Saturday, 10 October 2020

How Paul Handled The Gospel (Part 1)

We have to understand what the gospel truly is. We simply cannot continue like this. If you look at all of Paul's letters, it always starts with unveiling Christ. After he has used like 65% of that letter to unveil Christ, then the remaining 35% will be used to explain the proper response to the sighting of this unveiled Christ. Or rather he paints a picture of how practically living in the this Christ looks like. Look at Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, they all follow the same pattern. 

Let me start from Romans, because Romans is the largest letter he wrote. While writing this letter Paul had never been to the ecclesia in Rome before. He could not go to Rome for many years because Jews were ban from Rome. But Emperor Nero lifted that ban. This resulted to the Jews — especially those who are Christian, both old convert and new convert — returned back to Rome. After returning back, they had to gather together and form an ecclesia. 

Nobody planted the ecclesia in Rome. It was more like a transplanted ecclesia, because people that were planted in other ecclesia all over the Greco-Roman world came together to form an ecclesia in Rome. By looking at this background story you will understand why this letter is very lengthy and why the content. Paul was writing to an ecclesia he didn't planted, an ecclesia he had never visited before. This is his first sermon or teaching to this ecclesia, so he had to include everything he believe they should know about the gospel.

He started the letter by explaining that we are justified simply by faith in Christ. Just as Abraham believed God and that faith was counted to him as righteousness, so also have we all been declared righteous because we believe in Jesus. Then he moved on to explain that we don't have to worry about the issue of sin and death, for it has been dealt with on the cross. Sin is no longer an issue, so let's talk about Christ and the righteous in him. However, Paul recognized that some people would still not be ready to let go of the issue of sin, they will still want to fight sin with the Law, rules and regulations, don't and dos. 

So in chapter 7 he tried to demonstrate how the law, rules and regulations, don't and dos, only make things worse. They don't help at all. 

"I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died." (Rom 7:9).

Without the law he was alive, but the moment the law came he died. The law made everything worse. This is because once sin sees the law it holds a revival meeting and begins to burn with a renewed passion. I pray God will help you understand that. 

As a result of death in man's members, man has become naturally rebellious. The moment you tell him that something is bad and that he shouldn't do it, that is when a passion to do that thing will just arise from within him. He would suddenly realise that everything inside of him just want to do that thing that you said he shouldn't do. 

"And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway." (Rom 7:18-19).

You are not helping matters by telling man that "this thing is right do it, and this thing is bad don't do it". You are only making things worse. Stop it, just stop it! So what then should we tell man to help them overcome sin? This is where Paul brings us to chapter 8 as he begins to tell us about the reality in Christ. He started explaining the laws and the reality that is in Christ, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:2). He began describing a whole new reality, a new creation that operates with a different law than the old creation. 

In essence, Paul was saying, what you are supposed to tell Christians, the only thing we are supposed to discuss is the reality in Christ. Forget the issue of sin, that is no longer a problem. Forget don't and dos, rules and regulations, they only makes things worse. Focus on teaching and describing the reality in Christ. In Christ you are not struggling to be righteous, rather you effortlessly doing righteous things because it is who you are. Tell them who they are in Christ and teach them how to walk in that reality. 

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