Romans 1:1-7 ESV
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We who are in Christ Jesus, by faith in him, are called of God to belong to Jesus Christ, to the obedience of faith in him, and we are called to be saints, holy unto God.
So, if we belong to Jesus Christ, thus we are his possession. He is our Lord (owner-master) and we are his servants, committed to him and to his service to do his will for our lives. Our lives are no longer our own to be lived however we want to live them, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ that we might now honor him with our lives.
We are also called to the obedience of faith for the sake of the name of Jesus. Thus, we are to walk in obedience to our Lord day by day and moment by moment. Daily we are to be dying to sin and to self, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit. And, daily we are to be walking (in practice) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God.
And, we are called to be his holy people, set apart (unlike, different) from the world because we are being made to be like Jesus. Thus, we should no longer think or act like this sinful world, but we should be holy unto the Lord in all that we do, living our lives for his purposes and for his glory.
Romans 1:8-13 ESV
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we should also be those who mutually encourage one another by our faith in Jesus Christ. And, this faith is not some casual thing here. It is not some profession of faith, or some words we once uttered. It is also not some religion of choice along with its practices. But, it is a choice of our wills to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience and in surrender to his will and to forsake our lifestyles of living in sin and for self.
Also, this encouragement is not just saying some “feel good” words or some pat on the back to make others feel good about themselves, even if they are living in sin. Encouraging one another in the faith means inspiring, urging, reassuring, supporting, helping, and persuading one another in our walks of obedience to our Lord and in living holy lives, pleasing to God. It involves praying for one another, giving godly counsel where needed, and sharing with others what the Lord is doing in our own lives, too.
Because we are those who love Jesus Christ, and we are walking in obedience to him, to do his will, Satan is hot on our trail. And, he knows many different ways to try to get us to get discouraged, to be afraid, to doubt God’s sovereignty over our lives, and to fear what may come our way. So, we need to be those who are strengthening one another in the faith with spiritual counsel from God’s Word so that none of us fall prey to Satan’s schemes against us. And, daily we need to be putting on the armor of God.
Romans 1:14-17 ESV
I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
As followers of Jesus Christ, we should also be those who are eager to preach (proclaim) the full gospel message to all people. Yet, so many people who call themselves Christians are now shying away from sharing the gospel with others and they are following after another gospel, which is cheap grace. Partly, I believe, they have bought into this cheap grace gospel in order to ease their own consciences so that they can continue living largely for themselves doing what they want to do without guilt.
But, I think, too, that many have bought into this cheap grace gospel because it offends no one, for it makes no demands on anyone’s lives. It demands no obedience to Christ, no surrender of our wills to God, and no forsaking of our sins to follow Jesus Christ wherever he leads us. But, it teaches just being “nice” to people so they will see we are Christians and to just let our “niceness” be our testimony for Christ.
But, that is a social gospel, and it is blended with the world, and it fits well in agreement with all other religions, too, for everyone stays “in his own lane,” and no one tries to lead anyone to believe anything. We are all just “nice” to each other so that no one ruffles anyone else’s feathers and everyone likes everyone else.
But, that is not the true gospel of our salvation, for it saves no one from their sins, because it delivers no one out of their slavery to sin, and it transforms no one in heart and mind away from sin to follow our Lord in surrender to his will for our lives. But, then you don’t offend anyone with the truth that way, and so people are more apt to love you as their own.
But that is not of God, but of Satan who wants to turn people away from the Lord. For, Jesus said that the world should not love us as its own, but that the world should hate us, and should treat us like they did him. And, the world should persecute us and put us to death because we proclaim the truth of the gospel which does demand that we die with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ for eternity.
Suffering for Christ in this world for the sake of his name, and for the sake of the truth of the gospel of our salvation, is considered to be the norm for those who are truly walking with Christ by faith in him. So, we should not be surprised when the world hates us and they persecute us for our faith when we are truly walking in obedience and in surrender to the will of God for our lives. And, we should not fear their threats or their opinions of us when we share with them the true gospel, either.
For, the gospel as taught by Jesus and by his NT apostles is the only gospel message which has the power to save human lives. For, in this gospel we realize that true grace delivers people out of their bondage to sin. It does not coddle them in their sins. It does not leave them still in slavery to sin thinking they are going to heaven when they die, which is a lie of Satan. For, the true gospel puts sin to death in our lives so that we might walk with Christ in his holiness and righteousness.
But, when we follow Jesus Christ in obedience, we are going to be hated and persecuted, not just by those who make no profession of faith in Christ, though, but by those who profess Jesus as Savior of their lives but who have bought into the cheap grace gospel message.
But, we are not to fear them or what they might do to us or say about us, but we need to remain steadfast in hope in our Lord Jesus, trusting him to work all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes.
Why So Downcast?
An Original Work / December 21, 2012
Based off Psalm 42
Why so downcast, O my soul,
And why so disturbed now within me?
Put your hope in Jesus Christ,
For I will praise His name.
He’s my Savior and my God,
So therefore I’ll remember Him through
Storms and tempests sweeping o’er me.
Still I’ll praise His name.
Put your hope in God.
By day the Lord sends forth His love.
In the night His song is with me.
I pray to the God of my life.
I will praise His name. I say to God my Rock,
“Why must I be called to suffer this way?”
Foes attack me; Satan sneering.
Still I’ll praise my God.
Put your hope in Him.
As a deer pants for the waters,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God who’s living.
When can I meet Him?
My tears have been my food at night,
When men say, “So, where is your God?”
I pour out my soul to my God.
I’ll still praise His name.
Shout with joy to Him.