Roaming Through Romans (Romans 1:1-5:1)
Many scholars believe that the book of Romans was a letter that Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote to the church in Rome about 55 A.D. Paul had founded churches throughout the Mediterranean world. But the church in Rome had been founded by other Christians. Nevertheless Paul wanted to visit them, encourage them in the Faith and hopefully impart a spiritual gift. The letter to the Roman church was probably hand delivered by Phoebe as Paul commends Phoebe to them at the end of his letter. Romans 16:1-2.
Romans is a book of Christian doctrine. The main theme of Romans is that the Righteousness of God is shown through His amazing Gift to us in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. And the first four chapters teach that all people are sinful and that we should not trust in our own good works for salvation. God has given us salvation as a gift that we should accept His gift with faith. In chapter four we are encouraged to imitate the faith of Abraham.
Romans begins with Paul’s greetings and discussions of his upcoming trip to visit the Roman church. But by Romans 1:18 Paul gets into theology. He discusses God’s anger against people who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. Romans 1:19-20 continues with: “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
Verse 21 continues: “because, although they knew God they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Verse 25: “who exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
It seems according to this first chapter of Romans that God doesn’t let the atheist off the hook. Romans 1:20 tells us that the people who say they don’t believe there is a God really know better. They know in their hearts that God is God. But they reject God because He is inconvenient. Believing in Him would mess up their lifestyle. So they don’t believe on purpose. This verse says that Gods’ “invisible attributes are clearly seen” so the unbeliever is “without excuse.” Verse 20 continues by declaring that we humans are able to see plenty of evidence that there is a God when we look around at the created world we live in.
Verse 18 tells us that people’s sin often causes them to suppress the truth and hold false views of God. The rebels cover up the Truth so they won’t have to change. They feel at home with their demons but not with the Lord who can cast out those demons. They love their selfish ways too much to be willing to give them up. Verse 23 goes on to say that often these unbelievers “exchange the truth of God for the lie and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator …” They hold to their false views of God because they know that the truth would require that they turn from their sins.
So we see that the first two chapters of Romans comes down hard on people who refuse to acknowledge God. The blame is put right back on the unbeliever. They choose to reject God and their judgment is self induced. They want to do it their own way. Gods’ anger and punishment is promised on all the ungodliness of the people who reject Him. The first two chapters of Romans make that very clear.
As we read on through Romans we come to descriptions of Gods’ grace and provision for our salvation. Romans 3:24-25 says: “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith to demonstrate His righteousness because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” And in verse 28: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” These verses tell us that Gods’ righteousness is demonstrated because He has loved us so much that He has given us His Son. And because of Christ’s sacrifice, because of His blood, our sins are passed over and cleansed.
In the fourth chapter of Romans, we are encouraged to accept this Gift of salvation through faith. Abraham’s faith is held up as an example that we can follow. Faith is choosing to believe what God has said. The most important thing that we can do is to have faith in God and in Christ as our Savior. God has declared in His Word that faith is the attitude of heart by which one can obtain salvation. Scripture declares that we are “justified by faith.” Romans 5:1. We can’t please God without it. Faith is the one childlike attitude that is exactly the opposite of trusting ourselves. Our faith in God is all important but it is so simple that we almost stumble over it. God has given us this great Gift of salvation. Our part is to just simply believe and thank Him for the Gift. God has done His part. Now let’s do ours.