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Romans – A Summary

Stonebrook Community Church http://www.stonebrook.org

Romans 16 & Summary

I don’t recall ever talking to anyone who didn’t appreciate mountains. The majesty. The beauty. The size. The views. The wild animals. Annette and I love seeing the mountains in Colorado where much of my family lives. There is something so peaceful yet awe-inspiring about the mountains like the Rockies in Colorado.

If God’s revelation, the Bible, is like a mountain range of truth, then Romans is one mountain in that range. And for me personally, Romans might be the tallest mountain. The most scenic. It’s a LONG HIKE. It takes exertion to get to the top.

Romans is so deep and rich, we can become intimidated. We can be frightened off. “The hike is too steep.” “I trip on ROCKS along the way.”

Let me say, “It’s worth it.” It’s worth it. Climb. I don’t know if in this life we ever get to the VERY TOP….the place of complete understanding. But even the view along the way is SO WORTH the effort. The scenery gets more and more breathtaking as we go higher.

This is our 38th and final week on this remarkable letter.
We started on this in September 2015, pressing “PAUSE” several times for other topics.
Today I have the challenging task of bringing it to a close. Of summarizing where we’ve been.

It is daunting for me to attempt to summarize such a document.
So with that in mind, here is my summary of Romans …..ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?……
Go to our website and listen to the previous 37 teachings.
That’s the best summary I can give.

We did place a summary handout in the bulletin. Take it home. Read through it. Stick it in your Bible.

Romans 1:16-17

Many people would agree that A major theme if not THE major theme is this:
The Righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

These two verses near the beginning of the letter give us this flavor.

Romans 1:16–17 ESV “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The word “FAITH” is often used in our culture, and it can be celebrated in a general way. They may say, “It doesn’t matter what your FAITH is in. But you need Faith.”
The Apostle Paul makes it clear in the letter that “faith” has a very clear object: “Faith in Jesus Christ.”
Faith means believing. Trusting. Relying upon someone. The object of our faith is in the Person of Jesus. In who he is. In what he accomplished.
God’s plan for righteousness…for a right standing before him….is not good works. It is not religious activity.
God’s plan for righteousness is through Faith in Jesus.

Then Paul spends 16 chapters telling us all about this. It’s meaning. Its implications. It’s glory.

Where I want to take you this morning is simple:
I want you to make Romans a part of your life.
• To read. Study. Learn. Scratch your head.
• Believe it. Live by it. Let the Spirit change your life through it.
We need a way to think about God, ourselves, this world and life. In short, we need a biblical mindset.
However, most of us don’t realize how much non-godly, worldly influences have shaped us. Values and attitudes.
God wants to use Romans to:
• Give clarity
• Bring humility
• Provide hope
• Grant strength
I hope you leave here thinking, “I want to hike up this mountain called Romans again. And again. And again.”

Some key (and my favorite) passages:

This morning all we have time for is a quick stroll. Actually it’s more like a RUN. And since Romans is a mountain, we’re going to run out of OXYGEN. So let’s throw on our hiking shoes and go.

On our hike, I am going to offer some high points in Romans that have shaped me.
We might say they are resting spots along this hike up the trail.
Places where, each time I ascend the mountain, I stop to enjoy the view.

Romans 1:18-20, 24

We can split Romans into four main sections. Four distinct yet related sections.

The first of four great sections of Romans is Chapters 1-4.
Entitled: Justification by Faith
To be declared righteous in the sight of God by faith in Jesus, God’s Son.

Chapter 1 in this section reveals a startling description of mankind.
This chapter, if we receive its truth, can give us an “AHA” moment about us and our world.

One key verse that has deeply shaped me is vs. 18.

Romans 1:18 ESV “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

38 years ago, God used this thought of wrath to humble me. It was several verses like vs. 18 that God’s Spirit used to open my eyes.

I was a proud, sinful, God-ignoring young man, and I slowly realized at age 19 that my sins brought me before the WRATH of God, and I was guilty of hell. The thought of eternal judgment and hell frightened me and woke me up.
I finally broke down on a warm summer evening in late August 1978. I bowed my heart to Jesus Christ and pleaded for his mercy and forgiveness.

Vs. 18 is present tense. “The wrath of God IS…IS being revealed.”
Today. This is surprising…and even shocking. God’s wrath is being revealed NOW. In our world. In this country. In our city. On our campus. This explains so much of the craziness and darkness in this world. And it explains so much of the craziness and darkness of my own heart.

And just a few verses later, these 2 verses have also shaped me.

Romans 1:24–25 ESV “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

The words, “God gave them up” are startling. The word “gave them up” means he SURRENDERS them.
He hands them over. He withdraws his restraining influence over man.

And this is not a PASSIVE handing over. God actively, intentionally SURRENDERS us over.
To what does he surrender us to? To MORE SIN. “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity.” To greater sin. And more sin.

Catch this important point: Sin is the punishment for sin.

Our neighbor was over for supper last Wednesday. A dear lady. The topic of world craziness came up. Syria and the killing of more than 80 people in Syria in the use of poisonous gas. Such events are unsettling. Understandably so.

But for me over the years, because of Romans 1, I am not usually surprised by craziness in the world. Grieved, YES. Surprised, NO.

The Apostle Paul wrote about all this craziness 2000 years ago. This world is very broken.
And I don’t even have to read the news to know that. I look in the mirror, and I realize how broken I am.
But because of my pride, I am often tempted to justify myself by looking at Syria and saying, “Well, at least I’m not like THOSE sinners. I’m not ordering chemical gas attacks to kill a village.”
Jesus spoke along those lines in a parable about a poor man and a Pharisee. The latter tried to justify himself.

I still have my own rebellion against God for which I am accountable.
Romans 1 helps me understand the world. And understand me.
God is saying, “I am going to let fallen humanity have their own way.”
Later in Romans 6, Paul says we are enslaved to sin, and we need Christ to free us.

Now, as the years go by, will everyone end up to be some horrific criminal, like a serial killer?
No, that’s not Paul’s point. Paul is saying that everyone and society as a whole is going to be more darkened and depraved in their souls as the years go on.
Romans 1 is not pleasant to think about. Who LOVES being confronted with the darkness of their own hearts?? But we must see it.

Romans 3:21-25

Then later in chapter 3, Paul begins to tell the GOOD NEWS.
He tells us how we escape this never-ending cycle of slavery to sin and death.

Romans 3:23–25 ESV “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith…”

This simple sentence gives THE answer to life’s greatest problem and to my greatest problem.
Righteousness…a right standing with God…is only through faith in Jesus Christ.

There is so much confusion in the world about salvation from God.
Most of us….most people all over the world…naturally think that somehow we can make up for sin by trying harder. By doing some religious activity. This is what I thought. It wasn’t until I was a 19-year old college student when someone told me differently.

A seemingly universal truth about our human nature is we attempt to impress God by what WE DO.
• We downplay our own darkness.
• We elevate our own attempts at righteousness.
Virtually none of us are immune from this.

But Paul shines light on our darkness to help us see clearly. He is revealing God’s plan of mercy. It is MERCY because instead of putting every one of us to DEATH for our sins, God offered up his own SON to DEATH in exchange.

Jesus is the Propitiation through his blood. He takes the wrath of God upon himself to turn it away from us. Isaiah 53 says, “He was pierced for our transgression; he was crushed for our iniquities.”

When we grasp this and believe it, LIGHT floods our hearts. The doors of heaven are now opened to us. We exhale and shout for joy that we will now LIVE forever. God’s MERCY is shocking and surprising, but wonderfully so.

Those are a few glimpses into the first section of Romans, Chapters 1-4. “Justification by faith.”

Romans 5:1 and 8:1

The second of four great sections of Romans is Chapters 5-8.
Entitled: Hope of Salvation

I want to offer two verses that have powerfully shaped my life.

Romans 5:1 ESV “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 8:1 ESV “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

These verses shape my thinking almost every week.
They tell me I’m OK with God. Peace. No condemnation.

These verses….for me they are fraternal twins….are often in my mind.
Even last Monday morning as I was in prayer, I was pondering them.
It had felt like a long weekend, and I was reflecting back Monday morning, and I was tempted to be discouraged about a few things. I was tempted to feel guilty for not having my “A-Game” in some of my pastoral duties.
Maybe they were small failures…I’m not sure. But they FELT LARGE.

In Revelation 12, Satan is described as the “accuser of the brothers”. He is very adept at accusations. At heaping guilt and shame upon us. And he did on Monday.

But then the Holy Spirit reminded me of these two verses. “Peace with God.” “No condemnation.” No more beautiful words could be spoken.

I was tempted to condemn myself. To be harsh on myself. But how dare I do that when God does NOT!!

Often when we face Guilt or Shame, we try to ease our internal pain several ways.
• We try to talk ourselves out of our sin. “Well, it’s not THAT bad.”
• We try to compare ourselves to others. “At least I’m not as bad as THAT sinner.”
• We try to work harder the next day. “Tomorrow I’m going to make up for my sin by working harder.”

All such attitudes are SIN….for they ignore God. And they deny his grace. And they promote self-righteousness.

The Fraternal Twins of Romans 5:1 and 8:1 bring us back to TRUTH. We are in good standing with God because of…and ONLY because of….the glorious, complete, beautiful work of Jesus who DIED and ROSE from the dead.

Romans 8:38-39

For me, Romans 8 is the final ascent up this great mountain called Romans. From here, the view is spectacular.
I know I have many top passages in the Bible, but I really think Romans 8 might be my #1. Or at least in my top 3 to 5.

And vs. 38-39 might just be the SUMMIT for me.

Romans 8:38–39 ESV “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We should read this and breathe the biggest sigh of relief.

In a world of insecurity and failure and loss—death, marriage breakdowns, disloyalty, hatred, violence, and bitterness—things that tear us apart— in this insane world, Romans 8:38-39 brings a peace to us. Confidence. Security.
Even when OUR lives are unstable, God is steady and unchanging. He is not fickle. He will not divorce us or abandon us.

I know some of you HATE to memorize. Even if you do, I would ask you to consider memorizing at least this. WHY? So that God’s Spirit can bring it to our minds constantly and help us find security.

This is a very quick glimpse into the 2nd section of Romans, Chapters 5-8.

Romans 9-11

Then we turn the page to the next section. Chapters 9-11.
Entitled: Israel’s role.

Now that salvation in Jesus Christ has been opened wide to the rest of the world, we may wonder, “Well, then, what has happened and what will happen with Israel. They have been at the center of history with God for 2000 years before Christ, and now they seem to be stripped of that.” Paul examines this at length.

To you fans of Chapters 9-11, I know it’s an important section. But…my apologies… we’re going to move on, for sake of time.

Romans 12:1

The fourth of four great sections of Romans is Chapters 12-16.
Entitled: Conduct in the Gospel

Romans 12:1 ESV “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

This is so foundational.
This is a HINGEPOINT in Romans. Paul offers a CRUCIAL transition in his letter.
And it is CRUCIAL we get this right.

A works-based life intended to impress God and show him we are worthy of salvation is UTTERLY OPPOSED to the message of Romans. Normal human tendency is to begin with ourselves, do something, then assume God somehow HAS to save us.
The gospel is reverse of that. Romans and the entire Bible begins with God, and we find we are utterly dependent on his mercy to save us. We are saved by FAITH in Jesus.

Then when he does save us, we should wonder, “Well, what do we do now?” When we ask that, we should find ourselves gazing at Romans 12:1. And there we see that God calls on us, in light of this indescribable grace and mercy, to give our lives up for him to worship him. WORSHIP him. Jesus died so that you wouldn’t have to. You OWE everything to him.

This theme has been the core guiding truth in my life for 38 years. In order to ensure I don’t get this backwards, I have made a very similar verse, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, as my guiding life verse. I go back to that verse—just like Romans 12:1— to refresh and remind me to have a holy and righteous focus in life.
To live for Jesus.
To love him.
To obey him.
To work for him.
WHY? Because he has shown such great MERCY to save me through his Son, Jesus.

This is CRUCIAL we get this right. God is NOT interested in a self-driven, moralistic life. THAT will NEVER please him.

Romans 12:9-10

Paul spends the next 5 chapters telling us how we should live in light of the mercy we find in Jesus. Jesus died to save you. You believed. He has poured out his glory on you. NOW WHAT? Specifically how should you live?

Let’s look at just one example.

Romans 12:9–10 ESV “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

So inspiring.

“Outdo one another in showing honor.”
Regardless of who it is, Paul says, show honor.
Two weeks ago, 6 of us went to listen to well-respected author and speaker, Russell Moore, speak out at Cornerstone Church.
Moore was talking about discrimination and racism, and he made a blunt statement that woke me up. He said,
“Racism is Satanism.”
That caught my attention.

His point was this: Hating someone of another race is from Satan.
Looking down on others is really heresy. It is denying one of the core messages in God’s revelation. That is, that God has made every man and woman in the image of God.
Every man. Every woman. Every skin color. Every person with or without certain skill sets or abilities.
All are on a level playing field before God.

That doesn’t mean all BEHAVIORS are acceptable to God.
I may have some Behavior that you need to lovingly rebuke and correct.
But as a PERSON, whether sinner or saint, whether black, brown, or white, all are made in the image of God. All can and should be honored. And especially those who walk with Jesus.

The Bible has the clearest answers on some of the world’s greatest problems.

Romans 16

I want to finish with a glimpse at Paul’s final chapter.
Chapter 16 is quite unique. It is unlike the rest of the letter.
In fact, 16 is so unusual that a few people have wondered if it wasn’t actually part of Paul’s original letter.
But I believe it IS a part of Romans.

While chapters 1-15 are largely impersonal yet with deep truths, chapter 16 switches gears and becomes intensely and beautifully personal.
Paul’s greetings are SO personal. He sends greetings to over 20 Christians in the Roman church.

Here is a sampling:
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.
Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you.
Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.
Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ.
Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.

Such affirming, tender, powerful words.
• Risked their necks.
• All the churches thank God for them.
• Worked hard for you.
• My beloved…my dear friend
• Approved in Christ
• Chosen in the Lord.
• A mother to me.

Paul was formerly an angry, passionate, violent man. Now he loves with tenderness and intensity….because of the mercy God has shown him by saving his soul. We should speak this way to one another. Use words like these.

Now my final words will be Paul’s final words.

Verses 25-27 are considered a “Doxology,” an expression of praise to God.

Romans 16:25–27 ESV “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

This is quite a sentence. Typical Paul, being verbose.

His main point here is to worship God.

But it’s a long sentence of praise because the middle of it is explaining why God is so great.
Why is he great? Because God has had this eternal plan to bring his merciful salvation to the entire world.
This was a mystery….unrevealed for centuries. But now in Jesus Christ, this eternal plan has been unfolded. Now to all the nations….not just Israel…God offers His righteousness to anyone who will believe. Nations all over the world have been influenced. We have several nations represented just in this one room.

That is in the middle of this long doxology.
But if we look at the beginning and the end, here is what Paul is saying:
“Now to him who is able to strengthen you through this remarkable, eternal gospel….to this amazingly wise God….to him be glory forever and ever through his Son, Jesus.”
To God be all the praise and honor and celebration.
To God be all the singing and shouting and dancing.
To God we give all our heart and soul and strength.

Conclusion

Don’t be intimidated by Romans.
Yes, it is deep. After all my years of reading the Bible and Romans, there are still passages I don’t understand well.
And on many passages, I know I’m still strolling around the foot of the mountain, and the ascent above me to grasp more will take some hiking. Some exertion.

But the view as you climb this mountain is worth it. You can see for miles.

As I said earlier, I want to see you make Romans a part of your life. To read. Study. Scratch your head. Pray. Learn.
Believe it. Live by it. Let the Spirit change your life through it.

We need God’s help to cast of human and worldly mindsets, and let the Holy Spirit develop a biblical mindset in us.