As we begin an eight week study on the first eight chapters of the book of Romans, I will be writing blogs that go along with my teaching. But there is nothing that can replace getting into a Small Group and together with a few brothers and sisters in Christ, ruminating on the scripture. We want our groups to be profoundly relational. We also desire our groups to be biblically oriented. It is the truth that will make you free.
It is not too late to get into a Small Group. If you’ve not yet been invited, look at our Community Life display in our lobby and get connected. I believe this will be a wonderful adventure as we look at and experience the radical nature of grace. Enjoy this blog.
Salvation is everything Jesus purchased for us through His death and resurrection. Therefore Paul says,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:16-17)
The Greek word Sozo—“salvation”—is an all-inclusive word that summarizes everything that Christ provided and continues to provide for us through His death, burial, and resurrection. It’s forgiveness of sins, healing, deliverance, and prosperity and it is effective not just for the moment we believe but for our entire life. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save (sozo) the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14-15, brackets mine). When one is sick, he/she should exert their faith by calling the elders (spiritual leaders) of the church and welcome prayer.
Therefore, we must understand that salvation is a package deal. When the Scripture says that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, it’s not just talking about how to be born again and have your sins forgiven. It also means that the Gospel—the grace of God—is the power of God unto healing, deliverance, prosperity—unto everything that comes to us from and through Jesus for a life-time.
Romans is talking about our relationship with God. It’s how we relate to God based on grace (what Jesus did) instead of performance (what we do). Satan tries to get us convinced that we must earn the things of God, to make ourselves our savior, to put our faith in what we’ve done instead of faith in Christ as our only means of receiving from God. Instead of coming right out and telling people that God doesn’t heal, prosper, deliver, etc., Satan deceives many of us into thinking that we must do something in order to earn God’s provision. Instead of relating to and receiving from God based on His grace, goodness, and mercy, many well-meaning Christians try to earn God’s gift through human effort. Many are deceived into believing that God moves in their lives proportional to their performance. It is true that this is the way Old Testament people related to God. But not we that live under the grace of God.
Paul was preaching against this deceitful idea in Romans. Paul came along and talked about God’s goodness and grace. It’s the goodness of God that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4). It’s the Gospel that has power in it. Since many people relate to God based on fear instead of love, no doubt the immediate response of those Paul was writing to would have been, “But you can’t do this! People have to know how ungodly they are. How will they turn from their sin unless they understand God’s wrath?”
The fact is, God’s wrath has already been revealed intuitively inside of every person.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (Rom. 1:18-19). Paul is speaking of all humanity. Everyone is aware of God’s nature because God has placed it within them.
Each individual has within them an intuitive knowledge of God’s wrath against all ungodliness of men according to Romans 1. In their hearts, people already know that they aren’t God or good, but rather sinners in need of salvation. Even the people who have lived in the most remote parts of the earth and have never had anyone preach the Gospel to them will be accountable to God when they stand before Him someday in eternity. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they (all mankind) are without excuse (Rom. 1:20).
Because they had this intuitive knowledge that there is a God and they’re separated from Him and in need of salvation, they’ll be “without excuse.” For the rest of Romans chapter 1, Paul began explaining how these people—who have this intuitive knowledge of God’s wrath—end up living the way they do.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Rom. 1:21). Once their hearts became hardened toward the things of God, in their foolishness (vs 22), they worshiped animals (vs 23), dishonored their bodies (vs 24), and became idolaters (vs 25).
The point is that you don’t have to literally bombard people with their sin and the fact that they are sinners on their way to hell. You may need to spend some time on that issue in order to make your point and strike that chord in their hearts, but not like the legalistic Jewish approach that condemned people and put many restrictions and bondages on them. It’s the Gospel—the too-good-to-be-true news that God has provided. It’s salvation for us by grace that empowers men to receive the forgiveness of their sins, the healing of their bodies, the deliverance from Satan’s oppression, and whatever else they need, all given freely through Christ.