Saturday, December 31, 2016

P1 Why the Gospel is so powerful - Romans 1:1-17

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Romans 1:16-17 "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 to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

Why is the Gospel so powerful? This theme of "the power of the Gospel" headlines Paul's letter to the church at Rome. Commentator Warren Weirsbe notes:

"No wonder Paul was not ashamed: He was taking to sinful Rome the one message that had the power to change people’s lives! He had seen the gospel work in other wicked cities, such as Corinth and Ephesus, and he was confident that it would work in Rome. It had transformed his own life, and he knew it could transform the lives of others."

Romans 1:1-17 introduces this marvelous epistle of Paul. Romans 1:16-17 is Paul asserting his stance on not being ashamed of the God due to it possessing the power of God unto salvation for everyone that believes or trusts in it. All that prefaces these key verses and all that follows serve to expound on the power of the Gospel. Today we want to know why the Gospel is powerful. We will offer a brief exposition of Romans 1:1-17 in attempting to understand why Paul and us can conclude that the Gospel is powerful. Notice the following reasons why the Gospel is so powerful as stated in Romans 1:1-17...

1. Life-changing words. Romans 1:1-2
We read in Romans 1:1-2 "Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures." The word translated "scriptures" is the Greek word "graphe" from whence we derive such English words as "graphics" and the mineral "graphite" found in the pencil leads we use to write on paper. The term "scripture" itself (from the Latin "scriptura") refers to that which is written, the words of God in the Old and New Testaments. In our English Bibles, our word "scripture" is simply a carry over or transliteration of the Latin "scriptura", which in the Latin translation of the Bible (the Vulgate) was a translation of the word "graphe". 

When English translations appeared on the scene, translators familiar with the Latin Vulgate saw the term "scripture" as appropriate in conveying the truth of the Bible being God's very words. These words of the Bible are God's very voice in written form. When read or preached, they impart life to the soul which can raise the spiritually dead heart to life in so far as the sinner responds to such words in saving trust (see John 5:24-25; 1 Corinthians 2:12-13; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23). No other means is used by God to impart salvation other than the scriptures. The words of the Bible are powerful and effective (Hebrews 4:12). Such a repository of Divine revelation is powerful. Hence, the Gospel is powerful due to the life-giving words upon which it is based and revealed. There is a second reason though for why the Gospel is so powerful...

2. Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:3-7
Recently theologian R.C. Sproul's Bible teaching ministry (Ligonier Ministries) released a statement of faith on the Person and work of Jesus Christ that outlines His identity, natures and power as God and man. Below we find the introductory two paragraphs of the statement:

"We confess the mystery and wonder
of God made flesh and rejoice in our great salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.

With the Father and the Holy Spirit,
the Son created all things, sustains all things, and makes all things new.
Truly God, He became truly man, two natures in one person."

Jesus Christ is no doubt the mystery and wonder of God personified. The late preacher Adrian Rogers once remarked: "He is so much God as not to be man and so much man as to not be God." This One person is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Who is truly and fully God and truly and fully man. Only a Person such as Christ could be powerful enough to be the focal point of the Gospel. Jesus is not only the Gospel's object but supreme subject. He is actually brought to the sinner by the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. 

In other words, Jesus is not hermetically sealed of in history or the pages of the Bible. When the Gospel is presented, Christ comes forth. The totality of His glorified humanity and endless deity are united in Himself, making His entire Person as God and man available to all who trust in Him.

This living Christ is supremely powerful. He is what makes the Gospel the Gospel. The good news of the Gospel is that God is with us, for us and in us. The good news of the Gospel is that we have a perfect human representative for us in the heavenly realms. In Jesus, in saving faith, we are more than accepted before God. In Jesus, we are united to God by the One who is God and man. His perfect humanity defines the believer's identity and ability to commune with God. 

So the Gospel is powerful due to it being based on powerful, living words (Romans 1:1-2) and the Lord Jesus Christ. In the next post we will consider other reasons from Romans 1:1-17 why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful. 

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