Faithlife Sermons

Living by Faith - Rom. 1:8-17

Romans  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:47
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Opening Illustration:
Five-year-old Jessica became a bit frightened as lightning flashed and thunder cracked just as she was stepping out of her evening bath. The lights began flickering as she was getting into her pajamas. She remembered the other times the electricity had gone out and they had lit candles. Now she asked if she could “please sleep in Mommy’s room” because of the storm.
Before kissing her parents good-night, Jessica prayed: “Dear God, I hope it doesn’t thunder and I hope the lights don’t go out.” After a brief pause she continued, “But I thought it over, and you can do what you want. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
What better way to start our study this morning, than a great example of child-like faith.
We are in our second week of a year long study in Romans.
Two weeks ago, we looked at vv. 1-7, and learned that Paul considered himself to be a bondservant to Christ. (v. 1)
Although he was an elite member of free society, he submitted himself to obedience in Christ.
So, Paul obeyed by faith the Gospel for salvation, and he continued to obey by faith because of his salvation - and took the message of the Gospel that transformed him to others.
In the first 7 verses of Romans, we learned that God’s grace brought us to faith - and real faith always leads to obedience, therefore, each day, we are to walk in obedient faith for His name.
Now, Paul transitions in v. 8, from his typical Pauline greeting, to his desire to visit Rome.
You see, Paul had not yet gone to Rome. but had a desire to do so.
You will find:
1. Paul’s Prayer for Roman Believers (vv. 8-9)
Romans 1:8–9 NKJV
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,
v. 8 - this prayer is not motivated by personal gain from them, but that they are fulfilling his goal in life - that the kingdom of God is advancing throughout all the world - especially in this context the Greco-Roman world.
Paul was thankful that God was working among them, in spite of Paul.
v.9 - We get a glimpse into the heart of Paul as he says, “without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.”
Paul understood, what we often miss, that prayer is just as necessary as teaching or preaching in Christian ministry.
He didn’t just talk about it, but he did it - saying that God was his accountability in the statement. I am constantly praying for you. This was a constant burden of Paul - who likened his concern for the churches to the sufferings he experienced in life.
2 Corinthians 11:24–28 CSB
24 Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. 26 On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; 27 toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. 28 Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches.
We can overlook vv. 8-9, but Paul was genuine and constant as he cared for God’s people.
And this prayer transferred into:
2. Paul’s Plans towards Roman Believers (vv. 10-15
Romans 1:10–12 NKJV
10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
Paul’s passionate prayers carried over into his personal plans.
Paul prayed that he would be able to visit the Roman believers and that his visit would be beneficial to the both the Romans through encouragement and himself through inspiration.
Here recently I took a trip with Brooks and Gordon Green to Kentucky to Duck Hunt and on the hunt we heard some Geese.
It is said that:

When geese migrate they can be seen flying in a V-shaped formation. While to us on the ground it is a thing of beauty, to the geese it is an essential for survival. If you watch them, you will observe that at certain intervals, relative to the strength of the headwind, the lead bird—who was doing the most work by breaking the force of wind—will drop off and fly at the end of the formation.

The reason for this is that the V-formation is much more efficient than flying close; up to 60 percent less work is required! It has been discovered that the flapping wings create an uplift of air, an effect that is greater at the rear of the formation. So the geese take turns “uplifting” one another. By cooperating—working together—the geese can achieve long migrations that would otherwise be exceedingly difficult for the strongest and deadly for the others.

In a similar manner, when believers in Christ actively uplift one another through prayer, sharing material means, and heart-to-heart friendship and caring, they can go further into godliness than if they attempt their pilgrimage alone.

You see, The church is not a gallery where we exhibit the finest of Christians. No, it is a school where we educate and encourage imperfect Christians.
So, Paul had a desire to encourage and be encouraged.
You will notice briefly, v. 10, he says by some means within the will of God.
In essence, Paul was giving a signed blank check to God saying however and whenever, I am ready.
And God eventually took his offer at face value and filled in that check for the maximum amount, and sent him there in chains.
So Paul was passionate about going to be with them.
But, according to v. 13, he was hindered from going. Read along with me there in v. 13:
Romans 1:13 NKJV
13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.
Paul, at various times, wrote that what he wanted to do, was hindered. For example:
1 Thessalonians 2:18 NKJV
18 Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us.
while at other times it was simply not God’s timing
Acts 16:6–7 NKJV
6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.
But God’s timing and permission did not hinder the heartbeat of God’s mission in Paul’s life. Look at vv. 14-15
Romans 1:14–15 NKJV
14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
Here we find (v.14) Paul’s Burden as a debtor.
Paul considered himself a debtor to everyone. To those within the Greco-Roman culture of his day, and those outside that culture. To the intellectual and the ignorant.
So Paul talks about his burden, but also notice his boldness in v. 15 - He says, “as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.”
When he preached the Gospel at Jerusalem, the religious center of the world, he was mobbed.
When he preached it at Athens, the intellectual center of the world, he was mocked.
When he preached it at Rome, the legislative center of the world, he was martyred.
He was ready for that. He was ready to preach the gospel at Rome.
And out of this readiness, we see:
3. Paul’s Proclamation to Roman Believers (vv. 16-17)
It is within these two verses we find the theme of all of Romans.
It is within these verses that Martin Luther woke from his rage to religion and learned of true righteousness from God.
“For a long time, Martin Luther saw only the condemning righteousness of God and hated it. When he saw that that righteousness that condemns when rejected, saves when accepted, the light of the gospel broke into his darkened soul.
Notice with me v. 16
Romans 1:16 NKJV
16 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.
And here is Paul’s belief:
the Gospel was far superior to any religion or philosophy ever known on earth. Paul who was well versed in the ways of the world considered the Gospel to be far superior to Greek logic, Roman power, and Hebrew religion - of which he was not ashamed to proclaim.
In this belief of Paul’s we learn of the supremacy of the Gospel, but also of it’s sufficiency, in that, “it is the power of God unto salvation.”
The world does not need a better system of education, more social reform, new ideas in religion. It needs the gospel.
The gospel message grips the mind, stabs the conscience, warms the heart, saves the soul and sanctifies the life.
And this sufficient message that transforms lives is simple - it is “to everyone who believes.”
People are saved by faith, but faith is not the cause of salvation. The cause of salvation is the grace of God, the will of God, and the power of God working through the message.
And this message is found in v. 17
Romans 1:17 NKJV
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
In it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed. The key word righteousness and it’s synonyms occur fifty times throughout Romans.
It is here that the Reformation sprung. It is here that Luther and so many since has understood how the unrighteous are made righteous.

Augustine wrote, “The righteousness of God is that righteousness which he imparts in order to make men righteous”

God’s righteousness can be understood in several ways:
First, God always does what is right and can be said to have righteousness as one of his attributes (Dt 32:4; Ps 119:142).
Second, since God always does what is right, his actions or activities are sometimes identified as his righteousness (Is 45:8; 46:13; 51:5–6, 8; 56:1).
Third, God’s righteousness is as a gift from him to us, justifying us in his sight.
“Justification” is a courtroom term signifying that a judge declares a person to be “right” or “just.”
It is in the gospel, God reveals his righteousness (his nature, his activity, and his gift of right status) by faith.
Throughout this letter, Paul will explain how God is able to declare sinners to be righteous because of Jesus’s work on the cross.
This righteousness is bestowed from God, who is righteous, to believers, who are unrighteous: From faith to faith emphasizing that the entire process of being declared righteous comes to us from start to finish by faith.
You see:

Faith is the gift of God. So is the air, but you have to breathe it. So is bread, but you have to eat it. So is water, but you have to drink it.

So how do we accept this gift? Not by a feeling, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). It is not for me to sit down and wait for faith to come upon me with a strong feeling of some kind. Rather, faith comes when we take God at his word.

Vine puts it this way: “ ‘From faith’ points to the initial act; ‘to faith’ to the life of faith which issues from it.”
Now, Paul ties in a quote from Habakkuk 2:4 when he writes, “as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
It is said that before this truth reached the soul of Martin Luther it could be visualized him crawling on his knees up the staircase of St. Peter’s at Rome in a vain effort to win righteousness by works of penance. But after learning this truth, it brought him down those stairs on his feet in a hurry and burned itself into his soul, until all Europe rang with the words, “The just shall live by faith.”
Bishop Lightfoot says of this text that the whole law was given to Moses in six hundred and thirteen precepts. David in Psalm 15 brings them all within the compass of eleven. Isaiah reduces them to six, Micah to three, and Isaiah, in a later passage, to two. But Habakkuk condenses them all into one: “The just shall live by faith.”[6]
The whole of Romans can be condensed to this - you are not justified (declared right with God) by anything outside of faith.
So, what do we do with the truth?
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