The book of Romans has been hailed by many as one of the most important books of the New Testament. The reason is obvious: aside from the fact that theologians and famous reformers constantly refer to it as one major source of fundamental theological truths, it is a great thesis of the Apostle Paul on salvation. Martin Luther has aptly said that “it (the book of Romans) is the gospel according to Paul. ” And indeed, what a clear statement it is of the gospel. If one would venture on grasping the gospel message, it would be best to start in Romans.
The book is inclusive in its scope of treatment as to the redemptive plan of God. From the first chapter to the eleventh, the apostle scrupulously touched every area/issue that went through his mind that he assumed were the questions arising along as he was discussing the different topics that were all related to salvation. He did not leave a stone unturned in this book. Why salvation is universally needed? He covered everything what that question entails in chapters 1-3. If the question is about the nature of justification – how does God justifies sinners – the treatment to that is well laid in chapters 4-5.
In chapter 6, Paul answers a “supposed objection” by the critic who says, “If grace has abounded all the more because of sin, then, let us continue in sin to give God more reason to shower us with His grace. ” Paul’s answer to this is, one who has died to sin cannot live any longer in sin. True Christians have been buried through baptism and were raised in newness of life with Christ. They have participated in Christ’s death and resurrection by faith. And so, Paul’s argument is: “How can those who have this new life in them by the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit live still in sin?
” In the next chapter (Rom. 7), Paul presented a life of struggle which is practically true of every Christian. But nevertheless, according to him, in spite of the reality and intensity of the struggle, victory is every time guaranteed; for even in the hopelessness of the case because of total depravity, Jesus Christ the Lord is the Christian’s justifier and vindicator before God (Bruce, 1985). Besides, said Paul, “there is now no condemnation” for those who are counted to be “in Christ.
” The flow of the argument runs smoothly in Romans as the reader continues the reading through chapter eight, nine, ten, and eleven. Life in the Spirit is described, and how those who have the Spirit of Christ live their lives as “sons of God. ” It would be impossible for Paul that Christians who have been born of the Spirit shall ever lose the battle in the end, since, according to him, even God “did not spare His own Son” for the salvation of His elect. How would He allow that petty incidentals such as those Paul have listed in Romans 8:35 abort the consummation of salvation for God’s elect?
The climax of Paul’s argument reached its height when in chapter eleven he exclaimed with a doxology his praise, surrender, and awe, of the “depths” and the “unsearchableness” of God’s wisdom, knowledge, and judgments. The book of Romans is comprehensive in that it did not leave the issue about God’s Old Covenant people – the Jewish people. Aside from the rebuke that Paul has directed to those Jews who prided themselves of possessing the law and therefore “instructed” in it and in the position of “tutors” and “teachers” in chapter two, he allotted a lengthy portion on the issue of Israel in chapters nine to eleven.
After having treated the dilemma of God’s people well and completely by pointing out their proper place in the economy of God in the end times in the church with the Gentile believers, Paul then devoted the remaining chapters – chapters 12-16 – to exhortation challenging the Roman Christians (which actually was composed of Jewish and Gentile believers) to live in a manner that befits those who are truly elected to be in God’s family. This, in simplified form, is the entirety of Romans.
However, as magnificent and holistic as the treatment of Apostle Paul was to all of the issues involved in salvation, nothing is more fundamental than what he elucidated in chapter five when he compared Adam with Christ. It is at this point that he actually made clear the real situation of the rest of humanity. He delineated humankind in two groups alone: those who are “in Adam” and those who are “in Christ. ” The presumption is that every person that is born and living in this planet is a descendant of Adam. Adam was the first human being, and as the first man, he was set as the federal head of the rest of all humanity.
This, in and of itself, has nothing that any person should be alarmed about, until the issue of Adam’s standing with God as to terms of his covenant with God is touched. Adam fell into sin when as the head of his wife he consented to the temptation into which she was lured and deceived by the serpent. Because of this Fall into which Adam together with his wife fell, all of humanity, according to the Apostle, is in a state of total depravity. “All have sinned,” was Paul’s assessment borrowing his appraisal of humanity from several passages of the Old Testament Scriptures.
The solution to this helpless and hopeless condition of man is only the gospel – the message of salvation which God offers in Jesus Christ. God is now offering His righteousness that will justify a person before the strict and perfect demands of His holiness. The gospel whenever proclaimed presents to every individual the perfect righteousness which alone can free man of his moral and spiritual bankruptcy as well as his eternal liability can be found in the person of Jesus Christ alone (Escalona, 2008). What follows is an elaboration of the gospel according to Apostle Paul based on some of the key verses in the first chapter of Romans.
The Descendants of Adam Paul dug deep into the very roots of the problem of humanity. He was consumed by the thought of man’s condition as it was viewed from the vantage point of God. For Paul, man’s troubles were all traceable to sin. In the first chapter, God is introduced as an angry God whose wrath is evidently manifested in the heavens against “all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. ” God alone is righteous, He is the standard of true righteousness, and therefore, He stands opposed to any form of unrighteousness.
The reason why people most of the time misunderstand this matter of being right before God is because the overruling idea of being right depends on whether one’s reputation in the community is acceptable or not. In other words, nowadays, one’s culture is the determinant of ethics and hence the judge, and not God who is the perfect Judge. This is where the man of today always fails. It has been like this ever since the Fall. And what is this but failure that had been passed from Adam to the succeeding generations after him to the present, and it will be as it is till the last of the human species.
By the way, this is not a mere “failure” on the part of man. Under this condition, man is in sin and God holds him accountable. Since this sin came from Adam, the very quality of it is distrust on the character of God. It does not trust on the goodness of God but questions His intentions and design. The reason why Eve disobeyed was that she entertained and made room for other thoughts than just think of God as kind and generous and thinks only of what is perfectly best for the them (Adam & Eve).
This same misgiving on the character of God is built in within the human frame, and so every one is under the same transgression against God, and this is what theologians call original sin and it is inherited from Adam. If one is to understand all of the toils, struggles, and problems connected to life in general, one has to reckon sin as the cause of all these troubles. And if Christians still struggle with the problem of the presence of sin, the best way to start is to understand where this sin problem came from.
Since sin’s power is a nagging reality to the disciple of Christ, it has to be understood in terms of why it has gotten to man’s system. And so, Adam, right away, comes into the scene as Paul proceeds to start all over again from where it all began – Adam’s fall. The “one man” that the apostle was referring to was Adam. His decision to partake of Eve’s disobedience was sin; and it was that very act itself which also introduced sin into the world where previously it was absent – and with it, death – was the sin with which he violated God’s command (DeLashmutt, 2008).
The immediate consequence of sin is death. Paul’s emphasis at this point is not only the fact of death as the punishment for sin, but that sin and death not only had affected Adam but the rest of humankind after him. This is the argument of Apostle Paul in Romans 5:12-21. From this condition the gospel offers freedom and acquittal. This is called justification – the act of God by which He acquits sinners through the imparted righteousness of Christ. This is also what Paul means in the expression the “righteousness of God.
” It cannot be acquired through one’s fleshly endeavors but by simply putting one’s faith in the finished and perfect work of Christ. All those who have thrusted all of the full weight of the sin problem to Jesus (who is the only propitiation for sin) are those whom the gospel categorized as those who are “in Christ. ” They have the perfect righteousness of Christ on their account, and God see them in Christ. On the other hand, all of those who opt to, along with Christ, make use of other means – tradition, religion, the law, etc. – rather than on Christ alone, these are reckoned as descendants of Adam.
By the way, no man was ever born automatically “in Christ. ” The contrary is true. Every man was born automatically “in Adam” because every one descended from Adam physically. Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3:6). What Jesus meant by these words was: spiritual birth does not come along with physical birth. Every man needs to experience spiritual birth because this is how one is born into the kingdom of God. Paul alludes to this in his letters. One of those is in Romans 5:12-21.
In 1 Corinthians 15:48, he said: “As was the man of dust (Adam), so also are those (Adam’s descendants) who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man (Jesus Christ), so also are those (those who are in Christ through faith) who are heavenly. ” The Gospel 1. ) God’s Good News (Rom. 1:1). Paul was “separated to the gospel of God. ” This means, according to Newell, God’s special call on Paul to be an apostle. He compared this “separation” to the cases of those holy men of Old and New Testament who had had the same separation to their specific tasks in the unveiling of God’s redemptive plan.
This kind of setting apart, always in each case, began in the mother’s womb. In Paul’s case, it was a calling to be an apostle to the Gentiles – to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles. The gospel is “God’s good news,” Newell emphasized. Indeed, it was God who initiated to express His love to mankind. Humanity was in sin when God sent His own Son to die so that a perfect sacrifice could be provided for the salvation of His elect. “For when we were still without strength,” Paul told the Romans, “in due time Christ died for the ungodly. ” 2. ) The Gospel Has its Roots in the Old Testament Scriptures (Rom. 1:1-2).
The promises of the Old Testament scriptures pertain to the coming One – the Messiah – who would be a personification of the “righteousness of God. ” The law and the sacrifices in the Temple of Moses all point to the reality of man’s need of redemption. The prophets speak of a time when righteousness would become a reality among God’s people. The Savior would make many righteous, and faith would characterize their life. 3. ) The Gospel is About Christ (Rom. 1:3-4). The gospel is called “good news” because it tells of God’s deliverance. Apart from the gospel there would be no salvation for man.
Israel, until now, would be dependent on sacrificial system and the Gentiles, being deprived of the Old Testament’s God sanctioned ceremonies and promises would remain outside of God’s covenant. Since the gospel is about Christ, it should be understood for what it says about the person and work of Christ. Who is this Christ? What is his nature? What did his life, death, and resurrection accomplished that people should know and believe? These are questions that need to be answered in the gospel. Because the gospel’s message is all about Christ, it follows that he is the sole solution to humanity’s broken relationship with God.
In fact, there is no other way of salvation besides Christ (Newell). 4. ) The Gospel Teaches and Results in “Obedience” Among the Nations (Rom. 1:5). Contrary to the accusations of Paul’s critics, his teaching of the grace of God in the gospel produces genuine obedience to those who believe. If one received grace, service will definitely follow as a result. In verse 8, the effect and outworking of the grace of God as it was released through the gospel in the lives of the Roman Christians, was obedience. Their faith was being “spoken of” throughout the world. They had become obedient and followed the teachings of Christ. 5.
) It is the Power of God unto Salvation (Rom. 1:16). This truth must be kept in mind by all Christians. There is no other instrument that God employs in the saving of the souls of men but the gospel. There are pressures to yield to the styles of the world. For sure, Paul was tempted to employ humanistic wisdom during his time in Corinth. As he attested to the Christians at Philippi, he had reasons to boast, humanly speaking. He said: “What things were gain to me, I have counted loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7). And yet, to the Corinthians he said: “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor.
2:2). It’s the same as what he told the Romans: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. ” The reason for his uninhibited and unashamed proclamation of the gospel is, because “it is the power of God unto salvation. ” Reference: 1. ) Bruce, FF. 1985. Romans, Inter-Varsity Press, 38 De Montfort Street, Leicester LE1 7GP, England. 2. ) DeLashmutt, Gary. 2008. 1340 Community Park Dr. , Columbus OH 43229 (614) 823-6500. [email protected] org 3. ) Escalona, Alan. 2008. The Way Christian Ministry Sunday Sermon Manuscript, Iligan City 9200, Phils. 4. ) Newell, William R. Romans Verse by Verse.