An exposition of Romans 1:1-7. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, October 18, 2009.
Sermon Notes »
I was in a meeting this past week with some other pastors. We were talking and praying with one another. We talked about our congregations, our needs, concerns and what was on our hearts so that we knew how to pray for each other. One of the men said, “Our folks believe they just don’t obey.” That struck me. It struck me first because of its honesty. He didn’t say it as an accusation or a complaint – he was just stating a reality. It also struck me because it made me think about my own life and service. I thought about how often the same could be said of me. I believe – I just don’t obey. I know what to do – I just don’t do it. Those thoughts then sparked other questions. “Why don’t you obey?” “What keeps you from doing what you know to do?” The Puritans were known for their commitment to self-inspection. When you read them it seems they took it to the extreme in cases. Too much navel gazing can lead to a depressed faith. A constant feeling that you are worthless and that there is no progress in the gospel. I don’t think the modern church is in any danger in that department! Rather we could use some honest navel gazing. A little self-examination would be good for us. What motivates us? What makes us tick? Is obedience drudgery or a delight? Does it drain us or empower us?
There is no question that we, as the people of God, are called to a life of obedience. We not left to wonder if God would have us do as He says. Is it the will of God that we grit our teeth and bear the burden of following Him? After all Jesus said we must take up our cross and follow Him. He spoke of our dying daily in order to following Him. But are a long face, a heavy heart and a frustrated life what He had in mind? I don’t think so. It seems to me the message of the Scripture is that there is delight in service to God. That there is a profound joy in following Him. How is it the apostle Paul found the strength to sing and praise God from a prison cell? How is it he could delight in being found worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus? Why would he cry out, “O that I may know Him and enter into the joy of His suffering?” We get some insight into his joy when we read his opening remarks to the church at Rome. Our text this morning is found in Romans the first chapter.
Text: Romans 1:1-7
Without question Romans is one of the most powerful and influential “books” ever written. Its affect on the history of the church is profound. In turn it has shaped the western world. St. Augustine was brought to faith after reading a few verses from Romans 13. Martin Luther rediscovered the doctrine of salvation by faith through his study of this great book. John Wesley the leading light in awakening of the 18th century was converted while listening to a man read from Luther’s preface to Romans. Wesley said, “My heart was strangely warmed” and thus he came to faith. John Bunyan, inspired by this book in turn wrote the Pilgrim’s Progress. There is no question this book casts a lengthy shadow through the history of the church.
Kent Hughes said when approaching his study of Romans, “The study of it produces genuine excitement and genuine trepidation – excitement because of the possibilities its life-changing themes bring to us, and trepidation at reasonably expounding their massiveness.” In other words there is joy and excitement because of its great power in presenting the gospel and great fear in handling such profound truths. I share his sentiments!
Paul, probably from Corinth in 57AD, wrote this letter to Rome as an introduction. It was his desire to come to Rome and to minister there (1:11-15). Because he is not writing to a congregation he established and due to the fact he’s not addressing particular problems – Romans differs from his other epistles.
Some have referred to his writing as a treatise or doctrinal statement. There are those who feel it is a systematic theology. It is the most detailed teaching on salvation and the gospel that we possess in the biblical record. Paul desired to come to Rome and this was a means of letting them know ahead of time, “This is the message that I’m preaching.” This is the theme of my ministry. But don’t get the wrong idea – this is no dry, lifeless theology text. This is a warm, pastoral, and practical expression of the Gospel.
In his introduction or greeting we discover an important truth about the life of faith. The weight of these opening verses gives some insight into what is to come.
From these 7 verses we learn that:
Thesis: Joyful and faithful service is the fruit of a grace-saturated life.
Keep in mind that this church does not know Paul. Perhaps they know of him, there may be people in the church who know Paul but as a whole they do not know him. So he wants to give them a little information about himself before he gets to the heart of his letter. It is this statement of who he is that I think is so important.?I believe it is critical to understanding how we remain faithful and joyful in service.? I want to point out three things as we make our way through the text.?These are three things that are the result of a life saturated with grace.
- The grace-saturated life delights in being owned by God. (1:1)
- The grace-saturated life is a life consumed with the Gospel. (1:1-4)
- The grace-saturated life gladly acknowledges it is all of grace. (1:5-7)