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CONVERSION INTO THE LOCAL CHURCH
IN THE BOOK OF ROMANS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, March 17, 2002


"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:1-7).

This message will be somewhat different from most sermons I preach. I am not what is popularly called an "expository preacher." That is to say, I usually preach an exposition of one or two verses of Scripture with an application. My sermons are not running commentaries on several verses of Scripture as a rule.

But this morning I am giving you an inductive study of several themes that appear in the Book of Romans. By "inductive" I mean "A bringing forward of facts to prove something" (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, G. and C. Merriam, 1960, p. 427).

The Scofield Reference Bible (1917, p. 1191) gives this statement, "The theme of Romans is 'the Gospel of God' (1:1), the very widest possible designation of the whole body of redemptive truth…" No book in the New Testament is more important than the Book of Romans. The very heart of the great teachings of the Bible on subjects concerning salvation are laid out in its pages, and I want us to examine several of them this morning.

I. The Book of Romans is addressed to a local church.

I believe that this is critical. We cannot fully understand Romans unless we realize that the Apostle was writing to the local church at Rome. He was writing to a local, New Testament church like ours. When he says that this epistle is written "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God" (Romans 1:7), he is not addressing a mass of people. He is speaking to all who are in Rome who gather in a local church there. This is made quite clear in the last chapter, when he says,

"Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you…"

(Romans 16:23).

It is also clear that the Apostle directs his words to this church in connection with other local churches, such as the church in Cenchrea (16:1) and the "churches of the Gentiles" (16:4). He speaks of other local churches, in different cities, that are the same as the local church at Rome.

At the end of chapter sixteen, the Apostle lists the names of several members of the local church at Rome, such as Gaius, Erastus, and Quartus (Romans 16:23). So, it is clear that these were definite members of this local congregation, and he names some of those church members.

This is an important point in our day, when membership in a local church is treated very lightly. These people in Rome were members of one local congregation or church. They knew who those members were. Several of the names of the members of this local church are given by the Holy Spirit to show us this.

That is very important for you young people today. We say to you, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church!" We say this because the cure for your loneliness and your salvation and growth as a Christian depend upon you joining and participating in a local church like this one. Come home - to church! Get involved! Listen to the preaching of the Gospel and get saved! That's the way to become a New Testament Christian!

II. The Book of Romans teaches original sin.

This is critical. You cannot become a living member of a New Testament church without dealing with the question of the depravity of your nature.

The Book of Romans teaches us that Adam's personal offence against God is imputed to us. Adam's sin is counted by God as our sin:

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).

"…by the offence of one judgment came upon all men…"

(Romans 5:18).

We are guilty in ourselves before God, "by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men" (Romans 5:18). That sin of Adam is imputed to you, put on your account. You have guilt on your record from Adam.

Then, too, Adam's fallen and ruined nature was imparted to all his seed, to the whole human race:

"…by one man's [Adam's] disobedience many were made sinners" (Romans 5:19).

This is made very clear in Romans 3:9-20. Please turn there in your Bible, as we look at several verses:

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one"

(Romans 3:10).

"There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God" (Romans 3:11).

"They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one"

(Romans 3:12).

These are very plain verses which show that no person is righteous, "no, not one" (Romans 3:10). No one seeks after God, "there is none that seeketh after God" (Romans 3:11). "There is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Romans 3:12).

Adam's fallen nature has been inherited by you. This makes it impossible for you to be saved by doing good things, or by trying to be good:

"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin"

(Romans 3:20).

No one can be saved by trying to follow the Ten Commandments, or any of the rules or laws of the Bible. It is impossible for you to be saved that way because you have inherited a ruined nature, indeed a "dead" nature, from Adam (cf. Ephesians 2:1, 5).

III. The Book of Romans teaches regeneration.

By regeneration, we mean the "new birth" (cf. John 3:3, 7). The new birth, or regeneration (another word for the same event) is a miracle that happens when you are converted. It takes the miracle of the new birth to transform a guilty sinner with a dead nature into a child of God. The Book of Romans teaches all this very clearly.

Romans tells us that every person in his natural, unconverted state is in rebellion against God. Please turn to Romans, chapter eight:

"Because the carnal [unconverted] mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be"

(Romans 8:7).

The Book of Romans teaches us that a miracle, the miracle of the new birth, must be experienced by you, or you will remain, in your heart, an enemy of God. Turn to Romans, chapter eight:

"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Romans 8:11).

It takes the quickening (making alive) of the Holy Spirit to give you the new birth, to regenerate you. People have no power to convert themselves. Conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit in the human heart of sinners, according to Romans 8:11. Have you been regenerated? If not, no work, or human effort on your part can save you, or even help to save you. This is why the "decisionism" promoted by Finney is so wrong. No human "decision" of any kind can take the place of the quickening of a dead soul by the Holy Spirit of God.

IV. The Book of Romans teaches justification by faith in Christ alone.

The righteousness of Christ is imputed (put on the account of) the person who has saving faith in Jesus. Turn to Romans, chapter four:

"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness"

(Romans 4:5).

Then, notice the next verse:

"Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works"

(Romans 4:6).

These verses make it clear that the righteousness of Jesus Christ is put on your account when you exercise saving faith in Him.

Also, the imputed righteousness of Christ gives us peace with God. We do not obtain peace with God by doing good. Peace with God comes by saving faith in Christ alone:

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Romans 5:10).

The person who has saving faith in Christ is reconciled to God from his former enmity and active rebellion against God.

Also, the wrath of God against the sinner is placated through saving faith in Christ:

"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood…" (Romans 3:24-25).

When a lost person exercises saving faith in the Blood of Christ, the anger (wrath) of God is appeased, or propitiated.

Imputation makes a person righteous in the sight of God. Holiness is the outworking of the inward regeneration of the soul:

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:1-2).

We must keep in mind that the members of the church at Rome came out of a pagan world. They had no understanding of Christianity whatever before they came to church. This may have made it easier for them to receive the message of the Apostle than it is for a modern person. People today have many preconceived ideas of what a real Christian is. So, when they come to the Book of Romans, they have to give up their old ideas and receive new ones - which isn't easy. I have given inductive study of four different topics in the Book of Romans on

1. The local church

2. Original sin

3. Regeneration

4. Justification

Application

Several false ideas of our time are corrected by the teaching of Romans on these subjects:

1. The Catholic church teaches that Adam's sin is washed away at baptism, and that righteousness is infused through partaking the sacraments of their church. The Bible teaches that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the sinner at conversion through faith in Christ.

2. The decisionists teach that some other human action, experience, or doctrinal belief is the source of justification. The Bible teaches that justification is imputed to the sinner at conversion through faith in Christ.

3. The person who is justified through faith in Christ is the only true member of the local church.

4. You must come to the end of yourself, and hate your sin, before you can find justification in Christ, Romans 7:24-25.

5. Only when all of your plans and hopes of being saved some other way are given up will you come to Jesus to have His righteousness imputed to you.

6. When you are converted, you are then ready for baptism into local church membership, Romans 6:3-4; I Corinthians 12:13-14.


(END OF SERMON)


Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"Complete in Thee" by James M. Gray (1857-1935).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."




THE OUTLINE OF

CONVERSION INTO THE LOCAL CHURCH
IN THE BOOK OF ROMANS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:1-7).

I.   The Book of Romans is addressed to a local church,
Romans 1:7; Romans 16:23, 1, 4.

II.  The Book of Romans teaches original sin, Romans 5:12;
Romans 5:18, 19; Romans 3:10-12, 20; Ephesians 2:1, 5.

III. The Book of Romans teaches regeneration, John 3:3, 7;
Romans 8:7, 11.

IV.  The Book of Romans teaches justification by faith in
Christ alone, Romans 4:5, 6; Romans 5:1, 10;
Romans 3:24-25; Romans 6:1-2; Romans 7:24-25;
Romans 6:3-4; I Corinthians 12:13-14.