Romans 1:1

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.”

In his preface to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, the great Reformation leader Martin Luther began with these thoughts: “This Epistle is in truth the principal part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel. It fully deserves that every Christian should know it by heart, word for word, and should feed upon it every day, as daily bread for his soul. It cannot be read too often nor too deeply pondered, and the more it is studied the more precious and sweet to the taste does it become.” Harry Ironside said of Romans, “It is the most scientific statement of the divine plan for the redemption of mankind. It is the orderly setting forth of the Gospel that the mind of man craves, the declaration of man’s need along with the gracious plan of God’s salvation which culminates in His glorification.”

With these wonderful words of exhortation and explanation the study of Romans continues in verse one with the author’s declaration that God had separated him for Christian service. From the hour of his conversion to Christ, Paul realized that he had been separated unto the gospel of God.

First, he had been separated from his life of honors. Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee and as a Pharisee he had been a respected member of society. He had been a ruler of the Jews with sweeping political power; but from the moment he met the Master, Saul became Paul which in Latin means “little” and he became a servant, a doulos, separated from the titles of worldly recognition. The words of Jeremiah the prophet rang in his ears. “And seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not” (Jer 45:5).

Second, Paul had been separated from the works of the Law. All his life Paul had been taught the value and the importance of the Law. The Law was holy, just, and good; but the Law was also severe. The Law was critical of the human heart and human conduct, for it judged the individual. The Law was meant to judge this because in His infinite wisdom the Lord God was making a point: no one can keep the Law. “There is none righteous, no not one.” The basic commandments are constantly being violated for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

One day, on the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus realized this simple gospel truth. He too was a violator of the Law.

One day, on the road to Damascus, Saul was slain in the spirit as he realized that he was breaking many facets of that which he wanted so desperately to honor. For example, the Law said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

Saul had another god besides the Lord Jesus. His god was religion. Saul of Tarsus was giving his life to Judaism with all its rules and regulations, with all its ceremonies and rituals.

The Law said, “Thou shalt not kill,” but Saul had murder in his heart and the blood of the martyred Stephen on his hands.

The Law said, “Thou shalt not covet,” but Saul wanted what the Christian community had. He wanted the property and possessions of those whom he persecuted.

By being converted to Christ, Saul was separated in his heart from a system of salvation by works under the Law to loving a precious Savior and living under grace.

Then third, Saul was separated from the works of the flesh to a life of faith. What is faith? “…Faith is a divine work in us, which transforms us and begets us anew from God (John 1:13), which crucifies the Old Adam, makes us in heart, temper, disposition, and in all our powers entirely different men, and brings with it the Holy Spirit. O, this faith is a living, busy, active, powerful thing! It is impossible that it should not be ceaselessly doing that which is good. It does not even ask whether good works should be done; but before the question can be asked, it has done them, and it is constantly engaged in doing them.

But he who does not do such works is a man without faith. He gropes and casts about himself to find faith and good works, not knowing what either of them is, yet prattles and idly multiplies words about faith and good works. Faith is a living, well-founded confidence in the grace of God, so perfectly certain that it would die a thousand times rather than surrender its conviction. Such confidence and personal knowledge of divine race make its possessor joyful, bold, and full of warm affection toward God and all created things all of which the Holy Spirit works in faith.

Hence, such a man becomes without constraint willing and eager to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer all manner of ills, in order to please and to glorify God, who has shown toward him such grace” (Martin Luther).

At a meeting in Aldersgate Street, London, on 24 May 1738, “about a quarter before nine,” John Wesley heard this extended definition of faith and felt his heart “strangely warmed.” Wesley prayed that God would grant him the priceless gift of faith, and the Lord was gracious. Like Saul of Tarsus, like every soul that comes to the Savior, John Wesley (1703-1791) was separated unto the gospel that has its origin in God. Having been separated unto the gospel, Saul was immediately made an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this manner, great honor was added to great grace.

The word “apostle” refers to a person sent forth on an important and special mission. From the moment of his new birth Paul was sent to preach the gospel of redeeming grace as He exalted the name of Jesus Christ.  Romans 1:2 Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. The apostle Paul argued that the gospel he preached was first declared in the Old Testament so that it can be said that, “The Old is by the New explained, and The New is in the Old contained; or, The New is in the Old concealed; The Old is in the New revealed.”

The good news that Paul proclaimed was the same gospel of mercy and truth that has always been presented to man as the way of salvation. There is only one avenue of redemption and that is by grace through faith in the person of Jesus Christ as He is presented. No generation has ever been left without knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The advent, the character, the work, and the kingdom of the Messiah are predicted in the Old Testament.

In the New Testament the discovery is made that Jesus is the promised Messiah. The Lord said that Abraham rejoiced to see His day. Abraham was saved by faith in Christ. Because the Old Testament consistently teaches salvation in the Person of Christ, these Scriptures are to be viewed as being holy or of Divine origin. Proper respect and reverence must be shown to them.

Christ showed proper respect when He appealed to the Old Testament Scriptures as vindication of His messianic claims (cf. Luke 24:25-32, 44-48; 4:21; 22:37). Paul showed respect by believing what they taught. The apostle then argued his case.

It was God Who promised a Redeemer.

It was God who promised a Redeemer by His prophets.

It was God who preserved the promise of a Redeemer

through His prophets in sacred writing.

It was God who gave man His revelation.

When Adam and Eve first heard the gospel in Genesis 3:15, it was according to Divine revelation.

When Moses received the instructions for the Tabernacle, it was according to Divine revelation.

The gospel is not, and has never been the product of the progressive religious development in the imaginations of men. The gospel is according to Divine promise provided outside man’s human understanding. And always, the gospel speaks of Christ.

Perhaps the greatest illustration of the gospel in the Old Testament is found in the Tabernacle. Everything about the Tabernacle spoke of Christ including where it was built. The Bible teaches that the Tabernacle was built in the wilderness. It was not built in Egypt but in the wilderness and for good reason. Egypt was the place of idolatry. God’s people had to be delivered from such an environment prior to participating in pure worship.

After four hundred years of bondage to the Egyptians, the deliverance of Israel came. It came by a double redemption: the sprinkling of blood and the crossing of the Red Sea. In a mighty way God showed Himself strong on behalf of His people. After they had been brought out of Egypt, the Jews were instructed to build a place of worship. The result was the Tabernacle.

With Egypt behind them and Canaan in front; delivered from the one, but not yet entered rest in the other; ever on the more, while being dependent upon the grace of the Most High; the Jews roamed in the desert, covered by the blood while feeding on the Lamb and worshipping in the Tabernacle.

In the Tabernacle the gospel was preached. Paul was right. Christ is to be found in the Old Testament. He can be found in the Tabernacle in the wilderness. In fact, on every page, in every verse, the Lord will be discovered to the discerning, spiritual eye that looks for Him.

Have you seen Christ?

Have your eyes been opened to the spiritual

truth that Jesus is the Saviour of souls?

Have you called upon the name of the Lord for salvation?

If not, why not do that right now?

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