PRACTICAL LECTURES ON ROMANS
Greatest Book in the Bible
J. FRANK NORRIS
This volume is affectionately dedicated to my Jonathan in the ministry, who, for twenty-five years, has been my most faithful and efficient co-worker
– G. Beauchamp Vick.
J. Frank NORRIS, PASTOR OF FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, FORT WORTH, AND TEMPLE BAPTIST CHURCH, DETROIT . . . FOLLOWING REPORT OF ELEVEN YEARS’ JOINT PASTORATE:
18,200 additions to both churches.
Over nineteen hundred thousand dollars raised for all purposes.
Two million dollars of real estate and buildings of both churches.
Fifteen million, six hundred twenty-four thousand copies of Fundamentalist, weekly paper, has carried the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.
During the time, 36 years Fort Worth, 11 years Detroit, the pastor has traveled 854,000 miles.
Two largest Sunday Schools in the world judged by the average attendance.
Both Sunday Schools use Bible only as textbook in all classes instead of hop-skip International lesson series.
Both Churches support New Testament World Fundamental Baptist Missionary Fellowship, and have no part or lot in any ecclesiastical machine.
Romans – a treatise on the divinely- appointed means for producing righteousness in man.
INTRODUCTION: Rom. 1:1-15.
(1). Personal salutation Rom. 1:1-7
(a). Authorship. Rom. 1:1.
(b). Theme of the book. Rom. 1:1.
(c). Based on the authority of the Scriptures. Cf. Luke 24:44-45; I Cor. 15:3-4.
(d). The human character of Christ. Rom. 1:3.
(e). The divine character of Christ. Rom. 1:4.
(f). Apostleship to all nations. Rom. 1:5.
(g). The Roman Christians included in “among all nations.” Rom. 1:6.
(h). “Grace” and “peace” – peace a result of grace. Cf. I Cor. 1:3; 11 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil. 1:2; Col. 1:2; I Thes. 1:1; II Thes. 1:2; Philem. 3.
(2). Paul’s personal affection for the church at Rome. Rom. 1:8-15.
The faith of the church in Rome
(a). Their faith – meaning truth or doctrine. Cf. Jude 1:3.
Not personal faith for justification.
(b). Paul’s continual prayer for the church.
(c). Chief ambition was to go to Rome. Rom. 1:10; Cf. Acts 19:21; Acts 23:11; Acts 25:11; Acts 28:16; Phil. 4:22.
(d). To impart some spiritual gift to the church at Rome. Rom. 1:11,
(e). Comforted by mutual faith. Rom. 1:12.
(f). Paul’s ambition to have fruit among Roman Christians.
(g). “I am debtor.”
(h). Ambition to preach the gospel in the world’s greatest city. Rom. 1:15.
- The Great Theme. Rom. 1:16-17.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith – ”
(1). “Not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”
(2). It is the power of God.
(3). Unto salvation.
(4). To everyone that believeth.
(5). The righteousness of God revealed therein.
(6). Justification by faith. Hab. 2:4; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38.
Slogan of the Reformation by Luther.
III. A Guilty World Under the Wrath of God. Rom. 1:18.
(1). The wrath of God also revealed as righteousness. Multitude of examples from the Flood to the present war.
(2). God can be known. Rom. 1:19; Cf. Psa. 19.
(3). God can be known from the material creation. Rom. 1:20.
(4). So they are without excuse. Rom. 1:20.
(5). Devilution verses Evolution. Rom. 1:21-23.
(a). “When they knew God.”
(b). “They glorified Him not as God.”
(c). “Neither were thankful.”
(d). “But became vain in their imaginations.”
(e). “Their foolish heart was darkened.”
(f). “Professing themselves to be wise.”
(g). “Became fools.”
(h). “Changed incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man.”
(6). Downward plunge into depravity.
(7). Three-fold divine judgment. The unpardonable sin – “God also gave them up.” Rom. 1:24, 25, 28.
(8). Twenty-three indictments. Rom. 1:29-32.
Golden Text – Memorize Rom. 1:16-17
- NORRIS: I call this outline a treatise on the divinely appointed means of producing righteousness in man. I have thought for four months on what I should call it. I may find something that will improve on that, but I think that epitomizes this book.
In every book there is what we call the approach or the salutation. In every one of his epistles, Paul signs his name in the beginning.
Then if you notice, right at the beginning of practically every book the theme of the book is stated. It is very important to find out at the very first of a book what is the subject.
If Daniel Webster had two hours for an address to make before a jury or court, he would take one-half of that time stating the theme of his address. And he would so fairly state the case that they could not tell which side he was going to take.
Thus in studying the epistles of Paul we find he states very clearly what is the theme.
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.”
We sign our names at the close of our letters, but Paul signed his name first. The issue was his apostleship and authorship.
My plan to study this marvelous book, the profoundest, and at the same time the simplest – the most logical book in the Bible – study it just like when Ma would cook a big loaf of home made salt rising bread and put a pound of butter on the table and a whole rasher of fresh honey in the comb – just slice off the bread, put on the butter and honey – stir the honey and butter together – and eat till you are satisfied. That is exactly what the word says, “Taste.” That is what David said, “Sweeter also than honey and the honey comb.” That is what the angel told an old preacher on the Isle of Patmos, “Take it and eat it up.”
I am not going to follow any hair splitting methods, but just take it and eat it.
So we find the theme of the Book of Romans in the first verse of the first chapter – “The Gospel of God.”
Four times the theme of the book is stated in the first sixteen verses of the first chapter:
(1). “The gospel of God” – which means it has God for its author.
(2). “The gospel of His Son,” which means that Christ is the central theme of the gospel.
(3). “The gospel that is preached,” which means that is the only theme, the only message of all preaching.
(4). “The gospel of Christ,” which means it is the power of God unto salvation.
The word gospel means “Good news.”
Therefore the book of Romans is God’s good news of salvation to a lost world.
“Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures.”
Paul’s authority is the Old Testament Scriptures.
Paul always quotes from the Old Testament. That is what he meant when he said, “According to the Scriptures,” as in I Corinthians 15:3-4.
Jesus magnifies the Old Testament Scriptures by referring to them five times in Luke 24:44.
“And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”
“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.”
“Concerning his son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Jesus used the same word that Luke used in 24:44 – “Concerning me.”
Four terms are used “concerning” the Saviour:
(1). “His Son” – “the only begotten of the Father.”
(2). “Jesus” – “Because He shall save His people from their sins.”
(3). “Christ” – the anointed one in the three-fold capacity of prophet, priest, and king.
(4). “Lord” – the highest title, for when all things are finished and He reigns, His title, “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
The Human Side of Christ
(1). “Which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Christ is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.
II Samuel 7:16, “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.” He is therefore a fulfillment of the four-fold Davidic Covenant:
(1). A Davidic “house” – posterity, family.
(2). A “throne” – royal authority.
(3). A kingdom – sphere of rule.
(4). In perpetuity – “for ever.”
(2). The divine Sonship, the deity of Christ:
“And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
(1). Not “made” the Son of God, but “declared” the Son of God. He was “made” the human Christ of the seed of David. But He was not “made” the Son of God. The two words “To be” in verse 4 are not in the original. There is an infinite difference between “made” the Son after the flesh, and “declared” the Son of God.
That is the meaning of the profound prologue of the gospel of John:
John 1:1-2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.”
He is from everlasting to everlasting – He is the eternal Son of God.
Three Evidences That He Is the Son of God
(1). His divine “Power” – “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”
(2). “The spirit of holiness” – “without sin.”
(3). The resurrection from the dead.
Not his sinless life, matchless words, miracles, or death, but His resurrection is the crowning evidence that He is the Son of God.
There were two indictments brought against Him:
First, the indictment of blasphemy before the Jewish court, and Second, the indictment of sedition before the Roman Court.
And he had to die and rise from the dead to prove that he was guiltless of both indictments. And by rising He proved, demonstrated, declared, that He is the Son of God, the King of kings.
“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.”
“By whom we have received grace and apostleship” – this approach puts us under obligation to all men – and then he thrusts out that clause so all-inclusive – “among all nations.”
In everyone of the epistles we find these words: “Grace and peace” – “Grace, mercy, and peace” – you never find it “Peace and Grace.” It is from God to man.
Then passing through the entire epistle, we find that Paul deals largely in a personal way, without any apology.
“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.”
And now we notice here is personal affection for a church he had never seen. His chief ambition was to go to that church, for he says in the eighth verse, “Your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” And that is not faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or the faith of their personal salvation by which they are justified, but it means the truth or doctrine.
Then notice his continual prayer. It would be exceedingly interesting and profitable to us if we noted how he talked about prayer.
“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.”
First, he says, “without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,” And almost without exception he always says, “And pray for me.”
Oh, how we should stand with bowed heads in the presence of the greatest man time ever witnessed, and yet with an humble heart he calls upon all churches everywhere to pray with all prayer and supplication – “And for me.”
“Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.”
Then he refers to his chief ambition, which was to go to Rome, the “Eternal City.” Rome was the center of the ancient world. Rome gave the world its laws for all coming time. All the great military machines today are based on Rome.
Paul says, “I want to come to Rome that I may impart some spiritual gift to you.”
It would be interesting to show how he gave spiritual gifts and they gave material gifts to him.
“For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established.”
Then he says, “That I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” – “by your faith and my faith.” His ambition was to have fruit among them as among all the churches. His ambition was to preach the gospel in the greatest city of the world.
And let me stop here and say, especially to the younger brethren in the ministry, somebody will come along and tell you, you shouldn’t be ambitious. That is not true. You should be ambitious to excel for Jesus’ sake. You should be ambitious to preach to the greatest crowd God can give you.
God used Joe English – God laid His hand on a trembling lad, and I preached my first sermon in Joe English’s pulpit – and Joe, I love you because you told me I had to preach for you one night. I never shall forget it. My first sermon was on a text that I didn’t know a thing in the world about – “Behold the lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” But I said then, “God being my helper I will preach in the greatest cities and pulpits the world around.” Some of the dear brethren used to think I was too ambitious. Don’t let them make you believe it. You can’t be too ambitious for Jesus Christ. That’s my feeling about it. I am ambitious for Jesus Christ. Don’t go around and say, “I am a poor miserable worm of the dust.” I am no miserable worm of the dust. I am a child of the King. I am an heir of God. I am joint heir with Jesus Christ. I am ambitious for Jesus Christ! (Amen.) We shouldn’t see a man on earth we are afraid of. Oh, when I walked across that long room and looked into the face of the Italian dictator – he wasn’t embarrassed a bit in my presence – (laughter). I have seen three Popes and it had no effect on me.
But I wasn’t embarrassed either – I am Ambassador for the King. That’s the way I feel about it. (Amens.)
“That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”
What two greater blessings do we need?
First, “established,” and Second, “Comforted.”
How in this terrible hour with the bottomless abyss of hell uncapped and storms distressing and disturbing the whole sea of humanity – “to the end you may be established!”
And how in the distress, the overwhelming darkness – how we need “to be comforted together!”
And how? – “by mutual faith.”
That means that we pool our faith, the man of strong faith and the man of weak faith – That’s real fellowship!
Desire for Fruit Among the Roman Christians
“Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you (but was let hitherto), that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.”
It was the supreme purpose, the ambition of his whole life to go to Rome.
In the midst of the mob at Jerusalem – and the stars shine their brightest in the darkest hour – these words:
Acts 23:11, “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”
And to me one of the highest mountain peaks of the whole Bible is the fulfilled purpose, the crowning achievement, no regrets, no hurts, no bitterness, but overflowing thanksgiving – Acts 28:15, “And as far as Appii forum, The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.”
His Universal Debt
“I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.”
There was no class distinction in Paul’s love for all men. There were no racial lines. He did not array the rich against the poor, Jew against Gentile, but he loved all men, all classes, all races.
The Measure of His Love
“So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.”
Oh, the depths of that expression – “As much as in me is!”
That means all of soul, body, mind, strength, talent, and nerve – it means all that he is, for time and for eternity, for life or for death. That is real consecration.
And mark you, he was not going to Rome to reform Rome.
He was not going to Rome to change the Roman government. Though he did not agree with the paganism of Rome or the militarism of Rome, yet he was not going on any “social service” mission.
He was not going to Rome to regiment Roman society, but to regenerate the individual in Roman society.
He was not going to Rome to establish a college or a hospital.
He was going to Rome with just one and one only purpose, namely, “to preach the gospel.”
Oh, when, when, will we learn that as believers we have but one mission and that is the mission of giving God’s good news, the gospel of righteousness to a lost world!
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
And now Paul states the great theme – the gospel – good news. Notice how he divides it up – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ”
“For it is the power of God unto salvation – to everyone that believeth.”
The word “Power” means dynamite. And that is exactly what the gospel is. It is dynamite. It blows the gates of hell off the hinges.
It shatters, awakens and arouses the soul that is dead in trespasses and sins.
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
And now we come to the great theme of the whole Bible – “Justification by faith.”
It is spoken of first in Habakkuk 2:4, and then repeated three times in the New Testament – Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11 and Heb. 10:38.
That was the slogan of Martin Luther and the Reformation – “The just shall live by faith.”
I love that expression “From faith to faith.”
At the New Birth we receive faith. And then we grow in grace and we have more faith.
First it is the seed, then the plant, and then the full grown ear.
It is Jacob’s ladder.
It is starting at Passover Night with Moses and ending on Nebo’s Heights of glory.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of man, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”
Then there is something else. Not only is the righteousness of God revealed, uncovered, made known, manifest, that everybody may see it. But also the wrath of God is revealed, uncovered, even as His righteousness.
And here of course you have the question of the justice of God. Does God send judgments? Sufficient answer to that is go read human history of the wrath of God revealed. Do you believe that God will destroy a people? Go look yonder on the smoking plains and see the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Go yonder and see the city of Jerusalem, destroyed seven times. Go look on the ruins of the once proud city of Babylon and its splendid civilization. Thousands of years have gone by. What does it mean? Tell me why you see the ruins of Babylon? Why can you see the rock of Tyre on which the capital of the Mediterranean Empire of its day was built? Tell me why you see the proud ruins of the conquests of Athens, Greece, Alexandria, Home. Why?
Because the wrath of God was revealed, and we are seeing daily proof of the wrath of God. And I believe that is the kind of preaching that America needs – the judgment of God on the earth – “The hour of his judgment is come.”
What means this troubled hour, the saddest, the most tragic hour in the world, and the storm grows worse?
It means the world has sinned, and the wrath, the judgment of God, is on the whole earth. There will be no revival, there will be no salvation, unless we preach the wrath of God as well as the righteousness of God, the justice of God as well as the mercy of God.
“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
Does God Send Souls to Hell Without a Chance to Be Saved?
Now here is a thing that almost drove me into infidelity. I heard a great secretary once stand up before the Southern Baptist Convention and say, “Thirteen hundred people drop into hell every minute that haven’t a chance to be saved.”
I sat there as a young preacher, my mind alert and I said, “I don’t believe a word of it.” I said, “If thirteen hundred people drop into hell every minute because they haven’t had a chance to be saved, then God is not just.”
If you want that question answered you will find it right here. God can be known. “They are without excuse.”
The Scripture shows very clearly:
First, that God may be known.
Second, that God is manifest.
Third, that God hath shewed it unto them.
Fourth, that God is clearly seen from the creation which declares His glory and His handiwork.
Fifth, that God is understood by the things that are made.
Sixth, that therefore they are without excuse.
Seven Stages of Devilution and Not Evolution
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”
With all of man’s inventions, discoveries, education, organizations, governments, he has deviluted instead of evoluted.
Mark the following stages of his down-grade apostasy:
There was a time when man knew God.
(1). “They glorified him not as God.”
(2). “Neither were thankful.”
(3). “But became vain in their imaginations.”
(4). “Their foolish heart was darkened.”
(5). “Professing themselves to be wise.”
(6). “They became fools.”
(7). “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”
That is the history of the down-gradism of America. Our Pilgrim fathers, the early settlers, the pioneers of Colonial days, came to this land to worship God. That land is now turned into a people who deny God.
The Unpardonable Sin
“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
“And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves the recompence of their error which was meet.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”
Here is the clearest and most striking Scripture on the “Sin unto death,” the sin that cannot be forgiven, neither in this world nor the world to come. Man has crossed the deadline. He is “past feeling.” Mark the three-fold expression:
(1). “Wherefore God also gave them up.”
(2). “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections.”
(3). “God gave them over to a reprobate mind.”
“A reprobate mind” – that means one who is under the strongest condemnation of God.
It means “Rejected of God.”
It means eternal damnation to the soul, as if already dead.
It is the divine judgment on the people before the flood for their wickedness.
It is divine judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah.
It is the doom of Jerusalem because they rejected their Messiah. The “reprobate soul” is beyond hope of redemption.
“Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
“Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
“Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection,implacable, unmerciful:
“Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
Here is a true mirror of the soul that sinneth.
Here is God’s x-ray of the heart of man.
Here is the picture of every member of the family who sits around the table.
Pile up all the diplomas of the world and still man is under twenty- three indictments.
There is but one result – “Death!”
And it is not physical death, but spiritual death. What a call to repentance!
Not all the education in the world can free, can cleanse, can deliver the soul of man from these twenty-three indictments.
He cannot deliver himself.
And not all the ceremonials and rituals of the world can deliver the soul from a single one of these twenty-three indictments.
And the purpose of the book of Romans is to tell man how to be delivered. There is a Deliverance, and that Deliverance is the theme of the book namely, “The gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.”
QUESTIONS CHAPTER I
- Give a 200 word paper on the arguments for the human side of Christ and the divine side.
- Write a 100 word paper on a definition and meaning of “the gospel.”
- Give at least a 100 word paper on the meaning of salvation.
- Give a 100 word paper on the meaning of “the wrath of God.”
- Give a 100 word paper on the unpardonable sin.