Saturday, December 15, 2012

Romans 1-3

hey everybody!  so today's text is Romans 1-3.  i'll share my thoughts, then i'd love to hear from you, either in the comments below or on facebook.

1) i love how this letter starts off.  seriously, verses 1-6 are essentially "hi, my name is paul, Jesus is awesome, and here's the gospel."  i want to be able to introduce myself like that (and by that i mean, point away from me to the One worthy of attention).

2) v. 15 is huge in my understanding of the gospel.  most of us who grew up in church learned that the gospel is all about how Jesus saves the lost, that it's what gets you in from the outside, that it's for non-christians to become christians.  while this is true, what radically changed my thinking is that paul says he was eager to preach the gospel (the greek verb there is our word "evangelize") to the christians.  why in the world would paul preach the gospel to the christians, if its just what gets you in the door?

the thing is, its not just what saves you at the start.  paul later speaks of the gospel as being what saved us at the first, what we are now standing on, and what will carry us through to the end.  the gospel is the basis on which everything else about christianity is built; it is the spring from which all of the Christian life flows.  the way we do marriage is all about Jesus and His church.  the way we do finances is all about Jesus being generous to us and Him being better than money.  the way we eat, play, talk, work... everything we do is an outworking of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

3) from 1:18 all the way through 3:20, we are shown the depravity of humanity, just how evil we really are without God.  paul first shows that all the gentiles (non-jews who didn't have the law of God) are justly condemned by their wickedness, and he points out that the root and greatest offense of this wickedness is that they have set up other things as their great treasure, their 'god' they sacrifice for (see 1:25).  what's really scary to me is not that God is angry against this, but that He leaves them alone, "giving them up to dishonorable a debased mind."  theologians call this the passive wrath of God; that is, it's not the tornado and fire from heaven to consume them that we think about when we think "wrath of God."  it is God letting them go their way without Him, not turning them from their evil before they run out of life.  that really scares me.

paul then moves on to show that those of us who may read through the end of chapter 1 and say "that's right! go get those evildoers, paul!" - he shows that the self-righteous are no less guilty and under judgment.  this culminates in a series of quotes from the Old Testament about how no one, jew or gentile, are righteous before God.  paul says the point of this 2-chapter-long beating of our pride is so that "every mouth may be stopped and the whole world held accountable to God."  no one gets out scot-free. 

do you think you have an excuse?  do you feel like someone you will escape God's judgment and wrath, other than by Jesus?  think again.  please, for God's sake, think again.

4) the best part is, the turning point comes at 3:21ff (ff means "and following").  this is where the good news starts.  the previous bit is the bad news that shows us that we all need good news.  the good news is that what we lack, God has provided in Jesus.  Jesus paid the price we owed and could not pay; He bore the wrath we had earned so that we gain the right-standing before God that He deserves.  this is good news!  (btw, "gospel" is an old english word meaning "good news").  and this will be the topic of the rest of the book, and the rest of our lives.  i hope you're looking forward to more on this as much as i am.

like i said at the top, i'd love to hear from you, what God points out to you in His Word.


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