This morning, I took the time to read through the entire Book of Romans in the New Testament. It took about an hour to read all 16 chapters. My FBC family knows that I started a sermon series last weekend titled, “Not Ashamed of the Gospel.” I plan to preach from this book for the rest of 2007 and 2008…and candidly, I’m not sure I’ll be finished with it until early in 2009. In my introduction last weekend, I pointed out the high praise given to this book by Protestant Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin. I’m as excited about this sermon series as any I’ve undertaken in 21 years at FBC. Reading through the whole book in one sitting this morning energized me once again. Christians, you have to read Romans. As I read today, I was swept away by both the majesty and simplicity of the gospel. The American church desperately needs to hear the message of this book.
In my sermon this coming weekend, I’m going to consider a phrase in the next section – 1:17 – “For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last…” <— See it? “A righteousness from God.” That’s how we are saved. We get “a righteousness from God.” Not a righteousness we come up with, but a righteousness God gives us…simply because we believe in Him. I’ve read this hundreds of times. But today, it gripped me in a whole new way. We’re saved because of what God does for us, not because of anything we do. God effectively says, “Here’s my righteousness. I know you can’t come up with your own, so I took care of it for you. You want it? Just believe and it’s yours!”
Every other religious system in history posits just the opposite idea –> “Here’s how to be righteous.” Go to church. Pray multiple times a day. Fast. Make a pilgrimage. Read the holy book. Give money. Go to confession. Care for the poor. Give up worldly comforts. You get the idea…in these other religious systems, if you want to be righteous, they say “prove it…and perhaps you will attain it some day!” God’s idea is a polar opposite —> “If you want to be righteous, here’s My righteousness obtained for you by My Son. It’s a free gift.” Powerful truth.