The Revelation of Righteousness
Topic: Sunday Sermons Passage: Romans 1:1–1:17
Romans Series Intro:
The Revelation of Righteousness
READER: Debi Walter
 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,  which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,  concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh  and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,  through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,  including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you  always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.  For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.  I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.  I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.  So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Each one of us transmit and receive hundreds if not thousands of communique’s each day (if you include advertisements). We are people who need to both transmit and receive, it’s how we process information, it’s how we understand things about life. While communications as an industry, and the tools we use for it have changed radically over the years, our need to both explain and understand have not.
I don’t know about you but I’ve never had a text I’ve sent, or that late night email turn into something foundational for, really - anything. Let alone something important - eternity changing even.
Paul had this experience with his letter, this correspondence replying to the church in Rome answering some questions they had.
I want to take our passage in a bit of a reverse order - we’ll start in verses 16-18.
Today we’ll see that:
The Gospel, as the revelation of righteousness through Christ, is the foundation for our souls, the springboard for our mission and the blueprint for our lives.
The Gospel is the Foundation for our Souls (V.16-18)
I want to spend the majority of our time together today in these two verses because they encapsulate the overarching theme throughout the Book of Romans as we are beginning this series today. There are several resources that we will recommend to you throughout this series and today I have three in particular that I'll mention throughout the sermon. We do this so that you can go and study for yourselves and have resources throughout the remainder of the week to study along with looking at God's word what the implications of that are for your own life.
This is also why our community groups that follow up and seek to apply these messages to our lives are so critical for us as a church.
The First Resource I want to recommend is one that we often recommend at the beginning of a series and that is the Bible project videos that capture the overarching outline of the books of the Bible. from their video on the book of Romans they say this about the church in Rome that he is writing to:
“We Know from acts 18 that the church and Rome had existed for some time and was made up of both Jewish and non-jewish followers. The crisis for this church began when the Roman Emperor Claudius expelled all of the Jewish people from Rome. About five years later, all those Jews, including many who followed Jesus were allowed to return. When they did, they found a church that had become very non-jewish and its customs and practice. This culture Clash created lots of tension, and, by Paul's day, the Roman Church was divided. They disagreed about how to follow Jesus, debating about whether or not non-Jewish Christians celebrate the Sabbath, or eat kosher, or be circumcised, and so on.
[Paul wants] this divided Community to become unified once again.”
Paul recognizes it is the gospel alone that can unify the church. This was true for the church in Rome and it is true for Metro Life Church today.
Paul begins verse 16 by stating I am not ashamed of the Gospel. Before we look at this much further we should take some time to define what the gospel is.
The gospel is the good news of what God has graciously done in the Incarnation, the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Christ's finished work on our behalf does two things: it satisfies God's Wrath against us to secure the forgiveness of sins - and - it is perfect righteousness for all who trust in him by faith alone.
So, before we move on, let me ask very simply: do you believe this is true?
I ask this because it's important for us to understand. You see, the gospel is life eternal but it is not MY life, it's not my testimony. It's not anything that I have done or that you have done or that we can plan to do.
The gospel is what God has done - on our behalf - in and through his son to RESCUE us from sin, bringing us into his glorious Kingdom. We who believe enter this Kingdom as sons and daughters who are willing and joyful to submit ourselves to him.
This good news - as Paul goes on to say - is the power of God for salvation to all who believe because in it the righteousness of God is revealed. It's important for us to rightly understand the righteousness of God that is revealed to us in the gospel.
This is very Covenantal language, simply meaning a special relationship with God that we are created for and called to throughout the scriptures.
A covenant is a binding agreement between two parties - there is a formal statement of their relationship which includes stipulations and obligations for both parties. There are lists of curses for unfaithfulness and lists of blessings for faithfulness to the agreement.
You may hear the Old Testament referred to primarily as the Old Covenant - meaning the agreement God established between he and his people prior to the coming of Jesus Christ when then comes to established a New Covenant in the New Testament. This is the overarching redemptive narrative of the Bible.
It's not even that we simply lack righteousness that might be pleasing to God in and of ourselves, it's that we are actually unrighteous and deserving of his judgment and Wrath, this is where the gospel becomes our salvation - by providing for us a righteousness that we could not achieve on our own.
This does not mean that there is a difference in the Old Testament God and the New Testament God.
In the Old Covenant God provides the law to expose our need of a savior, in the New Covenant Christ is revealed as the righteousness that is required to secure our salvation.
In Christ, God provides for what he requires - he does not toggle back and forth between his righteousness or his Wrath - he satisfies them both in Jesus Christ!
Ultimately, we need to be saved from God's just and holy Wrath - we will see a little bit more about this in Romans 1:18 in the weeks ahead - where Paul goes on to say that the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth.
Throughout scripture we see the need to be saved from our own sinful nature. And God provides this salvation. He both requires and secures this covenant relationship through His own Son.
And that, is the good news of the Gospel that we are called to believe.
Paul speaks, at the end of verse 16 to the Jew first and also to the Greek - this relates to the priority of his own mission to these people groups, there are distinctions for Jewish people as God's covenant people from the Old Testament but Paul is articulating the foundational details of the New Covenant in Christ for all who would believe. We’ll explore these distinctions - as well as where there are no distinctions or priorities - in the weeks ahead as we get into Romans 3.
As we understand this, it should cause our hearts to respond in awe and wonder at the covenants of God - not merely as something formal about our idea of God, perhaps seeing him as some far off being, but through these covenants we can know him as our intimate and personal FATHER who sees our need and meets it - namely that what he requires he also provides for us in Jesus Christ. THAT is good news!
In the beginning of verse 16 Paul says that he is not ashamed of the Gospel.
Why was it that Paul was able to say that? Certainly Paul was going to face shame and Scorn over sharing the gospel, but he is not ashamed of it.
There are things that we are naturally confident or comfortable with - or - lack confidence in or are uncomfortable with. Oftentimes our confidence relates to our own efforts, who we are, our personality, our backgrounds, maybe even things like our position or our job or our role or our title.
The reason you and I can be unashamed of the Gospel today is the same reason Paul was able to be unashamed of it, it's not our work, we're sharing in the work of another. he doesn't claim background, nationality, lineage, political leanings or even maturity in the gospel. Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel is because the gospel is not about Paul, the gospel is Christ's work on Paul's behalf. The same is true for each one of us today.
So today church - let me exhort you - don't be ashamed, Christ's work is enough, everything that we need for life and godliness is provided through the person and work of Jesus Christ, it's empowered by his holy spirit with the power that raised him from the dead!
There is a day coming when we will not be ashamed for claiming that work before the judgement seat of God the Father. In the book of 1 John in chapters 2 - 4 we’re being given instructions as the children of God where we are reminded that there is a day coming when we will be able to stand confidently and unashamed Before the Throne of God claiming the work of someone else.
I don't know about you, but on that day I don't want to try to claim anything of my own, I know how it falls woefully short and is found wanting.
But we have a savior, perfect in righteousness, Covenant fulfilling, promise keeping, death defeating, Spirit giving - he invites us through faith to look to his work and believe that we can say; “Christ’s work is mine!” and he responds by saying “he or she is mine” and clothes us in the righteousness that we need to be in God’s presence confidently.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to speak at an event and there was security present at the wings of the entrance to the stage. The person that was helping give me directions - my handler for the day - called me forward just before going up on stage and simply told me to stand there because they were about to announce me and then they walked away… Security was standing there and I looked at her and said am I supposed to go up now? She looked back at me and said “unless your contact’s standing with you - you're not coming through that gate.”
Now, I'm not one to try to pick a fight with a security guard, and I certainly wasn't going to mess with this young lady who was probably less than half my size especially after learning beforehand about her specific training, I knew this for sure - I didn't want to test her.
My claim was simply going to be this:” I'm with my Handler!”
Think about this - Standing before the Throne of God one day, and it’s coming for us all - I know that want to throw myself on the mercy of God saying “I'm with him, I'm with Christ and Christ is with me! He is All My Hope and peace.”
Christ and his work are not to be ashamed of and he will not put us to shame before God the Father!
Before we move on to the remainder of our passage today I want to look at one last phrase in verse 17 - Paul says the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith.
What might Paul mean here? Paul is saying that when we respond in faith to the offer of righteousness in the gospel - believing it is freely ours to receive, and here’s more of the good news of the Gospel - there is more faith for us to receive from in the future! An endless supply...
There certainly is the initial Act of Faith that saves, there's also an ongoing presence of faith in our hearts, all the way to the end as we endure.
Think of it this way - just a moment ago I asked “DO you believe? - not - DID you believe?”
Do we still believe this Gospel is true, real and available to us today, in our families, in our workplace, in our relationships, on our campuses, etc. I want to stir that sustaining faith in us as a church this morning.
This brings me to the second resource to recommend to you today: the gospel primer, for me it’s a lot like a swiss army knife for my faith - at times I use it for devotions, at times to bring my thoughts back in line with truth - weeks like these, for sermon prep. It’s a helpful tool available to you as well.
Here’s what it says about this section of Romans:
“The New Testament teaches that Christians ought to hear the gospel as much as non-Christians do. In fact, in the first chapter of Romans the Apostle Paul tells the believers in the church that he was anxious “to preach the gospel to you who are at Rome.”
[...] Of course, he was anxious to preach the gospel to the non-Christians at Rome, yet he specifically states that he was eager to preach it to the believers as well.
In most of Paul’s letters to churches, sizeable portions of them are given over to rehearsing gospel truths [ …]
Re-preaching the gospel and then showing how it applied to life was Paul’s choice method for ministering to believers, thereby providing a divinely inspired pattern for me to follow when ministering to myself and to other believers.” - Vincent, Milton. A Gospel Primer for Christians
The book of Romans helps us understand how the Gospel is a foundation for our souls. It is also a Springboard for our mission
The Gospel is the springboard for our mission (V.8-15)
Rome was a city with problems on a grand scale. There were slaves and racial bigotry. There was Injustice, there was the blood of victims who dared to stand in the way of progress and Rome was inhumane to man and disregarded God entirely. So shouldn't surprise us that Paul writes in Romans 1:15 - I'm eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
Here’s the thing to remember: He’s writing to believers, in a church, and he wants to preach the gospel to them!
In this section of Romans 1, we see the Apostle Paul praying for the church, giving thanks to God that they have faith. It's a faith that is proclaimed in all the world.
the proclamation of their faith and Paul's thankfulness for it seemed to be rooted in a few things that we see throughout these verses, namely that:
their faith was in Jesus (v.17)
it was producing the fruit of love and obedience and (v.5)
it was puttingChrist on display for all of the world to see (v.8)
Paul states in verse 11 that he wants to come and impart to them a spiritual gift so that they may be strengthened and there would be mutual benefit from that.
He wants to see the church built up, in the gospel, through the gifts.
I wonder if as we head into this series on Romans and as you may have heard that we were going to be working our way through this book in the coming months if you had one of two responses: excitement over deep theological teaching and training or dread that we may not be addressing things like the Triune God and the gifts of the holy spirit at work in the power of Christ’s resurrection. What’s true is: it doesn’t have to be one-or-the-other!
I never cease to be amazed at the depth and breadth of scripture because Romans includes both. The holy spirit is at work through the gospel, the holy spirit is Distributing gifts to his people and that is a mutual benefit to the church that they may be strengthened.
Perhaps our response heading into this series can be something more like this; a humble prayer that our faith is strengthened through the rich and deep truths represented in this book and an eager anticipation, even a pursuit of the gifts of the Spirit being released as a blessing and a benefit of the Covenant that we have through the power of the resurrection and righteousness with Christ.
This is where you appreciate Paul's wanting to be with the church in Rome even though he's not ever met them before, he puts a value on being together. We also put a value on being together in this gathering on Sundays and in community group and in alive in young adults and different things through men's and women's ministry that are offered so that there would be mutual benefit, strengthening, gifts at work both imparted and being used for the glory of God.
But notice one last thing…
Paul wants to see a harvest! In reading this week something stood out to me about the two ways that Paul seeks a harvest: 1) He wants to preach the gospel to believers but he wants others to be transformed by the power of the good news of the gospel. 2) He wants part of that harvest to be the gifts coming to fruition in the church and through the church as well.
We want to see a harvest in our city, throughout our nation around the world:
- that’s what makes me excited when Aron comes to us as a team and says he believes that he’s to go full time with this mission through Grace Partnership.
- a longing for this harvest causes me to be excited that Darin, Eddie and Lewis are leading 3 separate community groups this term related to the Person and work of the Holy Spirit and practicing the power of the gifts so freely given to the church, exploring what those gifts are broadly even in areas like leadership, administration, compassion, etc. and understanding how to function in more specific gifts and roles in the church like Prophecy.
- I’m stirred when hearing about what’s happening in groups like Jason and Alli Myers as they’re looking at The Great Commission and its implications for us in Evangelism, Discipleship, and Baptism, as well as the everyday Christian life.
- I love hearing about young adults committing themselves to 10 days of fasting in the days ahead (more info on the blog)
Much like Paul, we need the gospel, the gifts and these various roles to be at work in and through the church and for them to be grounded in the good news of the Gospel - highlighting for us the blessing and benefit, calling us to return and remember and caring for one another and those around us!
So, we’ve seen how the Gospel is a foundation for our souls, provides a springboard for our mission and lastly, we want to consider how it is a blueprint for our lives as individuals.
The Gospel provides a blueprint for our lives (V.1-6)
Now, Paul takes some time and verses 1 through 6 to introduce himself in verses 1 and 2 of Romans chapter 1 - he's not writing to Rome’s elite, the most educated, their deepest thinkers… he's writing to Believers like you and me (no offense). Paul is writing to those who, as it says in verse 7 are simply this: loved by God and called to be Saints.
Remember, the gospel is not about us, we can sometimes live as if we are in the midst of this relationship with God that says if I do what is right then God will love me like it's some terrible if this then that flowchart.
The gospel calls us to live in a radically different way through our covenant relationship with the Lord, it calls us to live in one that says because Christ died for us therefore we are forgiven and that's what gives us confidence it's an unconditional relationship based on the principle of Grace
as Sam storms says: “The gospel is not a moralistic do! The gospel is a merciful done!” - Sam Storms
Here the triune God is at work in the heart, mind and strength of an individual: The Father promises through Scripture, the son accomplishes and the spirit of holiness brings life from death.
Jesus, as the son of God is no longer operating in a weak, suffering, fragility in submission or even a humbled humanity... He is functioning on our behalf as the Son of God in power and strength and all authority, exalted because of his resurrection power!
I wonder what our lives would look like if we took this seriously, realizing each day that the only reason we woke up at all is because God mercifully willed it. Not free to think whatever we want, respond in every way that we might want, please our eyes in any way that they want - rather - every part of us belongs to the Lord. We are a servant of Jesus Christ there's no more glorious blessing than that.
Make no mistake, we are serving something… either our sinful flesh, our own ego, our own way - or - we’re a servant to Christ.
Earlier I said that this is a Covenant Relationship, but it’s exclusive, not a-relationship-amongst-many, God makes an exclusive claim on us as his followers.
For Paul, we learn from this introduction of himself, there was no better identity and primary identifier than that of a servant of Christ - he put all his hopes on that, not his achievements or accolades, not his heritage or nationality, not his education or business acumen - he is Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus… - everything else in life fell in place behind that.
Can you say the same about your life today? Would others observe that the main thing that you identify yourself by is the finished work of Jesus Christ on your behalf - careful if you ask, people may answer you!
Let’s live, individuals and a gathered community of the rescued, as ones who are unashamed of the Gospel, sharing this good news with others so that they may join us in a confident eternity based on the finished work of Christ.
Paul closes with a prayer for the saints, verse 7 is not just a transition to something better in verse 8 - Paul is praying, asking God to directly impart into the experience of the Roman Christians a fresh expression of his power and his peace. Perhaps that’s a good way for us to end today as well.
Here’s that third, and final, resource recommendation - A Passion for God by Ray Ortlund, Jr - Aron told me about this book as I’ve been studying over the past few weeks and I’d recommend it for you as well - I want to close today with a simple prayer from this book before we sing together to summarize what we’ve heard.
“Oh God, what a treasure that I have in your gospel! You show me there what no therapist can do, what no government program can do, what no money can buy. Your gospel shows how you give a sinner like me a fresh start in life and a glorious Destiny and Eternity. And I don't have to trigger this wonderful change with my own power or virtue. I receive it with the empty Hands of Faith.
Oh Lord, I do now receive the full Merit of my savior to wash away all my guilt forever and to procure for me Everlasting joy in your presence above. I received the continual flow of his meritorious obedience washing over me, covering all my sins, compensating for all my guilt and fulfilling all my failed obligations to you, placing me in your presence as one fully measuring up to the standards of your holy law.
Still me now with deeper, richer affections for you, prompted by the Blessed Holy Spirit, as you enlarge my understanding of your gospel. In the Holy Name of Christ. Amen. - Ray Ortlund, Jr. “A Passion for God”
Song: Jesus Paid It All
Benediction: May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. - Ephesians 3:17–19