Of the many letters written by the Apostle Paul, none is more systematic in its presentation of Paul’s theology than the Letter to the Romans. Paul is preparing to meet the church at Rome for the first time (Romans 1:8-13). In advance of this visit, Paul writes them his vaunted Epistle to the Romans.
This Letter is a great presentation of the core beliefs of Christianity. Paul first seeks to show that both Jew and Gentile are in need of the Gospel of Jesus, which is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). For the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God, and the way to receive this righteousness is through faith in God’s promises, and trust in the faithful Promised One, Jesus (Romans 1:17,18).
Paul goes on to show that both the lawless Gentile (Romans 1:18-32) and the religious Jew (Romans 2) fall short of God’s glory and are subject to God’s wrath and judgment (Romans 3:9-20). The Good News is that God has provided the way of redemption through the atoning death of Christ. No matter who we are, whether religious Jew or a lawless Gentile, we can be justified freely by God’s grace through faith in what Christ did on the cross for us (Rom. 3:21-30). Even Abraham, the father of the Jewish race was justified through faith in God’s promises and he received circumcision as a visible sign of that faith (Romans 4).
Paul goes on to reveal how we can live in faithfulness to our new Master, Jesus, in Romans 6-8. The key is not to try in our own strength to be obedient but to actively yield the members of our body to the Lord Jesus Christ and His indwelling Holy Spirit in order to live in holiness. Because we are saved by grace and not by works does not mean we do not have an obligation to obey Christ. We do have an obligation to yield the members of our body to Christ and not to the old taskmaster of sin. This is also a part of the Good News of Jesus and of God’s provision to live a victorious life that reflects Christ and honors God.
The second part of Romans (chapters 12-15), address the many specific area of obedience which reflects God’s holiness in our lives. For example, in Romans 13 Paul addresses the Christian’s relationship to the State. He instructs us regarding our obligation to the government and what should our attitudes be that reflect godliness. If our Christian lives do not show God’s character in practical areas of life than our faith is of not much substance. It is interesting to note that though the Letter to the Romans is very theological, it is also very practical. That should teach us something. Let us not be just theological Pointdexters who like to hear good biblical teaching. Let us be doers of the Word also (James 1:22-25). Pastor John