Redeemed To Serve

A Brief  Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Base on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 1b of 83

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:  5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:  6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: 7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1-7)

Continuing from previous issue…

We have seen Paul’s self-introduction and his description of the Gospel. Now, thirdly, let us observe how Paul addresses his recipients in the first part of verse 7.

3. Paul’s Recipients

7a To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:

a.   This letter is written to all the Christians that were living in Rome. It was not written,—as some may imagine,—to the intellectual people of Rome. Neither was it written to the theologians of Rome. You know how, many of us fear to study the book of Romans because we think it is a deep, deep book reserved for theologians. But no, this book or rather, letter, is written for all the Christians in Rome.

·         There were Jewish converts who knew the Law, there were ignorant Gentile believers from pagan backgrounds.

·         There were rich people, and there were poor people.

·         There were the learned and the unlearned, wise and unwise.

·         There were those who were intellectual, and no doubt those who had simple faith.

·         There were young persons and older persons.

·         There were males end females; married and unmarried.

·         There were slaves and there were slave-owners.

But these all were one in Christ. These all need Paul’s letter to the Romans. And by the help of the Holy Spirit, these all can benefit from the reading and study of this great epistle.

Today, by the grace of God, this letter is given unto a similar mix of people. Whether you are young or old, learned or unlearned, male or female, employer or employee, you can benefit from this letter.

b.   We who are Christian are a privilege people like the Christians in Rome in the first century. Notice how Paul calls them the “beloved of God” (v. 7 again). They are beloved of God, because they are part of the visible body of Christ.  You who have the sign and seal of God’s covenant of grace, and have covenanted yourself to be part of the body of Christ,—you are beloved of God. You are a privilege people. You are enjoying privileges that the people of the world do not enjoy.

c.   But privileges come with duties and responsibilities. The Christians in Rome were called to be saint. Saints are holy ones. Every Christian ought to be a saint, since every Christian must be holy as God is holy. We are to be holy not just in justification, but in sanctification. We are to be holy not just in standing, but in our heart and in our life. Every member of the church is a saint by name, but only those who are holy in heart and life are saints indeed. And we are all called to be saints; therefore we must labour to live up to the name. It is a great privilege to bear the name of a saint, but the name is useless if in the final day of judgement we are not truly saints in heart and life.

Are you, dearly beloved, truly a saint or are you a saint only by name? Will you not resolve to be a saint indeed, as you are called to be a saint.

Now, we have seen Paul’s self-introduction, his description of the Gospel and how he addresses his recipients. Let us fourthly, conclude by studying Paul’s greetings, which he expresses by way of a benediction.

4. Paul’s Greeting

7b Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A benediction is not just a statement of greeting. Neither is it only an expression of love. It is a pronouncement of blessing. It is a blessing in God’s name that is efficacious for those who receive it by faith.

In the Old Testament, the priests were charged to bless the people. Likewise in the New Testament, the apostles and ministers of the Gospel are charged to bless the people in the name of the Lord.

Let us observe briefly Paul’s benediction. Notice how the blessing is from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a simplified way of saying that the blessing is from God the Father; but comes to us through the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul told the Philippians: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). All heavenly blessings comes from God through the hand of Christ.

And what blessings do the apostle desire his readers to have? “Grace to you and peace” he says. He desires us to have grace and peace. The Old Testament saints often wished one another ‘peace’, ‘shalom.’ Paul wishes his readers peace together with grace.

Grace speaks of God’s favour toward us,—to prosper us in all aspects of our lives. Grace makes use lovely in God’s sight. But peace speaks of quietness and serenity in heart and experience. Paul desires us to have peace with God; peace with fellow man; and peace in our heart in the midst of a world of trials and pointing fingers.

Do you know this peace? You will know this peace if the grace of God is upon you. Do you desire this peace? Only if you have a right relationship with Christ Jesus our Lord can you have this grace and peace.

How can you have a right relationship with Christ Jesus? If you do not already have that relationship, you will learn in the course of this study of Romans how you may have this relationship. But if you are already enjoying a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, a diligent and prayerful study of this book will not fail to enhance your enjoyment of Christ.

Conclusion

I trust that this simple introduction will help you to appreciate this great epistle of the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord bless you richly with peace and grace as you study this book through this series of articles and other helps that you may get your hands on.

But in the meantime, let us not fail to put into application some of the things that the apostle Paul reminds us of (even in his introduction).

·          Let us acknowledge that we are redeemed to serve.

·         Let us serve the Lord as a willing bond-slaves, thanking him for the privilege of being his instruments of salvation for one another and for those yet outside the fold.

·         Let us live in obedience unto the faith of the Gospel out of love and gratitude to Christ.

·         But above all, let us thank God for the great privilege of knowing Christ in these Last Days when the great light of the gospel is shining brightly.

Amen.

—JJ Lim