We are starting a new series of the book of Romans. From today for 8 weeks until 25 June, Phil and I will be going through Romans chapters 1, 5, 6, and Romans 8 on Pentecost day, in June we are going through chapters 8, 10 , 12 and 13 & 14 to wrap up this series. We hope this will be helpful and meaningful series for our congregation in May and June.
In his letter to the Roman church, Paul lays out his argument for unifying Jews and non-Jews in Christ—and he instructs his readers on how to restore their relationship with God.
The book of Romans dates to the end of Paul’s third missionary journey; he most likely wrote this letter from the Greek city of Corinth in the mid-50s AD (Acts 19:21; 20:3). Paul had not met the Christians at Rome (Rom 1:13). Paul wanted to take the gospel to Spain, and he thought that Rome might make a good launching point for a westward mission (15:22–24).
The Roman church probably was a mix of Jews and gentiles. Paul wanted to communicate to these Christians that the gospel includes everyone.
The major themes of Romans—righteousness and salvation—ring forth most clearly in Romans 1:16–17, Paul’s declaration of the power of the gospel. Here, Paul declares the good news of Jesus opens God’s salvation to Jews and gentiles alike. Further, this salvation fulfills the Old Testament promises God made to the people of Israel—showing God’s faithfulness to his covenant. Paul shows us that in Jesus we clearly see God’s power to save all who believe.
Romans is structured with an opening (1:1–17), a body (1:18–15:13), and a closing (15:14–16:27). The two main parts of the letter’s body include a section focusing on what God has done in Christ (1:18–11:36) and a section instructing Christians how to live in light of the truths set forth in the first part (12:1–15:13).
Outline of Romans (SEVEN) – In this book, Paul’s discussion focuses on four major points. First, everyone—including Jews and gentiles—is under God’s judgment (1:18–3:20). Second, Christ has become the living revelation of God’s righteousness so that everyone who believes—both Jews and gentiles—can be made right and brought into God’s family (3:21–5:21). Third, God’s righteousness gives us hope in our battle against sin (6:1–8:39). Finally, despite many Jews’ rejection of Christ, the people of Israel nevertheless have a role to play in God’s redemption of the world (9:1–11:36).
In the section on Christian ethics, Paul aims to help the Roman believers put their faith into practice, particularly when it comes to living together as the diverse yet unified Church (12:1–15:13).
Last week, we encountered one of Paul’s earliest missions to Lystra along with Barnabas. No matter where Paul journeyed or whom he met, he continued to insist that Jesus was for all.
Paul was writing to a mixed group of people, Jewish and Gentile, who had mixed feelings about each other. They had been called to be the church together, but how could they become united when there is so much that divided them? We face similar challenges today. Our church—and our world—is multi-cultural like Paul’s, and
there are many different denominations of Christianity. How do we talk about what is truly at the heart of what we believe? How do we find a way to “be church” together when we can feel so
In v 16, Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” Stephen McAlpine, Australian pastor from Perth says in his book, “Being the Bad Guys – How to live for Jesus in a world that says you shouldn’t” that Christian views are no longer worth considering but rather in need of silencing today. He questions how Christians became the bad guys in our society. This book is winner of 2021 Australian Christian book of the year. The church used to be recognized as a force for good, but this is changing rapidly. Christians are now often seen as the bad guys, losing both respect and influence.
In our post-Christian culture, how do we offer the gospel to those around us, who think it as not only wrong but possibly dangerous?
Author Stephen McAlpine offers an analysis of how our culture ended up this way and explains key points of tension between biblical Christianity and secular culture.
He encourages Christians not to be ashamed of the gospel as it is more liberating, fulfilling and joyful than anything the world has to offer. He also offers strategies for coping in this world, with its opposing values, and for reaching out to others wisely with the truth.
This is a challenging book to read. Although I don’t agree everything he says in the book, still this is a helpful book.
When famed Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton was looking to build a team for his team as the start of the 20th century, he placed an advertisement in a newspaper –
“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages. Bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”
Apparently, some 5000 men replied. Shackleton established early on what type of person would be required for the journey and made sure that no one would be able to complain later when it got tough, as it inevitable would. Stephen said as that advertisement describes, our Christian life must face the possibility of deep hostility from the powers of this age.
Using the example of Australian Catholic cardinal, George Pell, he shows what being the bad guys looks like. S Christianity had repeatedly betrayed the weak and powerless: the church had first gained power and then abused it for centuries. When we were not the minority grouping in the West, we often failed to speak up for the voiceless, powerless minorities.
There are the questions that worth pondering –
Have we set aside enough time, and shaped our own understanding of meaning, identity and forgiveness around the gospel deeply enough?
Self-denial versus Self-actualisation
If we are asked to give up Crossfit because our prayer life has fallen away? If we are asked to meet one-on-one with a new Christian and risk missing that final one percent in the exam?
Can our churches become the mile-markers for those on a journey seeking the pathway to life?
To be the Best Bad Guy you can be,
How Jesus-focused are you? Are your non-Christian friends convinced that you are more enthusiastic about Jesus than you are about your renovation project or the university grades of your children? Are they amazed by how much Jesus sets the tone of everything you do? Without Jesus we have no compelling reason to offer any vision for human flourishing beyond what the world already has. Both personally and in community, we should make much of praising Jesus and focusing on what he has done for us.
We are surrounded by people of vastly different social and economic settings. How can you serve them? Through English-language groups? Free financial advice? Child-minding facilities? God is inviting us into a bigger and more satisfying project.
Also to be best bad guy, S Surround yourself with a support team that can talk through the wisdom of your decisions and responses. Help each other lean in to fearlessness and away from distraction. We all need the collective wisdom of those who have had similar conversations.
We gather as God’s people, as citizens of another city, to serve others who are serving us, because together we are serving him. There’s something rich and attractive about the gathering of God’s people that no glamorous party can’t match. That is a sure foundation. And it brings a joy and certainty that we are clearly not seeing in the secular world.
The key is this: are we proclaiming the gospel message, and practicing the gospel ethic it demands, among ourselves first? Now is the time to get our own city in order.
Every church gathering is a mini-withdrawal from the world, in order to return to the world ready for a fresh attempt to live out the gospel ethic.
Are we willing to be bad guys for the sake of the gospel? Are you willing to be bad guys as you are not ashamed of the gospel?