Paul's Conversion and Ministry - Romans 1:1-17, Episode 1

By Michael Pearl

Scripture: Topics: Romans Bible Study

Save for Later

Paul’s Conversion and Ministry

Romans 1:1-17

The book of Romans chapter one, verse one through 17, episode one. This is going to be a really fun study. I've enjoyed putting it together. You're going to learn things about the Bible that you never imagined were in it. So we're going to get started. We've got a lot to cover.

I am Michael Pearl and you are at The Door, located in Lobelville, Tennessee. Jesus said, "I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved." (John 10:9)

So the Bible is going to be our book in this study. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16) So all scripture is given by inspiration. If it's scripture, it's given by inspiration. If it's given by inspiration, it's scripture.

Then we read, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."  (Acts 17:11) So the apostle Paul was preaching in Thessalonica, and there was no New Testament at that point. So the scriptures they were searching were the scriptures in Aramaic and Hebrew. Now, they didn't have any originals, so what they were searching were copies of copies and a translation into a different language, and yet it was called scripture. So therefore what they were searching was given by inspiration of God. So tonight we're using also a King James Bible, which is given or preserved in inspiration from God.

Who Wrote the Book of Romans?

Now, AD 57 or 58 is when Paul wrote this book of Romans. He wrote it from a town called Corinth. Now, in your map there, you can see the yellow arrow. That's where Corinth is. And the blue arrow is where Rome is. Now, that's not very far today, but that would've been a tremendous journey back in those days. So the Holy Bible, the authorized version is what we will be studying. So we're not going to correct it or change it. We're going to believe every word that's in it just like it's written.

Romans chapter 1

Romans chapter one, verse one. "Paul."  So now we know who wrote it and we don't have to spend two pages in a commentary discussing that. "A servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God."

Who is Paul?

So who is this Paul? How did he come to be an apostle of Jesus Christ? Weren't there 12 apostles? How did he end up being one of them? He says of himself in Acts 22:3, "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia." So Paul's mother must have been Jewish and his father must have been Roman, maybe even a Roman soldier. So Paul had Roman citizenship. At the same time, he retained his religion, which was Judaism. So he said, "Yet brought up in this city," that's Jerusalem, "at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of our fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day."

So Paul's speaking to some Jews there says that he also is a zealot, a Jew, as well as a Roman, and that he was trained under Gamaliel. Now, Gamaliel is found in the New Testament during the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also afterward in the book of Acts chapter five, he shows up, and there he is, one of them that's responsible for putting to death Peter and the other apostles, whom he decides not to put to death.

So Paul told us that he is a student or was a student of Gamaliel. So we surmise that the apostle Paul at this point had to have been about... At the point of the book of Acts had to have been over 30 years of age. Maybe 30, 35 at the most.

An Hebrew of the Hebrews

So he says, "I was circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews."  In other words, you weren't any more Hebrewish than I was. "As touching the law, a Pharisee."  Philippians 3:5

So in other words, he belonged to that most narrow sect of all, the Pharisees. That means that Saul, who will become Paul, was around during Christ's lifetime. He could have heard, and probably did, Jesus preach. He would've known some of the apostles. He would've been there in the city when Jesus was crucified, and he would've been there when the rumors of resurrection took place. On the day of Pentecost, he'd have been aware of the 3,000 that were saved, of their speaking, another language, and of the miracles that were reported to have come from the hands of Paul and Peter and others. So he was intimately acquainted with the events of the New Testament.

Paul's teacher Gamaliel

In Acts five, we read of Gamaliel, Paul's teacher, intervening in the execution of Peter and the apostles. Now, they were about to kill them, and he spoke up and reminded his fellow Jews of a former event when there rose a sect like this that had a big following, but that it soon died down because it didn't have any roots. So he was confident that this Christianity would also die down because it didn't have any roots, but he did inadvertently make the statement that if it is of God, we can't destroy it. So he was leaving it open. If it's of God, it'll go on. If it's not, then it'll die of its own self.

The Stoning of Stephen

So a little later, about four years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Saul, who becomes Paul, is first seen when Stephen is being stoned to death in Acts chapter eight. Stephen was a deacon whose job it was to wait on tables and see that the widows got their fair share of food. But Stephen was a man filled with the holy ghost, and so he couldn't help but preach, and he was good at it.

Now, he loved to show from the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ, the savior of the world, and he wasn't very politicking about it. So one day, he got to preaching fervently in the street. Many Jews were around. And he preached from the book of Genesis all the way through to the present, showing in a chronological fashion that Jesus was the Christ, the savior of the world. It infuriated the Jews so much that they grabbed a hold of Stephen and carried him outside the city to where there was an abundance of loose stones, and they surrounded him, and one by one, they threw stones at him, each hoping to strike the fatal blow.

And the Bible tells us that they laid their garments at a young man's feet named Saul. So that's the first appearance of this Saul, Paul, that ends up writing the book of Romans. Later, he's going to tell us that he was there consenting unto the death. In other words, he was the judicial and religious authority for them to put Stephen to death. This was not a riot. This was not something that got out of hand. He was commissioned to do this very thing to eradicate Christianity.

And so when the final blow hits Stephen, he was standing there at first saying, "I see Jesus." That infuriated them. They knocked him to his knees. And then when he landed on his knees, he prayed, "Father, forgive them." He asked that God forgive them. And the apostle Paul stood there watching this man of God, whose face, as though he'd seen an angel, was lit up, because he saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God and the glory just got all over him.

Saul the Christian killer

So the apostle Paul was exposed to that. Excuse me, at that point, he was just Saul, the Christian killer. And he says, "And cast him out of the city and stoned him, and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul." Acts 7:58

Acts 8:3 says, "As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women, committing them to prison."  So this guy burst in the door of a family to search out and see if they were keeping the laws of Judaism or worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ, and imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on Christ.

So if they went into a synagogue and they didn't do all things Jewish and he suspected or someone reported that they were believers in Jesus, he sought them out, imprisoned them, put them through a trial, and had them put to death, men, women, and children. This was a monster, this apostle Paul. No, excuse me, this Saul. He was the kind of man that all Christians would've wished dead, would want evil to come up on him. He was a diabolical, ruthless character. Later he would say of himself, "I am the chiefest of sinners", none greater than me.

Acts 9:1- 2 "And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter." I mean, he just hitched it out. "Against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem."  Now, once Saul had purged Jerusalem of any obvious Christianity, he heard that some of them had fled to a country nearby, Syria, or what we now called Syria. And there in a city called Damascus, which we still call Damascus, some Christians were holed up. So he got letters which made it legal for him to go into that country and say to the foreign government, "I'm sent by my government to come in and find some rabble-rousers and take them back and imprison them." So that was where he was headed.

Paul's testimony

So here's Paul's own testimony about his life. He said, "For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it." He wasted the church of God. "And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers." (Galatians 1:13) He's saying there was no Jew that was as Jewish as I was because I killed the enemies of Judaism.

Acts 26:9 "I verily thought with myself." That's dangerous. "That I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." in other words, he was convinced that he ought to do everything contrary to Jesus he could. "Which thing I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints that I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priest, and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them."

Saul on the Road to Damascus

So there were Christians being killed, and Paul was the one that was the authority for them to be killed. It seems from what we read that he wasn't just sought out and given that job, but that he went and sought the job. He's the one who desired that position of Christian killer, eradication of the name of Jesus Christ.

Acts 26:11 "And I punished them oft in every synagogue." And this must be the saddest thing to Paul. "And compelled them to blaspheme."  That means he was successful in getting some Christians to blaspheme the Lord Jesus Christ. How did he do that? By holding their children, torturing the wife, threatening. He put such pressure upon them that some Christians caved and denied Jesus. We know from since then in other countries, sometimes what they do is make them urinate on a Bible or make them do something else that desecrates their faith.

Persecutor of Jesus

And so Saul was that kind of man, an evil wicked man, like someone, a guard in Auschwitz or Treblinka. "Compelled them to blaspheme, and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even under strange cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the high priest. At midday, O king, I saw in the way, a light from heaven above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." (Acts 26:11-14) That's a sticking instrument you use to punch at an ox to make him keep going. And of course they will take their foot and kick against it because it hurts. So Jesus was saying, "Saul, I've been pricking you. I've been goading you trying to guide you, and you've kicked back against it." So that means that Saul had been feeling something. He'd been thinking something, and he'd been resisting the truth he saw. "And I said, who art thou, Lord? And he said," now remember, he's lying on the ground blinded from the light. "Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest." Well, that must have been a blow. You're killing all these Christians and he's finding out it was Jesus himself he was persecuting. Furthermore, think about it. Jesus identifies with you that closely.

"But rise, stand upon thy feet, for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou has seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee, delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee." Acts 26:16

Turn them from Darkness to Light

Now, God doesn't just turn screws and make people want something they don't want. So apparently Saul was struggling within himself, on the verge of trying to admit the truth that he saw, but didn't want to accept. So that one little introduction from Jesus was enough. His heart was turning. He said, "This is my commission to you, to open their eyes," the Gentiles, "to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." Acts 26:18.

Can Gentiles be saved?

So up to this point in the church, four years now, Peter, John, the others weren't going to the Gentiles. They didn't buy that idea. Christianity was exclusively for Jews as far as they were concerned, Gentiles couldn't be saved. And all of a sudden, God saves this Jew of all Jews and calls him to take this gospel now through that barrier to the Gentiles, those despicable people.

Now, Paul was one kind of rotten. The Gentiles were another kind. Paul was a man who kept the law. Wouldn't do anything ungodly. He'd never be caught doing pornography or lusting or getting drunk or going to the hangout places or bars. This guy was a straight up pure devout bigot. And the Gentiles had no rules, no principles. They're full of queers, homosexuals, sodomites, transvestites, all kinds of wicked and godless people.

So he said, "I'm going to send you there to turn them from light to darkness." So Saul lying there on the ground with a bright light all about him was converted to faith in Jesus Christ. As blind as he was, in his heart, he was now seeing. Suddenly all the things he'd heard from Stephen and from young girls that he persecuted, from mothers and fathers, all the scripture he'd heard them quote, and no doubt arguments in taking people from point A back to point B, Jerusalem. Don't you know they prayed and sang hymns and quoted scripture and gave the gospel to Paul and spoke of the resurrected Christ? And so all of that was in his heart.

"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance."  That the Gentiles would receive an inheritance, "among them, which are sanctified by faith that is in me."

A Servant of Jesus Christ

So here's our scripture again. Romans 1:1"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God." So this Paul is three things. First, he's a servant of Jesus Christ before he's an apostle. You're a servant of Jesus Christ whether you're called to preach or not. Whether you're a missionary or not, you're a servant of Jesus Christ. So that's who you are. But his vocation was called to be an apostle. So who he was was a servant. What he did was the apostleship to the Gentiles.

And he was separated unto the gospel of God. You see, not all apostles are separated unto the gospel of God. Some apostles' ministry would be with the church. But Paul was separated. He was singular in his focus to do one thing, and that is to preach the gospel where it'd never been preached before. So what he actually was was a missionary. He was separated unto that vocation of taking the gospel to people who'd never heard it. "These have turned the world upside down are come hither also," they say later in the book of Acts (Acts 17:6). So Paul truly did turn the world upside down. By 60 AD, just 25 years later, there would be Christians from India to probably Britain up into what's now Southern Russia, Ukraine. There'd be Christians all over the known world, down into Ethiopia where the church existed to the present day, except for it being wiped out in the last 15 years.

Back to Romans Chapter 1

Back to Romans one. "Servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated under the gospel of God, which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures." God promised this gospel in the holy scriptures. "Concerning his son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh."

The Promised Seed

Now, "promised afore by his prophets." In the book of Genesis, we find a prophecy that Jesus would be the seed of the woman. Do you realize that's a virgin birth prophecy? Why? Because he didn't say he'd be a product of Adam, but just a product of Eve. The seed of the woman. Does a woman produce a seed? No, the man produces a seed. That's the only place the Bible where it speaks of the seed of a woman. Everywhere else, the seed comes from the man. But what happened? God, the holy ghost, put a seed in her, and so Jesus came forth. And the seed of Abraham and Sarah. In other words, God picked out one man in all of the planet and said, "Through you will come this savior." And then Abraham and Sarah have Isaac and Ishmael. Now, had God chosen Ishmael, the Messiah would've been an Arab. That's right, an Arab. But he chose Isaac, so that made him a Jew, because right there, the Arabs and the Jews, who now still call themselves cousins, who speak very similar languages, Aramaic and Hebrew, many words the same. You read one, just about read the other one. Isaac, not Ishmael he chose.

And then Isaac has Jacob and Esau. Had he chosen Esau, the Messiah would've been an Edomite. Which were wicked people and wiped off the face of the earth because of their sin. Messiah wouldn't have been born. But he chose Jacob. Then Jacob has 12 sons. It's not Joseph he chose. It was Judah. I think I now see I made a mistake, writing that in today. It was Judah he chose, not the 11 brothers. And then it was David, not the seven brothers of David that God chose. Then David has sons, and it's Solomon, not his brothers. Every generation, God narrowed it down, rejecting everybody on the face of the earth except one man. And he did that for 2,000 years, rejecting everyone except one man and his future seed. And then he chose Solomon.

One Nation, One Tribe, One man.

Now, looking at it as a whole, if we had a graph, and I thought about making one, a big square of about 1,000 little blocks, okay? And exclude all those except one little block out the square, one little digit. He chose one nation out of all the nations. And then divide that little block into 12 blocks. He chose one tribe out of the 12, one tribe of Judaism, one tribe. And then he chose one family line later on in that one tribe, in that one nation. One family line of Jesse and David. And then he chose one small town, Bethlehem, from which the Messiah would be born.

So that means that the Messiah had to come from one nation, one family lineage, born from one man, in one little town. Now, that's narrowing it down. Can you see my big grid has gotten down to where we're looking at one 10,000s, 20,000s, 100,000s thousands of all the different parts.

In the fullness of Time

And then it tells us that in the fullness of time he would come and that he would be born of a virgin. Clearly gives us that in the book of Isaiah. That he would heal the sick, be a light to the Gentiles, be rejected by his own people and crucified, that his hands and his feet would be pierced. Clear prophecy on that. That he would die at their hands, but be raised back to life again. That he'd give the holy spirit to all who believe on him. And that he'd be cut off from the land of the living 483 years after the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.

That date in history we know from several different angles, and it is the consensus that 483rd year ended one week before Jesus was crucified. So it was after 483 years that he'd be cut off. And then it said, and then the temple would be destroyed. 40 years after he was cut off, the temple was destroyed. That means there was a window of exactly 40 years in which the Messiah could come. If he came outside that window, he couldn't be the Messiah. If he came from any other nation, he couldn't be the Messiah. If he came from any other tribe than the one, he couldn't be the Messiah. If he came from any other family lineage, he couldn't be the Messiah. If he's born in any town other than that one, he couldn't be the Messiah. If he was not virgin born, he couldn't be the Messiah.

Old Testament Prophecies of Christ

What is God’s Son’s name?

250 prophecies in the Old Testament speak of this coming Jesus. That's the ammunition the apostle Paul had when he took the gospel to all the religions of the world and was not as ashamed of it. "Who hath ascended up into heaven?" Book of Proverbs says (Pr 30:4). "Who hath gathered the winds in his fist? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of earth?" And answer that question for me. Who did all that? God did, right? Isn't that God who has established all the ends of the earth? "What is his name?" What's God's name? "And what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?"

So the Bible predicted that God would have a son and says, You don't know his name, do you? But later we found out because the angel told us what to call his name. "Thou shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." (Mat 1:21)  Isn't that beautiful? I love it.

Prophecies of Jesus Crucifixion

Says in Psalm 22, "They pierced my hands and my feet."  This is God speaking in the context. God said, "They pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell count all my bones. They look and stare upon me." He was naked. "They part my garments among them." That they did. They tore one of his garments into four parts. "And cast lots upon my vesture." And they did. They cast lots for it because they couldn't tear the vesture. That's what you call detailed prophecy, given 1,000 years before it was fulfilled.

"They look upon me whom they've pierced," God says. This is over in the book of Zechariah (Zech 12:10), written half a millennium before it happened. You say, "How do you know that?" Because there's copies of it that date 250 years before it happened. Lots of them. "They shall look upon me whom they've pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son." So when they look up on Jesus, having pierced God, they'll mourn for him as an only son. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son." Don't you just love it?

Made his Soul an Offering for Sin

Isaiah 53:8. "For he was cut off out of the land of the living. For the transgressions of my people was he stricken."  Isaiah 53:8. The whole chapter's about him. "And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death." Jesus died between two thieves, wicked. He was buried in a rich man's grave. "Because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth." He said that's the reason he was put to death is because he did no violence and there wasn't any deceit. In other words, they hated him for his righteousness. "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him. He hath put him to grief." God put him to grief. God was pleased he was bruised. "When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin." So Jesus was offered not for his sin, but for the sins of others. "He shall prolong his days," after being put to death, "and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand." So he will be resurrected. His days will go beyond the grave and the pleasure of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

Romans 1:4

Declared to be the Son of God

So back to Romans chapter one. I'm having fun. I don't know about you. All right. Romans one. "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which he has promised before by the prophets of the holy scriptures, concerning his son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh." We've covered that, haven't we, real well. "And declared to be the son of God with power."  Wow, I wish I could write like that. "According to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."  There has never been a translation of scripture in the English language that comes anywhere close to being accurate or anywhere close to being that beautiful and well-written. You know why? Because that reads just like the Greek did. It's the way they wrote. "It is not possible that death should hold him."

Jesus Christ was Resurrected

"And he saith unto them, be not affrighted," said the angel. "Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified. He is risen. He's not here. Behold the place where they laid him." Mark 16:6 He's not here. That's the only place he wasn't.

Mass Delusion?

"After that, he was seen of above 500 brethren at once."  The resurrected Christ was in one place with 500 people looking on. Now, if that was a delusion, it was a mass delusion, very effective. "Whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep." (1 Cor. 15:6) So most of those were still alive when Paul wrote to the church at Corinth.

Shown to be Alive by Many Infallible Proofs

"He showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs."  (Acts 1:3) In other words, there's no way someone could pull that off and trick me. You know, I'm not religious by nature. I'm a skeptic by nature. I am a converted atheist. I am an infidel that believes. I'm an agnostic that's been convinced. I'm a reprobate that has come to Jesus Christ and believe because of many infallible proofs and the fact that the spirit of God lives in my heart and soul and mind, and I walk with him and talk with him and he with me, and I know him, and his spirit is in my heart, and I just enjoy God.

He said, "He showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them 40 days, and speaking of things pertaining to the kingdom of God."  That's why the church had such fire. It believed. Today, people speak of faith as if it were some kind of little inner resource you have. Their faith was based on fact.

Jesus Ascends into Heaven

Acts 1:9 "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight." So he ascended into heaven. 3,000 people believed the very first day with the very first sermon after the holy ghost came down upon the apostles. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized, and that same day there were added under them about 3,000 souls."

Gospel for All Nations

Romans 1:5 "By whom we have received grace," Paul said, "and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name, among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ, to all that be in Rome, beloved."

So this gospel is for all nations. Paul was writing to Rome, mightiest army ever on the face of the earth, an army that was not averse to shedding much blood. They were so cruel that when they took Jerusalem in 70 AD and some of the Jews, about 930 or so of them, had evacuated to the top of a place called Masada. They were so afraid of the Romans and the kind of cruelty that they would suffer when the Romans captured that hill on which they were that in the moments before the Romans overcame them, they cut their own throats of their children, their wives, and then their throats. And when the Romans got there, they found 930 something people, 36 comes to my mind, dead Jews rather than fall into the hands of the Romans. So that's whom Paul was taking the gospel.

Already before Paul ever went to Rome there were Christians that were converted on the day of Pentecost visiting from Jerusalem. There were Roman soldiers converted who came to know Christ, were filled with the holy spirit, and went back to Rome preaching. So much so Paul writes in the end of the book of Romans, he said that there were... He greeted the church in Rome and he listed a number of places where the church was meeting, and he greeted those Christians who were in Caesar's household. They were serving Caesar food, cleaning his bed, saddling his horses, and they were singing hymns of praise to a Jew in Nazareth who'd been crucified, buried, and raised again. So the apostle Paul was wanting to go to Rome so he could share some gospel with them, as well.

Called to be Saints

So back to the scriptures. "Called to be saints," he said you are. "Grace to you in peace unto God our father." (Rom. 1:7) Now, this is to the Romans. "Called to be saints."  You know, you don't get to be a saint by living good. You get to be a saint when you answer the call. "Ring, ring." "Yes?" By faith you've been born again. You are now a saint of God. "Hey, wife, I'm a saint now." "You don't act like one." "But I just got called to be a saint. He called me a Saint because I trusted on Jesus." That's how you get to be a saint.

Saint Michael

When I was selling paintings at this mall years ago, I had a sign that I carved out of wood and I placed it over the top of my booth there, and the sign said St. Michael's. And there was a St. Michael's church, hospital, and school in town. So people'd come by and say, "Oh, you're from St. Michael's, are you?" I said, "No, no, I am St. Michael." Now, I guess I was a little bit iconoclastic, because that upset a lot of people. Some of them, I got to explain it to them, but most of them didn't want to hear it after that because they thought I was claiming to be... That I'd done some miracle, died, the pope had did a little fufu on me, and then here I was pronounced a saint, but I was back alive again. So that was really stupid what I was saying, you see?

Paul Prays for the Romans

So the apostle Paul eventually made it to Rome and he did preach there to them. "For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers."  So Paul prayed for the Romans, even though he'd never been there. And he said, "Without ceasing." (Romans 1:9) In other words, that doesn't mean 24 hours a day, but that means that when he prayed, he didn't skip a couple days praying for them. When he was praying for people and churches around, they were always included.

Spiritual Gifts

Verse 10 -12

"Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come into you." Paul's telling them, "I want to come where you are. I want to come." "For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established." So Paul wanted to give them a spiritual gift. Now, what the gifts were were probably listed in Romans. I mean, in first Corinthians chapter 11. What were the gifts? The gifts of the spirit were miracles, tongues, interpretations, healings. There were other gifts like administration, teaching, different kinds of gifts helps.

Now, why did he want impart a gift? He said, "To the end you may be established." They needed gifts so that they would be established in the faith of Christ, and gifts that don't work toward that end, establishing the believer in the faith, are not being properly used. Excuse me, I'm skipped to a passage there. Go back. "That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me."  He said, "You have faith. I have faith. I'd like to meet with you. I'll be comforted. You will, too."

Verse 13

"Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, but was left hitherto, that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles." So Paul assures them that he has really, really, really wanted to go to Rome. It looks like God was doing pretty good there without him. But he said, "I'd love to come. I'd like to impart some spiritual gifts." He said, "That I might have some fruit among you, even as among other Gentiles."

Verse 14

He says, "I am a debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians." Now, the Greeks, the Romans called the invading hordes from the north barbarians. They were the Cithians. They were the Gothic crowd, what they'd be called a little later on. And eventually the barbarians were converted to Christ, and when they came down in the fourth century to capture and destroy Rome, they had an indignation against the ungodliness and immorality of Rome. They were more moral by then than the Romans were.

Verse 15

"I'm a debtor both to the Greeks and the barbarians, both to the wise and unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also." He said, "I'm sitting on the edge. I got to do it. I'm ready. I'm coming if I can."

He did get there eventually. They put Paul in chains and carried him off to Rome. So God had a hard time getting him there. Had to get him in prison, get him on the boat. Storm came up, shipwrecked him on an island. God kept him alive, kept everybody alive. But eventually Paul got to Rome, and there he was put under house arrest and was allowed to have people come and preach to them. He was just confined to Rome until his trial came up. And so Paul got to preach his gospel to many, many people in Rome and impart those spiritual gifts and enjoy their fellowship. And eventually he was killed there.

The Power of God unto Salvation

Verse 16

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ," he said. The gospel he wants to bring to Rome. "For it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first," since they got it first, "and also to the Greeks." It's your Greeks' turn now. "For therein is the righteous of God revealed from faith to faith." The Old Testament Jewish faith, Greek faith. Faith in the law of Moses, faith in Jesus Christ.

"As it is written, the just shall live by faith."  The book of Habakkuk, and he's quoting that passage. It's quoted three times in the New Testament. "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it's the power of God unto salvation."  In other words, when Paul came to preach that gospel, he didn't do it timidly, thinking, "Wonder what they're going to say. Wonder if they're going to believe. I wonder if it's going to work." He went there with a reckless boldness because he knew he had the power of God in his words.

House full of Hippies

Now, I've seen that recently, even. I'll give you a couple examples. One time I was, where I used to live, where Deb and I, when I was young, we were living this rental house. It was a junkie place. Wasn't even insulated. And just next door to us was a house full of hippies. And they were a house full of hippies. They were shacked up every which way, and they didn't know which way most of the time. They were high. And so they'd make a lot of noise with their music. And I was young fellow. Had big black beard and big dark black hair and I was wearing blue jean cutoff shorts, and I don't know if I had a shirt on or not, but I just kind of looked like one of them, frankly. And I was always working around and dirty and nasty-looking.

And so one day they were partying over there, so I walked over and just opened the door and walked in without introducing myself. I'd never even got up close to any of them, any of that crowd there. I walked in and walked over, and one of the guys, he's talking to these two girls. He's telling them something. He's high and he's going on with some kind of a sermon about politics or some of the liberal type stuff that was available around that day.

So he said, "How you doing, man? Sit down here. You want some? You want some?" I said, "No, thank you. I've already got something better." "Oh, that's cool, man. That's cool." So he thought maybe I had some heroin and all he had was pot, so he thought it's cool.

God wants friends

So I sat down there, and he talked for about in 20 more minutes. I didn't say a word. Finally he looks over at me a and he says, "What do you think?" I said, "Well, I've listened to you for 20 minutes. How about listening to me for 20 minutes?" "Yeah, man. This is cool. Yeah."

He sits down. I got up. I told him the story chronologically, just like Stephen did, starting that God wanted some friends. God wanted people to sit at his table. He wanted people that he could share it with and they could share it with him. And so what he did, he said, "I'll just create a whole race of people like me." So he created them, put them in a beautiful garden naked, said, "Just run around and have lots of babies and eat all this fruit. It's yours." "Woo yeah, that's right, that's right."

And I said, but then something happened. He told them, "Don't eat the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden. You can have everything else. Don't eat that one tree. You eat that tree, you'll die." And I described it to them. And then I described how Cain killed Abel and how life went downhill. How people used to live over 1,000 years and it started getting shorter and shorter. How people got so sinful and wicked that God sent a flood to destroy them all. And then how God called one man, Abraham, and said, "I'm going to send a savior through you, somebody to change this world."

And then I went through the law, Moses given the law, breaking it, then coming Jesus Christ. I told him about him forgiving the prostitute, healing the children, raising from the dead Lazarus, so forth. Then they crucified him. He was buried, raised again, went into heaven, and there, he set up a throne, sitting on a throne called the throne of grace. And now he's giving out forgiveness to anybody that will receive it.

And then one day he's coming back to the earth. He going to destroy all the sin and set up a kingdom of righteousness where children can run around playing, where the lion and the lamb will lay down together. Going to have a city made out of gold. It sparkles and shines. Going to be a lot of music and fun and love all around. "Wow, man. I've never heard a story like that in my life. That's really cool. Wow. What do you think?" "Yeah, that's right." "Wow." And I walked out. I didn't say anything about getting saved or anything like that. Walked out.

The Next Day

Next day the girl, one of them, we shared trash can spots, met me dumping garbage and said, "You really messed up the house." I said, "How'd it get messed up?" She said, "We couldn't sleep together last night." I said, "Who?" She said, "The three of us." I said, "Well, what happened?" She said, "That story you told us." I said, "What about that story?" She said, "It was a wonderful story. It was a wonderful story."

So I said, "Would you like to go with us somewhere tonight?" And I had an old fire truck I'd bought that wouldn't have run. I didn't know at the time, but the thermostat was out of it and it kept overheating. I mean, I guess it was the water pump. I don't know what it was. But anyway, you just, we had to keep putting, we had five gallons of water, so we'd stop every once in a while and put new water in it.

So we went all the way down into Memphis, about 20 miles in that old firetruck, and went to a gospel meeting, and they heard some firey preaching, singing, testifying. Came back, took them someplace, a prayer meeting or something, the next night. And they were happy. They were cheerful.

We heard from all four of them, heard of all three of them at some point later. One of them was, one of the girls was involved in some kind of a Christian ministry camp out somewhere several, eight, 10, 15 years later. The guy was involved in some kind of ministry. I don't remember where or what. And one of the girls came back to see us, a lesbian. She didn't get converted. Two out of three. That's pretty good. So you see, that's why I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it's the power of God unto salvation.

Church in Oklahoma

As we were traveling through Oklahoma a couple weeks ago, the transmission went out on my truck. $3,400. And we were totally, I tell you the truth, there was never a moment when we didn't have peace, never a moment when we were anxious, never a moment when we were fearful. As soon as it goes out, both our thoughts were, well, a door's opened here. What does this mean?

And so they got our truck and gave it to a shadetree mechanic and dropped us off at the only motel in this little town. And I won't tell the details, but it's kind of miraculous getting to that point. And so it was a motel that smelled like urine, but we turned the fan on in the bathroom and kept the door cracked, and after two days, we couldn't smell it anymore.

And so this was a Friday night. Well, on Sunday morning, went over to McDonald's, because no place else to eat except the Mexican restaurant across the street. So we went over to McDonald's, had some eggs and a biscuit, and there was a hitchhiking couple there, and Deb saw them, but they didn't have anything. They just drank coffee. Apparently didn't have much money for anything else.

We walked about a mile into town to the closest church we could find, which turned out to be the First Baptist dead church in town. A bunch of really nice old folks there that love God, but they just kind of just barely shuffle in and shuffle out. You know what I mean? And lo and behold, if one of the women didn't prophesy on our behalf and not know it. Said it just like she was talking right to us. And she was just teaching Sunday school class, a fill-in for something, and she's like these fortune cookie type things. She made a little statement, you know? Wow, it is right where we were. And then the preacher gets up and he's a fill-in, and he was a boring preacher, but he said something, about five minutes of it, exactly addressed to us and our circumstances.

The Story that Changed their Life Forever

And here was that young couple walked in there, too. So I invited them to go out and eat. So we went down, walked a mile back to where the motel was. Across the street was a Mexican restaurant. And we took them in there and fed them a good meal. Man, that guy could eat. Man, he just kept sucking it down, you know? He was a little guy, but he sure could eat. I guess he was hungry.

And so when we got through eating, I said, "Let's go over here and sit down across the street." There was a gas station closed. Two-thirds of everything around there was closed. So we sat down on the island of that closed gas station, and I said, "Let me tell you the story." So I told the same story I just told you about, about Jesus, and about halfway through it, he starts crying. Tears start flowing down his cheek. He starts smiling. You ever see anybody laugh and cry at the same time? And it was just, you know, it was like heaven came down and filled his soul. The power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to encounter somebody, and in 20 minutes of conversation, the message changed their life forever.

Not Ashamed of the Gospel

See, that's why I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. That's why I gave a "Good and Evil" in Hindi to that Hindu right across there, because I couldn't talk to him. And so month later I said, "How you doing?" "Reading." And two months later, "How you doing?" He said, "Well, yeah." Three months. "How's it going? You reading that book?" He said, "Yeah." I said, "What do you think about it?" He said, "First I think, no, no, no." And it didn't sound that good. He's speaking Hindi, but I can understand a little Hindi when there's some Southern thrown in. And so I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Well, I read some more. I say, no, no. But then I read more and I say, yeah, yeah. And so I read some more and now," and he reaches down on the countertop. "Now I believe God." And he's making a cross sign on the countertop. "I believe God." He smiles. And so I got a Hindi Bible, took it over to him about a month later, gave it to him, and I showed him the verses at the bottom of the good and evil. You can find them in the Bible.

A Hindu Man Reads the Bible

So about a month later, I said, "You reading that Bible?" "Yeah." And so just last week, after I got back this past week, I was pumping gas. Oh, no, before, about three or four weeks ago, I said to him, "Are you reading your Bible?" And he used a Hindi word and said book. Hindi word, book. And this was an adjective of some sort. He said it three times, and he's grinning the whole time. And I said, "I don't know what you're saying." He said the Hindi word. He said, "Good. Good book. Good book. Good book."

And so this past week, in the last four or five days, I saw him over here and I said, "Have you been reading that Bible?" He said, "Almost through. Almost through." After about two and a half, three months, he's almost through the Bible in the Hindi language.

Now, look, I still hadn't talked to that guy. What I just told you didn't go that easy. He repeated four or five times. I repeated four or five times. I said it, he resaid it. I mean, it wasn't easy to talk to him. But the "Good and Evil" gospel book brought him to Christ, and then a Bible is all he needed to finish it out.

So I have been to India as a missionary and won a Hindu to Christ, and I can't speak Hindu, but I got a book that does, "Good and Evil" in Hindi. We've got 48 different languages.

The Just shall live by Faith

All right, so I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. It's the power of God under salvation. "For herein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith. As it is written, the just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17)

So are you among the great throng that will stand before him in the day of his return?

"Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him, and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, amen."  Revelation 1:7

So that's the gospel Paul was taking to Rome, and he was hot to go with it because he knew what it would accomplish when he took it there, and it did. In fact, Christianity outlived Rome.

All right, we'll stop there. Next week we'll take up in verse 18.

Bible teaching with Michael Pearl.
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