Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Mankind's Greatest Problem ]

Lonnie Branam

Romans 1: 14-16 says, “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Paul felt in debt to everybody. The God who saved him, saved him that he might preach the gospel in every place he could reach. Those in the church who have received much from God are much the debtors to others. They are debtors not only to the respectable, but also the disreputable, not only the honorable but also to the dishonorable. . They are debtors not only to those who come to a place of worship but to the heathen and barbarians, to the wise and unwise, to the rich and poor and to the high and lowly. Paul means that we are under obligation to preach the gospel to all people in all conditions and in all nations. As he had preached the gospel to other nations in the Middle East and had established many churches and converted many people, he desired now to preach the gospel in Rome and convert many Romans.. As far as I am concerned, said Paul, I am read to preach the gospel to you in Rome also

Many people are ashamed of the gospel of Christ To some it is too simple and doesn't have enough mystery to it. To them who have put their trust in human wisdom, the gospel is foolishness. To others it is not scientific enough and is not in accord with human wisdom and learning, but Paul was not ashamed of gospel. The philosophy and worldly wisdom of his day did not affect his respect for the gospel of Jesus Christ. The apostle then proceeds to give his reason for not being ashamed of it. The reason is the great truth that it is God's power to salvation for everyone who believes it, for Jews first and also for Gentiles. We learn from that statement that Jews need the gospel to be saved as well as Gentiles. Paul was an example; the gospel saved him, and it will save all other Jews who believe and obey it. The word power is the Greek word for our English word dynamite. The gospel has great spiritual, moral and religious power to move the minds of men. and women. The gospel is called God's power to salvation because it contains all the provisions and conditions which God has ordained for the salvation of mankind. It tells all people, regardless of race or religion, what they must believe and what they must do to inherit eternal life. If people will believe it and obey it, it will save them. Salvation is viewed by the apostle as something difficult to achieve, and so much so that its requires God's power to accomplish it. The gospel is that power. Not only so; it is God's only power to save people. No other provision exists


to bless people with salvation. Therefore all, Jew or Gentile, who are not saved by the gospel will never be saved at all. For all who reject the gospel there is no hope. They are lost.

There are three powerful enemies and antagonists that oppose God's plan to save the human race by the gospel of Christ. . They are the world, the flesh and Satan. If any person loves the world, that is, the sinful desires of the body, sinful desires of the eye and the pride of life-- the love of God the Father is not in that person. If we live after the flesh and fulfill the desires of the flesh, we will die. The word “die” here does not refer to physical death but spiritual death in the world to come. The Bible speaks of two deaths. Physical death is the first death; punishment in the world to come is called the second death. The flesh must be controlled. Satan is our greatest antagonist, and we are exhorted to put on the whole armor of God that we might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. If you do not believe in the existence of Satan and his fallen angels, you have problem!. It is because of him that you have to go to the grave. Jesus taught that Satan murdered the human race by tempting the first man and woman to sin, and they represented the entire human race on that occasion. Satan and the fallen angels continue to tempt the human race, and every human being succumbs to evil and stands in need of forgiveness and reconciliation with God. These evil powers must be overcome in your life and mine, if we hope to go to heaven. Nothing short of the gospel of Christ can do this. It is called God's power because it proceeds from Him. It is called God's power for salvation because He has provided it as the only means of salvation. God will most certainly refuse to save anyone who rejects the gospel of Christ.

God has placed the gospel of Christ in the New Testament. It can be read, heard, preached and taught, but these provisions alone will not give us the power we need. Many people have heard it preached and taught, but it didn't save them. The gospel is God's power to salvation only to those who believe it. It must be written in our hearts, and to be written on the heart we must accept it, believe it, and understand it. If we do not understand what it is there is no way it can be written on our hearts. To write it on the heart is to write it in the mind and understanding.

What is the gospel of Christ that has power to save human beings? Is it everything that is written in the 27 books of the New Testament?. If that is the meaning it would take a person a very long


time to become a Christian. No, the word gospel in this passage does not mean all that Jesus and the apostles taught. Sometime it carries that meaning, but not in this passage. It is a well understood that the word gospel literally means good news or a good message. The word as used by Paul in this passage means the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. That is the good news to the human race, to Jews and Gentiles, to the good and bad, and to the religious and unreligious. The fundamental truth of the good news is that Jesus Christ is the Divine Son of God from heaven. God sent Him to die for the sins of the human race, and thereby make the human race acceptable to God the Father. This is the specific belief that all mankind must accept in order to receive salvation. or forgiveness. This is the whole matter of faith. To believe the gospel is to believe that Jesus Christ was an incarnate Deity when He lived among men on earth. He came from heaven and dwelled among us in the flesh for 33 years. . The facts which convince the mind that He was an incarnate Deity are: His sacrificial death, burial and resurrection. That is the good news.

The fundamental elements of the good news are: the death, burial and resurrection Christ on the third day. Couched in these three biographical facts: Christ's death, burial and resurrection, is the saving message to the world . No person can reject it and be saved. Woe be to all people who reject this belief, by ignorance, misunderstanding, pride, prejudice, human wisdom, false religion, an evil life etc. I entitled this message, “Mankind's Greatest Problem.” I think you know what this is. The greatest problem of mankind is to believe the gospel of Christ. It is their greatest problem because it will shut them out of heaven. Yet, most of mankind cannot bring themselves to believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Mankind has no problem greater than this, for eternal life is at stake. The greatest of all reasons why so many millions of people in the world are not Christians is that they do not believe and will not believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These three truths proved His Divinity. The greatest reason why so many people do not become Christians is that they do not believe in the Deity and Divinity of Christ. They cannot believe that He was both God and man when He lived on the earth. Nevertheless, God's word is unchangeable, and. God's plan of salvation is only for those who believe the greatest event of human history. Despite all this unbelief, it is written in the word of God, “the gospel is God's power for salvation.” God will use no other power to save mankind. Mankind will accept His plan or answer for it at the judgment.


Finally, permit me to point out that there is more to God's plan of salvation than just man's willingness to believe the gospel of Christ, to accept and understand the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and to believe it with all our heart. In the passage under consideration, Paul was speaking only with what mankind must believe, but Paul did not say what else they must do to be saved. There is something to believe and there is something to do. Simply to believe who Christ was and what Christ did for the human race will save no one. Paul did not discuss in this passage all that is required to become a Christian. This belief is essential to salvation. Without faith it is impossible to please God. One cannot please God who rejects the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Faith in the risen Christ as Lord and Savior is just one of many facts to be believed in the Christian religion. Faith in the Deity and Divinity of Christ is only the first requirement to become a Christian. God does not forgive a person or add his name to the Lamb's book of life and make him an heir of heaven. at the time he believes in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and accepts Christ in his heart as Lord and Savior.

Many sincere people who believe the good news of Christ. with all of their hearts have a serious misunderstanding of what Paul said in this passage under study. Paul did not teach that God saves a person at the time he believes in Christ as Lord and Savior. Paul did not preach the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Paul did not teach it in Romans 1:16. God requires more of people to become Christians than merely believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. To believe the good news is only the first step in being saved. There are a few additional steps that must be taken before our lives are made right with God. The word of God clearly teaches that faith without works is dead. James made this statement in regard to living a Christian life, and it would apply equally to conversion and being born again. The apostle John said, “As many as received Christ, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” We should not undervalue the importance of faith, for the only ones who are given a right to become children of God are those who believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. But to receive Christ in your heart as Lord does not make you a child of God; it only gives you the right to become a child of God.

I realize this disagrees with much preaching and teaching in Christendom, but salvation by faith alone is an erroneous doctrine and a very dangerous doctrine. Without faith in Christ no one can be saved, but those who would be saved by the gospel must not stop short at faith. To faith must be added obedience, but to believe the good new comes first.


To belief must be added obedience, but faith in Christ comes first, and obedience comes next as something prompted by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. There is an obedience to the gospel that is required. Not only is there something lost people must believe; there is also something lost people must do to receive God's salvation.

One of the dangerous teachings in Christendom that has confused the religious world is making so much depend on believing and so little on obedience. In saying that the gospel is God's power to salvation to all who believe, Paul was speaking of only one requirement of salvation, only one aspect of salvation, the first aspect of salvation. He was not speaking of the full scheme of redemption. Jesus said, “Preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Jesus did not say, “He who believes and is saved shall be baptized.” Jesus put the word saved after baptism, and what preacher has the right to change what Jesus said. No one can disobey that command and hope to be saved. That one statement should prevent anyone from misunderstanding Romans 1:16. Sadly, many churches in Christendom have misunderstood Romans 1:16 and have interpreted this passage to mean salvation is received the moment one receives Jesus in the heart as Lord and Savior. To believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world is indeed a great accomplishment in of itself, but it will admit no one into the Kingdom of God on earth and will not confer forgiveness of sins to the believer.

Most preachers in Christendom are quite competent in bringing people to faith in Christ and convincing them to believe that Christ is the Savior of the world. However, to bring them to faith in Christ is not to bring them to obedience. For example, Jesus said, “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born of the water and Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Born of water refers to baptism; born of the Holy Spirit refers to the Spirit bring sinners to faith and repentance. Jesus said except people repent they will perish. If people are saved at the time of faith only, they are saved before they repent and before baptism. Faith-only preachers have a problem with these words of Jesus. Unless you are born of water and the Spirt you cannot enter the kingdom of God. Who is that preacher who would dare ignore this command and refuse to require all who would be saved to add baptism and repentance to their faith in Christ. Preachers who refuse to preach this command have a greater problem than they even realize. I am glad that all preachers are able to bring people to faith in Christ, and that is a great achievement; but my fear is that faith-only preachers leave the people standing outside


the door of the kingdom of God on earth Repentance and baptism are as essential to salvation as faith in Christ. I heard one speaker on national television explain the command to be “born of water” to mean that it refers to the woman whose water breaks just before she gives birth. What a terrible thing to say about Holy scripture! Born of water and the Spirit is talking about a spiritual birth, the new birth, and not the physical birth that a woman performs.

Nevertheless I am glad the gospel or good news is preached, and I am glad that so many people in the religious world have come to believe the gospel. Yet, many have not completed their obedience and are not yet in the kingdom of God on the earth. But they are not far from the kingdom. They are living in suburbs of the church and have not come in, but unless they are born of the water of baptism(Acts 2:38), they remain unforgiven and cannot enter God's kingdom. When they do what Jesus said to do, they will step through the door of the kingdom among God's people. My hope for them is that in the providence of God, they will come to a knowledge of the truth and complete their obedience to God's plan of salvation. They are not far from the kingdom. They are standing just outside the door. Consider what I say, and the Lord give you understanding.

However, let me say again that this misunderstanding in the religious world that salvation comes immediately when the gospel is believed, without complying with other obedience acts commanded, is not the greatest religious problem in the world. The greatest problem is the refusal of multiplied millions of people to believe the gospel. To believe that Jesus was both God and Man, to believe that He was a Divine Being who existed with God at the beginning of the world. To believe in the divinity of Christ is the greatest problem the human race has, for refusal to believe it will shut them out of heaven. When a sound gospel preacher brings unbelievers to believe the gospel, convinces them to believe that Jesus Christ is God's divine Son and the Savior of the world, usually the knowledgeable preacher will have no trouble in leading them from faith to obedience and complete their conversion by repentance and immersion in water. To convince an unbelieving world to believe the gospel of Christ is the greatest problem of the church

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