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Romans

May 16, 2009

Background

I. Introduction Romans 1:1-7

II. We have been Called, Therefore:                 Romans 1:8-32

  1. Love the Gospel                                                   Rom. 1:8-17
  2. Be Burdened by Man’s Sinfulness                 Rom. 1:18-32

III. We Belong to Him, Therefore:                Romans 2:1-3:8

  1. Be Accountable, not Judgmental                Rom 2:1-16
  2. We have Special Responsibilities                Rom. 2:17-3:8

IV . We are All Sinners, Therefore:                 Romans 3:9-31

  1. Live by Faith                                                        Rom. 3:9-31

V. We are Justified by Faith, Therefore:        Romans 4:1-7:25

  1. We have Eternal Life                                        Rom. 4:1-25
  2. We have Peace and Hope                              Rom. 5:1-20
  3. Don’t Mess with Sin                                          Rom. 6:1-23
  4. We are Free                                                          Rom. 7:1-25

VI. We Love God & are Filled with His Spirit, Therefore:               Romans 8:1-11:36

  1. Be Assured                                                              Rom. 8:1-17
  2. Be Patient                                                                Rom. 8:18-25
  3. Be Yielded                                                               Rom. 8:26-27
  4. Be Christ-Like                                                        Rom. 8:28-39
  5. We are His Children of the Promise             Rom. 9:1-33
  6. Confess with Your Mouth                                Rom. 10:1-21
  7. Enjoy His Kindness and Mercy                     Rom. 11:1-36

VII. Our God is Merciful, Therefore:                 Romans 12:1-21

  1. Be a Living Sacrifice                                           Rom. 12:1-21

VII. We Serve Him, Therefore: Romans 13:1-14:23

  1. Live Responsibly                                                    Rom. 13:1-14:23
    1. Respect Your Government                                Rom. 13:1-7
    2. Respect Your Debtors                                         Rom. 13:8-10
    3. Respect Your Faith                                               Rom. 13:11-14
    4. Respect Your Christian Brothers                    Rom. 14:1-23

IX. In Conclusion Romans 15:1-13

X. Paul’s Confidence Romans15:14-22

XI. Paul’s Vision Romans15:23-33

XII. Paul’s Greetings and Final Thoughts Romans 16:1-27

Commentary

Background:

There is no question that the Apostle Paul is the author. He states so right
away. His authorship has never been questioned. It is widely believed that this
letter to the church in Rome was written during his three month stay at Corinth
before going to Jerusalem to close out his third missionary journey. This would
date the writing about 56 or 57 A.D.

This is a critical treatise on Church Doctrine and theology. The points are
few but the arguments are extensive. Paul approaches them from both a Jewish
perspective and a Gentile perspective. One broad outline is as follows:

  1. Sin                                       Romans 1-3
  2. Salvation                          Romans 4-5
  3. Sanctification                 Romans 6-11
  4. Service                              Romans 12-16

Another even broader outline I gleaned from my friend and brother Don Cooper
is:

  1. Faith                                     Romans 1-8
  2. Hope                                     Romans 8-11
  3. Love                                     Romans 12-16

There is even a broader outline:

  1. Doctrine                              Romans 1-11
  2. Practice                               Romans 12-16

The major outline I have chosen is one that I developed many years ago in preparation
for a small group study while living in Maplewood Minnesota. The sub-outlines
are those developed from specific adult Sunday School lessons I have taught
and for preparing the commentary that follows.

The first three chapters of Romans are very similar to what Matthew recorded
in his Gospel on Jesus’ teaching at His Sermon on the Mount. Matthew was written
between 43 and 67 A.D. and most scholars date its writing between 50 and 55
A.D. Paul’s letter to the Romans was written between 55 and 57 A.D. So could
Paul have had an advance copy of Matthew’s Gospel?

The Gospel message; the Way of Salvation is clear in this letter. The major
points are found as follows:

  1. Our Condemnation                      Romans 3:23
  2. God’s Grace                                     Romans 5:8
  3. God’s Punishment                         Romans 6:23
  4. God’s Solution                                Romans 10:9
  5. God’s Assurance                            Romans 8:35-39

Paul has never visited Rome nor did he have anything to do with starting the
congregation in Rome. I believe it was a strong church most likely begun by
Jews and/or Gentile Jews who learned about Jesus Christ while on a pilgrimage
to Jerusalem. Paul’s only association up to this point is his meeting Priscilla
and Aquila in Corinth where Paul learned of their belief in Jesus as the Messiah
and worked with them as tentmakers. Paul writes this letter in part to introduce
himself to the church in Rome. He has heard about them and they have heard about
him. This is a letter of introduction indicating he hopes to visit them, fellowship
with them, and minister to them some day. Rome is an important city for the
Church. It is the capital of the Roman Empire and the church is to have an influence
on the leaders of that Empire. Paul is sure he will visit them. He just doesn’t
know when or how it will come to be.

Introduction                                                        Romans 1:1-7

This is the longest introduction of Paul’s letters. It is written to all in
Rome who are loved by God and who love God, who are called to be saints. They
are special. They have been chosen. Paul concludes with his standard greeting
of grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not
a flippant wish or prayer. Grace is like a chocolate covered nut. Grace is the
nut but it is covered with the love of God. Accepting God’s grace automatically
brings peace, togetherness, fellowship, and unity in the Body or church because
we become one with Christ Jesus.

Now let’s go back to verses 1-6. Paul declares his purpose for living, to
be a servant of the Gospel and for the Gospel. The Gospel is not a new concept.
It was foretold by the prophets that the Messiah would be a descendant of both
King David and God. The fact that Jesus was indeed the Christ, born of flesh
and Spirit, is verified by His death for our sin and resurrection unto life.
Jesus Christ is God Incarnate! He is the foundation of our faith. It is through
Christ alone that we are called to faith and obedience in Him. This is the Gospel
that binds us together with God forever. It is the same for both Gentile and
Jew. Salvation is from the Lord Jesus Christ.

We Have Been Called: Therefore:                                                  Romans 1:8-32

Love the Gospel Rom.                                                                                 1:8-17

Even though they have never met one another, there is oneness expressed by
Paul with the church in Rome. Paul recognizes the special faith present in the
church at Rome and thanks God on their behalf. It is a faith that has enlightened
many. It has been seen and heard throughout the Roman Empire. It is a faith
much like that possessed by the church in Thessalonica. It is a faith for which
they have been persecuted. Priscilla and Aquila, friends of Paul from his days
in Corinth and Ephesus, were probably forced to leave Rome because of their
faith. Paul has been praying for the Roman church, that they would remain faithful
and not be discouraged. And he tells them of his desire to visit them in person.
He wants to come and fellowship with them so they can encourage one another.

Paul would have come earlier but his priority and purpose was to preach the
Gospel to those who had not heard. He would like to preach in Rome too because
it is a cosmopolitan city, an important city, a city filled with all ethnic
groups of Gentiles and Jews. Those visiting or living in Rome, upon hearing
and accepting the Gospel, would take it throughout the Roman Empire. They too
would be influential in spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. Paul’s purpose
in visiting is not just Rome but the whole Roman Empire.

Paul is expressing his vast vision for the Gospel. It is a Gospel for which
he nor anyone should be ashamed. It is a Gospel available to and for all people.
It is a Gospel of salvation to all who believe. It is a Gospel that first came
to the Jews but which is available to all. It is a Gospel that imputes righteousness,
the righteousness of God Himself. It is a Gospel of faith in the Son of God,
Jesus Christ. Yes, the righteous live by Faith. Righteousness and Faith are
synonymous, a truth forcefully argued in Romans 3. Love the Gospel as did Paul,
as did the Church in Rome.

Be Burdened by Man’s Sinfulness                                          Rom. 1:18-32

Paul has talked about the love of God through Christ Jesus [the Gospel] and
now changes subjects to talk about the wrath of God as a result of sin. God’s
wrath is revealed [just as Christ was revealed] because wicked man suppresses
the Truth that has been revealed to him. Man can see God in the creation of
all things. He can see God’s power to create and recreate. Man knows it happens,
knows how it happens, but he refuses to acknowledge the One who makes it happen.
Man claims to be wise and have great knowledge [which we have] but we also live
in the dark and are fools because we fail to see and acknowledge God’s role
in the universe.

Instead we are perfectly content to make our own gods, idols, “man-made”
gods. These gods promote our own lusts and desires, authorizing sexual impurity
and degradation even to the point of doing what is not natural. It takes male
and female to create as designed by God. Man practices lies, trying to accomplish
the same with like genders. This even goes beyond the sin of homosexuality.
Man is trying to redefine what God has created. Man wants to redefine the Creator
God. Man wants to be God. But the result is a depraved mind, a foolish mind,
a mind bent on wickedness, evil and greed. The result is selfish and Godless
minds and hearts that accept the behavior of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice,
gossip, slander, God-hating, insolence, arrogance, boasting, evil-doing disobedience
to parents, senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless as perfectly acceptable
and, in fact, desirable. The wicked not only practice these things, they promote
such behavior.

Look around. You don’t believe such is true? Consider the messages and behavior
in our movies, in our schools, in our corporations and workplaces, in our politicians,
and in our government/laws. This attitude is prevalent in all of society and
in our country even though our Constitution was founded on Biblical principles.

Paul seems to emphasize two particular signs of man’s sinfulness and continual
walk away from God. They are the worship of things created by man [vs. 23] including
that of power, possessions, and prestige and the practice of sexuality between
like genders [vs. 24-26]. But the cause of this downfall of man is his insistence
that there is no God, no moral authority, no absolute right and wrong, no Truth.
All in all, Paul gives six steps in man’s walk away from God which can be summarized
as follows:

  1. Suppresses Truth.
  2. Refuses to worship God.
  3. Follows their own desires/lies.
  4. Follows unnatural desires.
  5. Has a depraved mind.
  6. Approves and promotes unrighteous actions.

Man prefers to make himself God and any means of gaining power, gaining possessions,
and gaining prestige is acceptable, including murder because he becomes a bigger
god. So is the foolishness of man.

We know what’s right. It is instilled in us humans by God. But we are inherently
sinful and refuse to acknowledge God as God. Refusing to acknowledge God brings
forth God’s wrath. Therefore, be wise and acknowledge Christ Jesus as Lord.

We Belong to Him, Therefore:                                    Romans 2:1-3:8

Be Accountable, not Judgmental                                Rom. 2:1-16

Paul continues with the theme “we have no excuse”. In Chapter 1
man has no excuse for not recognizing God and honoring His Name because He is
present in all creation. In Chapter 2 Paul tells the Roman Christians that we
are not without “excuse” for passing judgment on others [see Matt.
7:1-2], that is condemning others for what they do because we too have done
[and still do] similar deeds of unrighteousness.

God judges and His judgment is based on Truth. Judging others while we do
the same thing indicates contempt for God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience.
It shows contempt for God’s love because while we were sinners, He died for
out sin. Kindness, patience, coupled with God’s love leads people to repentance.
A stubborn an unrepentant heart leads to God’s wrath. A humble and forgiving
heart is a blessing to God and to others. We will all be judged according to
what we have done. Those who seek Him and eternal life will be saved. Those
who seek evil and reject the Truth will be condemned. It doesn’t matter is you
are a Jew or Greek, a church member or not, from a Christian family or not,
have seminary training or not, know the Law or not. It is obedience to the Law
that counts. It is to love God with all your heart, strength, soul, and mind
and love others as you love yourself that counts. It is acknowledging Jesus
Christ as God, as Lord, as Savior and sharing His love with others. It is humbling
yourself, obeying His commands and serving Him.

In summary, we are to be Accountable in Works [vs. 1-11], Accountable in Knowledge
[vs. 12-15],
and Accountable in Christ [vs. 16].

The label “hypocrite” is the Christians’ biggest nemesis. When we
judge others, we put on the robe of self-righteousness. When we humble ourselves
in loving concern for others, we put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness.
The Christian’s biggest cloud is self-righteousness. The Christian’s brightest
light is humility and love coupled with kindness, tolerance, and patience born
out of Christ’s righteousness. Striking the right balance of confrontation and
love requires Wisdom. A right approach and attitude is critical to one’s growth
and/or restoration.

Obedience always transcends knowledge when it comes to the law. One’s knowledge
of the law must result in obedience to the law to be counted as righteous. One
doesn’t seek knowledge so that one can obey. One seeks to obey the knowledge
one has obtained. Our light brightens as our obedience increases. Our job is
to shine brightly [obedience]. God’s job is to provide the light bulb [knowledge]
powered by the Holy Spirit.

We are not only accountable for our deeds [action] and for our knowledge [possessions],
but we are accountable to a person, Christ, the living God, who is perfect and
holy, who judges with Truth and Justice. We are accountable for what we do,
what we know, and for whom we trust. Our works reflect our love for Christ.
Our knowledge reflects our obedience to Christ. Our faith reflects our trust
in Christ.

We have a Special Responsibilities                                Rom. 2:17-3:8

The Jews have a special responsibility because they have been given special
blessings. They were chosen as God’s people and keepers of His Law. Likewise,
we as Christians, His Church, disciples of Jesus, have a special responsibility
because we have been given specific blessings. We too have been chosen as God’s
people to proclaim His Gospel message that all who believe Jesus Christ is God
Incarnate, who believe He died for our sin and rose again, will inherit eternal
life. We have been blessed with the indwelling of His Holy Spirit and have the
responsibility of keeping His Word, the Bible, pure and free of man’s contamination.
We have been given the responsibility of telling others about Jesus, His love,
and His forgiveness. We have the responsibility to practice what we preach,
to live as Christ lived, to be Christ-like in all that we say and do. It’s our
heart that counts, not our outward appearance. It’s God living in our hearts,
the Holy Spirit, directing our hearts and minds in loving and obedient service
to God for His honor and His glory.

Even though God treats both Jew and Gentile alike, there is an advantage for
being Jewish. Likewise, there is an advantage of being a born-again Christian
today. Our Christian advantage in not that we happen to be circumcised or baptized
but that we are caretakers of God’s Word, His Truth. The Jews were caretakers
of the Old Testament and the Law. We are caretakers of both the Old Testament
and the New Testament. We now are the caretakers of Law and Grace, God’s ways
and God’s means.

God is faithful even to those who are unfaithful. His Word is Truth. It defines
God’s justness and righteousness. God’s standard is “perfectness”
or “holiness”. The fact that we are not perfect or righteous does
not make God’s wrath unjust nor does it save us from God’s wrath. God is righteous.
God is just. His righteousness and justice prevail. God is absolute. God is
sovereign. God is God.

We are All Sinners, Therefore:                             Romans 3:9-31

Live by Faith                                                                  Rom. 3:9-31

Whether we are Gentiles, Jews, or Christians, we are all alike. We are all
sinners. We all have inherited sin, ignoring God’s Word, God’s Promises, and
God being God from Adam. We have a “bent” for not doing “good”,
for practicing deceit, for being bitter, for murder, for creating misery, for
hating, and for ignoring our Creator God. God’s law gives knowledge of sin,
gives us knowledge of our shortcomings compared to God’s standard of righteousness.
All of us are accountable to His standard. We know God’s standard and we fall
short. We are sinners!

There is a solution for our sinfulness, our unrighteousness. It is Faith in
Jesus Christ, belief in Him as Savior and Lord, belief that He paid the price
for our sin by dying on the cross, shedding His blood, and atoning for our sin.
Belief in Jesus Christ grants us God’s righteousness. His righteousness is available
to everyone who places their faith in Christ Jesus. As sinners, we are no longer
condemned. We are justified! We are righteous in His sight because of His Grace.

We are free from the law. The law condemns but faith saves. Faith grants us
His righteousness. The law, His Law, is still valid. Faith enables us to meet
God’s requirements for fulfilling His law. The wages of sin is death. Therefore,
placing our faith in Him enables us to meet God’s standard. Christ’s blood has
washed away our sin and we become righteous in His sight as Christ is righteous.
There is no reason to boast about keeping the law but every reason to boast
about God’s gift of grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. The just, the righteous,
live by faith in Jesus Christ.

We are Justified by Faith, Therefore:                              Romans 4:1-7:25

We have Eternal Life                                                                    Romans 4:1-25

Abraham is an example of God’s justification by faith. He believed God and
God called him righteous [Genesis 15:6].

Since righteousness comes by faith, can it also come by works? The wages we
receive for work is not a gift but a requirement. The one who trusts God by
faith receives righteousness as a gift. King David implied much the same when
he wrote that we are blessed when our sin is forgiven, covered, and forgotten.
Going back to Abraham, he was declared righteous by faith before he was circumcised
[works]. Abraham’s circumcision was an outward sign of his faith. In other words,
Abraham’s circumcision did not produce faith but Abraham’s faith resulted in
his circumcision.

Abraham’s righteousness, his faith, enabled him to receive God’s promise.
Faith shows forth God’s love. The Law [works] shows forth God’s wrath. Faith
guarantees us God’s promise, to both Jew and Gentile. Abraham’s example of faith
gives us assurance of God’s promise of eternal life to all who believe in Him.
Faith = righteousness= justification= life eternal.

Abraham’s faith was tested yet he did not waiver. The older he became, the
more he believed, the more he gave glory to God, the more he believed God was
faithful, and the more he believed God was powerful. God kept his promise to
Abraham even though both he and Sarah were old. He will keep His promises to
us too. We who believe Jesus died for our sin and was raised from the dead to
return to God the Father will also be considered righteous, justified, and be
resurrected to life eternal with Him. Abraham had faith in God’s Promise. We
not only have faith in God’s Promise but in His Son, Jesus Christ. Abraham had
faith in God’s Promise. We have faith in God’s Person, God the Son.

We have Peace and Hope                                       Rom. 5:1-20

Justification brings peace with God through Christ. Our separation from God
because of sin is bridged by faith in Christ. Justification also brings hope
by the pouring out of God’s love upon us. We may suffer but His love enables
us to persevere and build character. We rejoice because we have faith that one
day we will experience all of God’s glory.

God’s love is real, is genuine. He died for our sins while we were sinners.
We are powerless to change or overcome the influence of evil and the Evil One
except by His grace demonstrated by His Son’s death for our sin. Jesus’ blood
justifies all who believe in Him. We who believe are no longer subject to God’s
wrath for our sin but are reconciled to God by His love through Jesus Christ,
His Son. Therefore, we have every reason to rejoice. By the blood of Christ
we have redemption for all who believe. There is no greater love, no greater
grace, and no greater faith. Peace and Hope are ours.

Paul explains how original sin began and how it can end. It came from Adam.
It ends through faith in Jesus Christ. Sin has been in the world since the beginning
but it was not clearly defined until God gave His Law to man. Adam sinned. We
are from Adam. Therefore, we are all like Adam. We too are sinful. Likewise
the gift of God, His Son Jesus Christ, is available to all. Adam authored God’s
judgment. Christ authored God’s grace, God’s righteousness, God’s means of justification,
and God’s means of reconciliation. God’s grace is greater than all our sin.

Believe! Know that we are all sinners. Know that God has paid our debt for
sin through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. Know that God’s wrath targets
sin and that His love targets those who place their faith in Jesus. Know that
God’s gift, His Son, offers us reconciliation and life eternal. His Gift offer
peace and hope. His Gift showcases God’s grace and glory. Those who accept His
Gift, His Son, are justified. Believe!

Don’t Mess with Sin                                            Rom. 6:1-23

Chapter 12 of Romans is a familiar chapter because it transitions between
the doctrinal section of Romans to the practical section of Romans. Chapter
6 is equally familiar because it begins the transitional from justification
to sanctification within the doctrinal section. In this Chapter there are two
questions:

  1. Isn’t sin beneficial? Romans 6:1
  2. Isn’t sin OK? Romans 6:15

Paul answers these two questions using two examples:

  1. Baptism Romans 6:2-14
  2. Spiritual Allegiance Romans 6:16-22

Paul’s examples/responses to these questions don’t invoke any rules but dwell
on the contrast of “who we were” and “who we are”; positive,
not negative; Grace, not law; free to be His Children.

In verse 23, the climax of this chapter, Paul lays out our two choices; life
or death. Paul gives us two facts; we have died and been raised with Christ
[vs. 11] and the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life [vs.
23]. Chapter 6 hinges on these questions and these principles.

Overall, faith is defined by our understanding that the “death and resurrection”
of our lives is born out in our “death” to sin and our “resurrection”
to good works. True faith has no place for sin; only obedience to God for the
purposes of holiness and righteousness. Let us remember though that we are saved
by Grace through faith, that faith is the evidence of God’s grace in our lives.

Let’s consider the following lessons:

  1. As we cling to Christ in death, we are united with Christ in Life through
    His resurrection and will ascend like Christ to be with Him forever in heaven.
  2. True Christians are already living on the other side of death. Therefore,
    true Christians are people of the future, not the past.
  3. Commitment is critical to having a correct Christian lifestyle.
  4. We have two choices; death in sin or Life in Christ.
  5. It’s not a question of His Grace overruling His Law; it’s obedience to Him
    overruling sin.
  6. You can’t win Monopoly’s “game of life” unless you exercise your
    free “get out of jail” card [grace] and move ahead in obedience to
    the rules of the game.
  7. The Holy Spirit has moved the true Christian from “not available”
    to “on call”.
  8. True repentance means we leave our sin at “ground zero” and move
    on to “new life”.
  9. A Saint refutes sin and is sanctified in service to the Savior.

The illustration below is my attempt to visually describe
what Paul has put in writing in this Chapter.

romans_dead_to_sin_alive_in_christ

We are Free                                     Rom. 7:1-25

The Law is for the living and marriage is a good example of what Paul is trying
to explain in Chapter 6. If one’s spouse dies and the living spouse marries,
he/she is not considered an adulterer. Likewise, we Christians are dead to the
Law through Christ’s death and are free to belong to the resurrected Christ.
We are no longer married to the Law. It died with Christ’s death. Instead, we
are free to marry/commit to the resurrected Christ, serving Him and bearing
fruit. We are now bound by the Spirit in love instead of a written code.

The Law is not bad. It is good because it defines what sin is. But with the
Law comes the consequences of sin which is death because the Law is holy, righteous,
and good. It is God’s Divine standard.

The Law is good. It is of God. But we are not good because we are not of God.
We are slaves to sin. We sin even when we do not want to sin because the desires
of our hearts rule our actions. That is our sinful nature. Sin lives in each
of us. We are wretched. But Christ Jesus frees/rescues us. Thanks be to God!
The Law of Christ wages war against the law of sin within us. Although we are
sinful by nature, we who trust Christ as Savior are committed to serve God’s
Law, His Law of Grace through Jesus Christ.

All this is difficult to explain but easy to comprehend because we all experience
this conflict upon committing ourselves to Jesus Christ. That is why I drew
up the previous diagram. It helps me to understand all that God has accomplished
in Christ Jesus. We who place our faith in Christ are no longer bound by sin
but are bound by Christ’s righteousness. We are no longer slaves to sin but
are free, free to be “on call for God”, free to live a “resurrection
lifestyle” on earth while on our way to heaven. We live in light, not darkness.
We live in hope, not despair. We live in Christ and for Christ. We are redeemed,
not condemned. We are free indeed!

We Love God and are Filled with His Spirit, Therefore:        Romans 8:1-11:36

Be Assured                             Rom. 8:1-17

We are redeemed, not condemned. The Spirit of Christ has set us free from
sin and death. God’s Son, who became our sacrifice for sin, met the righteous
requirements of His Law on our behalf. Therefore, we live by the Spirit and
not according to our sinful nature. We desire to be obedient to the Spirit and
not to our sinful nature. We desire to obey God, obey His Word, and obey His
Will. Our obedience to God instills in us life and peace. We love God and seek
to please Him in all that we say and do. It is how we know we belong to Him.
We have assurance because His righteousness and His Spirit lives within us and
that same Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, will raise us unto eternal
life. We who are mortal become immortal because His Spirit lives within us.
We are His Sons. His Spirit and our spirit are one. We are heirs. We share in
His suffering and we share in His glory. We no longer live for self but live
for Him. We live assured!

Be Patient                              Rom. 8:18-25

Whatever suffering we experience on earth is meaningless compared to His glory
revealed in us on earth as we await His heavenly glory being prepared for us.
Even creation longs for its redemption from the curse of original sin. It too
wants to be restored to its original glory.

Therefore, we are to wait patiently for our full and complete restoration.
We are considered God’s first-fruits of redemption and eagerly await our new
resurrected bodies, to be welcomed home as His sons and full heirs of His riches.
It is what we hope for, what we have been saved unto. We have hope in our redemption
now as we wait patiently and hope for the day when our redemption will be complete.
Be patient for God is faithful.

Be Yielded                             Rom. 8:26-27

We have a tendency to be weak and we pray. We don’t always know what to pray
for but the Spirit intercedes on our behalf according to God’s Will. We, the
Spirit,, and God are one in Christ. He is the vine and we are the branches [John
15]. We are unified in the Will of God. We are family. Therefore, the Spirit
will lead us in prayer and in His Will. Always be yielded to the Lord’s Will.

Be Christ-like                         Rom. 8:28-39

God is good. He not only wants what’s best for us, He does what’s best for
us because we love Him and desire to do His Will.

God knew us before we were. It was His Will that we become like Jesus Christ;
that we conform to His image; that we be considered as His brothers. That is
why God has called us. That is why He justifies us. That is why He glorifies
us. We are to imitate Jesus Christ on earth.

His glory also includes our resurrection. So God is for us just as He was
for Jesus. He will give us all that we need. He will never bring charges against
us or condemn us because He is for us, for we who place our faith in Him are
His own. Nothing in the spiritual world, the physical world, the intellectual
world, or the created world can separate us from the love of God. Nothing will
or can separate us from His love. Because Jesus conquered death, we shall conquer
death. He loved us enough to die for us. God’s love is greater than our sin.
God’s love is sufficient to pay the debt for our sin through His Son once and
for all. God is good to all who place their faith in Jesus Christ. Live as a
conqueror. Live victoriously. Christ did.

We are His Children of the Promise                  Rom. 9:1-33

Paul expresses love for his own people, the Jews, by noting his sorrow and
anguish over their unbelief. He would give up his salvation in Christ Jesus
if they would repent and trust Christ as their Messiah. They have been blessed
by God having been chosen as His People to receive God’s glory, the covenants,
the law, the temple worship, and His promises. Even God’s only Son came to earth
as a descendant of their father Abraham.

Paul asks the question “Did God fail?” because not all of Israel
believes. Paul answers the question by reminding them that God’s people [Israel]
are not necessarily the natural children of Abraham but are the people who believe
in the Promise given to Abraham. He proves his point by comparing Jacob and
Esau. Jacob revered the Promise and was loved by God. Esau despised the Promise
and was hated by God. God’s election concerning who are truly His Children is
not based on works but is based on who respects and believes in His Promise,
Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Jesus is the Promise of Blessing that God
gave to Abraham.

Paul next asks the question if God is unjust in the way He chooses to love
and hate, quoting God’s Word concerning His Sovereignty to whom He grants mercy
and compassion. Paul answers his question by recalling Pharaoh whose heart was
hardened by the Lord. But God’s purpose was not to harden Pharaoh’s heart and,
thus, justify the plagues that eventually would free Israel from slavery. God’s
purpose was to display His power so all people would proclaim God as their God.
Pharaoh’s heart was hardened because he refused to acknowledge the true God.
Pharaoh thought he was god and refused to humble himself before the true God
being revealed to him. He hardened his own heart by refusing to acknowledge
God.

When we have choices or must make choices concerning who God is or even if
there is a God, we shift the blame on God for not telling us or for not revealing
Himself in some miraculous way. “It isn’t our fault so why does God blame
us?” But God made us. He revealed Himself to us. He made us for different
purposes. That is a miracle in itself. He created us with intelligence to make
choices, to choose Him. In so doing, He has exhibited great patience with us.
His patience shows forth His Glory because His patience enables many, both Jew
and Gentile, to call Him Lord.

True Israel, then, are those Jews and Gentiles who call Him Lord. They call
Him Lord by faith, not by works. Works became a stumbling block to the Jews.
Let’s not make the same mistake. Faith is honored by God. The just who live
by faith in Christ Jesus are God’s chosen people. That is God’s Promise to all
mankind.

Confess with Your Mouth                                Rom. 10:1-21

Even though Paul was sent to preach to the Gentiles, he has a heart for his
own people, the Jews. When visiting cities throughout Asia Minor, he always
began by preaching in the local synagogue. Obviously there were Jews in the
synagogue but there were also Gentiles who had converted to Judaism. Paul began
there because they were familiar with God’s Word, His Law, and His Promises
and could relate to his proclamation that Jesus was the Messiah, that He fulfilled
the Law, and that He came to earth, died and was raised to life so that all
who believe on Him could be reconciled to God as righteous and have eternal
life.

Paul recognizes that most Jews were zealous about their faith. They took it
seriously. It was important to them. It governed their lifestyle. This should
be no different for we who profess Christ. But in their zeal, they were more
interested in the law itself than in the righteousness that God desired to teach
them through the giving of the Law. They could not and would not accept the
righteousness of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Law. They preferred
their own interpretation and their own rules. Again, we Christians must make
every effort to uphold God’s Word as our final authority for righteousness lest
we be led astray.

God’s righteousness, a righteousness by faith, is not as concerned with the
question of who will go to heaven or who will go to hell but is very concerned
with the question “Who do you say that I [Jesus] am?” We confess with
our mouth what is in our heart, Jesus Christ. His Holy Spirit indwells us because
we have placed our faith in Him. Our faith is in His Person, the Son of God,
and not in the Law. We have the hope of heaven but that hope is in and through
Jesus Christ. It is the same for both the Jew and the Gentile. God blesses us
who place our faith in Jesus. Our faith, our confession will be trusted because
God is glorified in it. And we who genuinely confess Christ as Lord and Savior
will be glorified and granted salvation with God in heaven for all eternity.

Most Jews had/have difficulty accepting the good news, the Gospel. They heard
but yet they refused to hear. They saw but they refuse to see. They knew of
the Promise but they refused to hear or see The Promise, Jesus Christ. Where
the Jews refused to hear, the Gentiles heard. Where the Jews refused to accept,
the Gentiles accepted. It is the same today. But we who have heard and have
accepted must have the heart and mindset of Paul for the Jewish people and all
people. We, who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, must never stop
telling and never stop confessing Him before all men, including the Jews.

Enjoy His Kindness and Mercy                           Rom. 11:1-36

God’s kindness and mercy is available to all, to Israel first and then to
the Gentiles. Israel has rejected God and His plan of Salvation, but God has
not rejected Israel. God always has a remnant of followers. It was true in Elijah’s
time, it was true in Paul’s time, and it is true today. They too have been chosen
by His Grace and not because of their works.

The elect of God are those chosen by Grace. Those who refuse His Grace were
hardened. To prove his point, Paul quotes David in Psalm 69.

There will always be a believing remnant of Jews but because so many rejected
Jesus as Messiah, God turned to the Gentiles to bring glory to His Name. So
the Gentiles have been blessed. An even greater blessing will occur when Israel
returns to God and believes on Jesus.

Paul’s purpose is to preach to the Gentiles. By doing so, he hopes the Jews
will be curious enough to seek the Lord. Paul uses the analogy of an olive tree
where the initial branches [Israel] have died off. If and when they come back
to life, the tree [God’s Kingdom] will flourish. The root, the Triune God, is
holy so the living branches [believers] are also holy. Gentiles have now been
and will continue to be grafted [accepted] into the tree and are supported by
the root [God] and the sap [Holy Spirit]. But we Gentiles are not to boast about
our riches. Our riches are not at the expense of Israel but exist by our faith.
If unbelief creeps in, God will not spare us anymore than He spared Israel.

God’s ways are just. He is both stern and kind. He punishes the unfaithful
and He is kind to the faithful. He will readily REGRAFT Israel into His vine
when they repent of their unfaithfulness and acknowledge His kindness in offering
Jesus, His Son, to die for their sin and the sin of the whole world. Israel
will return to worship the Lord God when all the Gentiles have been grafted
into the vine. This is one of the clearest prophecies relating to the timing
of Israel’s return to acknowledging God and His Son, Jesus Christ. When all
the gentiles whose hearts are not hardened have entered into the Kingdom of
God, God will renew His covenant with Israel, take away their sin, and grant
them mercy because they will have repented of their disobedience and will have
committed to obey God. Disobedience as defined by God’s Law makes God’s Grace
and Mercy available to all.

Paul closes this doctrinal portion of Romans with a beautiful doxology defining
how great God is. God has infinite wisdom and knowledge. He is just. His way
and His will are perfect, righteous, and holy. He is above all, accountable
to no one for He is God of God’s and King of Kings. He is the Creator of all
things. He alone is worthy of our praise and worship. This doxology summarizes
Chapters 1-11.

Therefore, do not harden your heart and disobey His Word. Obey Him. Be Faithful.
Enjoy His Kindness and His Mercy forever.

God is Merciful, Therefore:                               Romans 12:1-21

Be a Living Sacrifice                                                Rom.12:1-21

Paul exhorts us to be a living sacrifice, a sacrifice which is holy and pleasing
to God, a sacrifice worthy of spiritual worship to our Lord God, Jesus Christ.
The Church in Rome must have been known for having a large membership of Jewish
people. Paul spent the last two chapters explaining that both the Jews and the
Gentiles are equal before God. He wanted to make sure they understood that their
ancestral differences did not create any differences in their acceptability
before God. God looks only at the heart. Paul starts this discussion on Christian
practice and service using the language meaningful to the worship system practiced
by Jews in their temple worship. We are to be a living sacrifice in comparison
to the sacrifice God gave with His Lamb, Jesus Christ. A sacrifice considered
to be “holy and pleasing” was a sacrifice “without blemish”,
perfect, highly valued; one from which you would prefer to breed others. Christ
Jesus was that perfect sacrifice required by God; righteous, holy, highly valued,
and capable of paying the debt for all our sin. He is the way to eternal life
by the Grace of God through faith in Him as payment for our sin. Only through
Christ do we become sons and heirs of God. Christ Jesus is the breeding stock
for all God’s children. His holiness and His righteousness are passed on to
each of us who believe in Him. We become pleasing to God by being recreated
in His image, having His genes, wearing His robe of righteousness. We are to
become Christ-like.

The sacrificial system was central to the worship of God under the Mosaic
Covenant. The same is true under the New Covenant in Christ. But the New Covenant
sacrifice is a living sacrifice because Christ lives. He was raised from the
dead to life. We represent that life-giving worship as we lay ourselves on the
altar in service to Him. We are a living sacrifice, a sacrifice of service,
a sacrifice of His love, so others may seek Him, know Him, place their faith
in Him, and become His children. This is God’s Way, God’s Will. We no longer
conform to the ways of the world and the culture around us for Satan is the
prince of this world. We are transformed to be like Christ. This miraculous
transformation takes place in our hearts first and then renews our mind so we
begin to think and act like Christ. To comprehend the full meaning of this transformation,
review the diagram associated with Chapter 6. His good and pleasing will is
that we be like Him, Jesus Christ, obedient to God the Father.

Next Paul defines four things we should do [vs. 3-8] to begin our journey.
First, we are to be humble. We humble ourselves before God and we humble ourselves
before our fellow man. No one pays much attention to the life and words of the
proud. Second, we are to evaluate ourselves, understand ourselves. What are
our strengths? What are our weaknesses? What talents and interests do we possess?
What’s our giftedness? What are our experiences and/or training? In what situations
is our faith strong and in what situations is our faith weaker? In other words,
know yourself as God knows you. Third, know your talent, your giftedness, your
interests, and use them for the glory of God. Use them to love God and to love
your neighbors. Paul lists eight broad categories. Each of us probably has talents
in more than one of these areas. There are two books which carry this theme
farther than I can and they are The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and the
Cure for the Common Life [Living in Your Sweet Spot] by Max Lucado. Both are
“good reads” concerning Paul’s third point. Fourth, Paul exhorts us
to practice teamwork in the exercise of our gifts [vs.5]. Also see Paul’s letter
to the Corinthians [I Cor. 12] where he has written more on this concept of
teamwork under the umbrella of unity in the Body of Christ.

Beginning in verse 9, Paul lists characteristics of the Christian who is Christ’s
living sacrifice, who is not conformed to the world. They exhibit:

  1. Sincere love, hating evil.
  2. Clinging to what is good [right and just].
  3. Devotion [commitment] to one another.
  4. Honor [encouraging, promoting] to others.
  5. Zeal [excitement, pursuit] in serving the Lord.
  6. Joy in hope [visionary].
  7. Patience in affliction [waiting and resting on the Lord].
  8. A praying spirit.
  9. Generosity.
  10. Hospitality.
  11. Treating all people equally, without discrimination.
  12. Empathy and support.
  13. Living in peace.
  14. Humility [no ego].

He continues in verse 17 to define one characteristic prevalent in the world
which is to be avoided, REVENGE. We are to leave that in the hand of God.

In closing this significant transition chapter, Paul exhorts us to treat our
enemies as friends. Always be an example of Christ. Do good. Do what is right.
Be Christ-like. We are to be a living sacrifice daily, daily giving of ourselves
for others in need, others in need of God’s love. Why? So they too will know
and experience Christ’s love, Christ’s mercy, and come to trust Him as their
Lord and Savior. This is God’s Way and God’s Will. It couldn’t be more clearly
said.

We Serve Him, Therefore:                                      Romans 13:1-14:23

Live Responsibly                                                           Rom. 13:1-14:23

In using this subtitle to Live Responsibly, I am really talking about respect.
A responsible person is one that respects others and in so doing gains the respect
of others. And with respect comes trust. It is difficult if not impossible to
respect someone we do not trust is being truthful and fair or just. In another
sense, one can substitute the word love for respect. They can be interchangeable.
With that as introduction, let us look at Romans 13 and 14.

Respect Your Government                                          Rom. 13:1-7

Paul begins by stating we, as Christians, must submit ourselves to the governing
authorities. We are to be law abiding citizens. The governments which govern
our societies have been set in place by God because God is sovereign. We can
look at these first seven verses and consider that the authority we submit to
can be a person, an institution, or both recognizing that God is sovereign over
all. I prefer to relate these verses to institutions of government, a more general
term, because Paul seems to be talking about obeying laws enacted to govern
society and because “institution” can be broad enough to encompass
democracies, dictatorships, and other forms of government.

Paul’s arguments are simple. Obey the laws of the land and you will live in
peace. Disobey the laws of the land and you will live in fear of judgment. The
laws of the land enacted by government are for our benefit. They bring order
in place of chaos. They promote equality among all people. The individuals in
government are in office to do good, not evil. Therefore, they deserve our respect
and honor. Whether they know it or not, the individuals in government are in
the service of our sovereign God who has established a particular governing
entity.

This passage of Scripture does not promote “blind obedience” to
governing bodies or dictators who establish laws or decrees which are not right
or just and do not provide equal rights to all people. We are not obligated
to obey “Hitlers”. But we do have to think clearly and lovingly with
respect to our position and laws governing marriage and civil unions. How far
do we carry equal rights? Should the law abiding citizen have more rights than a
non-law abiding citizen? Is there a difference between equal rights and privileges?
Do sinful acts justify different rights? Where do we draw the lines? Answering
these questions is the role of government. People, even Christians, have different
opinions. I have my own opinions but I don’t have any good answers. We as Christians
are to look into His Word as our final authority and then seek to convince others
that our arguments are correct and just according to God and for man. What would
Jesus do? I think we need to spend more time praying about these divisive issues
than we do discussing them. A cop out? Perhaps. But I also think it is a wise
approach. Let God guide us to Live Responsibly.

Respect Your Debtors                                     Rom. 13:8-10

Living responsibly also means we meet/keep our obligations, especially those
concerning the payback of loans. It is right. It is a means of showing love.
Bankruptcy does not promote the Kingdom of God; neither does a breech of contract.
Our word must be trustworthy and our signature must be trustworthy. We are to
fulfill all our obligations on time. It is our reasonable service. It is Living
Responsibly.

Respect Your Faith                                          Rom. 13:11-14

Living responsible should govern our behavior. What we do in private should
be no different than what we do in public. We are to be trustworthy and transparent.
Our time on earth is short and we must make the best of it. Christ is coming
soon. Believe it! Act as Christ were here today on earth. Our actions are to
proclaim our respect for Christ, for His sacrifice on our behalf. It is Living
Responsibly.

Respect Your Christian Brothers                 Rom. 14:1-23

Living responsibly means we respect our Christian brothers. As Christians
we will have different views on what is acceptable to eat. This would be particularly true between Jew and Gentile Christians. A Christian’s allegiance is to God, not
to rules and regulations about what we can and can not eat. The same is true
for the Sabbath. Jewish Christians may want to observe the Sabbath on Saturday.
The Seventh Day Adventists do it today and I have had the privilege of knowing
many Christians of that persuasion. What about those whose job requires them
to work on Sunday? Their Sabbath is another day. And they are required to observe
it as a Sabbath. The issue is not the specific things we may do or not do but
the issue is in whatever we do that we do it as unto the Lord. We live for the
Lord, not ourselves. We live for Him because of our faith, not according to
the observances we keep. We live for the Lord knowing that one day we will be
accountable to Him. We are to live in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy
Spirit, thereby pleasing Him.

We live to please Christ, not man. We live to do His Word, to grow His Kingdom,
to proclaim His Name, to preach the Gospel, and to build up one another in love.
Such is Living Responsibly.

In Conclusion                                                        Romans 15:1-13

These verses, in a sense, represent Paul’s written benediction to the Roman
church. I debated on whether to include the first four verses as part of the
previous section. Doing so makes sense and yet they seem to be part of this
summary too. In addition to its benedictory tone Paul seems to be implying that
“If you don’t recall what I have written in detail, by all means remember
this”. Paul is mostly summarizing what he has written in Chapter 14. Lest
I repeat myself, let me offer the following condensation noting the similarity
in meaning in this Chapter to that which Paul wrote earlier [ ].

  1. Support one another.                  Rom. 15:1               [Rom. 14:1]
  2. Love your neighbor.                    Rom. 15:2               [Rom. 13:9-10; 14:19]
  3. Endure.                                              Rom. 15:4               [Rom. 13:11-14]
  4. Be unified.                                         Rom. 15:5-6           [Rom. 14:17-19]
  5. Accept one another.                     Rom. 15:7               [Rom. 14:1,13,22]
  6. For Christ has accepted you.     Rom. 15:7-8           [Rom. 11:11-24]
  7. Overflow with hope.                       Rom. 15:13 [Rom. 14:9,17]

Paul’s Confidence                                                Romans 15:14-22

Paul expresses his confidence in the church at Rome. He has heard of their
faith from others. They know of and practice the goodness of God. As a community
of believers they support one another, they love one another, they care for
one another, and they depend on God to meet their needs. The goodness of God
is expressed in and through their faith, their joy, and their hope as they minister
in the Name of Christ. Paul’s letter isn’t so much for instruction as it is
for encouragement to keep doing what they are doing. It is a confidence builder.
He is saying stay on track because of all these reasons I mentioned. The church
in Rome was mature in their faith. They were capable of understanding and comprehending Paul’s deep and detailed doctrinal treatise in this letter. They were capable of instructing others correctly in Christ Jesus.

Paul also expresses confidence in and reminds them of his purpose to preach
Christ to the Gentiles. He gives thanks to God for this privilege and for the
success he has experienced. He was needed in Asia Minor, not in Rome. Evidently
the church in Rome had an early beginning. Paul was called to preach where the
message of Jesus as the Christ [the Savior sent to man for man’s sin by God]
was not known.

Let’s apply this scripture to our own situations. We need to recognize that
our church, our pastor, our members are not alone in knowing God’s TRUTH. Other
congregations exist and they too are mature in the faith and are actively doing
the Lord’s Work. They may be called to a different ministry but it’s for the
same Lord and Savior. “Our church” may not have fellowship with “that
church” but there is a time when we need to communicate encouragement and
openly thank God for “that ministry” as we do for “our ministry”.
If we are truly unified in One Lord, we are also unified in One Spirit and unified
in One Ministry. The Body of Christ is large and varied. It is important for
us to see the big picture from God’s perspective so we can effectively work
together and encourage one another for His Glory. Don’t be afraid to cross denominational
lines and fellowship with others who believe Jesus Christ is God Incarnate who
came that we might have life eternal.

Paul’s Vision                                                  Romans 15:23-33

Paul is going to visit Rome and fellowship with them prior to ministering
in Spain. His work in Asia Minor is over. Churches have been planted and they
are now capable of growing on their own. But first Paul must travel to Jerusalem.
The Jerusalem church has provided spiritual blessings [people, ministers, evangelists,
pastors, apostles] to the newly formed churches in Asia Minor and Greece. In
turn, these Gentile congregations have been materially blessed and are sharing
their blessings with the Jerusalem church. The Jerusalem church was poor. Perhaps
the wealthy families moved away due to persecution or the persecution took a
severe toll on the wealth they once had. These funds would support the local
work in Jerusalem. Perhaps these funds would make others available to travel
and minister outside of Jerusalem.

Paul seems to express [vs. 29] that he has already received the Spirit’s approval
to visit Rome and then Spain. He is also aware of the concern his presence will
have in Jerusalem. We know more of Paul’s concern from Acts where others cautioned
him about even going. But Paul believes the Spirit has called him to Jerusalem
too. He will minister there before arriving in Rome and going to Spain. He requests
the prayers of the Roman believers for safety and protection while ministering
in Jerusalem. Paul is acting according to God’s Will. He sees part of the future
and places his trust in God to make it possible. Little does he know how active
God is going to be in his life in the years to come..

God’s ways have not changed. He directs us through His Holy Spirit as we yield
to Him. As we seek and see His Will, we obey and start our journey. We see glimpses
of the future according to His Will but we must keep on trusting God to work
out the details. Paul’s journey wasn’t pleasant. Ours may or may not be pleasant
either. But God is Sovereign. He is in control. He will glorify His Name in
each of us who yield to him in obedience.. It is a great journey. It is a satisfying
journey. God is in charge of the travel plans. We are to accept His ticket,
Jesus Christ, get on board the Gospel train, and enjoy the ride while ministering
on His behalf until we arrive at our destination, Heaven.

Paul’s Greetings and Final Thoughts     Romans 16:1-27

This is the longest sign-off of all Paul’s letters. Phoebe, a sister in Christ
from a church near Corinth, will be traveling to Rome. Perhaps she is the courier
of this letter. She is a servant and a helper to many people. Now the church
in Rome has an opportunity to help her as she may require.

Many friends of Paul have immigrated to Rome. Paul names twenty-six people
in all. Priscilla and Aquila have returned to Rome after working and ministering
with Paul in Corinth and Ephesus. They returned to Rome after the persecution
there had subsided. They have a church in their home in Rome.

Paul mentions three of his relatives residing in Rome [vs. 7, 11]. This is
the only place in scripture that I recall Paul mentioning relatives [Luke mentioned a nephew and a sister in Acts 23:16]. It would appear Andronius and Junias were Christians before Paul’s conversion. Perhaps they were members of the church in Jerusalem that immigrated west during times of persecution. They evidently were imprisoned for their faith too.

Paul sends his greetings to all the church members in Rome and greets them
on behalf of all the churches with which he has been associated. In spite of
long distances, these Christians made it a priority to keep in contact with
one another, to encourage one another, and to warn one another of any political
changes that would positively or negatively affect their ministry.

Paul gives them a general warning to beware of false teachers. He gave strong
warnings to Corinth and now he is writing from Corinth to Rome. These false
teachers talk smooth but they are self-serving instead of Christ-serving. He
commends the Roman church for their obedience, believing they have the maturity
in the faith and the discernment necessary to recognize and deal correctly with
these false teachers. They are to wait on God to crush Satan and, in the meantime,
enjoy the Grace of God.

Paul continues by giving them personal greetings from those special servants
with him now at Corinth, including three more relatives of Paul. Tertius wrote
this letter as dictated by Paul. Paul’s eyesight has now deteriorated to where
even this closing is not written in his own hand.

Paul’s final benediction [vs. 25-27] completes this letter. What has been
written is for their benefit to the glory of God that they might continue to
proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ enabling many more people to believe and
obey Him, becoming members of His Kingdom, true sons of God. Amen!

This letter was well received by the church in Rome. When Paul finally arrived
in Italy about two years later [landing near Naples today] and traveled overland
to Rome, many members of the Church in Rome came out to meet him a significant
distance south of Rome. Paul was being escorted to Rome by Roman soldiers, yet
they came to welcome him, extend their hand of fellowship, and to encourage
him in this uncertain period of his life and ministry. Let’s hope and pray we
would do likewise and not forget about any of our fellow brothers/sister in
Christ who love the Lord but are under attack. Showing love, comforting and
encouraging, is a top priority for we who place our faith in Jesus Christ. Regardless
of the circumstances, we must love one another. It’s what Christ would do. It’s
what Christ does. It is what Christians do.

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