Friday, 4 November 2011

Knowing Your Identity in Christ

Here is the latest “spirit food” message. You may wonder why it is not the next in the series of Romans, but I have felt somewhat bogged down with this and want to share with you something that is so much on my heart right now – taken from Ephesians, Paul’s writing on who we are in Christ! Thank you to several people who have asked me when this next blog message will be written and have prompted me to continue writing.  

KNOWING YOUR IDENTITY IN CHRIST

In Colossians Paul says that we are complete in Christ [Colossians 2:10]. We are to walk in Him [Colossians 2:6]; We are to be rooted and built up in Him [Colossians 2:7]
We used to sing a song, “He is my everything, He is my all….” and this is exactly how Paul sees Jesus – He is everything!

Our identity is in Christ and if our identity is in anything else then when difficult times come we will be shaken and will find it hard to stand! Our families, job, hobbies or ministry may be wonderful and may reflect our identity they may all fail and be lost. In Christ alone is our identity and security.
Our identity is not first in our job, our family, our ministry, however good and important these may be. but in Christ! When we know who we are in Christ we can reject the lies of the enemy; we can speak out with confidence and we do not have to grovel in fear about the future!

IN EPHESIANS PAUL POWERFULLY DECLARES WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST

WE ARE BLESSED [Ephesians 1:3]
Every blessing that God wants us to enjoy we have in Christ!
All the promises of God are available to us – they are “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ Jesus!
In Ephesians 1:3 Paul says, “Every spiritual blessing” – there is no dichotomy in Christ between the secular and the spiritual – all things are spiritual in Christ, including material things!

WE ARE CHOSEN [Ephesians 1:4]
Jesus said that many are called but few chosen [Matthew 20:16]
This does not mean that He chose us but rejected others – the Gospel is for the “whosoever.”
We make the choice when He calls us!
Paul says that God chooses the foolish and the weak things to put to shame the things which are mighty [1 Cor.1:27] – the people who recognize their helplessness!
He chose us to bear fruit that would remain [John 15:16]
We do not serve Jesus to be accepted but we serve Him because we love Him

WE ARE ADOPTED [Ephesians 1:5]
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption
by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” [Romans 8:15]
Notice from Romans 8:15 that the adopted have:
[a] A deep sense of intimacy – “Abba, Father” – “Abba” is the most intimate word for father!
[b] Freedom from fear – we now belong to a family of love and perfect love casts out all fear!
[c] Become joint-heirs with Christ [Romans 8:17] – all that belongs to Jesus also belongs to us.

WE ARE ACCEPTED [Ephesians 1:6]
Jesus Christ was the most rejected man who ever lived, and because He was rejected we can be accepted!
Rejection is so often the root cause of fear, aggression, isolationism, and low self-esteem. It is the denial of love, acceptance and approval. The opposite of rejection is to be loved, accepted, approved, and affirmed!
In Jesus we are totally accepted – just as we are. The hymn writer Charlotte Elliott wrote about this in her great hymn, “Just as I am.”
“Just as I am without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God I come!
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, Wilt welcome pardon, cleanse, relieve, Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God I come!”
When the prodigal returned to the Father in Jesus’ wonderful parable he was totally accepted. The father ran to him and hugged him. He put a robe on him that covered his shame, he put a ring on his finger that said, “You are mine,” and shoes on his feet. Servants did not wear shoes but sons do! Here is total acceptance. Our heavenly Father totally accepts us.

WE ARE REDEEMED [Ephesians 1:7a]
To be redeemed means “to be bought back.” The picture comes from the slave market! A price has been paid for the slave and the slave becomes the possession it the one who bought him. Jesus paid the price to buy us back from the slavery of the devil!
Because He bought us back we want to give myself to serve forever!
“Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe;
Sin had left its crimson stain; He washed me white as snow.”

WE ARE FORGIVEN [Ephesians 1:7b]
A part of being bought back is being set free! We are no longer in bondage. Our sins have been removed! Here is freedom, joy and peace! The joy of sins forgiven, hell subdued and peace with heaven!
“As far as the East is from the West so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
[Psalm 103:12]. According to Micah 7:19 – He casts all our sins into the depths of the sea!
When the Egyptians were covered by the Red Sea they were totally destroyed. When God forgives our sins they are put into the depths of the sea, totally destroyed, and never to be seen again! Hallelujah!
A songwriter wrote:
“Gone! Gone! Yes my sins have gone!
Buried in the deepest sea;
Yes that’s good enough for me,
I shall live eternally,
Praise God, my sins have gone!”

WE ARE SEATED TOGETHER WITH CHRIST [Ephesians 2:6]
Jesus is in heaven and our position is that we are “seated together with Him in heavenly places.”
Christ is seated above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named….everything is under His feet – and we are with Him!
According to Ephesians 6:12 the principalities and powers are demonic forces.
Seated together with Christ is our VICTORY – we share in His triumph!
Seated together with Christ is our AUTHORITY – He has given us His authority - we speak from authority and with authority!
To be seated together on the throne with Christ means that we also are reigning with Him. We are destined to reign with Him!

WE ARE SEALED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT [Ephesians 1:13-14]
Following hearing the Word of Truth, trusting in Christ and believing in Him, Paul tells the Ephesians that they were sealed with the Holy Spirit!
The word ‘sealed’ means to set a mark on something and this denotes that it is genuine, authentic and approved. It was also used in the sense of closing [sealing] a book or document so that it may not be opened or read, and is thus protective. We have the seal of acceptance, approval and protection and even more than that it is also the guarantee that one day we will receive everything that God has prepared for us – this is the deposit or down payment!

This is who we are in Christ – Blessed, Chosen, Adopted, Accepted, Forgiven, Reigning, Sealed!



Tuesday, 4 October 2011

THE BOOK OF ROMANS [Part 4]


THE BOOK OF ROMANS [Part 4]

JUSTIFICATION [Part 2] [3:21-5:21]



Since Romans is a book of logic, Paul makes use of the word “therefore” in his arguments. He uses the word “therefore” at four key moments in this Epistle.
JUDGMENT OF SIN
Following his teaching on sin, the law, and judgment in Romans 1:18-3:19, Paul says, Therefore by the deed of the law no flesh shall be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” [Romans 3:20].
JUSTIFICATION
Paul has both explained and illustrated the teaching of justification [Romans 3:21-4:25]. Now he  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” [Romans 5:1]
SANCTIFICATION
Paul writes about the crucified life, of having been slaves to sin but now slaves of God, and of freedom from the Law that cannot save us [Romans 6:1-7:25]. There comes the cry of the desperate man, who is struggling with sin and cries out, “Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” Then comes the glorious statement that, “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” [Romans 8:1]
CONSECRATION
The Jews had been banished from Rome and were now returning. These included Jewish believers. There were some difficulties between the Gentile believers and the Jewish believers. Following his teaching on sin, justification and sanctification Paul took three chapters to clearly state the position of the Jews and Israel [Romans 9:1-11:36]. God is faithful to them and to His “everlasting covenant” with them. The gospel is to the Jew first, but He is also faithful in keeping His promise to the gentile believers. Now both Jew and Gentile in the light of this teaching should consecrate themselves totally to God
“I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” [Romans 12:1] 

Justification illustrated and explained in Romans 3:21-4:25 makes it clear that God declares those who trust in Jesus righteous. It is not of works but by faith alone. It is His gift. We are declared righteous through what Jesus did on the cross. In Romans 5:1-11 Paul’s explains more fully the Christian experience of justification. The previous passages laid out the Biblical theology of justification, and now, continuing from the phrase, “our justification” at the end of Romans 4:25 he enlarges on what justification means in our personal experience.

In his commentary on Romans Warren Wiersbe entitles Romans 5 “Live like a King!” Here we have the wonderful blessings of justification in our daily lives. I like to think of these as the sevenfold fruit or blessings of being justified.

We have peace with God  [5:1]
Two verses from Isaiah make the matter clear  - “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked” [Isa. 48:22]; and “The work of righteousness shall be peace” [Isa. 32:17].
“peace” =  shalom’- expresses all the benefits of a right relationship with God, namely a partnership of reconciliation, eternal well-being, and wholeness of life.

We have access to God  [5:2a]
The Jew was kept from God’s presence by the veil in the temple; and a wall in the temple kept out the Gentile with a warning on it that any Gentile who went beyond would be killed. But when Jesus died, He tore the veil [Luke 23:45] and broke down the wall [Eph. 2:14]. In Christ, believing Jews and Gentiles have access to God [Eph. 2:18; Heb. 10:19-25]; and they can draw on the inexhaustible riches of the grace of God [Eph. 1:7; 2:4; 3:8].  The child of a king can enter his father’s presence.

We have hope in God  [5:2b]
Peace speaks to the past…. access speaks to the present….hope speaks to the future! The hope of salvation is a helmet [1 Thess. 5:8]

We have confidence [5:3-4]
“Justification is no escape from the trials of life. “In this world ye shall have tribulation” [John 16:33]. But for the believer, trials work for him and not against him. No amount of suffering can separate us from the Lord [Rom. 8:35-39]; instead, trials bring us closer to the Lord and make us more like the Lord. Suffering builds Christian character.
The word “experience” in Romans 5:4 means “character that has been proved.” The sequence is: tribulation — patience — proven character —hope.
The English word “tribulation” comes from a Latin word “tribulum.” In Paul’s day, a tribulum was a heavy piece of timber with spikes in it, used for threshing grain. The tribulum was drawn over the grain and it separated the wheat from the chaff. As we go through tribulations, and depend upon God’s grace, the purifying trials help us get rid of the chaff.” [Warren Wiersbe in “Being Right”]
                                                                                         
We experience God’s love [5:5]
We become channels of His love – “agape” -  always seeks the highest for another person, no matter what he does. It is unconditional love!

We have salvation from future wrath [5:9]
Through justification God’s anger is averted and we can face the day of God’s judgement without fear!

We are Reconciled with God [5:10-11]
The word ‘reconciliation’ is sometimes translated ‘atonement ‘meaning “brought back into fellowship with God.”

A review of these seven blessings of justification shows how certain our salvation is in Christ. Totally apart from Law, and purely by grace, we have a salvation that takes care of the past, the present, and the future. Christ died for us; Christ lives for us; Christ is coming for us! 

Thursday, 18 August 2011

THE BOOK OF ROMANS [Part 3]

This week I have been blessed as I have considered this old fashioned word, "Justification." Someone once said that this word means, "Just-as-if-i-ed never sinned." Not only are we forgiven but God declares us righteous. Christ is our righteousness!

THE BOOK OF ROMANS [Part 3]

JUSTIFICATION [Part 1] [Romans 3:21-5:21]

We begin this section by an important definition – the word “Justification.”

A DEFINITION – Justification is the act of God whereby He declares the believing sinner righteous in Christ on the basis of the finished work of Christ on the cross

Each part of this definition is important, so we must consider it carefully:

It is an act not a process. There are no degrees of justification; each believer has the same right standing before God. Justification should not be confused with Sanctification. Sanctification is a process whereby God makes the believer more and more like Christ.
It is an act of God. Justification is something God does. No sinner can justify himself before God.
God declares us righteous. God does not make us righteous but declares us righteous.
Justification is a legal matter. God puts the righteousness of Christ on our record in place of our sinfulness.
The sinner is justified by FAITH. When the sinner trusts Christ, God declares him righteous. God looks on us, and deals with us as though we had never sinned at all.

The question then is, How can the holy God declare sinners righteous?
Paul answers this in three ways – Firstly, he explains it [3:21-31]. Secondly, he illustrates it [4:1-25]. Thirdly, he applies it as a practical and personal experience [5:1-21].

JUSTIFICATION EXPLAINED  [3:21-31]

It is Apart from the Law  [3:21]
Obedience to the the Law could not make a person righteous before God. Not even Abraham was justified by works – but by faith!

"The Law bore witness to this Gospel righteousness even though it could not provide it. Beginning at Genesis 3:15, and continuing through the entire Old Testament, witness is given to salvation by faith in Christ. The Old Testament sacrifices, the prophecies, the types, and the great "Gospel Scriptures" [eg. Isaiah 53] all bore witness to this truth. The Law could only witness to God's righteousness, but it could not provide it for sinful man. Only Jesus Christ could do that [see Galatians 2:21]." [Warren Wiersbe] 

It is Available as a gift of Christ by His Grace
Two aspects of God’s love shown to us are grace and mercy.
‘mercy’ = God does not give us what we deserve, and ‘grace’God gives us what we do not deserve.

Justification is a GIFT - we can pay nothing towards it!
"freely" [3:24] - is translated in John 15:25 as "without reason." We are justified without a reason except that God loves us!!

There is no cause in us that would merit salvation of God!

It is Accepted by Faith
This is stated [3:26-30] and illustrated in the life of Abraham [4:1-3]
It is personal, individual faith in Jesus Christ that saves and justifies the lost sinner. The word faith means ‘to trust in’ ‘to commit to’ ‘to rely upon.’ It is active, not passive!

It is for both Jews and Gentiles – “There is no difference” [3:22-23].

Just as all have sinned....so all can be justified - but in only one way! [3:30] - It eliminates all human pride and boasting [3:27]

It satisfies God’s Justice
Note the word “justice” [3:25,26]. Because God is holy sin must be punished.  When Jesus died, it was not only to forgive us, but a demonstration of God’s justice. The death of Jesus satisfies God’s holy Law, meeting its just demands, thus allowing God to freely forgive all who come to Christ.

JUSTIFICATION ILLUSTRATED  [4:1-25]

Paul uses the illustration of the faith of Abraham.

THE KEY VERSE: Romans 4:3
THE KEY WORD:  credited[4:3] - a Greek word that means “to put to one’s account.” It is a banking term. This same word is used eleven times in this chapter [Romans 4:3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11, 22,23, 24]. The word is sometimes translated as “counted” or “reckoned” and elsewhere “imputed”

“When a man works he earns a salary and this money is put to his account. But Abraham did not work for his salvation; he simply trusted God’s Word. It was Jesus who did the work on the cross, and His righteousness was put on Abraham’s account.”  [Warren Wiersbe]

Abraham was justified by faith – not by works [4:1-8]
God told Abraham to look at the stars and promised, “So shall thy seed [descendants] be!” God promised; and Abraham believed God’s promise. The Hebrew word translated believed means to say "Amen."
The example of David [4:6-8] – Paul quotes David’s confession after his sin with Bathsheba [4:6-8 cp. Psalm 32:1-2]. David made two amazing statements:
God forgives sins and imputes righteousness apart from works and
God does not count our sins against us
God does keep a record of our works, so that He might reward us when Jesus comes; but He is not keeping a record of our sins.

Some key principles in Paul’s argument:
The Jews gloried in circumcision and the Law but what He required was inward obedience [Roms. 2:12-29]
God’s blessings are not for the Jew [circumcised] only. Abraham was justified before he was circumcised [4:9b-10] He is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised as well as those who are circumcised!
Circumcision was only a sign of faith and a seal [4:11]. Today we are sealed by the Holy Spirit [Eph. 1:13-14] and experience a ‘circumcision of the heart’ 
[Colossians 2:10-12]
Abraham did not receive the promise through the Law but by faith [4:13-15]
The promise is by faith – for both Jew and Gentile [4:16]

THREE PRINCIPLES OF FAITH BASED ON THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM
[see Romans 4:18-22]
[1] Faith is based upon God's Word - "The promise of God" [4:20] "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" [Romans 10:17]
[2] Faith does not depend upon circumstances - "as good as dead" [4:19]. Why did God wait until Abraham was so old? So that it had to be of God - Abraham could not do it himself!
[3] Faith is the assurance of things hoped for - "being fully assured..." [4:20-21]. God says it...I believe it... that settles it!

PAUL’S CONCLSION ON THE MATTER OF JUSTIFICATION [4:23-25]
He personalises all that he has said – applying it to us! [4:23-24a]
He returns to the source and basis of justification – the death & resurrection of Jesus [4:24b-25].

Next week we will look at the wonderful results of Justification as we experience it in Christ as declared to us by Paul in Romans 5:1-21

Saturday, 6 August 2011

THE BOOK OF ROMANS [Part 2]

Today I have been looking at Paul's teaching about man's sinfulness. What it means, the effects of sin and the fact of all men have sinned, whether Jews or Gentiles. This is an important foundation. In the next study we will look at how God makes the sinner righteous, but first there must be a recognition of sin.

SINTHE PROBLEM STATED [Romans 1:18-3:20]

The Key Verse in this whole section is: “All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.” [Romans 2:12]

The Gentiles are people apart from the law; = the Jews are the people under the law = the Jews. Both are sinners and the result of sin is JUDGEMENT and DESTRUCTION! [“Perish”]

THE GENTILES ARE UNDER SIN [1:18-32]

They knew God all about God [1:18-20]
God’s qualities, power and nature are clearly recognizable so that no one can claim ignorance of  God and God’s will for humanity [1:19]. People who reject God cannot use the excuse that they did not know!

They did not glorify Him as God [1:21-23]
They did not honour [glorify] Him…. were not thankful and became proud. This led to:
Crude Paganisman unblushing worship of graven images [1:23,25]
Cultured Paganisma worship by man of his own godless imagination!

They changed the truth of God [1:24-25]
The Truthall people are creatures of God’s creation and can find true fulfilment only in worshipping and obediently serving God!
The Lie any creature, whether angelic [see Isaiah 14:13-14; John 8:44] or human [Gen. 3:4-5] can exist independently of God, self-sufficient, self-directing, and self-fulfilling. Thus man made himself his god!

They rejected the knowledge of God [1:26-32]
Their Action - They did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God [1:28]
The Effect - “God gave them up…..” [1:24,26,28]
God allows stubborn human beings to pursue their folly to the point of experiencing the full consequences of their actions!
“God gave them the desires of their heart, but sent leanness to their souls.” [Psalm 106:15]
The Result
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness” [1:29]
God gave them over to their sinful desires [1:24]
God gave them over to shameful lusts [1:26-27]
Specifically mentioned are unnatural sexual sins
“The due penalty” [1:27] – What is meant, whether addiction, acquired behavourial traits, disease or other results is not clear. The bottom line is that there are serious consequences because of sin!
God gave them over to a depraved mind [1:28-32]
This is the longest list of the sins of the flesh written by Paul
The words, “continue to do” [1:32] show that this evil lifestyle becomes habitual – it is very hard to break the pattern.  Note the phrase: “such things….” [1:32] These things - Deserve death [1:32]; and deserve God’s judgement [1:18; 2:2]

THE JEWS ARE UNDER SIN [2:1-3:8]
Paul now shows that the Jews are equally condemned sinners before God! To the Gentiles he said, “You are without excuse.” [1:20]. He says the same thing to the Jews [2:1].
As the Jew would read Paul’s indictment of the Gentiles, he would have smiled and said, “Serve them right!” [see Luke 18:9-14]. Jewish pride can be felt in the phrase, “…you judge another.”[2:1]

In Romans Chapter 2 Paul explains 3 vital principles of God’s judgment 

Judgement is according to truth [2:1-5 esp.v2]
God does not judge according to men’s opinions! His judgement is a righteous judgement [Isaiah 11:1-5]
Israel was guilty of judging others whilst themselves committing the very same sins they judged others for [2:1,3]. The Jews sinned in hardening their hearts against God…showing contempt for His grace…refusing to come to repentance! [2:4-5] [see Psalm 78]

Judgement is according to deeds [2:6-11]
God judges each person according to they have done [2:6]
Here is a fundamental truth – especially for the Jews:  It is not the hearing of the law, but rather obeying the law that makes a person righteous [2:13]
“those who by persistence [v7-8] This is not occasional actions, but more about persistency and making a ‘life-choice’
God is no respecter of persons in judgement. Note the words, “each person” [v6]; “every human being” [v9]; “everyone” [v10] – “God does not show favouritism” [v11 NIV]

Judgement is according to the light received [2:12-17]
The Jews had the Law and rejected God [v12]. The Gentiles were without the Law, but the
requirements of the Law were written on their hearts and they rejected God [v14-15]. Both had knowledge of God and rejected Him. There is no excuse! Their deeds would be judged accordingly.

In Romans 2:17 we see a day of judgement….we see what is judged….we see the Judge…and the judgement is according to the gospel!

Paul looks here at the heart attitude of the Jews and it is not a pretty sight [2:17-24]
They have a sense of superiority [2:17-18]….They regard themselves as instructors to the blind, darkened, childish Gentiles [2:19-20]….Here is hypocrisy and a failure to practice what they preach [2:21-23]….They become a stumbling block to the Gentiles [2:24].
“blasphemy” [2:24] is a lifestyle rather than words spoken!
Their religious ceremony is worthless without righteousness [2:25-27]
It is of little wonder that Paul then explains what a true Jew is! [2:28-29] The true Jew has nothing to do with outward religious before but is a matter of the heart:
“A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is the circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by a written code.  Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.”  [Romans 2:28-29]              
                 
What is required is a change of heart – for either Jew or Gentile!  Only the Gospel can do this – it is “the power of God for salvation, for both the Jew and the Gentile” [1:16]

THE WHOLE WORLD IS UNDER SIN [3:1-20]
Paul’s anticipates questions which might come from his readers [Note: verses 1,3,5,7,8,9, all contain questions]. Paul then proceeds to answer each question. This form of rhetoric, developed in Greek philosophical debate, was called “diatribe.”

Paul’s four questions are:
Is the any advantage in being a Jew? [3:1-2]; Has Israel’s unbelief cancelled God’s Word [3:3-4]; Why not sin and glorify God the more? [3:5-8]; Is the Jew any better than the Gentile [3:9-20]

Paul’s conclusion: The Jew is no better than the Gentile! [3:9]…. No one is righteous in God’s sight by obeying the Law [3:20]…The Law cannot make a person righteous – it can only reveal sin [3:21].  Paul makes clear the total depravity of man [Rom. 3:10-18]

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

THE BOOK OF ROMANS [Part 1]

I have been thinking and praying about the direction I should take as I write the Spirit Food blog. The burden has come to me that it should be a weekly study from a book of the Bible. I can think of no better place to begin than with the Book of Romans, and so will work through this amazing Epistle of Paul over the next few weeks.  Let’s begin with the first part of Romans chapter one. 

Romans 1:1-17

The SIMPLICITY of the gospel [1:1-6]

When Paul writes about the Gospel he always keeps it simple, and deals with basic fundamentals - The Gospel is the good news about God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

In the first six verses of Romans Paul makes three clear foundational statements about the gospel

It was God’s plan to send His Son [1:2]
Jesus is the Lamb of God, slain before the foundation of the world.
His coming was made known to Abraham [Gal. 3:8]
There were many prophesies about the coming of Jesus [eg. Isaiah 9:6; 53:1-12; Micah 5:2]
Remember the conversation between Jesus and the two disciples on the Emmaus Road [Luke 24:27]
The Gospel is not a new idea or thought – it is the eternal Gospel! God has no after-thoughts and no contingency plans!

God sent His Son in human flesh [1:3]
Jesus was descended from David. This was a pre-requisite for Messiahship [see Isaiah 11:1-10]
This is an important key in testing whether a person is really a Christian [see 1 John 4:2-3].

That Jesus was the Son of God – His deity [1:4]
“….who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.” [NASV]

Two facts here that point to the deity of Jesus:

His Resurrection - The resurrection declared Jesus to be the Son of God. It validated His claims to deity and His prediction that He would rise from the dead [see John 2:18-22; Matt. 16:21]
The expression “by the resurrection from the dead” suggests victory over the penalty of sin.

His Holiness - The “Spirit of Holiness” describes the character of Jesus. The holiness of Jesus validated His claims to deity. The expression “by the Spirit of holiness” suggests victory over the the power of sin.

THE SERVANT OF THE GOSPEL [1:1,5-16]

A willing slave [1:1] See also 2 Corinthians 4:5
Here is a picture of the Old Testament servant who chooses to have his ear pierced [Exodus 21:5-6]. He loves his master and wants to stay with him even though he could go free! A willing slave has only one desire – to please the master [see Psalm 123:2]
Paul willingly submits to the Lordship of Jesus as His bondservant!

A called apostle [1:1]
For Paul’s call see Galatians 1:15-16 and Acts 9:1-9; 22:6-11; 26:12-18
“Apostle” = one sent on a special mission. “Called” = “appointed.”  Paul was literally appointed, anointed and sent!
Every Christian needs that sense of call from God to do what they are doing with their life.
It is the sense of call that keeps you in the tough  times. Consider the tough times that Paul went through and how he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision [see 2 Cor. 11:23ff]

A separated vessel [1:1]
See Galatians 1:15  Note: The NIV says “set apart” – different!
“Separated” = “cut off” – all bridges burned behind them – no way back!
The Greek word used here contains the thought of the horizon. Paul’s whole horizon was dominated by Christ.
    
A prayer warrior [1:8-10]
Paul had a real burden to pray for the church in Rome, even though he had never been there.
    
He offers thanksgiving for them [1:8]
For similar Pauline thanksgivings see 1 Cor.1:4-9; 2 Cor.1:3-7; Phil.1:3-11; 1 Thess.2:10; Philem 4:7;
By comparison these verses lack the usual specific references to the life of the congregation because Paul had not yet visited Rome [see 1:10  & 15:22]

He offers petitions for them [1:9-10]
“With my spirit” = wholeheartedly; Paul has invested his entire being in the work of the Gospel.
We can feel something of Paul’s prayer life in : Phil.1:3-5; 1 Thes. 1:2, Philem. 4-5; Col. 1:3; Eph. 1:16; 2 Thes. 1:3

A motivated minister [1:11-15]
We know why Paul wanted to go to Rome [see 1:11-13]
Paul also had a sense of obligation – “I am a debtor” [1:14-15]. Compare this with 1 Cor. 9:16-17 – there is a sense of obligation because of what God has done in Paul.

THE SUMMARY OF THE GOSPEL [1:16-17]

The Gospel is Powerful
“dunamis” = power [dunamis is the root word of the English words dynamite, dynamic, dynamo]
Salvation” = ‘sozo’ =to rescue or bring to safety; to deliver and to make whole 
 The Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost [Luke 19:10]

The Gospel is for Everyone
“First for the Jew, and then for the Gentiles.” = in the sense of order in which the Gospel was proclaimed!
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved [Acts 4:12]

The Gospel is based on faith, not works
“Faith” – in Paul’s understanding, Christian believing is to understand that we are recipients of God’s grace and, in obedience [see 1:5], living daily in accordance with that understanding. It is all faith [1:17 – “by faith from first to last”]

The Gospel reveals the righteousness of God
The righteousness of God = The way God places people in a right relationship with him. This is the theme of Romans, addressed specifically in 3:21-31. The Greek word for “righteousness” is also the  word for “justice” [2:5] and “justification” [5:21], and its verb is translated “justify” [3:24, 26, 28].

God can make sinners righteous and still uphold His own holy law
God’s law, holiness and justice had to be upheld!
Because there was sin, someone had to be punished! Jesus bore our sin and took its penalty in order that we could be free!
               
A KEY Message of Romans is: “The just shall live by faith”  [Romans 1:17]. This truth is also stated in Habakkuk. 2:4; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38]