And you also are among those who are
called to belong to Jesus Christ. 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. First, I thank
my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith
is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve with
my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness
how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times;
and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened
for me to come to you.
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual
gift to make you strong--that is, that you and I may be mutually
encouraged by each other's faith. I do not want you to be
unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you
(but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order
that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had
among the other Gentiles.
I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the
wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach
the gospel also to you who are at Rome.
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of
God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for
the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness
from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from
first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will
live by faith.'"
Verse 6, "And you also are among those who are called to belong
to Jesus Christ." We don't know how the Roman Christian Church
was started. Paul reminds us in verse 6 that first, we didn't
find God, God found us. We should say, "When did the Lord
find you?" The parables of Jesus Christ all point to the Lord
finding us. John 6:44 states that it is God who calls us to
Himself. He prefaces it in verse 36 by saying, 'You've seen
Me, but you still do not believe!' A lot of people saw Jesus
feeding 5,000 people with a few loaves and fishes--a miracle--and
yet they still didn't believe. John 6:1-13. "Some time after
this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee
(that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people
followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had
performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside
and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast
was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming
toward him, he said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread for
these people to eat?' He asked this only to test him, for
he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, 'Eight months wages would not buy enough
bread for each one to have a bite!' Another of his disciples,
Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 'Here is a boy with
five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will
they go among so many?'
Jesus said, 'Have the people sit down.' There was plenty of
grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand
of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed
to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the
same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he
said to his disciples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over.
Let nothing be wasted.' So they gathered them and filled twelve
baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over
by those who had eaten."
A lot of people say, "If I could only see Jesus." Unbelief
is not a matter of a lack of evidence or even seeing him in
person. They all saw Jesus and in the end they all rejected
him. Jesus says the Father has to bring you to him in verse
44 of this very same chapter. The Bible teaches you that the
Father has to draw you to Jesus Christ. If you feel the slightest
prompting or drawing to Christ I would run to him. John 6:36-37,44.
"But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not
believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and
whoever comes to me I will never drive away
one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,
and I will raise him up at the last day." So
we see that it is God the Father who draws us to Jesus. It
is He who finds us, not the other way around.
Verse 8, "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for
all of you, because your faith is being reported all over
the world." Paul was thankful to God for this church.
Here was a church he wasn't worried about as far as a bad
lifestyle or falling into immorality, like the Corinthian
church, or falling prey to a false gospel like some of the
other churches under him (or like the Church of God at Galatia
Verses 9-10,13, "God, whom I serve with my whole heart
in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly
I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that
now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to
come to you
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,
that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented
from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest
among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles." In
verses 9-10 we get a sneak peek into Paul's prayer life. Paul
reveals: 1) He prays unceasingly. Paul was a man who prayed
all the time. He made it a habit to pray for whatever (or
whoever) the Lord brought before him, wherever he was--talking
to God wherever he was. He had a heart to pray to his best
friend (God, Jesus). He prayed as God put things in his mind,
as God put people in his mind. God often does this with us.
A few months ago I really felt down, in the depths
of this depression. I tried to call a friend. No answer. I
just couldn't shake this feeling of depression. Then at 11
p.m. here was this gal we led to Christ over 11 years ago.
"The Lord put you on my heart to pray for you and call you,"
she said over the phone. After an hour of encouraging conversation
(where I could hardly get a word in edgewise) the depression
was lifted! God puts people on your hearts for you to pray
about. It isn't just coincidence!
2) We see his prayers are requests, not demands. You can't
demand and command God. This new craze among certain Christian
groups of name it and claim it is totally
unscriptural when you make a careful and complete study of
the great men and servants of God and their respective prayer
lives. 3) Paul prays according to the will of God. For years
I thought prayer was to get my
will done, but now I see prayer
is to get God's will done. God's will was outlined
by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13. "This then is how you should pray:
'Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name [the lead in
for prayer should have praise for God and his holy name],
your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in
heaven [this is a direct reference to prayer for God's coming
kingdom upon the return of Jesus Christ, as well as for his
kingdom to come into the lives of those he calls, converts
and saves in this age of man before his 2nd coming].
Give us this day our daily bread [yes, you can pray for your
physical needs]. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors
[as we pray for forgiveness for our sins, we must also forgive
others who have sinned against us, or else God will not forgive
us]. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from
the evil one [we are to pray for protection from the effects
of Satan's evil world as well as from Satan and his demon
world.] This is an outline of God's will for us in our prayer
life, what we should pray for that is part of his will. Jesus
couldn't have made it any clearer. Demanding something of
God which is not part of what is covered in this prayer outline
by Jesus will decidedly get you nowhere with God--even if
demanding anything from God could get you something. You can
make requests for yourselves. Paul prayed, "Please can I go
to Rome, please, please???" God said no, not now. You see,
God wanted Paul to commit to writing one of the clearest descriptions
and presentations of the gospel of Christ ever written down--not
just for the Roman brethren of God's church, but for you and
me in this 20th century! So God had to say no to
a servant's request. In essence, God was saying to Paul, "No
not right now, Paul. You will eventually get to Rome. It will
be your last stop, but you will get there."
Many times we're not submitting to the will of God. When things
get tough many times we're not submitting to the will of God
in our prayers. You get mad and bitter--but you can't win,
resisting the will of God in your life. Understand God loves
you incredibly and has your life in his hands. Understand
that God is in control of your life. Everything that happens
to you is filtered through God.
Verses 11-12, "I long to see you so that I may impart to
you some spiritual gift to make you strong--that is, that
you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith."
Paul started out by saying he wanted to impart a spiritual
blessing to them, but then said, 'Hey wait a minute! It is
I who am going to get the spiritual blessing by coming to
you and serving you!' Paul was in essence saying, 'I want
to come and be with you because I will get a blessing from
you. Fellowshipping with other brethren gives you a blessing.
Paul knew that when you serve other people you get the bigger
blessing. You need to get involved in serving others for God.
You miss out on blessing when you don't serve others.
In verses 14-17 Paul shares his testimony. He says three things:
1) I am under obligation. 2) I am eager to preach the gospel,
and 3) I am not ashamed of the gospel.
"I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to
the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach
the gospel also to you who are at Rome. I am not ashamed of
the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation
of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the
Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed,
a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just
as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'" 1
& 2)Paul felt both obligated and eager to preach the gospel
and Jesus Christ., he couldn't keep quiet about this. Paul,
like the leper Jesus healed, couldn't keep quiet about Jesus
and the gospel. In the Old Testament there is this story about
when Samaria was under a long siege and the people of the
city were starving so badly that they were now eating donkey
heads. A group of lepers said to themselves, "Enough is enough!
We're going out to the enemy. If we get run through it's better
than living like this." They carefully approached the enemy
camp. All was quiet and unnaturally still. To their amazement
they found the camp deserted. The Lord had routed the enemy
somehow, but not before they had prepared tables loaded with
cooked food of all kinds. The lepers began stuffing themselves.
Then one of them said, "This is not right. We must tell the
others in the city that we have food--lots of food." They
couldn't keep quiet about what they had found! And isn't it
like that with us? We've found the Bread of Life, Jesus! Paul
had found this Bread of Life also, and he was saying he felt
like he was under obligation--like the lepers--to tell the
world that he had found the Bread of Life! He felt both eager
- And then in verse 16 he said, "I am not ashamed of the
gospel." Many people are creeping into the seminaries who
are ashamed of the gospel. A good friend of mine, a young
pastor, was looking for a church to pastor and applied for
a job at this small congregation of some mainstream Christian
denomination somewhere in the midwest. He went to this woman
head of the church with some cassette tapes of his sermons
and when she heard them she said, "You will never
preach in any of my congregations! All you preach
about is all this blood [of Christ] and sin. I don't want
my people hearing about any of that!" I tell you, Jesus
Christ is ashamed of her. Not long ago they found this graffiti
on a wall in Rome. It was an image of a donkey crucified
on a cross, with the inscription something like "This is
so & so's god!". The Romans were mocking Christians
and their use of the cross, a bloody tool of execution as
a symbol for eternal salvation. But the gospel is the power
of God. It doesn't need us. These Romans wanted all this
power but we have the real power. We don't need to be super-evangelists.
We just need our own personal testimony of what the Lord
has done for us and a knowledge of the gospel of Christ.
The gospel is the power to transform lives, the power to
transform stony unconverted minds. The greatest demonstration
of God's power wasn't when he created the heavens filled
with huge powerful stars blazing away--huge balls of thermonuclear
fire--some as big as our whole solar system! The greatest
demonstration of God's power is when the gospel is preached
and a human heart is transformed--when you take a person
who is dead in their sins and transform them. Salvation
is how God has saved us from our past sins, from the power
of sin right now, and when the Lord comes and removes sin
from the world at his 2nd coming. "I am not ashamed
of the gospel" Paul said. It's for the Jews and for the
Greeks--it's a worldwide gospel. Jesus said "Go to all the
world and preach the gospel everywhere." The gospel is the
power of God to save people from their sins, the power to
set people free from sin that is controlling their lives
in harmful ways, sin that destroys lives.
Why this power in the gospel? What is this
power? Verse 17 says, "But the righteous man shall live by
faith." The Christian message doesn't just declare a righteous
God, but it declares how you can be right with God.
Jesus was executed so we could be right with God by faith
in his sacrifice. God added up all our sins and the sins of
everyone who ever lived, lives and who will live and placed
them on his Son. The execution that he suffered paid the penalty.
And if you'll reach out in faith and accept that sacrifice,
you'll be made right with God--you'll be set free from your
guilt and God's power will step in and transform your life
and save you from the power of sin. It is the power of God
to change and transform our lives. This power in recent times
has transformed drug addicts into non-users, healed people
of killer diseases such as cancer, helped people walk away
from any and every chemical or alcohol addiction they may
have which is destroying their lives. And all of this is the
transforming power of God working in us by his Holy Spirit.
The Bible says whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus
will be saved. This opens the door for the power of God to
come into your life and transform you from what you are now
into his righteous children.
[This expository study was composed using notes
taken from a sermon given by pastor J. Mark Martin of Calvary
Community Church of Phoenix, Arizona.]