The Beginning of the Greatest Book in the New Testament
January 1, 2023
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Study Introduction to the Book of Romans
A. Romans is THE Greatest Book in the New Testament!
1. This is not an overstatement!
2. Matthew is awesome, Revelation is amazing, The Gospel of John is so assuring…
3. But this one Book in your Bible condenses down into 16 chapters the greatest themes of all humanity - the themes of sin, judgment, justification, sanctification, victory, eternal security, and worthwhile service
4. And it explains why there is sin in every human heart, the consequences of sin in us, and the remedy – which is the Gospel!
5. It answers questions you haven’t even thought of yet!
6. If there was one book in the Bible that the ROMAN catholic church should have been reading and teaching and believing all along, it is THIS Book – it is why there was a Reformation, and it is why Baptists never were part of the Catholic church system!
B. This Book follows right after the Book of Acts to stabilize Christians in Doctrine – absolute truths
1. Zeal without knowledge (Bible doctrine) burns-out not only the Christians, but everyone around them.
a. There are too many people who get excited about salvation and the Bible, but who never learn the Bible, and so burn-out and fall-out and give up the Christian life!
b. End up charismatic with loads of zeal, but no Bible knowledge, and end up with cult beliefs!
2. And people who have knowledge but are without zeal are dead, and have no joy… Like Calvinists, and Presbyterians, and many Baptists
3. But when knowledge and zeal are MIXED, it turns the world upside down!
C. The Book of Romans can be outlined as follows:
1. Chapters 1, 2 deal with SIN - Negative!
2. Chapters 3 through 5 deal with SALVATION -Positive!
3. Chapters 6, 7 deal with SANCTIFICATION (victory over sin)
4. Chapter 8 deals with our SECURITY in Jesus Christ
5. Chapters 9 through 11 deal with the SPECIAL Place of the JEWS
6. Chapters 12 though 16 deal with a Christian’s SERVICE
D. This letter to the Romans was not supposed to be read only by the Romans
1. It was included in the Bible because it is for all believers
2. Let’s sit down and read this letter as if it was written to US, and take every word as right and worth obeying!
A. The Writer (Romans 1:1)
1. Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
2. By a man named Paul
a. He starts the letter off with his own name – the way they wrote letters back then
b. Paul writes it while he was starting churches all over Turkey he wrote these 16 chapters as a letter to the Christians in Rome
c. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Timothy 3:16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness
1) Like an artist of book author gets “inspired”
2) But this like all the Bible is Perfectly inspired, with proofs of its inspiration
3) Inspiration means that God spoke, men wrote, and copies were made
4) Like we use a pencil to write, God used men to write His words (Matthew 4:4) …It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
3. Who was Paul?
a. An ex-Jewish Pharisee – a powerful religious leader
b. Who hated, persecuted, hunted and killed Christians for a living
c. Until the day he was converted – gloriously saved
4. Why God Used Saul of Tarsus
a. He was SAVED, converted, born again (Acts 9) – Paul’s life began there!
b. He was a SERVANT of Jesus Christ
1) More than just a believer
2) Or even just a follower, of the life and teaching of Jesus
3) He was someone who Served – who did the will of Jesus as his LORD!
a) A Servant of Jesus Christ
b) A title yes… But a lifestyle more
c) Not a slave to Jesus, but a willing servant
d) Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
4) He had a servant attitude. He sought to be a servant above all other things – he asked “what wilt thou have me to do?” the moment he got saved!
c. He was CALLED
1) Called, invited (like to a dinner), compelled to salvation from the wrath to come
2) Apostleship – this was not his career choice, but Jesus’
d. He was SEPARATED to that calling
1) Stepping out of this world’s march to hell
2) To walk a different, and quite lonely path
3) To the work of the Gospel of God – and believe me, it is hard work!
e. THOSE FOUR THINGS MADE SAUL SUCCESSFUL in his Christian life
f. They will make YOU and ME successful too!
B. The Gospel (Romans 1:1-4)
1. Romans 1:1-4 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
2. The Gospel is described in seven ways in the Bible:
a. The Gospel of God – it is God’s Gospel, not man’s, or popes, or prince’s
b. The Gospel of the kingdom
c. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Son
d. The Gospel of the Grace of God, and not the works of religion
e. The Gospel of Peace between us and God
f. The Gospel of the Uncircumcision and the Circumcision (Gal 2:7) – for both
g. The Gospel of Your Salvation – the most important need of all!
3. It means… GOOD NEWS
a. That God can fix whatever sin has ruined and soiled
b. And can save us from hell
c. Like hearing about a real cure for cancer is good news
d. The Gospel is more than a message you just HEAR
1) It is a way of life, a way of thinking, a way of loving, and serving, and suffering
2) Anyone who gets a second chance at life, and is made free from their slavery to sin WILL live differently!
3) It is no good if you do not believe it, and it is no good if you won’t repeat it!
4. The Gospel is found ONLY in the holy Scriptures (Romans 1:2)
a. Romans 1:2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
b. Not in politics, or science, or technology, or outer space
c. But in a Book that anyone can pick up and read and test and study and believe!
d. The Gospel is the focus of all the laws, and all the prophets, and all the history that led up to Jesus Christ and the cross
e. More than 300 scriptures all pointed to the greatest event of all time – the coming of the Messiah to save us (Matthew 1:21)
5. Concerns God’s Son (Romans 1:3,4)
a. Romans 1:3,4 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
b. The God-Man
c. Made a man, a descendant of king David (as promised) – human flesh
d. Declared (not made) the Son of God, by the Holy Spirit – deity, God-ness
e. Proven to be the Son of God by the resurrection
f. Almost all other Greek and Roman ‘gods’ (Zeus, Jupiter, Neptune, etc) were said to have had “sons and daughters”, (Hercules, Achilles, etc) but not were proven to be the Son of Almighty God except Jesus!
6. The Gospel Gave Some Things to Paul (Romans 1:5)
a. Romans 1:5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
b. Grace – God’s grace is a big deal – it gave us salvation (Eph 2:8,9) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
c. Apostleship – a big deal too (Gal 1:15,16) But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood
1) A Calling, purpose – not just grace to be saved, but to LIVE and DO something of value!
2) Don’t waste the grace of God (1Corinthians 15:10) Paul didn’t and look at what he accomplished! “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
d. To reach the world – all nations – to convince all cultures, all people, everywhere to believe what Jesus did for them
1) Not just the Jews only
2) To obey FAITH, not just laws
3) Obedience to the laws saved no one
4) Obeying the Gospel saves, as we shall see!
C. Our Same Calling (Romans 1:6)
1. Romans 1:6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:
2. All Christians are saved, AND CALLED by the same Person
a. Not saved by our church, or called by our pastor
b. But saved AND called by only Jesus Christ
c. John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
3. We are ALL called – to be and do something in the kingdom of God!
a. Not all Christians are called to be apostles or prophets
b. But each one of us are called to a specific place and purpose
1) 1Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
2) 1Corinthians 12:14-18 For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
c. So, according the the Scriptures, We are all Called:
1) To be saints – not pagans anymore, or jerks, or bitter – to live like one
2) To be Christ-like – not Jews anymore, or Gentiles – just Christians now!
3) To be holy (1Thessalonians 4:7) For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. A godly, clean life – not perfect, but clean!
4) To a Good End (Romans 8:28) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
d. Yet the devil has dumbed us down, and dulled our hearts, and filled our time and lives so that we NEGLECT and even REJECT God’s calling for each of us!
e. Have you noticed that the devil constantly hinders Christians from having the courage to tell people the Gospel and win them to Christ?
D. “To All That Be in Rome” – this is the Audience Paul is writing to (Romans 1:7-16)
1. Who were the Romans?
a. Rome was a very pagan city
b. A million wealthy, powerful people, with 100’s of thousands of citizens, and slaves
c. Rome was mainly filled with Gentiles, but with quite a few Jews lived there as well
d. Some were already saved and had churches there (we’ll learn about them in 15,16)
e. This book is for mainly Gentiles to understand the Gospel
f. There is another book that explains the Gospel to the Jews… HEBREWS!
2. Written To All… (Romans 1:7)
a. Romans 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
b. To both the Jewish and Gentile reader
c. Even to the saved and lost
d. But mainly to the believers – the unsaved don’t enjoy the Bible like believers do!
1) All believers are beloved of God – none more or less than others
2) All believers are SAINTS already – holy, ready for heaven
3) “Saints in the world” – not just in heaven!
3. Paul’s Wish (Romans 1:7)
a. Romans 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
b. I wish for God’s grace and peace be given to you all
c. That is a good thing to pray for – for the help we need to get THROUGH suffering and storms and troubles and hardships!
4. Paul’s Joy (Romans 1:8)
a. Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
b. I thank God for you all, and for the fact your faith is so evident – visible – active
c. Roman Christians were active in evangelising and preaching – not timid or silent
d. They were ACTS based Christians, not LAZY Christians!
5. Paul’s Yearning (Romans 1:9-11)
a. Romans 1:9-11 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established;
b. I want to come to Rome. Not to see the sights, but to see YOU – the Christians
c. I pray for you whom I have never met
d. I am waiting for the will of God to permit me to come – like a horse waiting at the starting gate
e. I long to see you – what a way to talk about people he had never met!
f. That is MY attitude all week long until I get to see all of YOU too ladies and gentlemen!
6. Paul’s Goal at that moment (Romans 1:11-13)
a. Romans 1:11-13 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
b. I want to be a help to you – as an apostle – a teacher of the Bible – a discipler, explaining and answering Bible questions
1) The Christians in Rome, especially the Gentile ones were reading and studying the Old Testament Scriptures, so they had many questions
2) Establish them – give them a solid foundation
3) Paul’s over-riding yearning was to establish the Christians in Rome. He did not wait for Peter to do it - he knew it was HIS job!
c. I want fruit among you
1) Like a worker coming and helping in a field of wheat or tomatoes, planting, weeding, harvesting
2) Paul had been VERY fruitful throughout Turkey and Greece
3) Now wanted to see people saved, churches started in Rome
4) And from Rome, the Gospel would go into all the world fast!
d. But I have been OFTEN hindered – he was “let”, constrained to where he was at the moment
1) It is hard doing the will of God in a world that is against God
2) By Satan even (1Thessalonians 2:18) Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
e. So this is why Paul wrote this letter / book – because he felt the need to write down what he would teach them in case he could not get there!
7. Their Mutual Faith (Romans 1:12)
a. Romans 1:12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
b. There is only ONE faith
1) Not Baptist faith, and catholic faith, or Buddist faith
2) Just one faith – the faith that Jesus taught
3) Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
4) Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
c. How do we all end up believing the same things? (1Corinthians 1:1)0 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
d. One source – the Bible you are holding in your hands
e. One teacher – the holy Spirit in you if you are saved
f. One attitude – teachable! Searching, maturing, becoming more stable!
E. Paul’s Resolve (Romans 1:14-16)
1. Romans 1:14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
2. Romans 1:15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
3. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
4. Three “I Am’s” in this Scripture portion…
a. “I am Debtor”
b. “I am Ready”
c. And “I am NOT Ashamed”, but rather excited about the Gospel
d. He was VERY self-aware, not deluded, or airy-fairy. He knew exactly who and what he was and what he was supposed to be doing!
5. I am Debtor - Paul’s Debt (Romans 1:14)
a. Romans 1:14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
b. Paul is obligated to the whole world
c. Not just told to go, but commanded, and obligated
d. Like a Garda is obligated to protect and serve
e. Like a Doctor is obligated to save life
f. Paul was a Jew, who owed the Gospel to:
1) The Greeks – the civilized
2) The barbarians – the foreigners, and uncivilized
3) The wise – well educated, like Socrates and Aristotle
4) And the unwise – the uneducated, ignorant, low class
5) NO ONE was to be overlooked, or ignored – NO ONE!
6. I Am Ready - Paul’s Readiness (Romans 1:15)
a. Romans 1:15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
b. I am ready – with every fibre of my being
c. Willing, yieled, agreeing to this calling that Jesus gave me
d. I am prepared – all of Paul’s experiences
1) Rejection, poverty, hardships, imprisonments, travels
2) All of his relearning the Gospel
3) All of it has prepared him for what was ahead in Rome
7. Lastly, “I am unashamed” - Paul’s Excitement (Romans 1:16)
a. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
b. The cross makes people upset and embarrassed to hear about
1) That the whole world is so lost – not ever good enough
2) That God would have to do something so harsh to save them
3) That hell is full of good people, who thought they were good enough
c. Even some Christians struggle with embarrassment, with the message of the cross, and of the Christian life, and suffering
d. More about this next week!
A. This Letter to the Romans, will help us understand the condition of the human heart, and the only way it can be saved! Through believing the Gospel!
B. The Gospel is more than a message about Christ’s death on the cross in our place, and His burial, and His resurrection…
1. It is a way of life; a way of thinking; a way of loving, and serving, and suffering
2. It is the only hope for the souls of all mankind! Their only hope rests in hearing the Gospel that will save them that believe!
C. Paul starts this letter with a reminder that we, like he, have been called:
1. To be saints – here and NOW, not just in heaven
2. To be Christ-like NOW, not when we feel like it
3. To be holy NOW
4. To a Good End – we know how everything ends up for those that love God!
D. What will we all do with the Gospel? The Christians in the Book of Acts took ito into all the world
E. It is here today, but needs to go around again, don’t you think? Are YOU saved?