How do I feel about faith?
How do you feel about faith?
How do we collectively, as the Church, feel about faith?
How do we collectively feel about ‘being just’ and living in faith?
How do we feel about ‘just living in faith’?
Many people think faith may be a helpful protection in case they need it—like a fully inflated spare tire for their car.
Many turn to faith when facing struggles, but then innately turn back to something more “reliable” when a crisis passes.
In the beginning it may have been easier to have faith in God. Adam and Eve spent time in person with God, and they could ask him anything.
But when they disobeyed God, yielded to the deceptive words of the serpent and fell into sin, everything changed – they became aware of good and aware of evil. (See Genesis 2-3.)
God came looking for them but could not “find them” where He expected them to be. God called out to them, but their response was neither good nor expected.
They were hiding from God, behind the bushes and in their nakedness.
To say the least, their Father God got ‘righteously mad’ at them.
Their Father God began to demand some serious answers to why they hid.
God’s wrath was made evident, and Adam and Eve were tossed from the Garden.
They lost their full relationship with God and became stuck in their own sin.
Then they could only catch glimpses of God’s presence and his work in this world as if by squinting with blurred vision or in cloudy darkness.
They needed God to reveal himself—and he often did that in the following ages—to Abraham and his descendants and ultimately in Jesus, who became the Savior from sin.
But many people turned away from God and put their faith only in things they could see, like the moon and stars, or idols that their hands made.
For thousands of years faith was common in human history, until the Age of Reason (Enlightenment) swept through Europe in the 18th century.
Then many people figured they could be faithless.
In the name of “science” and logic, modern thinkers stopped believing in anything they couldn’t see. So having a “just and living faith” became harder.
Do you and I have faith?
Would you and I like to learn more about what faith really is?
Would you and I like to learn more of the Power of God?
Would you and I like to learn more of what the Gospel is?
What about learning more of and about God’s Righteousness?
Romans 1:13-17Amplified Bible
13 I do not want you to be unaware, [a]brothers and sisters, that many times I have planned to come to you, (and have been prevented so far) so that I may have some fruit [of my labors] among you, even as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I have a duty to perform and a debt to pay both to Greeks and to barbarians [the cultured and the uncultured], both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am ready and eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation [from His wrath and punishment] to everyone who believes [in Christ as Savior], to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed in a way that awakens more faith]. As it is written and forever remains written, “The just and upright shall live by faith.”
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
So far in chapter one the Apostle Paul has introduced himself to the church in Rome, which remember was not in any one central place in Rome but was many individual house churches which are scattered throughout the city.
After introducing himself to the church he gave the purpose of his letter, to prepare them for his upcoming visit if it was God’s will.
Paul desired to visit them so they could mutually encourage one another in the faith. Paul also desired to preach the Gospel throughout the vast city of Rome.
Paul’s thankfulness for the faithfulness of the members of the church in Rome, his consistent prayers for them, his desire to meet them and his fellowship with them, and his desire to obtain some fruit among them by preaching the Gospel were Paul’s spiritual service of worship.
Thanksgiving and prayer brought him into the throne room of God, fellowship with other believers built him up in the faith, while their faith was being built up, and preaching the Gospel was the task to which he had been appointed to by God. All these together were Paul’s spiritual service which is worship.
Today, we are going to try to slow down a little bit and only look at two verses in which Paul gives us the theme of this letter he is writing to the church in Rome.
John MacArthur states about these two verses (16 and 17) that faithfully, they, “…express the theme of the book of Romans, and they contain the most life-transforming truth which God has put into men’s hands.”
To understand and positively respond to this truth is to have one’s time and eternity completely altered.
These words summarize the gospel of Jesus Christ, which Paul then proceeds to unfold and explain throughout the remainder of the epistle.”
The overarching theme of the book of Romans is the righteousness that comes from God, the glorious truth that God justifies guilty, condemned sinners by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.
In the two verses that we are looking at today, the Apostle Paul will announce this overarching theme to us and give us a summary of what we have to look forward to in the rest of the book of Romans.
Paul makes four statements in these two verses that I want to examine this morning as he unfolds his theme for us.
Each statement begins with the little word “for” F-O-R.
FOR I AM NOT ASHAMED (Romans 1:16a)
Paul had just finished saying in verse 15 that he was eager to preach the Gospel in Rome, to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Now he opens up this verse by saying, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel…” (Romans 1:16a, NASB95)
What does Paul mean by this statement? He means that he is not only eager to preach the gospel in Rome, but when he comes, he will dare to preach it boldly.
Throughout Paul’s missionary journeys he had endured many hardships in preaching the gospel from both the Jews and the Gentiles.
If you want to read about his hardships and the persecution that he endured for the gospel you can find it in the Book of Acts chapters 13-23.
He was imprisoned, chased out of a couple of cities, smuggled out of some, he was beaten, he was stoned and left for dead, he was laughed at and considered a fool, but none of this stopped him, still boldly proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
When he stood before the Jewish Council in Jerusalem, he was not intimidated by them, nor was he intimidated by the cultured, educated Greeks in Corinth, or Ephesus, or Athens.
Paul was unashamed of the gospel, he never allowed opposition to stop him from boldly proclaiming the gospel.
God had appointed him to the role of apostle to the Gentiles and Paul took this appointment seriously.
Paul knowing the heart of man wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:22-25,
“For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentile’s foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:22–25, NASB95)
Though this was true in the Apostle Paul’s day and remains still true even today, the gospel is the wisdom of God that has provided salvation for men.
Paul never shrunk from the task of preaching the Gospel, and I believe the prospect of preaching it in a city where he had never preached before just made him all the more daring and eager and bolder. He desired one thing and one thing only: to share Jesus Christ crucified, buried, resurrected from the dead.
Unfortunately for many of us today the words eager and bold do not come to mind when we think of sharing the gospel.
When God gives you and me an opportunity to share the gospel, how often do you and I, to the fullest extent possible, actually exercise that opportunity?
I will admit to you that this is even difficult for me when I am one on one with a person or in a small group of unbelievers.
Put me before a crowd of people and I will share the gospel boldly and eagerly, but when in a small group or one on one I must force myself to speak.
Why are we like this?
Because we know that to an unsaved person the gospel can be intimidating and “culturally” offensive and even, to the utmost degree imaginable, repulsive too.
It is so counterculture to the ungodly world that we live in.
Pray and think about it, before we can share the good news, we have to share the bad news and that exposes man’s sin and his lostness, and it shows that we must strip away our pride and it shows that works righteousness, all that we do to try and make ourselves right before God is worthless before Him.
Remember Isaiah’s words concerning man’s good works done in the flesh, he wrote in Isaiah 64:6,
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” (Isaiah 64:6, NASB95)
What is that reality they want no part of?
For the sinner they do not want to hear about their sinfulness, they do not want to give up their pride and they do not want to hear or have revealed that all their alleged good works are worthless, so they respond to the gospel with contempt and then may attempt to rigorously argue against it or become very defensive.
I believe it is this response that keeps many people from sharing the gospel, for fear of what may be said of them, about them, to them, to their very faces, or for the abject and debilitating fear they can’t give one answer for their arguments.
Because of this unpopularity of the gospel many have tried to make it more culturally acceptable.
But if we water down the gospel, minimize its depth of meaning, relevance to our lives, remove the offense of the cross it renders the message of the gospel ineffective, we make light of the offense of sin, removes the need for a Savior.
Paul in his boldness and eagerness to preach the gospel never watered down or tried to minimize what he said about sin or about the Savior.
His heart’s desire was to see men saved, he did not care about his own comfort, safety, popularity, reputation, or even if people ridiculed or imprisoned him.
He did not compromise the gospel that he preached because he knew that the truth of the gospel was the only power available to change the lives of men, women and children for eternity. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because without it, men, women, and children would go into a Christ-less eternity.
FOR IT IS THE POWER OF GOD (Romans 1:16b)
Paul goes on in this verse to tell us why he is unashamed of the gospel and in doing so begins to give us the theme of his letter, he writes, “for it is the power of God…” (Romans 1:16b, NASB95)
The gospel contains the omnipotence of God, only the gospel has the power of God to transform lives.
Only God’s power can save men from sin and give them eternal life.
Paul says, this is why I am not ashamed, this is why I dare to proclaim the full measure of the gospel boldly, because it is the omnipotence of God.
People want to change, they want to feel fulfilled in life, they want their lives to count for something and they spend their whole life searching for, trying to fill that void that they feel in their life.
I know a woman who has been searching to fill that void for much longer than I have had the privilege to know her, she goes from job to job thinking that she will maybe find something that will fulfill her, something that will fill up that void in her life, something that will maybe make her good enough for her God.
What she doesn’t understand is that void can only be filled by the Holy Spirit when she comes in repentance to God and trusts in what Christ did for her on the cross, that He paid the penalty for her sin, that He was buried, and on the third day rose from the dead, triumphing over sin and death forever.
When she believes this the power of God will transform her life and she will find fulfillment for the first time, the void in her life will be filled and overflowing.
Only God’s power can accomplish that in a human life.
Jeremiah the prophet speaking the words of God wrote,
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good Who are accustomed to doing evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23, NASB95)
The Lord is saying if the Ethiopian can change his skin color or the leopard his spots, then we who are used to doing evil can change and do good.
In other words, it is not possible for man to change his own nature, no more than an Ethiopian can change his skin or a leopard his spots.
It is only the omnipotence of God that can overcome a person’s sin nature and provide spiritual life.
The Bible is clear that people cannot be saved, cannot be spiritually changed by what they do, by good works, they cannot be spiritually changed by the church, or by some ritual or by any other human means.
People cannot even be saved by keeping God’s law because as sinners we can never keep it perfectly in our own power.
The law was given to show that we are sinners that fall short of God’s perfect standard.
It was given to show that we need a Savior, a powerful Savior to save us because we are powerless to do so.
What is so absolutely incredible is that God has chosen us, even though we are weak and imperfect, to be the channel of His redeeming and sustaining power when we serve Him in obedience. The gospel is the omnipotence of God to save.
FOR SALVATION (Romans 1:16c)
Paul goes on to tell us that God’s great power is, “for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16c, NASB95)
This is perhaps the greatest display of God’s power when He transforms man’s nature, forgiving his sins, loving him to the utmost (John 3:16-17) giving him eternal life through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Salvation is a word that means “deliverance” or “rescue.”
Paul is pointing out to us that God’s power in salvation rescues or delivers man from his sin and from the ultimate penalty for sin which is separation from God in the lake of fire where the sinner is tormented forever.
Some would prefer that we do not use terms like “salvation” and “being saved” because in our generation they are virtually meaningless to our modern man,
and it is true when we are sharing the gospel, we might have to explain what we mean when we use these words,
but salvation is God’s word,
and I cannot think of one word that better describes what God offers to sinful mankind through the death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Through belief and confession in and of Jesus Christ, through Him alone men, women and children can be saved from sin, from Satan, from judgment, from God’s wrath against sin, and from spiritual death.
Paul says that God’s great power for salvation is available to everyone who believes, to that person who in faith believes the truth of the gospel.
What does it mean to believe, to have faith?
Think about your life you put a great amount of faith into many things.
Just now, as you began to read and absorb this devotional effort, you “sat down in the pew (your office chair, kitchen chair, lounge chair, bar stool) in faith.”
You sat down in the steadfast and immovable faith that it would hold you.
In the same way, you turn on a faucet and get a drink of water in faith that it is safe to drink, you drive across bridges in faith they won’t collapse under you.
Life requires this kind of natural faith.
But when Paul says this salvation is available to everyone who believes or has faith, he is referring to a supernatural faith, produced by God, a faith that is not of ourselves but is a gift of God.
Forgiveness of Sin, deliverance from sin and judgment, deliverance from wrath, and eternal life is gained and lived by faith from God in Jesus Christ.
Salvation is understanding that nothing within us or that we can do can make us right with God, but only what Jesus Christ did for us by taking the penalty for our sin on the cross, dying in our place, being buried, and rising from the dead, walking out of the tomb is the only thing providing salvation and eternal life.
Paul goes on to say that this salvation has no distinction, it is available to all people regardless of nationality, country or race.
God’s offer of salvation is extended to all people, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Paul uses the word Greek to refer to anyone who is not Jewish, any Gentile.
Why to the Jew first, because this is who the promise and the Person of salvation came through, so first only chronologically because God had chosen them as the people through whom the Savior, Jesus Christ would be born.
Through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection salvation was made available to all mankind and we can stand before God righteous through Christ.
FOR IN IT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IS REVEALED (Romans 1:17)
Paul gives us one last great truth of his theme for this book.
He has already informed us that salvation is available to anyone who in faith trusts in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The one who does this in faith will have their life transformed by the power of God and be saved from sin, Satan, judgment, wrath, and eternal separation from God and will inherit eternal life.
But now Paul tells us that in all of this action of God saving us, His righteousness is revealed.
Paul writes, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:17, NASB95)
Faith in Jesus Christ activates the power of God that brings salvation and, in that sovereign, act the righteousness of God is revealed.
This might be better translated the righteousness from God is revealed.
The righteousness spoken of here is not the divine attribute of God, it is not describing to us that God is righteous.
Paul is stating that at that moment of salvation God imparts His righteousness to us.
We are clothed in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ so that we can stand before God justified.
Paul described it this way to the church in Philippi in Philippians 3:8-9,
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,” (Philippians 3:8–9, NASB95)
Paul wants us to understand this overarching theme that righteousness comes from God when we repent of our sin and believe Jesus Christ died for us, taking upon Himself God’s wrath against our sin, He was buried, and on the third day rose from the dead proving that sin was paid for, and death was conquered.
When we believe this in faith God imparts His righteousness to us.
Paul explained it this way to the Corinthian believers in 2 Corinthians 5:21,
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB95)
Paul says this is from faith to faith, a phrase that preachers and theologians have debated for years.
I believe it parallels the phrase in verse 16, “to everyone who believes”
and if this is the case Paul is singling out each believer who has received the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
It is like he is saying from faith to faith to faith to faith.
Paul ends this passage with a quote from Habakkuk 2:4, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17b, NASB95)
Salvation by God’s grace through faith was the plan of God from the beginning.
As one will learn, praying and studying further in Romans,
Abraham was the father of the faithful, because he believed it was credited to him as righteousness,
this is the same with everyone who has exercised genuine faith, from before Abraham and after right up to today, that faith is credited as righteousness.
This statement made by the prophet Habakkuk emphasizes a continuousness of faith.
In other words, faith is not just a one-time act, but instead it is a way of life.
Faith in Savior Jesus Christ justifies us before God because of His righteousness imparted to us, then we live the rest of our life by faith in the Son of God and the promises of His Word to us who believe.
In these two verses Paul has given us a summary of the theme of this letter that he is writing to the church in Rome.
The rest of this book is going to be an unfolding of this theme and a fuller explanation of this theme righteousness comes from God, God in His mercy justifies guilty, condemned sinners by grace through faith in Christ alone.
Paul began this passage by stating he was not ashamed of the gospel then in explaining why he wasn’t ashamed of it he summarized the theme of his letter.
His reason for not being ashamed is because the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes and then becomes the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.
Paul made this statement and lived it out boldly every day.
Did that mean he was loved by everybody? No!
There were Jews and Gentiles who wanted to see him dead, did this stop him from boldly proclaiming the gospel? No!
Paul understood that more important than his own personal comfort was that as many people as possible needed to hear the gospel and have the opportunity to be saved from sin and the judgment that is going to come upon those who have not believed.
God’s challenge to you and to myself in these coming days and weeks is to step out of our comfort zone and share our Saviors gospel with at least one person.
Let me remind you that all you are to do is share the Gospel, you are not responsible for their response that is solely between that person and God.
Let’s pray for each other to “just” be bold, “justly” not ashamed of the gospel.
In the name of God, the Father, and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Father, I pray that, like Paul, I will boldly proclaim the gospel of Christ to all with whom I come in contact. Only in Him is there life and light, hope and love. I know that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, to all who believe on Him Who died and rose from the dead. To Him be all praise and glory, world without end, Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! AMEN