April 8


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Romans 1:1-3:20

We are in the Church Stream and we commence on the book of Romans. The Apostle Paul explains so many details to the believers in Rome. We are reading from the World English Bible this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Paul’s assignment in history is to provide a clear explanation of the gospel that would be shared to all the Believers in Rome.  Remember that when Jesus died and rose, people weren’t prancing and celebrating, “oh goodie, goodie. Now we are saved. The perfect sacrifice has been made, my sins have been cancelled by Christ Jesus on the Cross, yippee, now I know God really loves me … ” No, they were devastated by His death, and shocked by His coming back from the dead.  WE, on the other hand, understand Jesus’ death because Paul explained what it all meant.  That is why the Church of the first century were so enamored with Paul, eager beyond description; eager as school kids at an ice cream shop to welcome him and sobbing sad tears when he departed.  It was melodrama with meaning.  Keep this in mind: explain the gospel to people and you will be revered in a way that perhaps, in many ways, only missionaries understand being revered.

Paul wrote Romans from Corinth late in his 3rd Missionary Journey. The year is 57-58 A.D. [not for nothin’ the Olympics were held in Corinth a few years prior so Paul is using suitable words throughout his books, “run the race, finish the course, I buffet my body, I don’t box like I’m just punching the air…]. Imagine the ominous sentiment when Paul finished his “Book to The Romans”, rolls it up, hands it to Phoebe [“FEE-bee”] of Cenchreae and says, “here, take this to the Believers Rome … !”  Do we realize what hung upon this journey, of a lady traversing through a world that was not altogether safe for anyone to be traveling through; foreign places, encountering pagans, scungy cultic people were everywhere, there were bandits, warriors, brothels, taverns, ad infinitum? She arrived in Rome at least three years ahead of Paul. These are much of the same three+ years he is being held under guard in Caesarea.  This gave plenty of time for his letter to the Romans to circulate.  In God’s timing, Paul was being held for a purpose.  This delay is why Paul arrives to such a hero’s homecoming welcome in Acts 28:14-17.  They had read his letter and were thrilled to know what he told them. Plus he told them he was ‘on his way’ to see them.
Almost 1,960 years later, the Book of Romans has been published in nearly 3,000 languages, 50.000.000 more copies of it get published in the USA alone EACH year! Billions and billions of copies of Romans have been published. Perhaps Phoebe was [while carrying this letter on rolled up leather] was thinking, “wow, I hope they read this. They really need to read this!”  [She did now know the immensity of what was in her hands.] We need to read it too.
Another peculiar fact comes to us about Romans from the entire enterprise of smuggling Bibles and those involved.  When Bibles were smuggled into the old Soviet Union the stakes were high. Penalty of execution loomed over those who were caught with Scripture. So when things became more dicey, only the New Testament was snuck in.  When the intensity rose yet further, the cargo was reduced to take in only The Book of Romans. When certain life or death was on the line, they only brought in Romans ch. 3. The Communists knew that they would never succeed in their plans if the population understood that they were justified and saved by grace in Jesus Christ. [not the State]  So today we read/”red” Romans 1-3:20.  I think the Devil himself shudders over such truth. Listen again if you need to.
WE say all that to say this: do not read Romans and shrug, “ok, we’re saved, cool, whatever.”  Our destinies – ALL of our destinies hang upon our understanding of the Book of Romans!  Read Romans again and again.  And read it to the whole world.
An encouraging projection is that “if the gospel can ‘fly’ in Rome, it will fly in any city.
Romans 1 – opens with a single long sentence that covers seven verses. All that is to say: It’s from Paul. It’s about Jesus Christ. It’s to Rome.  THAT is what this letter is about.  And it would change the capitol of the world.   The whole chapter asserts that sin is everywhere and everyone is involved in sin. If there was ever dark activity going on in the world at the time, it was going on in Rome. The verses speak to a dark world and a dark leadership careening the world into ever horrendous behavior.  Even today, governments and lurid interest groups are offended by Paul’s assertions in chapter one.  It’s because they are true.  The “not ashamed of the gospel” verse in the middle is added because people were questioning him about Jesus’ crucifixion. It was a shameful thing to them. No one follows a leader who was a criminal that was executed.  Only false Messiahs and leaders die as crooks.  False movements were revealed by leaders who turned out to be false, got discovered and were executed. Paul should be ashamed of this (in some people’s minds). Paul wasn’t. Thus we have the famous Romans 1:16 in the middle of the opening chapter.
2 – The new ethic under Jesus applies to everyone. People of Jewish Heritage included. Many in Rome who were Jews that had come there thought they had inside track with God, and thought they had a say in who is saved and who is not.  Paul was telling them, along with the rest, “uh, you need this grace in Christ too! Quit acting like you’re better than the newcomers.”  Think that God justified Abraham simply for believing and worshiping. That is it. And Abraham is justified 600 years before Moses wrote up any law. This is a reality check.  Paul doesn’t explain that here but it certainly applies to the assumptions the “old guard” in the new church are living by as they are looking down on new comers who are justified by Christ alone. Perhaps they were scoffing that it shouldn’t be this easy for them. Judgment is coming. No one will be excused. All secrets will be laid open before God.  And only this who are IN CHRIST will be justified.
3 – the significance of the Jews is a beautiful picture here. God needed to come to us via a race. He couldn’t have just splattered his gospel to all 6000 cultures at once. It would have been interpreted as diversely as the gods of India where there are millions of them.  A people needed to be shouldered with the responsibility of maintaining the Scriptures. The Jewish people embraced this assignment and became “the people of The Book.”  There assignment was something to be revered – it was not something to be haughty about. For they had practiced the Law for 1450 years only to prove that the Law cannot be humanly upheld. A Savior and an ultimate one at that was needed for all.  For no one is righteous, no one. And no one is justified by The Law.  The Law only proves there is a problem to be solved.
The theme for this week distills out to be “things have changed. now, what are you going to do?”  Jacob and then Joseph die at the end of Genesis, years pass, The friendly Egyptians pass, invaders come in, New Egyptians arise who are mean, who enslave and kill. Are you going to be whipped forever? what are you going to do?   David in I Sam. 17ff faces a killer of a giant. Will he be a giant-killer? -or run away? Then King Saul wants him dead, then the whole army is looking for him. He is the anointed King, for heaven’s sake and has to play the fugitive. Really? Now what!?  Later, David writes Psalm 18 and the following praises right after he is crowned king (the seven years running from Saul had ended). And he is praising God. Not a word of complaint or whining, no “hey God what was that all about? Y’Trying to scare me?!” He’s completely in charge and his attitude is, basically, “with malice toward none. With charity for all…”  Isaiah talks of and walks them through some very serious matters. It’s what is coming for them. So what are they going to do? Amid this Isaiah talks of a suffering servant Savior … will they reject Him too? What will they do ??!  Hosea is in pain. He approaches his adulterous wife who’s in another man’s home. Will she come home? Hosea’s heart is broken.  Will she do this to him forever? [will we break God’s heart forever?].  Matthew walks us through the arrest, trial and crucifixion.  Our teacher/leader/Messiah is dead. Now what? Woo, he’s back and wants us to go to all the world …. and associate with pagans? all our life? really? Oh, you are going to be WITH US?!  My oh my things are changing.  The Romans receive the best explanation of the gospel in the world.  It has some rattling parts to it, though. You are justified by what Jesus has done – not what you have done; bragging is overwith. To the Jews, you are still the chosen, not the favorite, but still the chosen and the first.  Will you help others grow in God?
Lord, we can count on you and you only. Thank you for salvation and for your faithfulness. Amen.

April 1


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Acts 27:27-28:30

We are in the Church Stream today as we finish the book of Acts. We are reading from the God’s Word Translation this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Dear Lord, we bid farewell to Paul for now. Thank you for his inspiring life.  Let us be encouraged to make our days count for you and for your Kingdom.  Amen.

apostle-paul-fourth-missionary-journey-map

If you look on the map in the back of your Bible or the map we provide in these show notes, take note the route of Paul’s final missionary journey listed in Acts.  The story picks up today between his departing from Myra; the south point of Asia Minor and the wreck in Malta.  Paul took one ship from Caesarea to Myra, another from Myra to Malta, and a third from Malta to Puteoli/ Italy.  This month of Paul’s life, he had the greatest challenges relating to natural calamity.  The dramatic events seem like a cruise gone bad with storms, a damaged vessel, near death at every turn, a fear of starvation, prisoners escaping, painful dilemmas and decisions, people finally swimming to shore or getting there by clinging to a chunk of wood from the broken ship.  Paul ministers to these men even in this setting and they are all encouraged by his gracious deeds and dining with them (if we can use that word).  Paul uses his status even as a prisoner to defend the incarcerated so that they are treated properly. Paul promised that all would reach shore and no one would be harmed and that is what happened.

28 – they discover that they are on Malta from the locals and voila, the locals are friendly.  The snake in the fire incident merely verifies that God is up to something and Paul is soon revered. Paul is then given access to Publius (the leader and his family) and Paul is used to heal his father.  Soon others who are sick come and are healed.  It is fascinating the way Paul makes the most of every opportunity for the gospel and advancing the Kingdom.  The final leg of the journey [from Malta to Rome] is on an Alexandrian ship.  There is excitement to meet and be with Paul as Believers were in many places throughout the Roman Empire by now.  It was 61 A.D. An entire second generation of Christians were growing up and Paul was a celebrated and very honored man to the new Believers.  His teaching was priceless to them.  His letters were prized more than gold by the early church.  His writings became what we follow as most of the New Testament.  Luke finishes the Book of Acts at about this time.  Paul did have impressive audiences to speak to in Rome.  Most were encouraged, some Jews converted through his teaching, other Jews were only made more stubborn thereby.  While he was in Rome, Paul wrote to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and his book to Philemon.  Paul was later acquitted of his charges later in AD 61 or early the next year.  There is some information telling that Paul made a trip to Spain.  We know he planned one; Romans 15:28.  There is some evidence that there was another missionary journey Paul took to Greece and Asia Minor (and Spain as mentioned).  He wrote his letters to Timothy and Titus during these years between 63-67 A.D.

His influence cannot be overstated in Christian History.  Some have clearly stated that Apostle Paul is the most influential person that ever lived for his explanations of Christ clearly changed the way the world thought.  This affect seeped into the dealings of religion, commerce/business, education, administration, hospitality, social structures, civility, ad infinitum.  Even honest secular scholars admit Paul’s colossal affect on the world.

March 25


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Acts 25:1-27:26

We are in the Church Stream today as we follow Paul on his 4th missionary journey. We are reading from the Holman Christian Standard Bible this week.

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@7StreamsMethod

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Some photos taken in Caesarea during our 2013 Israel Tour.