Rom. 1:1 ¶        Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—

Rom. 1:2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures

Rom. 1:3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David,

Rom. 1:4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rom. 1:5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

Rom. 1:6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

Rom. 1:7 ¶        To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Who are you?

What defines your existence?

How do you see yourself?

 

 

Our Secular Age Quote..

 

We live in a day and age where people have denied their creaturliness….people don’t behave like they are beings created in the image of God and accountable to our creator…and because the creator has been rejected, people believe they can invent themselves…or re-invent themselves.

We see this perhaps most clearly in the increased gender confusion and Diaspora of our day…but we don’t really need to go that far.

 

Our secular humanism has lead us to believe that man is the measure of all things…that fulfillment is going to be found through self actualization and self discovery. So people go off to “find themselves.”

 

The idea of anyone in any position of authority telling them what they can or can’t be, is anathema to them.

 

We should expect nothing different when we have a generation that has been taught they are just highly evolved germs.

 

 

 

The Early Church father Augustine said…God you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.

 

Where we discover who we really are is in relation to our maker.

 

…and that is what I want to touch on from the book of Romans this morning.

 

I want to ask 3 questions of you this morning….and my hope is that they will get you thinking..

1.Who do you belong to?

 

2.Are you loved by God?

 

 

  1. Are you looking to God for His Grace and Peace?

 

I get these questions from the end of our text this morning, Paul has introduced himself already in our text and he’s talked about the Gospel he has been called as a apostle to share, and now he’s addressing those to whom he is writing the letter.

 

 

Rom. 1:5 Through him (Jesus Christ) and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

Rom. 1:6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

Rom. 1:7 ¶        To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

  1. Who do you belong to?

v.6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

 

We define ourselves by our relationships don’t we? I am the Son of Carl-Einar and Nancy Jacobsen, I’m the husband of Amy, I am the Father of Grace and Paul. I belong to them, they all have a claim to me, although in completely different ways.

 

Paul addresses the church he is writing to as those “called to belong to Christ. “

 

Notice they were not just called to believe in Christ, but to belong to Christ.

 

God isn’t up in heaven worried that people will forget he is there. When you talk to an atheist about God, the goal isn’t persuading him to believe that there is a God. We haven’t been called to go into all the world and persuade that God exists, the Goal is to make disciple. People who not only believe that God exists but who live like they belong to him.

 

Paul uses this language…“called to belong to Christ. “

 

This piggybacks on a theme that we see throughout the entire Bible all they way back in the Exodus when God called his people out of slavery in Egypt he said to them “I will be your God and you will be my people and I will dwell among you” So the Church – the greek word church – eklesia – called out ones.. are those called to belong to Jesus Christ.

 

Do you think of yourself that way…that you belong to Jesus…that he claims you as his own, that you are his, and that he is yours?

 

Does that shape who you are and your identity?

 

How do people know I belong to my wife – I claim her, I show by the way I live that I am hers – I spend time with her – I live with her – I think about her – she informs my decision making.

 

But those are not the things that make us husband and wife – those are the fruits of our belonging together…our covenant makes us man and wife.

 

 

 

 

But I think there is something else going on here beyond reminding the Church that they belong to Jesus

 

Remember in verse

 

Rom. 1:1 ¶        Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—

 

Servant is probably better translated “slave” which conveys an ever deeper sense of belonging… Paul is saying…I’m writing to those who belong to Christ, as I myself belong to Christ….we are family.

 

Friends…The bond that unites those who have gathered in this place to worship God, are far deeper than the bonds you might have with a neighbor you are sitting next to in the theater as you watch the newest Marvel movie – We who are Christians belong to the same Jesus Christ.

 

Do you hear the warmth of this letter to the Romans…we know Paul had never visited the church in Rome, and yet it’s like he is family….why? because they church at Rome belongs to Jesus and Paul belongs to Jesus.

 

People sometimes comment on the friendliness and warmth of our congregation and I’d like to think that part of the reason for that is how we see others and understand ourselves….we belong to Jesus…and when we meet someone else who does too, it warms our hearts like we’re meeting long lost cousins.

 

Who do you belong to?

 

  1. Are you loved by God?

 

Rom. 1:7 ¶        To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

 

D.A Carson writes in “the difficult doctine of the Love of God.

“In generations when almost everyone believed in the justice of God, people sometimes found it difficult to believe in the love of God. The preaching of the love of God came as wonderful good news. Nowadays if you tell people that God loves them, they are unlikely to be surprised. Of course God loves me; he’s like that, isn’t he? Besides, why shouldn’t he love me? I’m kind of cute, or at least as nice as the next person. I’m okay, you’re okay, and God loves you and me.

 

Even in the mid-1980s, according to Andrew Greeley, threequarters of his respondents in an important poll reported that they preferred to think of God as “friend” than as “king.”2 I wonder what the percentage would have been if the option had been “friend” or “judge.” Today most people seem to have little difficulty believing in the love of God; they have far more difficulty believing in the justice of God, the wrath of God, and the noncontradictory truthfulness of an omniscient God.

 

 

“I don’t think churches and preachers have thought and taught as carefully as they should about the love of God…

 

…and I think in an effort to win converts we’ve not looked at the whole Bible and we’ve over sentimentalized God to the point that he sounds like a teenager desperate for a date.

 

Instead of calling people to believe the good news of the Gospel, to repent of their sin and trust in Christ….we tell people to accept God’s love….which could be misconstrued to mean all kinds of things.

 

We also shouldn’t tell people that God loves them unconditionally.

 

it doesn’t say that anywhere in the Bible… God’s love is conditional – the Condition by which you receive God’s love is in Christ.

 

If you want to know the saving love of God….it is found in Jesus Christ….

 

“It is found when you are united to Christ by Faith” – there are other names for that in the Bible that are used to describe this supernatural transformation..

 

It’s found when you are born again

When you drink from streams of living water

When you follow Jesus

When you are made alive in Christ…

 

The Condition in which you experience the fullness of God’s love is only in Jesus.

 

There is a sense in which God shows his love to all his creation…we call it common Grace..”it doesn’t hurt to breath every day…..good food, the beach, love, great music…..

 

If you want to know God’s saving love, you need to turn from your sin and trust in Jesus

 

 

So where does this idea of unconditional love come from?

 

I think part of it comes from Romans

Rom. 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

Rom. 8:39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

So if you are “In Christ” IF you are a Christian…Nothing can separate you from God’s love…If you are a genuine follower of Jesus, God’ love won’t ever be taken away. But that is something entirely different than what people hear when they hear God loves them unconditionally.

 

When people hear “god loves me unconditionally” they think…””So I can do whatever I want and God will still love me”

 

I also think the idea of God’s unconditional love comes from people hearing when the Gospel is presented that “ there is no sin so great that God can’t forgive it” That is true…but that doesn’t mean we sin with impunity…because God loves us unconditionally.

 

Yes – God is love – he defines what love really is…he was love even before the world was created….but don’t make the mistake of thinking of God one dimensionally, as if all God is is love..

 

God Not only loves, he hates..

 

Psa. 5:5        The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;

you hate all who do wrong.

 

Notice it doesn’t say “he hates the wrong they do, he hates them”

 

Psa. 11:5        The LORD examines the righteous,

but the wicked and those who love violence

his soul hates.

 

 

 

SO how do you know you are loved by God?

 

This is how we know what Love is Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

 

Do you recognize, do you realize that Christ’s life was laid down for you…that you needed his saving?

 

Jesus took on flesh and became a man to atone for what man had done…he lived a perfect life of trusting in God and depending on God like all of us should …and he was without sin. He went faithfully to the cross to sacrifice himself for us, he rose from the dead 3 days latter and appeared to 100s of witnesses at the same time and ascended into heaven where he awaits to return and judge the living and the dead.

 

 

DO you realize you are a sinner, do you realize you need Christ to save you, have you turned from your sin and turned to him? Have you trusted him with this life and the next?

 

If you have, you can know you are loved by God…you are not only loved by God you are

 

Called a saint

 

Just as when God called Paul to be an apostle and set him apart for what he wanted Paul wanted to do, so the Lord Does the same thing with us.

 

He sets us apart from our own desires, our own rebellion and he sets us apart to his service.

 

The Idea of Saint is one who is called out of the World and consecrated to God’s Purpose. Now when most of you think of the word saint you’re thinking of people perhaps like mother Theresa – who because of their character and goodness are not fit to live among the rest of us.

 

“The Roman Catholic ideas of Sainthood have no basis in scripture”   if it did, would Paul have written it this way…

 

Was the whole church in ROME Saints in a Roman Catholic Sense?

 

-You may say to your self “Well, I’m no saint. The fact of the mater is, that if you’ve been called by God – If you’ve put your trust in him, YOU ARE A SAINT – you’re set apart. You’ve been set a part to be a part of his Church, to live a life that is different from the rest of the world.

 

You had new priorities, a new Lord, a new agenda, and you are a part of this new society. If there is nothing that sets you apart from the rest of the world, if you are being motivated and living for the same things that everybody else lives for, examine yourself, to see if you are truly “in Christ.”

 

 

  • Are you looking to God for Grace and Peace?

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Llyod Jones

-Grace to you and Peace – He uses these two words of course because when you wish someone Grace and Peace there is nothing more to be said. When you have wished them Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ you have wished them everything.

 

From what we can tell, this greeting – Grace and Peace, which Paul uses in his letters is a term he coined – he created …we don’t see it uses anywhere else in Greek literature.

 

Grace simply means “Gift” in fact you’ll read Paul talk about the Gospel of Grace – which you could say is shorthand for the good news of the gift that has been given to us in Christ.

 

We’re used to hearing the word grace a lot in church… some have defined it at unmerited favor… It is God granting us what we don’t deserve and haven’t earned.

 

My Daughter Grace, is having a birthday – she is going to get gifts…gifts that she didn’t earn or work for, gifts given out of love.

 

And he also wishes them not only grace but peace – this is a common greeting still today among the Jewish people – Shalom we translate it peace..

 

for Paul it means more than just – “I hope your having a peaceful life.” I means shalom, a peace of existence – a peace that can only be attained through the Gospel – a peace with God.

 

 

Dunn quote

 

As Christians, we know that we already have received the Grace of God and the peace of God – we’ve been given those things objectively…we know God has been gracious to us in sending Christ to rescue us and we know that because of his mighty salvation we have peace with God – there is no longer enmity between us and God. It’s settled.

 

But I believe Paul give gives this greeting not only to remind us of the Grace and peace we have been given, but to encourage us to walk in that grace and peace and live in that Grace and peace experientially.

 

Let me explain.

 

Grace – it’s not something that has been given to us once….It’s like Gas in our tank

 

”benediction”

 

Romans 8:31-32

 

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Rom. 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

 

Are we living like we have a gracious Father in heaven to look upon and rely upon?

 

Grace to you, and Peace

 

We like to be in control

We don’t like the unforeseen

We are fearful

We are anxious

We worry.

 

I struggle with this…I’m not always experiencing the peace of God in the midst of pipe leaks, and new schools, taxes, and insurance companies

 

 

 

 

Peace is the opposite of restlestness and strife

 

And it is something that God has not only given us, but it’s something he calls us to each and every day…to walk in his grace and peace…

 

 

Lord this is easy to see on paper, it’s hard to see in our hearts…

 

 

Are you enjoying God’s grace and peace?