Faithlife Sermons

Romans 1 and 2

Faith: Approaching the NT Book of Romans   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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This week we are beginning in the book of Romans. This is a letter written to Rome by the Apostle Paul. He takes a bottom up approach to faith and who Christ in in the midst of our faith.
We will see him push through a number of theological subjects, ranging from creation, humanity, race, our inner lives, the love of God, division and so on. The first part of the book details ways in which we have tried to find salvation ourselves and then ways God has inserted Himself into humanity to point in the right direction.
Paul shows us the value of faith not to solve our biggest problems but to show us the right solution.
We will navigate our way through the next few months, looking at the faith that God offers to be able to see Christ who is our most compelling solution for life in the world.
As we get into the message
We will see a bold introduction by Paul who describes the world where God has revealed Himself and humanity has ignored Him.
What we will see is that the book of Romans starts with a big picture view and then slowly works it’s way into our own lives and then offers us a solution in Christ that we can’t find anywhere else.
So when we start this morning we see Paul making sweeping historical, theological statements about the state of humanity. And Paul is bringing valuable truth to us, showing us how we have made our decisions and what we need to do to find our way again.

everything we have been searching for has been offered to us in Christ

And what we will see is that however we have seen our lives or humanity or God, we have misperceived. We have not seen far enough. We have settled for what we thought would be enough but have turned our to have found all of it insufficient.
We have searched and looked and investigated but stopped short.
We will see through the book of Romans that it will take nothing less than God coming to us for us to understand faith and value.

Who you are is more valuable than what you realize

Romans 1:7 ESV
To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
again keep in mind that Paul is making sweeping statements about humanity.
This book is written to the church in Rome.
TO a specific audience group of people
But Paul is making weeping statements on creation and it’s relationship with God.
He is going to deliver some difficult words not only to those who have settled for less than Christ but also for the church.
But before he does that (for the next 7 chapters) he wants us to know something about who we are.
He tells the church that they are loved by God and called to be saints.
They are completely and fully loved by God
And that changes how they live.
This is an important starting point.
Because from this place no matter what is said, that reality can’t be taken away
We are entirely loved by God and called to live as saints. Who we are is defined by who God is.
This is really the starting point of faith
God has come to us.
God has changed the idea of what it means to live.

What you do points to more than what you realize

Romans 1:18–23 ESV
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 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 are without excuse. 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. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
The world points to something beyond itself. It points to more. Even in trying to remove the author, we still see His work.
We still see his eternal power and divine nature.
Artist Removing JK Rowlings name.
Doesn’t remove the fact that she wrote the books
Doesn’t remove the creative aspect of her worlds and characters
This is what we have tried to do with God.
But the created order still points back to God
You can’t get too far in the HP series wihtout seeing Rowlings fingerprints on them
Paul is saying the same thing about creation.
We are not only made for more. Everything we do points beyond itself toward Christ.
Thomas Aquinas in his book Summa Theologica talks about the difference between potential and actual
All of creation is potential of what it could be. Nothing in finalized form. Only God is actual. God is finalized form.
Nothing is perfect, only on a spectrum of perfect or beautiful.
Nothing is most or all something.
Only God is.
We are living in potential where God is actual
We live in the potential for what could be
(My snowboarding expectations and measuring out length of snowboard and standing on it in living room)
Is potential.
Trying life without author is potential. We can see what it’s like but the actual is found in God alone
Our desires, our attempts are potential to what God is actual
Our sense of satisfaction and gratitude in the church is not owed to more efficient decision making. It is only owed to the revealed Christ.
When people reject God they begin to worship their desires. Their need for God doesn’t go away, they just try to meet that need through their own means.
The people we like to point to share the same desires we do. They are just expressing them in truncated fashions
But even in the list that Paul gives of things that God gives us over to,
God gave humanity up to lust of their hearts to impurity (v 24)
dishonorable passions (v26)
a debased mind to do what out not to be done. (v 28)
What we find though is that Paul is not looking to make final judgements, he is pointing to the fact that we have exchanged what is good for less than that. We have settled.
Whether we have done it through sexuality or evil or debasement or even as Paul gets into, Religion, we are all trying to find righteousness.
We like to dunk on others who have not yet found Christ but the reality is they are chasing the same potentiality we are.
But in reality we have no room for judgment, no room for self satisfaction that we have made better use of our resources.
We may be quick to duck in our responsibility here but Paul is quick to say that the Jews were not able to break out either through law keeping. Even their way of evading sin didn’t work
Romans 2:21–24 ESV
you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
What do we take from this?
When people exchange the glory of the immortal God for images, our role is not to become angry or to pass judgement but we are warned not to do this ourselves.
People, even in our most base expression of humanity and brokenness, are unbelievably valued and marked by God. And are pursuing righteousness in perverse ways.
Our job is not judgment,
Ours is to show them a risen savior.
To show them a better solution.
We have looked at this list and said, at least I’m not like that.
At least I’m not like the people that God gave over to their desires
who lust after impurity
who are filled with malice
or debased sexuality
or who slander
or who are inventors of evil.
We want to feel better about ourselves. But God gives us no room to do so.
We can have a conversation around where you find your own righteousness based on where you are pointing. If you are pointing to the Other, saying they are not like me and I am not like them. You are self righteous, trying to make a claim for yourself based on your contract with the other. But if you are pointing to Christ then you make no claim on your own righteousness and are inviting other people to look to Him
It has only worked in the revelation of Christ to humanity.
We have tried to figure out God through creation. Doesn’t fully work
Tried to figure out God through behavior. Doesn’t work
Tried to figure out God through sexuality
Through religion
Tried to figure out God through heredity. Doesn’t work
Through tradition. Doesn’t work
Through history. Doesn’t work
Through inner work and therapeutic help. Doesn’t work
When we look to these things to do more than we give them credit for it’s like the college runner who was in a race and thought he had a huge lead.
SO he slowed down and started trying to pump up the audience for his big win
But at that moment someone came in behind and won the race.
He missed it because he stopped too soon.
We are being led to a place where we recognize that we need something more.
Called to not depend on our terms of righteousness but Gods.

The Gospel is better than you realize

Romans 1:16–17 ESV
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. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
We have been looking for righteousness, for our relationships to be set right. And the Gospel is the means for that.
This is not just different thinking or better ideas,
This is the revelation of God on our behalf.
This is about the opportunity for life change and transformation.
TO understand we are loved completely by God
and that our attempts to meet our desires have not worked the way we have wanted to.
The power of God is unleashed for salvation, not only forgiveness, but complete life change.
That is the invitation to Romans.
That is also the invitation this morning. To recognize that the Gospel is better than you realize
Where have you stopped short, what have you trusted to build a righteousness that only God can build?
Why is Paul not ashamed of the Gospel?
Because it is the power of God to do something about our condition. If you have ever hoped for more, this is the invitation.
When we were living in Ohio we would drive from Wisconsin to columbus a few times a year. It’s about 8 hours. One trip we were leaving WI and for some reason the ding that tells you that your door is open got stuck. Even when all the doors were closed the ding still went on. Even when we tried to deal with the fuses the ding still went going. For 8 hours the ding dung
you can turn up the music, but the ding dung
eventually you adjust but it’s still there
you talk over it but its still there
when did the ding go away?
When we got home. When we got to our house and got out of the car
We have lived with the disruption of our own attempts to fix the self
But it will take more than adjusting the volume on the car or ignoring the ding.
We need to find home.
We need a different location
Christ is pulling into the driveway and seeing that we have all together somewhere else to go now.
That’s what we will see in Romans
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