Learning from Romans 1-4
1:1-32 - ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith’ (16). Do you think it was easy for Paul to maintain such commitment to Christ, such confidence in Christ? What kind of world did he live in? – A world of ‘ungodliness and wickedness’ (18-31). Many times, Paul could have given up in despair – ‘There is too much ungodliness and wickedness all around me. How can I go on?’. When you feel like giving up, when everything seems to be so difficult, remember Paul. Remember his longing to ‘impart some spiritual gift’, his desire to ‘reap some harvest’ his eagerness to ‘preach the gospel’ (12-15). Let us say, with Paul, ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14). Let us be ‘set apart for the gospel of God’ (1).
2:1-29 - None of us can ‘escape the judgment of God’. None of us can ‘presume upon the riches of His kindness’(3-4). We dare not come to God like the Pharisee, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other men…’. We can only come to Him with the prayer of the tax collector, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ (Luke 18:11-13). We must not pretend that we are ‘righteous’. We must confess that we are ‘sinners’ (Luke 5:32). Sinners, lost, dead – We must hear this ‘bad news if we are to come to a true appreciation of the Good News: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), ‘The Son of man came to seek and save the lost’ (Luke 19:10), ‘God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved’ (Ephesians 2:4-5).
3:1-31 – We are sinners – every single one of us. There are no exceptions – ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. When we see ourselves as we really are – sinners – , we come to see that there is no way for us to earn God’s love. We will never deserve to be loved by God. His love is always ‘a gift’ – ‘the redemption which is in Christ Jesus’ (23-24). Through ‘faith’ we look away from ourselves to Christ. We rejoice that ‘His blood’ was shed for us. We receive from Him the forgiveness of our sins. This is the love of God. This is His gift. He gave His Son to be our Saviour. He gives salvation to all who trust the Saviour. ‘By grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8). No ‘boasting’ (27) – Rejoice in your Saviour!
4:1-25 - Salvation is not a ‘reward’ to be ‘earned’. It is God’s ‘gift’ (4-5). Salvation comes from the Lord. ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son’ (John 3:16): Without the love of God, the gift of God, the Son of God, there can be no salvation. The way of salvation does not begin with the word ‘I’. Jesus Christ is the Way. He is the Saviour. Salvation is in Him (John 14:6; Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:12). Looking to ‘Jesus our Lord’, crucified and raised for our salvation, we are saved and we give ‘glory to God’ (20-25). We rejoice in ‘God our Saviour’ – ‘He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy…’(Titus 3:4-7). Looking away from ourselves to Christ, we learn the truth of God’s Word: ‘it is on the basis of faith that it may rest on grace’ (16). This is Good News!