Confessions of the Apostle Paul

Bible Book: Romans  1 : 14-17
Subject: Paul, Confessions of; Faith; Salvation; Believe

Paul's letter to the Romans has been a useful means of bringing many people to faith in Jesus Christ. Romans have also been the catalyst in bringing many Christians to the experience of renewal and rededication. The letter contains the basic truths, which Paul proclaimed, taught, and wrote throughout the ancient world. God used Romans to help the 1st century pagan world know Christ.

Paul's letter to the Romans made a profound impact on a man named Augustine. A small child gave Augustine a book which contained Romans 13:13-14. God used it to speak to his heart. Augustine reported that Romans was an influential instrument in his conversion experience. Augustine became Bishop of Hippo and a significant preacher of the 4th century. Romans played an important role in the development of Augustine's thought.

Martin Luther, a 16th century churchman, was disturbed over how to have a right relationship with God. Upon careful study of Romans and especially Romans 1:17, Luther understood the great truth of justification by faith. Luther's study of Romans radically transformed the troubled monk and influenced him to become a militant reformer of the church.

An 18th century Anglican priest struggled with doubt. For over 10 years Wesley sought inner peace. One evening in 1738 John Wesley attended a Moravian Bible study in Aldersgate Street in London. While some laymen read from Martin Luther's preface to the Romans, Wesley said he was changed within his heart. Again the Letter of the Romans was the instrument for initiating an evangelical awakening that transformed religious life in England and around the world.

Paul's letter to the Romans has been used by God to bring change. It affected the 1st century world, provided the basic theology for 4th century theology, used as proof for justification by faith in the 16th century, and helped bring people to the Bible in solving human problems during the 20th century. This wonderful message can change your life as well.

In this wonderful book we see something of the tenacity of the Apostle Paul. Every time I think of Paul I am reminded of the story of the man who walked into a lumber camp and asked for a job. The foreman, noting that he was not a large person at all said, "I am not so sure you could handle the job. It takes a real man to be a lumberjack."

"I am a real man!" bristled the little fellow. "Just give me an ax and show me a tree and if I don't get the tree on the ground in less than half the time it would take your best man at camp, I won't say anything more about a job."

So they did just that and in the most marvelous and aggressive display of axmanship that anyone had ever seen, the little fellow had the tree on the ground in just 13 minutes. That was 15 minutes faster than the best man in the camp could have done the work.

The boss was amazed. "Where in the world did you learn to use an ax like that?" he asked. "In the Sahara forest", the little fellow replied. "The Sahara, man that's a desert!" exclaimed the boss. The man replied, "It is now."

Paul was tenacious about building up the Kingdom of God as that little fellow was about chopping down trees. Paul's life showed that kind of aggressiveness in every turn in the road. Let us read some statements of his found in Romans 1:14-17. Paul was writing to the people at Rome. He had not yet been there but soon would be and he was led by the Spirit to share his heart, his faith, and his love for Christ.

One never thinks of Christian dedication and sacrifice without thinking of the Apostle Paul. This mighty mite, this jubilant little Jew jogged along the roads of his day determined that all men everywhere should know Christ. He was Christ's first commando, attacking the strongholds of paganism with faith. He was sure that even though some battles would be lost, the war would be won. Equipped with the whole armor of God, it never occurred to Paul that he ought to let up. "My greatest failure," he seemed to say, "would be to fail to go. Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel."

Nothing could deter Paul. He climbed every mountain, overcame every obstacle, and scaled every wall that Satan put in his way. He wore scars of medals, proudly calling them in Galatians 6:17 "the marks of the Lord Jesus." In Romans 1:14-17 Paul expressed the great confessions of his faith in the Lord. He said: "I am debtor. I am not ashamed. I am ready. I am living by faith."

I. I am a Debtor

First of all, we see that Paul said, "I am debtor." I have never known a great person who did not feel that he owed his life to someone or to some cause. Paul's life seemed to say, "If Jesus Christ died that Calvary kind of death for me, no sacrifice is too great for me to make for Him." Surely in his mind Paul visited the cross daily and watched our Lord being crucified for his sins, as well as the sins of the world.

Years ago a wealthy student attending Williams College was accused of defacing some of the college property. When he went to see the college president, Mark Hopkins, he arrogantly whipped out his checkbook and asked how much it was going to cost him to pay for the damages.

President Hopkins ordered the young man to sit down and exclaimed: "No man can pay for what he receives here. Can you pay for the sacrifices of Colonel Williams who founded this college? Can you pay for the half-paid professors who have remained here to teach when they could have gone elsewhere? Every student here is a charity case!"

How often all of us forget that. We are indebted to so many. We are indebted to parents, teachers, neighbors, farmers, builders, doctors, and countless others. We are indebted most especially to God for His loving grace expressed through the Christ of Calvary.

Paul was expressing the thought of that poet who also made those mental pilgrimages to Golgotha and penned these lines:

"It was His love for me

That nailed him to the tree,

To die in agony,  for all my sins."

In his heart Paul was saying if Christ loved me like that then I must return that love. He was like a man who held in his hand the cure for a dread disease. Paul was indebted to share that medicine with the Greeks and barbarians alike, with wise and with foolish. So you and I are also indebted. We are indebted to the Christ who died for us and we must never forget that we are also indebted to those who need to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The confession of Paul is our confession also as Christians. We are debtors.

II. I am not Ashamed

The next life-changing statement of Paul's is this: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ." It has been said that silence is golden. But there are times when silence is yellow-a cowardly, sickly yellow. To remain silent about such great news as the Gospel is treason-spiritual treason. New Testament history backs up Paul's assertion of his eagerness to share Christ at any cost. Before Jewish and Roman authorities, while on trial for his life, chained to a soldier in prison. In good times and in bad the confession of the Apostle Paul was consistently the same: "Look, one day I was walking down a road and something happened. That something was wonderful and that something was someone. His name is Jesus. He changed my life. Let me tell you what He can do for you." Paul had been literally knocked off his feet-"blown away". I am afraid that a part of our problem today is that too many have just been grazed by the Gospel. Too many sort of slide into the Gospel.

Note C.T. Studd was an English socialite who went to hear Dwight L. Moody preach because he lost a bet with a friend. As he sat under the preaching of this colorful American evangelist, God touched Studd's heart. As he left that night, Studd said to his friend "That fellow has just told me everything I have ever done! I'll come and hear him again." He did so night after night, until he was converted.

Studd lived just 2 years after that, but it was said at his funeral that he did more in 2 years than most Christians do in a lifetime. He withdrew from the social clubs he had been attending. He turned the Great Hall at Tedworth into a meeting room for Christian discussion. He wrote his friends about their spiritual condition. He laughed when they responded rudely. He called on his tailor and shirt maker and the man from whom he had bought his cigars, and spoke to them about Christ. His coachman gave this assessment of his life: "All I can say is that though there is the same skin, there is a new man inside."

We should be unashamed of the Gospel because this Gospel is dynamite. Paul said that it is the power of God unto salvation. It is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who has faith in Him.

III. I am Ready

When we have established in our hearts that we are debtors and that we are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, then the next thing follows quite naturally: "I am ready! Ready to go and do what God wants!"

Paul understood full well the dangers involved in his sharing the Gospel in Rome, yet his courageous confidence in Christ prompted him to make a statement that he later lived up to: "I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also" (Romans 1:15).

There is something in the grateful heart of a Christian which asserts: "Jesus, you are my Lord. I will go anywhere and I will do anything that you want me to do. I am ready!"

A man had just purchased an antique automobile. He had made a good buy in the old Model T. As he drove the old Ford home, however, it stopped cold on a lonely stretch of highway. The stranded motorist didn't know how to uncover the engine, much less work on it.

At this moment an apparently wealthy man in a gleaming new Lincoln automobile pulled up and asked if he could help. "Anything you can do would be appreciated," said the owner of the antique Ford. With skill and tenderness the stranger uncovered the engine compartment and made an adjustment on the old carburetor. He set the spark lever on the steering column just right, then as he turned the crank the old "tin lizzie" ran like the day it was made.

Amazed the grateful owner asserted, "Thank you, sir. You have helped me and I don't even know your name."

"You are quite welcome," he replied. "My name is Henry Ford." You see, Henry Ford knew how to make the Model T run because he made it. It is a matter of sanctified common sense to place our lives in the hands of God who can make us run smoothly because he made us.

A certain man was so committed to the support of missionary work that he was sure that his sister was being called to be a missionary. He prayed daily that she would have the spiritual insight to recognize this calling. During one of those prayer times our Lord convicted him that he was called to be a missionary. This world is filled with people who pray, "Lord, here am I; send my sister!"

IV. I am Living by Faith

In verse 17, Paul points out two very important results of faith. First, it is through faith that we were able to see the righteousness of God. Second, faith is the only successful means of living the Christian life day after day after day.

Notice that Paul points out that this faith is "from faith unto faith". There have been several interpretations of what Paul actually means by those words. Lightfoot says that faith is the beginning point and the goal in the Christian's life. It can certainly mean that we grow from one degree of faith to another. Or it could be an equivalent to the declaration that we are to live "by faith alone". "From faith unto faith." To me, Paul is saying, "More and more, day by day, I see the righteousness of God by faith.

"When God asks us to live by faith, He is not asking us to do anything that we don't already know how to do. We already know how to walk and live by faith every day. When you pop open the box of cornflakes for breakfast and gobble them down to the last one, you don't pause to think that the farmer could have poisoned the grain, as could have the miller who ground the grain, and a number of other persons in the factory who made the corn into flakes, toasted them, sugared them, and put them into boxes. Or what about the times while traveling. You became ill and visited a doctor you did not know who wrote out a prescription you could not read. You visited a drug store you had never used, gave the prescription to a pharmacist you had never seen, and then took your medicine with complete faith and trust that it would help make you well and not kill you.

God is saying to us, "Take that faith you already know how to use and put it in my Son Jesus Christ."

Romans 3:22, Galatians 3:22 and 26 all tell us that it is through this exercise of faith that we receive salvation. Are you living by faith in the Son of God today? If not, begin right now. I believe you will come to confess as a believer what Paul confessed: "I am a debtor. I am not ashamed. I am ready. I am living by faith, and it is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me!"