Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas in the Epistles - Romans

Romans 1:1-3 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh

Today begins a short new blog series that I hope will prove to be of interest to you the reader.  When we think of the truth of Christmas, we often turn to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke - and by all rights that is where we should begin.  In the Matthew and Luke birth narratives of Jesus' birth, explanation as to to the significance of the incarnation of Jesus Christ derive from the Old Testament prophecies about His first coming.  For example the virgin birth spoken of in Matthew 1:23 was to be a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6-7. 

With that said, I would like to take the reader through the section of the New Testament that explains the life and person of the Lord Jesus Christ - the New Testament letters or "Epistles".  Whenever one turns to the New Testament, we discover that the Gospels present the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, we see in the Book of Acts the Apostles and early church preaching about Jesus Christ.  It is in the 21 New Testament letters that we find His life and ministry explained. 

With that said, lets begin by looking at what is perhaps the greatest of all the New Testament letters: The Book of Romans.  What does the Book of Romans have to present to us regarding the truth of Christmas?

1. The Gospel message must include the truth of Christ's birth
In Romans 1:1-3 we see a basic outline of the Old and New Testaments centered around the truth of the Gospel:

a. Romans 1:1-2 The Gospel had its beginnings in the Old Testament via the writings of the Prophets and continued on in the writings of the Apostles, like Paul

b. Romans 1:3 Jesus Christ's birth is mentioned as major point of the Gospel

Romans of course is all about presenting to us the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16-17).  Though its teaching of the Gospel centers primarily around Christ's death and resurrection, His incarnation is given enough treatment in Romans to warrant our study.

How Paul presents Christmas truth in Romans
Notice what Paul does in this opening of Romans concerning Christmas truth.  He notes first that Jesus Christ is born.  That takes us back to those birth narratives in Matthew and Luke. 

We can secondly note that Jesus Christ was born of a particular bloodline - the seed of David.  2 Samuel 7:13-16 was God's promise to David that from his bloodline would come forth an Ultimate Descendant to sit on His throne.  The idea of "the seed" was also spoken to Abraham in Genesis 12:7 and Eve back in Genesis 3:15. 

Thirdly, these statements are made of Christ "according to the flesh".  We can consider Jesus Christ in one of two ways: "according to the flesh" as seen here in Romans 1, and "according to His Divine nature" as spoken of later in Romans 9:5 which reads - "whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen."  The cornerstone truth of Jesus Christ being God in human flesh is spoken of in other messages such as Matthew 1:23 and 1 Timothy 3:16. 

As you can see, Christmas truths such as the incarnation of God the Son in human flesh and His virgin birth are fundamental to what makes the Gospel Good news.  Romans shows us that God reached down through the sending of Jesus Christ in human flesh to bring the gift of Grace and the Gospel to a people who only deserved Justice.  Praise be to God for His Good News and the favor He chose to bestow through the sending of His Son.