Monday, September 04, 2006

Grace Through Obedient Faith: Romans 1:5-7

The Silent Holocron dedicates Monday space to the sermon that will be preached the following Sunday.  Stephen will flesh out each of his sermon points in these posts.  To read any Greek or Hebrew fonts that may be present, download SIL Greek or SIL Hebrew as needed from the link in the sidebar.  Any feedback you can give on what is posted would be greatly appreciated.

Romans 1:5-7

diH oÆ l€bomen c€rin ka± ‡postolÑn e¸v ÃpakoÑn p°stewv n p‚sin to²v žqnesin Ãpšr to ìnçmatov aÇto n oµv ste ka± Ãme²v kljto± HIjso Cristo p‚sin to²v oÊsin n hRðmÛ ‡gapjto²v qeo kljto²v ƒg°oiv c€riv Ãm²n ka± e¸rÐnj ‡pè qeo patrèv Ómòn ka± kur°ou HIjso CristoÂ

di ou elabomen charin kai apostoljn eis hupakojn pistews en pasin tois ethnesin huper tou onomatos autou en hois este kai humeis kljtoi Iesou Christou pasin tois ousin en Rwmj agapjtois theou kljtois hagiois charis humin kain eirjnj apo theou patros hjmwn kai kuriou Ijsou Christou

Through whom we received grace and apostleship in obedience of faith in all the nations for the sake of the name of him in whom you are (and you are called ones of Jesus Christ), to all the beloved, called, holy ones of God in Rome; grace to you and peace from God the father of us and our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Obedience of Faith

Having named the Son of God in verse 4, Paul then tells us something interesting.  It is through Jesus, the Son of God, that we receive grace.  Not only that, but it is through Jesus, the Son of God, that we receive our calling, the job which God has planned for us from before the foundation of the world.  But Paul, echoing what he will write later in Romans, tells us the way in which we receive the grace that Jesus brings us – the obedience of faith.

What is this “obedience of faith?”  We must remember first what faith is.  Faith is belief and trust in something we know.  Faith is not faith if it lacks any of these three components.  We must know about the object we are to have faith in.  We must believe in the object; that is, we must believe to be true what we know about the object.  We must also trust the object of faith.

What this means is that faith is not a feeling.  Faith is not an emotion that grows bigger and smaller.  Faith is an action.  A classic illustration of faith is given in a chair.  I know the chair is designed to hold my weight if I sit on it.  I believe the chair will hold my weight if I sit on it.  But until I trust the chair by actually sitting on it, I do not have faith that the chair will hold my weight.  Faith must be acted upon, or it is not faith.

This is what is meant by the term “obedience of faith;” that trusting action that is the mark of true faith.  And that trusting action is resting on Jesus Christ, the Son of God revealed by the Gospel.  We could also call this “obedient faith.”

The Result of Obedient Faith

What is the result of obedient faith?  Paul says that we receive the grace of God dispensed through Jesus Christ.  We receive God’s unmerited favor simply by trusting in His Son.  Paul will write in Ephesians 2:8 “By grace you have been saved through faith.”  Faith is the entryway to God’s grace; it is the “narrow gate” of which Jesus speaks in Matthew 7:13-14.  The first and most important result of obedient faith is that we are saved.

Second, Paul says that he received apostleship.  He received the job by which he identifies himself in verse 1.  Each of us receives our task as Christians when we place our trust in Christ.

When I first trusted Christ, I was immediately called to ministry by the Holy Spirit.  Oh, how I resisted it!  I “knew” I did not want to be a preacher.  But God had decreed how I would serve Him long before I was born.  It was foolishness for me to run from His divine call on my life.  Remember, Paul says that he is Jesus’ slave.  I am a slave of Jesus, just like Paul, and I have no right to tell God I won’t do what He has called me to do!

In the same way each of you were given a task to accomplish when you placed your trust in Christ and became His slave.  Why do some of you resist His calling on your life?  You don’t have the right to tell God “no!”

In All the Nations

Paul then tells us something remarkable.  Grace is now available to all who exhibit obedient faith anywhere in the world.  This is an echo of John 3:16, in which God promises eternal life to all who believe.  Grace, God’s favor, is no longer limited to a dinky little backwater nation in the middle of the desert.  It has been brought to the whole world in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and all people must do is place their trust in Him.

For the Sake of His Name

Why has God allowed His grace to be dispensed?  So that the name of the one who dispenses His grace is glorified.  That is the meaning of the phrase “for the sake of his name.”  God has given His grace to all who place their trust in Christ for one reason only – to bring glory to His name in the person of Jesus.  He didn’t do it for me or for you.  He did it solely for Himself.

Realizing this, we should be stricken to our knees in awe that He condescended to allow one such as ourselves to be the vessels by which His name to be glorified!  He did not have to choose us to be vessels of glorification, yet He did!  Praise be to His glorious name in all the earth!

In Whom We Are

Next, Paul says that we are in the one whose name is being glorified.  We are in union, in relationship, to the one whom we have trusted.  If there is any doubt in the reader’s mind, Paul quickly reminds us that we are the called ones of Jesus Christ.  We are His slaves, and as such are joined to Him in a way that cannot be broken.

The Beloved, Called, and Holy Ones

Now Paul addresses his intended audience.  Having given such a great pedigree for himself and his brothers and sisters in Christ, he turns to a specific group of those brothers and sisters.  He calls them the beloved, called, holy ones of God.

Each of us who have trusted Christ is loved by God.  John 3:16 tells us that only those of us whom have trusted God experience His love in Christ.  If God loves the world through Christ, then the only way for us to experience that love is also through Christ.  Trust in Christ brings us the rich experience of the love of God that cannot be had through any other avenue.  Those in Rome had experienced the rich love of God in Christ.

Remember, each of us who have trusted Christ is called to perform a specific task for the Lord.  Those in Rome were no different.

But Paul also calls them holy.  The word I translate “holy ones” here is usually translated “saints” in our Bibles.  What a remarkable thing!  Each of us who have trusted Christ are holy ones, saints!  We are holy not of ourselves, but by virtue of the grace we have received through our faith in Christ.  What a contrast to the Catholic Church’s idea of a saint, so-called through manmade designations!  It is not the declaration of a church, a priest, or a Pope that makes us holy; it is the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Greetings of Grace

Paul greets those Roman Christians by wishing that they continue to receive from God grace and peace through their trust in Jesus.  What a wonderful way to say “hello!”  This kind of greeting is one that wishes only the best for the other person.  We as born-again believers must desire nothing but the best for our brothers and sisters in the faith.  Nothing could be better than God’s favor and peace!

Have you ever had God’s favor and peace?  I tell you today, the only way to have grace and peace in your life is to place your trust in Christ.  I have shown you that Jesus is the Son of God by whom God saves us.  I have shown you that anyone can be saved if they would simply trust in Jesus.  You know what I have told you.  Do you believe it to be true?  If you do, would you trust the truth I have shown you?  If you are a beloved one of God, you will trust Him.  All you must do to trust Him is repent of your sins and believe in Christ, and you will experience the love of God that saves sinners.  Don’t wait!  Trust in Christ today!

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