Our Text – Romans 1:1-17
Our memory verse
Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek”
The Gospel of God and that Jesus Christ is the center of the gospel, wherein He uses people to spread His gospel around the world.
Paul is the author of this Epistle and begins his letter to the Romans with the longest of his salutations. In verses 1-7 he tells them who he is (1:1), gives them the heart of the gospel (1:2-4), the nature of his mission and ministry (1:5) and addresses the audience he has presumably never met (1:6-7).
In verses 8-15, Paul wants to tell his readers how he longs to visit them in order that both they and he will benefit from each other’s faith. The faith of the Roman Christians had become known probably throughout Asia minor and all the way back to Palestine and Jerusalem. Indeed, the fact that people had bowed the knee to Christ in the capital city was significant for the cause of Christ around the world. For this Paul was extremely thankful to God.
The last two verses 16-17 of our study tells why Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because it has the power to deal with the problem of sin and provides a person with a right standing with God, which is impossible for people to do on their own.
Perhaps nothing is as disheartening on a trip as finding out you spent the last several hours traveling in the wrong direction. A group of college guys did exactly that on a long trip home for the holidays. What should have been an 18-hour trip turned into a 22-hour trip. Have you ever thought you were making good time on a trip only to discover you were going the wrong way? If so, what tipped you off? What did you think of your navigating skills once you realized you were going the wrong way?
A Pharisee named Paul had a change of heart. He went from killing Christians to putting his life on the line for the cause of Jesus Christ. What caused him to change his mind? Jesus Christ and the power of the gospel radically changed Paul. Our study will help us understand the gospel and Jesus Christ in five distinct areas:.
First – Jesus is the Commander of the Gospel Mission – (Romans 1:1)
A. Jesus Confronted Paul
The apostle Paul, the writer of Romans, was a Roman citizen by birth (Acts 22:25-30). He was born and raised in Tarsus, about 350 miles north of Jerusalem. He was a Hebrew and the Hebrews (Philippians 3:5), which means he spoke Aramaic and retained traditional Jewish customs. Paul’s parents sent him to Jerusalem to learn from the renowned teacher Gamaliel (Acts 5:34). He taught Paul according to the perfect manner of the law (Acts 22:3); that is, according to strict Pharisaic tradition.
Paul saw himself as a good person. Many people today believe that we’re all going to be in Heaven someday even though we take different roads to get there and some even think that as long as a person is sincere and worships the same God everything will “come out alright at the end.” Some of these man made roads are:
(1) There are those individuals who revolt against all forms of sin and evil. They are people who pride themselves in their morals, ethics and culture. These people are opposed to abortions, premarital sex, homosexuality and other conditions that are an abomination to God, but they are depending upon their religious heritage, culture, ethics and high moral standards to take them into God’s Heavenly Kingdom.
(2) Many also believe they are bound for Heaven because they have been baptized at birth, dedicated soon after and later confirmed in a solemn ceremony. They partake of the sacraments, rarely miss a church service, sing in the choir and may even teach a Sunday school class. They have been led to believe that these rituals and noble activities will lead them to Heaven. However, they have been misled by so-call “men of the cloth” who are also on the same disastrous road to eternal torment.
(3) Then there are those that absolutely will not accept the Bible as the divinely inspired Word of God. They don’t believe in the Deity or the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. They don’t believe in His sacrificial and atoning death on Calvary’s cross. They don’t believe in an eternal place of torment; but they are ready to listen to every kind of Satan inspired doctrine.
(4) Still another road would be that of the so-called “intelligence”. The people on this road seem to wear their academic “cap and gown” twenty-four hours a day. They are too proud to accept “Thus saith the Lord”; but instead, they bow down before the gods of science, philosophy, modern thought and all the various man-made theories that are turning people away from God.
(5) There is a procrastination road. These people have been the most favored of all because they have heard the Gospel of God’s marvelous grace; they know that they can’t do anything to save themselves; they know that they must be “born again” if they ever expect to be in Heaven, but they think they have plenty of time to get saved. They’re young and in good health so they want to enjoy the pleasures of sin while they can, then when they get old, they can trust Christ as their Savior and go to Heaven. This road is paved with “good intentions” and you can go to Hell by any means at your disposal, but you can only go to Heaven by God’s Way, and God’s Way is through His Son, Jesus Christ.
People will go to hell their own way, but must enter heaven God’s way which is recorded for you and me in Matthew 7:14, “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it”; and John 14:6, “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me”
Paul firmly believed he was serving God’s mission on earth. But that was not reality. Paul fought against God’s mission. He was God’s enemy. However, on his was to Damascus to arrest believers, Jesus Christ arrested Paul. A bright light shone from Heaven, blinded Paul, and knocked him to the ground. When Jesus Christ spoke from Heaven (Acts 22:7), Paul realized that his religious devotion was misplaced. God was unmoved by Paul’s zealousness. In response Paul trusted in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Later, the Lord instructed Ananias to find Paul and disciple him (Acts 9:6, 10-22). The Word continued to transform Paul’s life as he prepared for his apostle ministry.
B. Jesus Chose Paul & He chose you and me also
Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (He died for me).” Why me? British pastor Joseph Parker was asked, “Why did Jesus choose Judas to be one of His disciples?” He thought deeply about the question for a while but could not come up with an answer. He said that he kept running into an even more baffling question: “Why did He choose me?” You can ask yourself the same question!
That’s a question that has been asked though out the centuries. When people become painfully aware of their sin and are overcome with guilt, they cry out to Jesus for mercy. In joyous wonder they experience the truth that God loves them, that Jesus died for them, and they are forgiven of all their sins. It’s incomprehensible!
I too have asked, “Why me?” I know that the dark and sinful deeds of my life were motivated by a heart even darker, and yet God loved me! (Romans 5:8). Jeremiah 17:9 tells us the human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. I was underserving, wretched, and helpless, yet He opened His arms and His heart to me. I could almost hear Him whisper, “I love you even more than you loved your sin.” It’s true we cherished our sin. We protected it. We denied its wrongdoing. Yet God loved us enough to forgive us and set us free. You can asked, “Why me?” It’s beyond my understanding. Yet, I know He loves me and He loves you too!
Paul began his letter to the Romans with a simple statement of his relationship to Jesus Christ. He called himself a servant of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1), meaning he played the role of a slave, Jesus Christ owned Paul and called the shots in his life. As a Pharisee, Paul strove to make himself look good. As a Christian, Paul strove to please Jesus Christ, the Commander of the mission to spread the gospel.
Paul rightly identified himself as a slave of Jesus Christ, but that didn’t mean he spoke without authority. He quickly pointed out that he served Christ as an apostle too (Romans 1;1). According to the New Testament, a man had to meet two qualifications to be an apostle: (1) he had to be an eyewitness of the resurrected Lord (Acts 1:22; 1 Corinthians 9:1), and (2) the Lord had to commission him for apostolic service. Jesus Christ appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus and subsequently called him into His service (Acts 9).
The Lord clearly identified Paul’s specific ministry calling. He said of Paul, He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15b). After several years of preparation, Paul indeed traveled far and wide as the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 13- 28). During these years Paul faithfully preached to the unsaved and encouraged and exhorted believers through his letters. He wrote the book of Romans in Corinth on his third missionary journey, likely in the winder of AD 57 or perhaps the early spring of AD 58.
Paul viewed his apostleship with utmost seriousness. He described himself as separated unto the gospel of God (Romans 1:1). To be separated meant he was set apart for the work of the gospel of God. God called Paul away from all other endeavors so that he might preach the gospel of his Commander, Jesus Christ. God took proud, self-reliant Paul and humbled him. As a result, Paul tuned his focus from himself to Christ. He devoted his life to the gospel of Christ so that others might have life and might themselves become strong witnesses for Christ.
Second – Jesus is the Center of the Gospel Message – (Romans 1:2-4)
Since the church at Rome was predominantly made up of Gentiles, Paul wisely added that the gospel message he so diligently preached has its roots in the holy Scriptures, a reference to the Old Testament (Romans 1:2) The gospel was not a new message. Rather, it was the culmination of God’s plan that He determined in eternity past (Revelation 13:8) and revealed in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15).
Who is at the center of this plan? Jesus Christ is (Romans 1:3). There is no gospel without Jesus Christ. Being fully God, He came to earth as a fully human descendant of David, meaning He was qualified to be the Messiah, the Savior of the world. After Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, God the Father declared (Him) to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).
So, what is Paul saying here? Simply that Jesus rose from the dead and then lived by the power of the Spirit before ascending to Heaven. God then highly exalted Jesus (declared to be the Son of God) for willingly dying for the sins of the world (Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus’ humiliation on the cross led to His exaltation by the Father.
Everyone Needs Jesus
Cambridge University professor J. S. Whale received a letter from a man who wrote that he and his wife were in their mid-sixties and saw no need for Jesus. They had never visited a church, had no belief in God or a future life, and yet had been happily married for 40 years. They were highly respected, and they did their best to make this world a better place to live in. So, the writer wondered what religion could possibly offer them? How Dr. Whale answered that letter, I don’t know.
However, I do know that Jesus said He had come to offer “life” – life that is more abundant than anything this world can offer (John 10:10). Unlike the termporary nature of so much that we experience now, the life He offers is everlasting (John 3:15-16). As we move into our older years, sooner or later our strength diminishes. We may suffer from a painful illness or some crippling ailment; we may be unable to care for others, or for ourselves; we may experience the loss of those we love; and the shadow of oncoming death will grow darker.
When the sea of life is calm, there seems to be no need for a storm-subduing Captain in our little ship. But trouble and death come to all of us. To deny our need of God is to deny reality. Everyone needs Jesus.
Third – Jesus is the Commissioner of the Gospel Messengers – (Romans 1:5-7)
Matthew 28:16-20, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and exaltation did not end His work regarding salvation. In fact, all that work laid the foundation for Christ’s current ministries. Jesus is now the commissioner of the gospel’s messengers. He sends believers around the world to share His good news. Christ commissioned Paul face to face. Paul considered it a gracious gift to be commissioned by Christ to share the gospel (Romans 1:15).
The goal of Paul’s work as an apostle was to bring about obedience to the faith in the people he met (Romans 1:5). The words obedience and faith represent two ways to look at the same response. A person cannot obey God without faith, and faith will show itself in obedience. And a believer who has faith in God will obey Him by sharing the gospel wherever Christ sends him. So, Paul’s ministry focused on reaching people for Christ so that they might in turn reach others for Christ. Christ’s name was magnified throughout the nations by such a focus.
Paul went on to address the believers in Rome specifically. He said they were the called of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:6). That phrase conveys the idea of ownership and means sthe Roman believers were called to belong to Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20). They were added to God’s family and enlisted in Christ’s workforce as messengers of the good news. They were saints, or set-apart ones, who existed to accomplish Christ’s work on earth.
Fourth – Jesus is the Controller of the Gospel’s Movement – (Romans 1:8-15)
In these 8 verses, the Apostle Paul reveals 9 traits of genuine Christian character that tell us in no uncertain terms What Every Christian Should Be. This morning for these few minutes that we have together, let’s place ourselves alongside the great Apostle Paul and see how we measure up. Notice with me What Every Christian Should Be.
Romans 1:8 – – Every Christian Should be Thankful.
(1) As Paul begins writing to the Romans about his motives, he tells them that he is thankful for them. Notice that these people were the talk of the entire world. Everywhere Paul traveled, the people were talking about those Roman believers. Instead of being jealous, Paul was thankful! He could praise the Lord whether it was part of his ministry or not!
(2) Every one of us could learn a lesson from this. I think that God would have His children to be a thankful people. In fact, I know that a thankful spirit is the Lord’s will for every single one of us, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. We would all do well to learn to be more thankful for the Lord’s blessings in our lives!
(3) Many Christians are not very thankful today. How does one go about cultivating a thankful spirit? I think the real answer lies in placing Jesus Christ at the center of all that we do. If you make Him your sufficiency, then you will always be satisfied. If, on the other hand, it takes material and physical blessings to make you thankful, then you are likely to be depressed and defeated. The secret lies in being satisfied with Jesus, Philippians 4:10-13; 1 Timothy 6:6-9; Hebrews 13:5)
(4) There is another application here that I would like to mention before I move on to the next truth tonight. I believe that every Christian and every church should have the same testimony that these Roman Christians had. These people were known everywhere for their solid faith and lifestyles. The same should be true of Angelica Baptist Church and every individual as well. Whether we are at home, on the job, at the market, or anywhere, there should be that testimony that marks us as belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 1:9a – Every Christian Should Be Committed.
(1) Paul now tells the Romans that he is totally committed to the Lord. Every word he uttered, every thing he wrote, everywhere he went, Paul was a living witness to total surrender. This certainly explains the reason behind Paul’s great success. Notice the word “serve”. It is the same word that is translated “worship” in other parts of the New Testament. There is no greater form of worship that can be rendered unto the Lord than pure, heart felt service and devotion to Him.
Romans 1:9b – Every Christian Should Be Prayerful.
(1) Paul’s ministry was primarily that of preaching the Gospel, However, he had a secondary ministry that was just as vital as the first. Paul had a ministry of prayer. That is, he made prayer a priority and the Roman believers were never taken off Paul’s prayer list. (Ephesians 3:14-19; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-11). Paul was a man of prayer. His praying wasn’t selfish, but rather it was always spiritual and it was on behalf of others instead of himself.
(2) What a lesson for the church! How much of our praying is selfish in nature? “Lord, help me”, “Lord, bless me and my family”.I think the Lord would have us to be engaged in a ministry on intercessory prayer. That is, I think God wants His children to be under a prayer burden for others, Galatians 6:2, Romans 15:1. God would have you and me involved in a prayer ministry that touches the lives of others, Ephesians 6:18.
Romans 1:10- Every Christian Should Be Surrendered.
(1) Paul didn’t stop with prayer for others, but he also prayed that he might be the instrument of God in answering that prayer. His desire was to travel to Rome, but Paul was willing to surrender his will to the will of the Lord. This was repeated at other points in the ministry of Paul, Acts 16:6-7. God wants us to be willing to place His will ahead of our own.
(2) A heart like Paul’s is a heart that The Lord can use for His glory, because it is a heart like the one Jesus had. A heart that knows no higher goal than pleasing the Father at all times, John 4:34; John 8:29. God give us all a heart like that! Imagine what the Lord could do with a church filled with people who were totally sold out to the will of God ahead of everything!
Romans 1:11 – Every Christian Should Be Usable.
(1) As Paul continues to reveal his heart to the Roman Christians, he tells them why he wishes to come to Rome. He wants to share with them the gifts that God has given him. It is as if Paul is telling the Romans, “God has blessed me with some special things. I want to come to Rome and share them with you so that you might grow in the things of the Lord.” It tells us in no uncertain terms that Paul wanted to be usable to the Lord in His work.
(2) Paul isn’t referring to the actual gifts of the Spirit, because they are given only by the Spirit of God. Neither is he referring to the gift of salvation that can only come by faith in Jesus. What Paul is saying is that he is willing to come to them and be used of the Lord as the Lord sees fit. Paul isn’t saying that he wants to go there and take over. He just wants to go to Rome and be used of the Lord to be a blessing to someone.
(3) This is a goal that every Christian should try to achieve. There is a great need today for people in the church and community who are not primarily interested in their own agenda, but who’s main goal is just to be usable to the Lord. All they want is to be a blessing to those around them. Can you honestly say that you life is a vessel that God can use? 2 Tim. 2:21.)
Romans 1:12 -13 – Every Christian Should Be Humble and Fruitful.
(1) Not only does Paul desire to be a blessing to the Romans, but he knows that they will be a blessing to him a well. Notice that with this man, it isn’t all about him. He is just as aware that they have things to share with him also. All of us need to be reminded quiet often that we all have plenty of growing to do. Even Paul felt this when he wrote to the Philippian church, Phil. 3:12-14. He knew that he had not attained perfection and that he needed those around him to get the work done. When you are in a position of total dependence on people, you realize just how important they are in your life. God help us all to remember that we need one another very desperately!
(2) Paul reminds them that he is interested in glorifying the Lord. He has been used of the Lord to bear fruit all over the known world. Paul says that he would like to travel to Rome so that he can get some fruit there also. His desire is not to build up himself, rather it is to glorify the Lord! Whether the fruit you bear for the Lord is manifested in your attitudes, your activity, or in the addition of souls to the Kingdom of Heaven, you need to know that you fruit glorifies God like nothing else can, John 15:8. How does the Christian go about bearing fruit? John 15:1-8, simply by abiding in the Vine.
Romans 1:14 – Every Christian Should Be Obligated
(1) As Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, he felt a deep debt to those who needed the hear the Gospel message. This debt Paul felt is seen in every area of his ministry. In regard to the lost, Paul had this to say, Rom. 10:1; Rom. 9:3. This is a man who is driven. How else could he endure the things he had endured for the cause of Christ? 2 Cor. 11:24-28. Why did Paul do these things? Because he felt that he was a debtor to every lost person in the world. He felt a great need to share the Gospel message with them.
(2) As Christians we are indebted as well? We aren’t in debt to God, for the gift of salvation we were given was a perfectly free gift. We are, however, indebted to those who are perishing about us. We hold in our hands the answer to the problem of sin for them. We hold in our hands the remedy for the disease that is killing them. Every believer in this room tonight needs to remember that we owe a debt to every person who lives around us, Mark 16:15.
Romans 1:15 – Every Christian Should Be Eager
(1) As Paul closed this section, he tells the Romans that he is “ready” to go to Rome to preach. The word “ready” means “eager”. Paul is saying, “I can’t wait until I get to Rome so that I can preach the Gospel there also.” In other words, Paul is excited about his call and his commission. He is an excited Christian!
(2) Every Christian should be eager about serving the Lord. Isn’t it true that we often lack that air of excitement when it comes to the Lord’s work? I mean, we really get into the things of the flesh that we like whether it be hunting, fishing, racing, football, or anything else you can name. But when it comes to serving the Lord, where are the people who are lining up to go into the world and share the Gospel? We need believers in this day who are excited about the things of God.
(3) That word “eager” also implies a sense of urgency. Paul knows that he only has a limited time to carry out the Lord’s work in his life. He also knows that those who need to hear the Gospel are running out of time. We too, need that same sense of urgency about our service for the Lord. We need to realize that one day soon our lives will end. Then, it will be too late to work for the Lord. Then it will be too late to bear fruit for His glory. If we are to work, then we must do it now, for this is the only time we have.
Fifth – Jesus is sthe Conveyor of the Gospel’s Might or Power – (Romans 1:16-17)
Picking up on the theme that the gospel is for everyone, Paul stated that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth (Romans 1:16). Paul was anxious for the opportunity to preach the gospel in Rome. He understood that the gospel unleashed God’s power to save the lost. He was Exhibit A, after all, of the gospel’s power. When the gospel changed his life, Christians found it hard to believe that Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor, was converted (Acts 9:26).
The most notable example of power in Paul’s day was the Roman army. The Roman soldiers used brute force to beat their enemies into submission. They enforced Roman rule by terror, slaughtering any people group who tried to resist them. By comparison, the gospel’s power brought deliverance and freedom, hope and peace.
Jesus then, is the conveyor of the gospel’s powerful might. Through Him, God gives the believer the power over sin and death. He declares the believer righteous and alive instead of sinful and dead (Romans 1:17). Righteousness is being right and doing right by God’s standards. To be righteous is to be upright, just. The condition for receiving this righteousness is faith, while the catalyst for growth as a believer is also faith. That is why Paul used the phrase, from faith to faith (Romans 1:17). From first to last, the Christian life is a matter of faith in God.
I will close with the following story entitled “A Person Is The Pathway” Acts 4:12 says, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” The story is told of the pilot of a military plan that was forced to parachute into a jungle in southeast Asia. How could he possibly find his way out? A local man saw what had happened and came to the pilot’s rescue, slashing through the tangled underbrush. The frightened pilot cried out, “Where’s the road? Where’s the way out?” The rescuer shouted back, “No road! I’m the way! Follow me!” The pilot trusted the man, who led him through the jungle to safety.
Some people have a difficult time accepting similar words spoken by the Lord Jesus. He said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Critics call this teaching intolerant and divisive. But because the Son of God said it, and the Word of God records it, it is true no matter how much it is challenged by man. Faith in Jesus is the only way to eternal fellowship with God, and as Pastor Ford says, “God is keeping the books”.
The pathway to God is not found by following a creed, developing moral character, or attending church. It’s found by trusting Jesus to forgive our sin and reconcile us to the Father. When we open our hearts to the crucified and risen Savior, we are on the only pathway that will bring us home to God. John 14:6, “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me”
No one can bypass Jesus and get to Heaven.