We began this week reading from the book of Romans. This is the strongest letter by Paul. For it outlines the work of God through humanity and especially the need for salvation for all. Quickly the Apostle Paul moves from a strong greeting and salutation to the crux of his intention of writing. Since Paul had not started the church, he may have been largely unknown to the church that was in Rome. In Romans, we find a magnitude of theological and doctrinal issues addressed. Particularly, doctrines of depravity, justification, salvation, sanctification, and glorification. Sounds like a lot of $20 words, but Paul spends much of Epistle writings to correct and instruct beliefs and practices within the church. In writing to the Romans, Paul wanted some fruit from them, in order to be sent on his way to Spain. It makes logical reasoning that Paul would need to present himself and his message to the people first.
Chapter one has become of late a very volatile passage for it clearly speaks to the issue of homosexuality. It speaks first to the foundational existence of God. Although He [God] cannot be seen, He is Known through the things that exist and observed with our eyes. There are other passages that describe the created order of things through Jesus [Col. 1:15-18, Heb. 1:2-4]. Paul quickly describes the work of Jesus as the Savior of the world, and thereby affirming that He is the Son of God. In verse 18, Paul exposes the condition of mankind and the depravity of our minds. From verse 18 to the end of the chapter, one finds that there is sufficient justification for the wrath of God in the lives of rebellious people. Many of the actions expressed by the Gentiles is being lived out in our day. There is significant accusation about the behavior of the Gentiles. At the foundation of their rebellion is their rejection of the God that has been revealed to them. Even though they KNEW God, they did not honor Him as God. I often hear in arguments against the “Jesus only” salvation, that everyone hasn’t heard of Jesus – then they try to come up with a people who live in some obscure place, where the Gospel can’t get; in hopes that there are people who will be excluded from Hell because they didn’t hear of Jesus and the Bible. This argument is shattered, for “They are without excuse,” for the invisible God is know by His visible creation.
The thrust of Paul in identifying the pagan behavior, is to show how low and how far from God people will go to pursue their rebellious behavior. The condition of the mankind is the basis for the wrath of God. God is holy and righteous. He does not have to put up with gross immorality. Note the Flood conditions are the same as Paul writes and God destroyed all the people. Jesus speaks of the only sign we will be given, as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the end times. [Matt 24:37 -ff] Our culture has adopted am “amoral” position with regards to good and evil, specifically morality. All is acceptable, because there isn’t a standard. To adopt this position, one must eliminate God – this is exactly what Paul brings out is chapter one.
You can almost hear the Jewish believers shouting Amen to Paul’s conclusion about the Gentiles. Wait a minute, Paul isn’t done. In chapter 2, Paul takes on the Jews. The Jews had the oracles the Law; yet Paul brings out that the Law no man can’t be justified. The Old Testament salvation was one of faith [Abraham specifically, Hab 2:4], the just shall live by faith. Then Paul brings the argument that when Gentiles by nature do the Law, without the Law, they become a law unto themselves, and are pleasing to God. In other words, God has in fact created mankind with a desire to worship and governed by an innate law within them. His statement, that the Jew is not one born of Jewish stock, but one who lives by faith. So then, a Gentile who does the Law, without the Law becomes in all essence a Jew,
Chapter 3 is a huge chapter, for it quickly gets to the point that no one seeks after God, it is God who seeks after us. [Jeremiah 29:12-14] Paul, having leveled the ground by revealing the both Jew and Gentile are condemned and in subjection to the wrath of God. All have sinned, all fall short, all will be the object of God’s wrath, if faith and repentance are not accomplished. Romans becomes a great book to show how the Gospel moves from a Jewish audience to a Gentile, and hence a global Gospel. No one can claim advantage – the advantage is not in circumcision, nor, is it in ignorance.
justification is always by faith, not works – Ephesians 2:8-10. It is God who justifies, in a forensic sort of way we are “declared” righteous, even though clearly we are not. Out justification and righteousness is in the Son Jesus – who God the Father sent. Hence salvation and acceptance is not of boasting in who we are, but praise and worship to the One and Only Way to be reconciled – Jesus!