by Keith Sharp
(I borrowed the idea for and basic approach to this lesson from a sermon by Randy Cavender.)
Rome is located on the banks of the Tiber River, fifteen miles from the west coast of Italy and built on seven hills. The “Eternal City” was already eight centuries old at the time Paul wrote to the Christians there. It was so important politically and economically in its day that it is hard for modern people to comprehend. In an empire that had a total population of perhaps thirty million, the populace of Rome numbered perhaps four million. It was the capital of its own empire, the most extensive empire of its day, ruling the Mediterranean world, with provinces from the Euphrates River in the east to Spain in the west, from Britain in the north to Egypt in the south.
The great city was the trading hub of the western world. It was truly said in a figure, “All roads lead to Rome.” All manner of goods were brought to Rome as tribute from the provinces and as trade from both the provinces and all parts of the known world.
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the saints in Rome (Romans 1:1-7). That letter is the greatest treatise ever written on the gospel plan of salvation. The apostle stated the theme of his epistle, the proposition he proved, in Romans 1:16-17.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.’
All roads may have led to Rome, but there is only one way to salvation. “The gospel of Christ … is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” It is not “a” power to salvation, it is “the” power. The definite article “the” indicates singularity. It is the one and only. It is “the power of God.” Men contend for many ways of salvation, but God has revealed only one, “the gospel of Christ.” It is God’s power to save, not man’s. It is “for everyone who believes,” whether Jew or Gentile, men and women of every color, tongue, nationality, social status, or economic state. The gospel (good news) of Christ is the only road to salvation.
According to the Roman epistle, how are we saved?
We must first realize our need for salvation. God’s justice demands the condemnation of all sinners (Romans 2:2,11-12). All have sinned (Romans 3:23). Therefore all are condemned to death (Romans 6:23). “Death” in this passage is in contrast with “eternal life,” thus, it is eternal death, eternal separation from God. Dear friend, without the gospel you are condemned to eternal torment away from the presence of God.
Since we have all sinned, we cannot rely on perfectly keeping the law of God for our salvation. We cannot do enough good works to earn salvation (Romans 3:27-28). A criminal who commits a crime deserving the death penalty cannot do enough community service to earn his pardon. Rather, we must depend on the grace of God, His undeserved favor, for our salvation (Romans 3:24).
The grace of God is manifested in His Son (Romans 3:24-26). His death on the cross satisfies the just, divine demand for the death of the sinner, because He died for us. He redeems us from the guilt of sin and demonstrates that God can be just as well as merciful when He forgives our sins.
To receive the benefits of the death of Christ, we must be in Christ (Romans 3:24). We learn how to come to Christ through the gospel (Romans 10:13-17). That’s the reason the gospel is God’s power to save (Romans 1:16-17). The gospel informs us we get into Christ by faith (Romans 5:1-2).
But neither Romans nor any other book of the Bible teaches salvation by faith alone. Paul begins and ends the book of Romans by affirming that the purpose of the gospel is to lead all people to “obedience to the faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:25-26).
To render the obedience of faith, we must repent (turn away from) our sins (Romans 2:5; 6:12), confess our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10:8-10), and be baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3-5). When we are buried in the waters of baptism, we declare our trust in the blood sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our salvation by obeying a likeness of that death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:17-18). We are then set free from sin.
I once went to a medical clinic because of a chronic, severe shoulder pain. I requested a shot into my shoulder to ease the pain. The medical professional refused, said the problem was due to a pinched nerve in my neck, and prescribed therapy for my neck. I had enough faith in the judgment of the professional to follow the prescribed therapy, and I was soon pain free. Do you have enough faith in the Lord to do what He says to do to be saved?
But this is not the end of the road to salvation. After we are in Christ we must present our bodies to the Lord as living sacrifices by transforming our hearts and lives into the image of Christ rather than remaining conformed to the sinful world (Romans 12:1-2).
Christ never abandons those who place their trust in Him (Romans 8:35-39). We may abandon Him, but there is no power, spiritual or physical, that can separate us from Him as long we maintain our obedient faith. He is faithful.
The greatness of this salvation far transcends all the wisdom of man (Romans 11:33-36). Once I went elk hunting in the high country of Western Colorado. When the sun came up from behind the high mountains of the continental divide far to the east, the beauty was so incredible I cannot adequately describe it. The apostle looked back over his revelation of the gospel plan of salvation and described the beauty of that divine plan that manifests the wisdom of God.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?’ ‘Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?’ For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:33-36).
All I can add is “Amen!”
This salvation is available to you (Romans 10:12-13). Will you not come to Christ by obedient faith and be saved?