Sermon 2017 01 15 AM

15.01.17 AM Sermon                        Romans # 2 "From : Paul, a servant of God's gospel" (Rom 1:1-6)

When studying Romans, it is easy to get lost in the detail and fail to see how the passage being studied fits into the big picture. [Separate Sheet Structure and outline of the letter]

Make use of the fuller outline, the big picture at the outset, so that we can better understand the detail.

If I could sum up the theme of the apostle Paul's letter to the Christians gathered in Rome; it is all about the salvation that God has revealed in Jesus Christ.

At its simplest, the letter fits together like this: following his introduction, Paul gives a short thesis for his argument, then sets up the problem, tells us the solution, draws out some of the implications, and signs off.

The letter has four main sections, containing the substance of Paul's teaching, and these sit within a frame formed by an introduction and a conclusion.

This morning we shall be considering the first six verses of chapter 1, the beginning of his introduction; his greetings. In his greetings, Paul follows the conventional structure in the ancient world:

- Paul, to the Romans, greetings.

But he fills out his salutations (greetings) in order to address some essential matters.

You see, writing to the Christians who make up the church in Rome, Paul is hoping to visit them on his way to Spain, but first he must go to Jerusalem, and he spreads out the essentials of the gospel that he carries and that they should know. Paul does this for two main reasons -

Firstly this gives him the opportunity to present his credentials as a preacher of the gospel.

In other words: Why should the Romans pay attention to his message?

Secondly, What is his message? Paul wants to eliminate any confusion between himself and his readers as to the nature of the message – the gospel of Christ - in other words; this is what he expects the Romans to be believing.

He ends his introduction compellingly declaring his confidence in the gospel as God's powerful means of salvation and so drawing his readers to read on and discover why this is such good news.

Paul's credentials (v1)

(v1) "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God."

Servant

Paul regards himself as a servant. Male slave - doulos - "someone who belongs to another; a bond-slave, without any ownership rights of their own."

A term used with the highest dignity in the NT – namely, of believers who willingly live under Christ's authority as His devoted followers.

Paul regards his service, his servanthood, to be of the highest calling.

He is coming not to Lord it over others, but coming in service to His Lord.

And this is for Jesus, whom he considers to be the Christ that God promised his people.

Apostle

Christ, his master, called him to be an apostle and his authorised ambassador.

apóstolos (from apostéllō, "to commission, send forth")  = someone sent (commissioned) = with the focus being upon the one sending and their authority, not the one being sent.

(Acts 9:15) "The Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel."

Set Apart

Aphōrismenos (ἀφωρισμένος) = "Having been set apart" = "separated from a boundary" (i.e. separated from a previous condition/situation)

Paul has been set apart by Christ himself, from what he once was, perhaps a persecutor of the gospel, to carry the gospel, the good news, to others, a message that is not his own but God's

The gospel (v1-6)

This morning I want to concentrate upon Paul's portrayal of the gospel that his brings and believes and that he expects his readers to hold to.

One of our greatest errors is to place ourselves at the heart of the gospel we preach.

Verses 1 to 5 turn such a selfish view upside down, as Paul gives a brief but dense description of the gospel he is proclaiming.

The gospel …

1… comes from God (v1)

It is the gospel of God - the gospel belonging and originating with God.

The source of the good news is not humanity, not the apostle Paul, but God himself.

In other words - the gospel is a revealed good news, not a worked out good news, not an invented good news, not a manufactured good news. It is signed, sealed and delivered - by God.

God is the source of our salvation.

2 … is not new (v2)

It was "promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures."

It is God's eternal plan, revealed to his people hundreds of years previously, in the Old Testament.

Through his spoken, recoded and passed down word. Through the precious scriptures.

Throughout history God has been working to fulfil his plan.

And we could say that this was the plan before history itself. Before time itself - before creation.

We would be mistaken to ever to think that Jesus is God's "second plan", or plan B.

Jesus has always been plan A. God knew what he was doing when he created humanity. He knew the reality of our fall and the need of a Saviour.

The same God of the OT is the God of the NT, not two Gods.

Not an angry God of the OT and a loving God in the NT.

We see from the prophet Habakkuk who is writing just before the destruction of Jerusalem, that God's plans are to keep his promises even in the face of evil - to bring about salvation in the midst of destruction.

Habakkuk asks how God, whose "eyes are too pure to look on evil" (1:13), can both punish evil and keep his promises of salvation to Israel.

God's answer is that Habakkuk should wait: both will happen in the end.

Evil will be destroyed and "the righteous will live by his faith" (2:4)

Salvation depends upon trusting God.

3… is all about Jesus (v3)

The reason why the gospel is "regarding His Son" (rather than us and our needs) comes over in verses 3-4.

"regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord."

There is some much in these two verses that we could unpack.

Paul reveals the fullness of Jesus' identity in what has been described as "a sharp crescendo".

He describes Jesus from two points of view:

a. in earthly terms "as to his earthly life" he "was a descendent of David".

This fact itself arouses expectation about his messiahship. The Messiah was to be from the line of David, prophesied to be on a number of occasions in the OT.

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT) "For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be the royal titles; Wonderful Councillor, Prince of Peace. His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord almighty will guarantee this!"

Jeremiah 33:14-15 (NLT) "The day will come, says the LORD, when I will do for Israel and Judah all the good that I have promised them. At that time I will bring to the throne of David a righteous descendant, and I will do what is just and right throughout the land."

Jeremiah 33:17 (NLT) "David will forever have a descendant sitting on the throne of Israel."

Jeremiah 33:19-21 (NLT) "Then this message came to Jeremiah from the Lord:  "If you can break my covenant with the day and night so that they do not come on their usual schedule,  only then will my covenant with David, my servant, be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true with my Levitical priest who minister before me."

Jeremiah 33:26 "I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David's descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them."

2 Samuel 7:12 (NKJV) "When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body and I will establish his kingdom. "He shall build a house for My name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. For I will be his father and he will be my son".

1 Chronicles 17:11-14 "And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My mercy away from him, as I took it fromhim who was before you. 14 And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever.”

Isaiah 11:1-3  (NKJV) "There shall come forth a rod from the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord."

Psalm 89:35-36  (NKJV) "Once I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David; His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me."

Psalms 132:10-14 "For the sake of your servant David, do not reject the King you chose for your people. The Lord swore to David a promise He will never take back: "I will place one of your servants on your throne. "If your servants obey the terms of my covenant and follow the decrees that I teach them, then your royal line will never end." For the Lord has chosen Jerusalem; he has desired it as his home. "This is my home where I will live forever," he said "I will live here for this is the place I desired."

Psalm 132:17 "Here I will increase the power of David; my anointed one will be a light for my people."

Psalm 89:2-4 (ESV) "For I said, "Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness." You have said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one;  I have sworn to David my servant: 4I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.'"

Isaiah 11:10 (NLT) "In that day the heir to David’s throne  will be a banner of salvation to all the world.  The nations will rally to him,  and the land where he lives will be a glorious place."

Hosea 3:5 "But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the LORD their God and to David’s descendant, their king. In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the Lord and of his goodness.

Romans 15:12 "And the Prophet Isaiah said," The heir to David's throne will come, and he will rule over the Gentiles. They will place their hopes on him."

b. in the spiritual realm, "through the Spirit of holiness" he has been declared "appointed" to be the powerful "Son of God" by means of his "resurrection from the dead".

Only a king who conquers death can reign for ever. God promises David, Israel's greatest king, (2 Samuel 7:13) that he will establish an everlasting kingdom. In doing so he would be fulfilling the promises made to Abraham in Genesis 12 about all peoples on earth being blessed through him.

This kingdom will be ruled by one of David's descendants who will also be called "God's son"

A description of God's powerful son can be found in Psalm 2.

This promised King or "Christ" had not appeared by the end of the OT, so God's people were still waiting.

Paul describes "Jesus (the man) Christ (the promised messiah) our Lord (the supreme ruler in the universe)".

4… Demands the obedience of faith (v5)

(v5) "Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake."

The appropriate response to such a Christ figure is absolute submission and obedience.

However, this comes through or from faith. Obedience as an outcome or outworking of faith.

In other words, without faith it is impossible to please God.

Paul states that he has been set apart to call Gentiles to such an obedience.

We could say that exhibiting faith in God means that we will be obedient to his word, his commands.

Literally the Greek phrase here is "Obedience of Faith"

So, he could be meaning "the obedient life that stems from faith" or "the obedient response that consists of having faith" - we out of obedience are trusting God.

These two possibilities are not mutually exclusive: to put one's trust in Christ means following him as Lord, but it is only possible to obey Him when one has first come to him for rescue.

Let me be clear, it is not our good works that save us - we can do nothing to add to what Christ has done on the cross - His obedience has done it all.

However, the outworking of our life of faith means that we are called now to live differently that when we were rebellious, going our own way, doing our own thing, we are now called to obedience to show his resurrection life in us.

5… is for Jesus' name's sake (v5)

The goal of Gospel proclamation is not our benefit, but that Jesus' name might be honoured.

We need to be so careful in our selfish selfie society, where we think it is all about me, me, me, to realise that it is actually all about Jesus Christ - His name's sake.

Literally : "on behalf of the name of Him" - it is all about the name or reputation of Christ that we now live out our lives. And therefore, if we live in a way that is disobedient this reflects badly on our Lord.

6… applies to everybody (v5)

The extent of Paul's ministry is to "all the Gentiles".

The word used here, ethnesin (ἔθνεσιν) can mean "nations", so that Paul's ministry is to all people rather than to the Gentiles as distinct from the Jews. Indeed the scriptures show us how he ministers to both Jews and Gentiles -  the inhabitants of Rome, of course, fall within the terms of this remit.

(v6) "And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ."

And we here gathered in Wollaston are "among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ."

"Called to belong" - literally the Greek is "called to Jesus Christ" - but there is this sense in the Greek of now belonging to Him having been called away from another.

It reminds us of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians :

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20) "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies." (1 Cor 7:23) "You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings."

Conclusion: So, to conclude, Paul should be taken seriously as the Lord's servant apostle, set apart to preach and teach the gospel. A gospel whose origin is in God and not us, was foretold before it came to fruition in Christ Jesus, the prophesied Davidic King, and powerful Son of God evidence through his resurrection from the dead, who demands from us faith which results in or is demonstrated by obedience, not for our sakes but for the sake of the name that is above every other name, and this good news about Jesus is for everybody, as we are called away from sin and now to belong to Him. 


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