A Simple Gospel: Romans 1-3

The Biblical letter to the Romans, written by the Apostle Paul, makes a powerful presentation of the Christian Gospel and a case for the world’s need for God. And it merely takes faith, like that of a child. 

God I Need YouThe Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the early Christians in Rome in the year AD 56. This is almost 25 years after the crucifixion of Christ in Jerusalem by Roman officials at the behest of the Jewish religious leadership team, and then His resurrection and appearance to over 500 people over 40 days before the amazing experience of Pentecost (Acts 2) where the Holy Spirit like a rush of a mighty wind was unleashed on the early disciples.

By AD 56 the Roman Christian church was already widely known (1:8) and Paul was eager to minister to the Christians there for mutual strength and blessing (1:11-12). His divine calling as an apostle to the Gentiles (the non-Jewish world), made him anxious to preach the Gospel to Rome (1:13-15).

This letter is a formal presentation of the fundamental principles of the Christian Gospel. Paul addresses both the Jews in Rome and the Gentiles who were coming to the New Way. He had already planted churches from Syria all the way to Greece and Macedonia, it was one of his later letters of guidance, instruction and encouragement.

He was on an ambitious mission. And he left us a clear articulation of this message and the world’s need for God.

Even a child can understand the message.

Roman’s Theme:  Gospel of Faith
The over-arching theme of the entire letter as a Christian doctrinal treatise is stated in Romans 1:16-17:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile). For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”

As there were disputes at this time across the growing Christian movement about the extent of grace and requirement for retaining Jewish ceremonial practices, the truth of all truths demanding attention by Paul was the true doctrine of justification. Justification (salvation), or forgiveness and right-standing in the eyes of God, is through faith alone, not our actions. We live, really live, here and for eternity, by way of God’s grace and forgiveness, not by any acts or keeping of rules and law.

Lest anyone be confused, the Scriptures state that salvation is:

  • of God – Psalm 37:39, John 1:12, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8
  • by and through Christ – Acts 4:12, Hebrews 2: 10, 5:9, Romans 10:9-10, Galatians 1:4
  • not of the works of men – Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 3:10, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 3:5.

Additionally, God’s gift of salvation covers the past, present, and future. The person who believes and receives Christ’s sacrificial (in our place) death and resurrection has already been redeemed (forgiven) from the guilt and penalty of past sin, is now presently being delivered from its power, and will ultimately be freed from sin’s presence in the future.

In simpler terms: Faith in Christ frees us from any burden of past, present and future sin, wrong-doing and separation from God. The guilt is on Him, in our place. He frees us. Does this give us permission or license to sin? Of course not. In fact, we are now obligated to obedience, to good and righteous behavior. We are not now perfect, but being delivered out of darkness. We now need to yield and surrender ourselves to God.

We are under new management.

Chapter 1. The Non-Jews (Gentiles): Guilty
Wicked men suppress the truth (1:18). God has already shown his power and deity through what He has created. People have no excuse for not honoring God or giving thanks (1:20-21). Claiming to be wise, they became fools and worshiped false idols (1:22-23). God therefore gave them up to their own selfish ways, lusts, impurity and dishonoring of their bodies, even sexually as men and women, exchanging natural relations for unnatural (1:24-27). Though they should have known better, they ignored God, so He gave them up to a base mind and to all manner of improper conduct.

Chapter 2. The Jews: Guilty
And who are you to judge? In passing judgment you do the very same evil (2:1-3). Both the Jew and the Gentile will be judged for their wickedness. Holy God shows no partiality. For all who have sinned without the law (Gentiles) will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law (Jews) will be judged by the law (2:9-12). God judges the secrets of men. Real obedience to God is a spiritual matter of the heart, not legal symbols or outward actions (2:16-29).

Chapter 3. The World: Guilty
So what advantage has anyone, even the Jew? While they were entrusted with the oracles of God (God used the Jews to deliver His Word through the prophets and ultimately the world’s savior, Jesus Christ), their own wickedness serves to show the goodness and justice of God (3:1-5). No, there is no special advantage to anyone – “None is righteous,no, not one” (3:9-10). There is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of meeting God’s holiness. We are only saved or justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption/forgiveness which is in Jesus, received only by faith (3:22-25). So there’s no need for boasting on the basis of our works. All of us (Jews and Gentiles) are able to be saved simply and only through submissive faith (3:27-30).

Simple, Good News
The Gospel is good news. Even a child can understand it. God loves us and gave us a gift to find our way back to Him. Our good actions may be good but will never be good enough to save us and restore us to right relationship with God. It is merely pure faith in the saving death and resurrection of Jesus. Now give thanks for that and worship the one true good, loving, and Holy God.

Do you have the faith of a child? Are you teaching this Gospel to others, your children, and your grandchildren?
For no human being will be justified in His sight by works of the law…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…a man is justified by faith apart from works of law. – Romans 3:20, 23-24, 28

Categories: Abundant Living, Devotion, Faith, Family, Fathering, Forgiveness, Israel, Jesus, Old Testament, The Church, Theology

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