The Fundamentals

The Fundamentals  (Roman 1:1-7)              *All verses in NLT version*

– Basketball story when I was a kid, Dad coaching teaching us the fundamentals, not a flashy one-man game (MJ, Magic, Dr. J), everyone needs to know how to play and have a strong foundation.

– To face a strong opponent, you can’t rely on trick plays or franchise players. If you understand the basic fundamentals, you will have tools for every situation. Teamwork makes the dream work.

– Tonight, we are starting the book of Romans, where Paul is focusing the listener on the basic fundamentals of the Christian faith. Explaining God’s truth and how it applies to our lives.

– Possibly the most useful and all-encompassing book of the bible. It covers our human condition, and how to deal with our worldly problems and failures in the context of our new life in Christ.

– Many of the answers you are looking for on social issues, community, grace vs obedience, sin, freewill, new life vs old life, etc… are in the pages of Romans.

Martin Luther once said, “[Romans] is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”

– Romans 1:1-7, This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

– Paul wrote this letter while in Corinth, towards the end of his third missionary journey, around 57 A.D.. Many seasoned believers and strong house churches had risen up in Rome, likely established by those present at Pentecost (24 years earlier), who returned home with the Good News.

– Over that period of time, some contention had grown between two types of believers:

– There were the Gentile Christian believers who have now become the majority group. (Because the Jews had previously been persecuted and run out of town by the Roman emperor.)

         – They were not concerned with the requirements of the Old Testament Law of Moses.

– They kind of looked down on the Jewish Christians for rejecting Jesus at first, and then for being stuck on the religious stuff that Jesus supposedly freed them from.

– The Gentiles only knew Jesus, grace, the forgiveness of sin, and eternal life. They weren’t well versed on the history and legacy of the Jews. (Martin Luther? Reformation, protestant…)

– There also were the Jewish Christian believers who are in the minority at this point.

         – They wanted the Gentiles to be obedient to certain aspects of the OT law.

– They looked down on the Gentile believers because they were seen as undisciplined, not respecting the roots of the faith or the rich history and tradition of God’s people.

– Jews were the chosen ones, and that is a hard identity to shake when it has been the culture you grew up with. (The Jewish traditions said Jews were saved by being the children of Abraham, the chosen ones, or by following the law to be righteous… Jesus could easily become an addition, instead of a replacement for what salvation and obedience really means.)

– On the extreme end, the problem with the Jewish believer is not “legalism, it’s “exclusiveness”. They were chosen, and the gentiles are late to the party and will never reach their level fully.

– Which is not entirely true: Acts 10:34-35, Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35 In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.

– For the extreme Gentile, the problem is “grace without obedience”. Knowing only a salvation by faith not by works, leads to freedom without responsibility. “You can’t judge me. It doesn’t matter what I do because grace wins every time.”

         – Which is not entirely true:

Romans 6:1-2, Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?

Hebrews 10:26, Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.

– When Christianity becomes a cultural expectation, and no longer an inner belief system, then its meaning can be corrupted and misused. (Example: Catholicism in Spanish speaking countries.)

– The idea of just adding Jesus to your existing beliefs and culture simply waters it down and loses its purpose. Time to get back to the fundamentals!

1. The “Good News” that Paul is talking about is the gospel of salvation through Jesus.

Romans 1:1-4, This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out (set apart) to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. 

– Paul is leaving no room for misinterpretation of his letter or his purpose. He hasn’t met these believers in person yet, but confirms with them that they believe the same gospel.

– The “Good News” is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are sinners who need a Savior. God promised long ago that one would come. Good news! Jesus is that Savior/Messiah who can forgive your sin and put you in a right relationship with God. He matches the description given in the scriptures.

Romans 3:23-24, For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

John 14:6, Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 

1 Peter 3:18, Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

– The Good News of Jesus Christ involves you recognizing your own sin and need for a Savior. Believing that Jesus is that savior. Repenting of your sins and turning away from them and towards Jesus. And pursuing a life guided by the Bible which is the word of God.

St. Augustine said, “If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”

2. If you believe God, you will obey God, and that will bring Him glory.

Romans 1:5, Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.

– Paul highlights that believing in Jesus is more than words, it is a commitment to do what he says.

– Faith and obedience are not the same, but one does not occur without the other. If you really believed it, your actions would show it. But why would you do anything, if you didn’t first believe it?

– Self reflection time: You should be striving for obedience to God’s word, and the call of Jesus on your life. If you aren’t, why not? Do you not really believe the message of the gospel? Or are you unaware of the obligation of holy living? Or have you knowingly chosen your own desires over God’s?

– How will the unsaved come to believe the gospel is true if the messenger doesn’t even act like they believe it? (Example: doctor who smokes, trainer who is overweight, a FF who parks in the fir lane!)

– The goal of obedience is to honor God and bring HIM glory… not yourself. Consider your motives.

John 14:15, (Jesus said) “If you love me, obey my commandments.”

Luke 11:28, Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.”

1 Peter 4:10-11, God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 11 Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

3. Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome was written to you also!

Romans 1:6-7, And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

– One key theme in the book of Romans is that God has incorporated the Gentiles into the people of God, His “holy people”, while remaining faithful to his promises to Israel in the Old Testament.

– Remember the Gentile Christian believers had little understanding of the Old Testament and the history of God’s people. They only knew what was new in Jesus.

– And the Jewish Christian believers were caught up in the old, maybe not fully wanting to accept that God’s salvation wasn’t for just them now. Their “time served” didn’t make them more special.

– The gospel can really only be “good news” if the message of Christ’s redemption is the continuation of God’s promises in the OT. It all works together to tell the story of salvation.

Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, not eliminates it. The Good News that is the gospel rescues people from the penalty of sin and death, and transforms lives, and is available to all of us!

– It doesn’t matter how you started life, what matters is your faith right now and moving forward.

2 Tim 1:9, For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. 

Col. 3:12-15,Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

– Unity is in order, because all believers are in the same boat, and equal in the eyes of the Lord.

Eph 2:14, For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.

1 Cor 1:10, I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 

Psalms 133:1, How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!

– This message is to all of us to return to the fundamentals of faith, and let go of what divides us.

– prayer –

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