This week, Chad Hampsch walked the class through the book of Romans and helped us understand it a little better. Romans is a very popular (commonly preached, memorized, etc) book of the Bible in the Christian circle. To me, the general idea of the book is the truth of the gospel and how that truth impacts a believer’s life; Paul first communicates belief and then behavior. Being a Hebrew with a deep love for his people, Paul brings much clarity from the Old Testament by bringing up many questions and answering it in light of the new covenant. In short, the book of Romans can be dissected into seven sections: introduction (not ashamed), condemnation, justification, sanctification, restoration, application, and conclusion.
In the introduction, Paul does not beat around the bush; he unashamedly confesses his belief. (Romans 1:16- “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”) The Greek word for power in this verse is the same word we get dynamite from in the English language. Verse 17 goes on to say that the righteousness of God is revealed through the Gospel; the holiness of God is seen through the person of Jesus Christ, who was fully God, fully man, and completely righteous. In a time when some people (most importantly to Paul, the Jews) were still processing “this whole Jesus thing,” Paul was not ashamed.
For the next two chapters, Paul explains that all mankind is condemned; that no rule, law, or action can save a man. He explicitly addresses the Jews and tells them that the Law will not save them. He does not only speak condemnation to the Jew, but also reminds them of their position, “the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.” (Romans 3:2) Paul ends this “section” by quoting Old Testament Scriptures (for the Jews) that told them no one is righteous, and that “no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the words of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” (Romans 3:20) Paul then explains that no one can be saved from their condemnation except through Jesus and that salvation and righteousness comes through faith. This faith is in the truth that Jesus came as an atonement (a word that the Jews knew very well) for mankind and now God sees all people who believe in Him as justified (to be made righteous in His sight). Jesus Christ is the substitute that takes our place; His blood paid the price for our sins and makes a way to God. Justification could been described as the moment one accepts Jesus as Savior and is immediately free from sins penalty (because it’s on Jesus).
The next section in Romans and the next part in a believer’s life after trusting Jesus as their Savior is sanctification. Sanctification is the process of becoming more and more like Christ through the power and work of the Holy Spirit, which resides in every believer. The process of becoming more like Christ is to display to the world that there is a difference after coming to know Him; His people are set a part because He is holy. Chapter 7 compares and contrast the life of an unbeliever and the life of a believer. Those in Christ are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness, which brings freedom. Chapters 9-11 speak of the restoration that God desires for mankind. Paul communicates God’s heart for both His chosen people and for the Gentiles that are grafted in. After this, Paul address what this new life looks like in action.
In this section, Paul writes about being living sacrifices (again, a word the Jews would be very familiar with) as a spiritual act of worship (unlike the physical act of worship the Jews had been accustom to). Paul urges them to renew their minds, to have brotherly love for each other, to be submissive to the government, and to live in community with one another. This section contains many ways to apply the gospel (belief--->behavior). Paul ends the letter by challenging the Romans to plan to take the gospel to places it has not yet been preached.
This book is an incredible tool for the believer. I am so thankful we studied it more in depth this week. After studying something so great, I must always remind myself to apply it in my daily life and not let it be head knowledge. God has always been and will always be concerned about the heart, just as He was with His chosen people, the Jews.