Here are a few thoughts from John Piper on this passage. Think on these things!
So the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24) is what we preach to unbelievers, and the gospel of grace is what we preach to believers. That is what Paul says in Romans 1:15. “I am eager to preach the gospel to you [believers!] also who are in Rome.” Not to get them saved, but to keep them saved through sanctification. Our faith feeds off the good news of the grace of God. And our obedience feeds off of faith. Therefore, to bring about the obedience of faith, we must hear the gospel of grace again and again.
So here is the sum of the matter: grace came to us absolutely free and unconditional from God when he called us to himself and loved us as his own (1:6-7). This grace makes us debtors to everyone who, like us, needs grace, because not to share the grace we received would imply that we qualified for it and they don’t; and that would nullify grace. And what we share is the gospel of this great free grace. This is how we pay our debt to others: freely we received, freely we give. And one of the ways we share the good news of God’s grace is through spiritual gifts. O, how important is the body life of the church in small groups where people understand that every member is a steward of grace to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of the Name.
You can click HERE if you want to read the passage.
This is a passage that for me provoked a bunch of application questions as I read and thought about it. Here are the questions that came to my mind:
Verse 8 – Is my faith being reported all over the world as apparently is the Roman’s faith? Is it even being reported around Durham? Around my neighborhood? What about around the church? And if not, why not?
Verse 9 – Do I serve God with my WHOLE heart? What would have to change if I were to stop holding back?
Verse 10 – If God were to testify about my prayer life (as Paul suggests) what would He say? Paul had never met the Romans. And yet he constantly remembered them in prayer. Why do I find it so hard to pray for people that I have never met?
Verses 11-12 – Who am I involved in a “mutually encouraging” relationship with? Do I need to be more intentional about developing these kind of relationships?
Verse 15 – Is there an eagerness to use my spiritual gifts for the glory of God – or merely a sense of spiritual duty? How can I go from dutiful to eager?
Verse 16 – Is there any sense in which I am ashamed of the gospel? Where is boldness being demonstrated in my life? Have I personally experienced the power of God in my life?
Verse 17 – Do I thoroughly understand the gospel and what it means for me as a believer? Do I day in and day out “live by faith”? What would this look like if I did?
I find that asking the right questions is a great start to finding the right answers. And not only is God’s Word a great place to go to find answers but it is also a great place to go to find questions. Now the real work of pondering begins as I try to answer for myself the questions that this text provoked. May God also provoke your thinking in ways that disturb and disrupt your spiritual status quo – as He has done mine.
Next Week: Romans 1:18-23 Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-3
John Macarthur, in his commentary on this passage in Romans tells the following story as he ponders the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul begins to unfold.
“The story is told of a very wealthy man who had many valuable art treasures. His only son was quite ordinary but was dearly loved. When the son died unexpectedly as a young man, the father was so deeply grieved that he died a few months later. The father’s will stipulated that, at his death, all his art works were to be publicly auctioned and that a painting of his son was to be auctioned first. On the day of the auction the specified painting was displayed and the bidding was opened. Because neither the boy nor the artist were well known, a long time passed without a bid being offered. Finally, a long-time servant of the father and friend of the boy timidly bid seventy-five cents, all the money he had. When there were no other bids, the painting was given to the servant. At that point the sale was stopped and an official read the remainder of the will, which specified that whoever cared enough for his son to buy the painting of him would receive all the rest of the estate.”
That story illustrates God’s provision for fallen man. Anyone who loves and receives His son, Jesus Christ, will inherit the heavenly Father’s estate as it were.
There is so much in this passage to think about. In this post I’m going to reflect on the one word that caught my attention – largely because it is repeated four times (in the NIV). It is the word “call.”
Called for a purpose (v.1) – Paul knew that he had been specifically called by God for a specific purpose. His calling, of course, was very dramatic (Acts 9). Ours, perhaps, not so much but I believe that God has a calling for each of us. He has a purpose for why He has called us “out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) Part of the great adventure of seeking Him is to discover our purpose and calling. I know mine. (Feel free to ask me what it is). Do you as yet know yours?
Called to call others (v.5) – Pauls calling was to the Gentiles – to call them to the “obedience that comes from faith.” There is a universal calling for all believers to be agents of reconciliation – ambassadors on behalf of the gospel (2 Cor 5).We are to be salt and light to those around us who demonstrate with our lives and testify with our lips that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. We are called to call others out of sin and unto salvation.
Called to belong to Jesus (v.6) Paul uses the word servant (doulos) in verse 1. The word is often translated bond-servant and in many contexts has the connotation of slave. Paul saw himself, on the one hand, as a man who had been set free from bondage and on the other hand as a man who who’s life had been purchased by blood. He belonged to Christ. His life was NOT his own. And neither is ours. We belong to Jesus. We are His possession (Eph. 1:14). His beloved possession that He delights in and wants our joy to be for His glory. As John Piper says, “He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
Called to be saints (v.7) – We are called to be His “holy ones.” We are NOT called to be religious, or good church people, or Sunday Christians, or nice, or moral. We are called to be holy, just as He is holy. And because He has called us to be holy, He has equipped us to be holy by giving us His Holy Spirit to guide, convict, and empower us.
It is not just Paul who was called. It is not just pastors who are called. All believers are called by God both generally and specifically. This is a good week to intentionally ponder how God has called you.
Next Week: Romans 1:8-17 Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-2
(As a part of my Romans Pondering Project this year I hope to share some quotes by greater minds than mine who have also thought deeply about this great epistle)
“A scientist may say that mother’s milk is the most perfect food known to man, and may give you an analysis showing all its chemical components, a list of vitamins it contains and an estimate of the calories in a given quantity. A baby will take that milk without the remotest knowledge of its content, and will grow day by day, smiling and thriving in its ignorance. So it is with the profound truths of the Word of God.” (Donald G. Barnhouse – Man’s Ruin: Romans 1:1-32)
“The epistle to the Romans is the true masterpiece of the New Testament and the very purest gospel, which is well worth and deserving that a Christian man should not only learn it by heart, word for word, but also that he should daily deal with it as the daily bread of men’s souls. It can never be too much or too well read or studied, and the more it is handled the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes” (Martin Luther).
It is hard to overestimate the impact that the Book of Romans has had throughout church history. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, Wesley to name a few of the giants of our faith who attest to the magnificence of this epistle.
It was written by the Apostle Paul, probably in the city of Corinth, while he was on his 3rd missionary journey, about 30 or so years after the death and resurrection of our Savior (55-58 AD). It was intended to teach and instruct believers, to bring to their remembrance the meaning of the events that had so startled and amazed everyone a generation earlier.
Many of the founders of the church in the city of Rome were Jewish Christians. Sometime around Ad 45 the emperors (first Tiberius and then Claudius) announced an edict to expel Jews from Rome – so the church was left with Gentile believers. When the edict was repealed upon Claudius’ death many of the Jews who loved their Roman heritage returned to the city.
This created some tension – because the Gentiles had little regard for the traditions and beliefs that the Jews dearly loved. As we work our way through this book you will see evidence of this. One of the reasons Paul was writing was to show that the gospel could enable and empower people to thrive in community together despite their many differences. A lesson that many churches still need to learn today.
The Book of Romans is going to address a bunch of practical and theological questions that people are still asking today:
What is the gospel?
Is Jesus really God?
How can God send people to hell?
What about homosexuality – how should the church respond?
How can a person who has never heard the gospel be held spiritually responsible?
How do I deal with sin that I can’t seem to stop?
How can people find real peace and hope?
What does the Holy Spirit do for a believer?
What are election and predestination?
What is God’s plan for Israel?
Is drinking alcohol acceptable for a believer?
How should we respond to authority?
And that is just a start. This is definitely NOT an easy read, make you feel warm inside kind of epistle. There is a lot of meat on these bones. So get ready to think! Get ready to learn! Get ready for a challenge!
Let’s get started!
Next Week’s Passage: Romans 1:1-7 Memory Verse: Romans 8:1
You will note that my blog not only has a new look but also a new address (shayreyner.com). If you have been following my blog over the years you will want to fill in your info over on the right so that you are alerted when I have new posts. All of the posts from my other blog have been imported here so everything is in one location. Thanks for reading and I hope that you are encouraged in your walk with God from time to time.
A new year is upon us and for me that means a new pondering project. I’d love for you to jump in and be a part of it with me. I’m going to tackle the Book of Romans this year. Here is what Martin Luther said about this great epistle in his Preface to the Letter of the Book of Romans:
“This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian’s while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.”
So it is a letter incredibly worthy of intentional pondering. My plan is three-fold. Feel free to be a part of any or all of it…
1) Each week I will have a passage to ponder. I have plotted things out and it will take the full year to get through the book. And that is actually going fast. On Friday of each week I will post my pondering thoughts on the passage. I encourage you to post yours as well and lets learn from each other.
(If you have never pondered passages with me before it may be worth your while to read THIS POST that I wrote a few years ago on How to Ponder a Passage)
2) I am also going to make it my goal to memorize chapter 8 and would love you to do it with me. Romans 8 is one of the greatest single chapters in all of Scripture. There are 39 verses, so it will not even be a verse a week. I will let you know each Friday what verse we are working on.
3) On Monday of each week I am going to post a quote about the passage that we dealt with the previous week by a pastor or by one the the heroes of church history who have also spent time pondering this book. Hopefully their words will stir us to think deeply about the Scripture we are pondering.
So how do we start? For this week I would suggest reading through the Book of Romans (in one sitting if possible) to get a feel for the book as a whole. Perhaps read it through several times. Next Friday I will post some introductory thoughts about the book to give us some background perspective. And I will give the first passage to start pondering as well as the first verse to begin memorizing.
If you are interested in joining me on this adventure please let me know so that a) I know who is along for the ride, and b) who I can encourage along the way when you feel like giving up – and I promise there will be these times. You can email me at sreyner@Ridgecrest.cc to let me know or simply leave a comment here.
Even if you don’t ponder along with me I hope that you will develop your own plan for staying intentionally engaged with God’s Word throughout the year.