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!
5:1-21 - God has great things in store for His people! (a) ‘Much more’ (9-10): ‘Justified by Christ’s blood’, ‘reconciled to God’, ‘We shall be saved by Christ from the wrath of God’, ‘saved by His life’. (b) ‘Much more’ (15,17): ‘The grace of God’ has ‘abounded for many’. In Christ, we have ‘received the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness’. Through Him, we shall ‘reign in life’. (c) ‘More than that’ (3): Our pathway to eternal glory will not be easy. There will be ‘suffering’. God has given us a glimpse of our eternal destiny: ‘grace reigning through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (21). ‘We rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God’ (2). Having caught sight of the heavenly and eternal glory, we see our ‘suffering’ in a new light, the light of ‘God’s love’ (3-5).
6:1-23 - (a) ‘We know that our old self was crucified’ (6) - What a great thing God has done! He has made you ‘a new creation in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). (b) ‘Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus’ (11) - Believe it . This is what the Lord has done: ‘you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit... the Spirit of God dwells in you... Christ is in you... the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you... His Spirit dwells in you’ (8:9-11). (c) ‘Yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life’ (13) - Act upon it’. ‘Walk in newness of life’ (4). Live as those whom God has made new. We are ‘not under law but under grace’ (14). Keep your eyes fixed on the Saviour and your obedience will be Gospel obedience and not merely legal obedience.
7:1-25 - God’s purpose is not easily fulfilled in us. Our battle with sin is extremely intense. There is a great conflict going on within us. ‘The Spirit’ and ‘the flesh’ are at war with each other (Galatians 5:17). God has given us His Spirit - ‘we serve... in the new life of the Spirit’ (6). We are still sinners - ‘I am carnal, a slave to sin’ (14). These are two sides of the one coin. The Spirit is within us yet we remain sinners. Honestly confessing our sin, we say, ‘Wretched man that I am!’. Gladly rejoicing in our Saviour, we say, ‘Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ (24-25). Despite our many defeats, we say, ‘Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (8:39). Wait for ‘the final result’: ‘God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
8:1-39 - Each of us must choose. We can ‘live according to the flesh’ or we can ‘live according to the Spirit’. We can ‘set the mind on the flesh’ or we can ‘set the mind on the Spirit’ (5-6). The new life in the Spirit is just the beginning. God is preparing us for the greater ‘glory that will be revealed in us’ (18). We have ‘the first fruits of the Spirit’. The Holy Spirit is ‘the guarantee of our inheritance’. He is the starter which whets our appetite for the main course! With Him in our hearts, we long for more - ‘an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you’, ‘the redemption of our bodies’, ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God’ (21-23; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3-5). Led by the Spirit, strong in the Spirit, we press on to glory (14,26,17).
9:1-33 - We read about ‘Jews’ and ‘Gentiles’. We learn about salvation. The Jews are not saved because of their nationality. It is ‘not because of works’. The Gentiles are not excluded because of their nationality. It is ‘because of His call’. Salvation comes from God’s grace, not from our good works. It is received ‘by faith’, not ‘by works’ (24,11,30-32). There is for us here a word of warning and a word of promise. Here’s the warning - You can be religious without being saved: ‘not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel... it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God’ (6-8). Here’s the promise - You can be saved through faith in Jesus Christ: Through faith in Him, those who were ‘not God’s people’ became ‘sons of the living God’ (26). Trust in Christ, not in yourself!
10:1-21 - To ‘Jew and Gentile’, God says, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (12-13). The Jews had praised the Lord Jesus: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’. Before long, they were shouting, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him!’ (John 12:12-13; 19:6). We rejoice that the Gospel has now come to the Gentiles. We remember also that God still ‘holds out His hands to Israel’(19-21). Still, Christ says, ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem... How often would I have gathered your children together...’ (Luke 13:34). ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem’, for the advance of the Gospel among the Jews (Psalm 122:6). Pray also for the ‘voice’ of the Gospel, ‘going out into all the earth’ (18). Pray that ‘faith will come as the Word of Christ is heard’ (17).
11:1-36 - ‘You stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe’ (20). In 9:32, Paul contrasted ‘faith’ and ‘works’. Here, he contrasts ‘grace’ and ‘works’ (6). Grace and faith belong together. ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy Cross I cling’ (Church Hymnary, 83) - This is faith, looking away from itself to divine grace. We do not come to God with our religion in one hand and our morality in the other. We hear the Gospel invitation - ‘O come to the Father through Jesus the Son’. Trusting in Christ, we say, ‘To God be the glory! Great things He has done’ (Church Hymnary, 374). It is only when we bow at the foot of the Cross that we are able to say, with Paul, ‘To Him be the glory for ever!’ (36; Galatians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
12:1-13:10 - Here, we have practical Christian living, living the life of love. What can our ‘sacrifice’ be in the light of Christ’s greater Sacrifice of Himself for us? It can only be ‘our reasonable service’, our ‘spiritual worship’. His love calls for our response, the response of love: ‘Love so amazing, so divine, demands (and shall have) my soul, my life, my all’ (12:1; Church Hymnary, 254). Our love for Him can never begin to compare with His love for us. ‘Love is a many splendoured thing’ (12:9-21). Let love direct our thinking, speaking and living - His love, love for God, love for people (13:8-10). Let your prayer be, ‘More love, more power, more of You in my life. And I will worship You with all my heart,... mind,... strength’ (Songs of Fellowship, 392). Worship the Lord - and be changed by His love!
13:11-14:23 - ‘Walk in love’ - We must not fall out over matters in which difference of opinion is allowed (14:5,15). There can be a lot of bitterness over ‘the Sabbath’. There can be so much pride. For some, this is the ‘be-all and end-all’ of Christian faith. They say, ‘We are the Sabbath keepers. They are not!’. Others react, ‘We rejoice in our Christian liberty. They are legalists’. ‘Pharisees’ are preoccupied with ‘the Sabbath’. We must remember that Jesus is ‘the Lord of the Sabbath’. We must let His love flow (Matthew 12:2,10,8,11-12). Let faith be real - not just keeping on the right side of narrow-minded people (23; Colossians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 2:15). Let there be ‘peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’. Don’t think too highly of yourself. ‘Count others better than yourself’ (17; 12:3; Philippians 2:3).
15:1-33 - With Christ’s example, ‘the encouragement of the Scriptures’ and the enabling power of God, let us love one another,‘with one heart and one voice’ (1-6). This is the way of glorifying God. Trusting in Christ, ‘the root of Jesse’, we are blessed by ‘the God of hope’, filled with ‘the power of the Holy Spirit’ - so that we may ‘abound in hope’. This hope comes to us through ‘the Scriptures’ (12-13,4). God’s saving purpose was not only for the ‘dyed in the wool’ Jew. He saved both Jews and Gentiles (9-12). Thank God that Paul was not as narrow-minded as many people are today! God’s blessing is not only for our type of people! Let us learn from Paul. ‘A minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles’, he was always reaching out to more and more people ‘in the fulness of the blessing of Christ’ (16,29).
16:1-27 - Paul was writing to a Church with big problems (17-18). Deeply influenced by the wrong kind of people, the Church gets bogged down in ‘dissensions and difficulties’. Critical, fault-finding people exert an extremely divisive influence. They look after their own interests. They only think about themselves. Nothing else matters to them. They manipulate other people - to get their own way. They go out of their way to get their own way! The problem may be great - but the power of God is greater (19-20)! Strengthened by ‘the God of peace’ and ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ’, let us press on in ‘obedience’ to God, claiming His victory over ‘Satan’. Let ‘the preaching of Jesus Christ’ make you strong for God (25-27).