I’m always happy when my Bible-in-a-year plan takes me to Romans. After all, the book is so deep, so rich, so full of insight and doctrine. The Lord used Romans to change Martin Luther’s life, and in doing so, he changed the world. The Lord uses Romans constantly to teach believers all over the globe.
Interestingly, as we read the introduction to the book, Paul sets forth a couple of truths in his greeting that are vital.
Romans 1:1-4 – 1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
I’ll not unpack this, but simply point to a couple of things that believers today need to remember. First, the gospel is in keeping with God’s long-time promise. It has become popular for some who claim the faith to ignore the Old Testament. Some dangerous teachers tell believers to detach themselves from the Old Testament and only focus on easy stuff in the New Testament.
But look at Paul’s words. The gospel is the result of God’s Old Testament promise. This means that you cannot really understand the gospel without understanding what God swore to do. You need to understand that God promised to bring a delivering King into the world, a glorious Savior, through the family tree of David who was himself descended from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah. You must grasp the story of salvation history to truly understand the glorious thing done by the Lord Jesus. And to unhitch from that story would be utterly foolish and completely dishonoring to the Lord.
The other big and deep thing that Paul points us to in the beginning of his greeting is the resurrection of Jesus. See how the two points come together. Jesus is descended from David. He is perfectly set to be the fulfillment of God’s promise. And his resurrection from the grave proves it. One might wonder about Jesus were he simply a man of the right lineage who seems like a powerful teacher and healer. But the resurrection changes everything. With the resurrection comes full divine confirmation of the deity of Jesus. With the resurrection comes full confirmation of the acceptability of his sacrifice and the completeness of his perfect work. With the resurrection comes our only hope for eternity. With the resurrection, we have hope and life. Because of the resurrection, we know we must worship Jesus as God in flesh. Without the resurrection, our faith means nothing.
Christians, when you see this kind of weight put into such a small space, you should see that God is showing us great things as this letter opens. And the things he shows us matter. Jesus is the fulfillment of a promise that God made in the garden. Jesus is the fulfillment of all toward which the Old Testament points. And Jesus is risen from the grave, proving his claims. We worship the Savior, promised from eternity past and our hope for eternity future.