The halfway point

Sunday we completed the first half of Romans at Avalon! That’s exciting! And I thought today we would take a moment to look back at what we’ve covered and to look forward to where we are going.

Remember the theme verse of Romans?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 1:16-17

The first half of Romans is about how God brings salvation to all people, a salvation that is by faith. In Romans 1 we see how evil has infiltrated all of the Gentile world, and why God’s wrath is justified. Verse 32 summarizes their (our) situation: “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” But then Paul turns his attention to the Jews, the people who should know better and thus do better. But even though they know God’s law inside and out, they too are guilty of breaking it. Paul summarizes the state of all humanity (Jews and Gentiles) in chapter 3: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12) And for anyone who still thinks that they can perform their way onto God’s good side: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” (Romans 3:20)

That is the bad news. The good news is “BUT NOW…”! God is faithful to fulfill his promises through Jesus who fulfilled all of the righteous requirements of God’s law. That’s good news for all people: Gentiles and Jews. What’s even better news is that the way we move from guilty to righteous is by faith in Jesus. There is nothing we can do to be declared righteous except have faith in Jesus.

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Romas 3:22-24

In Romans 4, Paul gives us an example of how this works: Abraham. Abraham was justified by faith, not by his actions. Then in chapter 5, Paul gives another picture of this by comparing the first Adam, with the second Adam (Jesus).

So what does that mean for us who have faith in Jesus? It means that we are part of this new family, a family that includes Jews and Gentiles. It means that we should live differently. We have died to sin (chapter 6)! Sin is no longer our master, but Christ and righteousness should be our master.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:22-23

This is the good news of the gospel! We have eternal life because of our faith in Christ! But it isn’t a future thing. We have eternal life now. We are part of God’s kingdom now. In chapter 7, Paul uses himself as an example of the conflict that all of us have: living as followers of Christ in this world. And then in chapter 8, he reiterates that we are free from the law of sin and death. We live by the Spirit in God’s kingdom now. Not only that, but we have the hope that creation and our bodies will be redeemed. And because of that we can live in God’s freedom and in God’s righteousness. We are more than conquerors through Jesus!

That’s good news! That’s the gospel right? What else does Paul need to say? What else could possibly take 8 more chapters?

Well in chapters 9-11, Paul asks a question and tries to work through an answer. The question is, “What about Israel?” Paul is a Jew, and he loves his people. He wants all of them to come to faith in Christ. God promised to be faithful to Israel, so what does that look like when it appears the Jewish people have rejected Jesus? That’s the next section.

And then after he works through this, he turns to how the church, made up of multiple ethnicities, Gentile and Jews, can live out their faith in Christ and become a unified family. This is what many people consider to be the practical part of Romans. Paul gives specific commands of how to live in love and grace with one another.

Finally in chapter 16, he has a lot of greetings for people in Rome. All sorts of different people who work with Paul in his ministry. Some of my favorite parts of Romans show up here at the end of the book.

So that’s where we have been and where we are headed. As you reflect on the first half of Romans, what truth has God revealed to you that you need to remember? Have you highlighted some verses that you could memorize so that you can meditate on the truth of God’s word wherever you are? I would love for you to answer those questions in the comments!

May you be blessed by God’s word today.

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