TODAY’S READING: ROMANS 4 - 8
OVERVIEW: The righteousness of God received by faith (chapter 4); the revelation of the righteousness of God realized in the soul (chapter 5); the righteousness of God revealed in trials (chapters 6-7); the righteousness of God represented as eternal (chapter 8).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
As we discussed in yesterday’s comments, in terms of doctrine, there is not a more important Book in the entire New Testament than the Book of Romans. And in terms of doctrine, God is more than just a little adamant about it! Though the heed and call in “Christian” circles is to “let go” of doctrine for the sake of so-called unity, God’s clear admonition to His church is to “hold fast” (II Tim. 1:13) to sound doctrine, so that we can be genuinely unified with everyone else who wraps their hands firmly around the truth of His Word! It is not simply our love that unites us, but our love of the truth. True biblical love always has truth as its basis (See II John 1:1-4 and the usage of the word “truth” five times in these four verses). It is worth noting that in the epistles Paul wrote to Pastor Timothy and Pastor Titus (i.e. the “pastoral epistles”) he mentions doctrine no less than 13 times! (See I Tim. 1:3,10; 4:1,6,16; 5:17; 6:1, 3: II Tim. 3:10; 4:2; Titus 1:9; 2:1,10!
.) Again, doctrine is what the Book of Romans is all about, not the least of which is the doctrine of salvation. There is no other Book of the Bible that provides more complete teaching on this most important subject than the Book of Romans.
Something else that is important to note as we make our way through this incredible Book is Paul’s utilization of questions in presenting his case. Perhaps you picked up on that in yesterday’s reading. In yesterday’s reading alone (Rom. 1-3), do you realize that Paul asked over 25 questions?! It’s almost as if he anticipates the objections a person might raise in response to the truth he is presenting, and takes away their argument before they even get there. It is a masterful teaching technique that the Spirit of God uniquely gifted Paul to employ. Pay close attention to this technique as we make our way through the remainder of this Book.
As we move into chapter 4 today, it is important to note a very significant transition that is being made. Whereas chapters 1-3 focused on the fact that God’s righteousness is REQUIRED BY SINNERS, chapter 4 focuses on the fact that God’s righteousness is RECEIVED BY FAITH. Whereas chapters 1-3 focused on the “WHAT,” chapter 4 focuses on the “HOW.”
In 4:1-8, Paul introduces us to the REWARD of righteousness by faith, namely that we are “justified.” To be justified means to be rendered righteous. It may be trite for some, but a great way to remember the truth encompassed in the word “justified,” is that is means “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned. As an illustration, Paul reaches back into the Old Testament to the life of Abraham to point to one who was justified by faith (4:1-8). Then, Paul reveals three truths concerning how it is that justification is actually reckoned to us: 1) It is not by circumcision (4:9-12); 2) It is not by the law (4:13-15); 3) It is only by grace through faith (4:16-22). The chapter closes with the promise that just as God imputed righteousness to Abraham because of his faith, He, likewise, imputes righteousness to each of us who receive the gospel by faith.
Having laid down the reality that the righteousness God demands is not an ACHIEVED RIGHTEOUSNESS, but a RECEIVED RIGHTEOUSNESS (that is, a righteousness that is not of WORKS, but by FAITH), Paul then moves in chapter 5 to lay out the fact that because we didn’t do anything to EARN our salvation (our righteousness), there is also nothing we can do to LOSE it! The doctrine of the eternal security of the believer (one of the most controversial doctrines in Christianity!) is firmly established in the Book of Romans, particularly in chapter 5. This chapter can be divided into two sections. The first section (5:1-10) identifies the BENEFIT of justification by faith: SECURITY. The second section (5:11-21) identifies the BASIS for justification by faith: ATONEMENT.
As we move into chapter 6, another transition is being made:
*Chapters 1-5 teach us about JUSTIFICATION by faith.
*Chapters 6-8 teach us about SANCTIFICATION by the Spirit.
*Chapters 1-5 identify how God saved us from the PENALTY of sin.
*Chapters 6-8 identify how Christ saved us from the POWER of sin.
*Chapters 1-5 show us the GATEWAY to the Christian life.
*Chapters 6-8 show us the PATHWAY of the Christian life.
While there is a significant contrast between Romans 1-5 and 6-8, there is an equally significant connection between Romans 6, 7 and 8. The connection between these three chapters is linked to a little phrase in Romans 5:17: “reign in life.” Notice that Paul does not fully explain (in this verse) HOW those who have been justified by faith in Christ shall “reign in life.” The full explanation comes in Romans 6, 7 and 8. Check it out . . .
*Romans 6 explains how the believer can reign in life because SIN no longer REIGNS over us. (6:12)
*Romans 7 explains how the believer can reign in life because the LAW no longer has DOMINION over us. (7:1,4)
*Romans 8 explains how the believer can reign in life because the SPIRIT now gives LIFE and LIBERTY to us. (8:2,4)