Cover to Cover
When Paul writes to those in Rome, he had not yet been to the city, but he knew of the Christians there (Romans 16:3-15). This letter was a way of introducing himself to the believers in Rome, as well as to unfold Christian truth of redemption and faith in Christ. Paul obviously sensed a pull on his heart to connect with the saints in Rome, to be a minister and a witness. Paul wrote this letter while on his third missionary journey. Many believe it was written from Corinth.
As an introduction to the people in Rome, he begins, “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.” Paul communicates that his identity is someone permanently bound to Christ. He also starts of being clear of his belief and faith that Jesus is the Christ, the seed of David and the son of God, both buried and resurrected. Paul also goes straight to the point that salvation is for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
He then expresses his desire to visit them in Rome (verse 9), sensing the call of God to go an minister to them, imparting a spiritual gift, “ready to preach.” This Gospel that Paul preaches is the “power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” God’s word has authority, backed up by God’s power, to accomplish God’s purpose, and His purpose is our salvation. That salvation is is the Greek word “soteria (coming from the root “sozo)” meaning deliverance, rescue, preservation, soundness (peace, wholeness), prosperity, happiness, and general wellbeing. This applies to both natural, temporary conditions, as well as spiritual, eternal ones. It describes a present possession, as well as a future, fuller experience.
Paul quotes from Habakkuk 2:4 “The just shall live by faith.” This verse is also found in Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38. The Greek word for just is “dikaiosune,” meaning, “upright or righteous.” It carries both a judicial meaning as well as a gracious one. We know we are made righteous and aligned uprightly with God based on what Jesus accomplished for us at the cross, not our own merit. Our faith is our dependency upon God for that right standing. The literal translation is “the just out of faith shall live.” The just or the righteous, a gift received through Christ, out of a reliant relationship on God, shall live in this salvation that is our eternal destiny in the future, as well as a blessed life here on earth with abundance, health, freedom, and peace.
If a person refuses to surrender to Christ, they are outside the love and life God provides. They don’t know the experience of His saving breath that only He supplies. In their self-sufficient pride, they refuse to return to their Maker as their source of life. God, in His holiness, cannot be near the wicked. His holy wrath will come against the wicked who choose to stay outside of His holiness, rejecting the offer of salvation through His Son.
Paul writes that those we reject God “suppress the truth” because what may be known of God is manifest, or evident, in (among) them, because God has shown it to them. In verse 20, Paul writes that creation itself is evidence of His power. They know He must exist because there is no way the incredible world around us was not made by someone with a great power. In studying science, we see a design, not an accident and not evolution, and if there is a design, there is a Designer. They refuse it, and their foolish hearts are darkened.
Because of their rejection, verse 24 says that God has let them go far from His holiness and into their own sin. They could know truth, but they would rather embrace a foolish lie. They worship the creation rather than the Creator. God allowed them to be given to corruption, and men and women explored all kinds of perversions against the design God intended.
God gave them over to a debased mind, to do things that are not fitting, not according to design. Paul gives a list of wicked behaviors that are done, but also approving of those who do them.
Let’s remember that God didn’t stop his letter at verse 32. In Romans 2:4, Paul mentions repentance and God’s goodness. In Romans 3:23, Paul says, “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and in verse 24, Paul writes of God’s grace for redemption. Let’s not be the kind of Christian that points the finger and looks down our nose at people that need understanding of God’s salvation. Instead, let’s be the kind of Christian, like Paul, who leads people to God through salvation in Christ, our Savior, Redeemer, Rescuer. Let’s pray for light to penetrate their darkness, so they can see clearly the love of God in making a way back to Him. Let’s recognize that if not for grace that opened our eyes, we would be just as lost as those in the world. We’re all in the same boat – born into sin, dysfunctional, hurting, hot messes until Jesus found us and brought us home to the Father. We all need Him! Let’s be grateful and share Him with someone else.
Psalm 62 is a psalm of David, writing about the peace of real, reliant faith that looks to God for salvation. Psalm 62:10 says, “If riches increase, do not set your heart on them.” Faith will depend on God, even if our strength and resources are larger. Faith will always see the need for God. In verse 11, David says, “Power belongs to God.” He is the One in whom we put our trust.
Psalm 63 is also a psalm of David, written when he was in the wilderness of Judah, hiding from Absalom (2 Samuel 15:23). He looks to God in worship.
Psalm 64 is another psalm of David, a piece of poetry that expresses trust and joy in the Lord, even when living in a world full of oppression.
Today’s Christian can relate to David’s psalms of trust in God, even when the world around us isn’t the place God intended. It isn’t the glory we were made to experience. Still, God is able to deliver and protect us in this world, completing us with His peace, filling us with His joy, and embracing us with His love. There is a saying, “we’re in this world but not of it.” There is a Scripture, “Greater is He who is in us than he that is in the world.” We won’t always be bound to this experience, but while we are here, let’s go to the strong and safe Rock that God is, a God that is higher than we are. Our hope is in Him!