Romans 1-8: the abundant life in union with Christ (1)


Our Lord Jesus Christ himself clearly declared this truth: "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10 (b) The Apostle Paul in Romans traces the way of how to realize that life and life in abundance.

I begin the new exegetical and practical study with the knowledge that the subject of the gospel in Romans is vast and profound. I do not bring all the necessary tools to probe their liberating truths. However, I depend on the Holy Spirit to give me enlightenment so that studies can enrich you.

What I am going to share is the fruit of almost 60 years of meditation and teaching carried out in 16 countries in Latin America, in Canada, the US and Russia. Having been a professor at the Rio Grande Bible Institute for 56 years, I have taught these truths many times and they have consumed me in such a way that I can not help but say that my heart has been forged. But all that is worth nothing without the illumination of the Holy Spirit and a life of faith and obedience. God grant my request.

Since the gospel of God, the subject of Romans, is so vast and profound, I am going to address a more specific goal-to examine very thoroughly only Romans 5-8- dedicated to the gospel, the good news in Christ. I propose to do it in the following way:

the condemnation of the unbeliever Romans 1: 18 – 3: 20 the justification of the believer Romans 3: 21- 4: 25 sanctification or our union with Christ Romans 5: 1-8: 39.

I will not try to make an exegesis hallarse by hallarse; rather, I will try to examine the theological and basic concepts and make a practical application to the life of the believer. I am mainly addressing the pastors and future spiritual leaders so that they know how to feed their people spiritual food. There will be a strong emphasis on how to realize under the Holy Spirit the reality that is our union with Christ. That theme of our union, being grafted into him, dead to sin and to the law and alive to God in Christ Jesus, such is my focus. May you be faithful in pursuing these glorious truths.

The Message of the Cross the summit of divine intervention

To the Corinthians Paul wrote: "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are lost; but to those who are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God. . . Because the Jews ask for signs, and the Greeks seek wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, for the Jews a stumbling block, and for the Gentiles foolishness; but for those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. "(1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-24)

From the epistles of Paul, he applies this Message of the Cross to the particular need of each específico church, be it of slight division, (Philippians), heresy, pride, false doctrine (Corinth), legalism (Galatians), asceticism and Judaism (Colossians), the foundations of específico churches (Pastoral Letters), etc. But instead, in the epistle to the Romans, he gives us in a serene way a definition, a description and an application of the gospel in its fullness. It leads us from condemnation because of sins to justification through propitiation and through sanctification to glorification. It shows in an outstanding way the grace of God, the sublime redemption in Christ that leads us to the profound unity with the Crucified and risen Son of God. Finally in Romans 1-8 the Message of the Cross will redound to the glory of the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

The urgent need to hear the Message of the Cross in our Latin American churches

In my travels through Latin America since 1969 and in my years at the Rio Grande Bible Institute, I have observed that evangelism has been greatly highlighted resulting in many churches that spring up in many places. That is great. But discipleship or the basic teaching of the richness of life in union with Christ has not been preached with the same fervor or depth. When it is heard, it has a great blessing on souls, but it is scarcely heard.

I call this theme the Message of the Cross which is shortly "Christ in you, hope of glory." (Col. 1:27) "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). to use this term I include of course the two great elements: the first is the vicarious death of Christ. That point means Christ for us, our substitute, dying in our place, justifying us of all our sins. Of course that is the foundation laid. "For no one can lay another foundation than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (Col. 3:11) But a foundation laid without being built up does not carry out God's great purpose. "In whom (Christ) the whole building, well coordinated, grows to be a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are edified together for the dwelling place of God in the Spirit "(Eph 2: 21,21)

The second basic element has to be Christ in me and I in him. In short, what happened to Christ on the Cross happened to me in the same way. "For as soon as he died, (Christ) sin died once for all, but as soon as he lives, for God lives" (Rom 6:10) and those who "died to sin, how shall we still live in it." (Rom 6: 2) My mentor of antiqu, Dr. FJHuegel, the dean of the missionaries to Mexico (1920-1970), used to say, "Romans 6 is the gospel for the evangelicals." This is the emphasis that I want to do in these studies that will be developed. Through the years of ministry this has been my burden for the brothers in both English and Spanish. The Message of the Cross has sustained me in pleasant and difficult times. He will give you the same sustenance and fruit for his glory. God grant me this honor!

The Background of Romans

Bishop H.C.G. Moule, famous professor of the University of Cambridge and exegete par excellence of Greek of the Pauline epistles suggests the following: "It was in the month of the year of our Lord 58 being in the house of Gaius in Corinth having at his side the amanuensis , Tercio, addresses the converts of the mission in Rome. (Rom 16: 22,23) Among several plans, Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem soon, bringing economic aid to the poor of Jerusalem. He had also expressed his desire in God's will to go to Rome (Acts 19:21). No doubt he was thinking about Aquila and Priscilla, his friends who were in Rome and many other friends whom he was going to greet in Rom. 16, about 25 in total, in addition to those of several houses where the brothers met.

Similarities between Galatians and Romans written at the same time

In God's providence during his three-month stay in Corinth, Paul wrote his impassioned letter to the Galatians who suffered the treachery of the Judaizers. Since he carried in his heart the two burdens-the fear for the Galatians, his children in the faith and now the plan to go to Rome-one can identify the great similarity between these two books. In Galatians it is about the role of the law, the true reason of the law and the misrepresentation of it by the Judaizers (See Romans 1-8). Being Paul a Jew, formerly a Pharisee, but now a slave of Christ, surely the divine plan for his own depended on him (Romans 9-11). These themes Paul was going to develop with serenity and calm in Romans.

In Romans he wants to emphasize the grace of God and does so magisterially in both Romans and Galatians, but without the urgent problem of the Judaizers. That is why it is the law that makes sin known only in order to lead the sinner to Christ. (Romans 3: 1-20, 21-26) But the law is useless to sanctify the believer. The old man (Rom 6: 1-16) and the law (Rom 7: 4,5) have already died to let the Holy Spirit produce the true righteousness of God in Christ. (Rom 8: 1-4)

In addition Paul touches God's plan for the Jews, the same people of Paul, "the Jew first and also the Greek." He develops the great mystery of the promise to the children of Abraham, the remnant set aside to graft the Gentile and finally to establish the Jew with the Gentile in the messianic reign of Christ. (Rom 9-11) After thoroughly discussing the essence of life united to Christ in death to sin, to the law and lived for God by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5-8), Paul addresses the aspects practical of the Christian life that flows by the grace of Christ being formed in the believer united to him. (Rom 12-15)

The Salutation of Romans Romans 1: 1-7

Under the plenary and verbal inspiration, Paul goes to this church to which he had never visited. But he anticipated the realization of his desire to pass through Rome en route to Spain on another missionary trip. "But now, having no more field in these regions, and wishing for many years to come to you, when I go to Spain, I will go to you because I hope to see you in passing, and be routed there for you, merienda I have enjoyed you . "(Rom 15:23, 24) Without a doubt, Paul realized the growing importance of the churches in the renta of the world and wanted to give an account of his apostolate and his message. In this we have the reason for the letter.

The way to present himself is very Pauline. He emphasizes his humble position and exalts the dignity of his call and the goal of all his efforts and all in one sentence. "Paul, servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God." (1: 1) Today we find it difficult to appreciate the role of the slave. You can not really say "role", because the slave was pure vassal, thing to be sold and bought. However, the idea here is one totally put at the order of the boss, without ever wanting to make his own decisions, or consider anything alien to the will of his master. Paul boasts of this voluntary acceptance that motivates him in his ministry. This same concept grabbed me in my adolescence: "Or you do not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. . . and that you are not yours? For you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's "(1 Cor 6: 19,20)

Paul refers to his message and his apostolate. First he affirms that his message is not novel; Far from being something new it has its origin in all the prophets of the Old Testament. (1: 2) There is continuity; does not launch a new message In that way he affirms the authority and relevance of the Old Testament. As a former Pharisee who held in very high esteem the prophets again emphasize that their trust is in the Holy Scriptures. He makes it very clear that in addition to the message of the prophets, in the second place his message is distinctly Christocentric. "On the side of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was of the lineage of David according to the flesh, who was declared (appointed, defined) Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." ( 1: 3,4) In a few words he firmly affirms the humanity of Jesus-of the lineage of David-and then his deity declared so because the Father raised him from the dead.

From that background certified by the Old Testament and the recent apostolic message, he himself has received his authorization, his legitimate apostolate being the apostle to the Gentiles "by faith in all nations for his name's sake" (1: 5). With that certainty, Paul addresses the unknown Romans being in the same way called to be saints. It is important to note the emphasis on holiness: first according to the Spirit of holiness, beloved of God, called to be saints. In Romans your emphasis will fall on the holiness of God. In the gospel God declares them righteous (justification) and in his union with Christ in death to sin and the law will make them holy, God makes full provision both for his procesal position before the Judge and his ético condition of daily sanctity.

The anticipated occasion for the next visit Romans 1: 8-15

We catch a glimpse of the Apostle's heart. Pablo is very good at revealing his passion for the brothers, even the unknown ones. He has a very pastoral heart. With a good word of encouragement and gratitude, he assures them of his intercessions in his auxilio, not of pure routine but of deep love in Christ. Plan the trip but in many other occasions they have not been possible. Not all his plans are made, but he realizes that God's will is only valid and accommodates what God allows with a good spirit of resignation. "But I do not want, brothers, to be unaware that I have often proposed to go to you, (but until now I have been hindered), to have also some fruit among you, as among the rest of the Gentiles. "(1: 11-13) (See also: Acts 16: 6-10, 2 Thess 2: 17.18 ).

Their motivation in wanting to visit them is to impart some spiritual gift (charisma or grace) in order to confirm their faith. He writes to them with the same disinterested spirit, not seeking his own but that of Christ (Phil 2: 1-4). In no way did he see himself as an automatic bearer of blessing but rather as a participant with them in that spirit of spiritual mutuality. There is no "spiritual" pride in any way. What humility! What meekness-evidence of the Christ formed in him!

He ends the paragraph with an entire consecration and total commitment to the gospel: "To Greeks and non-Greeks, to wise and non-wise I am a debtor. So, as for me, I am soon to announce the gospel also to you who are in Rome. "(1: 14,15)

Another great blessing of this somewhat profound study of our union with Christ is the example of Paul himself. At the end of his life writing to Timothy he said: "But because of this I was received with mercy, so that Jesus Christ showed me first all his clemency, for example of those who would believe in him for eternal life" (1 Tim. 1:16). Also writing to the same Romans says: "Truth I say in Christ, I do not lie, and my conscience gives me testimony in the Spirit, that I have great sadness and continuous pain in my heart because I myself wish to be anathema, separated from Christ for love of my brothers, what are my relatives according to the flesh "(Rom 9: 1-30). Never has there been so much consecration and surrender-fruit of Paul's maturity carried out by the Message of the Cross. We will examine this with the help of the Holy Spirit. I hope you will join me in these studies. To God be the glory.

Gordon JohnsonAuthor: Gordon Johnson

is recognized in Latin America as a lecturer. He has served as a professor at the Rio Grande Bible Seminary, Texas since 1954, being president of the institution for many years as well. He has several degrees among which he received a Masters in Latin American Studies and a PhD in Missiology.

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