Pastor, author, and Bible teacher, Alan Wright. But the thing that matters most is that what's on display within our lives is that we were sinners, but we've been saved, that we were captives, but we've been set free, and that Jesus is everything to us, and we love Him, and He loves people, and He can work despite all of our weaknesses. That's Pastor Alan Wright. Welcome to another message of good news that will help you see your life in a whole new light.
I am Daniel Britt, excited for you to hear the teaching today in the series we call Obalone, a study of Romans chapters one through three, as presented at Reynolda Church in North Carolina. Now, if you're not able to stay with us throughout the entire program, we sure want to make sure you know how to get our special resource right now. It can be yours for your donation this month to Alan Wright Ministries. So as you listen to today's message, go deeper as we send you today's special offer, and you can contact us at PastorAlan.org. That's PastorAlan.org, or call 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. More on that later in the program. But now let's get started with today's teaching.
Here is Alan Wright. I want to go through the sections of this dense text and show you what I think it means, what he's saying, and then there's some splendid good news to draw from this that leaves us profoundly encouraged, and I hope put your heart more in love with the Son of God. Look back at verse 17 again.
If you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what's excellent, he's listing all of these benefits of being amongst the Jewish people. You've got the name. You've got the law. You've got the revelation of God.
You've got right from wrong. He goes on to say at verse 19, you're a guide to the blind, a light to those in the darkness. You're probably familiar with a number of Old Testament texts to say of the Jewish people, you'd be a light to the nations, and he's listing that. An instructor, verse 20, instructor of the foolish, teacher of children, the whole Jewish people, they were just fantastically committed to passing on their teaching to their children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth. So this whole list, at first if you read it, you might go, well, he's being sarcastic that what he's saying to his Jewish readers is, oh, you think you've got all these things, but you don't really. That's not what he's saying. He's saying these are good things, and this is part of the benefit of you having been born into a Jewish family, and that God had given through this one people.
He had given a revelation that started with the old covenant. It started with the law, and all that's really good. You call yourself a Jew? Well, that's beautiful. It's beautiful.
It comes from the name Judah, who was one of the sons of Jacob, and it means praise to the Lord, praise the Lord. You have the law. You have the Torah.
Wonderful. The thing that's so amazing, just at the most rudimentary level about a lot of the Old Testament truths, is that it just actually had practical impact on the people of God, like ceremonial hand washing at all these different times before you'd eat food and all of that. Nobody knew what a germ was until a few centuries ago, and yet here the Jewish people, everybody made fun of them for washing their hands all the time. They're avoiding plagues. In war, more people throughout history, I think, have died from diseases than they have from the sword, so Jewish people are just being preserved by that.
They were told they were supposed to quarantine before quarantine was a thing, and so infectious diseases of the skin and others, people would be quarantined until it was healed, so others didn't care, on and on, like this. But not just that, the more weighty matters of what makes for life, like loving God and loving others, like the secret to fulfillment and happiness is not through selfishness but through selflessness, these giant things about justice and love and covenantal commitment, all of this, the people had that. So, Paul is listening and saying, so if you have all of that, listening, one blessing after the other, he says, well, that's wonderful if you call yourself that, and if you have those things, then yeah, that's great to be thankful for, but if those things, your name, you're Jewish, you have the Bible, you've got the outward sign of circumcision as a sign of the covenant. If you think that your security and your life is in those outward things, you're missing the whole thing, that's what he's saying.
They're good things, but you're missing the whole thing if you place your security, your hope in those things, the outside things, the external things. Verse 21, he continues, you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? Why you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?
You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, dishonor God by breaking the law? I have read this over and over, and I've read every interpreter of these couple of verses that I could find, because I found them so intriguing, I want to know what does this mean, because I found it odd that if Paul is trying to make the point to his Jewish readers that you've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, why does he pick up such heinous sins that a lot of his readers would not have committed, like stealing, outright stealing, or adultery, or robbing temples? There was actually some different ideas of what this might mean, but there's at least one instance of a Jewish leader who actually robbed a pagan temple, took the idol, worshiped the idol, but why pick out these three things that a lot of his Jewish readers who are trying to live righteous lives would never have done those things, right? And some would say, well, this is kind of like when Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount about a higher righteousness, you know, when he said, thou shalt not commit adultery, but I say to you, if you've even lusted, you've committed adultery. So there's a chance maybe he's kind of talking about that higher righteousness, like you hadn't gone into a temple, stolen an idol, put it on your shelf, but you've had idols of the heart.
He might mean that, but I actually think he means something else. I think what he's saying is, to his Jewish readers, you who have the law, the Jewish name, and you have circumcision, do you know anyone who has those, all of those signs of being one of God's people, who's done any of these things, stealing or idolatry or adultery, and any reader would say, yeah? I mean, there are people who call themselves Jewish, and they've done those things. And I think Paul's saying, aha, I proved my point. The point being that if you know someone who has the Jewish name, has the law on their side, has the right of circumcision, they've been faithful, all that, and yet they've done these very things, would you say that it's just fine, and they're a true Jew, even though they do all these things? They go, oh, you know, if somebody's out there stealing and murdering and committing adultery, yeah, I see your point.
Something's wrong there. So he's saying, aha, every single one of us has fallen short of the glory of God. He's exposing the superficiality and unreliability of relying on outward things. Verse 24, for as it's written, the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you. Now, he is talking here about hypocrisy, but maybe not in the way that we usually think. And this is a real important verse, and so I want to come back to it more with some of our grand conclusions of good news from this text.
We're going to come back to that. Verse 25, for circumcision indeed is a value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. Circumcision was, simply put, a sign of the old covenant. It's a symbol to you are part of old covenant, that you have your baby boy circumcised on the eighth day. Abraham was called by God, blessed of God, and then later went through circumcision. So this became a remarkably important symbol for the Jewish people, and so much so that in many circles the symbol became an important thing unto itself because it contrasted them with other peoples. You might think of this in just the parallel for Christians of baptism. So we're going to have a baptism today, and we're going to celebrate, and the baptism is great.
That's just wonderful. When you go under the water, you come up out of that water. It's a beautiful symbol of like as if you've once were dead and now you're alive again. It is a symbol of washing. It is a symbol of entry into the family of God.
People always pass through the waters like the Red Sea or the Jordan River. It's all of that and more, and should we get baptized? Yeah, we should get baptized because Jesus said we should be baptized, and is baptism a wonderful symbol that expresses an inward reality of what's happened to us and therefore as part of our witness that we should celebrate? Yes, right, but is baptism the thing that makes a person a Christian? Of course not. Do you have to be baptized in order to be saved and go to heaven?
Of course not. That's Alan Wright, and we'll have more teaching in a moment from today's important series. Seeing as Jesus Sees. It's the title of Pastor Alan Wright's newest book just released, and it's the giant secret of real transformation. Followers of Christ tend to focus on doing, so we've been told to ask, what would Jesus do? But even our noblest efforts to be more like Jesus ultimately fail for the same reason that pledging to keep the law never works.
There's no gospel power in ourselves striving. But what if the secret to personal transformation and victorious living isn't found in doing as much as in seeing? Anyone who has ever had an aha moment or has suddenly discovered the truth of a situation knows that fresh vision changes everything. In his eye-opening new book, Alan Wright invites readers into a new simple spiritual practice, a little breath prayer that can be prayed throughout the day. Jesus, how do you see this?
It's a prayer that the Savior loves to answer because, after all, Christ came to be the light of the world. Clear away confusion, win over the darkness, and open your heart to wonder and joy by getting your copy of the book right away. When you make a gift to Alan Wright Ministries today, we'll send you Pastor Alan's new beautiful hardcover book. And as an additional thank you for your support, you'll also receive a free six-week Seeing as Jesus Sees companion video series from Pastor Alan, along with a study guide and a daily reading plan. Let Jesus take you by the hand and show you a whole new perspective for your life.
As you learn how to ask Christ for his eyes, you'll start seeing as Jesus sees, and you're going to love the view. The gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries. This broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support. When you give today, we will send you today's special offer. We are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries. Call us at 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. Or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Today's teaching now continues.
Here once again is Alan Wright. We're saved only by one thing, the finished work of Jesus Christ and our simple childlike faith and acceptance of what he's done for us. Grace through faith, that's what all of Romans is about. No, baptism doesn't save you. You don't have to be baptized.
No, you could accept Christ in your heart and hardly know the Bible and never get baptized and then get hit by a truck and go straight and be with Jesus. You don't have to get baptized. Should you get baptized? Yeah, you should get baptized. Do you have to get baptized?
No, you don't have to get baptized. So therefore, does it matter how much water? We got enough water today, we're going to immerse a little Evie in it. But if we were to sprinkle her instead, would that be fine?
Sure, that'd be fine. Doesn't matter how much water. It doesn't even matter. You don't have to be baptized to be saved, so it doesn't matter how much water. Symbols is important. But the symbol, the token that is expressing what's happened on the inside is good, but it's not the thing. Circumcision, a mark of the covenant for the Jewish people in the old covenant, says fine, but it's not the thing. If you had someone who knows the Lord but has not been baptized versus someone who has been baptized 10 times in the Jordan River but never met Jesus, then the person who's been baptized 10 times in the Jordan River got nothing.
That's what he's saying. And there's an incredible temptation in something in the sin nature that I don't fully understand to gravitate to the outward rather than letting the outward be an expression of the inward. My first real exposure to this was in college, Billy Graham came to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Very unusual thing. He gave a series of what he called lectures, but they were just crusades. And thousands of students gave their life to Christ when Billy Graham was on our campus for I can't remember how many days.
And we got to be a little bit a part of that as student leaders. I remember the first time I saw Billy Graham and everybody was going to be volunteering with the lectures. We met over in a classroom, big memorial auditorium hall, I think it was, and Billy Graham stepped up very unassuming, wasn't preaching, just want to step up, encourage all the volunteers. And I'll never forget, he stepped up and it was like something inside of me just became riveted. I think it was just the anointing on his life.
I just don't know. And he just got up and he began to speak. He said, it's such a good thing to be here. Here's what's going to happen.
And I'm going to give an invitation. And he said, hundreds and thousands of students are going to come down out of those bleachers and they'll come and they'll accept Christ. He said, we're going to need you to pray with them and then lead Bible studies in your dorms afterwards to continue with them. And as you're just saying, it's like, I just felt this faith. And it was like, wow, this is just history.
This is just awesome. The reason that Billy Graham was coming was because of a student in our class, in my freshman class named Sandy Ford. And I was taking a class from Grant Wacker, who was a professor of religion who focused on history of Christianity in America. And in fact, he became an authority on Billy Graham and has written one of the best Billy Graham biographies here recently. So this class of 400 students is going to study in one of our major sections, Billy Graham. And I got to be in the small section with Dr. Wacker, who became my favorite professor with about 20 students each week to talk about what we've been learning. And on the first day, well, he'd given us the syllabus.
We looked through the different histories, Great Awakenings, you know this, Billy Graham, and we'll go on this. And he comes and reads out the name of this student. And he says, Sandy Ford. And he said, here. And he said, that's interesting. He said, your middle name is Layton. He said, that's Layton Ford. That's the name of Billy Graham's brother-in-law.
And I'll never forget him. And Sandy said, yeah, that's my dad. And it just, everything just grew totally quiet in this class that was going to be studying the history of Christianity in America. And Dr. Wacker just looked up for me and he said, so your uncle is Billy Graham? And he's like, yeah, that's how we got Billy Graham to come and do this series of lectures at our school. It was amazing. And I got to help lead a Bible study in our dorms, guys except to Christ. It was wonderful. It was transformational.
I've never seen anything like it. I'd never been to a Billy Graham meeting. All these people streaming down except in Christ.
And on the second night, this is all leading up to, I got my first dose of the trivialization and externalization of the gospel and the very things that Paul is talking about here. When I stepped out of the Carmichael Auditorium, all jubilant about watching this thing that was happening, this history at University of North Carolina, and there were people picketing with signs and protesting the meetings. And I thought, oh man, atheists are out there protesting.
So I walked over to see the signs and see what it was all about. Were they atheists? No. Were they secularists?
I thought, probably that's what it is. They're protesting and saying this is a public university and we should not allow Billy Graham to be using a public state-owned facility like this. Were they secularists protesting religion in the secular environment and saying, you know, no separation of church or state?
No. You know what they were? Christians who were protesting because Billy Graham didn't emphasize baptism. They're out there like, all those people, they think they're getting saved, but they're going to hell because they're not getting baptized. All those people come forward and he should be baptized.
I'm like, are you even kidding me right now? Do you see what's going on in here? There are thousands of students that are meeting Jesus and you're out here with picket signs. You got more interest in the outward sign of being a Christian than you do people actually being Christian.
That's what Paul's talking about. You call yourself a Jew. You've got the Torah, fantastic. You know right from wrong. You got all these advantages and you got circumcision, great.
Do you think that's what it really is all about? He's saying essentially the one who's never been baptized, the one who never been circumcised, the one who doesn't have that outward sign but has the inward reality, that's what matters. So that becomes in effect the person who's actually circumcised. He's saying like this person who never went under the water but they know Jesus, they're the ones more baptized than anybody else who's been baptized that doesn't know Jesus.
That's what he's saying. Verse 28. Where no one is a Jew, no one, translate that, no one is a true child of God who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.
This is so radical what he's saying right now. We just don't have any concept of this thing that Abraham was told was the mark of the covenant which they've been doing for thousands of years and now he says no, a Jew is one inwardly and circumcision is a matter of the heart. He's saying it never was about a physical external sign. It's a matter of the heart by the spirit not the letter which is one of Paul's ways of calling the law and his praise is not from man but from God. Being a child of God, an heir of God, being a Jew, recipient of the promises of God, the riches of being in relationship with God is a matter of the heart. It's inward.
It doesn't matter if you have the name and the pedigree and you've got the outward sign if you don't have the real thing. Alan Wright, our Good News message inside out from the series Oh Bologna from Romans one through three, an in-depth study. Please stay with us. Pastor Alan is back joining me in the studio sharing his parting Good News thought for the day for us all in just a moment. to personal transformation and victorious living isn't found in doing as much as in seeing. Anyone who has ever had an aha moment or has suddenly discovered the truth of a situation knows that fresh vision changes everything. In his eye-opening new book, Alan Wright invites readers into a new simple spiritual practice, a little breath prayer that can be prayed throughout the day. Jesus, how do you see this?
It's a prayer that the Savior loves to answer because after all Christ came to be the light of the world. Clear away confusion, win over the darkness, and open your heart to wonder and joy by getting your copy of the book right away. When you make a gift to Alan Wright Ministries today, we'll send you Pastor Alan's new beautiful hardcover book. And as an additional thank you for your support, you'll also receive a free six-week Seeing as Jesus Sees companion video series from Pastor Alan, along with a study guide and a daily reading plan. Let Jesus take you by the hand and show you a whole new perspective for your life.
As you learn how to ask Christ for his eyes, you'll start seeing as Jesus sees, and you're going to love the view. The gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries. This broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support.
When you give today, we will send you today's special offer. We are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries. Call us at 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. Or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Back here in the studio to share Pastor Alan's parting good news thought for the day. And I love someone who can't figure out which word to use, so they just make up their own word. And I don't know which preacher ever came up with this one, but I love it. And it's to say that when you follow Jesus, your wanter has changed. And I feel like a good made up word, but boy, it showcases that it's an inside out.
It's an inside out. Again, the words of Paul in verse 29 of chapter two, a Jew is one inwardly and circumcision a matter of the heart by the spirit, not the letter. So Paul's saying that even those Old Testament signs of the covenant, that never was the thing, right? It's what happens in the heart that matters. And by whatever illustration you use, maybe marriage to say, hey, are you married? Are you a good husband?
And if I say, yeah, well, tell me about it. Well, it's not all the things that I can show you, the pictures that we have made together, the trips, the children, here they are, or I have a ring on my finger. Those are evidences or outward symbols that show, yeah, hey, you're married to this woman. But that's not my marriage. The marriage is the relationship. The marriage is something that's inside and deep and powerful. So, you know, this wedding ring, which our listeners can't see, but you can see that here in the studio.
It'll never come off. Well, it's like, it's all in there. So that's an important symbol. But the ring says, hey, Alan's married to Ann, but it's not my marriage. So the outward signs of our life with God, they may be fitting, but the real thing is what's happened on the inside.
It's an inside out. That's what Christianity is. Thanks for listening today. Visit us online at PastorAlan.org or call 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. If you only caught part of today's teaching, not only can you listen again online, but also get a daily email devotional that matches today's teaching delivered right to your email inbox free. Find out more about these and other resources at PastorAlan.org. That's PastorAlan.org. Today's good news message is a listener supported production of Alan Wright Ministries.
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