The Apostle Paul in Rome

The Apostle Paul in Rome

Scripture: Romans 1:8, Romans 15:20-27, Acts 28:17-31
Date: 10/07/2017  Lesson: 1
"What kinds of issues are agitating your church at present? What role are you playing in these debates? How often have you stopped to question your role, your position, and your attitudes in whatever struggles you’re facing? Why is this kind of self-examination so important?"

God Cares: The Message of Daniel by Mervyn Maxwell

God Cares: The Message of Daniel by Mervyn Maxwell
NOTE: If you have a Bible question for Pastor Doug Batchelor or the Amazing Facts Bible answer team, please submit it by clicking here. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.

Please note: Approved comments do not constitute an endorsement by the ministry of Amazing Facts or Pastor Doug Batchelor. This website allows dissenting comments and beliefs, but our comment sections are not a forum for ongoing debate. Please be civil to one another.


Good morning, and welcome to another edition of the Sabbath School Study Hour that's taking place right here in the Granite Bay seventh-day adventist church in the greater Sacramento area of northern California. We want to welcome all who are watching online today and those who are also watching from the various television - different networks. What a privilege it is to be able to share and to be able to study the Word of God as we come together and grow closer together and understand God's word that much better as well. Before we start singing, we also want to bring before you our free offer, which is entitled is it easier to be saved or lost? You can dial 1-866-788-3966 - again, that's 1-866-788-3966 and that's for all that are found in North America. Now, if you're outside of north America and you'd still like a copy of that, you can also download a digital copy of that at amazingfacts.

org. So, we'd like to invite our song leaders forward at this time, as we spend some time singing to the Lord. God bless you. Thank you, pastor brummond. For those of you who didn't know, he is our new pastor - family life pastor - here at Granite Bay, and we are just excited to have the brummond family joining with us at Granite Bay.

They come all the way from Canada and they're going to be a blessing, we know, at this church. We're going to start our song service, like we do every week, singing your favorites, and we're going to start with #286 - wonderful words of life - #286 - and we're going to do all three stanzas. At this time, pastor brummond is going to have our opening prayer. (Soft piano music) let's close our eyes and bow our heads as we pray. Father in Heaven, we thank you for this opportunity this morning to be able to open your word and freely be able to study this great book called the book of Romans.

We thank you for the Gospel that is found in it. We thank you for the great truths that you have revealed to us. We pray for a special blessing upon our teacher today, our lead pastor, Doug Batchelor, as he is going to be sharing with us. We pray, as always, that your Holy Spirit will continue to guide us and lead us and give us understanding, as you would have us understand it, Lord. And so, God, again we consecrate this particular time before you and ask for your blessing.

In Jesus' Name, amen. Amen. And now we want to welcome Pastor Doug Batchelor. Thank you, Pastor Shawn, and our musicians - michelle on piano - I appreciate that. Morning.

Morning. Happy Sabbath. Happy Sabbath. Good to see each of you here at Granite Bay and we know there are always thousands that are watching, via the internet or Facebook, and we're really glad that you're tuning in as well. And, among those that are watching, some of you are our online members - we want to welcome you as well.

We have people that are scattered in different parts of the world - many of them in different english-speaking parts of the world - australia, south africa, Canada, india, Philippiines, and there's no local church they can attend, but they can watch online or via satellite and we've created a mechanism where they can be online members and, if you're interested in that, contact us. If there's a local church we can recommend to you, we will do that as well. Just before we get into our lesson, I want to make an announcement. In a few weeks - that's a few weeks from this broadcast - we're going to be doing something very important. Amazing Facts will be back in Maryland, at the general conference headquarters and, you know, we're heading up on the -year anniversary of the protestant reformation, and we're going to be doing a meeting there - a series of meetings something like a revival - a little bit of evangelism involved and it's called foundations of faith.

We're going to be talking about if the reformers were still alive today, would the reformation be going any farther than they took it? In other words, does the reformation still need to continue? You know, some are arguing the reformation is over. And so, we're going to be talking about some of the foundational teachings that have been lost sight of by much of the Christian world. And so, please plan on tuning in. It will be on, probably, many of the channels you're watching right now - hope channel, 3abn, Amazing Facts tv, Facebook live, and all of the others. And so, foundations of faith - it's November 3 through 11 - November 3 through 11 - you may want to gather in your homes and churches - bring your friends together and pray for revival.

And that's a great segue into our new series that we're beginning. Our new lesson is from the book of Romans and we really are stepping on holy ground. Romans is one of the great books of the Bible - now don't misunderstand, because it's like when someone asks you 'what's your favorite verse?' Does it mean the other ones aren't good? And so, when you talk about a great book of the Bible, does that mean that the other books are less great? Well, maybe - they're all inspired. I mean, all the stars in the sky are out of your reach. Do we agree? But do you agree some shine brighter than others? And the book of Romans is one of the great books in the Bible because it just really takes the Gospel and it lays it out so that everybody could understand it.

And I probably ought to start by just introducing the study. The series, of course, is called salvation by faith alone: the book of Romans. We're in lesson #1 today that is called the apostle Paul in rome. We're really going to be doing sort of an overview of the book of Romans, and we have a memory verse. The memory verse comes from chapter 1 in Romans, verse 8, and it's in the new king James version in our lesson here, if you want to say it with me.

Let me repeat that - Romans 1:8, if you want to find that, let's all say it together. Are you ready? "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world." A little later in our lesson we'll delve into why Paul is saying that just the way he says it. Now, I told you that I think that Romans may be one of the most important books. You've got, you know, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the new testament, then you have acts. Those are all books of, really, history of the Gospel.

When you get into Romans, you're getting into the theology of the Gospel. It is - of the letters of Paul, it is the longest letter, and it is a masterpiece. It is so wonderful because - I don't even really feel worthy to teach it, because you really are on holy ground. Romans is so simple that a child can understand it, and yet, it is so deep that there are more books written on the theology of Romans than probably any other book in the Bible. It is a very powerful book.

Now, I'm very excited about talking to you about Romans because, through the study of Romans, great things have happened in the course of time. I think it's interesting that we are embarking on this study of Romans, right here on the cusp of the 500-year anniversary of the protestant reformation. You know, it was through the study of Romans that luther was converted. The study of Romans had something to do with a real understanding of the Gospel for huss. Let me read to you what luther wrote about Romans.

Kind of a brief segment of a personal testimony: "at last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, in it the righteousness of God is revealed as it is written. He, through faith, is righteous shall live." - Now he's quoting that verse of Romans 1:17, sort of. It's been translated from german - "then I began to understand that the righteousness of God that is by faith - the righteous live by a gift of God, namely, by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the Gospel, namely the pass of righteousness, which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written. He, through faith, is righteous, shall live.

Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise, itself, through open gates. There, a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me." He looks at this as the turning point in his experience in reading and finally understanding salvation by faith, as it was portrayed in the book of Romans. Up til then, he said, 'I was, you know, the most obedient legalistic monk there was.' And he used to flog himself and pray ceaseless hours and confess, for hours, all of his sins, and doing everything he could to find righteousness with God, but he said he hated the concept of a righteous God. He admits that in this testimony. I didn't read the whole thing to you.

But finally, when he understood that he could be righteous through faith, and it was being given as a gift, that seed of truth dawned in his mind and it just exploded with light that shone upon every other aspect of the Bible. It was through comprehending Romans that luther was born again. We just read it - his own testimony. He ended up - a whole denomination grew out of martin luther, known as the lutherans. What about wesley? Let me read you a little testimony about the wesley brothers.

Now, you realize susanna wesley - I think she had 18 children. Many of them did great things, two of them - charles wesley wrote about six to seven thousand Christian hymns; many of them are in your hymnal. That's a lot of hymns. He's considered one of the greatest, if not the most prolific hymn writer in Christian history - more than fanny crosby and many others put together. And then his brother John, of course, founded the methodist church - well, the two of them together - but they didn't believe they were really converted.

Here's a testimony. In 1735 the wesley brothers sailed to Georgia, but even in this missionary service, the old doubts about their experience of salvation surfaced." - They were young at this time - "neither John, nor charles could find assurance that he was, indeed, a child of God by grace. They returned to england believing their lives and ministry had failed." - John wesley wrote of this experience in Georgia, "I went to America to convert the indians but oh, who shall convert me?" - I can tell you a lot of stories about missionaries that go to the mission field and found out they are converted in the mission field - "at seven in the evening, sailing back, I went to the germans." - The moravian germans were having a prayer meeting on the ship - "in the midst of the psalm that they were singing, wherewith their service began, the sea broke over" - a storm was brewing - "it split the main sail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks as if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming began among the english. The germans calmly sang on.

I asked one of them afterwards, 'was not you afraid?'" - That's how he writes it - "he answered, 'I thank God, no.' I asked, 'but were not your women and children afraid?' He replied, mildly, 'no, our women and children are not afraid to die.'" - Shortly after his return to America, both he, John, and charles were influenced by moravian friends. - Moravians are like a primitive baptist german group, but they're just very dedicated - knew the word inside out. And they went to study with some moravian friends - "charles wesley was the first of the two to be justified by faith and on whit Sunday" - that's what they called it - "may 21, 1738, he experienced pentecost. He wrote in his journal that 'the Spirit of God chased away the darkness of my unbelief'. The prolific hymnist" - wrote six to seven thousand hymns - "wrote a hymn to commemorate this day of his salvation.

" - Many believe it was a hymn - 'and can it be that I should gain' - it's in your hymnal, I won't sing it - and so it was through the study of Romans - "three days later, on may 24, , John, seeking for the grace of God, ended in a meeting house in aldersgate street in london. He wrote in his journal that now-famous account of his conversion. 'In the evening I went very unwillingly to the society at aldersgate street.'" - Charles persuaded him to go to this moravian meeting. They didn't agree with the moravians on baptism by immersion, you know. The methodists believed in baptism by sprinkling at that time or - John - he was from the church of england, so they had some problems with some of their doctrines, but he - reluctantly he went - and they were reading martin luther's preface to the epistle of Romans, which, of course, converted him - "'about a quarter to nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed.

' John immediately shared the good news with charles. Charles wrote: 'towards ten my brother was brought in triumph by a troop of our friends and declared, 'I believe!' We sang a hymn with great joy and parted with prayer.' Until their conversions, the wesleys had, what John described as, a fair summer religion. They were both ordained, they both preached, they taught, they wrote, they composed hymns, they even gave themselves to missionary work, all to no avail. They had not Christ or, rather, Christ did not have them. They lived by good works and not by faith.

" Now, I say all this because, as we get ready to embark on Romans, most of those who tune in to Sabbath School Study Hour are Christians. We go through the motions. Many have gone to church for years. Sadly, those who go to Sabbath school are usually long-time, died-in-the-wool Christians. Let's face it, a lot of people don't even come to Sabbath school anymore.

Look around. And so, you're sort of preaching to the choir when you teach Sabbath school. But I suspect there may be many of you who, like luther and wesley, have gone through all the motions of Christianity for years, but you really don't have that joy of being born again, where you feel like the gates of paradise have opened. I am praying - I hope you are praying - that as we go through the book of Romans, wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a revival in the church, that you could have a second reformation? Because we finally understand the power of the Gospel as we study what they studied. So that's my prayer.

You pray for me as I share it. Let's go ahead and get into our lesson with that lengthy introduction. First under Sunday, the apostle's letter - the apostle Paul's letter. So, as we talk about Romans, now, I just want to let you know this first study today is really an introduction. We're paving the way for what's going to come in the next thirteen weeks.

First of all, we're going to be talking about the who, the when, the where, the why, of the book of Romans. Who? Who wrote Romans? Let's read chapter 1, verse 1, "Paul," - there you have it - "Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the Gospel of God" - now, for those who may not know - you do have some visitors - let me give you a little overview according to the new testament of Paul and who he is. His first name was not Paul, it was what? Saul. Saul of tarsus. Was born in tarsus, a city of cicilia, of Jewish parents who possessed the right of roman citizens that, when young, he was sent to Jerusalem for the purpose of receiving a Jewish education that he was there put under the training of the famous rabbi, gamaliel, and he was incorporated with the sect of the pharisees, whose system he imbibed of all the pride and self-confidence, and intolerance, and he distinguished himself as one of the most ingrained enemies of the Christian cause.

But being converted by a most singular interposition of divine providence on the road to damascus, he became one of the most zealous promoters and successful defenders of the cause which he had, before, so vigorously persecuted. That's a quick summary of who the author is, Paul. He was not someone who followed Jesus, but he was converted after the fact, during the persecution - the first persecution of the church during the time they were - he was there. It's interesting, he's a witness of the execution of stephen and, in one chapter, he's converted. And he, basically, takes the place of the one that he killed, maybe even taking the place of Judas, becoming an apostle, himself.

Nobody - you know, when you start reading the history of the Bible, there are some of the early church fathers and there's questions about different books and who wrote it and what's the title, but of all the books in the new testament there is, virtually, no doubt or question about Romans being written by Paul. You go back to some of the early church fathers that were contemporaries with the apostle John - they lived during the time of the apostles - they attributed the book of Romans to Paul. So, it's really undisputed. And you look at some of the early fathers, like clement of rome, polycarp, justin martyr, ignacious and iranaeus - they all, uniformly, agree the book of Romans was written by Paul. And now let's talk, next, about where it was written.

Probably he wrote the book of Paul - the book of Romans - while he was in corinth and he was actually on the eastern port of corinth, which is called cenchrea, and you look there in chapter 16 - now we're going from the first chapter of Romans - go to the last chapter of Romans, because in his farewell he gives us some clues - Romans :1, "I commend you phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also." Well, it indicates that Paul wrote from this Greek city of cenchrea, which was near corinth - he probably wrote from corinth. He mentions phoebe, who's a resident of greater corinth, and helps establish that place as the background for the letter. Now, also, if you look - you're still in Romans 16 - there's two other clues about where he wrote it. I just want you to know how the - how the Bible scholars arrive at their conclusion. They've got good evidence.

Romans 16:23 - Paul is writing - he says, "gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and quartus, a brother." Now, with that information, you go to 1 Corinthians - of course, written to those who live in corinth - chapter 1, verse 14 - he says, "I thank God that I baptized none of you except crispus and gaius," - now, he's talking about what he did there while he was in corinth. So gaius is also in corinth, phoebe, we established, was in corinth, and - go to 2 Timothy :19 - again, at its conclusion, Paul says, "greet priscilla and aquila, and the household of onesiphorus. Erastus stayed in corinth," - there you have it again. Paul says, in Romans 16, 'erastus'; here he says 'erastus stayed in corinth'.

And so, it's pretty well established that he was in the city of corinth when he wrote it. Alright, let's go next to the - when was the book of Romans written? Probably at the end of his third missionary tour. Matter of fact, I'm going to ask - give you something visual here - studio, go ahead and put that map up on the screen - hopefully it will be big enough. Oh, it's smaller. You can see the - the third missionary journey of Paul - he starts out in antioch - I don't know how well you can see it here - he wraps around through asia.

He goes - the farthest part of his trip is in corinth, which is there on the far left of the screen - still about, oh, by air, 630 miles to rome, from where he wrote the letter. He had not been there yet. If he had gone by water, it was up to a thousand miles. And he came back - when he got to corinth, he understood the church in Jerusalem was having a lot of problems with finances - there was a famine - and he brought a gift back with him. And so, just before he brings a gift, he sends this letter off to the Christians that are in rome.

Now, that brings us to the why - why did he write the letter? Now somebody's going to read a verse for me - acts 18:18 - okay, let's get - you got a microphone? I'm going to just have you go ahead. I didn't get you set up so, hopefully, they're focused. Go ahead. "So Paul still reMained a good while. Then he took leave of the brethren and sailed for syria, and priscilla and aquila were with him.

.." Alright, so why does he write the letter? You remember, priscilla and aquila, they were kicked out of rome - so they were Christians in rome - and they had come - on their way back, they had met Paul and they began to study with Paul and I guess they were also making tents with Paul and they became some of his friends. They filled him in on what was going on in rome. Now, evidently, in rome - rome was a city of about a million people - in the days of Paul - stretched over about ten square miles. And, in that city, there was a lot of different people from all over the roman empire. Some of the early Christians, who were not jews, were being told by the Jewish Christians they needed to keep some of the Jewish laws.

We studied this last quarter in our section on Galatians. They were saying 'you need to be circumcised' - 'you need to keep the law of Moses' - 'God loves jews more than he does gentiles' - 'you're second class Christians' - and there were some problems that were arising. Also, they were mixing in some of their pagan teachings and he thought, 'look, I better send a letter to them.' There probably was no apostle that had been there yet and Paul was thinking, 'i'd better send a letter to the early Christians, there in rome, to just outline, for them, what the plan of salvation is.' So he writes this letter that is just a beautiful illustration - book of Romans is really divided up in four or five sections - it depends on if you want to call the conclusion and the farewell a whole section - where he talks about the righteousness of God and he talks about the unrighteousness of man. He talks about the struggle for righteousness in Romans 6 and 7 and you finally get to twelve and he talks about the triumph of how to live that life. And so, it's really divided up in these different segments, but a beautiful theme runs through it because he's, basically, outlining the Gospel and he's talking about the practical ways to live the Christian life.

He's contrasting what rights do the jews have above the gentiles. And then he also talks about God even speaking to the gentiles without having the word of God, in Romans chapter 1. So he just answers so many questions. Matter of fact, any of you ever heard of 'the roman's road'? Now I'm not talking about a road in italy that's paved with stone, it's a term that's used for leading a person to Christ. A lot of evangelists and a lot of lay Bible workers, if you have a friend and they want to know, 'what do I do to be saved?' There are several verses you take them through and you can lead them to Christ right there in the book of Romans.

First of all, you say, 'all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We're all sinners.' Then you say, 'the wages of sin is death.' And you take them to the verse that says, 'but, you know, God gives the gift of life to those who believe.' And 'he who is dead is freed from sin.' You take them through Romans chapter 3, 6, and 8 and they call it 'the roman's road'. Any of you ever heard that before? Not nearly enough of you have heard that. You ought to know how to lead someone to Christ by taking them down the roman's road. But the book of Romans really had the whole Gospel in it and that's why it's such a wonderful book for us.

Maybe in our study next week or another time, I'll just outline, for you, what is the roman's road. Okay - and he's writing this book to help them understand what's going on and Romans is actually a book that is saturated with Scripture. You'll find in the book of Romans - of all the books of Paul - he quotes old testament - of course, that was the only other Scripture then. New testament wasn't written - he quotes the old testament more than any other book in the Bible. So he's really tying together the old testament with the new testament, in the book of Romans.

And you can read in acts of the apostles, page 373, there Ellen white writes - I'm not talking about the book of acts, I'm talking about Ellen white's book Acts of the Apostles - "in his epistle to the Romans, Paul sets forth the great principles of the Gospel. He states his position on the questions which were agitating the Jewish and the gentile church and he shows that the hopes and the promises, which had once belonged especially to the jews, are now being offered to the gentiles, also. And so, it's really interesting - who's the first apostle to the gentiles? Peter. Peter. That's a trick question.

You remember when Peter goes to cornelius and he said, 'oh' - you know, he's so scared about doing it, he says, 'it's not lawful for me being a jew to come into the house of a gentile. I'm risking being contaminated.' And remember God gave him the vision of the sheep and said 'don't call any man unclean, what I have cleaned.'? It had nothing to do with food, it had to do with the Gospel was now to go to the gentiles. And remember, when the jews first - when the Holy Spirit was first poured out, where did Jesus tell them to go, and where'd he tell them not to go? He said, 'go not in the way of the gentiles, but go, rather, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. So, why did the Lord not want them to go to the gentiles right away? You realize Christ did not go preaching to the gentiles. There's a couple of exceptions.

When did Jesus preach to the gentiles? There was a cyrophoenecian woman whose daughter - he went up to tyre and, like Elijah, he went up to - there was a woman in tyre, just like when Elijah stayed with a woman in tyre and raised her son, Jesus met a woman in tyre and healed her daughter. And so, he was up there and he said, 'it's not appropriate for me to take the children's food and give it to the dogs.' Because that's what the jews called the gentiles. Jesus was saying that with - it was with irony - he was showing the apostles how awful they sounded. And then, andrew came and said there's some Greeks that wanted to speak to Jesus. Well, these were proselytes - they were converts to judaism.

But Jesus did not preach to the gentiles. He went to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And then, when he rose from the dead, he told the disciples, 'do not go to the gentiles yet. First go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' What was the signal for them to go to the gentiles? Stephen's death. After stephen made his final, best presentation of the Gospel to the sanhedrin - the official body that represented the nation - their supreme court.

He preaches a spirit-filled message, his face is glowing, he's in the presence of an angel, and they plugged their ears and they executed him - just like after three and a half years of Jesus preaching - they tried him - the sanhedrin tried him, they took him out of the city - trumped up charges - they executed him. They rejected. Jesus said, 'I'm going to give you another chance. For another three and a half years, through those who heard me, I will confirm it.' And then stephen preaches to the sanhedrin, they plug their ears, they have false witnesses that accuse stephen of something he hadn't done, he's taken out of the city, clothes are laid down - remember, there's clothes at the cross - there's clothes at stephen. Jesus says, 'father forgive them.

' Stephen says, 'father, forgive them.' Jesus dies. Stephen dies. And, at that point, God said, 'okay, the 490 years of Daniel chapter 9 are up.' Now the Gospel goes, not just to the jews, but to everybody. And who is the witness of the stoning of stephen? They lay their [clothes] down - Saul. Saul.

It's interesting, there's clothes laid down by a roman centurion and, after Jesus dies on the cross, that roman centurion, a gentile, says, 'surely this was The Son of God.' Right? Paul, who's the witness at the execution of stephen, he's going out to gather up more Christians and he is - even against his will - he is converted and, after some time of preparation, he becomes a great gentile - a great minister to the gentiles - Peter's first. Paul really takes up the work and Paul even says, later, 'God has sent me to the gentiles. He sent Peter to the circumcision; he sent me to the gentiles.' Why did God choose Paul? He was a 50/50. Did Paul understand the gentiles? Was Paul born in Jerusalem or was he born in a Greek city? What was his citizenship, jew or half jew and roman? Did he also have roman citizenship? Did he only speak Hebrew or did he also speak latin and Greek? Doesn't Paul say, 'I speak with tongues more than you all.'? It doesn't mean he babbled - that's how some people interpret that - they think it means he babbled more than anyone else. No, it means Paul was more widely educated.

He spoke more languages because he was more widely taught. And so, Paul was a perfect one to say, 'I am going to take a religion that has Jewish roots, but I understand how the gentiles think I could speak their language, and I will preach it.' And Paul could March right into a Greek amphitheater and start talking to Greeks about a Jewish God, because he understood them. And so, it's just perfect that he was the one who was chosen to do this. Alright, let's continue on. Now that was all just section one of our lesson.

Under section 2 it says, Paul's desire to visit rome. If you look in Romans chapter 15 - I know we're jumping around the book, but it gives you, sort of, we're doing what they call the ten thousand-foot view - you get the overview. I love a particular program. It's called Google earth. Any of you ever play with Google earth? I'm a very visual person.

In preparing for this study, when I - I went to Google earth and I said, 'alright, Paul was in corinth' - I found corinth. And I said, 'how far was he from rome? How come he didn't go all the way to rome?' I looked at it and I measured how far you can - got a measuring tool - I said, 'ah, he still had - if he took an airplane he still had 630 miles and they didn't have airplanes. And by boat, it'd be close to a thousand. It depends on if he went through the isthmus of corinth or not. So I love looking at the visual.

Sometimes Karen'll come in the office and I'm doing Google earth and she'll say, 'what are you doing?' 'I'm going all over the world.' I say, 'I'm looking for a deserted island nobody's found yet.' (Laughter) you can zoom in on Google earth and see if there's any settlements. I've found a few islands - I'm not telling you where they are. (Laughter) and I said, 'Karen, let's sell everything and get a boat and let's just go.' You know, I used to like to run away - that's how I ended up in the cave - I said 'just run away and go to an island. Let the world end.' But - so, it's fun. Anyway, why did I say all that? Oh, Paul wanted to go to rome.

So you read this - we're doing the ten thousand-foot view - Google earth you can zoom out and get the big view - so Romans :20 - I'm going to read through 26, so bear with me here. "And so I have made it my aim to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named," - now this is going to come up later, because some say, 'who was the first apostle to go to rome?' Some have argued that it was Peter - the roman catholic church says Peter was the first to preach in rome. There's nothing in the Bible that says that. We do know Peter, through church tradition, anyway, Peter did, later, go to rome and he was executed there. We do believe he was killed under nero's persecution.

But that doesn't mean he was the first to preach there. Most of the evidence suggests Paul was there before Peter was there. And so, you know, the catholic church loves to say Peter was the first pope and he was the first in rome - there's no evidence for that, really. So Paul was probably there. One reason we say that is Paul says, 'I don't want to build on the foundation of someone else.

' He says, 'I don't want to go where other people have already been. I want to go where no other apostles have been yet.' So that's one reason we also think he was the first in rome - "lest I should build on another man's foundation," - I'm still in Romans 15, verse 20 - "but as it is written: 'to whom he was not announced, they shall see; and those who have not heard shall understand.' For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you." - He's writing to the Romans - 'I want to come to you but I've been hindered.' You know, they - the jews were rebelling and nero declared judaism 'religio illicita' - they were all evicted from rome. That's when priscilla and aquila were kicked out of rome. They told Paul about everything going on in rome - "but now no longer having a place in these parts," - he was now being persecuted by even the jews in corinth - he had to head back - 'I can't stay here anymore' - "and having a great desire these many years to come to you, whenever I journey to spain, I shall come to you." - Now this raises another question that's only found in the book of Romans. Paul's pretty clear he went to antioch and he went to, you know, ephasus and he went all through asia.

He says, 'I want to go to spain.' Did he ever make it to spain? Do we know? We don't know. There's legend that he did. There's nothing in the Bible that says he did. There's nothing in history that says he did, but you can't prove he didn't. And the argument is that when he was released from prison the first time - you remember when the book of acts ends - and we're going to get there in a minute - when the book of acts ends, Paul is in jail in rome - he's preaching.

Nero, basically, let him off the hook the first time. Some argue he got on a boat there, because he said, 'after rome I want to go to spain.' They say he got on a boat there, he went to spain. He did a short work in spain and then he went via tarshish, which is a coastal city in spain, all the way back to Jerusalem. And you could make a pretty quick trip of it in that way. And there's nothing he wrote about it - or those writings were lost.

You know, not everything the Bible writers wrote was preserved, we presume. So we don't know. That's all you can say is, 'we don't know if he ever made it to spain, but he certainly made it clear he wanted to go to spain.' Now someone - I think it was clement - one of the early church fathers argues that he did go to spain. His argument is that it says that he says, 'the Gospel has gone out into all the earth.' And then another place Paul says, 'the Gospel was preached to every creature.' They used to use that as a term for the roman empire. The roman empire stretched to spain.

And so, some have argued, 'well, the fact is he says they made it to every creature.' He went - as far as you could go west, back then, was spain - without falling off the end of the earth - and the other disciples went into india - thomas went all the way to india. And so, they went throughout the realms of the roman empire. So that was one argument that he made it to spain, but we don't know. He says, "whenever I journey to spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while.

But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints." - He was going from corinth to bring a gift back to the church in Jerusalem - they were suffering under a terrible famine - by the way, that famine was foretold by a prophet named agabus, that you'll read about in the book of acts - it was foretold in advance - "but now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints for it pleased those from macedonia and achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem." So why did he not go directly from corinth to rome? He was so close. Because there was an emergency in Jerusalem. He was being persecuted, he wanted to check on the churches he'd already established, he said, 'I'll bring this money back, then I'll come back to you.' Alright, so that's just a little overview about Paul's desire - why did he want to go to rome? I'll tell you, very rarely in your life do you know you're living in the moment. Have you ever looked back with nostalgia and said, 'oh, didn't know it then, but those were the good days.' Ever thought that? And I've - I've had some people send me some really interesting things. They said, 'the great generation - we rode around on our bicycles without helmets.

We slept without seatbelts. We jumped on trampolines.' Wait, no, I mean, we slept in cars - we drove in cars without seatbelts. Thank you, dear. (Laughter) and yeah, I just remember - I don't know if any of you, when you were growing up, you climbed in the back of the car with the dash - the back dash and you just sleep up there, you know, the kids were all over the place. How many of you parents, when you stepped on your brakes you stuck out your right arm to keep the kid from flying forward.

It was instinctive for years - I hit the brakes, I stuck my arm out. And it just talks about how it was so sheltered now in so many ways and so many rules and things that - our parents used to tell us, 'come home when it's dark.' You know, 'go out and play.' They never said, you know, 'where are you going? Are you going to be accompanied by another' - I was a kid in new york - my mother sent me and my brother - six, seven years old - we went out to play - just go play in the park. We could go as far as we felt we'd survive. And now parents get arrested if you've got a six-year-old that's outside without a parent - for being, you know, what do they call it? Taking care of your child - but it was a whole different thing back then. Anyway, why'd I say all that? Oh yeah, you very rarely realize when you're living in the moment, but when we went to new york in 1999, I told Karen, I said, 'this is a point - this is a high point in our lives that will never be repeated.

' That here, we're - you know, New York is, in many ways, the crossroads of the world. You know, it's advertising center, it's a financial center - that's why 9/11 was attacked - they attacked New York. It's an international city. I mean, you know, king kong attacked New York - Godzilla attacked New York - they all know that New York is the center of everything. And so, when we were in new york, right there on the cusp of the next millennium and y2k and all those things happening and the mets were playing the yankees - two New York cities and hillary clinton's running for senate, and the New York marathon - all this stuff is happening and it's a crossroads of the world and I thought, 'we want to preach the Gospel here because all roads lead to New York.

You know what I mean. And Paul wanted to go to rome because, if you can influence the places of influence, the message spreads farther. And so, you drop the die of the Gospel in the fountain that feeds the world and it spreads everywhere. So he said, 'I want to go to rome, because if we can really have a revival in rome, it'll spread everywhere from there. That's why calvin, who also was converted by reading Romans, went to geneva.

Switzerland was like a crossroads in europe back then and the Gospel was going everywhere from switzerland. So Paul had a great desire to go to rome during that. Now I'm going to talk about Paul in rome. Someone's going to read, for me, in a moment, Philippians 1:12, okay? I'm going to read acts 25:11. He said, "for if I am an offender" - Paul was arrested and he was making his case there, before the leaders in the Jerusalem court - "for if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them.

I appeal to caesar." Now the jews had accused Paul of doing all kinds of terrible things and being seditious and everything. He said, 'I've not done any of that.' You did have, as a roman citizen - Paul was a roman citizen - you had the right to appeal to caesar. Paul said, 'look, I want to go to rome.' And he thought, 'maybe I'll get caesar to pay for it.' So he was in jail in caesarea, which is outside, you know, it's in Israel, and he says, 'I'm going to appeal.' They said, 'look, he's appealed. He's a roman, he gets to appeal to caesar.' That was the supreme court. So they actually had to pay - he got them to pay to take him to rome.

You know, something really neat happened to me a few years ago. I really wanted to go visit my cave and I did this special with national geographic. And they were interviewing me about the end of the world and someone gave them my testimony book. And, even though it wasn't the reason for the interview, they said, 'this is a great side story.' And they said, 'could we get you to go back to your cave? We'd like to tape you up there.' I said, 'well, I'd like to go but, you know, you can't get in there without a helicopter now because they've blocked off the entrance.' They said, 'well we'll rent the helicopter.' I got national geographic - this atheistic organization - to pay to take me back to my cave and videotape my testimony. (Laughter) isn't that great? I got a big kick out of that.

And I haven't been there since. Anyway, he got rome to pay to send him to rome to preach about Jesus in this pagan world. And he was preaching in caesar's household and - being guarded by a roman soldier, paid by roman tax money, and he's preaching to the soldiers. This is great the way the Lord does things. Amen.

And so, it says - now in verse - acts 28:16, "now when we came to rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him." And you go to the very last words in acts - acts 28:31, "then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him," - he's got a roman soldier guarding him all this time, but he's got his own home - "and received all who came to him, preaching the Kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him." He's waiting to be heard by caesar - there's a long caseload - you know, you could be on death row for years in America and, back then, in rome, caesar was so busy hearing these final appeal cases, they were two years backed up, which was great for God and great for Paul. He had two years, at government expense, preaching the Gospel in a rented house with a roman soldier guarding him - he's preaching to the soldier. Go ahead, read to us Philippians 1:12 and 13. Philippians 1:12 and 13, "but I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance for the Gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;" so while he's there, not far away from the dwelling place of nero - caesar - he's preaching to the whole palace guard, because he'd have one soldier, you know, assigned for a week or whatever, and then they'd rotate and another soldier was guarding. So over a two-year period he's preaching to all these soldiers.

And the pagan religions of rome, they had nothing to offer. There were so many Gods in rome that they were more than the pigeons on the roof. I mean, they had all these - they were just empty. And so, Paul was just preaching to them all and he had converts in the house. Look at Philippians 4:21 and 22 - at the end of Philippians he said, "greet every saint in Christ Jesus.

The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of caesar's household." So he's not only preaching to the palace guards, the guards, then, go into the palace - they're preaching to the family of caesar and the servants of caesar and there was a little mini church that was from caesar's household. And so, what you would think would be a bad thing - here, Paul's arrested, he spends two years in jail in Jerusalem - he's actually in caesarea - but what is he doing there? He's preaching to herod and felix and the rulers - he's preaching to the guards there. And then he's put in jail in rome - he's two years in prison there - kind of house arrest - he's, you know, it's pretty comfortable - and he's preaching - he could receive guests so he's preaching to the jews that come, he's preaching to the gentiles that come, he's preaching to the roman soldiers, they're then preaching to those in the palace, and the Gospel - two years of the best evangelist in the world, who speaks all their languages, I mean, this was a wonderful thing. Now someone would say, 'why would God allow Paul to be in prison?' He did his best work in prison.

And when he wasn't traveling, he was writing. And so, he's writing all these letters to everybody. Many, we probably don't have. Aren't you thankful for the book pilgrim's progress? Do you realize, if John bunyan hadn't been in prison, you wouldn't have pilgrim's progress? He wrote it because he was bored out of his mind in prison. And he started to be inspired about this allegory of the Christian life and he wrote this whole incredible allegory that has been one of the best sellers next to the Bible - did you know that? Pilgrim's progress.

If you've not read it, you need to read that. Alright, moving along, the saints in rome - Romans 1:7, "to all who are in rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ." His intent was for the Christians in all of rome to read the epistle. He clearly says this is for everyone to read. Now someone's going to read, for me, Hebrews 2:9 - in just a moment. I'm going to read Ephesians 4 - :4, "just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love," - so those he calls 'saints in rome' - those are designated saints - that means those called to be holy ones.

And he shows that God had called the gentiles, as much as the jews, to be holy ones. And the blessing of the Gospel is freely to go to them all. God wants everyone to be saved. Go ahead, read, please, Hebrews 2:9. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that he, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

" He might taste death for who? Everyone. I thought it was only for jews - or only for Christians. Some people say Jesus only died for the elect. In other words, the ones who would accept salvation - he didn't really suffer for the sins of the lost, but it says he tasted death for who? Everyone. Everyone.

Whosoever will - whosoever believes in him - the Gospel's for everyone. And then you can look at 2 Peter :9, "the Lord...not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." So even before the foundation of the world he wants everyone to come to him. And, hopefully, you're heeding that call. Alright, the believers in rome. Now someone's going to read for me Romans 1:8, okay? Just a moment.

If Paul hasn't been to rome, why is he writing to the believers in rome? How did you get believers in rome if Paul and Peter had not been there yet? The answer is acts chapter 2. You go back to pentecost - notice what it says, "and there were" - "then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another" - the Holy Spirit's poured out, the apostles are preaching - "'look, are not all these who speak galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and medes and elamites, those dwelling in mesopotamia, Judea and cappadocia, pontus and asia, phrygia and pamphulia, Egypt and the parts of libya adjoining cyrene, visitors from rome, both jews and proselytes, cretan and arabs - we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.'" When you read in acts chapter 2, it says, 'there were dwelling in rome devout people out of every nation under' - I'm sorry, 'dwelling in Jerusalem devout people from every nation' - there were jews that came from rome for pentecost. They were converted under the preaching of the apostles. After pentecost they went home to rome, believers. Those early jews, who were converted at pentecost, went back to rome and they began to share their faith and it began to spread.

And by the time that Peter said it was okay to preach to the gentiles, that word reached them. Keep in mind, if you're faithful jews and they came for pentecost, they came for other feasts, didn't they? So, periodically, the believers were coming back to Jerusalem. And then they'd go back to rome. And they said, 'hey, they say the Gospel, now, is not just for us, but it can also go to gentiles.' But they said, 'but we're special.' And so Paul had to explain what the relationship between jew and gentile was, and he does this in the book of Romans. He says the Gospel is for everybody.

Anyway, friends, we hope that you have been blessed by that. I would like to reiterate that, at the beginning of our broadcast there is a free offer. We'd invite you to send for that, and it is called is it easier to be saved or lost? Ask for #124 when you call. The number to call - -788-3966 - that's actually an acronym for 866-study-more. I like that.

We'll send it to you for free. It's a great book - is it easier to be saved or lost? It goes well with the book of Romans. Read it and share it with somebody else. God bless you. We'll study His Word together again next week.

Five hundred years ago, God used martin luther to inspire a great reformation, calling people back to the foundational teachings of Scripture; however, in the centuries that followed, the church has slipped off the bedrock of truth into the valley of Lukewarm worldliness. That's why, this fall, I'll be presenting a brand-new nine-part series called foundations of faith - a perfect series for anyone seeking a personal revival and renewal in their relationship with Christ. Please plan, now, to join me in person, online, or on television and be sure to invite others to join you as well. The reformation continues. Hello friends, we're here in the Philippines overlooking the taal volcano and lake, which is one of the most interesting pieces of geography in the whole world.

For one thing, this great caldara was once the biggest volcano in the world, and now it holds a lake that holds another volcano that has a little lake in it that has another little island in it. This volcano has erupted six times, in a major way, since the 1500s and, even in 1911, there was an eruption where over 1300 people died - killed by the smoke and the ash that covered the community. There were tsunamis that came from the lake and destroyed the villages that surrounded the borders of the lake. In fact, this is one of the most carefully monitored seismic places in the Philippines. This volcano is being watched all the time and they've noticed, as of 2006, that it appears that the water temperatures are going up.

There's increased seismic activity. In other words, they know that this volcano is a ticking time bomb prepared to blow. And it's very interesting, because this place is a place of great seismic activity, but in spite of the fact that vulcanologists know this is going to blow again someday, it is a popular tourist destination. They're fighting for the real estate, they're building like mad, and sit on the edge of disaster. It makes us think about how God has given us so many warnings in His Word that the world is going to end, that Jesus is going to come, that the heavens will dissolve with a great noise and the elements will melt with fervent heat, seeing then that all these things will be dissolved, what kind of people should we be in all holy conversation and Godliness.

Friends, are you becoming distracted with the tranquil views of the world or are you preparing for the next world? Are you getting ready for the big bang? Let's face it, it's not always easy to understand everything you read in the Bible. With over 700,000 words contained in 66 books, the Bible can generate a lot of questions. To get biblical straightforward answers call in to Bible answers live - a live nationwide call-in radio program where you can talk to Pastor Doug Batchelor and ask him your most difficult Bible questions. For times and stations in your area, or to listen to answers online, visit bal.amazingfacts.org.

Name:

Email:

Prayer Request:


Share a Prayer Request
Name:

Email:

Bible Question:


Ask a Bible Question

Back To Top