His Desire
Lesson # 1

            We are going to approach our study in Romans by dividing it into three parts.  The first part spans the first eleven chapters.  The reason it is such a large section is because its aim is broad.  The first eleven chapters of the book of Romans presents Scripture in the light of Calvary.  After introducing himself that is the very first thing he mentions.  What he is about to share is what the prophets had been pointing to all along but could never quite understand.  I Peter 1:9-12  Peter tells us that it was the “Spirit of Christ” that operated in the prophets, like the Holy Spirit in us today.  In their time the Word they were given was not entirely comprehended and the whole meaning behind the Word they were given wouldn’t become clear until the Gospel had become truth.  The day Jesus walked out of the tomb was when it became truth.  That is why he says it was revealed to us not them, it hadn’t happened yet so, of course they couldn’t understand it.  Going back to Romans, Paul’s specific aim right off the bat is to prove that the Gospel message was nothing new but just as Christ said, a fulfillment of the Law.

I.  Scripture in the light of Calvary             ch. 1-11

His Desire                        1:1-17

A.  Called to be                        1:1-4

1a.)      The preacher  v. 1

            Paul introduces himself as a “servant”.  That is important for two reasons; one, know matter who you are in the body of Christ, no matter what your gift, you are first a servant.  The second thing here is the word itself, in Greek it refers to a servant that is enslaved.  Rome was a big city with millions of people, at the time six million or so would have been slaves, that is why he uses that word, they knew what it meant.  Paul is trying to use his own personal testimony to connect with these people.  As slaves they were considered little more than someone’s property, not even really human at times.  But Paul is about to tell them of a different kind of Master, a Master that will value them more than anything.

            There is an OT verse that gives us a picture of what he means, Exodus 21:5-6.  An “aul” was an instrument used to bore through something or simply to place a mark upon something.  Do you have any scars?  Well, that is what an “aul” did, it left a scar or mark.  Most scars may fade with time but they never totally disappear.  This scar seen on a slave’s ear said he belonged to somebody.  Paul over in Galatians chapter six says, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus”.  He had scars from his service of Christ that said, just like that slave, I belong to Somebody.  Proof of his faith could be seen on the outside but he, like all true believers, had a mark “in” his body too, Ephesians 4:30.  We all have a mark of identification called the Holy Spirit.  But you notice something interesting and Paul wanted them to pick up on this, it is a mark you have to choose to receive, salvation is a choice.  That is what the marked slave is pointing to.  OT and NT line up and that is one thing Paul wanted to get across.

            Notice that Paul is not only a servant, he is also “separated”.  Something interesting about the Greek word used here is that we get the English word horizon from it.  You see, when you truly separate yourself from the world the only thing you have left in front of you is Christ.  That is a conclusion he hoped they would draw.  We of course speak English but back then there is no doubt he was painting word pictures for them.  However, the separation he is speaking of was not his own, God had separated him out, like He has all of the “elect”.  God separated him out for apostleship.  His authority came from God.  “Apostle” means one who is sent.  Scripture tells us Paul was sent specifically to the Gentiles.  There are those today who call themselves apostles, they use the term in a very broad sense; we have all been sent into the world by God.  However, with the apostasy we see today I’m sure there are plenty out there that think they are on the same level as the original thirteen.

            Not counting Judas but it is an interesting thing that he was numbered among them, worked miracles, sat directly under the Word of God as it was spoken, but was never really saved.  Kind of makes you wonder who out there is really just another Judas dressed like a preacher?  I heard a preacher one time tell me the very first question to ask anyone before asking them to come pastor a church is, are you saved?  Sounds almost idiotic until you take a closer look at Judas.

            Lastly, we see a word he will use some 60 times, the word “Gospel”.  It means good news.  He makes clear whose good news it was.  He says it is of God.  Man didn’t dream it up the Gospel, it has always been in the pages of the OT, in the form of a promise.

2a.)      The promise  v. 2

            It is in this second verse that Paul begins to, in large part, state his intentions for writing to the Church at Rome.  All through out the OT a promise of redemption is made.  That is what the Gospel is all about, the promise had been made good.  It was just that the Jews because of their corrupt doctrine couldn’t see it.  For that reason Paul got accused by the Jews a lot of preaching or teaching heresy, that this “Gospel” as he called it was a man made addition onto the Word of God.  But here is what Paul wanted Gentiles to understand, God’s method of salvation hadn’t changed.  It was always by faith, faith in the promise God had made to them.  Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise, which the next verse goes on to say.  Gentiles wouldn’t have much of a problem believing that since they weren’t cumbered by a faulty interpretation of OT Scripture.

            The average Jew’s problem was they began loving doctrine more than service.  You look at the typical Jew today and you don’t see someone who is defined by what they believe, you see someone who defines themselves by heritage, culture, and tradition.  Well, what did Jesus have to say about that very thing?  Matthew 15:1-9  They had a tradition they followed religiously, before they would eat they would wash their hands.  This practice was nothing more than ceremonialism, even somewhat superstitious; like Catholics crossing themselves or collecting Mary candles.  But if you didn’t do it you were considered almost heathen.  Practices like these bare no importance because they subjugate the believer.  Some times we are held hostage by false beliefs and those false beliefs negate the Word of God.  Now, Jesus nails that one on another occasion but here cites another human example of loving doctrine more than service.  In the Ten Commandments God says honor your father and mother.  But as was always the case they doctrined this command to death.  Basically their faulty doctrine told them that they didn’t have to obey that command.  If they were to see their parents in a state of need in their religious thinking it would be OK to let them starve just so they could look pious when they put their offering in the plate.  That is man made doctrine and you can’t worship God with man made doctrine.  God wanted them to cast off those external put-ons and worship Him “in Spirit and in truth”.

            We as Christians do the same thing too.  We are supposed to get baptized, our salvation is not dependent on it but Jesus says it is something we should do.  Well, we have multiple denominations that have over doctrined that and now teach that salvation is two fold.  They also go so far as to say that if the preacher says you are baptized “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” as opposed to baptizing you “in the name of the Lord Jesus” you are not truly saved.  Others go even further by insisting that when Jesus washed the Apostle’s feet, He was telling us to literally wash each other’s feet and that supposedly culminates into your salvation.  Those are all man made doctrines.  And that was the Jews’ problem, they sought to serve God using man made doctrine.  Today it is no different, the reason Jews won’t accept the Gospel is because they think that by embracing it they are denying their heritage.  Verse two centers on a promise, the Bible of their day gave them a promise, a promise of inheritance.  For a Jew to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior would be to truly claim their heritage.  Romans 15:8

3a.)      The Person  v. 3-4

            Notice the first word, “Concerning”, in Greek it comes from the word part “peri”.  Paul is giving us another word picture.  Peri means that which surrounds.  We still use it today in medical terms like pericardium or periodontal ligament.  The whole of God’s Word is built around His Son.  Moreover the only way to get to God, Who is in heaven, is through His Son, John 14:6.

            In jest Jesus was referred to as “King of the Jews”, He was but since they rejected Him they forfeited that immediate promise and handed it over to us as Paul later addresses.  He could trace His family line all the way back to David on both sides, that alone gave Him the throne.  However, it was a fact they conveniently ignored.  In the next verse Paul switches from the humanity of Jesus to the Lordship of Jesus.  The word “declared” comes from the same word part as “separated” does, from them once again we get our word horizon.  Jesus is the only One Who across the whole horizon of religions could make the claim of being the Son of God.  His qualification for it, His resurrection from death.  If you didn’t believe Him on a physical plain you have to on the spiritual plain.  And the reason why is because His resurrection guarantees that we will all be resurrected to stand before God one day.

            Verse four also speaks of victory.  His “spirit of holiness” tells us He lived a life of victory over the power of sin.  By His “resurrection from the dead” he had victory over the penalty of sin.  Paul presents Him to us gradually.  In verse two He is the Promised One.  In verse three He is the Reigning One.  And in verse four He is the Resurrected One.  These verses tell us He was “according to the flesh” fully man “made of the seed of David” and “according to the spirit of holiness” fully God “by the resurrection from the dead”.

B.  Not ashamed                        1:5-17

1b.)      Given favor  v. 5-7

            In the first four verses Paul summarizes the significance of the Gospel for us, in the next three he tells us of it scope.  We can divide verse five into two parts, the first part tells us that salvation comes before service.  The next two verses elaborate on this by speaking of God’s love, God’s call, and finally God’s saints.  He begins here by stating what gives us the privileges he is about to introduce us to, “grace”.  Grace is unmerited or unearned favor, for which you can not contribute anything of worth.  It is simply given like a gift.  Paul captures that for us in Ephesians 2:8.  It tells we are saved by the undeserving favor of God.  It is by faith that we reach out and take it or “receive” it as Scripture often says but it is God that extends the hand that makes it all possible.

            He also uses the word “apostleship”.  As already covered, in general he is saying we have been sent for a particular reason.  But we must be recipients of that grace before we can accomplish the task He has for us.  The second part of the verse lays out our assignment.  See, God will never give us something for us never to use it.

1.)             “Obedience to the faith”

            In the broadest view Paul is saying go out and win people, set up churches, fill the whole world with the Word of God.  Now, here again notice his word placement.  “Obedience” comes before “faith”.  He could have just as easily reversed the order here but he is saying you can’t have one without the other.  It is clear Paul was speaking under the power of the Holy Spirit because He harmonizes with the rest of Scripture, take James 2:17-18 for example.  The “works” mentioned here are the same thing as what Paul is taking about when he says “obedience”.  And James, a completely different author of a completely different letter says the same thing, you can’t have one without the other.  You got to be obedient to have faith and you got to have faith to be obedient.  So, our assignment is to get that down ourselves and then take it to “all nations”.

2.)             “Among all nations”

That is Paul’s way of saying The Great Commission.  Jesus gives it to us in Matthew 28:18-20.

3.)             “For His name”

            The final part of our assignment is to bring glory to His name.  Jesus says, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth”.  Sure a soul has gotten saved and that is reason enough for joy but it is God that made it all possible and that is what they are celebrating.

            One of the biggest privileges of the Gospel is its scope.  Paul shows us the scope of God’s Gospel is all encompassing, it calls all nations but in the next two verses he brings it down to a personal level as well.  He speaks particularly to the church at Rome and it’s members v. 6-7.  Notice how Paul goes from a very broad scope to a very narrow one.  The “ye” in verse six is distinctively plural while the “you” in verse seven is more ambiguous, meaning it could be aimed at a collective of people or individuals.  Notice too, that not every one in Rome is included.  Only those who have been saved, Paul says it three different ways:  the loved, the called, and the saints.  Those are privileges not everyone gets and Jesus tells us why in Matthew 22:2-14.  Jesus tells us very plainly that when it comes to believing that Man is in need of saving most will make “light of it”.  Most simply would not believe.  The idea of spiritual need seems trivial when compared to their physical lives.  How many people on any given Sunday morning will not come to church?  Instead they stay home or try and accomplish more by using the Lord’s day as a workday, the Kingdom of Heaven couldn’t be farther from their minds.  They are among the “called” but for obvious reasons they are not “chosen”.

            Then we have the “remnant”, who like the doubters are called but not “chosen”.  Ironically enough these guys are religious but they are just as blind as the other group.  It was the religious folk of Jesus’ day that crucified Him.  They were more concerned over ceremonialism and law than actual obedience.  Today we see that in a number of churches.  Churches that run on specific programs whether liberal or conservative that refuse to change and be totally obedient.  Church doesn’t save you, you are only saved if you are a member of it and what validates your membership isn’t your program or how many things you can check off on some list, what validates your membership is obedience to the faith.

            Next note, he says “God our Father”.  Since not everyone is chosen, not everyone can call God Father.  In a 2004 Presidential debate Senator Kerry said something that reveals a lot about our society.  He said, “We are all God’s children”.  Do you realize how blasphemous a statement that is?  God did not father a bunch of sinners, my Bible tells me He only had one begotten Son and He lived a sinless life.  The only way you can call God Father is if you respond to the call and only the Church members in all of Rome had.

            Now, when you respond to the call you gain a few privileges and Paul strategically places them in the next ten verses.  But before that he wants to makes sure we know where they come from and how you get them.  The last part of verse seven says “from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ”.  All things that do us any good come from God, though Christ as the next verse goes on to say.  This verse tells us that God loves us and since He does He has called us to be “saints”.  The Catholic doctrine of people only being saints after qualifying is just another example of loving doctrine more than service.  Scripturally there are only two classes of people, Saints and Ain’ts.   It is clear by Paul’s use of the word here, saint means all believers.  Under Catholic doctrine Paul could have hardly assessed their worthiness as saints especially if he had never met most of them.

            Secondly, what makes us saints is that after you have answered the call you receive “grace… and peace”.  Again the order here is important, grace comes before peace.  The word peace refers to an absence of hostility.  See, before we answered the call, God looked at us with hostility.  But when we receive His grace that changes.  Once we put on the righteousness of Christ there is peace between us.  If you are a saint it means you have been set apart and your purpose is to bring glory to His name.  See, a saint isn’t someone who is exalted, a saint is one who exalts, God.  To the world it sounds backwards but that is what favor affords.

2b.)      Given security  v. 8-17

            A second privilege that comes with answering the Gospel’s call is security.  Answering the call secures these privileges for us.  By being part of the beloved we become recipients of certain things a lost world never sees.  All of the things Paul is about to mention come from God but the route He sends them to us on is what bares the most need for emphasis.  He says “through Jesus Christ”.  He made a connection with God possible.  I Timothy 2:5  That word “mediator” is all about someone who sets out to bring peace.  That peace was going to come only one way, through Christ.  But as Paul touches on, that concept of things coming through Christ envelopes everything.  The very act of thanking God for anything Jesus made possible.  We found the depth of this truth over in John 14:6.  Man is separated from God and there is only one Way to Him and it is through Christ.  Let me show you another picture that the Word of God paints for us in Revelation 21:21.  This new Jerusalem is surrounded by twelve pearly gates, we’ve all heard of them.  In a broad way this represents heaven.  Two things here point to Jesus, what are they?  First, is the “gates”, Matthew 7:13-14 tells us how.  There are two gates, the wide gate leads you down the anything goes route; there, you can get as perverted, and dirty, and wasted as you could ever want but where does it wind up?  The second gate is the “strait gate”, it leads you down the righteous route.  Sure it doesn’t leave any room for abusing your body and makes you actually be responsible for yourself but where does it wind up?  If you want to live in that new Jerusalem, want to be where God is, you are going to go through that “strait gate” or through Christ.

            The second thing, which points to Jesus is the “pearl”.  Again in Matthew 13:45-46 we are told how.  This shows us a picture of a man that made a life out of buying and selling pearls.  Then one day he came across a pearl that stood out from all those he had ever seen.  So, he did whatever it took to get it; sold everything he owned.  The money for it came out of his own pocket, because he saw it and had to have it.  Jesus is just that valuable, that we should want to give it all up to have Him.  That new Jerusalem is surrounded by twelve pearl gates, in the center of that new Jerusalem is the throne of God and the only way to gain access to the throne is to go through the pearl gates, which are representations of Christ.  That is the deeper meaning behind “through Jesus Christ”.  Next he speaks of some of the privileges that come through Christ.

        v. 8             Testimony

            He says the whole world had heard of their faith.  In this he means the Roman Empire, which at this point in history might have well as been the whole world since Roman was the only superpower in that part of the world.  Notice the word “faith”.  He is telling them that their testimony is known to Christians throughout the Roman world.  There are two reasons for this.  First, was what they suffered at the hands of various Roman Emperors.  In Rome the Christians would not submit to Jewish vigilantism.  They wouldn’t be intimidated by them.  And apparently this irked the Jews so much they were close to causing citywide riots.  For that reason and others Jews and Christians were pushed out of the city.  That is how Paul came to know and win Aquila and Priscilla.  But secondly, remember the Roman Christians were on the front-line.  When they started throwing Christians to the lions who do you think was first to get abducted?  See, some churches are known for their stain glass windows, or their pretty architecture, big name pastor, or their size and wealth; this church was known for their testimony.  It makes all these liberal churches that are willing to let anything slide look pretty poor.  These guys were real saints, they lifted up the cause of Christ at the ultimate expense.  No doubt they have their special place in heaven, a privilege given to them by our Lord.

        v. 9-10             Prayers

            The first thing he says is, “God is my witness”.  God is a witness to the Saints and the Aints.  That is a privilege to only the saint though.  God is all seeing and therefore all knowing now, for those of us that have had our sins washed away those truths bear no long-term penalty.  But to the unsaved, the things God is witness to that aren’t confessed and therefore unforgiven are what condemns them to hell.  Aren’t you glad that no matter what you’ve done once you’re saved God’s witness or testimony of you will always be a favorable one?

            In particular what Paul is referring to by saying God is his witness is his consistent prayer for these Roman Christians.  Even though these guys were renown for their faith Paul still made it a point to pray for them every time he went to God in prayer.  And even though he is the apostle he even asks them to pray for him later on in the letter.  It just teaches us we all need to pray for each other.  And what determines your ability to really meet with God isn’t the title you have, it is how genuine your service is.  He says he serves God with his “spirit”.  That is an internal process and that is what gets you close to God.  Ceremony won’t do it, outward appearances won’t do it, true service begins on the inside and only God can witness that.  You know in a week’s time Paul must have spent hours in prayer.  Maybe that is not you, maybe you don’t feel that you have that much to pray about well, don’t be concerned with quantity, God will lay that on your heart as He sees fit, all you need to focus on is consistency.  What made the great men and women of God “great” was their consistency.

            In the next verse Paul reveals one of his top prayer requests concerning the Roman Christians, is to go visit them.  It is interesting that he says he hopes to “have a prosperous journey” there.  The last few chapters of Acts actually tells of how he gets to Rome and it’s not how he expected.  At about the time this letter gets to Rome he would have probably been on his way to Jerusalem.  He faced sure persecution for returning but it was God’s will.  Sure enough he was arrested and taken prisoner.  Given the opportunity he chose to plead his case before Caesar, after all it would get him to Rome.  But while in custody en route to Rome he was ship wrecked, waterlogged, almost murdered, taken in by barbarians, and snake bit.  Doesn’t sound like a prosperous journey.  But it was, because he was a witness to those around him, he took the Gospel to those who had never heard it, most of all he was a living display of the power God can have in a person’s life.  He finally got there and his prayer of having a prosperous journey was answered.  And it all hinged on “the will of God”, all prayer hinges on that.

        v. 11-12             Spiritual gift

            Paul wanted to get there because he wanted to deliver a “spiritual gift”.  Of course he was delayed in getting there but he took that same spiritual gift and left if wherever God’s providence brought him, Philippians 1:12-14.  Paul had a drive to bring the Word to those that didn’t have it, he wanted to preach it, teach it; that was his need.  His service was a real investment.  He devoted real time to them in prayer, in his efforts to get there.  He had passion in sharing that spiritual gift with people, we’ve all seen someone who obviously scrapped something together at the last minute, try and lead a service.  We support this missionary back in Muleshoe who either stammers on endlessly or steals a good messages for his own.  That wasn’t Paul, he’d never preach standards to others and not live up to them himself.  He knew other people were watching him and he wanted not only to preach and teach but to exhort, and comfort, pray for, and guide.  Those are gifts we can give each other as he goes on to say in the next verse.

            Here he clarifies that it will be a mutual blessing.  He plans go there and lift them up, make even more clear the Scriptures, but they’ll bless him too.  Rome even then was a big place full of all sorts of ungodliness, it would bring comfort to Paul’s heart to see that even amidst such evil God’s voice was still heard, people still cared about God’s Word.  That ought to bring a smile to any Christian’s face.

        v. 13-15             Personal price

            Paul’s ministry was a real investment.  And that is what verse 13 tells us.  In it Paul says that he often times purposed to come to Rome, “but was let hitherto”.  Are you a tennis fan?  What do they callout when the ball is served but just catches the net and still goes over but isn’t ruled out?  It is called a “Let” and it means the point must be replayed, even though it is still technically a fair ball, play is suspended for another attempt.  The “let” we see here has the same meaning.  God certainly wanted him to go to Rome but at another time and that is what the “hitherto” is referring to.  He was delayed in getting there barring another attempt.

            He uses a phrase you see him use in a few of his other letters, “I would not have you ignorant”.  He wants them to know that they weren’t any less important to him, it was just everywhere the Spirit took him the Gospel hadn’t been heard, people needed to be preached to and taught, or other matters just had to be handled.  This verse also tells us a little more on what he hoped to accomplish there.  He says he wants to “have some fruit among you” like in other Gentile churches he had worked in.  This too ties in with what he said earlier about imparting a spiritual gift to them.  So, what is this “fruit”?  Well, we find the same word in Galatians 5:22-23.  These are the things he hoped to bring to these people if they lacked in any of them because it is in a preacher’s heart to share them.  That is why he said it would bring him comfort too.

            In this next verse Paul begins a series of three “I am” statements.  His first one is “I am debtor”.  Isolated it is a reference to his call to preach.  Our orders from Heaven are to spread the Word.  So, like Paul we too are “debtors” until everyone has heard the message.  He goes on to say who he specifically is indebted to, “both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise”.  The reason he says it like that is because even back then people were prejudice.  He names two main classes in his day:  the Greeks and those they simply referred to as “Barbarians” or non-Greeks.  But it went deeper then just ethnic roots, the “Barbarian Class” were those who were considered stupid, non-educated, non-Greek in culture, education, philosophy, and way of thinking.  The upper “Greek Class” on the other hand was anyone who was educated and adhered to Greek philosophical ways of thinking.  He wants to make it clear he has been called to reach out to the entire Gentile population.  That is a belief Paul put into practice because he not only witnesses for powerful king Agrippa, he also tenderly reaches out to a run away slave named Onesimus.

            Paul was simply following Jesus example.  It was Jesus who reached out to the woman at the well.  By Jewish standards she was trash, a half-breed from the wrong side of the tracks, who had been married and divorced numerous times, and she wasn’t even married to the guy she was with now, they were just shacked up.  Jesus didn’t view her with that same prejudice though, He saw a woman who had made some mistakes and offered her a way out if she’d take it.  This same Jesus made the same offer to a fat tax collector named Matthew.  Greek, Barbarian, wise, unwise it all meant the same to God, they were people that needed to be saved.

            In the next verse we see his second “I am”.  He says, “I am ready”.  He had been just about everywhere he could go.  He had been to the religious capital of the world, Jerusalem.  He had been to the intellectual center of humanity, Athens.  But now he was ready for one more first, to go to the legislative heart of the world, Rome.  He says I am ready, not always an easy thing to say in the ministry.  We all wakeup some Sunday mornings and say to ourselves, “I don’t feel like going today”.  But that doesn’t make us much of a servant if we only serve when we feel like it, real service is based on consistency.  Paul’s concerns were much greater than ours.  The world of his day was far more open to religious fanaticism.  In Rome people actually viewed the emperor as a god.  In a day where human life was worth very little, there were those extremists willing to kill to keep the lie alive.  When Paul preached the truth in Rome it put a target on him.  Still he said I am ready, want was irrelevant, he was a debtor, he was under obligation to go.  We share that same obligation, it was because someone cared enough to answer the call that a preacher, or Sunday school teacher, or some obedient servant led most of us to the Lord in the first place.

        v. 16-17             Saving faith

            The ultimate line of security and arguably the thesis for the book of Romans is found in these two verses.  Salvation comes by faith.  The lost do not have the privilege of a saving faith.  But it’s a privilege everyone can have, because it goes “to everyone that believeth”.  Jesus says exactly that all throughout John.  In John 3:15-16 who does the “whosoever” refer to?  It refers “to everyone that believeth”.  Baptists, while not always called Baptists, have always been in the background proclaiming that salvation comes by faith.  That was something that wasn’t believed by the mainstream until about five hundred years ago.  That is when Martin Luther challenged the monopoly of the Catholic Church.  From that point on the basic truth of a saving faith has been defended by others as well.

            In his third “I am” statement Paul says, “I am not ashamed”.  Salvation by faith is foreign to the world’s way of thinking.  In Pagan theology salvation could only be attained by sacrifice, both human and material, tangible and intangible.  The Jews also pursued a works salvation despite Scripture telling them otherwise.  So, in Paul’s day salvation by faith was viewed as a contradiction in terms.  But still he wasn’t ashamed to preach the Word of God; even after it got him imprisoned at Philippi.  The message got him stoned at Lystra, chased out of Thessalonica, it got so bad he had to be smuggled out of Damascus and Bera.  He was laughed at in Athens, called a fool in Corinth, and labeled a blasphemer at home in Jerusalem.  In the face of all this he was still not ashamed.

            People don’t like to feel shame or guilt.  So, what we’ve done is construct entire belief systems around this fear.  We call them self help programs, even churches but the intent is all the same, to keep us from feeling bad about ourselves.  And the reason why people don’t like the Gospel is because it will tell you that we all have very legitimate reasons to feel shame and guilt.  If any of our thoughts and actions could be projected for everyone to see from just this past week everyone of us would be ashamed about something.  And that is what the Gospel does but it takes into account a whole lifetime.  Paul was not only not ashamed to preach it but says, this is me, I’m guilty but I don’t have to bear the shame of it anymore.

            He understood he was powerless to change his own guilt but Who had the power to change it?  God and the Gospel message he carried was literally the power of God that did it for him and “whosoever” else would.  The best the world can do is offer you years of secular therapy with no guarantee of anything.  The only thing that can take away the guilt and shame we all bear is the “power of God”.  And where does that lead?  Paul’s answer, “unto salvation”.  And who receives salvation?  The Apostle says, “everyone that believeth”.  On a personal level the power of God works two ways; it works in you and it works through you.  There are a number of places we could go for this but remember the first eleven chapters are dedicated to looking at Scripture in the light of Calvary, Paul heads back to the OT to prove his point in the next verse.  But before we get to that let’s look at the two ways God will work in and through a person’s life according to the OT.  First go to Exodus 9:16.  I know the primary meaning here is directed at Pharaoh but God had chosen to show His power through Moses as well.  The plagues have just started and Moses is serving as God’s ambassador, relaying to Pharaoh what’s happening and what he can do to have a cease-fire granted.  Pharaoh escalates the situation until Egypt is ruined but one man, who chose to be obedient, used as a funnel for the power of God led a nation.  Like him we too can lead people:  lead them to the Lord, lead by our own personal example, have the power of God work through us.

            Next go to II Samuel 22:33.  This is why Paul could say he wasn’t ashamed.  He understood after the Lord had come and gone, that his faith in that perfect sacrifice is what saved him.  From the time he accepted Christ as Savior and forevermore his way was perfect.  There was no more sin in him past, present, or future.  He no longer had any reason to feel ashamed.  That is what the power of God does in a person.

            In the next verse Paul goes further in his explanation of the Gospel.  He has told us it is the power of God that both works in us and through us but now he adds on that the Gospel is not only the power of God it “is the righteousness of God” as well.  And this righteousness is two fold.  The OT speaks to us of the first fold, law; that is half of His righteousness.  The law tells us of God’s standards, His character, His perfection.  The other half of His righteousness is grace and the NT is all about that.  It is by grace we are saved, it is by grace that one day when we stand before God we will have no reason to be ashamed, and it is only by grace that God sent His only begotten Son to pay the sin debt we owe so that we could have eternal life in Heaven with Him.  I Peter talks about how the OT prophets knew about God’s coming grace but couldn’t fully understand it.  For that reason some said that God’s plan for salvation, also known as the Gospel, was not to be found in OT Scripture but he clearly tells is it there as he is about to quote an OT verse to prove it.  Jesus brought out a truth that the religious of His day and for the last several centuries had no doubt lost in John 8:52-58.

            How could Abraham have seen His day?  Think back to some of the things Abraham was witness to.  The priest-king Melchizedek seemingly comes out of nowhere, Who is he a real good picture of?  Jesus, because after all that is what He is and will be.  Before Sodom is destroyed three men come to visit him at his camp on the plains of Mamre, in reality Who is he talking to?  The first verse of the eighteenth chapter of Genesis says it was the Lord.  When God gave him his son Isaac, the child he thought would never come, that draws parallels to Christ.  But his best view of Christ’s day was up on Mount Moriah.  There he was to sacrifice his son but God spared him.  That whole situation is saturated with the essence of the Gospel, so much so that Abraham gave that place a special name.  He called it “Jehovah-jireh”.  It means God will provide or it shall be seen.  Either way Abraham came off that mountain having seen what Jesus was talking about and was glad.

            That had been a truth they had lost but now Paul says it is “revealed”.  You see the OT Church was looking forward to this great event, the day their Messiah would come to the earth and we the NT Church can look back at the day it happened.  Paul was saying, finally all the mysteries, all the promises had been revealed through Jesus, in the Gospel.  Now, in particular he calls the Gospel “the righteousness of God”.  That righteousness is what allows us to stand before God one day and be completely guiltless.  Job asked the question, “How shall a man be just with God?”  The only way is with His righteousness.  That is what the Gospel is, it is about what Jesus did for us; how He paid our sin debt and the only thing on our account now is His righteousness.  Because something is only righteous if it meets with God’s approval; well, our righteousness is “as filthy rags”, it fails the test so, His is the only alternative.  Thus the Gospel containing His righteousness is for that purpose.

            It is the “righteousness of God” to any who will accept it, Jew or Gentile.  But 500 years ago they didn’t understand this; or more accurately, the powers of that day limited their teaching on this verse and others like it.  The righteousness of God is two fold, law and grace.  Five centuries ago they limited the meaning of “the righteousness of God” to only the law.  That of course led people back into a ceremonial type of service.  If you have ever had any encounters with the Catholic Church you know it is all about ceremony.  They taught that the “righteousness of God” only described God and not that it was also a means of salvation in and of itself but it is.  The power hungry Catholic Church wouldn’t give this to its congregation.  Remember, they invented the idea of purgatory and banned church members from reading the Word of God for themselves, and then we have the millions that were slaughtered during the Spanish Inquisition.  When you purposely misinterpret Scripture you’re just inviting Satan to come in.  You ever see anyone ware a St. Christopher medallion?  Do you have any idea how pagan that practice is?  Witches have symbols for everything and they ware those symbols as jewelry.  We’ve all seen the upside down crosses, the pentagrams, the crystals; in fact you do your research you find out a lot of the images we see in society today are linked to the occult somewhere.  The idea a charm of some kind is going to protect you is completely pagan.

            I was reading an article on the actor that played the role of Jesus in The Passion of the Christ and he was quoted as saying he carried some kind of relic attached to a particular saint and that some how afforded him special protection.  Well, on the catholic-forum website it lists all the patron saints.  There is a saint to watch over just about everything, from actors to zoos.  There are literally lists of hundreds of different saints, occupations, animals for which you could pray to or for.  That sounds a lot like pagan worship to me.  It reminds me of a missionary to India I met one time.  God had sent him to reach the people of India who are plagued by Hindu worship.  He said they serve literally millions of different gods.  They have a god for everything.  Now, you tell me if those two types of worship aren’t nearly identical, that just makes sense.  If they would have just told the people it comes only by His righteousness instead of misinterpreting Scripture Satan wouldn’t have gotten a foot hold.

            Next Paul tells us that the righteousness of God is revealed “from faith to faith”.  That phrase describes the whole of our salvation, start to finish.  Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith”.  That tells us that we aren’t even capable of producing faith ourselves so, God did it for us, all we have to do is exercise it.  You do that by believing and following the Word of God.  Once you receive Christ as your personal Savior you’re as much saved now as you will be a thousand years from now but there will be one big difference, you’ll no longer be in the flesh.  Then Paul goes on to say “as it is written, The just shall live by faith”.  That of course is a quote from Habakkuk 2:4.  There Habakkuk uses the phrase in reference to physical life but in the light of Calvary it extends to not only our physical lives but our eternal lives as well.  It is that God given faith in the Lord Jesus that saves us now and will lead us into everlasting life.  Paul’s desire was for us never to forget this, thank God that He led him to put it in the letter to the Romans otherwise we’d have gone down the road to hell trusting in our own works.  We “live by faith” not only in the here and now but ever more.