Thursday, July 9, 2009

Romans 1:1-6

"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ." (Romans 1:1-6, KJV)

This is a photo of my youngest brother when he went parasailing. I added a couple things using Photoshop:



This is another photo of my brother, and once again, I added some elements with Photoshop:



Paul was educated in one of the four leading universities at that time. And Gamaliel, a liberal-minded Pharisee in the Sanhedrin who had trained Paul (Acts 22:3), was one of the greatest, most prominent teachers at that time.

Paul's dad was a Roman citizen. Paul was the 13th Apostle.

A bondslave (verse 1) was one who was totally subservient to his master. The only way a bondslave could be set free from his servanthood was by death.

Verse 2: "through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures": The Old Testament had over 330 prophecies directly relating to the coming of the Messiah.

Verses 3-4: Jesus was both God and Man.

Romans 1:5: "the obedience that comes from faith." Some use the phrase "faith without works is dead" (see James 2:14-26) to claim that salvation is by faith plus works, instead of by faith alone. But Rom. 1:5 says that obedience comes from faith; and that is why faith without works is dead ("dead" = a claimed but false faith; no real faith at all; an intellectually-only faith; those who claim to be Christians but their fruit/works prove otherwise; just saying you believe in God is not enough). Also, Romans 3:28 says that a man is justified by faith APART FROM the Law. True faith will always show itself by its fruits. Paul (Romans) deals with the ROOT of faith; James deals with the FRUIT of faith. Works is the true evidence of faith, not a secondary requirement for salvation.

Approximately 2,000 years ago, in a busy commercial city in Greece called Corinth, a Jewish Christian sat down to write a letter to Christians whom he had never even seen, in the far-off city of Rome. If such a letter had been written by someone else, or in different circumstances, it would likely have soon been forgotten and lost forever. But under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and through God's providence, this ancient letter became the most influential letter in the world.

Augustine was one of those who had been brought to faith through the book of Romans.

In the late 4th century (354-430 A.D.), Augustine, a distinguished rhetorician (an expert in or teacher of rhetoric; eloquent speaker or writer; a person given to verbal extravagance) was under conviction about the truthfulness of Christianity. His mom was a Christian. Augustine was a brilliant and attractive man who had lived an immoral life, just as many of the pagan intellectuals of his day did, and he could not give up his sin. He kept putting off turning from sin and committing to Jesus Christ.

One day, he was in a garden of a friend's estate close to Milan, Italy, and he heard a child singing the words "tole lege, tole lege" ("take and read"). He had never heard a song with words like that before, so he received this as a message from God. ["...and a little child shall lead them." (Isaiah 11:6)]

Obeying this message, he quickly went to the other side of the garden where there was a copy of the Bible. He opened a random page and began to read the first words his eyes fell upon. They were from Romans 13: "Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (vs. 13-14) This hit home for Augustine, and was what the Lord used to bring him to Christ. Later, he wrote this: "Instantly, as the sentence ended---by a light, as it were of security infused into my heart---all the gloom of doubt was vanished away." ("Confessions," End of Book 8). Augustine became the dominant theologian and the greatest influence on the Church between the days of the Apostle Paul and Martin Luther. And God used a little child and a portion from Romans to begin this process.

Unlike the immoral Augustine, Martin Luther was a pious and earnest monk, whom most would have called a 'good Christian.' However, Luther had no peace of soul. He wanted to please God and be accepted by God. But the harder he worked, the more elusive the salvation of his soul seemed to be. Instead of growing closer to God, he seemed to be moving away from Him. Instead of coming to love God, which he knew he should do, he found himself hating God for requiring an apparently impossible standard of righteousness for human beings. In desperation, he turned to the book of Romans, and he found the solution: "For 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." (Romans 1:17)

Luther realized, by God opening the meaning of this verse to him, that the righteousness he needed was not his own righteousness, but a righteousness of God (i.e., the righteousness of Christ) freely given to all who would receive it. And this was obtained, not by any works of his own, but by faith only, through taking God at His Word and trusting Him fully. Luther did this, and it was then that he was reborn. He wrote: "I had no love for that holy and just God who punishes sinners. I was filled with secret anger against Him: I hated Him, because not content with frightening by the law and the miseries of life us wretched sinners, already ruined by original sin, He still further increased our tortures by the gospel...But when, by the Spirit of God, I understood the words,---when I learned how the justification of the sinner proceeds from the free mercy of our Lord through faith...then I felt born again like a new man...In very truth, this language of St. Paul was to me the true gate of Paradise." (J.H. Merle D'Aubigne, "The Life and Times of Martin Luther, Chicago: Moody Press, 1958, 55-56.)

Later, Luther called Romans "the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest gospel." He taught that "every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, [and] occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul." (Martin Luther, "Commentary on Romans," Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1976, xiii.)

The English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) called Romans "the profoundest book in existence," and the Swiss commentator F. Godet wrote that, in all probability, "every great spiritual revival in the church will be connected as effect and cause with a deeper understanding of this book." (Frederick L. Godet, "Commentary on Romans," Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1977, 1.)

8 comments:

satire and theology said...

Classic photos.

Have a Coke and a smile?

Have a Coke and a snack?

satire and theology said...

Not to be boastful, but your blogging format is looking a little familiar.;)

Not that I came up with it, as we are all influenced.

A lot of my modest overall traffic comes from images.

To others I state...Good luck with that strict academic journal format, as very few make it that way.

thekingpin68 said...

"The righteous will live by faith." (Romans 1:17)

Agreed, as given by the Lord.

satire and theology said...

'The English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) called Romans "the profoundest book in existence...'

Very important for theology.

Jeff said...

satire and theology said...

Classic photos.

Have a Coke and a smile?

Have a Coke and a snack?


LOL!

Jeff said...

satire and theology said...

Not to be boastful, but your blogging format is looking a little familiar.;)


Ssshhhhh!

A lot of my modest overall traffic comes from images.

To others I state...Good luck with that strict academic journal format, as very few make it that way.


Exactly. And, BTW, you have influenced me in a number of ways, Russ.

satire and theology said...

'Exactly. And, BTW, you have influenced me in a number of ways, Russ.'

Uh Oh.;)

Jeff said...

Uh Oh.;)

LOL