The Gospel Concerning God’s Son – Romans 1:1-7Posted: August 20, 2011
Scripture Intro: With the exception of Titus, Paul’s other introductions are compact, like an interoffice memo, including his name, to whom he is writing to, and a greeting. Paul begins the same way, but the greeting doesn’t come until vs. 7. Why? Paul is so filled with the Gospel of God centered on Jesus Christ, he takes off for five verses before he lands again.
Prayer of Illumination:
Sermon Intro: “I am looking forward to Romans 7 and 8.” Why?, I asked. “So we can discuss predestination.” Quite a few mentioned their desire to get to chapters 6,7 and 8 for various reasons. Others are looking forward to chapters 9-11 to talk about Israel and the Church, and still others to chapter 13 to discuss the relationship between church and state.
Martyn Lloyd Jones writes, “Do not rush to [later chapters] saying, “I want to know more about the [how to be transformed].” My dear friend, if you only realized, as you should, that you are loved by God as he loved his own Son, you would learn the most important thing with respect to your [transformation] without going any further.”
Fallen Condition: We are insecure about God’s love for us, while we are more secure about our love for God. Often it works that way in other relationships too. We are fairly certain we love others, though less certain of their love for us.
However, when we consider the Holy, Holy, Holy love of God our assessments are reversed. We do become less certain of our love for God, though we become far more secure in His passionate, electing, divine love for us.
Why? Our natural way of understanding love is performance-based rather than gospel-based. We don’t see how faith and obedience go together. It seems either one or the other.
Yet Paul received grace (a particular power from God) and apostleship (a particular job from God) for a particular reason: To bring about the obedience of faith.
Since the Gospel produces an obedience that comes from faith,
Center your life on Jesus Christ as Lord.
Our two points are The Center and the Goal of the Gospel.
M/P1: The Center: Jesus Christ our Lord
Paul identifies the person who is himself the Gospel and clinches all he has said with the combination of titles in vs. 4, Jesus Christ our Lord. Each name is significant.
A. Jesus — Jesus Christ is not his name. Jesus is his name. His full name is Jesus of Nazareth. The name “Jesus” fixes his historical identity. Jesus is a real human being born at a particular time in a particular place in history. Had we lived in Jesus day, and had a camera, we could have taken a picture of him. He would not have been a hazy mystical glowing image. He would have looked like a typical man from Palestine.
However, vs. 2 tells us that this person Jesus is God’s own Son. Again in vs. 3, Paul points to the resurrection in which Jesus was declared to be the Son of God in power accord to the Spirit of holiness. God is the Father of Jesus, Joseph is his adopted legal step-father, and the virgin mary is his mother.
Usually, at this point we plunge too quickly into philosophical gymnastics about how Jesus is both fully God and fully man, or how a virgin can conceive a child. I am not opposed to discussions of this glorious mystery.
But before we rush off in that direction, the significance of this 2nd title of Jesus, the Christ, may putt a layer of protective historical and covenantal flesh on our limited philosophical imaginings.
B. Christ — Though Jesus is a real person, he is not just any real person. The word Christ is his royal title. He is the promised Messiah, descended from David according to the flesh.
Donald Grey Barnhouse helpfully cleared up some confusion I had, and beautifully demonstrated that only David’s greater Son and God’s Sovereign Son can be the legitimate heir to the throne of Israel.
There were two lines descending from King David, Solomon, and his older brother Nathan.
Matthew begins with King David, through Solomon to Joseph. Luke begins at the opposite end with Mary continuing back through Nathan to King David. Both Mary and Joseph trace their genealogy to royal line of David.
As for Nathan, Nathan and his descendants would have been next in line to the throne if God had not given the throne to Solomon.
But according to Jeremiah 22:30, God cursed Solomon’s heir, Jehoiachin who was the last of the reigning kings in Solomon’s line. Yet Jeremiah, one chapter later in 23:5-6 says God will raise up for David a righteous branch.
If Jesus had physically descended from Joseph, he would not have been been the Messiah because of the curse. Yet when Joseph adopted Jesus, legally Jesus became the only legitimate heir to the throne in Solomon line.
On his mother’s side, Jesus is the only legitimate heir to the throne through Nathan. Both royal lines are exhausted in Jesus. His other brothers who were physically unable to ascend to the throne because of the curse through their father.
When the Holy Spirit made the virgin Mary pregnant with his own Son without any human father, Jesus Christ became the legal Messiah, the royal Messiah, the uncursed Messiah, the true Messiah, the only possible Messiah… (Barnhouse)
C. Thus Jesus Christ, “Our Lord” — We bow and worship him as king of Kings and lord of Lords.
Christ did not receive his deity from Mary or Joseph. He brought his deity with him from heaven. (Sproul)
“Though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)
But same Jesus was declared God’s Son according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, thus the title, Jesus Christ our Lord.
“Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 1:9-10)
Illustration: On Feb. 22, 156 AD as Polycarp was driven into the arena, two city officials who respected him because of his age and reputation tried to persuade him to comply with the demand to worship Caesar. “What harm is there in saying, “Caesar is Lord” and saving yourself?” Polycarp refused. Later, in the arena, as he was about the be burned at the stake, Ploycarp explained: “For eighty-six years I have been Christ’s slave, and he has done me no wrong: how can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”
Application: The obvious question becomes, is Jesus Christ your Lord? The late John Stott lists six implications to consider if Jesus Christ is your Lord?
- Is Jesus Christ Lord over your thought-life?
- But Jesus is not just Lord of our minds, secondly, Is Jesus Lord of our wills and moral standards?
- Is Jesus Christ Lord over your time? Is He Lord of our professions, jobs, careers, ambitions, as well as our time engaged in other activities? Is Jesus detached from your plans and planning?
- Is Christ head of this church, not the preacher, the session, or the congregation?
- Jesus is not only our personal Lord, and Lord of the church, he is Lord over the nations. He is not just our king, he is the King of kings, and Lord of lords.
- The great commission is based not on our authority, but the authority of Christ.
M/P2: The Goal: To bring about the Obedience of Faith
We like to talk about Jesus as Savior, but some object to talk about Jesus as Lord because we mingle works with faith as if the faith and works are opposed to one another. But somehow, the Gospel when embraced by faith produces obedience. How?
A. Why do you obey? We obey “For the Sake of His Name.” If you obey for your sake, so that you can get some fire insurance, or so you can get God to love you more. When it is hard, it won’t work. You obey for the sake of Jesus name. He was obedient unto death for you.
Why do you forgive? If you attempt to forgive someone for their sake, or so that you won’t become bitter, it won’t work. What will you do when they do it again? What will you do when the hurt is so deep, you can’t let it go? The only way to truly forgive is for the sake of Jesus name. This is the obedience of faith.
How do you love? You may love when the person is easy to love and lovable, but what about when they are self-centered, and take advantage of you, and don’t care. The way to love like this is for the sake of Jesus name?
B. Why does our reason for obedience change? Now we Belong to Jesus Christ. As a result of God’s calling us by his grace, we belong to Jesus. What is a Christian? A Christian is someone who belongs to Jesus Christ.
C. Loved by God. Paul is not referring to God’s general love for all Romans, or “for God so loved the world.” This is God’s electing, saving love. The way we came to belong to Jesus Christ is because God loved us.
Does God love us because we made the right choice? Then why does Paul say later in Romans, “We were dead in our sins.” Does God love us because he saw this tiny seed of faith in us? Then why does Paul say later in Romans, “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, no not one.”
So why does God love us? Martyn Lloyd Jones writes, “We are Christians for one reason only and that is that God has set his love upon us. [God's love] is the thing that brings us out of the world and out of the dominion of Satan… And therefore it is not surprising that the apostle here should remind these Christians of this wonderful thing. The world hated them; it persecuted them. They might be arrested at any moment, at the whim of any cruel tyrant who happened to be emperor, and they might be condemned to death and thrown to the lions in the arena. They were oftentimes hated of all men. So Paul is anxious that they should realize that they are the beloved of God; that they [belong to] Christ and that God loves them in the same way as he loves Christ…
D. Called to be Saints. Notice Paul’s progression in these verses. They were saints because they were called. They were called because they were beloved of God.
People think of saints as having attained a certain level of holiness, and therefore worthy of special honor. But the bible views a saint as one separated by grace for God and his work.
What does that mean? Paul is not the only one set apart for the Gospel of God. You and I do not have apostleship. However, having been loved by God and called by him, we have been set apart for the Gospel of God. This is why their faith was being reported all over the world. How is your faith in Christ being reported to others?
E. Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice the conspiracy of grace and peace now from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not simply a nice sentimental thought on Paul’s part.
He is praying for God to give them what all of us desperately need from the Gospel of God — Grace and Peace. We are saved by grace alone, and that grace brings us eternal peace with God. Not just the absence of conflict, but the presence of God’s wholeness and completeness.
We need grace and peace today from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ like we need air to breath.
Conclusion: Jesus Christ our Lord brings about the obedience of faith through the preaching of the Gospel of God.
The person and work of Christ are the rock upon which the Christian religion is built. If he is not who he said he was, and if he did not do what he said he’d come to do, the foundation is undermined and the whole superstructure will collapse. Take Christ from Christianity, and you disembowel it; there is practically nothing left. Christ is the center of Christianity; all else is circumference.