How does someone get to heaven? This is was the book of Romans is all about. In fact, it’s sometimes referred to as the Gospel according to Grace—God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense.
This grace is given as a gift freely to anyone and everyone who believes. It’s a gift—we can’t take credit for it. We can’t earn it by being good enough because no one is good enough. We have all sinned. Our religious efforts to earn God’s favor will never be enough to make us right with Him.
With this truth in mind, we turned our attention to an interesting question Jesus asked a man who was ill for 38 years. What was this question and how would you answer it? Watch our study in Romans 2:12-29 to find out!
How in awe of God’s mercy would you be if you constantly looked to Jesus and compared your righteousness to His? How much compassion would you have for those who are struggling with sin if you were looking at the Lord, bearing in mind how much He’s forgiven you, instead of looking at others?
In his letter to the Romans, Paul is trying to help us see the bad news (we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory) so we can appreciate and cherish the good news (we can all be justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus).
This news (both good and bad) is for the overtly immoral AND the intentionally moral and the really religious. God extends His mercy to all—those who have been running away from Him and those who have been trying to earn His favor, all the while looking down on others. When we forget that it is by grace we have been saved, we become like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son, who became angry that his brother was receiving love from his Father since he felt he was so much better.
But the Father corrects His mistaken oldest son and us in the process—we can’t earn God’s love or His righteousness. Hear the Father’s heart: “You are always with me, and all that I have is yours.” Because when you are secure in who you are in the Lord, it frees you from seeking self-righteousness and makes you ready for God’s service.
In our study of Romans 1 last week, we considered the overtly immoral—those who have turned away & are walking away from God. Within that study, we reflected on parallels in the parable of the prodigal—the son who turned away from his Father, and the Father who had to let go of His son and then welcomed him back with open arms.
This week, we turned our attention to the intentionally moral and the really religious—those who think they they are righteous—and therefore, do not see their need for repentance. We reflected again on the parable of the prodigal and considered the Father’s other son. This son’s self-righteous judgmental attitude needed to be addressed by his Father.
These two groups mistakenly compare themselves to others to determine their self-righteousness rather than comparing themselves with Christ and seeing their need for His righteousness.
Watch our study from Sunday as we learned how important it is to keep our eyes on Jesus, lest we’re tempted to look down on others.
The wrath of God not a knee jerk reaction. It is revealed for the purposes of producing repentance. Often, the wrath of God is letting you have giving you over to what you wanted more than Him.
He will hold on as long as possible, knowing there are very real consequences of sin. But God cannot and will not override our free will. The Father, unfortunately, has to let go.
And then what?
Consider the heart of Jesus, who receives sinners and eats with them (Luke 15:1-2). The religious rulers saw this as an affront. From their point of view, Jesus was spending time with people who deserve God’s wrath.
And yet, these religious rulers didn’t understand the true nature and character of God. They didn’t comprehend that they were sinners too—just as much in need of a Savior. To help them, Jesus told three parables to illustrate the true nature and character the true heart of God towards sinners (Luke 15:4-32).
And after each parable, Jesus reveals the joy God has for a sinner who repents. This is God’s heart towards every one of us because all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.
This is so important to remember as we work our way through Romans 1. Whether we are overtly immoral, intentionally moral, or really religious, we are all sinners. So we all need to repent. Just turn around and come home, like the prodigal son.
And as we do, we’ll find a Father rushing to welcome us and ready to receive us.
Have you repented? Have you retuned? You can right now. Just acknowledge that you have sinned. Be willing to turn from your sins (repent). Then believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose from the grave.
You can ask Jesus to become the Lord of your life by praying a prayer like this:
Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name, Amen.
In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul writes an ordered and logical argument for God’s grace.
But in order to believe and receive this good news, we need to understand and acknowledge the bad news: we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard of righteousness. Anyone who would believe the good news of Jesus and receive the free gift of his righteousness must admit this first.
This is the bad news that leads us to the best news—we can be justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24)!
As Paul continues his ordered and logical argument, he demonstrates this reality in three different categories of people. This past Sunday, we worked our way through the first category: the overtly immoral—those who have rejected God and are running the other way on purpose.
Watch our study from Romans 1:18-32 as we hear God’s heart through Paul’s pen for our need for repentance.
In a society of ever-changing opinions, there is a constant and felt pressure to conform to the prevailing view at hand, to compromise on truth when speaking up for it is costly, or to shy away from clearly communicating the whole counsel of God’s Word. We might be tempted to alter or edit God’s Word to make it more acceptable to those who do not yet recognize the authority of the One who authored all of Scripture. This temptation is motivated by fear—fear of giving offense, fear of losing relationships, fear of what others might think of us if we truly center our lives around God and His Word, fear of appearing ridiculous, out-of-touch, or unloving.
But fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and nothing could be more loving than to follow Paul’s example in faithfully representing God’s heart as revealed in His Word to those around us. When we realize that only God’s unedited and unaltered Word has the power to save souls, we will care more about what God thinks of us and about the condition of someone’s soul than we care about our own reputation.
Why do we feel like we need to moderate or diminish the Word of the Lord? How can we be ashamed of the Gospel that has transformed our lives? Brothers and sisters, let us not be deceived! There is nothing dishonorable, improper, or ridiculous about the Gospel. Instead, we can find compassion, courage, and holy confidence to deliver God’s word unedited and unaltered.
Watch our study of Romans 1:16-17 as we discovered the same confidence Paul had in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Throughout his letters, Pastor Paul openly and specifically thank God for the churches, the pastors, and the people to who he was writing. He specifically thanked God for their faith, love, and hope (among many other things). These are the things that blessed and impressed Paul.
Unfortunately, these are not always the qualities by which a ministry or a minister is measured today. Success or failure is usually measured by nickels and noses or buildings and budgets.
But is that what God is looking for? Are those the metrics that God would use? No!
And it’s very important to our ministry that we understand that fully. We have never desired to grow numerically. We have only desired to care for and cultivate the people who are coming. Hoping that if we do that well as unto the Lord, that we would see the qualities of faith love, and hope—just as Paul did so that we can do just as Paul did—refresh the hearts of believers and proclaim the Gospel to all!
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends