I. A PRISONER OF JESUS CHRIST.
A. Paul did not see himself as a prisoner of Rome, but of Jesus Christ, the irons of the Roman prison did not constrain him, but the love of Jesus Christ.
1. I am what I am because of Jesus Christ.
2. I am what I am for Jesus Christ.
3. A man can only say this who has said, "And when Christ who is my life."
4. The life that is totally committed is one that sees everything in the light of Jesus Christ.
a. Nothing happens to me except it be allowed by Jesus Christ.
b. If He has allowed it then He has allowed if for some good purpose.
c. Thus I will not question or complain concerning my lot for my Lord is working out His good pleasure in my life.
5. My pleasure comes in pleasing my Lord, He is pleased when I place my trust fully in His wisdom and purpose for my life.
a. If my pleasure is in my lot in life, then at times I might be very pleased, and at other times very distraught.
b. How wonderful when we can say with David, "I delight to do Thy will O Lord."
c. Jesus said, "I do always those things that please Him." He could thus say to the Father, "I have finished the work you gave Me to do." His life was that of total fulfillment.
d. You will never find total fulfillment living for yourself.
e. The self-centered life is doomed for disappointment and ultimate emptiness.
B. Paul was a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles sake.
1. Paul's problems with the Jews arose not because he was a follower of Jesus Christ. The church in Jerusalem had co-existed with the Jewish community for some time. The Jews had come to tolerate the church. I personally believe that this was a sign of the waning influence of the church.
a. When the church can peacefully co-exist with the world it means that the church has compromised it's stand against the world.
b. Jesus said to His disciples, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you."
c. Jesus said that the world hated Him because He testified that its works were evil.
d. Paul warned to beware when all men speak well of you.
2. Paul's problems arose because he being a Jew took the gospel to the Gentiles, declaring that the promises of God were available to the Gentile apart from the law of Moses.
3. When Paul came to the church in Jerusalem with an offering from the Gentile churches James said to him, "You see how many thousands of Jews that believe, and they are all zealous of the law. They have heard that you are declaring to the Jews who are among the Gentiles that they should forsake Moses and not circumcise their children or to keep the customs. They have heard that you are here, and are going to be gathering." Paul was requested to go through the vows of purification with four young men, shaving their heads and then the Jews could see that Paul walked orderly and kept the law.
4. When some Jews from Asia who knew of the ministry of Paul among the Gentiles saw Paul in the temple court of the Jews, they stirred up the people against Paul, and the mob sought to kill him.
5. He was rescued by the Roman guards and was granted permission to speak to the Jews. He was doing very well as he shared with them his conversion to Jesus Christ until he came to the place in his testimony where Jesus asked him to go share the gospel with the Gentiles at which point the whole mob went berserk.
6. This was the reason for Paul's imprisonment which led to his being sent to Rome to make his appeal before Caesar.
7. He thus saw himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the sake of the Gentiles.
II. SINCE YOU HAVE HEARD OF THE DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD THAT WAS GIVEN TO ME TO SHARE WITH YOU.
A. This was the issue, the message of God's grace to the Gentiles.
B. How much we Gentile believers owe to Paul the Apostle.
1. He hung tough against all of the opposition of the Jews, and of the many in the early church who did not believe that the grace of God did not extend to the Gentile believers.
a. The fact of the matter was that they did not believe that the grace of God extended to them.
b. They still felt that their righteous standing before God came by their keeping of the law of Moses.
c. They did not understand this dispensation of grace.
2. The book of Hebrews sought to deal with this new covenant that God has established through Jesus Christ. It is a covenant of grace.
a. The old covenant was established by God through Moses whereby God could be approached by sinful man through keeping of the law which involved, among other things the offering of the sacrifices for the covering of the sins.
b. The new and better covenant provided an approach to God through God's offering of Jesus Christ as a sacrificial Lamb for our sins.
3. The first covenant, which failed, was dependent upon man's faithfulness in his works for God.
4. The new covenant is predicated upon God's work for man in the finished of the cross, and our believing and trusting in Jesus Christ.
5. This is known as the dispensation of grace, because it is not my works that opens the door to God for me to enter, but God opening the door and inviting me to come in.
6. The old covenant provided a earthly fallible priest as a mediator between God and man, who needed to make sacrifices for himself before he could offer the sacrifices for me.
7. The new covenant provides the Son of God as the mediator who offered Himself as the sacrifice for my sins.
8. The book of Hebrews was written to warn those who had come to the knowledge of the new covenant through Jesus Christ, from turning back to the deep rooted traditions, and trying again to relate to God through the law.
9. In the church in Jerusalem there was a blending of the two.
10. Stood strong against this mixture of law and grace, and as a result was not well received by the church in Jerusalem.
11. He was willing to challenge Peter publicly over the issue of a distinction between the Jew and Gentile in God's eyes.
C. There is still a great admixture of the two concepts in the church today.
1. There are many who think that they are made righteous and acceptable before God by their good works.
a. Many churches and groups push this concept and idea.
b. The Catholic church places a strong emphasis upon works.
c. The holiness churches also have a strong emphasis upon a righteous standing before God through works.
2. Paul told the Galatians that if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died in vain.
3. He encouraged the Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain.
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.