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THE STORY OF GLORY: HOW GOD MAKES HIMSELF KNOWN IN THE BIBLE

BOOK VII: THE EXPLANATION OF THE GOSPEL:

LETTERS TO THE CHURCHES: I/ PAUL’S LETTERS

A. Romans: The Gospel Examined

 

Glossary: Some terms to remember:

-epistle: a letter; Paul’s letters reflect the general pattern of greeting, thanksgiving, main message, final exhortation

-justification: to be declared right by God; no longer guilty: a legal term underlying a restored relationship

-in Christ: a favourite expression by Paul in most of his letters to describe the Christian: united to Christ in salvation

 

Key Verse: Romans 1:16-17: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith .

 

Key Thought: A careful statement of the Gospel designed to prevent misunderstanding and encourage transformed lives.

 

Contents:

 

Chapters

 

Key Word

 

Description

 

1:1-17

 

Declaration

 

-Paul’s purpose to preach in Rome is grounded in his confidence in the Gospel as the power of God to save all who believe

 

1:18-4:25

 

Explanation

 

-presented in terms of our need, God’s work in Christ, and the evidence of the Old Testament to support and illustrate the Gospel

 

5-11

 

Implications

 

-certain things that are necessarily true because of the Gospel – peace with God; power over sin; pardon from the curse of the Law; persuasion that it cannot fail; promises that never fail

 

12-16

 

Applications

 

-the life that flows out of redemption

 

 

Week 1: Five Pivotal Passages: Exploring the Themes of Romans:

Monday: Read Romans 1:1-16; 15:15-33.

What is it about the Gospel that drives Paul to preach it?

 


Tuesday: Read Romans 3:1-20

Why does Paul spend so much space establishing our guilt (1:18-3:20)? From today’s reading, what are the main points Paul wants us to know about our guilt before proceeding to explain the Gospel?

 

Wednesday: Read Romans 3:21-31; 5:6-11

Outline the key elements of the work of Christ. Note the “salvation” words – what do they mean?

 

Thursday: Read Romans 9

In light of 9:6, what seems to be Paul’s main concern? How does this explain the large number of Old Testament quotations? Especially, why does he refer to the “remnant”? (see 9:27,29; also 11:2-5,7)

 

Friday: Read Romans 4:18-25; 5:1-5; 8:18-25; 15:4,13

What is the basis for a believer’s hope? Why does this theme seem so important to Paul? What applications does he make of a confident hope?

 

Central Themes:

 

1. Aim: to preach the Gospel: Romans 1:1-15; 15:15-33 – because...

i) the Gospel is the “Gospel of God” (1:1), the “Gospel of Christ” (1:16):the Gospel that originated in God (the Father), concerning His Son, Jesus Christ

 

ii) central to the Gospel is the Person of Christ: the Gospel does what it does, because Jesus is Who He is! (1:3-4)

 

iii) this faith is to be obeyed among all nations: 1:5,14

 

iv) thus: God will be glorified by a united company comprised of Jew and Gentile without distinction (15:15-33)

 

2. Atonement:

a) Necessity: 1:18-3:20; see chapter 7: because of the impact of sin...

i) incurring the wrath of God already: all are worthy of the judgment of God (1:18,32) which God will not hesitate to enact justly (2:1-11)

 

ii) insolent rejection of God: sin is not a problem of ignorance (because of creation and, in 2:13-15, of conscience) but of insolence: 1:24,26,28

 

iii) increasingly degrading, since it magnifies the creation instead of the Creator: 1:29-31

 

iv) inexcusable, for both Jew and Gentile (1:21; 2:1; 3:19-20)


b) Nature: 3:21-4:25

i) Redemption in Christ: 3:21-26; 5:6-11

-what is needed is a revelation of the righteousness of God, which is what happened in the Gospel (1:16-17) – that is, a revelation of the gift of the righteousness of God applied to sinners: so 3:21-23

 

-key “salvation words” that summarize the work of Christ on the cross:

·justified freely by His grace – deals with the guilt of sin: we are declared “not guilty” (no condemnation, 8:1)

 

·redemption in Christ Jesus – deals with the bondage of sin: we are set free

 

·propitiation through faith in His blood – deals with the wrath of God being revealed, that was poured out on Christ instead of on the sinner

 

·remission of sins – deals with the debt of sin: we need to be forgiven

 

·reconciliation (ch.5) – deals with the separation from God caused by sin

 

ii) Righteousness by Faith:

·Purpose: 3:27-31; 8:28-30: no boasting, because not by works but by God’s grace and power (see Jeremiah 9:23-24 in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

-4:16: the reason it must be so: by faith so that it is by grace, and thus sure

 

·Pattern: 4:1-16: Abraham (and David)

-Paul shows that this is fully consistent with the OT: the way Abraham himself was saved

 

-Paul adds a quotation from Psalm 32:1-2; note also Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17

 

3. Authority:

a) Faithful God: Romans 9-11

-how does the Gospel relate to the OT promises and expectations? (See also 3:1-9; 15:8-12, 25-33)

 

-raises the issue of God’s faithfulness: See Romans 9:6: Paul shows...

i) the Gospel did come to Israel: 1:16 “to the Jew first”

 

ii) there is great advantage in having the “oracles of God”, the Old Testament – one knows God’s will! (3:2)

 

iii) the promise did not fail, because salvation in the New Testament is by faith just as surely as it was in the Old (see above, “Pattern”, Romans 4)

 


iv) the promise did not fail, because Jews are being saved –Paul himself! there is no statement ever that all would be saved! It has always been an election of grace, a “remnant”: see 9:27; 11:5

 

v) the OT anticipated what has in fact happened – a widespread rejection of the truth by Israel: see Isaiah 53; Hosea 1-3 (Romans 9:25-26; 10:16)

 

vi) in the end, it is not about being Jew or Gentile: it is about believing – just like the OT said it would be!

 

b) Finished Work: 3:21-26 again; compare selected texts

-it is finished, since Christ has done what we could not do (Romans 8:1-4): there is no condemnation to those in Christ, who walk according to the Spirit

 

-the result is that Paul can use “glorified” in the past tense in Romans 8:30!

 

4. Assurance:

a) power to save in the Gospel: 1:16-17; 3:21

-it has revealed God’s righteousness, and therefore is able to save Jew or Gentile completely

 

b) peace with God: 5:1-5

-not speaking of “peace of God”, for example in Philippians 4:6-7

 

-speaks to the fact that the war is over; the wrath of God that brought us under  judgment from ch.1 is “propitiated” in Christ, and we are at peace with Him

 

c) presence of the Spirit: 8:1-27

-the key difference anticipated in the OT was the coming of the Spirit (Ezekiel 36:25-27; Joel 2:28-32); this has happened; see next week’s “Tuesday” question

 

-but: and one of the key functions of the Spirit is to convince believers that they are the children of God

 

d) promise and hope: 4:17-25; 5:1-5; 8:23-25, 31-39; 15:4, 13

-the only uncertainty is the timing – it is not here yet, or would no longer be called “hope”! But it is the goal of Scripture that we would have such confidence – and the Christian Gospel gives hope through the OT text, assuring us (as we have seen) that God’s Word never fails


Week 2: Five Pivotal Applications: Exploring the Purpose of Romans

Monday: Read Romans 6

Why does Paul see carrying on in sin as contrary to his Gospel?

 

Tuesday: Read Romans 8

What is the role of the Spirit in a Christian’s life? What is the result of His work, and why?

 

Wednesday: Read Romans 12

Describe the godly life in terms of its aims, attitudes, and actions.

 

Thursday: Read Romans 13

How should our life in society reflect our faith in Christ? Why?

 

Friday: Read Romans 14:1-15:7

How does Paul’s treatment of this issue in Rome reflect his earlier emphasis on justification by faith alone?

 

 

 

Key Applications in Romans:

 

1. Reasons for Godliness:

a) aim of redemption: 8:28-29

-from experience, Paul knows that objections like 6:1 will be raised; Paul gives a number of responses to the issue: the Gospel is much concerned with promoting holiness

 

-foundational: Paul’s theology has taught that the Gospel is God’s power and plan to save: in 8:28f, the reason: “conformed to the image of His Son”

 

b) appreciation of grace

i) sin does not serve God and His grace: Romans 5:12-6:2, 16-23

-contrast of 5:12-21 serves to highlight the difference between what Adam did and what Christ did; against this backdrop, grace abounds:

 

-so: in light of this, why does this not encourage sin?

·     the very point of grace was that sin would be overcome

 

·     justification by faith is one very important statement of God’s work in Christ; but it does not stand alone

 

·     where grace has been at work, sin is dethroned

 


ii) by the mercies of God, live: Romans 12:1-2

-there is both a sense of gratitude and relief in this passage – gratitude that God has done what we never could do (see the doxology of 11:33-36), and relief that new life has begun

 

c) anticipation of the Day: Romans 13:11-14 (see“hope” from Week 1, Friday)

-hope encourages holiness: 13:11-14

·     children of the day: behave like it

 

·     put on Christ: application of point of Romans 8, that we are no longer “in the flesh” but “in Christ”: if that is the case, then act like Christ!

 

·     sense of urgency: as those who are looking intently for Christ’s coming we ought to be brushing up on the language and culture of heaven

 

2. Resources for Godliness:

a) Alive in Christ: Romans 6:1-14

-shows Paul’s pattern that godly living is called for in light of what has already been done in us and to us – dead to sin, alive to God

 

-Paul knows that these truths alone do not make us godly: but they motivate us to “stretch our wings”

 

b) Attended by the Spirit: Romans 8

-to become a Christian means to possess the Spirit; consequently, through the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the body!

 

-this help will come in the form of understanding Scripture; fellowship of the saints, and effective prayer

 

3. Rudiments of Godliness:

a) Foundation: Love: Romans 12:3-21; 13:8-10

-what does a godly life look like? foundationally, it is the lesson of love

 

-the specifics of chapter 12 work out the call to be “transformed by renewing our minds’:

·     love is perceptive: a right view of yourself: 12:3

 

·     love is peaceful: an understanding that we are a body: an illustration Paul also develops in 1 Cor.12; Ephesians 4

 

·     love is powerful: it drives us to hate evil, cling to the good

 

·     love is practical: it is not just an attitude or words, but deeds that help

 


b) Faithful Service: Romans 13:1-8

-just as individual believers are to demonstrate their love in the context of the body, they are also constantly aware of living in a fallen world; this, too, calls for love (12:17ff) – but also for faithfulness, obedience to government

 

c) Focus: King and Kingdom: Romans 14:1-15:7

-compare 1 Corinthians 8-10; Colossians 2:10-23

 

-Paul’s answer is to focus on the true essence of the kingdom first of all:14:17

 

-in that light, his answers and principles summarized here include...

·     that God is the judge, and therefore His opinion counts, not ours

 

·     there is a certain individualism that is permitted – be persuaded in your own mind – but with that comes the restriction about applying your persuasions to others

 

·     giving thanks to the Lord is always Paul’s underlying theme: compare 1 Timothy 4:1-6

 

·     think more about your giving account to Christ!

 

·     our aim towards each other is to edify, not destroy, so that with one mind and mouth we would glorify God: 15:6

 

 

4. Results of Godliness: Romans 15:8-14

a) Honour to the Lord

-the aim of salvation is, in the end, the glory of God: no grounds for boasting in 3:27 (compare especially 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Jeremiah 9:23-24)

 

-applies to Paul’s own ministry: wants to add voices of Gentiles to God’s praise

 

-thus Paul’s “one mind and one mouth” of 15:6 is in light of Jew/Gentile divides in the church

 

b) Hope for believers

-15:13 serves as a summary of Romans’ purpose

 

-to that end, we admonish one another – ie. Counsel each other in the ways of the Lord, so that God in everything is glorified

 

 

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