Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Colonnade and shops in Bath, England

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Dec 6, Rom 1-3

Today's readings are Rom 1-3. Tomorrow's are Rom 4-7.

Paul wrote Romans around 56-57 AD without ever having been to Rome. He had heard about the church there and looked forward to visiting but wanted to minister to them via this letter until he had a chance to go to them in person. We know Paul was considering a trip to Spain. Biblical historians disagree on whether he made it there or not. Paul may have been trying to establish a base in Rome from which he could explore Western Europe.

In any case, the letter is a cohesive theological treatise on the nuts and bolts of our salvation. It lays out, in clear detail, that the righteousness of God and justification (God's declaration of our righteousness) are available by faith in Christ. It is foundational to our belief and a theological cornerstone for Christianity. It is worthy of careful scrutiny and can be challenging to read objectively. But, an objective reading is rewarded with a rich theology and an accompanied awe of our glorious God.

We see the main theme of the letter in 1:16-17, “The righteous shall live by faith in God.” Justification (the heavenly proclamation of our just relationship with God) occurs by faith alone. This comes to us by the hand of God and cannot be earned. God's wrath will be poured out on all who are not declared righteous (justified). Those who are not justified are those who have rejected Jesus as Lord and Savior.

In Rom 2, we see that everyone will be judged, Jew and Gentile. God's judgment is just and moral. The only ones who are in right-standing before God are those who have received salvation by faith. These people will be spared God's wrath. Those who are not saved will suffer His wrath.
Rom 3 follows this by clearly stating that all have sinned and are worthy of God's wrath. Only those who believe are justified. This justification comes freely but only by God's grace, His free and unmerited favor. This is possible because the sacrifice of Jesus's life on the cross has justly dealt with the sin of those who believe in Him.

Justification is  a doctrine that is not typically taught in many churches today. But, it is one of the foundational elements of our faith. Without God's declaration of our righteousness, we remain doomed by the law. When God justifies us, our status before Him changes from owned by sin and condemned to owned by God and free. All this happens by His grace through faith. Justification is the absolutely essential element of our salvation.

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