The Gospel Of Christ

A study of ROMANS 1:1-7

This sermon is a Bible study taken from the Reign of Grace ROMANS COMMENTARY.

In this introduction, God the Holy Spirit, by the Apostle Paul, establishes a foundational truth of Christianity — ALL OF THE ENCOURAGEMENTS, EXHORTATIONS, REBUKES, INSTRUCTIONS IN WORSHIP AND OBEDIENCE, AND EVEN THE RECOVERY OF JUSTIFIED SINNERS, ARE TO BE BASED UPON THE ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY OF SALVATION CONDITIONED ON CHRIST ACCORDING TO GOD’S PROMISE. No one is warranted from God to deal with true believers based on fear of punishment nor uncertainty concerning their salvation. On the other hand, no man is warranted from God to speak peace to any sinner who does not give evidence of justifying faith and repentance from dead works.

I. THE PREACHER OF THE GOSPEL (1:1-2) – Who is the writer of this epistle? Paul begins with a description of himself.

{1} Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
{2} (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)

A. A bondslave of Christ – In those days of sanctioned slavery, most would have understood his reference to bondslave in contrast to other slaves. Paul joyfully performed the duties of his office in the character of a servant, a bondslave, a willing, loving, and dedicated servant of his Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. A bondslave in the Old Testament (Exodus 21:1-6) was one whose debt to his master had been fully paid, according to strict law that had been satisfied. His service was not to pay what he owed, but it was based on his debt already having been paid. He was a servant who had been set free from the bondage of law and now served his master out of love. This is a picture of Gospel obedience and service from the spirit of adoption and grace.

A sinner is convinced of sin when he sees no possibility of paying his debt to God’s law and justice by his own obedience. He sees himself as void of a righteousness that answers the law’s demands. A sinner is convinced of righteousness when he comes to understand the love of God in conditioning all of salvation on Christ and in sending Christ into the world to become incarnate to fulfill those conditions. He sees how Christ established for him an everlasting righteousness of infinite value that answers the law’s demands. It is then that a sinner is made willing to return to God, his Master, as a free man and serve his Master out of love. This service is not the slavery of an unwilling bondman trying to pay a debt, seeking to establish a righteousness of his own. It is the service of a willing, loving bondslave whose debt has been paid in full by his Substitute and Surety. He serves not to establish a righteousness before God, but he serves based on a righteousness already established by Christ. All of his obedience and service is motivated by the absolute certainty of salvation conditioned on Christ alone.

B. An apostle – Paul’s office was that of an apostle. There are no apostles today. The office of apostle ceased with John at his death. An apostle was one who had actually seen Christ with his own eyes and received his apostleship by direct appointment from Christ personally. Anyone who claims to be an apostle today has the spirit of antichrist. Paul was born into God’s kingdom and to the office of apostle.

C. Separated unto the Gospel – (1:1b) – Separated means set apart from all false religions and idolatry, and dogmatically committed unto the Gospel of God to make known or to preach the Gospel of God for the glory of God and the salvation of sinners. When salvation comes, all true believers are separated in true repentance from dead works and former idolatry, from that religion that teaches justification before God based on anything other than the imputed righteousness of Christ. The Apostle Paul, in light of the imputed righteousness of Christ, had seen the evil of efforts at religion and morality aimed at the ground of salvation. He therefore repented from them as dead works and acts of open idolatry and separated himself from all religion other than the religion of Grace, of salvation conditioned on Christ alone (cf. Philippians 3:7-9).

This is the command and call of all justified sinners. This is that repentance which is the first evidence that our faith is justifying faith. Paul, having been convinced by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel of no hope of salvation in any other way for any sinner, was committed and set apart to dedicate his life to the preaching of the Gospel.

1. “The Gospel of God”–Immediately upon mentioning the Gospel, Paul begins with God, specifically, God the Father. The Gospel concerns God the Son (v. 3), but it is God the Father who is the Source and Originator of the Gospel. God the Father elected a multitude of guilty sinners out of Adam’s fallen race and conditioned all of their salvation on God the Son. He sent His Son to become incarnate to satisfy all those conditions. God the Father is the Source of salvation. His love is the moving cause of salvation, and His glory (the revelation of all the perfections of His nature) is the goal of salvation. God the Father is the ultimate object of our faith and worship. We come to Him in the name of Christ based on the merits of the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ.

True Christians do not worship three gods, nor one god who acts out different roles at different times, nor one who exists in different forms. These notions are no less heresy than to say they worship three gods. True Christians worship ONE GOD WHO SUBSISTS IN THREE DISTINCT PERSONS, each Person a full partaker of the one undivided essence, the triune Godhead, a plurality of Persons in the one undivided essence. God the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father. God the Father did not become incarnate, nor die on the cross, nor did God the Holy Spirit. We worship ONE GOD, three distinct yet equal Persons. Although we have no proper illustration to explain this truth, it is revealed and explained in the Scriptures (Matthew 28:18-19).

2. No new Gospel (1:2) – It is the same message of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. The only difference is that the New Testament reveals the actual accomplishment of what was promised, predicted and typified in the Old Testament. Noah, for example, preached and was justified based upon the righteousness that was to be established by the actual incarnation and death of the Son of God (2 Peter 2:5; Galatians 3:6-9).

II. THE PERSON OF THE GOSPEL – (1:3-6) – Of whom is Paul writing? He describes the Lord Jesus Christ who is the central figure of the Gospel.

{3} Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

{4} And declared the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection the dead:

{5} By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

{6} Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:

A. The constitution of Christ’s Person – God has graciously and wonderfully revealed His infinite wisdom in the constitution of Christ’s PERSON. The Gospel of God concerns His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. It identifies Christ and distinguishes Him from all counterfeits, beginning with the constitution of His Person, and then the nature of His offices and work of redemption. The name “Jesus” signifies Jehovah who saves, and the title “Christ” or messiah (anointed) designates His offices concerning the nature of His mission. Since God’s Gospel is His promise of salvation conditioned on Christ alone, it is only fitting and logical that we begin with THE PERSON whom God the Father had appointed to satisfy those conditions. So, the apostle, verbally inspired by God the Holy Spirit, begins with Christ’s perfect, sinless humanity, because it was essential that God the Son become incarnate in order to satisfy the conditions of the salvation of God’s elect.

1. His Humanity (1:3) – Christ “was MADE of the seed of David according to the flesh”–His humanity (both body and soul) was created or formed in the womb of the virgin Mary who was a natural descendent of King David.

WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?

WHAT THINK YE OF CHRIST?

He is ONE PERSON WITH TWO DISTINCT NATURES: DIVINE AND HUMAN! He is Divine in that He is God in every respect, infinite in every attribute of His holy character, equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Remember, our God is ONE GOD in three distinct PERSONS, each PERSON a partaker of the one undivided essence. Christ is human in that He is man, both body and soul. He is a partaker of all the qualities of character that constitute true SINLESS humanity. He was made like His brethren in all things, yet without sin.

2. His Deity (1:4) – He was not made the Son of God but declared to be so. His Deity cannot be and was not created since He created ALL things (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Christ is the ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON. God has many sons by creation and then many by adoption, but He has only one who is a full partaker of his essence or nature, co-equal in every attribute of Deity. Paul is showing here that Christ’s resurrection from the dead, based on the very righteousness He had established, proved Him to be God. No one else could have satisfied law and justice on behalf of a multitude no man can number except that PERSON be God. No mere man, however perfect and sinless he might be, could have accomplished such a task. Other mere men, such as Lazarus, had been raised from the dead, and their resurrection in no way declared them to be God. Christ’s resurrection declared Him to be so because of the righteousness He had established, the conditions He had satisfied as the Representative and Substitute of the whole election of grace.

B. The Apostle Paul’s whole point is to show how great marvelous Christ, the Mediator and Savior, is. BEHOLD THE INFINITE WISDOM OF GOD. GREAT IS THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS: GOD WAS MANIFEST IN THE FLESH. We cannot comprehend the height nor the depth of this glorious mystery, but unto faith, it is full of glory. We preach and trust a PERSON. All the privileges, benefits, and advantages of the offices and mediation of Christ will not avail us unless we reduce them all unto faith in His PERSON. All that He has done, is now doing, and shall do is great because of the excellency and glory of His PERSON. As long as we hold this foundation of Christianity, that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, who alone gives life and efficacy unto His whole work of mediation, our faith in all its actings will be in His PERSON.

We must continually be reminded and understand that Christ is ONE PERSON WITH TWO DISTINCT NATURES, one Divine and a partaker of all the qualities of essential Deity, and one human and a partaker of all the qualities of true sinless humanity. Christ became incarnate in order to suffer and die, so that He, by His obedience unto death, could establish a righteousness whereby God could justify sinners. Everything He did to fulfil these duties and establish such a righteousness, He did in His entire PERSON as GODMAN. All of His actions are acts of His whole PERSON, yet some are suitable only to His Deity and to be attributed only to His Deity. For example, no man, however exalted, is to be worshipped or has power to give and sustain life, but this PERSON who is man is to be worshipped and does have the power to give and sustain life. On the other hand, God cannot suffer, sorrow, and die, but this PERSON who is God can and did suffer, grieve, sorrow, bleed and die. These were acts of His entire PERSON, yet suitable to His humanity, without sin. Why is understanding this so important? It is because:

1. His Person and work are vitally connected–“according to the Spirit of holiness”–Imputed sin demanded His death, and righteousness established demanded His resurrection. Imputed sin demanded His condemnation under God’s law and death as the result. Righteousness established demanded His justification and, therefore, His resurrection. These truths establish the GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL OF GOD’S GRACE IN CHRIST. God promises to save the very chief of sinners, whoever he may be (“though your sins be as scarlet or red like crimson”) based on that very same righteousness that demanded Christ’s resurrection, His justification and life according to holiness.

Commenting upon verses 3-4, Robert Haldane wrote that we see that it is upon the foundation of the union of the Divine and human natures in the one PERSON of Christ, the Messiah, that Paul proceeds to establish all the great and important truths that he sets forth in this epistle. We must always remember that the office of apostle gave dignity and worth to the persons of the apostles just as the office of president of the United States gives dignity and authority to whomever holds that office. But this is not so with Christ. It is HIS PERSON that gives authority, dignity and value to all His offices. It is HIS PERSON that guarantees the absolute success of all the duties He performs in each office to accomplish His design and goal to glorify His Father in the eternal salvation of all those whom He represented, whom the Father had given Him, for whom He lived and died. Therefore, to deny the effectual, definite atoning work of Christ and resort to universal notions of the atonement, is to deny His very Person as sent of God.

2. His Person and work are vitally connected to our salvation (1:5) – “By whom we have received grace”–Grace here refers to all of the work of the Holy Spirit in God’s people, with all subjective graces such as faith, repentance, humility and love. All of this is the direct result of Christ’s work for His people by establishing that righteousness that demands their justification and eternal life. Everything necessary to bring God’s elect, Christ’s sheep, unto glory is the direct effect of His establishing a righteousness that was brought in and consummated by His death. “Obedience to the faith” is true belief and submission to the Gospel of God, to God’s promise of all grace here and all glory hereafter based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. “By whom” and “for His name”–Christ has all the preeminence in our salvation. We freely receive the whole inheritance of grace because HE has satisfied all the conditions. Therefore, any notion that salvation is conditioned on the sinner cannot give Christ ALL the pre-eminence in salvation.

“The called of Jesus Christ” (1:6) – Justified sinners are not only called to Him but also byHim. Again, the Holy Spirit, by the Apostle Paul, attributes our calling and conversion to Christ because all of this is the direct result of Christ’s work for us, on our behalf. Everything Christ as our Substitute merited for God’s elect shall in each successive generation be effectually communicated to each of them by the Holy Spirit. The righteousness that Christ established for us, in our name and nature, demands that we go free. This is spiritual freedom that includes our regeneration, calling and conversion (the new birth into Christ’s kingdom). Here, we see the distinction between the Holy Spirit’s work IN us as the result and effect, and Christ’s work FOR us as the only ground of salvation.

III. THE PEOPLE OF THE GOSPEL – (1:7) – To whom is the Apostle Paul writing? They are the saints “beloved of God.”

{7} To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A. The beloved of God identified by calling and conversion – Notice, this does not refer to all without exception in Rome, but all the “beloved of God” in Rome who are identified by their conversion. This conversion is the only evidence of regeneration and of being objects of God’s love. Paul calls all true believers saints. They are saints NOW, and although some are Jews and others Gentiles, some are men and others women, some are rich and others poor, and although there may be differences in personality and growth, they are all equally saints and all equally “beloved of God.” Saints are justified, separated out of the world by adoption into God’s family, evidenced by justifying faith and repentance from former idolatry and dead works.

B. The beloved of God identified by state – Their state is one of peace secured by grace. Paul mentions grace before peace. The whole as well as each part of salvation proceeds from the foundation of GRACE. Many of the old Gospel writers referred to grace as God’s love in action. God set His love upon a multitude of fallen, condemned enemies, and grace was His conditioning their salvation upon Christ, His Son.

1. True peace with God is based on Christ satisfying all those conditions as the Substitute and Representative of the whole election of grace. Grace, then, of necessity excludes all conditions on the sinner, and the subjective principle of grace implanted in our hearts in regeneration enables us to receive the doctrines of grace preached out in the Gospel. “Peace” between God and men is based solely upon the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ. It fills our hearts with joy when we understand that it can never diminish nor waver because it is based on Christ’s satisfaction of law and justice.

2. Grace and peace are from “GOD OUR FATHER,” not our enemy, not a consuming fire, not a sovereign tyrant not an unconcerned, unapproachable potentate. God is our Father in that He has actively engaged every perfection of His Being to insure our eternal blessedness. Grace and peace are secured and communicated by the “LORD JESUS CHRIST,” based upon the entire merit of His whole work of redemption that He has accomplished for us. Here is a double pledge from God of the absolute certainty of eternal grace and peace. God our Father is the Source of blessedness, and this is communicated to us by Christ our Lord. BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED!

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