Lesson 88: [Review and Perspective!] "According to My Gospel" (Romans 16:25)
Welcome to lesson # 88. Paul's Missionary Journey Epistle. Welcome to our final lesson in this series. In our last lesson we lacked three verses at the end of Rom. Ch. 16 finishing the book. Let's read the final three verses, v.25-26-27. Have you got it before you? Here we go.
"Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen."
Did you observe these three verses make up one long sentence. As we analyze Paul's concluding remark, first take a look at the beginning and the end of this sentence. Shorten it up in your mind by placing the first phrase with the last phrase like this: "Now to him that is power to stablish you...be glory thou Jesus Christ for ever. Amen." In this part of the sentence Paul's statement is a simple acknowledgment and praise to God. But then, Paul qualifies his statement with "according to my gospel" (v.25). However, Paul's gospel was not Paul's in the sense of originality. It was Paul's gospel only in the sense that God revealed these things through Paul not only for his own salvation; but that, it might be "made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (v.26) which by the power of God can save every one that believes (we learned back in Rom. 1:16). Following Paul's statement: "according to my gospel:" he expanded by adding several amplifying thoughts. (#1) in v.25, Paul's gospel was the same as the preaching of Jesus Christ. It is Christ's gospel that can stablish one in the faith. This is the gospel Paul preached. (#2) This gospel, God's plan for redeeming man, existed in the mind of God since time eternal. But, this plan was at the time of Christ and at the time of Paul revealed to mankind. It had been "kept secret since the world began" (end of v.25). But, (i.e. in contrast to the former secrecy), it was made known through the preaching of Jesus and through the preaching of Paul "and [#3] by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God" (v.26) I.e., God's plan for redeeming man was made known ("manifest" is the word in v.26) through a combination of O.T. prophecies, through the personal preaching of Jesus and through Paul's gospel, i.e. the good news presented to and through this apostle. It was God's commandment that it be made known to mankind through preaching. Thus, if you analyze that a moment, it takes the entire Bible, the words of the prophets, the words of Jesus and the words of his apostles to reveal the complete plan. Or, in other words, this scripture affirms what Jesus said to that temper called Satan in Matt. 4:4"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." It takes every word. It was with this thought, Paul instructed Tertius to lay down his pen. "Amen" simply means: so be it, or be it so. A common scriptural phrase used often as a doxological conclusion.
And with Paul's "Amen", we shall likewise draw the curtain on our study of six books in the New Testament; First and Second Thessalonians, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians and Romans. It is my prayer, that our time together in this study has given you a greater appreciation for these six books. As I have said before; we have only touched the high points, so-to-speak, and I'm quite sure we haven't touched all of them. I trust you will NOW go and learn these books on your own. Several years ago, when I received my pilot's license; the FAA man who gave me the final check-ride said as he departed: "I'll send in your paperwork to the FAA and NOW you can go learn to fly." His point being that flight instructors and FAA exams, etc. can only do so much; the rest must be attained by you on your own. So, this would be a good time to start reviewing. Don't assume you have learned it! Set your plow down a few notches, plow it again! This time a little deeper. You will discover artifacts and nuggets worth more than gold in your spiritual life. Studying the New Testament, like learning to fly an airplane, isn't worth much unless you use it. Please resolve now to obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ, if you have never done so. If you believe in Jesus and you have been baptized for the remission of our sins, following the example of Rom. Ch.6; you are a Christian. Remember, that is only the beginning. In the book of Revelation, Jesus said to the Christians at Smyrna, "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Rev. 2:10). You cannot put heaven in the bank. Your ticket is not punched until yo have closed you eyes in death, or sleep as Pal called it in I Thess. 4:13, and until at the judgment you hear the Master say: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; that has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." (Matt. 25:23). Paul said in Rom. 8:34, "It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." This life is the proving ground for the life to come. What are you proving? If at some time in your life you obeyed the gospel; but, long since have departed from that way; why not resolve now to return to the fold? You can be restored to covenant relationship with God and with Jesus Christ. If you have questions or need anything I can supply, please let me know.
As we close out the book of Romans, you will surely agree it is a hard book; but, the book of Romans is a masterpiece, really. From an overall view of the book, try to comprehend Paul's theme: "the just shall live by faith." (1:17). Please remember, Paul does not contradict himself. That which he wrote to the Roman brethren dovetails and interlocks into everything else that this apostle wrote. Words like love, grace, law and works are used many, many times. Thought becomes very complex. But, the theme of this book and Paul's development of that theme emphasizes the importance of faith. That theme of faith, does not in any way minimize repentance, confession, baptism and persevering in the Christian life. God is in control. What we think or do has no merit in the sight of God; if it is not grounded and motivated by his word. Obedience to his every command must be an expression of confidence in Jesus. We are not justified by standards conceived, legislated, enacted, taught and imposed by men; regardless of how well meaning or how intellectual those standard may seem. Spiritually and eternally, we are justified by the righteousness of God, bestowed by grace, i.e. unmerited favor. Thus, we are not saved by keeping laws or by any good deeds that we do. But, pursue Paul's theme further, "the just shall live..." How shall they live? "By faith." Obedience to the commands of god, good deeds to our fellow man and all our works must be an out growth of our faith and confidence in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. The only way we can know His will is through His word. Paul expressly said: faith cometh by hearing. The Christian religion is a taught religion. Thus, it is by the developing of our faith; putting his word to work in our lives; that we please God. The Hebrew writer said: "without faith is impossible to please him..." (Heb 11:6). Therefore, as out faith becomes stronger and stronger; we shall pass from level to lever, i.e. faith to faith. Then, flowing from our faith and our own resolve to please him; we shall obey every law and perform every work inherent in His service, willingly and with a desire to glorify Him, motivated by our faith, realizing these things have no merit in themselves. Thus, through our faith, He shall give us life. "The just shall live by faith."
As a matter of perspective, in this series of lessons we have covered I & II Thessalonians, I & II Corinthians, Galatians and Romans; it is imperative, that you remember the approach to this study. Actually the books we have studied are documentation associated with Paul's 2nd and 3ri missionary journeys. In one sense, these books fit into the cracks of Acts chapters 17-18-19-20. To remove these six books from the ACTS setting, destroys many relationships and voids much of the context. In the 59 chapters that make up these six books, much Christian doctrine and many related topics are covered. With his keys to the kingdom, the apostle bound and loosed many things, as Jesus said would happen (Matt. 16:19). Paul touched on faith, baptism, marriage, taking the Lord's Supper, spiritual gifts, worship, eating of meats offered to idols, how we are transformed by the renewing of our mind, and even the second coming of Christ is discussed, to mention only a few. Some topics came up more than once. An abundance of spiritual food is stored in these books. Help yourself! Come to the feast! Everyone is invited. But, let me emphasize again, it is only when you see these books in the light of the Acts setting that their meaning and relationships become substantial and to remove them from that setting is to destroy perspective. Before we close, let me congratulate you on your interest in Bible study and your perseverance in this course. I trust you have learned something. I have learned a lot in preparing these lessons. As I have said before, these courses were not designed for preachers or with the college elite or with great scholars in mind. The idea was to help the man on the street and those who have the desire; but, have never had the opportunity to learn what is really in that book called the Holy Bible. It is my hope you found these lessons practical and beneficial. Please do not consider these lessons the final word, Look at these lessons as commentary, i.e. a mere comment upon the text, with a view to guiding the user to discover for himself. It is my hope these lessons have stimulated and motivated someone to build greater study skills and that some confidence has been instilled to the realization that anyone can learn the Bible if they will work at it. Beyond that, it is my hope, that you have been led to a greater faith in God's word and that you now recognize more acutely the need to learn it and to pass it on to those around you. It is to their benefit and it is to your credit that you will work to this end. You can work for a dollar and with it buy a quantity of this world's goods. With that exchange, that dollar is gone forever and this world's goods will be eaten, worn, or used or given to another only once. If you work to learn God's word, you can use it thousands of time for your own best interest and then you give it away even more times still. It multiplies with use and you can keep it and appreciate it forever. Jesus said in Matt. 24:35, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." The words of this book can solve your problems and deliver you to life on that eternal shore. And as a legacy you can still leave it to your posterity and it can still accomplish the same for them. So, please continue to study. And, as we glide these 88 lessons to a conclusion; may I appeal to you once again to help in distributing these courses. Encourage your friends and neighbors to study. Study with them, Study can be accomplished in many ways. I recognize this is only one way to study. But, I believe it is a good way. A lady recently wrote to me from one fair Kentucky city; working on this course, she said: "Brother Horsley if there's a better way to study than this: I have never found it." If this avenue can be used in your community, please use it to the fullest. May God bless you in this effort. There is a poem by and unknown author, A Tribute to Teachers: (perhaps you heard it many times but may I read that poem before closing). It says:
An old man, going a lone highway, Came at the evening, cold and gray, To a chasm vast and deep and wide, Through which was flowing a sullen tide. The old man crossed in the twilight dim, The sullen stream had no fear for him; But he turned when on the other side And built a bridge to span the tide. "Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near, "You are wasting your strength in building here."
Your journey will end with the ending day, You never again will pass this way; You've crossed the chasm deep and wide, Why build you this bridge at even tide? The builder lifted his old grey head, "Good friend, in the path I've come," he said "There followeth after me today, A youth whose feet must pass this way, This chasm that has been as nought to me, To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be, He too, must cross in the twilight dim-Good friend, I'm building this bridge for him."
Please help us to serve our fellow man. Let's build that proverbial bridge together! A bridge to span the great chasm created by a lack of Bible study in your community and in mine. Enroll any you can in the Four Gospel Course, enroll any you can in the ACTS course and enroll them in Paul's Missionary Journey Epistles. We ask your prayers and your help to this end. Let's be partners. If the Lord will give me health, the means and the opportunity; I hope, by his help, to make even more courses available in the future. It has been a pleasure to have you aboard in this study. Unfortunately, most of you are only a name on a score sheet in our file. I apologize for the impersonal manner we have studied and the remote way in which we have known each other. Although, in a sense, I like to think: we have studied together. I wish it could have been in a more personal way. If the opportunity ever avails its self; please let me meet you, shake your hand and congratulate you in person for your hours of study in arriving to this point. But, if we never meet here; there's eternity on the other side. Let's get prepared for that day. Why not today? Today is a good day! Do you remember II Cor. 6:2? "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." As you make today that day, have a good day.