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Romans 1:10-17 by Robert Dean
Series:Romans (2010)
Duration:1 hr 2 mins 5 secs

How the Justified Live
Romans 1:10–17
Romans Lesson #007
January 27, 2011

Romans 1:10 NASB “always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.” One thing a lot more of us have to pay attention to is the consistency and the frequency of our prayer life. This is not something that is a suggestion in Scripture; this is a mandate. We are, as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, to pray without ceasing. That means that this is to be a continual thing in our life, and prayer really does make a difference. James says, “we have not because we ask not.” Too often we succumb to the strain of fatalism in our culture that things will just work out the way they are going to work out and God’s will will be done, and so we justify it that way and move on. We just don’t take the time for prayer. Paul talks about the fact that he always makes mention of the Romans in his prayers, he consistently prays for them. What he is emphasizing in this section from verse 10 down through verse 15 is his desire to come to Rome and to have a ministry among these believers.

Then he lists the first of three reasons for his coming to Rome. Romans 1:11 NASB “For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established.” This is an odd way of stating this because Paul isn’t using the phrase “spiritual gift” like he uses it in 1 Corinthians 12-14 or Romans 12, or in other passages where he is referring to those special enablements that God the Holy Spirit gives every believer at the instant of salvation. Once the apostles were off the scene there was no longer going to be special revelation because there was no longer a “quality control officer” in the church. Once they were gone there is no instruction in any of the epistles on how to verify or validate divine revelation. Those were leadership and spiritual communication spiritual gifts. Then there are other spiritual gifts related to leadership such as in administration and service, and this is usually found in those who serve as deacons and many others in the local church. There are gifts of helps and mercy and other gifts of service that can cover a wide variety of manifestations. But that is not what Paul is talking about here, even though he uses the same word, CHARISMA, which is from the Greek word CHARIS meaning grace. It is a gracious bestowal of something. That is the word for gift. The word for “spiritual” is the word PNEUMATIKOS which is the same word that is used for the spiritual man in 1 Corinthians 2:14 as opposed to the natural man; but as an adjective it is also used in passages like 1 Corinthians 12-14 to talk about the spiritual endowments. But that doesn’t make sense here. Paul is not the one to impart spiritual gifts; it is the Holy Spirit who gives spiritual gifts at the instant of salvation. What Paul is talking about here is to impart to them something from his spiritual gift which will provide edification and spiritual blessing for those in Rome: that there will be the basis on which they will be able to grow. So it should be understood to means something like, “I long to see you that I may impart to you something from my spiritual gift so that you may be established.” This is the best way to understand the use of this particular term.

Then the second reason he wants to come to Rome. Romans 1:12 NASB “that is, that I may be encouraged together with you {while} among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.” This is an important verse, one of those that people run right past but there is something important here. This is the apostle Paul who is saying that one of the reasons he wants to come to this congregation is not so that he can teach them but that they can encourage him. Within the body of Christ we have a mutual ministry, and this is part of the reason we have spiritual gifts. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12 we are members of one another. There is a mutuality in ministry. There are all of these different challenges or exhortations to believers that we are to love one another, we are to encourage one another, we are to edify one another, we are to pray for one another; all of these different ministries that we are to do to one another. There is a back and forth ministry that takes place within the body of Christ. So Paul tells them that not only does he want to come and teach them from his spiritual gift of apostle but also that in watching and observing how they are growing and how God is working in their lives, how they are ministering to others within the body of Christ and taking the gospel to others outside of the body of Christ, but he will be encouraged by that. This is very similar to what we read in Hebrews 10:25 NASB “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging {one another;} and all the more as you see the day [of judgment for the church] drawing near.” The word “encouraging” here is PARAKALEO, which is the verb form of the noun that is used to describe the ministry of God the Holy Spirit as the paraclete. That doesn’t mean that we are to function like the Holy Spirit in everybody else’s Christian life, it has the idea of being an encouragement to one another. The word in Romans, SUMPARAKALEO, means to encourage together.

There are a lot of different ways we encourage each other. There are superficial ways in which Christians try to encourage one another, found in a certain number of churches, and then there are more substantive ways in which we encourage one another. One way we encourage one another is as we get to know other believers and we learn how God is working in their life. The encouragement comes by the mutual faith that is shared, and there it relates to the application of doctrine: what is believed and what is practiced on the basis of what is believed. It incorporates the totality of Christian belief and application.

Now Paul adds a new element. Romans 1:13 NASB “I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far)…” He had a desire to do something but God was not ready for him to do it. An interesting doctrine is the doctrine of our desire to do the right thing but God doesn’t let us. On Paul’s second missionary journey he wanted to take the gospel into the Roman province of Asia in western Turkey and the Holy Spirit said no—no ministry here at this time, but later on. It was a matter of timing and it is the same situation here. Paul had tried to go to Rome several times but there was always something that prevented him because the time wasn’t right. God was providing the guidance. It wasn’t that God came out of heaven and said, “Paul, don’t go now.” He just drew the arrangement of various circumstances and made it impossible for the apostle Paul to make the journey when he wanted to. That is how God works in divine guidance a lot.

“…so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles.” This word “fruit” is an important word to understand because there are too many people who think that they have been hired by the Holy Spirit to be fruit inspectors, and to go around and try to determine who is saved and who is not. And if you don’t have “fruit,” by which they mean something observable and quantifiable in your life, then you probably weren’t saved. There is a tremendous amount of people who have views related to that and the term that is used for this type of theology is called 'lordship salvation'. The reason it got that name is because in the early to mid-point of the 20th century there was an emphasis on the gospel not being just believing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but you also had to make Him Lord of your life—by which they meant that you had to commit to his total authority over your life at the same time that you believed in Him or you weren’t really saved. And the way to tell if you were really saved was to evaluate the fruit in your life, and of you didn’t have the right kind of fruit then you weren’t saved. Then they would always quote a verse out of context and say: See, “by their fruits you will know them”—you haven’t led fifty people to the Lord in the last year, you haven’t led fifty people to the Lord in the last ten years, you haven’t led fifty people to the Lord in your whole life; you’re not saved. So they set up these artificial standards to try to qualify and quantify fruit, impose that on people and say that is how you are going to tell if you are actually saved.

There is only one way to know if you are saved, and that is if you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and you are resting in Him alone, trusting in Him and Him alone for salvation; then you are saved. That is the promise of God. Our assurance is based on the promise of God and His character, not on your character. The promise with Lordship salvation is that it puts the focal point of your assurance on your character and not on the character of God and the work of Christ on the cross.

The first way in which spiritual fruit is used is in passages such as John 15:5 and Galatians 5:22-23. John 15:5 NASB “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit…” The interesting thing is that we live in a world today that is so divorced from agriculture. It takes a long time before a plant produces fruit. Fruit is not a term that is equivalent to spiritual growth, except in maybe a couple of passages. Generally fruit is something that is the product of a maturing plant. You take a seed and plant it in the soil and water it. When it germinates and there is life there that is equivalent to regeneration or being born again. But then you have to continue to fertilize it, which is like feeding it the Word of God and giving it water, like the Holy Spirit between the nutrients in the soil and the water, then that little bit of green that comes out of the seed begins to grow. If it is a tomato plant it takes 60-90 days before it can bear fruit. In some other cases, if it is an oak tree, it takes several years before it can produce acorns. So there is a lot of growth that has to take place before fruit is ever observed. It is only the maturing plant that ever produces fruit.

Fruit is also used to describe praise to God. Hebrews 13:15 NASB “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” This is actually describing what God has done and how He has done it.

In Matthew chapter seven we have the fruit of false teachers. It is not talking about their morality; it is talking about the content of what they are teaching. The context here is the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus is challenging the Pharisaical interpretation of the Mosaic Law. Matthew 7:15 NASB “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Immediately He is using a descriptive metaphor to indicate that on the outside they are going to look one way. They look good on the outside but behind the camouflage they are something else. So how do we discern if they are wolves or sheep? [16] “You will know them by their fruits…” A lot of people come along and say that must means their lifestyle, their morality. It doesn’t mean that at all. “…Grapes are not gathered from thorn {bushes} nor figs from thistles, are they? [17] So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” He is still talking about the analogy; He hasn’t crossed the line into talking about the reality yet. [18] “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” He has shifted from animals to trees. A bad tree is equivalent to a wolf in sheep’s clothing; a good tree is a sheep. What is the fruit of a prophet? It is his message.

What is Jesus doing in context here? He is giving the divine interpretation of the Mosaic Law in contrast to the Pharisaical interpretation of the Mosaic Law. So what is He talking about? He’s talking about the Mosaic Law. Where does it talk about false prophets in the Mosaic Law? There are two places where there is a test of a prophet: Deuteronomy 13 & 18. In Deuteronomy 13, if a healer, a miracle worker, a dreamer of dreams comes and performs a miracle and it actually occurs don’t believe his message; don’t believe that it came from God. That doesn’t mean anything. What is important is not the miracle; what is important is the message. When he says 'Let us go after other gods', that message contradicts the Word of God on Mount Sinai; therefore he is a false prophet. You identify a false prophet by a false message. A false message is bad fruit. So Jesus is not talking about lifestyle here, He is talking about message. “By their fruits (message) you will know them.” What Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-20 is exactly the same as what Moses said in Deuteronomy 13. A prophet’s message has to be consistent with everything else that has been accepted as the revealed Word of God.

Fruit is used in Romans 1:13, our passage, for general spiritual edification. Some of the passages to go to for character qualities that are developed over time in the life of the believer are Galatians 5:22, 23; Ephesians 5:8, 9; Philippians 1:10, 11; 4:16-18 (spiritual growth that has occurred).

Romans 1:14 NASB “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. [15] So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. [16] For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. [17] For in it {the} righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘BUT THE RIGHTEOUS {man} SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.’”