A Walk Through the Book of Romans
The Book of Romans is an amazing story of God's relentless grace. Written by the Apostle Paul to believers in Rome almost 2,000 years ago, these words have helped believers in every generation to understand how to live by faith. God is revealed not only as the God of creation, redemption, justification, reconciliation, and sanctification—but also of transformation.
Through the power of faith, believers facing life's challenges are being transformed into members suitable for building of the Body of Christ.
Paul begins his book by building a case that the world situation is totally hopeless and all men are sinful and fall short of the glory of God. Not one person seeks God, and all have turned away from God. All are guilty and under God's righteous judgment. But where sin abounds, God's grace super-abounds. Salvation is totally in the hands of God. Through grace—His mercy that we don't deserve—God offers salvation to every person. It is available through faith in Jesus Christ, who saves us from the sin that separates us from God. This grace enables us to become a new creation, with a divine nature that reflects the image of our Heavenly Father.
Because of our sin, we deserve to be judged. God, however, loves us so much He was willing to send His Son to die on the cross to pay the debt of our sin and restore us to a relationship of peace with God. Being saved depends on our willingness to accept this peace. And when we do, we experience great joy. Our good works are never enough to earn salvation for us. Only Christ is able to achieve peace with God for us.
Baptism is also a testimony that we are growing in faith and being transformed into Christ's likeness. It is a testimony that our sins are cleansed and that we are identified with Christ in His death and resurrection.
Before the Apostle Paul was saved (born again), he was an enthusiastic Judaizer and lover of the law. He attempted to keep the law of God but eventually realized that it was hopeless. The powerful element of sin within him caused him to cry out, What a wretched man I am! (Romans 7:24). He feels a battle raging within, that no matter how much he wants to serve God with his mind, he finds himself sinning with his body.
But Paul exclaims about God's provision in Christ: God does not give us what we deserve! He gives us what we do not deserve. There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1, KJV). Paul says that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ—not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword. In Christ, we are more than conquerors!
God called the Israelites His people and had given them the promise of salvation. Paul longed for his kinsman to be saved. Yet not all of the descendants of Israel are the children of the promise. The Israelites, who pursued righteousness by law, did not obtain it. Only those Jews and non-Jews who pursue salvation by faith obtain right standing with God through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Man's responsibility is to believe in his heart and confess with his mouth. Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).
God's purpose is to build up His Body, the church, as the corporate expression of His Son. We are saved by Christ's life, and we live by His life. With Christ's life within, we are being inwardly transformed on a personal level. In the church, where there are different nationalities with differing concepts, through Christ's life within, we are all being transformed and built up together as the Body of Christ.
How does God work to transform us? By renewing our mind. The source of our trouble is our mind, which has been saturated with all kinds of natural concepts. With Christ's help, we can inwardly unload these concepts. The Lord calls the church “the Bride.” It is a corporate entity. The Lord will come back for the Bride, when the church He desires is complete.
Paul's final farewell and instruction to the believers in Rome is to watch out for those who would cause division among them. He also reminds them to watch out for false teachings and doctrines. He reminds them that Satan will soon be crushed, and that their faith is able to hold them until the day of Jesus' return.
The Book of Romans effectively leads us to understand the nature of saving faith. It also encourages believers to seek the power of Jesus Christ in their lives. In a world that is spiraling out of control, life is full of twists and turns, frustrations, and problems. Man's plight is truly beyond redemption, except for the saving power of God's grace. It is inherent in man to deny God, because of our state of sinful rebellion against Him. Therefore, our greatest need is to become aware of our sin and of God's power through Christ to forgive us of our sin. Morality alone is unable to free us from sin; only God can free us from our sin and cause us to walk in righteousness.
Paul encourages believers to consider everything they do as if they are doing it for the Lord. It is a call to do what leads to peace and mutual edification within the body of Christ. They are not to look down on those who are weaker in faith, but to be fully convinced of what is acceptable in their own minds, for everything that does not come from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
The message of the Book of Romans is truly great! For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16, NASB).