Living in Grace and Faith
Introduction – In this Session, we will explore Romans Chapter 1, verses 14-20 and look at some of the highest and complex theological thoughts regarding humanity’s relationship with God. We will slow down and take our time exploring these verses because of the theological complexity of the subjects we will encounter in this Session. After, we will have a Q&A so that everyone’s questions are satisfied.
In verses 14-20, we see the following movements in the text.
1 – All Christians are obligated to love and proclaim the gospel to all people groups.
2 – All Christians should possess a state a readiness to serve God and manifest His Person to others.
3 – The gospel possesses inherent power to save.
4 – The righteousness of God is imparted to us and lives in us by faith.
5 – The wrath of God is revealed in metered ways in the New Covenant Age and will be revealed in fullness at the end of the New Covenant Age.
a) As Paul continues his introduction to the Church at Rome, he communicates his heart for all people. Just as Jesus Christ died for all the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, those who carry His message are obligated to all people groups.
b) Most English Translations read “under obligation to Greeks and barbarians”. For us to understand this verse, we must consider the context of the culture. When Paul refers to Greeks, he is referring to the education, culture and language of the people of the civilized Roman Empire and not the Greek nationality per se.
c) The reference to barbarians is in the context of people who were not Hellenized in their culture and language. This would be the tribal of people of Britain, Germans, northern Europeans, and east Asians.
d) The reference to the wise and foolish are to be taken in the clear cultural context that people who were Hellenized were educated in philosophy, science, technology, art, culture, and common language. This would have included the learned people like Jews, Romans, Egyptians, Persians, and Hellenized Greeks. The reference to the foolish would be a reference to the unlearned, i.e. the tribal peoples who did not possess the common technology of the great ancient empires.
e) Paul was eager to preach to them because Rome was the center of the First Century world where all people groups intersected. His opportunity to reach all kinds of people was an unprecedented opportunity in his ministry up to that date. f) Notice that the NKJV reads “I am ready” – Paul was ready to serve God, Paul was ready to suffer, Paul was ready to manifest the power of God, Paul was ready to die for Christ.
a) Notice that Paul possesses boldness in his convictions of what he believes to be true about Messiah.
b) The gospel has inherent power, in the message itself. If we consider the scale and scope of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can see that the blood of Christ spans billions of souls and millennia, and every need that any man or woman may have.
c) Salvation understood in the context of the First Century, was understood in the sense that mankind was sick and needed an intervention. Greek philosopher, Epictetus called his lecture room “the hospital for the sick soul.” Epicurus called his teaching “the medicine of salvation.” Seneca said that because men were so conscious of “their weakness and their inefficiency in necessary things” that all men were looking “towards salvation.” Epictetus said that men were looking for a peace “not of Caesar’s proclamation, but of God’s.” Presently, we should consider asking ourselves, “what are saved from?” (Barclay & Guzik).
d) The power of the gospel is released when people proclaim it, and the power released corresponds to content of the message.
e) The power of the gospel is inherent in its content and activated when people believe.
f) First to the Jew then the Gentile – this was Paul’s ministry strategy. Preach to Jews who possessed the knowledge of God, understood the Covenants and the promises of God in waiting for the Messiah. They would have easily understood Paul’s preaching that Jesus Christ was Messiah. Once Paul won a remnant for Christ, he would then shift to focus on others in that city. He would have naturally had helpers in the Jews who received Christ who could help disciple the Gentiles who received Jesus as Lord and Savior.
a) The gospel reveals the righteousness of God, should be understood in the sense that God imputed His righteousness to the sinner who receives it by faith. Greek – dikaiosynē – in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God.
b) The message of the gospel not only gives the hearer a revelation of their sin, but also releases a revelation of God’s great love for humanity. Without the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross, and the faith of believers being joined to that sacrifice, the righteousness that God possess is totally unattainable. It is the most freeing thing to know that God’s righteousness has been given to all who believe.
c) First to last, or faith to faith – This shows us that the righteousness of God lives from faith and only faith from the time we know Christ throughout our whole journey with Him. Roland Kenneth Harrison – “Perhaps what it conveys is the necessity of issuing a reminder to the believer that justifying faith is only the beginning of the Christians life. The same attitude must govern him in his continuing experience as a child of God.”
d) See Galatians 3:1-3 & 5 – You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to
learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
a) The reason humanity needs to be covered and imputed with the righteousness of God, is the wrath of God. The gospel not only communicates God’s great love in pursuing humanity in relationship, but also acknowledges that God will not violate His nature and character regarding His perfection, purity, holiness and righteousness. It is true that God’s demand for righteousness is met in the atonement of Christ and that God is relating to the world through a grace invitation to be in relationship with Him in the New Covenant; however, the wrath of God will be revealed at the end of the New Covenant Age.
b) The objects of the wrath of God are those who have abandoned the knowledge of God. These verses introduce us to what theologians call Common Faith. This is not saving faith, but a common belief that God exists. When nation states stray from this elementary belief that God exists, they are given over to the progressive degeneration of morals, injustice and tyranny. This downward spiral of degeneration is outlined in detail in Romans 1:18-32. The failure of nation states and people groups to recognize the Person of God, invites the judgment of God in the form of immorality, the loss of wisdom, idolatry, depravity, loss of social graces and eventually death.
c) Considering that we are exploring the theology of the wrath of God (orge) we would say that wrath is revealed in God’s judgment. There 5 judgments of God that reveal God’s wrath. 1 – Judgment of Nations (Old Covenant), 2 – Eternal Judgment of the individual (Matt. 18), 3 – Judgment of Reaping and Sowing (Galatians 5), 4 – Judgment of the denial of God (Romans 1), 5 – Judgment of the removal of Grace on the believer (1 Corinthians 5:5).
d) Romans 1:20 makes it clear that all humanity is without excuse because the revelation of God is clearly seen in His creation. God is revealed in all things created, immaterial and living. Humanity itself manifests God’s nature and character in our moral sensibilities, our creativity, our love of beauty, and the need for justice that is inherent in all people groups.