To listen to the audio of this sermon, click here.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:1-2
In our Bible Survey we come to a major new section. We have surveyed the first five Books of the Bible: The Law. We have gone through the twelve History Books of the Old Testament and the five Books of Poetry. We went through the five Major Prophets and the twelve Minor Prophets. We have surveyed the four Gospels and the one History book of the New Testament: The Book of Acts. Now we come to the Epistles. There are 21 Epistles written to churches, or individuals. The last Book of the New Testament: Revelation, is in a unique category of its own: Apocalyptic writing. In this Bible Survey, so far we have completed 44 Books of the Bible. We have 22 to go. Today we will deal with the first of the Epistles. In so many ways Romans can be regarded as the greatest of the Epistles.
13 of the 21 Epistles were written by the Apostle Paul. These are called the Pauline Epistles. During his Missionary journeys, Paul wrote letters to the Churches at Thessalonica, Galatia, Corinth and Rome. While a prisoner in Rome, he wrote his letters to the Churches at Ephesus, Colossae, Philippi and Philemon. After his first imprisonment and release, he wrote two letters to Timothy and one to Titus. These are what we often call the Pastoral Epistles, although they were written to Missionaries.
Who Was Paul?
Like his namesake, Saul, Israel's first king, (Saul was Paul's Hebrew name; Paul was his Greek name), Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5). Paul was also a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37; 22:25). Paul was born at the time of Christ's birth, in Tarsus (Acts 9:11). Tarsus is described as an important city (Acts 21:39). Tarsus was in the Roman province of Cilicia, in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Paul spent much of his early life in Jerusalem as a student of the celebrated teacher Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). Like his father before him, Paul was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6), A member of the strictest Jewish sect (Philippians 3:5). Present at the stoning of the Deacon, Stephen, the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:58), Saul of Tarsus was notorious for his hatred of Christians and persecution of the Church (Acts 9:13-14).
Converted on the Road to Damascus
On his way to Damascus, on a mission to arrest followers of Christ, the pharisee Saul was confronted by the Risen Christ who struck him blind, off his horse, onto the ground, where the Lord rebuked Paul and commanded him to arise and go into the city where he would be told what he must do (Acts 9:1-8). Miraculously converted and his sight restored, he was baptised and immediately began proclaiming the Gospel of Christ (Acts 9:20).
Preparation for Ministry
After escaping from Damascus (Acts 9:23-25; 2 Corinthians 11:32-33), Paul spent three years in Arabia, South East of the Dead Sea (Galatians 1:17-18) in study and preparation for the ministry. Then after labouring for three years in Tarsus and one year in Antioch, Paul became the great Missionary to the Gentiles.
Missionary to the Gentiles
On three missionary journeys, he founded many churches and wrote his Epistles. The combination of Roman citizenship, Greek education and Hebrew religion, prepared him for his work, but he regarded none of these as qualifications (Philippians 3:8), but trusted in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ alone and the Apostleship he had received from the Lord Himself (Romans 1:1,5). More than any other individual, Paul was responsible for the rapid spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Paul declared: "In mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ. And so I have made it my aim to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man's foundation." Romans 15:19-20
En Route to Jerusalem
Paul had evangelised throughout Syria, Cyprus, Asia Minor and Greece. Now he had collected an offering for the poor in Jerusalem and was about to sail there to deliver it to the starving and suffering believers. "But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem." Romans 15:25-26
Rome - Capital of the Empire
Rome was the capital and most important city of the Roman Empire. Founded in 753 BC along the banks of the Tiber River, Rome was over 20 km from the Mediterranean Sea. However, until an artificial harbour was built later at Ostia, Rome's main harbour was Puteoli, over 240 km away (Acts 28:13). At the time that Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, the population of Rome was over one million people. At least a third of these were slaves. While Rome had some magnificent buildings, such as the Circus Maximus and the Forum, there were vast slums surrounding the city. On the Day of Pentecost there were visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes (Acts 2:10). Many Christians from various parts of the East had also migrated to the capital city, some of them Paul's own friends and converts (Romans 16).
The Greatest Epistle
Despite the ravages of centuries of warfare, over 14,000 letters, dating to the Roman times, have been discovered by Archaeologists. A typical letter ranges from 20 to 200 words. A letter from Cicero of 2,500 words has been discovered and Seneca's 4,000 word letter was an all-time record for the Roman Empire. The Apostle Paul's average Epistle was 1,300 words. However, his letter to the Romans, at over 7,000 words, is his longest Epistle. Indeed the Epistle to the Romans is the longest letter that has been discovered from the ancient world.
The Epistle to the Romans
The Epistle to the Romans reads more like a lecture than a letter. It is remarkable for the exceptionally long opening and closing greetings. Romans is also set apart from Paul's other letters because here he is writing to a church, with whom he had had no previous contact. Not only had Paul not founded the church in Rome, but he had not yet visited it. The Epistle to the Romans is also far more intellectual than Paul's other writings. Some see Romans as Paul's Last Will and Testament. He did not know how much longer he would be free to travel and speak, for he had been warned that persecution and prison would come. Some see Romans as a handbook on objections to the Gospel, faced by the church in Rome at that time. It is recognised as the most concise Theological treatise of the first century.
Strategic Mission Base
Rome, as the capital of the Empire, was a strategic base for the fulfilment of the Great Commission. Paul also saw Rome as the gateway to Spain in the West. Having planted self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating congregations in every major centre of population in the Eastern Mediterranean, Paul was now setting his sights on the Western hemisphere of the Roman Empire. Jerusalem was his first base of operation. Antioch was his second congregation and sending base. However, Antioch was so very far from Spain. Rome would logically be his next base for missionary activity into the unreached mission field of Spain. Paul wrote that he wanted to come and minister to the church in Rome.
Sin in the City
Rome was a huge metropolis, a hot-bed of homosexuality. Out of the first fifteen Roman Emperors, fourteen were practising homosexuals. With leaders engaged in depths of depravity and perversion, the court was debauched. Rome was the gilded and haughty cesspool of every foul sin and perversity. The depravity of man, (as pictured in Romans 1:18-32), had reached its depths in Rome. Children were being disobedient to their parents. There was rampant vice and violence. Paul was deeply concerned that the church did not become corrupted by the society in which they lived. The Apostle Paul tackles these sins head-on: "For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the Creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man - and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonour their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them." Romans 1:18-32
Ministry to the Romans
Paul was not sure whether he would be able to arrive in Rome, so this Epistle to the Romans is his ministry to the Romans, hopefully in preparation for his arrival there, but if not, the message he would preach and teach, were he able to visit their congregations. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Paul that he may be arrested and put on trial at any moment. He did not know whether he would be able to achieve his ambition to preach in Rome and so the Epistle to the Romans reflects Paul's determination to communicate with the believers in Rome.
Jews in Rome
The original believers in Rome were probably Jewish pilgrims who had travelled to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. However, in AD 49, the Emperor Claudius had expelled the 40,000 Jews in Rome from the city. The Roman Historian, Suetonius, reported that Claudius had expelled the Jews for instigating riots against the followers of "Chrestus" (probably a reference to Christ). Throughout the Book of Acts, we read of numerous riots and opposition raised by Jews against the Disciples of Christ.
Jewish Hatred for Christians in the Book of Acts
"But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, 'It was necessary that the Word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.'" Acts 13:45-46
"But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their region." Acts 13:50
"But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren." Acts 14:2
"Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead." Acts 14:19
"But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason and sought to bring them out to the people." Acts 17:5
"But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the Word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds." Acts 17:13
When Was Romans Written?
Paul wrote Romans shortly before his visit to Jerusalem with the gifts from the Gentile congregations (Romans 15:25, Acts 24:17). Paul wrote the letter to the Romans towards the close of his third Missionary journey, therefore, most likely, in AD 56, certainly before AD 57.
From Where Was Romans Written?
Paul wrote the Epistles to the Romans from the city of Corinth, as evidenced by his reference to the house of Gaius (Romans 16:23) who Paul describes as his host and the home where the whole church of Corinth met, "Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you…" Also in Romans 16:23, Paul refers to: "Erastus: the Treasurer of the city, greets you…" The deaconess Phoebe is referred to as the messenger entrusted with delivering this letter to the Romans, "I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also." Romans 16:1-2. Cenchrea was the nearest port city to Corinth.
Assaulted, Arrested and Accused
After Paul returned to Jerusalem bearing an offering for the needy in the church there, he was falsely accused by the Jews (Acts 21:27-29), savagely beaten by an angry mob (Acts 21:30-31) and arrested by the Romans. "Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the Temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, 'Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the Temple and has defiled this holy place.' (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the Temple.) And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul and dragged him out of the Temple; and immediately the doors were shut. Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. He immediately took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the commander came near and took him and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and he asked who he was and what he had done. And some among the multitude cried one thing and some another." Acts 21:27-34. So when he could not ascertain the truth because of the tumult, he commanded him to be taken into the barracks.
Incarceration, Storm and Shipwreck
Two Roman governors, Felix and Festus, as well as king Herod Agrippa, did not find him guilty of any crime. However, pressure from the Jewish leaders kept Paul in Roman custody. After two years of uncertainty, the Apostle exercised his right as a Roman citizen and appealed his case to Caesar. After a harrowing journey (Acts 27:28), including a violent, two-week storm at sea that culminated in a shipwreck off the Isle of Malta, Paul eventually reached Rome. After his release, he ministered widely and was arrested again under the persecution of the Emperor Nero and suffered martyrdom at Rome on the Ostian Way, AD 67.
Augustine, Luther and Wesley
The great Church Father Augustine was converted through studying the Book of Romans. It was from studying and teaching through the Book of Romans at the University at Wittenberg, that Dr. Martin Luther was converted to Christ and inspired to launch the Reformation. John Wesley was converted while hearing Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans read at St. Botolph church, on Aldersgate Street, in London, in 1738. The great Protestant Reformer, Professor Martin Luther, described Paul's letter to the Romans as: "The most important Book in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian's while not only to memorise it word for word, but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul."
The Master Key to Understanding All Scripture
William Tyndale in his prologue to his translation of the Book of Romans into English, quoted from Martin Luther: "This Epistle is the principle and most excellent part of the New Testament and most Evangelion, that is to say glad tidings and what we call the Gospel and also a light and a way into the whole Scripture… the sum and whole cause of the writings of this Epistle is to prove that a man is justified by faith alone; which proposition, whoso deneith, to him is not only this Epistle and all that Paul, writeth, but also the whole Scripture, so locked up that he shall never understand it to his soul's health. And to bring a man to the understanding and feeling that faith alone justifies, Paul proves that the whole nature of man is so poisoned and so corrupt, yea and so dead concerning Godly living, or Godly thinking, that it is impossible for him to keep the Law in the sight of God."
God's Great Plan of Redemption
Romans is Paul's fullest, grandest, most comprehensive, panoramic statement of the Gospel. All the Reformers saw Romans as the God-given key to understanding all of Scripture. In the Book of Romans, Paul brings together many of the Bible's greatest themes: Sin, Law, Judgement, Eternal Destiny, Faith, Works, Grace, Justification, Sanctification, Election, the Plan of Salvation, the Work of Christ and of His Holy Spirit, the Christian Hope, the Nature and Life of the Church, Israel in the purposes of God, Church and World History, the Meaning and Message of the Old Covenant, the Duties of Civil Government and Christian citizenship, the Principles of Personal Godliness and Morality. From the vantage point granted by the Epistle to the Romans, the whole landscape of the Bible becomes open to view and Revelation of the parts of the Bible become plain as a whole counsel of God. The study of the Epistle to the Romans is vitally necessary for the spiritual health and understanding of the Christian.
Creation, Conscience and Christ
God speaks to us through General Revelation in Creation, through the conscience, He has placed in each soul and through His Special Revelation through Scripture and in the life and teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Justification by Faith
Paul makes it clear that Justification by Faith is not a new doctrine, because, both Abraham before the institution of the Mosaic Covenant and David, who lived under the Mosaic Law, were justified apart from works. Israel has been set aside because of her unbelief. But God has not completely turned His back on the Hebrew. A remnant will be saved and in time all of Israel will return to God. Man's Justification before God rests fundamentally, not on the Law of Moses, but on the mercy of Christ.
Historic Roots of Biblical Doctrine
Although Romans is primarily a work of Doctrine, it builds on important Historic material: Abraham (Chapter 4), David (4:6-8), Adam (5:12-21), Sarah (9:9), Rebecca (9:10), Jacob and Esau (9:10-13) and pharaoh (9:17) are used as illustrations. Some of the History of Israel is also referred to in Chapters 9 to 11. Chapter 16 also provides insightful glimpses into the nature and character of the First century Church and its members.
The Themes of Romans
The overarching theme of Romans is the righteousness that comes from God alone. The glorious truth is that God justifies guilty, condemned sinners, by grace alone, received through faith in Christ alone. Chapters 1 to 11 present the great Theological truths of that doctrine while Chapters 12 to 16 details the practical out-workings in the lives of individual believers, the church and society.
Theological Topics in Romans
Spiritual leadership (1:8-15); God's wrath against wicked people (1:18-32); principles of God's Judgement (2:1-16); the universality of sin (3:9-20); Justification by Faith alone (3:21-4:25); Eternal security (5:1-11); the transference of Adam's sin to all mankind (5:12-21); sanctification (chapters 6-8); sovereign election (chapter 9); God's plan for Israel (chapter 11); spiritual gifts and practical discipleship (chapter 12); the role of government (chapter 13) and principles of Christian liberty (14:1-15:12).
The Day of Judgement
The Day will come when God will Judge the secrets of men (2:16). On the Day of Judgement the test will be: not race, but grace - as evidenced in the inner nature of the heart and its attitude towards the practices of daily life. Salvation is not by race, but by the grace of God alone.
The Law of the Lord is Perfect Converting the Soul
Jews will be judged on the same standard before God as other nations. Except that to whom much is given, much shall be required. Historically, the nation of Israel was entrusted with the oracles of God. But that does not mean that they are intrinsically, within themselves, of any more value in God's sight, than other nations and peoples. The promise was given to Abraham on the basis of his Faith, while he was still uncircumcised. Abraham's real heirs are those who have the same Faith of Abraham, not those who have been circumcised. The Law was revealed to make man understand the Holiness and Eternal standards of Almighty God. The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul (Psalm 19:7). The Law is the schoolmaster that leads us to Christ, that we may be justified by Faith (Galatians 3:24). Sin must be punished. God is Holy. Christ alone is our propitiation.
Chose This Day
There are essentially two ways before us, the broad way and the narrow way, the way to death and the way of life. We cannot be on both roads at the same time. The Law was given for us to know the difference between right and wrong and to prepare us to see our need for the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Saviour. We are condemned by our transgression of God's Law, convicted of sin by the Holy Spirt through the Law of God and we are converted to Christ by the Gospel which is the power of God unto Salvation to those who believe.
Adam and Christ
Death entered the world through one man, Adam. The second Adam, Christ, has undone what the first Adam condemned the human race to. Christ has redeemed His chosen people.
Salvation from Sin
Christ died to save us from our sins. We must hate and forsake our sins. His forgiveness is not freedom to abuse His grace and delve further into sin. We cannot be both servants of sin and servants of Christ. We must choose either one or the other. It is not possible to please Christ and to continue at the same time living in sin and pleasing the world.
Set Free to Serve Christ
We are saved to serve God. We are to be living sacrifices. For me to live is Christ. We are separated from sin, set apart for Christ and sanctified for His service.
Grace, Faith and Works
There is a great struggle between our carnal and spiritual natures. This is a continuous and desperate struggle. The Apostle Paul found unbounded joy when he realised that Christ can do for us, what we can only vainly struggle to do for ourselves. In Christ we not only have our sins forgiven, but the impartation of a new life. The new birth is a reality from God within ourselves. After being saved by grace, received through Faith, we need to walk by Faith. Having been saved through the Spirit we must not seek to live in the flesh, but rather live in the Spirit. This grace of Christ does not release us from the responsibility of doing everything in our power to live right, in accordance to God's Word. There are some fleshly desires that are perfectly natural and necessary. Others are wrong. Those fleshly desires which are wrong, we must abstain from all-together. Others, like appetite, we may enjoy, but be careful to keep within proper bounds. Food can be a blessing. Gluttony is a sin. Rest is a blessing. Laziness is a sin. We are saved by Faith. We need to live by Faith.
The Redemption of Creation
The whole of Creation is groaning for deliverance from decay and death, to be revealed in the Day of God's complete Redemption. God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. If we belong to Christ, no power on earth, or in Heaven and hell, can prevent His bringing us to Himself in His perfect time.
Disobedient, Rebellious and Antagonistic
One of the greatest stumbling blocks is the unbelief of the Jews. The nation as a whole has not only been unbelieving, but bitterly antagonistic to the Gospel. The Jewish rulers conspired to have Christ crucified. At every opportunity they persecuted the Church. Jewish unbelievers made trouble for Paul in almost every place he went. Paul reveals his sorrow for Judah, but points out that this Jewish rejection has been offset by the adoption of the Gentiles and their enthusiastic embracing of the Gospel. The Jews are themselves to blame (10:1-21). The Jews heard the Gospel, but were disobedient and rebellious (10:18-21). But all Israel shall be saved (11:26). Those who are true children of Abraham, those who are the real Israel, shall surrender to Christ and follow Him wholeheartedly.
Not Conformed But Transformed
Romans 12 is a magnificent chapter of the transformed life, reminding us of our Lord's Sermon on the Mount. As new believers, we need to resist conformity to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, by the washing of the Word, by the study of the Bible. This will lead to an irresistible urge to good works, transforming our whole outlook on life and society itself. The Christian life includes: Brotherly love, hatred of evil, especially within ourselves, diligence, joyfulness, patience, prayerfulness, hospitality, sympathy, concern for that which is honourable, peaceable, without resentment.
The Duties of Civil Government
Romans 13 tells us what the duties of Civil government are. Civil authorities are to be ministers of Justice, under God. All authority is delegated authority and is accountable to Almighty God. Civil government is to be a terror to evil, a minister of Justice, executing wrath on those who practice evil. Civil government is not to be a terror to those who do good, but is to protect the Law-abiding.
"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour." Romans 13:1-7
The Structure of Romans
The person of the Gospel - Christ.
The power of the Gospel - the power of God.
The purpose of the Gospel - for Salvation.
The people of the Gospel - everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
The plan of the Gospel - the Just shall live by Faith (Romans 1:17).
Sin, Salvation, Saviour
The first three chapters of Romans describe the hell of sin.
The last five describes the Heaven of Holiness.
The intervening chapters describe Christ, the Way.
Total Depravity in Romans
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world and death through sin and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." Romans 5:12
"For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, nor indeed can it be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Romans 8:6-8
"As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable. There is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes." Romans 3:8-18
Man by nature is corrupt, perverse and sinful throughout. The whole of man's being has been affected by sin. This corruption extends to every part of man, his body and soul, his mind and will. As a result of this inborn corruption and our sinful choices, the natural man is enslaved to sin, a child of satan, rebellious towards God, blind to truth, corrupt and dead in sin. Consequently, men have cut themselves off from the God of Heaven and have forfeited all rights to His love and favour.
Unconditional Election in Romans
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called; these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." Romans 8:28-30
"…that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls… I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy and I have compassion, on whomever I will have compassion. So then, it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy." Romans 9:11,15
"…I have reserved for Myself 7,000 men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Even so then, at this present time there is a Remnant according to election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace." Romans 11:4-6
God was under no obligation whatsoever to provide salvation for anyone. However, by His grace and mercy, God has chosen to save many, by the Father's act of election, by the redeeming work of the Son and by the renewing work of the Holy Spirit. While Christ's saving work was limited in that it was designed to save some and not all, it was not limited in value, for His Redemption is of infinite worth and is completely effective in securing salvation for all whom the Lord chooses.
Irresistible Grace in Romans
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." Romans 8:14
The Holy Spirit never fails to bring to salvation those sinners whom He personally calls to Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit, which is accomplished through regeneration, renews the will so that the sinner spontaneously comes to Christ of his own free choice because of the new nature he has been given. As his mind is enlightened by the effectual call of the Holy Spirit, the renewed sinner freely and willingly turns to Christ as Lord and Saviour. In this way, the one that had been dead in his trespasses and sins is drawn to Christ by the inward supernatural call of the Holy Spirit who through regeneration makes him alive and creates within him faith and repentance. The irresistible call of the Holy Spirit is invincible, in that, it can never be thwarted or refused and it never fails to bring those whom God has predestined unto spiritual, abundant and eternal life and true faith in Christ.
Perseverance of the Saints in Romans
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? …for I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35-39
The elect are not only redeemed by Christ and renewed by the Holy Spirit, but they are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God. Nothing can separate God's people from His eternal and unchangeable love. Those who have been predestined unto eternal glory are assured of Heaven.
Key Words in Romans
Law is mentioned 72 times.
Sin is mentioned 48 times.
Faith is mentioned 40 times.
Lord appears 43 times.
Christ appears 65 times.
God is mentioned 153 times.
Forgiveness and Freedom
We have two major problems: Sins and Sin.
I need forgiveness for my actions (sins).
I need to be saved from the guilt of my sin for what I have done.
I also need deliverance from my nature (sin).
I need to be saved from the power of sin, from what I am.
Justification, Sanctification and Glorification
In the Book of Romans, Paul demonstrates that the Gospel declares unto us a Salvation that is past tense, present tense and future tense.
If we are Christians:
We have been Saved from the penalty of sins (our actions). We are fully forgiven. Spirit.
We are also being Saved from the power of sin (our nature). We are daily freed. Soul.
We shall be Saved from the presence of sin (in Heaven). We are eternally delivered. Body.
The Son of God died instead of me so that I can be forgiven. This deals with my guilt.
The legal word, Justification, sums up this past tense aspect of our Salvation.
Justification: Just as if I had never sinned.
Jesus Christ lives instead of me, for my deliverance. This present continuous aspect of our Salvation can be called sanctification. This deals with the power of sin.
One day, our Lord Jesus Christ will return to this world in glory and He will raise the living and the dead. In our new Resurrection bodies, we will be freed from the very presence of sin - in Heaven. This future tense of our Salvation can be called Glorification.
"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" Romans 11:33
The Blood and the Cross
The Blood of Christ deals with what we have done - it cleanses us from our sins.
The Cross of Christ deals with what we are - it strikes at our capacity for sin.
The Return of Christ will deal our very inclinations and temptations to sin.
Past, Present and Future
So, in a real sense, if we are Christians, we can speak of our Salvation as being past tense, present tense and future tense.
Past: We have been Saved from the penalty of sins.
Present: We are being Saved from the power of sin.
Future: We shall be Saved from the presence of sin.
"He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free, His Blood can make the foulest clean, His Blood availed for me."
"Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the Faith - to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen." Romans 16:25-27
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa