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Romans 1 One-sie for Wed. Eve

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America as seen through Roman Eyes
Most believe Paul’s letter to the Romans to be the zenith of his writings. While all scripture is divinely inspired and without error, Romans stands as the mountaintop of Christian theology, and one of the most important documents in the history of the world.
While at Corinth, Paul head that a woman named Phebe, an active member of the church at nearby Cenchrea, was planning a visit to the city of Rome. “I’ll write you a letter of commendation to the saints at Rome, Phebe, he said.”
And he did. The Christian skeptic Renan is credited with saying that when Phebe sailed away from Corinth she “carried beneath the folds of her robe the whole future of Christian Theology.” He was right.
The Book of Romans may be broken down like this:
Purpose: To express the nature of the gospel, its relation to the Old Testament and Jewish law, and its transforming power.
Major Doctrine: Salvation
Key Passage: Romans 3:21-26
Influence of the letter: One example—Martin Luther (1515), through preparing lectures on Romans, felt himself “to be reborn.” The entire Protestant reformation sprang from Luther’s experience with Romans.
MAJOR THEMES IN ROMANS
The wrath of God
A righteousness from God
Abraham, a man of faith
The benefits of believing
Does justification by faith promote sin?
Life in the Spirit
The triumph of believing
What about the Jews?
Practical Christianity
The Obligations of love
SALUTATION (1:1-7)
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
7To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:”
Paul identifies himself in three different ways:
1.He was a “servant of Jesus Christ.” He belonged without reserve to the One who confronted him on the Damascus road.
2.He was “called to be an apostle.” Paul did not choose, he was chosen by God Himself.
3.He had been “set apart.” He was set apart by God to serve in the interests of the gospel.
His purpose in writing (vv. 2-6) was to establish his apostolic authority. He believed, along with the Prophets, that Christ Jesus had been the fulfillment of God’s promise in the O.T. to send a Redeemer.
Paul offers in vss. 3-4 two affirmations regarding Jesus:
1.With respect to His fleshly existence or incarnation, He was descended from David.
2.With respect to His present status, He was “Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The dual words “grace and peace” that he uses in the salutation combine a Christianized form of the Greek and Hebrew greetings. Real peace comes only as a result of the grace of God. Grace is what we receive; peace is what we experience as a result.
HE HAD LONG DESIRED TO VISIT ROME
8”First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
11I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. 13I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
14I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.
After thanking God for the Roman Christians, Paul informs them of his longtime desire to visit them. His reasons for wanting to come were:
1.He wanted to share some spiritual blessing that would strengthen them.
2.He wanted to participate in the gospel harvest in Rome.
Next, Paul magnifies the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."
These passages strike to the core with incredible clarity the message of the gospel—it is the saving power of God. It is the “Power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (v. 16).
And the Apostle is very clear that the gospel is not simply a display of God’s forgiveness for sin. It brings with it total deliverance from the results of Adam’s sin.
First, we are:
Justified, which means deliverance from the penalty of sin—being set right with God. Then we are:
Sanctified, which means deliverance from the power of sin—growth in holiness. And third:
Glorified, which means deliverance from the presence of sin—transformation into His likeness.
GOD'S WRATH AGAINST MANKIND
Next, Paul talks about the wrath of God and His judgment on sin:
18 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness…”
The Greek verb tense is “The wrath of God is currently and ongoingly being poured out on mankind.”
Romans 1: 19-3:20 is a lengthy elaboration on this opening statement.
Paul states that the revelation of God’s righteousness in the gospel and the revelation of His wrath are continually taking place at the same time.
That is, God’s righteousness is being revealed at all times through the preaching of the gospel of salvation. And God’s wrath is always being revealed through His abandonment of man to the consequences of his sinful choices (v. 18).
GOD’S REVELATION THROUGH NATURE (vv. 19-20)
19 “Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
The lost pagan world had an opportunity to know God through His revelation of Himself in nature (v. 20). God, says Paul, has disclosed Himself in nature. Man could even learn of God’s eternal power and deity by observing what He had made.
The refusal to acknowledge Him or render thanks to Him brought judgment.
Three observations can be made here:
1.God is the revealer, and nature is the medium of His revelation.
2.God’s revelation in nature does not guarantee a positive response.
3.God’s revelation of Himself in nature establishes the minimal basis for every person’s responsibility to Him.
The message in Romans is that people may respond to God’s revelation in two ways: in faith or by rejection, by a yes or a no. No is the answer of rebellion, whereas faith is the response of trust and commitment.
First, ARROGANCE is revealed in vv. 21-22
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
The moment man refuses to glorify or to thank God, darkness creeps in.
“Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…”
The claim to be wise drips with arrogance. In rejecting the knowledge of God available in creation, people inevitably claim to be wiser than God.
“…and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”
IDOLATRY followed the refusal to acknowledge God as Sovereign Lord. Notice the tragic decline in the idols they chose: From man to birds to animals, and finally to reptiles (vv. 23, 25).
GOD’S JUDGMENT FALLS (1:24-32)
IMPURITY TAKES OVER
We are told 3 times in Romans 1 that God “gave them over” to their sinful desires. God gives up those who give up Him.
“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
People are free to receive or reject God’s revelation. However, they are not free to do so without consequences. Verse 24 mentions the “sinful desires of their hearts.” When grace is lifted off of the human heart, only evil comes forth. Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”—Matt 15:19
Next follows the 2nd “giving over” on God’s part:
“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.”
And how did those “shameful lusts” manifest themselves?
SEXUAL PERVERSION
“Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
Notice the adjectives God uses to describe same sex sexual unions: unnatural, lustful, indecent, and perverse.
Paul describes this sexual impurity as “degrading…their bodies with one another.” These passages make the following observations about homosexuality:
1.Homosexuality is an abandonment to “shameful lusts” (v. 26).
2.Homosexuality is “unnatural” (v. 26).
3.Homosexuality involves “indecent acts” (v. 27).
4.Homosexuality is sexual perversion, and it results in a serious breakdown for those involved (v. 27).
DEPRAVED REASON
For a third time in five verses, Paul wrote that when people disregard God’s revelation in nature, He gives them over to the normal consequences that follow. In verse 28 Paul declared that God gives them over to a “depraved mind.”
“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.”
Turning from the light of revelation prevents a person from thinking correctly about the issues of life. “Depraved or reprobate mind means, “void of judgment.” Once God’s revelation is rejected, the ability to think correctly about the issues of life becomes flawed.
It is impossible to understand the moral world we live in when we detach ourselves from the God Who created it all.
Given up to impurity, sexual perversion, and a reprobate mind, Paul next paints a sobering picture of the lifestyles of the God-rejecting Gentiles by listing 21 negative qualities (vv. 29-32) of those abandoned to their own sinful natures.
29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
Is this not where we are in America?
No, we’re even further down the road of depravity, for not only do we approve of those who practice these things, we are forcing such approval through hate crime legislation, social pressure, and ostracism if you don’t applaud these things.
America must have an awakening or she will experience increasing levels of judgment.
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