Living in the Power of God (1)

The gift that makes us strong
Romans 1.7-17

Encouragements which enable us to grow (v11)

  • Spiritual gifts are the sovereign work of God (1 Cor 12, Rms 12, Eph 4)
  • Our blessing comes from others in whatever way is appropriate (v11, Eph 4.29, Jude 1.20-23)
  • … and that’s mutual (v12)

    We are not all perfect!

Verse 14 has a tricky expression – “I am a debtor to both the Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and foolish“. How can Paul be debt to these people? This leads some translators to use the word ‘obligation’.

There are two ways to be in debt. Either, by borrowing money from someone. Or, and this is how Paul uses the term, by receiving money from a third party to pass on someone else.

For example, if I borrow £100 from my friend, I am in debt to him. I have got myself into debt. But if my friend gives me £100 to give to you, I am in debt to you until I pass it on. It is my friend who has placed me in your debt by entrusting his money to me to give to you.

Paul not therefore in debt to the Roman church because he has ‘borrowed’ from them. But God has entrusted the gospel to Paul to be shared with the Roman church. Until he does so he is in their debt.

We too are debtors to the world because we too have been entrusted to with the same good news. We have no right to keep it to ourselves.

Power which brings us salvation (v16)

  • There is nothing to be ashamed of in the gospel (v16, 1 Cor 2.3)
  • There is nothing which our God cannot transform (v16b)
  • This is nothing other than resurrection power (v4, 1 Cor 2.4-5)

Life which is experienced through faith (v17)

Verse 17 gives us various ways of understanding the expression “the righteousness of God”. Or should it be “righteousness from God”. There are an unmanageably many amount of views on this.

Some suggest that it refers to God’s character or divine nature. Since God will judge the world his actions must be ‘right’. God loves righteousness and hates wickedness Ps 45.6. The righteousness of God is seen ultimately in the cross. When God presented Christ as a sacrifice it was to be both just and the justifier.

Others say it refers to God’s activity in salvation. Salvation and righteousness are ofter parallels in Hebrew poetry. Salvation is the form that God’s righteousness takes as he vindicates his people. In his salvation, God overthrows the forces of evil and shows his loyalty to his covenant.

Yet others, says that it is God’s achievement in us. It is a righteousness from God which allows us to stand in his presence. On balance, whilst the other options do not have to be excluded, this is most likely what Paul has in mind. Throughout Romans, Paul is contrasting the righteousness which we can achieve in ourselves but fails to reach God’s standard, with that which is from God, given as a free gift to those which believe and bought at the cost of Christ’s death.

  • The Christian life can only be a life of faith (Phil 1.20-21)
  • The Christian life can only be a righteous life (Hab 2:4, Gal 3.11, Heb 10.38)
  • The Christian life can only be empowered by the Holy Spirit (v16, Col 1.26)

Cell outlines:

Read Romans 1: 8-17
Romans is different from other epistles in that it doesn’t address any “particular” problem. Rather it is a letter of encouragement for us all. Is there anything that struck you from reading the passage or the sermon?

Why in v15 does Paul say he’s anxious to preach the Gospel to “you in Rome” when they are already believers? What is the value of preaching gospel to Christians? How do you feel when you hear the ‘old old story’?

How did Paul prove that he was not ashamed of the Gospel? How are we ashamed of the Gospel?

What does it mean when Paul calls the Gospel the “power of God”? What are the powers of God? When Jesus says he came to save us, what does he save us from? How have you experienced God saving you from:

Sickness – Matt 9:21; Danger – Matt 8:25; Culture – Acts 2:40; Lostness – Luke 19:10,; Sin – Matt 1:21; Wrath of God – Romans 5:9; Ignorance – 2 Thess 1:8; Self – Luke 14:26; Darkness – Col 1:13.

Going deeper:
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs speaks of the shame that comes from spreading the Gospel, The gospel “brings” us to salvation and also it brings suffering (2 Cor 11:23-30). How do you experience and then reconcile these two at work in you?

Is believing (v16) an ongoing experience or is it a one-time event? What happens to those who seem to fall away (1 Cor 15.2)?

What might “righteousness that is by faith from first to last” mean? Does the alternative reading “righteousness that is by faith to faith” help your understanding.

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