JohnSWilson3 Blog

“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
October 3, 2009, 2:35 pm
Filed under: L Letter to Romans

As Paul traveled from Ephesus to Macedonia and then to Greece he took with him a number of church planters in training. He had spent over two years spending time with these brothers and sisters, modeling the life, ministry, death, and resurrection life of Jesus to them, helping them to mutually encourage “each other’s faith.”

In this time it seems Paul sent a number of these brothers and sisters to Rome to help transplant the body of Christ in that place. Acts tells us that there were some brothers and sisters who were at Jerusalem who were “visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism)” who became followers of Jesus and learned the life of Jesus and “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…” Perhaps the couple “Priscilla and Aquila” were a part of this first group of Christians and during the first persecution returned to Rome along with others from Rome. Some of Paul’s companions were then sent out to help build the church in Rome sometime while Paul was in Ephesus, with the intent of himself sometime in the future going there.

It seems Paul loved the city life, and because Paul had “received grace and apostleship to call people from among the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith” then Rome, the greatest city of the known world, would be of great importance for him to go “preaching the gospel of his Son.” So like Jesus, he sent some of his companions ahead of him, to be initiators of body life in the various places of Rome proclaiming that “the kingdom of God was near,” before he would arrive and reveal Jesus to them in a wonderful way!

Paul writes this wonderful letter to the Romans knowing their background, these having been in Jerusalem with the first organic church, and his intent of having sent church initiators and planters ahead of him, he wanted to encourage them as well as to seemingly summarize many of the thoughts and revelations that he had previously shared with the churches in Galatia, Macedonia, and Greece.

He first and foremost describes to the “saints” in Rome “the gospel of God,” how this gospel was “promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendent of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Paul is extremely thankful as for the past year or so reports have been coming from his companions whom he sent to help transplant the church of their “faith” which “is being reported all over the world.” Man, did Paul want to visit these Christians who were living the life of Jesus! So Paul was in earnest prayer for this body of believers! He longed to see them! He longed to “impart to you some spiritual gift to make (them) strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Paul knew that both the believers there and himself would not truly know the fullness of Jesus until they were together and could share Jesus’ life with each other.

Only the gospel, which Paul was “not ashamed of” could strengthen the faith of one another in the body of Christ, for “it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ ” A life of faith, is the life of His body! Salvation is just the beginning, the first, the life of faith continues as we live Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection with our other brothers and sisters in Christ, to the last breath of our life on Earth.

Paul somehow also had gotten some news from his companions that apparently because there were both Jews and Gentiles in this body of believers there were some things that the brothers and sisters had not yet died to. So Paul describes “the wrath of God” in contrast to the “righteousness of God” found in the gospel. Paul describes how both Gentiles and Jews in the world were both without God. Gentiles had sought to make things in creation and themselves their own gods, even though they seen “God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” This “futile” thinking caused Gentiles to become more and more “depraved” in what they did to one another. While the Jews boasted selfishly in the Law, judging others, being self-righteous, and in circumcision. In all of this Paul wants to make a point that both Jew and Gentile must by faith believe the gospel because “no one (is) righteous, not even one.”

In Jesus there is neither Jew nor Gentile. There is no longer any need to follow the restrictions of the Law because Jesus had fulfilled the Law. Paul says that “a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by a written code” and “now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” In the end no one has any claim to boast. It is not by what you do that determines your relationship with God. Because Abraham, who was before the Law was introduced by Moses and even before circumcision was introduced, “believed God…it was credited to him as righteousness.” Therefore “a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” God is now the God of both Jews and Gentiles through faith in Jesus. What an incredible description of the wonderful salvation that God has given us!

“God gives life to the dead”! Abraham, spent years living by faith in God, and later when “his body was as good as dead…he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” And not just to Abraham has God credited righteousness “but also for us…who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” What a depiction of the kind of life Jesus has given us when we live by faith as a body of believers!

Paul so desired to encourage the believers in Rome that he wanted to make sure they understood how far they had fallen from God and how much God has raised them up through faith in Jesus! What an awesome God we have that He would love us so much to die for us, take away all of our sins, so that we could enjoy a relationship with the Holy God of creation! God now sees us as He sees His Son. He no longer sees our sin, but sees the beauty of Jesus instead!

Lord help me to live in this faith that You see Jesus instead of me, and in your body, You see only Jesus instead of us. Jesus give us the kind of faith like Paul, who was “not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” and “long to see (one another) so that (we) may impart to (one another) some spiritual gift to make (us) strong – that is, that (we) may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith”! Lord help us to live by faith so that Your life of love would be expressed to one another!

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