Before we move into the next portions of Romans which will have us look at our natural, sinful selves, I want to recap what we’ve learned thus far. Paul begins his letter with an introduction that is packed with God’s truth that as believers we must submit to: “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God” (Rom 1:1). First, Paul calls himself a bondservant of Jesus because he considered himself to be owned by Christ (Gal 2:20), as all who have come to faith in Christ are. Paul knows he is to be “separated to the gospel of God”, meaning he was set apart, or sanctified, for the particular purpose of preaching the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles.
Next, Paul tells us he was separated to the gospel as an apostle to declare that the promised Messiah had indeed come in the flesh. “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” (Rom 1:1-4)
Paul has established the truth that Jesus is fully human and also fully God. As God’s Son, Christ has reigned with God the Father forever. It is only right, then, that we should bow to Him as “Jesus Christ our Lord”, and serve Him as a bondservant. Jesus Himself said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). He also said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
After declaring who Jesus is—both man and Son of God, resurrected from the dead and deserving of the title “Our Lord”—Paul returns to identifying himself to his readers. It turns out that Paul’s identity cannot be separated from that of Jesus. “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name” (Rom 1:5). It is through belief in Jesus that we have received grace, which is unearned favor, as well as apostleship, which gives us all the authority to speak about salvation in Christ. Paul has been sent by Christ, for the sake of Christ’s name—or for the sake of His honor—to bring about the “obedience of faith”.
Paul’s mission field were the churches and believers He was called to minister to, along with unbelievers. But we are also “called of Christ”, and our mission are the unbelievers all around us. As Christ followers, our minds and hearts are no longer veiled by the darkness of sin. “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:5-6). Since we are also “called of Christ”, we should share His good news in truth because there are many out there sharing a false gospel leading people on the wide road to hell.
Paul’s point in writing the letter of Romans is to lay out exactly what it means to obey Christ’s call to believe in Him. Paul is preparing to present a clear and thorough description of the good news that all can be forgiven for their sin and made right with God forever by faith in Jesus and what He accomplished when He died on the cross. “To all who are in Rome [and everywhere], beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:7) [emphasis added].
We see Paul’s heart in his writings, and he had the humble heart of a servant and a love for all people (Rom 1:8-13). Paul lived with a spiritual focus; he submitted to God sacrificially; Paul served with selfless prayers for all people, especially believers; he willingly submitted his will to the Lord’s will; he desired to strengthen other believers and looked forward to what he might learn from others; he was sensitive to the spiritual needs of others; and his heart’s desire was to bring others to saving faith in Christ.
Paul describes himself as being under obligation not just to Christ, but also to the people Christ has sent him to reach with the gospel (Rom 1:14-15). And Paul was joyous in his obligation; it was his life’s purpose. Paul boldly declared that he is not ashamed of the gospel, even at a time when Nero had Christians killed.
The gospel message is the power from God for everyone who believes it to be saved. Anyone, everyone, who puts their faith in Christ and his death for their sin on the cross will be justified—will be made right with God—and welcomed into God’s family. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’.” (Rom 1:16-17)
Beginning tomorrow, we will look into our need for the gospel. Because without coming to faith in Christ, we are sinful creatures who have turned their backs on God, and will unfortunately be judged by His wrath. The Lord gives everyone more than one chance to believe, but each time someone says “no” their hearts harden. Each of us who believe must share the gospel with others, and that is our obedience as His followers. “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today’, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:12-13) Speaking His truth to others is truly loving one another.