ROMANS: ROAD TO RIGHTEOUSNESS

People, the Gospel, and the Righteousness of God

Romans 1:1-17

Jerry A Collins

 

††††††††††† Whenever we talk about things that last we often are reminded that it is people and the Word of God that have lasting value into eternity. People are eternal. Godís Word is eternal. Both people and Godís Word have implications beyond the grave. It is important that we spend our time and efforts in these two spheres. The introduction of the book of Romans makes both of these the centerpiece of itís message. Both the gospel and people are central to the message of salvation and both are introduced to in the opening verses of Romans. Here is the key: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the power behind the gospel!

 

THIS GOOD NEWS HARMONIZES WITH THE OLD TESTAMENT 1-2

A. Paul introduces himself v 1:

††††††††††† Paul considers himself an apostle (though not one of the twelve Ė 1 Corinthians 15:5-9), and his connection with the other apostles is his basis of fellowship. Christianity is the religion of the apostles. Believers are those who believe the apostles. The New Testament is the message of the apostles. False teachers are those who teach anything contrary to the teaching of the apostles.

 

B. This gospel in harmony with OT v 2:

††††††††††† Paul says the Gospel is rooted in Old Testament prophecy, Christ being both the Son of God and the descendent of David. It was a message God had promised not just prophesied. It was God who inspired the OT revelation and writings. So this gospel was not unanticipated nor was it merely a human invention. This gospel was kept secret until the church age (16:25; Eph 2:14-3:9).

 

THIS GOOD NEWS DECLARES GODíS SON CAN POWERFULLY DELIVER US 3-7

††††††††††† The power of the Gospel, that is, the proof of the truth of the Gospel, is the real historical bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.

1. He was genuinely human 3: Paul says the Gospel is rooted in Old Testament prophecy, Christ being both the Son of God and the descendent of David.

2. He has divine status v 4: His Divinity was asserted by means of His resurrection from the dead. We do know that the Father (Eph 1), the Son (Jn 10:17-18) and the HS (Rom 1:4; 8:11) were all involved in resurrecting Christ. So the gospel centers on Godís Son who was both human and divine. He belonged to two realms. As to His earthly connection, human origin was highest as a son of David with its messianic qualifications. As to heavenly connection, He was resurrected from the dead pointing to His inherent power as Godís Son.

3. He has given Paul a gospel ministry v 5-7: His ministry came from Jesus Christ and it consisted of a special grace of being an apostle. As a specially called human agent of Christ to the gentiles he brings them to obedience of faith 5. Paulís mission, and that of all the apostles, is to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles, such as those in Rome. These Romans are assured of being recipients of this gospel message v 6. Their calling is different than Paulís. His is to apostleship while theirs is to saintís v 7, saint being a common term designating believers. The grace and peace here include the fullest sense of a deeper and richer experience of Godís favor. One receiving the gospel of Christ is linked in relationship with God as Father and Jesus Christ as Lord through His resurrection!

THIS GOOD NEWS DELIVERS ANYONE FROM SIN WHEN THEY BELIEVE 8-15

Paul has been praying about visiting the Roman church for some time. There are four reasons he wants to come to Rome:

1. Because of their publicized faith v 8-10: The reason for this praise is because others are continually announcing their faith all over the Roman Empire. It is clear that their faith in Christ is marking them out in a way that is very noticeable v 8. His constant prayer for them in v 9 made unceasingly, claiming to pray for them frequently without interruptions. And then there is his petition to visit them v 10 pleading continually for the opportunity to finally visit them by the will of God.

2. Because he wants to impart some spiritual gift to them 11-12: He wanted to strengthen them for their spiritual benefit. The outcome of this ministry will be beneficial for both the Romans and himself in the sense that both can be finally comforted by one anotherís faith v 12.

3. Because he desires spiritual fruit 13: The fruit here is the same kind of fruit harvested among other gentile regions during his journeys. This harvest included everything from evangelism to discipleship. The whole gamut of this ministry he longs to see happen in Rome.

4. Because he wants to preach the gospel in Rome 14-15: He is a debtor because they gave him a ministry, which gives him fruit, which is spiritually profitable for a heavenly reward. So the gospel-the good news of Christianity-is not just the plan of salvation-though it is that; it is also the whole council of God, i.e. the kingdom in all of its aspects (Acts 28:30-31).

 

THIS GOOD NEWS PROVIDES RIGHTEOUSNESS ON THE BASIS OF FAITH 16-17

(1) The power of God to salvation is through faith 16:††††††††††

††††††††††† The Gospel is here defined as the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. So the Gospel says that when someone believes (makes a free-will choice to receive Christ as Savior Ė John 1:12), God gives him or her the power to be saved (from the judgment for sin Ė Romans 6:23).

††††††††††† The Gospel came to the Jew first and also to the Greek. This is the chronological order of the spread of the Gospel, not a priority for the presentation of the Gospel (as some Jewish Christian groups teach). For example, Paul was coming to Rome to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, yet there were plenty of Jews in Rome who needed the Gospel. The Jews had opportunity first historically and now everyone.

 

(2) The Gospel makes the righteousness of God manifest 17:

††††††††††† In the Christian Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. This seems to say faith is essential from the beginning to the end of the Christian life. We are saved by faith, and as we grow, we continually learn more about the righteousness of God when we increase our faith. So the spiritual life is a movement from faith to faith.

††††††††††† The righteous man shall live by faith is a quote from Habakkuk 2:4. The point is: the one who has come to Christ by faith only grows in righteousness through faith. It is righteousness God provides for people on the basis of faith in the gospel. It is the act by which God brings people into a right relationship with himself. It is unachievable by any human effort.

 

So What?

1. If there were no resurrection, then there could be no gospel. What makes the gospel powerful is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If he was left on the cross there would no deliverance. People want to have a destinyómore than life here on earth.

2. Since eternal life requires holiness, then God supplies that and applies it to us when we believe the gospel. We are made fit for heaven. Holiness not goodness is required. Goodness cannot deliver one from judgment.

3. God provides the righteousness; it is credited to us by God. This righteousness is the key to salvation. The righteousness of God is that righteousness which His righteousness requires him to require.