Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Romans 1 - Not Ashamed of the Gospel

LINK: Romans 1

I am writing the Romans posts almost a year before they will be posted because I am doing an in-depth study of Romans 1-5 with two dear friends. We were all in a Precept Upon Precept Bible Study together in 2000. Then they went on to co-lead their own studies for a few years while I led other studies. Between the three of us, we have 12 children, and we have waited for the youngest to be in school all day so that we can do this!


Paul Writes to the Romans http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/JBPhillips.htm

BACKGROUND

Romans

Paul wrote Romans from Corinth in about A.D. 57 (at the time of Acts 20) to the Christians in Rome who were mostly Jewish but also contained many Gentiles. He wrote it to introduce himself to them and to give them a sample of the message he would bring to them on his way to Spain. He had never met them face to face.


Romans is a carefully organized statement of Paul's faith. Many have called it the "Constitution of Faith" because when we understand it, we understand more about the gospel of Jesus Christ. By reading it we will understand the concepts of propitiation, reconciliation, redemption, sanctification, and justification. 


With this "Constitution," Paul was combating the two groups spreading the heresies of the time: 


1) Antinomians ("against law") who believed that since a man was saved by grace, he could live any way he wanted. 
2) Judaizers who believed that man was saved by grace but still under the Law set down in the Old Testament. They added circumcision and works to faith in Christ. 

The theme is the righteousness of God. Some of the key words in this book are justified (justification, justly, just), righteous (righteousness), grace, faith, Law, wrath, judge (judgment), gospel, believe, sin, and hope. 

Like many of Paul's epistles, the first part is doctrinal (1-11), and the second part is practical (12-16). 


I cannot stress enough how foundational this book is to faith. I think every follower of Jesus should study this book (along with Genesis, the gospel accounts, Ephesians, and James). 


I hope you enjoy it!


BACKGROUND


Romans 1

Paul introduced himself as an apostle who "calls people from among the Gentiles to the obedience (more on that tomorrow) that comes from faith." We know Paul's story from our previous study of the book of Acts.


Oswald Chambers writes this of Paul: 

Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the gospel of God . . . Paul was not conscious of himselfHe was recklessly abandoned, totally surrendered, and separated by God for one purpose to proclaim the gospel of God.
He tells them that this gospel has been promised from long ago, in the Old Testament. If you have been in the Bible Book Club for the last two years (or five if this is your second time through), you know that The Scarlet Thread of Redemption regarding Jesus Christ, descendant of David, runs throughout the Old Testament. The events of His death, burial, and resurrection were all prophesied in the Old Testament (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). We learned from our study of the gospel accounts how many Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. 

After this introduction and greeting to the Romans, Paul talks about the righteousness of God and how the gospel reveals God's righteousness and has His power to save all who believe in it.


The last part of this chapter deals with His wrath against the ungodly revealed in the gospel (1:18-32). I will leave it to you to observe how the ungodly are described, how the wrath of God is revealed, and the results of God's wrath. 


We are without excuse even if we live in countries where the gospel is not proclaimed because God promises to reveal Himself if we seek after Him (Jeremiah 29:13) no matter where we are. This is a tough thing for people to grasp.  God is constantly revealing Himself if we are looking for Him. Read more about this in the application. 


One brief word on the "wrath" of God mentioned in Romans 1:18. We often want to hear about the love of God, but His love is magnified when we understand His wrath. "Wrath" is the Greek word orge. Greek scholar, Spiros Zodhiates, defines wrath this way:

Utter abhorrence to sin but longing mixed with grief for those who live in it (Heb. 3:11; 4:3; Sept.: Ex. 4:14; 32:11; Deut. 29:20; Is. 10:5). (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, #3709)
He is holy and cannot dwell with sin, but He wants the sinner to come to Him so He does not have to give the wrath that His holiness requires. There will be more on that when we study the word "propitiation" later on in Romans. 

There is so much in this chapter. Study it deeply!


REFLECTION

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. 
(1 Corinthians 15:3-4) 
If you have been with the Bible Book Club, you know that I have a drum to tap: You cannot deeply understand the gospel of Jesus if you do not understand the Old Testament Scarlet Thread of Redemption. So I hope you can join us in the journey through the Old Testament someday if you have not already done so. 

So, how was Christ's death "according to the Scriptures"? The most vivid example of this is in Exodus 12 where during the Passover, a perfect lamb was slain and the blood was put on the side posts and crossbeam of the door of entrance to the house so that the wrath of God would "passover" the homes of the Jews living there so that the first born sons would not be killed. Christ is our Passover so that God's wrath could "passover" us (John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7). We will learn more on that when we study the word "propitiation" later on in Romans. 


Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 are also "according to the Scriptures" kind of passages regarding the death of Jesus Christ. 


The resurrection can be compared to Psalm 16:8-11 and Jonah 1:17; 2:10. 


APPLICATION 


Meditate on some of the Old Testament passages mentioned in the reflection above or memorize Romans 1:16-17. This is a key verse in the Bible. 


Regarding God revealing Himself in remote places, I heartily recommend:


Eternity in Their Hearts:Startling Evidence of Belief in One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World by Don Richardson. 

It will blow you away!

PRAYER


You make Yourself known to all who seek You. May we seek You with all our hearts and obey when You send us out to proclaim You to the world. Amen. 
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