0201 The Reign of Righteousness
Encounter Radio Outline #0201
Air date: 1/06/02
The Reign of Righteousness
by Dr. Stephen F. Olford
Introduction: The key word throughout Romans is the term righteousness, which occurs some sixty-six times. God's whole purpose in revelation and redemption is that men and women should reign in righteousness. The blueprint has been given in the Epistle to the Romans, and therefore it is appropriate that our title for this series on Romans be called "The Reign of Righteousness." Four "reigns" are clearly referred to in Chapter 5, verses 12-21. They are essential to understanding Romans.
I. The Reign of Righteousness (v. 21)
The reign of sin takes us back to the beginning of this epistle. In fact it takes us back to the beginning of time when God created Adam and his helpmate, Eve. Four times in the verses before us Paul tells us that Adam offended God (see 5:15, 17, 18, 20). The word "offend" is better translated "trespassed," and this trespassing came about by disobedience and transgression.
A. There was the Act of Disobedience (v. 19)
Primarily, disobedience is the failure or refusal to hear and heed God's Word. God's instructions to Adam and Eve were clear. The entire chaos and havoc we see in the world today came by disobedience.
B. There was the Act of Transgression (v. 14)
As the federal head of the human race, Adam brought chaos and havoc upon everyone through his personal disobedience and transgression. As a consequence of the reign of sin there came:
II. The Reign of Death (vv. 14, 17)
This reign of death is described in these verses in two ways:
A. Immediate Judgment (v. 16)
The day Adam sinned, he died spiritually, and he also began to die physically. What was true of Adam is true of every son of Adam
B. Impending Condemnation (v. 18)
While judgment brings physical and spiritual death, condemnation ultimately brings eternal death. Thank God, Paul does not leave us at this point in his argument. He goes on to point out that following that reign of death, God introduced:
III. The Reign of Grace (v. 21)
This is the glorious news of the gospel. It is the story of how God, in love, has devised a way of salvation in order that men and women under the reign of sin and death might be brought under the reign of grace and righteousness. The apostle wastes no time in telling us that the reign of grace is rooted in:
A. The Grace of God (v. 15)
Grace is the unmerited favor of God extended to sinful men and women in all their bondage and bankruptcy. Such grace excludes every attempt of men and women to pray for, to work for, or even to hope for salvation. It comes by way of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The reign of grace is not only rooted in the grace of God, it results from:
B. The Obedience of Christ (v. 19)
In concert with His Father's purpose, the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth to accomplish that redemption by the sacrifice of Himself. So the reference to "obedience" in this verse, while including His life, is particularly applicable to His death on the cross. By His obedience unto death, our Lord Jesus Christ won the right to beat back the hostile cosmic forces and so ensure for His people participation in His victory. Where grace reigns we have:
IV. The Reign of Life (v. 17)
Scholars point out that this word life describes that quality of existence that God expects of His children once they have received the free gift of justification (see 5:16, 18). To be justified by God is to be made right with God. This is the reign of righteousness, and this is the supreme message of Romans.
So we find that in the plan of the epistle we have the Reign of Righteousness in relation to: The Salvation of God (Chapters 1-8); The Sovereignty of God (Chapter 8-11); and The Service of God (Chapter 13-16).
Furthermore, we discover that in the first section of the epistle we have Righteousness: Required (1:18--3:20), Revealed (3:21-31), Reckoned (4:1-25), Received (5:1-21), and Realized (6:1-8:39).
Conclusion: In concluding this brief introduction to the Roman epistle one question inevitably confronts us: Are we reigning in righteousness by Jesus Christ? If our answer is in the negative then we are entirely outside of the scope of God's purpose of blessing in time or eternity. If our answer is in the affirmative then we are in a kingdom that will never crumble or cease.
Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
P.O. Box 757800 Memphis, TN 38175-7800
Phone: (901) 757-7977 or (800) 843-2241 Fax: (901) 757-1372
Comments? Send mail to: OMI@Olford.org