Friday, February 17, 2006

The Book of Romans

The Book of Romans

by Michael S. Horton (Host of the White Horse Inn)

What is the Book of Romans primarily about?

Here is Paul's argument in a nutshell: The problem that all of humanity faces is the wrath of God, which is entirely justified because the Gentiles know God according to general revelation and the Jews know God according to special revelation, yet both have failed to truly acknowledge God, since they have violated his law. Since everyone is under sin and God’s wrath, the only way out is the gospel: the announcement that in Christ God has provided a righteousness that satisfies his holy requirements. Christ has absorbed God’s wrath in his death and justifies the wicked by his resurrection. All of this is received through faith alone, apart from works, as the examples of Abraham and David demonstrate. Yet God has not only secured our salvation from the condemnation of the law, but also from the dominion of sin and death. Baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, we are made new creatures. However, we continue to struggle throughout our life with indwelling sin and the only hope we have is to look outside of ourselves to Christ, with the indwelling Spirit testifying in our hearts to our free adoption and keeping alive within us the hope that not only we but the whole creation will share in the final redemption. In the light of all of this, nothing can separate us from God’s love. But how can we trust this gospel if God has been unfaithful to his earlier promises to Israel? Well, God has always maintained his prerogative of election even among the physical descendants of Abraham. Salvation is not a matter of physical descent or of human decision or effort, but of God’s mercy alone. God has been faithful to his promises because even now an elect remnant is being saved from among Jews and Gentiles, and after God adds alien Gentile branches to the Tree of Israel, he will finally bring in the fullness of the Jews as well. In view of these mercies that stagger our imagination, we can now offer not the dead sacrifices of animals for atonement but our own bodies as living sacrifices for thanksgiving and praise. In that light, stop judging each other about “things indifferent” and get on with the business of loving and serving each other.

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