Wk Study Passage
The power of the Gospel
Why non-religious people need the Gospel
Why religious people need the Gospel (1)
Why religious people need the Gospel (2)
The point: we all need the Gospel
God始s righteousness and our justification
Mid Semester Break 7
Abraham: the father of the justified
The fruit of justification
Are you in Adam or in Jesus?
Dead to sin and alive to God
Slaves of sin or Servants of God?
How the Law works in bringing me to Jesus
13 Mid Year Break 1
Walking in the Spirit
Living as children of God
Mission Week Prep
Facing trouble with hope
The Gospel & the Nations
Mid Semester Break 9
New relationships: To God and Church
New relationships: To friend and enemy
New relationships: To the world
New relationships: To the weak
Ministry and mission
Romans 1:1-17: The Power of the Gospel 1-8 Paul: a life defined by... • Serving Christ Jesus (ʻChristʼ first, emphasising that Jesus is the Messiah, the promised one rather than ʻJesus Christʼ) • His calling as an Apostle (A strong sense of a specific calling to what God wanted for his life) • Being set apart for the gospel (The boundaries are set - he cannot step outside of what the Gospel gives/requires) And what is the content of the Gospel? Jesus, fully man and fully God, descended from David (ie. Fulfilment of the OT) and raised from the dead. • Recipient of Grace & Apostleship (Remember his conversion? The worst of sinners, but chosen to be the Apostle to the Nations) • Bringing about the obedience of the Nations (What a huge task! Who would be up to it, unless God was on about the same thing!) So what defines your life??? If you cannot identify in any way with Paul the Apostle, then do so with the Romans: - Called to belong to Jesus Christ (6) - Loved by God (7) - Called to be saints (7) - What kind of reputation did the Romans have? (8) 8-15 Two kEy reasons for Paul to visit Rome... and for ES to gather. Encouragement (11-12) There is no such thing as a lone Christian. To have God as our Father means we are members of a family & ʻhouseholdʼ; Godʼs intention is that we live out our faith & grow to maturity in the context of the community of Godʼs people. How could a Christian not want to seek out and gather together with their brothers & sisters in whatever context they are? Do we gather for ourselves, or for others (ie. Are we living for ourselves or others...). Paul wanted to meet the Romans so he cold give them a ʻspiritual giftʼ primarily, before receiving something from them. A Christian by definition is someone who lives no longer for themselves but for Christ...and therefore for His people. Evangelism (13-14) Paul want to have a ʻharvestʼ - language that speaks of people coming into the Kingdom of God. Ie. Paul want to see people Rome not only hear abut Jesus, but come to faith in Him. He has an expectation that God will do this, as well as a sense of obligation: How can we keep such a valuable gift hidden? 15-17 How is it going to happen? Paulʼs intention is to ʻpreach the Gospelʼ to those (ie. The recipients of this letter) in Rome. The Gospel needs to be proclaimed to both Christians and non-Christians. Both our encouragement and our evangelism has to be based the truth in Jesus (so what the heck is ʻpre-evangelismʼ??? A cop-out? A lack of confidence in the power of God?) Why this view of the Gospel as primary/central? 16 - It is the power of God - ie. The same power that raised Christ form the dead (Eph 1:20), and that created the world (2 Cor 4:6). Becoming a Christian is not merely adopting a set of beliefs or lifestyle. It is being born again, raised from the dead, transferred from darkness to light, the old gone and all things new, & Vs 17 - the righteousness of God given to sinners, through faith (ie not our works). This requires ʻdynamiteʼ POWER. This power is in the Gospel. Living @ Uni: 2
Do I consider the Gospel a cause for shame, or the source of God始s Power? How will my view shape how I live, relate, & invest my time, energy and resources?
Romans 1:16-32: Why ʻnon religiousʼ people need the Gospel 16-17 Why is the Gospel powerful to save people? - The righteousness of God. Many questions/objections people have about God are to do with questions of His justice, fairness, etc. The Gospel shows us that God is righteous - ie. Everything He does is right (even it it is not perceived that way by us at the time...) - Is revealed ʻuncappedʼ. Not just information about Godʼs righteousness, but a personal encounter with God in His righteous action. - From faith to faith (by faith from first to last). All is by faith, there is nothing that is not by faith, we start with faith and end with faith, weʼre saved through faith and we live by faith... Paulʼs big emphasis in Romans (& elsewhere) is that a person is made right with God by Godʼs action, not their own. This makes Christianity unique out of all religions. Why is there a need for the Gospel? 18 for the wrath of God is being revealed... We need salvation because we are under the wrath of God. We will not understand or appreciate the Gospel or salvation until we come to a full understanding of the reality of a Holy God who has wrath against sin and sinners. The Gospel will not be good news unless seen with the backdrop of the ʻbad newsʼ of Godʼs anger at sin. This is not a contradiction of ʻGod is Loveʼ, but it is because God is love that He is consistent with His nature by being opposed to all sin, evil, injustice etc. Godʼs wrath is not a emotional gut response, but righteous indignation at evil. Godʼs abundant goodness in self revelation (19-20) - God is knowable - God is actively making Himself knowable This knowledge of God does not come from us - we cannot deduce the existence or nature of God from our end; He can only be known by revelation - and this He has done, at the very least through creation - the creation bears the workmanship of creator, just as a painting may have the distinctive marks of the painter. The question of people who have not heard. God has given enough information for people to act on, but people have not acted even on the information they have. This is an indication that even if they had more information, they would not have acted on that. Acts 17:26-27 - God has given enough for people to know He is the creator, He is near every one of us, and He wants people to reach out and find Him. The slap in the face of idolatry (21-23) Even though God has been exceedingly generous, humanity has rejected the revelation of God. The heart of idolatry is not the physical act of bowing to a statue or image, but in trying to displace God and ultimately put ourselves in His place. Human beings are innately religious, and created for worship. If we do not worship the true God, we will find something else to worship instead. There is not such thing as a person with ʻno religionʼ! Pluralism says that the diversity of religious beliefs is an expression of humanity trying to find God/ truth. These verses tell us that we are in active rebellion against God - we fight the truth, and our claims to be ʻseekersʼ is a facade to cover up the realty that we are suppressing the truth. Someone who is exploring the religions is not ʻopenʼ but closed! ʻGiven over to...ʼ (24-32) 4
Not just the natural outworking/consequences of sin. We are brainwashed to think in a naturalistic cause-effect framework, and we do the same with morality. Morality (Law) is never a thing separate from God himself. There is not a thing called ʻlawʼ, ʻtruthʼ etc out there operating apart from God. This is why it is the wrath of God being revealed. Godʼs wrath is personal, because sin is an offence against Him. If we are faced with the wrath of God, we are faced with God himself in His wrath. Paul stresses that this is God actively giving people over to their sin. It is the action of God in judgement/wrath. Sin is not fundamentally ʻnaughty things we doʼ. It is a rejection of God in his person, and the ʻsinful actionsʼ are the outworking of a heart that is already opposed to God and wanting to suppress His truth. ʻSinful desires of their heartsʼ Not necessarily ʻsexualʼ (as NIV). It is the idea expressed by Jesus etc. As being ʻslaves to sinʼ or ʻslaves to our desiresʼ. We consider doing whatever we feel like as freedom, but in fact if we only do what we feel like, we are really slaves to our feelings, desires, lusts, etc. Eg. The man who said, ʻItʼs my free choice to smoke. So how much money is the Government going to spend to help me overcome my addiction??ʼ. ʻShameful lustsʼ Is homosexuality the cardinal sin? Why does it seem to be made so much of? Our sexuality - being created Male and Female, and the deep intimacy that comes from the union of a man and a women in marriage - is supposed to be an image of the relationship of God with His people. Ie. True marriage is Christ and His bride the Church. If a human being wants to pervert the ruth of God and distort the image, often that first thing they will turn to is a false or perverted sexuality, since this strikes right at the heart of Godʼs purpose for humanity. It is no coincidence that as our society loses its Christian influence and heritage, our sexual morals are also declining. Some people think Christians have too much of a hangup over issues of sexual immorality. This is only because we live in a sex-mad society! While sexual sin is not technically ʻworseʼ than other sins, it is an indication of a humanity that is working hard to suppress the truth of God, and especially the truth of a God who redeems and restores people to an intimate relationship with himself. ʻDepraved (debased) mindsʼ See verse 21-22. A madman doesnʼt know heʼs mad. And a fool thinks theyʼre wise. A person with a debased mind is someone who has done what Adam and Eve did in taking the fruit because is was considered ʻgood for food, a delight to the eyes, and to be desired to make one wiseʼ because of the promise of the serpent that they would ʻbecome like God, knowing good and evil. This is not passive deception - we are not ʻvictimsʼ who canʼt help it. We ʻknew Godʼ (21), ʻExchanged the truth for a lieʼ (25), ʻdid not see fit to acknowledge Godʼ (28), and ʻknow Godʼs decreeʼ about judgement (32).
Living @ Uni How do I see my non-Christian fellow students, friends and family (and myself...) differently, in the light of what Romans 1:18-32 tells me?
Romans 2:1-16 Why ʻreligiousʼ people need the Gospel (1) 1-3 Who are the ʻgodlessʼ and ʻunrighteousʼ people out there? Do we have difficulty applying 1:18-32 to ourselves? Especially those brought up in Christian, ʻreligiousʼ or ʻmoralʼ homes, and who have never indulged in most of what is listed? Paul speaks to those of us who may be tempted to think of those in Romans 1 as simply those ʻoutsideʼ in the world - which is ultimately self-righteousness. ʻYou who judgeʼ presumes a deeper, fuller knowledge of God than the general revelation - we claim knowledge of Godʼs law and standards. Paulʼs devastating claim: ʻyou have no excuse [either]ʼ! (cf 1:20!) If anything, those who clam to know God and His law are worse off for not practicing it. 4-5 God who is abundantly kind, forbearing and patient It is an expression of Godʼs love that He comes to us and reveals our sinfulness. A doctor who did not tell me of a diagnosis of cancer would be failing in their responsibility. A God who does not tell us about our sin would not be loving, as we would not know our problem, nor know that we can flee to Him for mercy. He is not only kind, but ʻrichʼ - full to overflowing - in kindness. Have you been ʻscared into the Kingdomʼ? It is not the threat of Hell that leads people to true repentance, but the offer of deliverance from Hell. We would not bother repenting unless we knew God to be one who is abounding in grace and willing to forgive. Godʼs wrath on Judgement day will not be God finally getting to let out al the bottled up anger of the millennia. It will simply Him acting rightly and fairly towards those who have persistently spurned his kindness. 6-11 What the revelation (that word again...) of Godʼs righteous judgement will mean: 6-11 is a ʻChiasmʼ. The key point is on the outside (ie. Vss 6 & 10) A (6) God judges everyone accurately # B (7) He gives life to the righteous # # C (8) He gives wrath & fury to the unrighteous # # C (9) Tribulation for evil doers # B (10) Glory & honour for doers of good A (11) God doesnʼt show favouritism Paul is not talking about being saved by works. His point in these chapters is not whether our good works are good enough save us, but whether our bad works are bad enough to condemn us. Only one person has ever lived as vss 7&10 describe: Jesus. Paul is showing us the standard, and that none of us has ever reached that standard. The big question in regard to Godʼs justice/fairness/righteousness is not ʻHow can God judge/ condemn people?ʼ but ʻHow Could God not punish us?ʼ 12-16 Godʼs Law at work Clarify what Godʼs Law is: Not merely a set of (arbitrary) rules, but an expression of the character of God. It describes How God operates (in the same way that the law of gravity is descriptive of the phenomenon). When Jesus was speaking to a lawyer (Luke 10 25ff) about the law, and the lawyer mentioned the two greatest commandments, he said ʻDo this and you will liveʼ - not meaning ʻyou will earn a ticket into heavenʼ, but ʻYou will be living in tune with the God, because that is How He lives, and to be in tune with God is real life!ʼ
A Jew was tempted to rest on their laurels: ʻIʼm a member of Godʼs chosen people; I was born a Jew; Iʼve been circumcised; Iʼve never done anything really wrong; I make an effort to keep certain details of the law. If weʼre depending on the law for out righteousness: we must be doers not just hearers. And to be a doer of the law is not mere following of rules, but to be in relationship with God. The devastating realty: Even if you are a Jew (apply: Christian by culture/upbringing) you are no safer from sin than anyone else. Why? We will see that it is actually the presence of the law that brings condemnation. Even those without an explicit ʻLawʼ as in the scriptures demonstrate that the law is written on their hearts. (14-15) Any society, no mater how corrupt, still has a notion of morality and justice. Human beings are created to live in the freedom of Godʼs Law. Our condemnation is that we have spurned that freedom in order to define our own... God: always true to Himself (Law)
People in Godʼs image: Law written on our hearts
The image marred: Law suppressed but still there!
The Law: Godʼs ʻpreceptual imageʼ.
As Christians we have never (in this life) ʻmade itʼ. If our righteousness is ʻby faith from first to lastʼ, then we live every moment depending on the grace, kindness, patience of God our Father. Observing the horror of other peopleʼs sin should only be a reminder of that from which HIs grace has rescued us. Knowing the horror of sin and the beauty of Godʼs grace is the key to humility. Living @ Uni How can I communicate to people the reality of human sinfulness, without myself being proud or judgemental? How can I respond graciously when accused of judgmentalism?
Romans 2:17-29 Why ʻreligiousʼ people need the Gospel (2) 17-20 The gifts of Godʼs grace... Each of the things Paul lists were supposed to be true of the OT Jew, and are also true of the believer in Christ. • Rely on the law • Guide to the blind • Boast in God • Light to those in darkness • Know his will • Instructor of the foolish • Approve what is excellent • Teacher of children • Instructed from the Law • Have the embodiment of knowledge & truth The irony: The Jews used these as reasons to set themselves above people, consider themselves superior, and not mix with those who ʻdonʼt qualifyʼ; yet these things were given so that Israel would be a blessing to the nations! They are ʻother person centredʼ qualities 21-22 ...treated as achievements. Do I consider the source of these blessings as in myself, or a gifts of grace? Is my Christian faith more about ʻMy commitment to Jesusʼ than it is about Godʼs action towards me in Jesus? I Corinthians 15:10: ʻBut by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them [other Apostles], though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.ʼ
The deception of self righteousness & legalism: it blinds us to actually see our sin. And the obvious sin may even be in the area we so strongly condemn! Sin cannot be defeated by the law - never was intended to be. When we are focussing on whether or not we will commit a specific sin, and convinced that we will overcoming by obeying a command, our sinful self righteousness rises up to justify ourselves, and we reason and rationalise that we are both able to do it and have done it. The focus of a legalist is also on pleasing men rather than God - so it will be easy to avoid the obvious, public sins, and still be enslaved to the secret, hidden sins. Jesus warned those who took pride in their sexual purity - in that they had not committed the physical acts of adultery or murder - that just the thoughts/intentions of the heart are equivalent to actually committing the act. (Matthew 5:21-28 - and he starts this section of the SOTM with a reminder of Israelʼs mandate: salt of the earth and light of the world).
Sin can only be defeated by a change of heart - a cleansing, rebirth, renewal, resurrection. This is what God has done in Jesus, and why in 3:21 Paul says the righteousness of God comes to us ʻapart from the Law...ʼ As soon as my Christianity begins to look even vaguely like ʻtrying hard to be goodʼ, then I have missed the whole point of grace. Most in this list are obvious... Except maybe 22: ʻrob templesʼ - literally ʻcommit sacrilegeʼ. Malachi (3:8) - the people are robbing God by not giving their tithes and offerings, ie. Not giving to God what was due to God = idolatry! 23-24 What has become of Israelʼs (our) mandate? Instead of fulfilling their mandate to bless the nations (ie. By enabling the nations to know that ʻI am the Lordʼ), they caused the nations to curse and ridicule God. Ezekiel 36:23 God promises to vindicate HIs holy name, since the people of the nations were saying, ʻIf the God of Israel is so great, why are His people living in shame in exile?ʼ A heads up for us: Is the way we practice our Christianity actually working against Godʼs purposes? A nominal/hypocritical ʻChristianʼ is not on neutral ground - they are actually working against God! 25-29 True ʻcircumcisionʼ 8
ʻThe Circumcisionʼ was a title taken by Jews who emphasised keeping the Law. Jews are often distinguished from Gentiles by circumcision - David said of Goliath ʻWho is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?ʼ Rightly so - since circumcision was given to Abraham as a sign of the covenant God made with him. But it was a sign of the covenant, not a guarantee or means of securing the covenant. It was to symbolise what had actually happened in the heart of a person who had been reconciled to God (much like baptism). This is devastating for the Jewish listener. They may ʻhave the written code and circumcisionʼ (27) but not actually be living according to the Law (which remember is not merely the written code, but the character of God). True circumcision is that work of the Spirit (29) who brings the reality of the work of Christ and applies it to our hearts. This person has been set free from the ʻman pleasingʼ self righteousness, to rest in the knowledge of the grace and favour of God. Living @ Uni Do I really know and live in the transforming power of Godʼs grace, or am I still hanging on to some of my self righteousness? How would my life display Godʼs glory if I were truly living under grace?
Romans 3:1-25 The point: We all need the Gospel 1-8 The point of the Old Testament. Paul uses ʻdiatribeʼ - posing and answering real or expected objections, in order to strengthen his point. 1-2 The point of their election Paulʼs argument so far might make it seem like there is no point to the Jewish people and all of their history as recorded in the Old Testament. However he has already spoken of the advantages of being a Jew (2:17-20), but to highlight that the privileges also bring greater responsibility. It sounds like Paul is starting a list by ʻfirst of allʼ (ESV ʻto begin withʼ). The fact that he doesnʼt continue the list shows that heʼs really pointing out that the primary, key, main advantage is being ʻentrusted with the very words (oracles) of Godʼ. What a massive privilege+responsibility! 3-4 The point of their history Even a brief examination of Israelʼs history shows that they were not responsible trustees of the words of God! So was God unwise in entrusting his Word to a people who would reject it and constantly stray? Was His plan ruined because his ʻassistantsʼ didnʼt fulfil their job? Paulʼs response is double barrelled: How could mere man spoil Godʼs sovereign plan? And what if God factored that in, because He knew Israelʼs unfaithfulness would simply highlight His own faithfulness? The reason this world of evil exists is so that Jesus Christ would have a place to suffer and die. The reason there is terror is so that Jesus Christ could be terrorised. There is pain so that Jesus Christ could be pained. There is trouble so that Jesus Christ could be troubled. The apex of Godʼs plan is that his Son be tortured and killed for us. God shows his love for you through the death of Jesus (Rom. 5:8). In a world with no sin and no pain and no suffering, that love doesnʼt come to us. Roman 8:32: God didnʼt spare his own Son—how will he not also with him freely give us all things? One last text: Acts 4:27. Itʼs about Jesus and his death—the centre of the universe. The whole universe exists to display the beauty and worth of Jesus Christ. The cross is what Godʼs hand planned and predestined to take place. The greatest sin ever committed—the killing of the Son of God... The greatest sin that ever happened in the history of the world was planned by God—the death of his Son. The world—with all its suffering and evil—exists under his sovereign and good rule. John Piper, ʻTreasuring Christ and the call to sufferʼ
The point of Israelʼs history is not to showcase a group of people who got it right, but to showcase A God who is eternally patient and gracious and faithful to a stubborn and rebellious people. The way God treats Israel is to be a model for us of how he treats all people & nations. 5-8 The point for us (why we need to read the Old Testament) Some may use this as a cop out - either to minimise their sin because ʻI ultimately highlightʼs Godʼs glory,ʼ or an other version - ʻIf God is always going to be patient and forgiving, then it doesnʼt matter what I do, because Iʼll always been forgiven.ʼ - ʻCheap Graceʼ. But only reason our unfaithfulness shows Godʼs faithfulness is because our unfaithfulness is shown up in all its horror. Ie. In using our unfaithfulness to highlight His own faithfulness, he is also using His faithfulness to highlight our unfaithfulness. - like a star that is only visible when set against the night sky, also magnifies how dark the night sky is! 9-18 What makes all human beings equal? Psalm 5:9, 10:7, 36:1, 53:1-3, Psalm 140:3, Isaiah 59:1-15 Humanism, religion etc - Human equality is based on common aspirations, ability, potential, worth, etc. However thereʼs only one thing that truly unites humanity, that every single person has in common with everyone else (beyond biology): the reality of sin. The passages quoted here (mainly Psalms!) speak both of Gentiles and Israelites. 10
19-20 The point of the law When we see and face this - not just the universal nature of sin, but also that I am a sinner, then Godʼs law has done its intended work in me. The (written) law is given not to give me a way to become (make myself) righteous, but to show me up as unrighteous. The ʻheartʼ Law that said, ʻBe faithful in your relationships because I am faithful and youʼre in my image,ʼ has been ʻreframedʼ in the ʻwrittenʼ Law because of sin to say ʻWhat you are doing - committing adultery - is wrong and deserves my judgement.ʼ 21-25a The point of the Gospel Isaiah 59:16-20 What good news it is! While the Law reveals that God is righteous and I am not, the Gospel declares that God takes unrighteous people and makes them righteous by giving them His own righteousness! #
If weʼre all in the same bag, then is there any point to being a Jew & the whole OT?
But the Jews were unfaithful - so has God failed?
But if our unfaithfulness doesnʼt change Godʼs plan, why does it matter what we do? Is God fair in judging us?
The Jews were entrusted with the word of God; given to them for the blessing of the nations.
God will stay faithful to His promise; their unfaithfulness highlights his faithfulness.
God will be true to himself: The world will be judged - and all evil with it. If he overlooked us, heʼd have to overlook the lot.
The point of their election
The point of their history
The point for us
Romans 3:21-31 Godʼs Righteousness and our Justification The story so far (1:18-3:20) 1. God is loving, righteous, and always true to himself. He will not and cannot dismiss evil & injustice 2. Human beings, on the other hand are unrighteous; we have rejected the knowledge of God (ie. God Himself), sought to take His place as ruler of our lives and creation, as demonstrated by the way we live, speak and relate. 3. We are both unwilling and unable to make up for our unrighteousness. The enmity between human beings and God is so huge that ʻgood worksʼ can never deal with sin, because the fundamental issue is not good or bad deeds, but our broken relationship with God. 4. God has spoken to us through the written Law, which was not given as a ʻhow to make things rightʼ, but to reveal to us the state of our hearts and the fact that we canʼt (and donʼt want to) make things right. 5. We are now faced with a dilemma: There can be no hope for us, no possibility of being reconciled with the righteous God, unless someone steps in and acts on our behalf. (Isaiah 59:15-16, Revelation 5:1-5)
1:16-17 - The claim of the Gospel: God saves (justifies) sinners completely without compromising his justice or love. 21-23 Justification: Righteousness from God Righteousness of (from) God manifested (pephanerotai, not apokalyptetai). ʻOutshiningʼ - explicitly clear. Apolakyto implies we need to enquire to see it, phanero implies it comes to us and is declared it is the Gospel, the announcement of Good News. - Apart from the law - ie. In a way that we canʼt (and donʼt need to) earn it - The Law & prophets testify to it: this is the culmination of what God has planned and been doing. Itʼs not a last minute contingency plan, but the full expression of Godʼs faithfulness to His purposes, set in motion even before this world was created! 22 This righteousness from God comes: - Through the person of Jesus Christ and his ʻfaithfulnessʼ (not ʻfaith in Jesus,ʼ but ʻfaith[fulness] of Jesusʼ) - ie. Jesus did not come to tell us how to save ourselves, but to do something to save us. - Through faith/believing - ie. Simply by trusting & receiving what has been done for us - For all who believe, without distinction. The implication is a racial/cultural distinction, not a individual/personal distinction: the principle of justification by faith applies to all regardless of their nationality, social standing, background, etc. 23 ...because all have sinned. ie. The one qualification we need to be a recipient of Jesusʼ saving work is to be a sinner! Because we are sinners, we could only be justified (declared ʻnot guiltyʼ) by a gift - there is no other way, since the wages of sin is to great for us to pay (death!) 24-25a How justification works: 24 - ʻredemption in Christ Jesusʼ Commercial term - primarily used in reference to slaves. The ʻbuying backʼ of something that belonged to you. A slave would be ʻredeemedʼ by the payment of a price. To say that Jesus redeemed us means he has paid the price necessary to set us free from our bondage to our sinful hearts. Who did he pay to? God. See 1:24,26, 28 - ʻgave them overʼ. The action of Godʼs righteous judgement for our suppressing the truth, in this life, is to put us in slavery to sin, and to bind us over to judgement. We are not so much innocent enslaved captives, but convicts, prisoners of war; we are on death row. Jesus paid what was required to annul the sentence! 25a -ʻpresented as a sacrifice of atonement [propitiation - lit. ʻmercy seatʼ] by his blood (=death) 12
What could pay the price of sin - only the full wrath of God being poured out on the sinner. Before we think about images of fire etc, we need to understand that to be a recipient of the wrath of God is to see clearly His disapproval, to be banished from His presence (except to know His presence as wrathful), forsaken, cut off; no longer knowing anything good that comes as a gift of his grace. ʻHell is having to live with only myself, just as I am, for all eternity.ʼ Jesusʼ cry from the cross, ʻMy God my God why have you forsaken me.ʼ is the cry of a human soul under the full wrath of God. In Jesus, our representative, the human race has come under the righteous, fair, and deadly judgement of God. Because Jesus bore the full wrath of God, this wrath has been averted from us. This is what propitiation means. 25b - 31 The implications: 25-26 - God has delivered on his promise. God has not compromised his justice - the full requirements of the Law that declares judgement on sinners have been met. The judgement is complete. Nothing remains but for us to receive by faith (trusting, believing, surrendering) what has been done for us. What in the past may have seemed like God being slack - not punishing sin - was his patience (forbearance) - all sin, past, present and future is dealt with in the cross of Jesus. The Gospel claim: Godʼs character is preserved; sinners are justified. Love and justice work hand in hand to reconcile God and humanity. 27-28 What becomes of our boasting? This news both disarms us and liberates us. Pride is not swallowed easily. We will easily hear ʻboasting is excludedʼ as a transgression of our freewill and self determination. We are taught from an early age to take pride in ourself in life, and we readily transfer this to how we relate to God. Jesusʼ death for us shows all our efforts to be a sham - they fade into insignificance in light of what heʼs done. Having to prove ourselves is the most tiresome occupation. Anything we may have in our hands to present to God must be dropped - but only so that our hands are free to receive what God gives us. All pride and self confidence must go, but only so that we may express our true & joyful humanity by living to worship God. 29-30 - This is for everyone. Because this is through faith - ie a free gift to be received - then no-one has special privileges or special exemptions. It doesnʼt matter about your race, nationality, background, etc. - the principle is the same for all people: we are save by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. 31 - God, his plan and his word can be trusted. This is not a new idea or religion that makes all that has gone before pointless. Christianity is not a branch or split from Judaism - is it the continuation of what God has been doing through history, fulfilled in Jesus. The question as to whether God is faithful and can be trusted is answered with a resounding ʻYESʼ in Jesus Christ.
Romans 4:1-25 Abraham: The father of the justified Why the appeal to Abraham? Abraham is the ʻFatherʼ of Jews ʻaccording to the fleshʼ. He is the foundation & basis of their identity; all of the promises to the Jews flow from the promise to Abraham. What is said of Abraham flows through to every Jew. If is seen that Abraham was justified by grace through faith, the the whole basis of a Jewʼs identity & religion is faith, not works. Since Abraham is the father & foundation of the Jews, then he also provides the foundation for Jesus. If the story & person of Abraham is not true, then Israel has no basis for their identity and purpose; the promises they hung on would meaningless, and the idea of Jesus coming to fulfil the promises is also empty. Without the story that starts with Abraham in Genesis 12, the message of Jesus is empty, and would simply be a cruel deception! The Christian faith, like the Jewish faith, is firmly grounded in history, and revolves around actual historical events. A Jewish parent, whenever asked a theological question by their child, would tell a story. (Joshua 4, ʻWhen your children ask their fathers, ʻWhat do these stones mean?ʼ then you shall let your children know, ʻIsrael passed over this Jordan...ʼ). We know the truth about God not just because of conceptual statements, but because we have also seen God at work in his world. Remember the three implications in 3:26-31: God has remained true to his character of justice and love in the cross of Jesus, therefore: 1. There is no room for boasting, since salvation is all of God and none of us. 2. This salvation is for all without distinction, since He is the God of all people. 3. God, his plan and his word can be trusted, since the life of faith is in fulfilment of the Law. What did Abraham ʻdiscoverʼ? 1-8 1. He could not boast. The only basis for boasting is if we accomplish or contribute to our salvation. However: a. (2b) How could we think that a mere creature would ever have the right to boast before God?? b. (3) Righteousness was credited to Abraham not because of anything he did, but because he trusted God (Trust is not an action - it is the ceasing of action in order to depend on the actions of another.) 4-5 The logic: A worker receives their wages not because their employer is generous, but because he has an obligation to reimburse them for the work they have done. The worker can say, ʻBecause I have done my job, you owe me.ʼ (ʻ...not according to gift, but according to obligationʼ) How often do we get angry at God because we think He has not given us what He owes us? ʻI donʼt deserve this!ʼ How can we presume that God in any way is obligated to give anything to us? The Gospel: God gives freely, without obligation, but simply because He is generous. He gives to people who: 1. Have not done anything to earn it (ʻdoes not workʼ) 2. Are ʻwickedʼ - ie. Actually deserve the opposite - judgement! 3. Simply trust in God to justify them. 6-8 14
This is not an abstract, propositional theological concept, but a reality of our experience. Paul quotes David (Psalm 32:1-2). The Psalm continues: ʻWhen I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.ʼ Carrying the burden of unforgiven sin damages us as people; and trying to rectify our sin through our own self righteousness will lead to a restlessness and lack of joy. David knew the ʻblessednessʼ of knowing he was a justified person. 9-17 This is for all nations 9-11a Abraham is the Father of all who live by faith - not just the Jews. The thing ʻsignʼ that identifies a man as a Jew is circumcision (for a woman is was being part of the household - by marriage or birth of a circumcised man.) Circumcision had come to be a defining ʻworkʼ that was necessary for a person to say ʻI am in a right relationship with God; He is my God, I am among His chosen people.ʼ, so that the Jews called themselves ʻThe Circumcisionʼ. Circumcision (and the obligation to obey the law that came with being circumcised) had become the basis for a personʼs righteousness. Paulʼs question: Did Abraham ʻbecome a Jewʼ through circumcision before he was justified by God? No! His justification came through faith, not circumcision. 11b-12 Therefore faith not circumcision is the critical issue, and so Abraham is the father of: 1. Any Gentile who believes. 2. Any Jew who looks not to their circumcision but who believes. What is the point of having Abraham as our father? The promises! 17 - ʻI have made you the father of many nations.ʼ - a re-affirmation of the promise to bless all the nations of the earth through him and his descendants. 18-22 The basis of Abrahamʼs faith: ʻGod was able to do what he had promised.ʼ Even if my body is old and decrepit, and my wife has never been able to have children - can God do what He says he will do? Faith is credited as righteousness because its focus is not on what I do (even in believing) but on what God does. 23-25 The basis of our faith: ʻhim who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for (or ʻbecause ofʼ) our justification.ʼ - ie. God has done in Jesus what he has promised. ʻHis plan and his word can be trusted!ʼ. Saving faith for us is not ʻGod saves me because I believe in Jesusʼ, but ʻI believe in Jesus because itʼs through Him that God saves me.ʼ
Romans 5:1-11 The fruit of justification 6-11 What were we - and was was Godʼs solution to each problem? - Powerless (6) - Ungodly (ʻimpiousʼ) (6) - Sinners (8) - Under wrath (9) - Enemies (10) 1b Peace with God. Why? (10) we were enemies of God. Do we consider people (us included) to be in some kind of ʻneutralʼ position ie. Simply ignorance, estrangement, etc.? Our ignorance & estrangement was one of hostility. Peace = Shalom - the Jewish greeting, ʻwholenessʼ, ʻcompletenessʼ, ʻfulnessʼ, ʻrestʼ. Not an inner emotion (primarily), but a relational reality between us and God. Because God has justified us by faith, we are assured that the hostility has ended! 2a Standing in Grace. Why? (9) We were under Godʼs wrath. Grace = undeserved favour. When Esther came without being called into the presence of her husband & king, she did not know whether he would ʻextend the golden sceptreʼ - if he didnʼt, she would die. (Esther 4:11). You would no risk being in the presence of the Sovereign unless you were confident that his approval was upon you - and this was the Kingʼs prerogative, not yours. We might suggest that being justified simply puts us into that ʻneutralʼ or ʻnot guiltyʼ position. However being justified by faith also means we are now in a ʻpositive lightʼ. God approves of us, and welcomes us into his presence! He extends His golden sceptre to us. We can have confidence in approaching his ʻthrone of graceʼ (Hebrews 4:16) The existential/experiential reality of this: HOPE. Why do we need to receive hope? (6) we were powerless (weak, feeble). What does Hope hope in? ʻThe glory of God! Glory: The true, essential nature of a person. The glory of God is the outshining of all of his goodness, holiness, righteousness, truth and love. True hope is not about me, but about God. Ephesians 1:4,11 - ʻIn him we were chosen... having been predestined according to the plan of him who works everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.ʼ
The ultimate purpose in everything God does is so that He may be known for who he is and honoured for who He is. Our salvation, getting into heaven, etc. is only penultimate to this. Because this is the purpose for which we are created, then the supreme joy, satisfaction, freedom, fulfilment is found as we are living for the praise of HIS glory. A person will never know true hope until they look outside of themselves and beyond their petty aspirations and personal dreams and live solely for the honour and glory of God. ʻSeeing beauty and greatness is one of the passionate desires and deep longings of the human heart built into us by God. We get pleasure from seeing beauty and greatness in movies and museums and world-class sporting events and art galleries and concerts... and the ocean and sunrises and meteor showers. Seeing beauty and greatness is a huge part of our joy in life. All of these earthly things are images, reflections, pointers to a greater beauty and a greater greatness. They all point to the glory of God. Seeing this will be the end of our quest for beauty and greatness. This is why Jesus prayed for us the way he did in John 17:24, "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory." This was the greatest thing Jesus
could pray for on our behalf. It was the climax of his prayer. Seeing the glory of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the best gift Jesus could pray that we would receive after we had suffered in this life.ʼ
True hope does not disappoint (ʻput us to shameʼ) (5). If we declare something is true or will happen, and then itʼs shown to be false, we are shamed. The implication here: our hope is something not just as a personal assurance, but something we declare and show forth. How can we have this kind of confidence - that the things we say will not one day be found to be hollow or false? The work of the Holy Spirit in pouring Godʼs love into our hearts. What produces this hope? Hope produced by character ʻAgainst all hopeʼ ie. His hope was not based on circumstances, emotions or events, but on what God told him, ʻI have made you the Father of many nations.ʼ Do we base our hope on what the world tells us about ourselves, but on what God says of us. ʻJustifiedʼ is a declaration God makes regarding us. Character (that which has been tested and proven, like a diamond) is the outworking of the reality of our justification. Character produced by endurance (patience) Note: endurance is not produced by character. We donʼt endure because we have resilience or a character that is able to hang in there and stay strong. Instead, character is the product, not the cause of perseverance. This means it happens and grows over time. God is patient with us, we are also to be patient as we watch what He is doing in and through us. Endurance produced by suffering Would this be our choice for where this process is to start? We would prefer to say that hope comes out of things going well for us. Sufferingʼs purpose is to tear our confidence from the things of this world and take it back to God. 6-11 - the foundation of all this is the action of God in Christ to deal with powerlessness, ungodliness, sin, wrath and enmity: the suffering of his own Son. The argument: If the suffering of this One brought salvation for us, then we can rejoice in our own suffering since we have seen clearly that out of the depths of the deepest suffering the world has ever known, God brings glory.
Romans 5:12-21 Are you in Adam or in Christ? We may be tempted to think of sin as a ʻthingʼ external to ourselves - Things we do, and things we are victim to. Biblically, sin and the sinner are so closely bound that the two are treated as one. Sin cannot be dealt with by moral reform, but by resurrection. 12 Death the great hope killer The thing that kills hope is death. Death is the big bogeyman lurking in the shadows - even for the Christian. Hebrews 2:15: we are those who ʻthrough fear of death [are] subject to lifelong slaveryʼ Our society is terrified of death - we deal with it by hiding it away, doing things that make us feel like we ʻcheat deathʼ (eg extreme sports), or by immunising ourselves (ie. through violent movies or video games in which itʼs always the other person who dies...) We invest unimaginable amounts of money in overcoming the causes of death, esp. disease & ageing. Biblically, death is much more than the end of our physical life. There are those who through self indulgence are ʻdead even while they live (1 Timothy 5:6) Adam and Eve were warned that they would die ʻon the dayʼ that they ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17) - they didnʼt physically drop dead, but they knew shame as their focus turned inwards upon themselves. Death fundamentally is a relational phenomenon - instead of a hope in the glory of God (loving God) which flows on to hope for the sake of others (loving our neighbour) we are selfish and concerned primarily with our own glory. Keller: Love is having another at the centre, and being willing to have your life revolved around them. Sin is demanding that I remain art the centre, and that others revolve around me. Hell is ultimately a collection of individuals, all remaining stationary and unconnected because they refuse to give up their own rights in order to move towards others. ʻThe life youʼve always wanted.ʼ - is that real life?? If we aim & work and long for ʻwhat we wantʼ, isnʼt that death? 12 Death: a contagious disease - it only takes one person to bring in the infection for the whole community to become infected. Hepatitis C spreads rapidly amongst IV drug users, since they are all engaging in the kind of activity that enables the virus to spread. Death has spread to the whole community of humanity because we all engaged in the activity that caused us to ʻcatch itʼ - sin. ʻSinnedʼ (past, Aorist). Paul is making an inescapable connection between us and Adam. This is not just God holding each individual accountable for their personal sins; when Adam sinned, we all sinned ʻin him.ʼ 13-14 The Law - confirms the reality of sin The law does not create sin. Our ethics say that itʼs only wrong if thereʼs a rule against it (or if you get caught). How many of us are only conscientious about driving within the speed limit when we think thereʼs a chance we will be caught? The principle of law is to codify & verify what is already right or wrong. We intrinsically know murder is wrong, so we have a law that states it to be so. Law came because of the presence of sin; so that we would see beyond doubt that Godʼs verdict of us is right and true. So we have no excuse that we didnʼt have an explicit command like Adam - ʻDonʼt eat the fruit!ʼ Why? Rom 2:15 - The Law is written on our hearts. The specific command is secondary to the real issue: ʻWill you have a heart that delights to love me through obedience, or will you take delight instead in loving your own glory?ʼ 15-19 - In Adam... In Christ We cannot use the excuse ʻI wasnʼt there! Why blame me for something Adam did?ʼ 18
15 - One manʼs trespass - many died 16 - one sin - judgement of condemnation 17 - One manʼs trespass - death reigned 18 - One trespass - condemnation 19 - One manʼs disobedience - many made sinners Some will object: why should we be held responsible for Adamʼs action? ʻWhen Adam and Eve ate the fruit, all of humanity stood up and applaudedʼ If any of us were there in Adam/Eveʼs place, we would have done exactly the same thing, because we are just like Adam and he is just like us. Theologians: ʻFederal Headʼ. What is said of the one who represents us can be said of us. What happens to them, happens to us. Jesus comes as ʻanother man/Adamʼ. In 14 - Adam ʻwas a type of the one who was to comeʼ (ie. Jesus). A printer uses ʻtypeʼ (the embossed blocks) which makes copies of itself in the letters on the paper. But the type is itself an image of the ʻarchetypeʼ (literally ʻprimary mouldʼ) which sets the standard. If the type is damaged/destroyed, the printer can go back to the archetype to remake it. Adam was a type of Jesus - ie. Supposed to be like the archetype Jesus, and pass on that likeness to all of his children. Because the type has been ʻdamagedʼ, God brings back the archetype to ʻrestampʼ his likeness on a new humanity. 15 - One manʼs grace - grace abounds for many 16 - (one manʼs) gift - justification 17 - One man - us reigning in life 18 - One act of righteousness - justification & life 19 - One manʼs obedience - made righteous 20-21 The question is: Whose likeness is being stamped on your identity? We naturally think our character is shaped by the law: if we do certain things and follow certain principles, we will shape ourselves. The Law was not given as a self improvement tool, but to expose our desperate need for grace; to show that we are ʻin Adamʼ and need to be ʻin Christʼ. In Adam: Sin reigns in death In Christ: Grace reigns through righteousness leading to eternal life
Romans 6:1-14 Dead to Sin and Alive to God 5:20 - where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. God gave the law so that sin would increase - so that grace would ʻsuperʼabound. How does this sit with us? This is not just a making us more aware of sin, but sin actually increasing by the coming of law - because our hearts are naturally rebellious, law does not fix the problem, it only makes it worse, by giving us more rules to rebel against. 7:7-8 - the command not to covet causes Paul to covet all the more. Does God have a right to do this? We should also ask, ʻDoes God have any obligation to make grace ʻsuperaboundʼ?ʼ Paul poses and answers in chapters 6-7 four (maybe hypothetical, maybe actual) objections people may have to this claim that justification is 100% by faith, and not earned. Salvation by grace implies not only that my good works will never be good enough to justify me, but also that my bad works will never be bad enough to ʻunjustifyʼ me. As soon as I think that there is something I can do that will somehow undo my forgiveness, then I am falling back into works - and/or saying that my sinfulness is more powerful than Godʼs grace. The first question (1-14) focuses on whether there is actually any moral change in a justified person, if Justification is simply a declaration of God, somehow ʻremovedʼ from us and our actions. The second (15-23) focuses on whether the believer should be concerned with and want to live differently, since grace gives us a false sense of security if we will ʻmake itʼ regardless of our works. 6:1-2 Is Paul saying that we are still under sin, so that Grace will abound? If he is, it would nullify all he is saying. This is likely not a position people took, but an attempt to discredit Paulʼs argument by claiming this is the logical conclusion of what heʼs saying. Why does the Christian no longer ʻgo on sinningʼ? There are a number of answers we might want to give, which are inadequate: (Keller) - We no longer want to sin - all desire to sin has gone? - We have renounced sin - we made a repentant commitment to turn away from sin? - We are not allowed to sin - we have a duty to live out what we believe? - We are slowly moving away from sin? Paulʼs answer: ʻWe have died to sin.ʼ It is something that has been done to us. In Adam, ʻsin reigned in deathʼ (5:21). Sin was our ruler - we were ʻcitizensʼ or ʻsubjectsʼ of its kingdom. However, when a person dies, they are no longer under any obligations of the kingdom, since they are dead! As far as the dominion of sin and death is concerned, we are ʻdeadʼ, and no longer exist! “The moment we become Christians we are dead, completely dead, to the reign of sin. We are out of sinʼs territory altogether... But now I imagine somebody putting forward an objection: ʻHow can you possibly say such a thing? We still sin, we still feel the power of temptation and the power of sin; how therefore can you say honestly that you are dead to the rule and to the reign and to the whole dominion of sin?ʼ I answer this way. We must differentiate between what is true of our position as a fact and our experience... what he says is that every person in the world at this minute is either under the reign and rule of sin or else under the reign and rule of grace... It is either one or the other, he cannot have a foot in each position... [Why?] He is either ʻin Adamʼ or ʻin Christʼ.” D.M. Lloyd-Jones
3-7 Died with Christ ʻBaptismʼ not referring to the act of water baptism (although water baptism is an indication of this), but ʻimmersionʼ, ʻidentificationʼ, ʻunityʼ. To be ʻin Christʼ means being united with him in every way because he united himself with us in every way Hebrews 4:15 ʻ...in every respect tempted as we are, 20
yet without sin.ʼ ʻRomans 8:3 ʻ...sending his son in the likeness of sinful flesh...ʼ Jesus not only bore my sins in his body on the cross; he bore me in himself. Jesus entered into the death of the human race; the Apostlesʼ creed, ʻHe descended into hellʼ. In one sense, our baptism into death was at the moment of our birth, when we joined the human race in Adam. But Jesus was already there to meet us! 6 - ʻselfʼ literally ʻanthroposʼ - ʻmanʼ, or ʻAdamʼ. Referring back to the ʻone manʼ of 5:15-19 whose trespass and disobedience brought death and condemnation. This was me, but now I have been put to death 8-11 Raised with Christ If we had remained united with Adam, we would remain dead. But since we have been united with Jesus, who rose from the dead, we will also rise from the dead. Jesusʼ resurrection unlike any that happened before (eg. The widowʼs son, Lazarus, etc.) These resurrections (resuscitations) were simply a sign of the kingdom that was coming in the arrival of Jesus. Jesusʼ resurrection was the vindication of him as the ʻRighteous Oneʼ, the appointed King. God says that the righteous will always be vindicated (and the wicked will always be judged). A righteous person who suffers and unjust death will have to be raised to life, as God will not allow the wicked to triumph. Jesusʼ resurrection was the sign of Godʼs vindication of him - which is why the people on the day of Pentecost were ʻcut to the heartʼ, as Peter had informed them that, ʻ...this Jesus, God raised up... God has made him both Lord and Christ this Jesus, whom you crucified.ʼ (Acts 2:32,36). Therefore Jesusʼ resurrection is permanent & secure, he has conquered the dominion of sin & death; ʻhe lives to Godʼ ie. with Godʼs approval and in Godʼs presence. - The same is now said of us, who are in him (11)! 12-13 How do I see myself? Who rules in my life - sin, or Jesus? The evidence is seen inwardly and outwardly: 12 - The internal struggle with ʻthe fleshʼ - when temptation comes we can give in, fight it in our strength, or consider ourselves dead to sin & alive to God... 13 - The outward choices of lifestyle, vocation, etc. - we can go with the flow, go against the flow in our strength & self righteousness, or consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God... 14 - Why would we pledge our allegiance to a defeated ruler? Itʼs not that sin should not have dominion, but that it shall not. Ie. Sin and death have been defeated.
Romans 6:15-7:6 Slaves of sin or servants of God? Objection one: Salvation through faith alone implies it would be better to remain in sin so that grace will abound. Answer: If we are in Christ we have died to sin; sin no longer has dominion over us. This is the abundance of grace! Objection two: If we believe in salvation through faith alone (which means not only are my good works not good enough to justify me, but my ʻbadʼ works are not bad enough to ʻunjustifyʼ me. As soon as I say thereʼs something bad enough to make me lose my salvation, Iʼm falling back on works; I stay saved because I avoid that sin.), we will not be motivated to live a godly life; we will be tempted to become lazy and not seek to leave sin. This is a response to 6:14, ʻsince you are not under law but under grace.ʼ Paulʼs answer: We need to understand - and redefine - what it means to be free. True freedom is not about whether or not we are obedient to someone, but who it is that we are obedient to. Paulʼs understanding, from his own conversion - is that becoming a Christian means coming into obedience to Jesus Christ as Lord - changing masters. ʻFree Willʼ - a phrase that is not Biblical, but from Greek philosophy - Aristotle, Epicurius, etc. Based on an understanding of the universe as materialistic and mechanistic, where all that happens is a result of cause and effect (not dissimilar to modern naturalism). The question for the philosophers was ʻare all my actions determined by what has happened before, or is it possible for me to make a choice and to act entirely independently, with no coercion or influence?ʼ ʻFree Willʼ means I can make completely independent, autonomous decisions - ie. with no master, without obedience to any authority telling me what to do. ʻFree Willʼ goes against what we are created to be - human beings who are totally dependant on our Creator and Father for life and breath and everything. Our attempt to claim ʻFree Willʼ is what brought us into bondage. The only person we might describe as having true ʻFree Willʼ is God. Biblically: Human freedom is being able to joyfully obey a master who only commands that which is good. The epitome of this is Jesus. Truly free, yet at every point obedient to his Father, to the point of self sacrifice. Every person is face with a choice: not ʻWill I obey?ʼ, but ʻWho/what will I obey?ʼ Ukrainian John Demjanjuk - recently sentenced for war crimes in 1943 when a guard at a Nazi extermination camp, over 28000 Jews killed. His defence: He himself was captured by the Nazis and forced to work for them. He had no choice; if he didnʼt do it, he would be killed. If he chose to disobey the Nazis, he would still be obeying his own conscience and/or another law that says ʻDo not murder.ʼ Yet if he had obeyed his conscience, he would technically have been free from the Nazisʼ demands. All he would need was to be brought back to life... 16-18 Who is your master? freedom ≠ autonomy Slaves of sin - death Obedience (of ?) - righteousness Note: He does not contrast ʻdeathʼ with ʻlifeʼ. He is avoiding any implication that obedience will earn salvation. The fruit of obedience to sin is death, and the fruit of true obedience is righteousness - not justification, but a life that is characterised by righteousness: practical righteousness, godliness. What is it that we are obedient slaves of? 1. The ʻstandard of teachingʼ - ie the Gospel. Those who hear and believe the Gospel are described as ʻobeyingʼ the Gospel, and the call to repent. John 6:27-29 - the work of God is to believe in Jesus. This leads to... 22
2. (Acts of) Righteousness. The Gospel has shown us our sin, that we are in bondage to sin and that this bondage leads to death because the master of sin will only tell us to do what is destructive and deadly. But the Gospel has also shown us the grace, mercy, goodness and love of God, so that we see that all he commands is only ever good, and only brings life. If given the ʻoptionʼ of dining at the kingʼs table or eating with the pigs, what would we choose? If we hated the king, we would choose the pigs. But if we knew the King loved us and only did what was best for us, we would not even consider the pigs an option. 19-23 The worker gets their wage - or do they? Jesus said ʻNo-one can serve two masters; he will either hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.ʼ (Matthew 6:24) A slave who is doing a job for his master will be single minded. No-one else could say ʻHey, youʼre a slave, come and do this for me...ʼ Roman law allowed joint ownership of slaves, but it would be clearly defined when they were working of each master, so that one couldnʼt make the slave stop working for the other master. As far as the slave was concerned, they were ʻfreeʼ from one master while they were working for the other. Our master has changed. We once obeyed the law of sin, and disregarded righteousness. The fruit of that was more lawlessness, and the payment for our work is death. We are now slaves of God the fruit of this is righteousness and sanctification. The end is eternal life, not as a wage, but a gift. The freedom that comes from obedience to God is that we have already received far and abundantly more that we could ever earn. A slave who has had a mater who is kind, and who even treated them like a member of the family, once released from their period of obligation, might choose to remain in their role. Their reason was not, ʻIʼll get paidʼ, but, ʻI know my Master loves me.ʼ 7:1-6 How is this transfer of ownership made? When we died in/with Christ at the cross. We have seen already that death releases a person from obligation to the law. Marriage as an example of a ʻbondageʼ that is set ʻuntil death do us partʼ. Dying with Christ set us free from the mastery of sin, in which our own desires were what led us, and by being raised with Christ, we are released into a new obedience where Christ is our master and it is the Spirit who leads us. ʻFleshʼ is not setting the physical body against the ʻspiritualʼ, as if the body is bad and spirit is good. Paul uses the word to refer to ʻsinful desiresʼ, or ʻgoing with whatever feels good for me.ʼ Instead, the Spirit HImself leads us (not our ʻspiritual selfʼ) But notice Paul uses the word ʻlawʼ instead of sin. This prompts the next two questions, about the law, and the place of the law in Godʼs plan of salvation.
Romans 7:7-25 How the Law works The next two questions/objections: a response to 6 ʻ...we are released from the law.ʼ Is Paul contradicting himself, when he said in 3:31 ʻDo we then nullify the Law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.ʼ? 7 3rd Q - ʻIs the law sin?ʼ Paul has been speaking of being set free from sin, and being set free from the law, almost as if the two are interchangeable or the same thing. It would mean that the Law is bad, and no longer applies in any way to the Christian. This would be appalling for any Jew, and is not what Paul means. It is how it applies that we need to clarify. We can be tempted to follow one of two extremes: • Antinomianism - Law is bad, grace is good; OT is bad, NT is good; God is malicious, Jesus saves us from God. If the Law is bad, how could David say it is ʻsweeter than honey and more precious than gold?ʼ • Legalism, where Law squeezes out grace and ultimately makes it irrelevant. Jesus told the Pharisees who were meticulous in keeping the law that they actually nullified the law by their actions. (Mark 7:13) A key issue underneath this passage: How does a person actually come to faith and repentance in Jesus? We may all describe our ʻjourneyʼ in different ways, based on our experiences, whether we have a Whatʼs your journey? Christian background or As long as I can remember, my faith has been real and living not, how much we understood My faith was/is a family/cultural thing# # # The penny dropped of the Gospel (and how clearly it was I was/am clearly not a Christian# # # # I trusted in Jesus for the first time communicated to us), and the motives of our hearts. This passage describes the actual ʻjourneyʼ that every Christian has taken, even if they were not clearly aware of it at the time. Anyone who has not had this happen is not actually a true Christian, as it describes what God does in a person. 7-12 The law is good because it sentenced me to death (and by doing so it brought me to life in Christ) The written law came to reveal that we are the second circle, not the first. Most people (esp. today with humanism) assume, even if they donʼt have God in the picture, that the first is true. Sometimes as Christians we also assume it. We have seen that the law brings consciousness of sin, but also that the coming of law increases sin. The command ʻDonʼt eat the cakeʼ makes us hungry for cake. The command ʻDonʼt covetʼ heightens our desire to grasp what is not rightfully ours (it is said that breaking the 10th commandment is the starting point of breaking all the others, as it is the only one that speaks of intentions of the heart instead of actions) The commandment provided the opportunity for sin to seize me (like Cain - Genesis 4:5-7). It is the action of God giving me up to my sin that we saw in chapter 1, so that sin will be brought to it full fruitfulness of death. Sin was coming to kill me, and the law was the gun left on my table that it uses! So the Law is undoubtedly good - since it condemns sinners and sees that justice is done. But it is also good to me, since I would never know of the mercy of God had I not sunk deep into the misery of my sin. ʻRepentance and faithʼ imply a consciousness of sin and its bondage: Repentance is 24
recognising that my sin is evil and leads to death, and I need to turn from it; faith is recognising that this will never happen unless Jesus rescues me from my slavery and death. 4th Q - Did that which is good then, become death to me? How can it be that something good brings death? Isnʼt God the Author of life, not death? Isnʼt the purpose of the Law life, not death? 13-25 The law is good because it drove me to Godʼs mercy I agree that Iʼm a sinner 14 -Not a distinction between physical and spiritual, but between being ʻof the fleshʼ - ie. controlled by sinful desires, and ʻof the Spiritʼ - ie. Controlled by the Spirit. The first thing we come to see is that Godʼs law is good, and by contrast I am not. 15-17 - ʻI do not understandʼ is not a statement of confusion, but a description of what it means to be in slavery. A slave does not know the ʻwhyʼ of what they do - their masterʼs reasons - they simply obey unquestioningly (in contrast, Jesus now calls us friends, and we do know his business - John 15:15). The Law shows me sin for what it is, and plants in me the knowledge that there needs to be a better way. I begin to ʻhateʼ sin, not just because itʼs evil in and of itself, but because I see that I am a sinner. This triggers off a reaction: Since the law is good, I will start to try and conform myself to the law - self justification. I agree that I cannot save myself 18-23 I come to the realisation that I am unable to justify myself. I can not only stop doing what is evil, but I canʼt start doing what is good. 18 -ʻNothing good lives in me.ʼ No residual goodness that can be fanned into flame by following the law. We face a dilemma: The Law has shown us what is right, and that we need to be aligned with this. We have agreed with this verdict, and tried to conform, but our efforts have come to nothing: ʻI have the desire... But cannot carry it outʼ. I do what I know is evil, and I donʼt do what I know is good. I realise that I am not just a sinner, but I am in bondage to sin. I do not really have a choice, because in the end a person always chooses what is most desirable to them, and the Law has shown me that while I say I desire to do good (Law), I really desire to obey my flesh (Sin). 22-23 There is a war going on inside me between good and evil - but evil always wins. 24-25a I see that there is only one option: Repentance (What a wretched man) and Faith (...who will rescue me... thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!) 25b - living in D-day, waiting for VE-day The Allied landing on June 6, 1944 was the beginning of the final assault on Germany. Victory was a foregone conclusion, but it wasnʼt until May 8, 1945 that Germany signed the unconditional surrender.
The ‘Romans Road’ Where weʼve come so far...
1. The Gospel is Jesus. Knowing the fulness and power of this will mean that we can never be ashamed of it. We need to meet with Godʼs family so we can remind each other of the Gospel, and work together to proclaim it to the world around us.
2. The ʻnon-religiousʼ need the Gospel: Human beings continually suppress the law of God that is written on our hearts. God hands us over to the outworking of this in our lives, where morality is confused and distorted.
3. The ʻreligiousʼ need the Gospel: Those who have and know the Law of God are no better off if we think we can rely on our obedience to the Law: since the law was given not to confirm our goodness but expose out badness (God gave Israel the Law not 2:17-3:8 because they were good, but because they were bad!) 2:1-16
4. The point: we all need the Gospel. Sin is the basis for equality in the human race: the one thing we all have in common. Israelʼs history showcases what is true for all humanity, and how God relates to all humanity.
5. Godʼs righteousness and our justification. God has shown himself to be both just and loving in dealing with the human sin problem in the death and resurrection of 3:21-31 Jesus; he has both carried out justice by pouring out his wrath upon Jesus (our representative), and demonstrated his love in that Jesusʼ death paid the price to redeem us from judgement. We do nothing, just accept by faith what Jesus has done. 4:1-25
6. Abraham, the Father of the justified. This is the way God has always saved people (ie. by grace through faith). Abraham, the basis for the Jewsʼ identity, was a man justified through faith before he became a ʻJewʼ by being circumcised. So justification through faith is the only way to interpret all of Israelʼs history (and therefore the Bible).
7. The fruit of Justification. A justified person has true hope in the glory of God. This enables them to recognise that even suffering is a gift of God that will always be working for our good and his glory.
8. Are you in Adam or in Christ? God is forming a new resurrected humanity ʻin Christʼ and with Him as head, out of the old humanity that is ʻin Adamʼ and which lives under the dominion of sin and death.
9. Dead to sin and alive to God. God has transferred us from Adam to Christ by sending Jesus to enter into our deathly humanity, putting us to death with Christ and raising us with him so that what is true for Him is now true for us.
10. Slaves of sin or slaves of God? Our death has set us free from the dominion and mastery of sin, not to be free agents, but to be willing, joyful slaves of God, who only ever commands that which is good, right and live-giving. 11. How the Law works in bringing me to Jesus. God achieved all of this in me through the work of His Law, which exposed my sin, condemned me to death, and allowed sin to ensnare me so that I would have no other option but to turn to Godʼs mercy and see that He has rescued me in Jesus.
Paul’s three big ideas that flow from the Gospel (3:27-31) Because I am saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone:
1.There’s no room for boasting. ‘The one who does the work gets the glory.’ Faith means God does it and I don’t. Which means He gets all the credit, and I don’t. a. Do I see faith as God’s gift to be enabling me to trust Jesus, or as ‘doing my bit’ to finish off God’s work of salvation? b. How much do I and/or my actions feature in my testimony?
2.I must see that God is the God of all people. Since the Law/works does not justify, then a person doesn’t need to be ‘under the Law’ (ie. Become a Jew, or conform to a religious/cultural standard) to come to faith. What does my life communicate: a. The Gospel is for me, people like me, and people who like me? b. People don’t really need to hear the Gospel, so I won’t bother telling them? c. Everyone needs and is ‘qualified’ to hear the Gospel because all are sinners?
3.I need a right understanding of the Law. The Law was never designed to justify through works; it’s the work of the Law that brought us to the point of faith; and it is by faith that we can now delight in God’s Law as the expression of his character. a. Do I see the Law as something big and bad that Jesus has to save me from, or the tool God used to bring me to repentance and faith in Jesus? b. Is the law the ‘rules for holy living’ that I now have to follow as a Christian, or something I can now delight in? c. How can I use this truth about God’s law in sharing the Gospel?
Romans 8:1-11 Walking in the Spirit Chapter 7 highlighted the reality that Christians still battle with sin in this life. There is no promise that a Christian will attain a sin-free life in this world - in fact it is this battle that the Father uses to conform us more to the image of Jesus. If we ever find that our sinfulness is no longer a struggle, then either we are not a Christian, or we have died and gone to heaven. 1-2 Two things for us to lay hold of whenever we battle with sin: 1. No condemnation. We are justified people; we no longer need to do anything to win the approval of God or other people. How would our lives look if we kept this reality at the front of our minds all the time! When accusation comes from people or the devil, knowing ʻno condemnationʼ gives us the freedom to tell the Devil to flee, and to respond with humility, grace, and repentance before others. 2. We are of the Spirit, not the flesh. (Not a distinction between material and spiritual, but between what controls us). The giving of the Spirit was the fulfilment of all the OT promises (Joel 2 and Pentecost, Acts 2) - Jesus came ultimately to pour out the Spirit on Godʼs people, and his death and resurrection were the means to make this possible - since sin had to be dealt with, to make us a holy temple, a suitable habitation for the Holy Spirit (See Hebrews). Ezekiel 36:24-28 Godʼs promise is that when the Spirit comes, we will know God as our God and ourselves as His people. ʻNothing more than a sinner, nothing less than justifiedʼ (Martin Bleby) 3-4 The Holy spiritʼs primary work is to bring us into the reality of all that Jesus has done for us - to apply it to us (We do not apply the Bible to our lives, the Spirit does!) ʻGod has doneʼ = justification The Law cannot justify. It comes to us will all its demands, which are ʻholy, righteous and goodʼ (7:12), but because of the ʻfleshʼ we are unable to meet its demands and so stand condemned. It is not the Law that is at fault, but our flesh (like a Tennis pro who canʼt play a decent game against an amateur because thereʼs never a decent rally) Law + ʻfleshʼ = condemnation But God has done what the Law couldnʼt do by sending his Son - in the likeness of sinful flesh (ie. with the same weaknesses and frailties but without actual sin) to face the condemning demands of the Law in our place. This leads to Jesusʼ righteousness (ʻrighteous requirement of the lawʼ being ʻfulfilledʼ) being given to us, so that the Lawʼs righteous requirement is fulfilled ʻin usʼ. Before this: all our ʻgood deedʼ were only accumulating more condemnation for us. Now, all that we do as we are led by the Spirit actually counts, because itʼs not us but Jesus doing it in us. Our righteous action as Christians are simply the outworking of Jesusʼ righteousness given to us. 5-8 The contrast between life in the flesh and life in the Spirit (The Holy Spirit, not our own spirit - see v. 14) 5-6 What do we ʻset our mindsʼ on - not occasional thoughts, but the main focus of our passion and affections? Are we driven by the fulfilment of our desires, ambitions, pleasures, etc. (which leads ultimately to death), or by what the Spirit is wanting: the glory of God (which leads to life and peace ie. Exactly what we think weʼre going to achieve by setting our minds on the flesh...)?
7-8 This is not just a matter of practical ʻsuccessful christian livingʼ. Setting the mind on the flesh is an act of hostility to God! God says, ʻthis is the way I created you to live - to be filled with and dependant upon my Spiritʼ, to which we reply, ʻI know a better way!ʼ 9-11 Be who you are. A Christian is someone who is indwelt by the Spirit. The Spirit does not come as a second experience after receiving Christ. We cannot even receive Christ unless the Spirit has come to us first and ʻappliedʼ Jesus to us! What a wonderful confidence! No matter how great our battles with sin and the flesh, we know we are not condemned to failure. The final result of all our battles will not be death but life! What is easier - to try to be someone we are not, or to let go and simply let who we really are shape our life? There is more authenticity in a non-Christian living a life of all-out immorality that in them trying to keep a facade of self righteousness. If we who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us try to set our minds on the things of the flesh, we will be living in contradiction to who we are in Christ. But if we sinply recognise the two things of vss 1&2, we will be enabled to live with authenticity. ʻIf you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God's glory we have recognised the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meagre sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.ʼ Luther to Melanchthon, August 1, 1521
Romans 8:12-19 Living as children of God Continuing with the Work of the Spirit... 1-11 The Spirit sets us free from sin & death by applying to us all that Jesus has done by taking our condemnation at the cross. It is the work of the Spirit that gives us the assurance, ʻThere is no condemnation.ʼ We cannot work it out ourselves. While there is a ʻlogicʼ to the Gospel - since Jesus took Godʼs wrath, it should follow that condemnation is gone. However this logic doesnʼt always seem to translate into our experience. The objective reality of 1-11 is made a subjective reality in 12-27 WW2 POWʼs - the announcement of their freedom didnʼt hit home until their ʻliberationʼ by allied forces. 12-13 The freedom of being in debt We are in debt/under obligation (NIV). Slavery was a common way of paying off debts. The flesh tells us that we need to do something, and that we are able to do something that is adequate to pay back what we owe to God. Whenever the battle with sin looms, the flesh says. ʻdo thisʼ ʻchange thisʼ and you will be able to fix things. The flesh leads us to make promises to God, deepen our commitment, rise to the challenge, etc. This leads to death, since the flesh is a master that has been put to death at the cross. A servant will be like his master (Matt 10:25). Veres 13 is a Chiasm, with the focus/turning point in the centre: A
by the flesh
you will die
Put to death
Deeds of the body
The Spirit says the opposite: You cannot do anything. Stop thinking that the ʻdeeds of the bodyʼ have any merit or significance before God. Paul uses a different word - ʻsomaʼ instead of flesh. While flesh has negative associations, ʻsomaʼ does not. He wants us to see that he is not just speaking of sinful actions, but of everything we do, ʻgoodʼ and bad. Our status and relationship with God does not depend on our actions, but on the action of the Spirit in uniting us with Jesus. So, what is true living? 14-17a Freedom on a whole new level 14 - Freedom is brought to a whole new level. We are not merely free citizens of the Kingdom, we are actually children (& heirs - 17) of the King! Jesus: ʻIf the Son sets you free, you will be really freeʼ (John 8:36). A child (who has good parents) knows that their relationship and status with their parents depends not on what they do, but simply on the fact that they are children of their parents. Our family is the first covenant relationship that we experience in life - a relationship not based on performance or conditions, but on the faithfulness of our mother and father. No child who knows their parentʼs unconditional acceptance of them ever needs to think, ʻWhat must I do to fix or maintain my relationship with my parents?ʼ The Spirit does not use fear to lead us - ʻ...there is no fear in love... fear has to do with punishmentʼ (1 John 4:18) An unkind master uses threats to make his slaves obey. Rather, the Spirit brings us into a relationship with the Father - ʻAbbaʼ. This relationship is not functional but personal. Abba communicates absolute trust, dependance, reverence, love. Someone who is unable to call God, ʻFatherʼ has not comprehended the heart of what it means to be a Christian. ʻGodʼ communicates his nature, being, etc. ʻAbba, Fatherʼ communicates a relationship. The work of the Spirit is to bring this reality to us. So God comes to us in his fulness: The Spirit is the 30
Spirit of Christ (9) and brings Jesus in his fulness to us, and He is the Spirit of Sonship and brings the Father in his fulness to us. 17b-19 This transforms the reality of suffering. The emphasis is not on ʻsufferʼ, but on ʻwith himʼ. Suffering is a reality on this world. No-one escapes suffering, even if they live a charmed life, as all will die (and after death, comes an eternity of suffering for those who donʼt know him). The issue is not ʻwill I suffer?ʼ, but whether I suffer ʻwith himʼ or apart from him. ʻJesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.ʼ Hebrews 12:2 ʻThe sufferings & shame of this cross are not worth comparing with the joy of the glory that is to be revealed in me.ʼ In other places (esp Romans 5) we are encouraged to see that suffering is used by God to change & mature us. Here the emphasis is not on what suffering accomplishes, but that a vision of the glory that awaits us causes the sufferings of the present to fade into insignificance. The essence of this glory: the revealing of the sons of God. ʻGloryʼ literally means ʻweightʼ, ʻheavinessʼ, ʻsubstantialnessʼ. The most substantial, solid thing we can lay hold of is Godʼs fatherhood and our sonship. ʻTo please God...to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness...to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.ʼ CS Lewis The Weight of Glory
Romans 8:18-39 Facing trouble with hope 18 The implications of sonship: the transformation of troubles 19-22 Creation groaning The futility on creation - a sign of the destiny of humanity. Creationʼs destiny inextricably linked to humanityʼs destiny, because of the creational mandate to rule over & subdue. The curse came as a result of manʼs sin not a natural outworking (ʻits own willʼ), but imposed by God. All the upheavals of creation are a sign/reminder to us of: 1. Our own degradation, and the curse under which humanity lives because of sin, 2. There is a glory yet to come - this world will not remain as it is. The worldʼs futility fuels our hope for the new Heavens and Earth. 23-25 Our groaning Our salvation is a ʻfuture-lookingʼ salvation. The Gospel promises some present benefits, but also future benefits. Most (all?) people become Christians when the reality of this worldʼs futility comes home to them (including the futility of our own bodies, which are bound over to death.) Faith looks not only to what has been done in the past by Jesus, but also to the certainty of what He will do in the future. Hope produces patience ie. Certainty helps us wait. So suffering in this life is not diminished, but we know a sense of joy & purpose in it. 26-27 The Spiritʼs groaning God Himself is with us in our longing for all things to be set right. The Spirit desires to see the sons of God revealed & creation set free, because this will mean all creatures bow and declare Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father 7 this is His ultimate desire - to bring glory to the Father. We do not know how to pray (not if or when). Even our nothings are taken by the Spirit and transformed into prayers according to the Fatherʼs will (Revelation 8:3-5), so that we become participants in what God is doing to renew all of creation. Jeremiah 17:10 “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” 28-30 Security in Godʼs eternal plan (from beginning to end) The ʻgoodʼ that the Father works - not just that things work our personally for us. The good is the renewal of all creation (including us). The wonder is not that things work out for good, but that we are a part of things working out for good!
Our security is based not merely in Godʼs ability to bring good out of bad, but in His intentional plan set in motion before creation. All five ʻstagesʼ are not contingent - they are definite actions already determined by God. Our objection is based on a greek concept of ʻfateʼ, which has no personal dimension. 31-39 Four certainties 31- God is all for us - demonstrated in how much he gave in Jesus; ʻall thingsʼ does not mean every individual thing that exists, but that all that we have is gracious gift from the Father, and nothing less. 33- Guilt is finished. God is alone qualified to bring a charge against us, and He is the one who has justified us 34 - Condemnation (final punishment) is gone. Jesus is alone to condemn us, as the Fatherʼs appointed judge of all, but he now intercedes for us - ie as the counsel for the defence! 35 - Godʼs love is assured. Paul writes not from a theoretical place, but from his own experience. These are things that he himself has experienced. (2 Cor. 11). Yet his assurance comes from the fact that Godʼs love is not just love, but love in Christ Jesus.
Romans 9:30-10:21 - Our responsibility Some key points from chapter 9: • Godʼs word has not failed (ie. the OT and 2000 years of history is not wasted) (6) Therefore we can have confidence in the word of Christ. • Being a member of Israel (by the flesh) does not automatically mean you are a member of Israel (the true people of God) (8) • Being a child of God is Godʼs choice, not ours (16) We cannot complain about his mercy to some and not others, since no-one deserves his mercy anyway.
10:30-33 - The situation as it is: 30 - Gentiles, who previously knew nothing of God or were even interested in knowing God, are now coming to know God through faith 31 - Israelites, who were given the Law in order that they may know God, are now rejecting (and being rejected by) God. 32-33 - The critical issue: Faith in Jesus. They thought the Law was given for them to achieve works righteousness, and so because of that they have rejected (ʻstumbled overʼ) Jesus. (Isaiah 28:16) 9:1-17 - How can a Jew be saved? 1-4 The Law was never about works righteousness Paul: expresses again his heart for the Jews to be saved. Because of this desire (great sorrow and unceasing anguish - 9:2) he now thinks through carefully what it will mean for the Jews to be brought to that place of ʻrighteousnessʼ. Godly sorrow and anguish doesnʼt lead to despair, but to being proactive. 2 - Give credit where credit is due: They have a zeal for God. They are not irreligious or pagans; they acknowledge their history as Godʼs people. Yet they donʼt have the full picture: but not according to knowledge. The implication is that this lack of knowledge invalidates all their zeal. Philippians 3:4-9 3 - Ignorance is no excuse - an ignorant person is someone who is ignoring the obvious. They rejected Godʼs way of faith, and sought to establish their own. 4 - How do we know this? They rejected Christ (Messiah). Christ is the end (telos) - goal - of the law. The intention was that the Jews would find righteousness by pursuing the Law, because through the Law they are led to Christ. The Law was given not to help us become good enough for God, but to show us that Christ alone is sufficient for us. 5-17 - The Jews need to hear the Gospel like everyone else Scriptural backing for what he is saying: Paul quotes Moses, through whom the Law was given - ie. If Moses teaches salvation by faith, then... 1. 5: Leviticus 18:1-5. The Law is the perfect expression of Godʼs righteousness, so it follows that pursuing the Law will lead to life. Three times, ʻI am the LORDʼ - ie. this is in the context of their covenant relationship with God. Perfect obedience means fullness of life. 2. 6-8: Deuteronomy 30:9 -14. It is not about your performance, but Who God is and what He is doing. Someone who is turned to the LORD ʻwith all their heart and soulʼ will find the Law not burdensome, but freedom. In other words, faith precedes obedience; someone who is already in a right relationship with God by faith no longer needs to strive to keep the Law in order to achieve that righteousness. ʻIn your mouth and in your heartʼ ie. the Law written on our hearts is something God does. God never commands that for which he doesnʼt also provide the grace to obey. 3. 9-11: Moses is pointing to Jesus. The word in our mouths is ʻJesus is Lordʼ and the word in our hearts is ʻGod raised him from the deadʼ (and by implication that he died and why he died) 4. 12-17: Therefore Israel, just like every other nation, needs to have the Gospel of Christ proclaimed to them. The same rule applies to Jews as to gentiles; there is no special route or means apart from hearing and believing in Christ. 18-21 - Why arenʼt they saved (...if Godʼs word hasnʼt failed)? Who is to blame for Israelʼs rejection of the Gospel? 16 - not all have believed
18 - Is it because they havenʼt heard? Quotes Psalm 19 ʻTheir voiceʼ is that of creation - linking back to chapter 1, all men are without excuse. 19-20 - Is it because they didnʼt understand - ie. wasnʼt it communicated clearly enough to them? Deut 32:21 Israelʼs history is one of God speaking to them, so that they would be a ʻwise and understanding peopleʼ (Deut 4:6) in contrast to the ʻfoolishʼ and ʻdarkenedʼ gentiles. Isaiah 65:1 These Gentiles have come to know God even though they neither sought or asked for him; if they can know the truth, then surely ʻwiseʼ Israel has no excuse. 21 - The heart of the issue: disobedience and obstinacy (NIV) Chapter 9 makes it clear that anyone who is saved is saved only because of Godʼs free and sovereign choice - Only God can get the credit for salvation. Chapter 10 makes it clear that anyone who is not saved is so only because of their disobedience - only humanity can be blamed for their damnation. Chapter 11: How these two great truths held together enable us to rejoice in the remarkably gracious purpose of God
These are not merely two philosophical ideas held in tension. Paul sees a great purpose being worked out through these two truths - such that if we deny either of them we fail to understand Godʼs purposes. This is dealt with on chapter 11.
Romans 11: The Gospel and the nations (and me) Question: Has God rejected His people? (Has Godʼs word failed?) No. Reason 1: There will always be a remnant 1-6 - There are still some Jews who have believed in Jesus, of which I am one. The remnant is no less the people than the whole amount. (1 Kings 19) 7000 is not less Israel than 7000 000. Even if Israel were reduced to a few people, God could not be charged with rejecting his people (in the same way that saving 8 people through the flood was his action of grace towards the whole human race). There is a remnant - of Godʼs own choosing. ʻBy Graceʼ means Godʼs criteria for his choice is based in himself as gracious, not in any actions of those he chooses. 7-10 - Conclusion to v.5: If God chose the remnant, he also chose not to choose the rest. How does this sit with us? Yet we have to face the clear statements of Scripture - Isaiah 29:10 (8), Psalm 69:22-23 (9-10). (Not to mention Isaiah 6:9-13, Mark 4:11-12, John 12:36-40, 2 Thess. 2:9-11, 2 Cor 4:4). Hardening is not God hiding things from people who want to know, but handing us over to our unwillingness to know. God has done this same work among the nations (Romans 1), and Israel is no exception to this. Reason 2: God is fulfilling His promises for the nations 11-32 - Question: Why did they stumble? Is Godʼs ultimate intention for destruction or salvation? Godʼs election of the Jews in the OT to the seeming exclusion of all other nations was so that the Messiah might come into the world. Godʼs hardening of the Jews in the NT is in order to ʻmake roomʼ for the Gentiles. This is not trivial Jewish history that is irrelevant to us Gentiles. It explains how we have even been given a chance to be included in Godʼs salvation. If God had chosen National/Ethnic Israel and rejected everyone else, we would have no reason to complain, since no people deserves to be saved. That God has not only chosen Israel, but also chosen to extend that election to people of all nations is an action of extraordinary grace. 13-24 - Being included in Godʼs people is never a cause for arrogance. God made it clear to Israel that his choice of them was not based on who they were, but his love (See Deut 7:6-8) - 18 - We stand in the benefits that flow from Israelʼs history - not the least a Jewish Messiah! - 20 - The branches broken off were because of disobedience, but this does not mean we are included because of obedience, but faith (ie. grace, ie. election). - 21,22 - Make sure then that you stand by faith, because if you think you stand by obedience, you are actually in dIsobedience! 25-27 - ʻAll Israel will be savedʼ - Every Jewish person without exception? (ie. ethnicity saves them) - The Jews who sincerely obey the Law? (ie. another way of salvation apart from Jesus) - The Jews en masse will convert to Christianity? ʻIn this wayʼ (NIV ʻsoʼ). ʻAll Israelʼ is composed of those who are ethnically Jews and those who are not; since the true Israel are those who have come to God by faith in Christ, ultimately because of His free election. Revelation 7. A repeated pattern in Revelation: hearing, and then looking (22:8 ʻI, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.ʼ 4:1-2 (Throne), 5:5-6 (Lion-Lamb), 9:16-17 (Troops), 17:1-3 (Prostitute), 21:9-10 (BrideCity). 7:1-8 Hearing: 144000 Israelites (12x12x1000) 9-17 Seeing: Uncountable crowd from every nation What John heard and what he saw are the same thing. Israel in its fulness is made up of a multitude from every nation. 17 - three OT promises make specifically to Israel (Ezekiel 34, Ezekiel 47, Isaiah 25) - the Elder applies these promises to this ʻGentileʼ multitude. Knowing Godʼs faithfulness should lead to boldness in intercessory prayer Paulʼs desire and prayer is that all his people will be saved - 10:1, 11:12,15,23-24,28-32. His contentedness in knowing Godʼs faithfulness in saving the remnant and in completing His people by bringing Gentiles in, does not lead him to a resigned fatalism. He knows God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), and is confident in Godʼs ability to save even the hardest person.
Does God want us to pray that all Australians will hear the Gospel and be saved? Does God want us to work for the Gospel so that all Australians will hear? When we are not clear on Godʼs will, we should still pray according to His ability. Because He is able to save, we should pray for the salvation of all, and seek to proclaim the Gospel to all; we can leave the matter of election to Him. 33-36 Knowing Godʼs faithfulness must lead to worship. Paul has not reached a dead end where it is all too hard and illogical, and so he switches his brain off to become just a mindless minion. He understands that any discussion about these things must begin and end with an affirmation of Godʼs Sovereignty. We do not come to an understanding of His sovereignty by starting with human responsibility (whether we see ourselves as free or bound) and expecting that God bends (ie. limits) his sovereignty to fit our notions of human freedom. Instead, we need to redefine human freedom/ responsibility to fit the truth of Godʼs sovereignty, since ʻ...from him and through him and to him are all thingsʼ!
Romans 12:1-8 New Relationships 1: To myself and church 1-2 Living in mercy 1. Not a command, but an exhortation, and in ʻview ofʼ Godʼs mercies. Our relationship with God is not a reciprocal one - Heʼs done his bit, now we do ours. The way in which God relates to us is by mercy - ie. action towards a person who is completely helpless and hopeless. This is a call to live in the mercy of God. Present your bodies (ie whole being, not in distinction from spirit) as a sacrifice. Imagery taken from Temple Leviticus 1:3-9. Alive, Holy, Pleasing. The animal is offered as a representative and substitute - complete identification as the offerer places their hand on the animalʼs head. This animal is dying my death. It was in effect an offering of oneself. The horror of the sacrifice would leave the worshipper in no doubt that they depended upon the mercy of God to the exclusion of any self-righteousness. - Be a true Jew, and look to the sacrifice (of the Lamb of God) to understand how you are to relate to God - but not by going to the temple to offer an animal. Hellenist Jews had adopted the idea of a ʻspiritual (logikos) sacrificeʼ which, in greek thinking, was superior to that of physical sacrifices. Picking up on Old Testament references where God says that the Israeliteʼs sacrifices were an abomination to him because they were neglecting justice and mercy etc. ʻTo obey is better than sacrifice.ʼ (1 Sam 15:22). But this approach had led to a ʻspiritualisingʼ which was more about prayer, contemplation, silence (ʻHave you done your quiet time today???ʼ) than it was about doing Godʼs will. Paul uses the commonly used phrase ʻspiritual (logical - ie. of the mind as opposed to the body) worshipʼ but shows that a true ʻspiritual sacrificeʼ is not contemplation/prayer etc, but incredibly practical - it involves the whole self, and specifically the body - ie. Physical action. 2. Godʼs criticism of Israel was that they went through the motions but their hearts were far from Him. (Isaiah 29:13) They ʻconformedʼ but were not ʻtransformedʼ. They had ʻthe appearance of godliness, but denied its power.ʼ (2 Tim 3:5). We are to be transformed (ie. actually changed, not just conformed) by a renewal of our minds (another popular word in greek thinking, as the mind was considered ʻspiritualʼ (logikos). Not simply receiving a new set of ideas, or even a new worldview. A change of mind that leads to a desire to do Godʼs will - to live the obedient life. This is not about personal guidance (ʻwhat subject should I do, who shall I marry, where shall I go, etc.), but living according to Godʼs righteousness - the righteousness revealed in the Gospel that is given to us in Jesus. ʻGoodʼ, ʻPleasingʼ, ʻPerfectʼ are all words used to describe the Law Knowing the mercy of God in Jesus flows naturally into a transformed life. Romans 8:4: ʻ...in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.ʼ The issue of living what I believe - everyone lives according to their belief. Jesus said that state of the heart will result in action that matches. When a life doesnʼt match the profession of faith, it is the nature of the faith that needs to be examined. 2 Corinthians 13:5 ʻExamine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realise this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!ʼ 3-8 Because true faith is based on grace, not works, the test is not primarily, ʻDo I do good works?ʼ but, ʻDo I fully realise the extent of mercy shown to me in Jesus? How has that shaped how I relate to: 3 Myself - If we live by the mercy of God, we can never consider ourselves to be better than anyone else. ʻSober judgementʼ is not a guilt trip, but realism about our sinful past and our current battle with sin. The primary mark of a Christian is not ʻgoodnessʼ but humble repentance. 4-8 Godʼs people
Being in a relationship with God means being in relationship with His people - not as duty, but a natural expression of faith in God. ʻGoing to church doesnʼt make you a Christian any more than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger.ʼ (Keith Green) Yet being a part of the Church is essential if our Christian faith is genuine. The parable of the sheep & goats (Matthew 25) is not about good deeds in the community, but how we related to Godʼs people. If we reject and shun Godʼs people, we are shunning Jesus himself because thatʼs his body. A mark of a true Christian is that they are in relationship with His people.
Romans 12:9-21 New Relationships 2: To all people Living in mercy continued All we do should be an overflow of Godʼs mercy in our lives. Love: For Godʼs people 9 - In Truth. ʻunhypocriticalʼ. Love is not a wishy-washy all accepting, non-offending attitude. It takes the horror of sin/evil seriously. This is a battle in our personal lives, yet Paul is speaking of relationships - ie. hate evil, cling to good, in others. ʻLove is discerning. It is so passionately devoted to the beloved so that it hates every evil which is incompatible with his or her highest welfare.ʼ (John Stott, The Cross (bible studies) p77) 10 - As family. The key is to relate not as a community as much as a family - ʻphiladelphiaʼ. Family was paramount - even idolatrous. A person may be expected to forsake all for the sake of giving honour to family members and to the family name. Is our loyalty to Godʼs people of this magnitude? We are to seek honour for others, and if we are to receive any honour, itʼs to be because we seek other peopleʼs honour. The same logic as, ʻIt is more blessed to give than receive.ʼ - fullness is found in self emptying. God wants our motivation for giving to be the blessing we will receive in the giving. Jesus endured the cross ʻfor the joy set before himʼ. We need to hear this especially as Aussies with our depreciating humour. Sometimes an affectionate payout can cross the line. We think honour and self-satisfaction comes through making less of others than ourselves. But Paul is not saying avoid dishonouring others, but excel in honouring them. This is a culture shift, not a change in vocabulary. 11 - Proactively. Not merely avoiding doing wrong to one another. Slaves told to serve their masters as if they are serving the Lord. (Eph 6:5). The way we treat one another is indicative of the value we place on Jesus; if we desire to serve Him, we will serve His body. 12 - Being joyful in hope (5:2 - we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God); Leads to patience in tribulation; leads to constancy in prayer. The key to a disciplined prayer life is to have our eyes fixed on the hope of glory. Paulʼs prayer for the Ephesians - that they may be enlightened to know their hope. (Eph 2:18) Implied here is that prayer is for others, not ourselves; it is sandwiched between ʻother-personʼ centred commands. 13 - Other-person-centred prayer leads to other-person-centred action. If we are to contribute to needs, we need to be on the look out for opportunities. Hospitality should not just be practised, but pursued! Love: For all people 14 - the focus shifts from those within the church to those without. The assumption is that persecution is inevitable! Christians are automatically in a state of ʻenmityʼ to the world. ʻBlessʼ means literally, ʻspeak well ofʼ. Not merely doing good in return, but speaking well of that person to others (and to yourself!) ʻWhat does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbour, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.ʼ Luther, Small Catechism (Eighth commandment) 15-16 - Our reciprocal action - entering ʻcompassionatelyʼ into the lives of others. ie Mercy! This calls for great discernment: what if we feel the things they are rejoicing over are bad, and the things they are weeping over are good? Godʼs response to us in mercy was to enter into our rejoicing and sorrow. Jesus wept at Lazarusʼ grave, even though we know he knew that he was the resurrection and the life and that death was to be defeated. 17-21 Security in Godʼs justice. What do we do when someone does evil towards us? - Donʼt repay - Consider how your actions will be interpreted - Work for peace as much as possible (but accept it may not happen) - Donʼt avenge yourself (ie. take justice into your own hands) ʻBurning coals on their headʼ - whether from an actual practice (Egyptian penitence) or metaphorical (shame) the implication is a change in the perpetrator. We do good those who do evil to us out of love for them - we want to see them changed. The cross is the only basis for truly forgiving, as it it where God is known to be both just and the justifier of sinners. Our hearts know that justice must be met for there to be any true reconciliation, and the cross does it.
Romans 13:1-14 New Relationships 3: To the world Why bother with this question? Some views of Christians about our relationship to the world: ʻTheonomyʼ - The Law of God is binding on all societies, and should be implemented in public and civil life. ʻChristian anarchyʼ - Christians should practice ʻcivil disobedienceʼ in order to bring about a more compassionate, just society. ʻThe Bunkerʼ - Christians Interaction of faith with the world should withdraw from all participation in the worldʼs More <- - - - - - - - - - - - - -> Less systems, and simply wait for Jesus to return. ʻPrivatisedʼ - Our Christian faith is to be kept private, and should not influence our secular public or civil life. View of Positive ʻTheonomyʼ ʻPrivatisedʼ
^ v |
1-4 The role of civil authority ʻAnarchyʼ ʻBunkerʼ Negative ʻGodʼs servantʼ. This does not mean God approves of unjust governments and oppressive leaders. God called Cyrus ʻmy shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purposeʼ (Isaiah 44:28), yet he was by no means sympathetic to the Jews or to God - he simply saw religious tolerance as a good way to expand and strengthen his empire. Acts 17:26 - God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place...ʼ (Acts 17:26). Weʼre also told, ʻIt is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.ʼ (Isaiah 40:22-23) ʻfor your goodʼ Do we trust that God is the ultimate authority, and that he works all things together for our good and his glory? 5-7 Our responsibility as ʻresident aliensʼ Our citizenship is in heaven; Jesusʼ kingdom is ʻnot of this worldʼ. We do not own or have a right to the kingdoms of this world. We should view our Australian (or other) citizenship more as ʻresident statusʼ. We live however, but we know our ultimate home and loyalty lies elsewhere. Yet this does not mean civil disobedience. If we resist the authorities, weʼre ultimately resisting God, as Heʼs the one who appointed them (unless we are absolutely sure we are to be Godʼs instrument in toppling an unjust government...). Therefore our motivation is not simply so we donʼt get punished, but because we are people who have been set free by grace to delight to obey God - as justified people, our conscience has been renewed so that we prefer good over evil. We submit not to avoid a bad conscience, but because we have a good conscience. 8-10 How to live in Babylon... Jeremiah 29:4-9: Living trusting in Godʼs timing & agenda, not ours. Our responsibility is not to insist on society abiding by Godʼs law, but to be people who abide by Godʼs law. We cannot go wrong when we are living always with our neighbourʼs best interests in mind. Our first question in making decisions should not be ʻWill this break or keep a law?ʼ but ʻIs this loving my neighbour as myself?ʼ. Jesus was criticised for breaking the letter of the law, yet he perfectly kept the spirit of the law - therefore peopleʼs interpretation of the letter was wrong. 11-14 ...while waiting for the New Jerusalem Jeremiah 29:10-14. We not only know that this world is not our home, but that the time will come when, ʻThe kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.ʼ (Revelation 11:15) In the vision, this follows a time when the church is actively in the world, proclaiming the Gospel. The transformation of the world does not come from Christian political involvement, but is accomplished by God - and the precursor to this is the time we are in know as we proclaim Jesus. The key to avoiding the immorality is to ʻput on Jesusʼ.
Romans 14:1-23 New Relationships 4: When Christians differ. Identifying the debatable ʻdialogismoonʼ issues: • Is it clearly commanded or forbidden for believers? • Is it ʻpermissible, but not beneficialʼ (1 Corinthians 6:12) • Is it something on which the NTʼs silent/unclear? Music in church
Going to church
Having a daily quiet time
Sharing the Gospel Drinking alcohol Sex outside marriage Living by mercy means: Being aware of what youʼre prone to Suing a fellow Christian The mode of baptism Smoking In the Roman context: Jewish Christians may have been continuing to observe Jewish customs - including meat sacrificed to idols (2), unclean food laws (14), special days (5), alcohol (21). Those who observed the restrictions (mainly Jews) were being judgemental of those who didnʼt (3 ʻCondemnʼ, 10 ʻJudgeʼ) ʻI canʼt have fellowship with you because you are not discerning enough.ʼ Those who didnʼt observe them were being dismissive of those who did (3 Look down, 10 despise) ʻI canʼt have fellowship with you because you sound too legalistic.ʼ (The Bible only commands breaking of fellowship with those who are unrepentantly rejecting clear teaching - ie. sexual immorality, divisiveness, false teaching, laziness! - where the key issue is not the specific sin so much as their unwillingness to repent.)
Who are the ʻweakʼ? Those who appear to be more active in godliness! - ie. those who abstain and eat only vegetables (2), who observe special days, etc. Who are the strong? Those whose conscience allows them to eat everything. The key is where the strength lies - faith. We can mistake strength of character, discipline, ability as strong faith. However faith says to God, ʻI canʼt do a thing - you need to do it all.ʼ This results not in inaction, but more action that is truly selfless love. When we think we are strong because of what we are or are not doing in our piety, we need to see that we are in danger of being weak in our faith. Are we trying to do things to try and bolster our assurance? Only faith brings full assurance. Remembering whatʼs really important Paulʼs claim: You should still have fellowship with one another even if you donʼt agree on ʻsecondary issuesʼ. We should always ask: Is that person wrong, or just different to me? ʻDialogismoonʼ means: 1. Neither ʻsideʼ can insist that the others conform to their view. 2. Both sides should be willing to ʻdialogueʼ about this so that each understands and appreciates the other 3. (17) Both sides should agree that the most important things are pursuing righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. Viewing your brother or sister as God views them. My brother/sister may have different views about what we can or cannot do, but if their faith in in Jesus to justify them, then: 3 ʻGod has accepted himʼ. 4 ʻHe will stand, because the Lord is able to make him standʼ. 8 ʻWhether we live or die we belong to the Lordʼ Paul describes people as ʻyour brotherʼ only in this chapter, emphasising that weʼre members of Godʼs family Examining your motives in doing/not doing something 4 - Are we doing/abstaining in a desire to serve the Lord, or to serve ourselves? 5 - Have we actually thought this through, or just going with the status quo, peer pressure, or something we assume is Biblical but is only cultural. 6 - Are we doing/abstaining with an attitude of thankfulness to God (being thankful means being a recipient instead of a giver) 15 - Are we thinking of whatʼs best for our brothers/sisters, instead of whatʼs best for us? Not expecting anyone to go against their conscience No-one should be forced to act against their conscience - ie. not in faith. Whenever we act outside of faith we are acting in unbelief - unbelief that God has truly justified & forgiven us. This will lead to a guilty conscience, which leads either to despair or to a self justifying drive. 14 - Even something that is not technically a sin, becomes sinful to do if our conscience is unsettled by doing it. 23 - ...this is because going against our conscience is not living by faith - we are acting out of the wrong motive of being accepted by people ʻEven if you are mistaken about what Godʼs will is, it is a sin to put your will above his.ʼ Tim Keller
Romans 15-16: What it’s ultimately all about. 15:1-7 flowing from the discussion about dealing with differences - why do we want to be unified as Godʼs people? Sociological reason = positive community, efficiency in achieving aims etc. Verse 6: we should be wanting to bring glory to God. 3 - Jesusʼ ʻexampleʼ of selfless living - willing to receive the reproaches of those who hated (and killed) him. This is not mere ʻWWJD?ʼ 4 - The OT Scriptures being fulfilled in Jesus gives us hope. 5 - This hope enables us to have faith that God will be so at work in and amongst us that the character of Christ will be manifested in us as his body. 6 - The result is that the Father is glorified ...which is the ultimate focus of our hope (Romans 5:2) 7 - Jesus is able to welcome us because this is his ultimate aim - the glory of his Father. Paul takes us to a bigger perspective on why we should be striving for unity in the Body of Christ over 'secondary' issues. It's not about creating a harmonious community, compassion for individuals, or growing the church. It's about the glory of God, ultimately expressed in people from every tribe, tongue and nation worshiping Him. When our focus is on the glory of God and not on our own piety or programs, we will find that welcoming those who differ from us yet have in common with us a passion for God's glory through the proclamation of the Gospel, will come naturally. 8-13 How does Jesus bring glory to the Father? Through leading all creatures in worship. 8 - parallel with vs. 4: Jesus coming as a Jew (to the Jews first) confirms the ʻpromises given to the patriarchsʼ - ie. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob: ʻThrough you all nations will be blessed.ʼ (Gentile = Nation (Ethnos)). Israel existed so that the Nations would come to a place of worshiping God. OT quotations are from Deuteronomy, 2 Samuel, Psalms, Isaiah - ie. a whirlwind tour of the scriptures, showing that this purpose is the key thread throughout the Bible. 15:14-16:27 Implications for Paul - and us. 14 - A confidence in Godʼs work among his people 15-16 - A commitment to not just evangelism, but discipleship. Only place in the NT that Christian ministry is spoken of in ʻpriestlyʼ terms. Paul is still in the flow of 12:2 - our Christian life described as offering ourselves as sacrifices; therefore ministry is enabling others to do the same: the main desire of someone in ministry is to see others living lives to the glory of God. 18-21 - A commitment to not just discipleship, but evangelism. Discipleship will not happen without evangelism, and discipleship should be our reason for evangelism - If our desire is to see people living for Godʼs glory, we will be on about proclaiming the Gospel to sinners so they may live for his glory. 22-31 - Partnership with others. Paul expects that the example of the Macedoniansʼ & Achaiansʼ generosity to the Christians in Jerusalem will inspire the Romans to be generous in supporting Paul in taking the Gospel to Spain. He also asks for their prayers. The Romans were to see themselves not as a holy club, but as a catalyst for ministry & mission. 16:1-16, 21-23 - Many ʻunknownʼ (to us) people - as well as a few ʻfamousʼ people. Some qualified by statements, others just mentioned. The implication: We are all together in the work of the Gospel. Romans was not written just to leaders, scholars or theologians. Regardless of our role or position in the church, the contents of Romans is for us and will equip us to be on about Godʼs mission. 17-20 - Stand firm on the Truth. A call to be discerning in who we partner with. Paul is possibly being gracious here in not naming and shaming specific people. He probably assumes the Romans know to whom he is referring. Unlike the ʻdialogableʼ issues of Ch. 14, these are issues of Gospel truth on which we should stand firm, even if it means breaking fellowship. 19-20 - We are not to be heresy headhunters. Our focus should be on knowing and affirming the truth, not on exposing and opposing error. The key to countering error is to be ʻwise as to what is goodʼ. Ultimately we need to see that the battle in this area is Godʼs - we can have hope
that the work of the devil in distorting Godʼs truth will be finally undone, when God fulfils his promise/threat given in Genesis 3 to crush the serpent. The amazing truth: That promise was made about Jesus, and now as we live in Jesus we see the fulfilment of that in our lives. (The abruptness of 17-20 may be due to Paul writing this section himself - a common way of authenticating a letter that was written by a scribe (22)) 25-27 Not only a Doxology, but also a summary of the main points of Romans: ʻNow to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ...ʼ Paul opened his letter with a statement about having confidence in the Gospel (1:16-17). Reading/hearing all he says in Romans will also give us the same confidence. ʻ..according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed...ʼ Paulʼs confidence in the Gospel came from the fact that ʻThe righteousness of God is revealed...ʼ. God is known to be righteous through his actions, and in the action of Jesus Christ we see all that He has been doing throughout history and that it is all good and for a purpose. ʻ...and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God...ʼ This Gospel is for all nations (and by implication needs to be proclaimed to all nations). Jesus reveals that all of the Scriptures reveal Godʼs purpose not just for the Jews by for all nations. ʻ... to bring about the obedience of faith— Paulʼs stated aim as an Apostle (1:5) was, ʻto bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among the nations.ʼ Paul was simply being obedient to Jesusʼ commission in Matthew 28:19. The Gospel told him that this obedience/discipleship was one of faith. The world will not be impacted if we preach morality or social improvement, but as we preach salvation in Jesus by grace through faith in him. 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. All is for Godʼs glory!
The ‘Romans Road’ Where weʼve come since... 8:1-11
1. Walking in the Spirit. The Holy Spiritʼs primary work is to bring us into the reality of all that Jesus has done for us - to apply it to us. This means that as justified people we are ruled by the Spirit, not our sinful desires. 2. Living as children of God. Knowing the reality what Jesus has done means we are able to live in a Father-child relationship with God. This relationship transforms all of life, especially suffering. 3. Facing trouble with hope. We are secure in Godʼs big picture plan, and this means certainty for us who have been foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified. 4. Godʼs sovereignty. Being a child of God is Godʼs choice not ours, since His choice is based on his grace, not on our actions. Anyone who is saved is saved only because of Godʼs free and sovereign grace - Only God can get the credit for salvation. 5. Our responsibility. People stumble over salvation through faith because we want to justify ourselves. Anyone who is not saved is so only because of their disobedience - only humanity can be blamed for their damnation. 6. The Gospel and the Nations (and me). Godʼs purpose in hardening Israel is so that Godʼs plan is fulfilled by the nations being brought in and included as Godʼs people. This should lead to boldness in prayer and passion in worship. 7. New Relationships 1: To myself and the church. Knowing we are objects of Godʼs mercy transforms our relationship on every level, beginning with ourselves and the church. 8. New Relationships 2: To all people. All we do should be an overflow of Godʼs mercy in our lives - with ʻunhypocriticalʼ love for our fellow Christians and compassionate living among our neighbours.
9. New Relationships 3: To the world. Mercy means we recognise the God given civil authorities, even when they are evil and unjust. We live as resident aliens in Babylon, while looking forward to the New Jerusalem.
10. New Relationships 4: When Christians differ. Mercy means we seek unity among Christians, being discerning about issues that are central, and those that are ʻdialogable.ʼ
11. What itʼs ultimately all about.The goal of all of my living in view of Godʼs mercy is that all nations will glorify God. I am called to be caught up in Godʼs plan for 15:1-16:26 the world.
Published on Nov 9, 2011