Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Romans 1 - Evidence of the Existence of God

by Katrina

LINK: Romans 1

Paul wrote this letter to believers in Rome while he was in Corinth. Paul had been collecting money to help the poor in Palestine, and his last stop was Corinth. From there he traveled to Jerusalem to deliver the money and intended to continue on to Rome and Spain. But he was arrested in Jerusalem, so his trip to Rome was delayed. In the meantime, this letter was carried to Rome ahead of him. He eventually arrived in Rome as a prisoner. As we read yesterday, while Paul was in Rome under house arrest, believers could come and see him at will, and I'm sure they met with Paul and discussed this letter he had sent.

There are several important themes in this book. Some of them are:
  • justification by faith
  • propitiation
  • righteousness
  • revelation of God in nature
  • universality of sin
  • original sin through Adam
  • faith
  • being united with Christ
  • Israel's rejection
  • spiritual gifts
  • respect for civil government
In chapter one, Paul described the devolution of man. Since the beginning, the world itself has testified to the existence of God. The evidence is so strong that no one has any excuse for not believing God exists. But man has chosen to suppress that knowledge of God so he can live free from accountability to God (at least he thinks he's free). Mankind didn't want to know and honor God, but he wanted to worship something, so he made idols. From idolatry, man moved to indulgence in all sorts of self-pleasing behavior. Then God abandoned man to his own sinful ways. Finally man hated God and sank deeper and deeper into sin.

And this is the world we live in.

It was also the world Paul lived in. It was Paul's desire to take the gospel message of salvation everywhere he went. He was eager to preach both to Greeks and non-Greeks, to the wise and the foolish, to Jews and Gentiles, to everyone! He wanted to spread the message that, through faith, one could replace a meaningless life of debauchery with the righteousness of God. The world is under God's wrath, but this gospel message can free people from the wrath of God. It can stop the downward spiral of devolution.

Can you say with Paul, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes"? (1:16)

Let us never be ashamed of the gospel, Lord! It is the only power for salvation. By faith in Jesus, we can be restored to a relationship with you that is without wrath. Thank you for this great gift! Amen.
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