Rehearse the progress of thought in Romans.
Many claim that Romans is the greatest work of Paul and the greatest theological reference in the Bible. The book of Romans, in its progression of thought outlines the entire composition of the Christian and the Christian faith. From the sinfulness of man, to Christian precepts, the book of Romans covers nearly every aspect of a Christian’s life.
First, the book of Romans identifies the sinfulness of man. Because of this sinfulness a need arises for justification. Roman’s describes the Gentile world as wicked and the Jewish world as self-righteous and sinful. In Chapter 3, Paul addresses the guilt that the sin of humanity brings about.
God has provided justification as a cure for the sin problem of humanity. Chapter 3 of Romans, in its latter half, gives the straightforward remedy for our sins; Jesus Christ. He provides our justification and is the basis for our faith. As an example of faith, Paul speaks of Abraham in Chapter 4. This faith that Paul is talking about brings about justification, and this justification brings about peace, joy, hope, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and more. The thought of justification concludes with Paul contrasting the unbelievers’ position in Adam, where sin and death are effective, and a believer’s position in Christ, where death has been defeated and eternal life is in place.
Next, the progress of thought turns to sanctification. Paul describes sanctification as holy living. Paul sternly commands believers that they are not to sin in order that God may exercise His grace. They are to live as sinless as possible in holy living. Paul uses baptism to illustrate one being dead to sin and alive in the righteousness of God (Chapter 6). According to Paul, sanctification is not earned in keeping the Old Testament law, but rather given by the spirit of Christ.
The progression of thought then moves to the problem of Israel’s unbelief. Paul had previously asked, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?”. Now Paul informs his readers that Israel is separated from the love of Christ, despite Old Testament covenants and the privilege of being God’s chosen people. Being a fellow Jew, Paul is all the more concerned about the fate of the Jews. For the most part, the Jews as a whole continued to deny that the Old Testament prophecies had been fulfilled. Paul’s concern for the Jews can be seen in Romans Chapters 9-11.
Paul also addresses the doctrine of election by portraying the idea that God, in His sovereignty, has the right to choose to graft in the Gentiles – a decision that the Jews had a hard time coming to grips with. Within this sovereign right lies the right to choose the Gentiles (the “WHOSOEVER WILL GENTILES” – not a special, chosen few, I might add) over the Jews especially because of Israel’s self-righteousness and refusal to believe the things which they have seen, heard, and understood. The good news is that Israel’s abandonment by God can be reversed by believing in Christ. To do so would allow a Jew to gain salvation just as easily as a Gentile can.
Paul’s final thought in Romans concerns Christian precepts for life. Paul gives practical exhortations for Christian living including: a command to treat one’s body as a living sacrifice to God, to show compassion and love to family members, and to submit to governing authorities. He then addresses laws of liberty and advises fellow Christians to allow freedom and not to criticize others because of their religious practices.