Romans Chapter 1
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
Weíre continuing through our brief survey of Romans Chapter. So far, weíve seen Paul presenting a very condensed but essential summary of the gospel in verses 1-7, and weíve seen his desire to spread the gospel in verses 8-15. Today, weíll look at one my favorite passages and this is verse 16-21. As always, if youíve missed any of these messages, you can find them at the First Baptist Church website at www.fbcdesmoines.org. You can also call us at 575.278.2421 and weíd be happy to send you a CD with all these message on it. And, if you feel like coming out to the wilderness to worship with us, our church service starts at 9:30 am. Thatís the regular service with Sunday school and discussion coming afterwards. Alright, letís get started on this message. May God be praised and glorified in this message and may the light of Jesus Christ shine like a beacon into darkened hearts and minds. Amen.
Todayís passage reads:
Romans 1:16-21 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." (18) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (19) because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (20) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, (21) because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Yesterday we saw Paulís desire to preach the gospel. Paulís main concern and main drive centered on preaching the gospel in various places. This desire cost him dearly. We read in:
2 Corinthians 11:24-28 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. (25) Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; (26) in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; (27) in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness (28) besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
Obviously, not everyone welcomed Paul and his message. Yet, he continued to preach it. Now some liberal scholars and modern interpreters say that Paul was a failure. He shouldíve done this or he should have done that. If heíd just been more in tune with his audience and if heíd just been a more persuasive speaker, he could have gain far more converts to Christ. Well, I think paul would disagree. Hereís what he says in our passage today- "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believesÖ" Paul calls the gospel "the power of God." He is crediting God for the power. Itís not a personís willfulness or Paulís power of persuasion that brings a person to salvation, itís God Himself. Watch what Paul tells the Galatians:
Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
He says plainly "do I now persuade men, or God?" that is, who does the persuading, man or God? John tells us in:
John 1:12-13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (13) who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And so, Paul is crediting God with the power of salvation. Because of this, Paul is, as he says "not ashamed of the gospel." He knows, as does John, that the success of the gospel message doesnít depend on his efforts. He is merely a privileged messenger, one who has been given the task of taking the gospel to various places. And, being a servant of Christ, as we saw early in this study, Paul delights in this role. Paul takes confidence in the fact that what God purposes, God accomplishes. This is a key point because I see so many churches, missionary efforts, and evangelism outreaches that are based on manís efforts, not the power of God.
And yes, sometimes they get large numbers of people and good responses, but I often wonder how genuine those responses might be. After all, you get a lot of people to come to a rock concert or a free BBQ, too. True converts have a change of heart not a philosophical conviction, and a change of heart requires an act of God. Again, John says, "who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." It is this faith in the power of God that enables Paul to keep pressing on, in spite of the persecutions and troubles thatís heís subjected to.
So, in what does the gospel message result? Letís look again at Paulís statement. He says "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvationÖ" The gospel of Christ, that is the "good news" of Christ, is the power of God to salvation. Letís not forget this critical point. The gospel is not intended to make you a better person so that you can then stand before God on your own merits. The gospel is not intended to give you a larger house, faster car, or more money in the bank. In fact, in most cases, those things are idols and are removed from your life! No, the gospel is the power of God to salvation. We need to ask the question "What is salvation?" and we should ask the closely related question "From what am I saved?" The word "salvation" means, according to Websterís 1828 dictionary:
1. The act of saving; preservation from destruction, danger or great calamity.
2. Appropriately in theology, the redemption of man from the bondage of sin and liability to eternal death, and the conferring on him everlasting happiness. This is the great salvation.
We donít have to go far to find the answer to those questions. Theyíre right here in Romans. From verse 18, we can read:
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Paul spends most of Chapters 2, 3, and 4 showing how all men are ungodly and unrighteous, but jumping ahead to Chapter 5, we see:
Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
There in Romans 5:10 we see that we are saved by Christís life and this is due to us being reconciled to God. Backing up to Romans 5:1, we see that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and this peace or reconciliation saves us from Godís wrath. So, to answer the questions, salvation is use being saved and the thing that we are saved from is Godís wrath. This wrath is, as Romans 1:18 says, "revelaed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truthÖ".
Now, you might be saying right now, as so many people doÖ "Oh címon! Iím not that bad. I donít suppress the truth! Iím not unrighteous, in fact, Iím actually a pretty good person." Well, we will be seeing what Paul has to say about that over the next few lessons, but for now, let me remind you of:
Romans 3:10-11 As it is written: "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE; (11) THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Do you still want to stand on your own works and your own righteousness? Keep in mind, again, what Romans 5:10 and 5:1 say: "Öwe have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" and "Öwe were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, [and] having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." It is through Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone that salvation occurs.
Paul doesnít leave us and the Romans hanging as to the means of this salvation. Once again, many religions say "you have to find it for yourself", but in the letter to the Romans, Paul is clear. He says:
Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."
In the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed and this transmission occurs from faith to faith.
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