Romans: Be Righteous Before God
1:1-4 (Pastor Heo)
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
That’s ONE sentence. Wow.
The Protestant Reformation and Wesley Revival came out of this book, Romans.
In 1838? a missionary went unwillingly to a meeting in London. He wrote in his diary, “I felt my heart strangely warmed and I trusted in Jesus Christ alone, Jesus Christ alone, Jesus Christ alone. I was given the guarantee that he had saved me from all sin and death and hell.” — John Wesley
The message he heard that evening was the Preface to Martin Luther’s commentary to Romans. Previously, he wrote, “I went to America to convert the Indians, but who will convert me?” He was answered that evening and this began the Wesley Revival? that transformed all of England at that time.
This same story, power, and Holy Spirit who taught them, and moved them, and changed them, can also do these things to/for us. We also can experience Revival in our hearts. The HS who greeted those in the past can also greet us in this same way today.
This book Romans is no ordinary book. It can never be studied too much. The more it is studied, the better it becomes. It is more than just a book of theology, it is a book of practical exhortation. It is that the good news of Christ is not just a story, but FACTS. Also, it declares that a life of righteousness is to be (and can be) lived.
Key verses: 1:16-17
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Theme of Romans = The Righteousness of God
- OR The Righteousness FROM God
Key verse = 1:16-17 “I am not ashamed… it is the power of God… “
Message of Romans = “Be Righteous Before God”
- Shout to yourself: “Be Righteous Before God”
- Encourage your neighbor: “Be Righteous Before God”
Why? Because God is righteous, so we must be righteous to be a member of his family/kingdom.
Are you righteous? By nature, nobody is righteous (Romans 3).
- So, HOW can an unrighteous person have a righteous relationship with God and live a righteous life in this unrighteous world?
- HOW Can an absolutely righteous God declare an unrighteous person to be righteous and still remain righteous himself?
Romans = 16 chapters, 433 verses, 4 major parts (but we can divide it into 3 parts)
- Chp 1-8 : Revelation of God’s Righteousness in Jesus Christ
- Chp 9-11 : Vindication of God’s Righteousness through Human (Israel’s) History
- Chp 12-16 : Application of God’s Righteousness through a Christian’s daily life
The righteousness we seek is not righteousness from a human perspective. This is not “morality” but having a “right” relationship with God.
“1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures”
Here, Paul introduces himself – makes him ID clear. In his self-introduction, Paul reveals his ID in 3 words:
- Slave (servant)
- Set apart
This is not only his own self-introduction, but also ALL Christian’s ID. Why is this important and meaningful to us? This is a picture of US. This is OUR identity in Christ.
So, let me make this clear with 3 words.
- “I’m a Slave” (servant)
- “I’m an Apostle“
- “I’m set apart“
Please remember this until next Sunday. Memorize it.
#1: “I’m a slave”
Do you like slavery? No. Then, we must make this CLEAR. There are two things we must make clear. Why do we not like to be a slave? Because there is no good method of slavery in this world.
The original word is “dulos” (Greek) = “slave” (bond-servant). 2000 years ago, the Greek word dulos was important because there were 6,000,000 dulos in that area. This person was looked upon as a piece of property, not a person.
A slave must obey absolutely, he has no choices, no freedom, only duty, only responsibility, none of his own business, but only his Master’s business.
But also, a slave’s future = no worries. His future depends ENTIRELY on his Master.
But remember, all Nature – we are made to BE a slave of something or someone. We are not the Creator – so we cannot be completely “Free”. We cannot NOT be a slave. Don’t ask, “Am I a slave or not?” Instead, ask yourself, “Whose slave am I?”
Who is my Master? Who / or what is my Lord?
Actually, Christianity’s basic truth = paradox (a statement that seems outwardly strange or impossible or wrong – but is actually deeply, inwardly, unquestionably TRUE). “Do you not know that when you offer yourself to someone in service, you are a SLAVE to that one? Whether to sin, which leads to Death, or righteousness, which leads to Life.”
We can choose:
- Slave of sin
- Slave of God
This leads to Bondage. Bondage of drinking, smoking, laziness, stress, depression, hatred, unforgiveness, envy, worry, fear, anxiety, …
Paul – after becoming a Christian “I’m a slave of Christ” – but before this, he was a slave of Legalism, murder, hatred (as Saul). Acts “Saul was still breathing out murderous threats…”
- Outside of Christ = slave of sin, under the bondage of hatred, a murderous spirit.
- Inside Christ = slave of God, under the bondage of love, a generous spirit.
Paradox: “If you want to be first, you must be last. If you want to save your life, you must lose it (for me).” (Jesus)
Another paradox: Do you like to be a slave? NO.
Hmmmm…. the world thinks that the opposite of slavery = freedom. These two cannot go together. Actually, the paradox of Christianity =
- True Freedom, satisfaction, safety, life is FOUND INSIDE Slavery (to Christ).
Truth: In the Creation of Genesis, God gave 2 mandates:
- Cultural Mandate: “Be fruitful in number, fill the Earth, and rule over all Creation” (kingship)
- Mandate: “Do not eat of the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – if you eat this fruit, you will surely die.”
From these two mandates, what can we learn?
From God to human beings:
- Recognize my kingship over you – you will be like kings over others and enjoy full satisfaction, life, etc
- Recognize your slavery under me
In the OT, Moses was called ‘dulos of the Lord’ (slave of the Lord). This means, he was ‘Acting God’ (like the Acting President now in Korea…)
When someone was a “slave of God”, he was “Acting God” to others. Joshua, the prophets, Moses, etc were “slaves of God.” So, when we introduce ourselves as “slaves of Christ” it shows our honor (majesty) and humility.
The more we become slaves of Christ, the higher our level grows in this world. If you are slaves of Christ, you will be so blessed – and filled with so much satisfaction. Are you a slave of Christ? If you are not, you have no choice but to be a slave of sin. Please, be wise in choosing your Master.
- We call Jesus our “Lord” – you know the opposite is “slave”. ‘dulos‘ = Slave; ‘culios‘ = Lord
- If you call Jesus ‘culios‘, you recognize yourself as ‘dulos‘.
#2. “I’m an apostle”
Today in church, nobody is given the title “apostle” – why not? Before God, biblically speaking, we are apostles, we are priests (we have the right to enter the presence of God directly without any human mediator (1 Pet 2:9)). Like this, even though we aren’t given these titles, this is who we are.
Apostle = ‘apostolos‘ (Greek)
- This means: ‘somebody who is called and sent by an absolute Authority with a Great Commission’
Yes, before we knew God, God called us, God sent us. We are called and sent with the Great Commission. If you believe and are sure that you are “called and sent”, then you are an “apostle.”
“I’m an apostle.”
#3. I’m set apart (for the gospel of God)
From next time we will study the gospel of God more deeply.
You know, Paul (Saul) was a Pharisee. This literally means: “set apart” for their own traditions, culture, religion. They were SO PROUD of themselves to be “set apart” from the ordinary people that they despised others.
Paul says, “before I was set apart for pride, jealousy, etc but now I’m set apart for the gospel.”
You are so special because you are set apart for service and ministry, God’s glory, God’s kingdom, God’s mission (away from sin). Please understand, your life in this world is not by chance, it is purposeful and meaningful.
Why are you here? Why in this country? Why in this room? This is not by accident.
We worship in this room as brothers and sisters, not by chance, but by the plan and purpose of God. God has a wonderful plan for us.
- “I’m a slave”
- “I’m an apostle”
- “I’m set apart”