Paul's epistle to the Romans is historically the early church's firmest single doctrinal statement of Christian faith.
Pastor Dan Gardner (Assembly of God Church, Cohocton, New York) opened a series of sermons exploring the Apostle Paul's letter to the church in Rome. The epistle was written approximately 27 years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, while elements of Jesus's life and teaching were still fresh in the minds of those who lived around him and were eye witnesses to his ministry on earth.
Pastor Gardner's text was Romans 1:1-17:
:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, :2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures :3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, :4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. :5 Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. :6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
:7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. :9 God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you :10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
:11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong, :12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. :13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
:14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. :15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.
:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. :17 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."
In this opening portion of his epistle, Paul begins his witness to the power and righteousness of God and the good news, the gospel, of Jesus that salvation is open to all people, Jews and Gentiles, through faith leading toward a lifelong path of sanctification.
Pastor Gardner emphasized the many doctrinal precepts tightly summarized in verses 1 through 6. Paul begins by identifying himself as an apostle, a term that, in its Greek root, means messenger. Paul was both the principal messenger of the gospel outside Judea and, in that role, the founder of all the original churches in the Gentile world.
Paul notes that he was called by the spirit of God to be an apostle. Although less dramatically than Paul's encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, we all are called to salvation through the Holy Spirit.
Paul was "set apart for the Gospel of God." This congers up sanctification, holiness, and separation from the darkness of sin. Setting apart and justification are by the Grace of God, through Jesus Christ.
Verses 2 through 5 state the most fundamental doctrine of Christianity: Jesus is both divine and human, descended as foretold in the Scriptures from David, to witness through his Resurrection the power of God and the way to salvation for believers.
:31 "The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
:32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.
:33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
:34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
The theme of Paul's salutation to the church in Rome can be stated as live by faith and unashamedly preach the Gospel:
1 Corinthians 15:3-4
:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, :4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, :5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. :6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. :7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, :8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776 http://www.thomasbrewton.com/
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