Introduction: The Man and His Message Part 2 – Romans 1:3-7
Pastor Mark Hardy October 9, 2011
The story is told of a very wealthy man who had many valuable art treasures. His only son was quite ordinary but was dearly loved. When the son died unexpectedly as a young man, the father was so deeply grieved that he died a few months later. The father’s will stipulated that, at his death, all his art works were to be publicly auctioned and that a painting of his son was to be auctioned first. On the day of the auction the son’s painting was displayed and the bidding was opened. Since neither the boy nor the artist was well known, a long time passed without a bid being offered. Finally, a long-time servant of the father and friend of the boy timidly bid seventy-five cents, all the money he had. When there were no other bids, the painting was given to the servant. At that point the sale was stopped and an official read the remainder of the will, which specified that whoever cared enough for his son to buy the painting of him would receive all the rest of the estate.
That touching story is like how God the Father feels about His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Whoever loves and receives Him also receives all that He has. For Ephesians 1:3 declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” This morning we are going to look at a beauty picture of God’s Son that Paul has painted for us.
As we continue on in our study of Romans, in Romans 1:1-7 we see eight aspects concerning Paul and the message he so boldly proclaimed. Last time we saw the first four:
I. The author of the letter is Paul
II. The addressees of the letter are Romans
III. The author of the Gospel is God
IV. The affirmation of the Gospel is Scripture
This morning we’ll be looking at the remaining four aspects.
The fifth aspect concerning Paul and the message he so boldly proclaimed is this:
V. The Person of the Gospel is Christ
A. Look at vv. 3-4: Concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1. Here we see that the “gospel of God” that Paul is “set apart for” (v. 1) is all about—“His Son,” who is “Jesus Christ our Lord.” He is the subject and substance of God’s gospel.
2. Paul then goes on in vv. 3-4 to paint a beautiful picture of God’s Son in the two stages of His first coming: His humiliation before His resurrection and His exaltation after His resurrection.
3. Now since Jesus is God’s Son before, during, and after His first coming, the contrast Paul makes in these two verses is not in His essence as God, but rather in the experience that was added to His being in His incarnation.
4. The first stage of Christ’s first coming is His humble entrance into humanity. Paul says in v. 3 that God’s Son “…was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh.”
5. The word “born” (genomenou) here is probably better translated “came to be” since Christ had eternally existed before His incarnation. For John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Verse 14) “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
6. The word “flesh” (sarka) in both passages here refers to the weakness and limitations of humanity. Without laying aside His divine nature, in His incarnation the eternal second Person of the Godhead took upon Himself the new state or condition of full humanity in all of its humble weakness and limitation, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).
7. As the God-Man—100% God, 100% Man, Jesus relinquished the independent use of His divine prerogatives. This first stage of Christ’s humiliation before His resurrection is clearly seen in Philippians 2:6-8, “…although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
8. In His humanity, Jesus was a “descendant of David.” His biological linage came through His natural mother Mary (Lk. 1:26-33; 3:23, 31) and His legal linage came through Joseph (Matt. 1:6, -16, 20; Lk. 1:27).
9. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies about the promised divine Messiah (2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 89:3-4, 19, 24; 132:17; Isa. 9:7; 11:1-5, 10; Jer. 23:5-6; 30:9; 33:14-16; Ez. 34:23-24; 37:24; Matt. 1:1; Lk. 1:27, 32-33, 69; 3:23-31; Jn. 7:42; Acts 2:30; 2 Tim. 2:8; Rev. 5:5; 22:16).
B. Then Paul goes on to paint the second stage of Christ’s first coming in His victorious exit with power. Look at v. 4, “Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness… (Stop there)
1. The word “declared” (horizo) carries the basic idea of marking off boundaries. It is the word from which we get our English word “horizon,” which refers to the demarcation line between the earth and the sky.
2. In an infinitely greater way, the divine sonship of Jesus Christ was marked off with absolute clarity by His resurrection from the dead. From all eternity He was the Son of God, at least in expectation, but during His earthly ministry of humiliation His power in its fullest degree was hidden from view.
3. However, His resurrection proved that He really was “the Son of God with power.” The experience of His resurrection was the ultimate credential in a long list of messianic fulfillments and supremely demonstrated a power that belongs only to God Himself.
4. Speaking about Christ’s resurrection as the fulfillment of Psalm 2:7, the coronation of the Davidic messianic King, Paul proclaimed in Acts 13:32-33, “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘YOU ARE MY SON; TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU.’” (2 Cor. 13:4; Heb. 1:5; 5:5)
5. Now notice again in v. 4 that Christ’s resurrection was “according to the Spirit of holiness,” which is another way of saying according to the nature and work of the Holy Spirit. It was the power of the Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.
6. So here we see Christ’s exaltation after His resurrection. His victorious exit with power.
7. William Hendriksen aptly said, “The implied exaltation took place by means of his resurrection from the dead; that is, his glorious resurrection was the first important step in his journey to glory. It was followed by Christ’s ascension, coronation, and act of pouring out the Holy Spirit.” (p. 42)
8. Thomas Schreiner said it this way, “While Jesus was on this earth, He was the Messiah and the Son of God, but His death and resurrection inaugurated a stage in His messianic existence that was not formerly His. Now he reigns in heaven as Lord and Christ.” (pp. 42-43)
9. That’s exactly what Peter declared about the risen Christ on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
10. This second stage of Christ’s exaltation after His resurrection is clearly seen in Philippians 2:9-11, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
11. This is why at the end of v. 4 Paul gives Him the full title “Jesus Christ our Lord,” which is used ten times in Romans. Each one of these names has great significance:
• His human name “Jesus” means “Savior,” “…for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
• “Christ” means “the Anointed One,” “Messiah.”
• “Lord” means Yahweh or Jehovah, the sovereign ruler of the universe.
12. This is Person that the gospel is all about. He came to earth for the purpose of dying on the cross in our place to pay in full the penalty for our sin.
13. Have you received Him as your personal Savior and Lord?
14. The sixth aspect concerning Paul and the message he so boldly proclaimed is this:
VI. The Proclamation of the Gospel is Worldwide
A. Coming back to his own apostleship, Paul says in v. 5: Through whom (i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ) we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles… (Stop there)
1. Although some scholars say that the “we” here is a literary or writer’s plural whereby Paul is really referring to himself, he is probably referring to all the apostles, among whom he is the apostle to the Gentiles (Eph. 3:5).
2. Now all believers have received “grace,” which is God’s unmerited, unearned favor in granting salvation, and every other blessing, as a gift to those who trust in His Son (Eph. 2:8-9), but the apostles also received a grace that was unique.
3. Therefore, the separate words “grace” and “apostleship” are probably better translated the “grace of apostleship” (Gal. 2:9; 1 Tim. 1:12-16; 1 Cor. 15:9-10; Eph. 3:2, 7-8). Now it was at Paul’s gracious conversion on the road to Damascus that he also received his gracious commission as an apostle (Acts 26:12-18; Rom. 15:15-16; Gal. 1:15-16; 1 Tim. 1:12-16).
4. The apostles were the first conduits of the good news of Jesus Christ. Their task was to proclaim the gospel to the world, and notice that Paul’s particular ministry was “among all the Gentiles.”
5. God’s salvation plan always included the Gentiles. In His covenant to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, God said, “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
6. That’s a reference to the Gentiles who were supposed to be part of the spiritual blessings and privileges that God gave to the people of Israel. Israel was to be a light to the nations.
7. Isn’t it interesting that the Jewish apostle, Paul, who was once the most adverse blasphemer of Christ and persecutor of the church, is now the one specifically called by Christ to predominately proclaim the gospel “among all the Gentiles!”
8. The word “all” here shows the universal dimensions of his ministry. There is only one gospel for the world, only one way of salvation that every tribe and tongue and people and nation must believe—the gospel of Jesus Christ, which as we saw last time is the overall theme of Romans.
9. Paul had a passionate love for his own Jewish people and deeply longed for their salvation (9:1-3; 10:1). But although he frequently began his evangelistic work among Jews (Acts 13:14; 14:1; 16:13; 17:1; 18:2), as the apostle to the Gentiles his primary focus was to them (Acts 9:15; 22:21; 26:17f; Rom. 11:13; 15:16ff; Gal. 1:16; 2:7, 9; Eph. 3:8).
10. But Paul will say in Romans 1:16, “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” (or Gentile). Therefore, our calling as believers is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ worldwide, both to the Jews and also to the Gentiles.
11. The seventh aspect concerning Paul and the message he so boldly proclaimed is this:
VII. The Purpose of the Gospel is Twofold
A. Look again at v. 5: Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among the Gentiles for His name’s sake.
1. There were two purposes of Paul’s apostolic ministry. His first purpose in proclaiming the gospel was “to bring about the obedience of faith” in others.
2. Now in its fullest sense the phrase “the obedience of faith” has two meanings: First, the word “faith” (pisteos) here does not refer to the body of Christian truth, but to active faith or belief.
3. Therefore, it is the obedience which is (or consists of) faith. In other words, we obey God when we believe in Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
4. The second meaning is that this initial saving faith springs forth in obedience or faithfulness. Although we are never saved by good works (Eph. 2:8-9), we are saved to good works (v. 10).
5. Genuine faith always proves or evidences itself in some way through obedience. This is exactly what James 2:14-26 is all about.
6. Verse 26 says, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
7. Faith without obedience is not saving faith. John MacArthur accurately states, “To belong to God in a relationship of obedience is to recognize that salvation includes being in submission to His lordship. Scripture recognizes no other saving relationship to Him.” (p. 25)
8. As I’ve said before, we never “make” Jesus Lord of our lives, He is Lord (Rom. 10:9) and we either submit to His lordship or not. Now we may rebel against His lordship in our lives, but if we truly belong to Him He will let us go only so far, for Hebrews 12:5-11 tells us that as His child He will exercise His lordship over us in the form of the loving discipline.
9. Therefore, if the continuous pattern of one’s life is utter disobedience to God’s Word then it is safe to say that he or she is not truly saved. Not that we don’t all sin, but because true saving faith by its very nature includes in itself the sincere desire and will to obey God, we will inevitably produce some kind of spiritual fruit in our lives, though it may be microscopic.
10. Therefore, “the obedience of faith” is both initial obedience in saving faith and continuing obedience to the faith. You cannot have one without the other; the two are inseparable.
B. Paul’s second and ultimate purpose in proclaiming the gospel was “…for His (i.e. Christ’s) name’s sake.”
1. The word “name” (onoma) stands for the whole person. Therefore, to proclaim the gospel for Christ’s name sake is to do it to glorify and honor all that Christ is in His Person, character and attributes.
2. This is exactly what Paul was commissioned to do in Acts 9:15 when the risen Christ told Ananias, “…he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.”
3. Because God alone is infinitely perfect in all of His attributes He alone is worthy of our praise and will share His glory with no one else. He proclaims in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another nor My praise to graven images.” (Ps. 106:8)
4. Therefore, although God gave His own Son to save the world (Jn. 3:16) and does not wish for any to perish (2 Pet. 3:9), the ultimate purpose of the gospel is not for man’s sake, but above all for the glory and honor of Christ.
5. John Stott said it so well, “The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God, verse 18), but rather zeal—burning and passionate zeal—for the glory of Jesus Christ.” (p. 53)
6. It was this zeal for God’s glory that the apostle John was talking about when he said about certain missionaries in 3 John 7, “…they went out for the sake of the Name…”
7. Beloved, as believers we exist for the glory of God. Therefore, whether we are preaching the gospel or living it out in our daily lives we are to glorify God.
8. For 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Do all “for His name’s sake!”
9. The eighth aspect concerning Paul and the message he so boldly proclaimed is this:
VIII. The Privileges of the Gospel to Believers
A. Now since the Roman believers are included in Paul’s apostleship to all the Gentiles, he easily makes the transition to them. Look at vv. 6-7: Among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ. To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. Now there are countless spiritual blessings and privileges of the gospel that believers possess, but Paul lists five here to these Roman believers: First, is the privilege of belonging. In v. 6 we read, “Among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ.”
• The word “called” (klatoi) here is not a general calling, but the specific way in which those who have responded to that invitation have been sovereignly and effectually called by God to Himself in salvation. It is a synonym for the terms “elect” and “predestined.”
• From our human viewpoint, it may seem that we first came to Christ through an act of our will, but according to God’s Word we could never have sought Him by faith unless He had not already chosen us by the gracious act of His sovereign will and in time drawn us to Himself (Jn. 6:44).
• Therefore, as His called ones we belong to Jesus Christ. Our lives are His.
2. Second, is the privilege of being loved. Notice in v. 7 that believers are described as the “beloved of God.”
• Only believers are called “beloved,” never unbelievers. Now since Jesus is God’s beloved Son, and we as His children belong to Christ, then we too are also beloved.
• In 2 Thessalonians 2:13 we read, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”
• First John 3:1 says, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are…” And 4:19 reminds us that “We love, because He first loved us.”
3. Third, is the privilege of holiness. Paul literally says in v. 7, “called saints.”
• The word “saints” (hagios) means “set apart by God from the world and to Himself, and thereby being made like Him in holiness.” Therefore, saints are separated ones, holy ones.
• Every true believer is a saint; not someone that the Roman Catholic Church canonizes.
• The moment of your salvation you already became holy in your position in Christ, as you were clothed in His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). However, progressive sanctification is increasingly becoming in your daily practice what you already are in your divine position, until you are finally glorified to be perfectly like Christ.
4. Fourth, is the privilege of grace. Paul says in the first part of his introductory benediction, “Grace to you…”
• Grace is the whole of the gospel summed up in one word. It is God’s unmerited and unearned favor imparting salvation (Eph. 2:8-9), as well as, every spiritual blessing and resource (2 Cor. 12:9) to those who turn to Him through Christ.
5. Fifth, it the privilege of peace. Notice that Paul says, “Grace to you and peace…”
• Whereas grace (charis) was the typical Greek greeting, peace (shalom) was the usual Hebrew greeting (Num. 6:24-26). But Paul joined them together and transformed them into one distinctively Christian benediction.
• It is God’s grace that brings true peace. Not only the peace of God by being reconciled to Him through Christ (Rom. 8:1), but also the peace of God that supernaturally “guards your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). We all need God’s grace and peace in our daily lives!
6. And notice the Source of these is “…from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” By connecting Christ with the Father as the Source Paul again proclaims that Jesus is God.
In closing, the gospel is all about Jesus Christ. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. To do it now before death is to receive Him as Savior and Lord and to begin to experience His countless spiritual blessings and privileges that you will enjoy throughout eternity.
But to do it later after death is to know Him only as your Judge and to eternally experience the horrors of the lake of fire. Therefore, if you have never received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, please don’t wait! Open your heart and invite Him in today.