruder Alert!" (Part4)

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Paul wrote that the gospel is a message that must be proclaimed. It must be verbally shared. Believers must feel the tug of God and be sent. Now look again at the excuse people gave—even in the first century: some felt it wouldn’t be believed.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Rom. 10:14-17)

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The Gospel Applied: "Intruder Alert!" (Part 3)

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The key principle in Romans 10 is that no one intrudes into a relationship with God. By His grace, there is a door, but that is the only way in. That door is Jesus Christ.

Look closely at what Jesus said in John 14. He told the men He was leaving, and He was about to be preparing their place in Heaven. Thomas wanted the location and directions. Jesus gave them—I am the way there, and there is no other.

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (NASB, John 14:1-6)

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