Introduction to Romans: The Righteous Shall Live By Faith 1-14-18

Sunday Morning Service @ 10:45 series on the book of Romans

We don’t have to search for the thesis statement of the book of Romans; it’s found in chapter 1,  verse 17: The righteous shall live by faith.

But we’ll need to define biblical faith as opposed to a common definition of faith, and we need to understand something right away, that we learn in chapter 1 of Romans: While some people reject the Truth outright, most people suppress Truth, and the enemy’s role is to muddle it.

Sunday Morning Service @ 10:45 series on the book of Romans

A Little Background Information

When Paul wrote the book of Romans, he was looking to Rome as a home base to use as he would make missionary journeys to modern day Spain. He’d also use his ministry partners in Rome to go with him. But, as there were several house churches, most likely separated into slightly varying beliefs, he first needed to unify them with solid theology.

So Romans is Paul’s most systematic book. He’s writing to unify the churches with one overarching point: The righteous shall live by faith.

In Habbakkuk 2:4, God says he’ll send Babylon to punish Judah for sin. Habakkuk says that Babylon is worse, so how can God use her as a tool to punish? God answers that the proud person has a puffed up soul that is not upright, but “the righteous shall live by faith.”

Judah expected that God would just take care of them no matter what they did – that’s their version of trust. But they rejected the character of God and did whatever they wanted. This is how the proud live.

The righteous put their trust in the character of God and then lives accordingly. Saving faith trusts that God’s character has mended a broken relationship. We’re then transformed by that character. It’s not earned righteousness, but right relationship.

So biblical faith, then, is not blind and not hopeful without knowledge. It’s Hebrews 11, verse 1: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ” But Hebrews goes on to show men of faith who then lived their lives God’s way, no matter the results.

The righteous shall live by faith, and faith is trusting in God’s character and living it out. The righteous put their trust in God and live rightly, regardless of circumstances and results.

Head Knowledge and Heart Knowledge

I’ve heard it said that the 18 inches from the head to the heart are the longest distance in the human experience. There’s this distinction made between head knowledge and heart knowledge, but we need to be careful how we use those terms.

Head knowledge IS NOT a necessary evil. Tim Challies puts it this way: “I believe we need to affirm the importance of believing what is true without disparaging the facts and knowledge necessary to even know what is true. Head knowledge is good; heart knowledge is good. More head knowledge is better than less head knowledge and more heart knowledge is better than less heart knowledge. Head knowledge is good because heart knowledge is impossible without it. Christianity is and must be a faith that involves the mind just as it is and must be a faith that involves the heart. The problem comes when there is a radical disconnect between the two.”

Paul understood this well, so as he writes Romans he starts with head knowledge that will then affect the heart. To believe in the sense that we live according to God’s character, we first have to believe something is true. Heart knowledge is impossible without head knowledge.

The goal of the Christian life, then, and the goal of this book, is to grow in head knowledge – which begins as a concept understood in the mind – and then grow in heart knowledge, or live out that knowledge.

Woe to us if that knowledge doesn’t change who we are! Understanding must lead to transforming.

A Brief Outline of Romans

  • Chapters 1-3: Everyone has sinned. All are hopeless.
  • Chapters 4-5: Salvation is through Christ
  • Chapters 6-8: What living in Christ looks like (and nothing can separate us!)
  • Chapters 9-11: Israel is still in God’s plan
  • Chapters 12 – 15: Transformation
  • Chapters 15-16: Closing greetings and remarks

Romans 1. The world is sinful not because of a lack of knowledge but because they suppress it. (Sidenote: if we have knowledge but don’t live it out, we’re in the same boat!) Paul gives details about how sinful the world gets as a result of this suppression.

Romans 2. Some live by moral law…and they’re as hopeless as the wicked. The moral person condemns themself because they know there’s right and wrong and they do wrong.

Romans 3. Religious people try to get to heaven with religion or earn their way there. Paul references the Jews who had the Old Testament law and tried to earn their way to heaven through it.

There is no way to earn salvation. You can live sinfully, morally, or religiously and you’ll never be able to earn heaven.

No matter how you live, sinfully, morally, or religiously, you'll never be able to earn salvation.

Romans 4. Abraham was an Old Testament saint who tried to earn or bring about God’s promise. Every time he did, he made things worse.  Finally, he trusted in God’s character and God brought about His promises. Verses 21-22 tell us that this is what is credited to him as righteousness.

Romans 5. Jesus died for the immoral, moral, and religious. Verse 20 says that for believers, where sin increases grace increases all the more. What brings more grace, is more sin. Your life, your “goodness” cannot equal salvation.

Romans 6. So do we increase sin to see more grace? Never! Don’t trample on the grace of God that is there because it has to be for our salvation. We live according to God’s character because it’s His character that saves.

Romans 7. The reality of “the righteous shall live by faith” is that we struggle with sin.

Romans 8. It’s amazing to be transformed. Creation longs to be transformed! Our growth is God and His work in us. Romans 8 is His process and nothing can separate us from the Love of God.

Romans 9, 10, 11. Israel is under judgment for their lack of faith. God hasn’t abandoned them. He’s working on them.

Romans 12. Be a living sacrifice. Be transformed by a renewing of your mind. Take all the head knowledge and live it out. We need the knowledge but it doesn’t end there.

Romans 13. Being subject to our government is one way to live it out.

Romans 14-15. Gray areas in Christianity exist as we live according to His character. How do we live out our faith when the Bible doesn’t speak specifically to all issues? Answer: We loves our brothers as He does. We show them respect even when we disagree.

Romans 16. Paul’s concluding thoughts and greetings.

The righteous shall live by faith! We get to explore this fully as we study Romans over the next year… or more.







Paul’s Desire for Team Ministry: Colossians 4: 7 – 18

Christianity is a Team Sport. Paul's Desire for Team Ministry in Colossians.

The hero mentality in today’s culture isn’t the Biblical model of church or church leadership. Jesus, Paul, and Scripture as a whole take a team ministry approach to leadership.

In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul rebukes those who are drawing lines and claiming to follow Paul or Apollos showing how they work together and God is responsible for any growth.  Paul deeply desires a team approach to ministry, not an award ceremony. The people who have partnered with him in ministry are so intertwined that he cannot talk about his ministry without mentioning them.

To Paul, Christianity is always a team sport.

Christianity is a Team Sport. Paul's desire for Team Ministry in Colossians 4.

Paul Desires Team Ministry

There are two recorded times Paul is alone in ministry (Acts 17 when Timothy and Titus minister in places Paul isn’t welcome, and 2 Timothy 4 when he asks Timothy to come to him), and he’s bothered by it, which often surprises those who see Paul as lone-wolf type. As amazing as Paul was, he didn’t want to be alone. He knew God worked through him in a team effort.

Paul is going to close this letter to the church as Colossae talking about the men who are ministering with him and those who are ministering in Colossae. His desire for team ministry is evident as he shows his gratitude and high opinion of these faithful servants.

Colossians 4: 7-8 – Tychicus’s Unique Role in Ministry

Tychicus is mentioned 5 times in the New Testament:

Here in Colossians 4,  Ephesians 6:21 in a similar way, Acts 20:4 as part of Paul’s team, 2 Timothy 4 when Paul sent him to Ephesus, and Titus 3 where Paul has sent him to take over Titus’s ministry so Titus can come to him.

Tychicus delivers letters and replaces Titus and Timothy in their ministries when Paul needs them to come help him. As a messenger, he’s more than a delivery boy – he read the letter and explained it, answered their questions and encouraged their hearts (see Colossians 2:2 – not nice words but Truth that leads to a full assurance and knitting together of the church in solid theology).

Paul considered Tychicus a “beloved brother, faithful servant, and fellow slave,” and he saw and utilized his unique gifting powerfully.

Colossians 4: 9 – Onesimus the Former Slave

Paul tells the Colossians “They will tell you of everything that has taken place here,” which happens in the letter he sends along to Philemon. Onesimus was a runaway slave who is saved while in Rome. Paul sends him back, hoping he can rejoin him someday, but desiring to do things right. Though Onesimus is new in faith, he is a faithful and beloved brother.

Colossians 4: 10 – Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus –  Jewish Brothers on the Team

Aristarchus is Paul’s traveling partner during his 2nd missionary journey. He’s seized and thrown in prison, and goes with Paul from Jerusalem to Rome where Paul will stand trial. He continues to serve with Paul in Rome and is a faithful member of the team.

Mark, who penned the Gospel of Mark from Peter’s teaching, was on Paul’s 1st missionary journey with him and Barnabus. Mark was young and abandoned them along the way. On the 2nd journey, Barnabus wants to bring Mark along again, but Paul won’t. It’s clear that Paul takes someone leaving his team seriously and was hurt by it. Barnanus and Paul go separate ways, Barnabus taking Mark and Paul assembling a new team.

But Mark becomes an important friend to Paul (see the end of 2 Timothy) and here Paul is correcting anyone’s possible poor perception of Mark.

Justus is the Latin form of the Greek name Jesus, which in Hebrew is Joshua, meaning YAHWEH is salvation.  It says much about his character that he would take on a Latin name for the sake of the ministry in Rome. Paul says simply that Justus and the others have “proven to be a comfort to” him.

Colossians 4: 12 – 13 – Epaphras – “One of them”

Epaphras ministered to the Colossian church, and it’s possible he was saved Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. He appears to have left Colossae and gone to Rome to speak with Paul, perhaps concerned about the false teachings he’s seeing in the church. He has stayed with Paul but prays faithfully for the church.

Colossians 4: 14 – Luke and Demas

This is the Luke who wrote the Gospel of Luke. He talked to eyewitnesses who saw Jesus so his record of His life would be accurate. He also wrote Acts, mostly following Paul’s ministry, again as an eyewitness or speaking to eyewitnesses. Demas is mentioned in 2 Timothy 4 as having left Paul to do other work, and Paul appears to be annoyed with him then. Both Luke and Demas are with Paul in Rome and greet the church.

This is a powerful group of men gathered in Rome to be part of Paul’s team ministry. The authors or recipients of the books of Mark through Philemon (minus John) are working together!

Colossians 4: 15 – 18 – The Team Ministering in Colossae and Closing

Paul reminds them to share the letters with Laodicea and read the letters sent there, and greet Nympha who lets the church meet at her home. He greets Archippas, who is probably leading the church in Colossae at this time.  He encourages him to preach the Truth he’s received – the whole Gospel.

The men with him, the men he sent to them, and the men in Colossae are all a team working together for the Gospel.

Someone writes the words for Paul but he signs it himself to authenticate the message.

Other sermons in this series: 

Colossians 4: 2 -6 Paul’s Instructions on How to Speak

Paul’s Instructions on How to Speak: Colossians 4:2-6

We don't need more people praying. We need more people praying in line with God's character.

Before we jump into our passage, let’s review what prayer is, since that’s the first instruction Paul will give on how to speak.

Prayer is very simple, in that at its core it’s communication with God. But Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount that there’s a right way and a wrong way to communicate with God.

Jesus tells Israel in Matthew 5: don’t pray like the pagans. This is an insult to the Jewish people of Jesus’ time because they had put paganism aside during the intertestamental period. But still, they, and the church today can struggle to see the difference between biblical and worldly prayer.

Biblical prayer is understanding the character of God and going to Him in light of who He is. It requires some things of us, though. First, it requires time to learn about God. Then it requires a soft heart that allows Scripture to correct one’s thinking. And then it requires thought and consideration to allow one’s prayer to be affected by this knowledge and understanding. It’s simpler to pray route prayers or ritual prayers, but Biblical prayer requires our proper theology drives our practical theology.

We don't need more people praying. We need more people praying in line with the character of God.

We’re almost to the end of Colossians, and these verses are really the end of a section that began in 3:17 with, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (ESV).  From 3:18 – 4:1, Paul went over the deeds, or actions, the Colossians needed instruction on and now he’ll talk about the words.

An important side note before we get started: Salvation is a free gift from God. Doing and saying things the way He instructs us to aren’t what saves us. Rather, God gives salvation freely, the Holy Spirit transforms us through the Word of God (see Col 3:16 and Ephesians 3:18-21), and so we live according to God’s very character because of this gift, not to earn it.

Also, the phrase “In the name of the Lord Jesus” is commonly misunderstood and misused. It’s used as though the words yield some magical power or are the end all, be all to make your words carry weight. But as we’ve discussed many times as a church, at this time a name meant the nature, or character, of the person. So to say or do something in the name of Jesus means that the words or actions align with the very nature or character of God. We don’t use those words to make Him agree with us, instead, we carefully and intentionally match our lives to His.

Let’s get into the passage.

1. How to Speak to God

Colossians 4:2 says, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” So the first words we are to say according to the character of God are our prayers. “Continue steadfastly” (ESV) or “devote yourselves” (NASB) indicates effort and work. Work hard at it! Being watchful is the same wording used for watching for the return of Christ. The next verses indicate what to be watchful for: Ways for believers to participate in God’s unfolding, redemptive plan in history. And keep an attitude of thanksgiving, a fundamental part of prayer, that you get the privilege of participating.

Verse 3 shows what specifically Paul wants the Colossians to pray for: “At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word…” Paul desires that the Colossians look for ways to participate in God’s work themselves, and for God to make ways for Paul and those with him to do the same.

It’s so important to see that though Paul is in prison (verse 3), he doesn’t ask them to pray for new circumstances for him. Instead, he wants God to use him within his circumstances.

He also doesn’t ask them to pray for converts, but for the only part of conversion in which he has a role – clarity in his sharing of the Gospel. He prays for a door for the Word of God, not for himself.  It’s not enough for the Word to go; a human agent goes with His Word to explain it. God sends people with His Word.

” …to declare the mystery of Christ…” This is something that was once hidden and is now received and revealed. The Truth was in the Old Testament, but now they can see it.

“…that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak…” Why would Paul need clarity of speech? Paul was a better writer than speaker, but he wants to communicate clearly. There’s a God-ordained method for proclaiming the Gospel and Paul desires to do it that way.

2. How to Speak to Others

Colossians 4:5 starts, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders” (ESV) or “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders” (NASB). Wisdom isn’t intelligence but knowing God and living out those Truths. How the world sees believers is important.

“Making the most of the opportunity” (NASB) or “making the best use of the time,” (ESV) is literally in Greek, “redeem the time!” We teach others with our lives.

And finally, verse 6 says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Have clarity toward others no matter where you are, or where your “mission field” may be. Your words should preserve, or be impactful when you talk about the Gospel and they should be rich and enjoyable. Don’t be offensive – the Gospel may offend but you should not.