Romans 1

Author:

Rob Schultz

Scripture:

Romans 1:1-32

Observation:

· Paul’s called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel promised through the “Old Testament” prophets regarding Jesus
· Jesus was fully man as a descendant of David and fully God as by his resurrection
· Paul received both the grace and apostleship to call all Gentiles from Christ, including those in Rome, to the obedience that comes faith
· The church in Rome’s faith is being reported all over the world
· Paul prays constantly for the Romans and anticipates God opening a door for him to visit the churches in Rome after being prevented from visiting after many plans to do so.
· Paul desires to impart spiritual gifts to strengthen the church at Rome, to be mutually edified and to have a harvest among them like other Gentiles.
· Paul’s called both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and foolish
· Paul’s not ashamed but rather eager to preach the gospel because it demonstrates God’s power that brings salvation: first to the Jews and then Gentiles.
· The gospel reveals the righteousness of God that is by faith
· In contrast God’s wrath is also being revealed against the godless and wicked who suppress the truth that’s plain to them through creation and what has been made
· So people knew of God’s existence but neither glorified him or thanked Him
· People’s thinking became futile, their foolish hearts were darkened
· They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal humans, birds, animals and reptiles.
· Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity
· They exchanged the truth of God for a lie by worshipping and serving created things rather than the Creator
· Therefore God gave them over to shameful lusts:
o Women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones
o In the same way men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another
o Men committed shameful acts with other men
· They did not think it worthwhile to retain knowledge of God
· Therefore God gave them over to a depraved mind
o So that they do what ought not to be done
o They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, depravity, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice, etc. etc.
· Although they know God’s decrees that those who do such things deserve death, they continue to do these very things and approve of others who do the same.

Application

(verses 16-32 shaped by Richard B. Hayes commentary in The Moral Vision of the New Testament, pages 383-389):
· I may not have the title of ‘apostle’ but God has set me apart for the gospel and he still desires to call people around me today to the “obedience that comes by faith.” I need to wake up each morning reminding myself of this calling.
· I would probably never start an email with such a long 7 verse greeting but how might I weave my faith and the gospel in how I open and close emails and conversations?
· In many of Paul’s letters he communicates his affection and longing for the church as reflected by how he constantly prays for the believers in various cities. My intercession for others is probably a realistic indicator of my shepherd’s heart and affection for them.
· The gospel needs to be the center of my life and ministry. It is not some nice moral or philosophical teaching that one can accept or reject but it is the active working of God’s power and salvation to accomplish his purposes in our world (v. 16-17).
· In sharing the story of God and the gospel, I need to start with creation because it’s through creation that God reveals his power and divine nature. Our amazing universe, earth, ecosystems and even us human beings point to a Creator vs. the alternative of randomness and evolutionary chance (v. 19-20)
· In communicating the Fall and why people are sinful and separated from God, I just need to highlight our historic (from Adam and Eve) and contemporary (my testimony) refusal to acknowledge, honor and thank God (v. 21) which results in our ignorance (futile thinking). All our depravity (v. 24-31) flows from this root of creatures rebelling against their Creator.
· People (myself included) can wonder why a loving God allows so much evil in the world. God does not orchestrate evil but his “wrath” is simply allowing us the freedom (God gave them up v. 24, 26, 28) to have our own way. We reap what we sow but what amazing grace—for God so loved the world… (John 3:16)
· When I seek my own honor or glory I rebel against God’s Creator-creation relationship and God allows the irony of sin to play itself out in that humanity’s desire for self-glorification resulted in the distortion of creation and their self-destruction.
· Paul illustrates humanity’s refusal to acknowledge and the Creator who is seen and understood by his complimentary creative design and purposes for men and women (Genesis 1-3) by exchanging natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. When people “engage in homosexual activity, they enact an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual reality: the rejection of the Creator’s design.” (Hayes, page 386)

Prayer:

Holy Father, how amazing is your grace and sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! Father, by nature I was seeking my own glory and rarely if ever acknowledged you as my Creator. And yet while I was “a long way off” you ran to me out of your love and compassion and opened my heart to you and the truth of the gospel (Luke 15:20). Father, it seems that more and more of us living in the West no longer acknowledge you as our Creator and the result is the depravity around us. The economic injustices that undergird Ferguson and Baltimore protests are just as bad here in the Bay Area. How can we as your sons and daughters prophetically counter the futile thinking of the rich with more than just words? Give us your heart, mind and vision!

Father, I confess that I am quick to judge others but rarely have I labored day and night to proclaim the good news of Jesus that awakens the dead from their sin. Lord, you are doing a new work in my heart and here at Trinity. Help us to not to be ashamed of the gospel for it is your power to change people’s thinking and lifestyles. Lord, send us out into your harvest fields where we live, work, learn and play to be the good news that the Kingdom of God really is drawing near and now is the time to call people to change their thinking and receive the good news of the gospel. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.


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