II ROMANS 3
OBEYING THE GOSPEL
One of the most tragic things about the Christian world is that people read their Bibles faithfully, but with little thought to the deep meanings imbedded in the words they read. Most simply remember what their teachers have said and end up with nothing which causes them to stop and think, much less make an intense examination of the message God has for them. As a result, their “daily Bible readings” neither increase their faith nor make any changes in their life by increasing their knowledge of the truth.
Such cursory reading of the Bible soothes the need to feel pious and religious, but does nothing toward increasing our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We, therefore, remain a “group Christian”, rather than one truly related personally to Him.
I can’t leave the first seven verses of the Book of Romans without spending some more time with the very important words Paul uses here. We have already noted that the word “Gospel” does not mean the rules of the faith. When Paul says that the Gospel he preaches is the one promised by God through the prophets across the ages, he is talking about the coming of the Messiah. That was God come to earth, in the person of Jesus Christ, to create a personal relationship with man. This is the most incredible fact in all the world!
Then Paul says that his mission was “through His name’s sake”. The words “by His name” or “for His name” are often used in the Biblical text. The common interpretation is that they mean “by His authority”. However, Paul is saying here that they mean “for His purposes” or in order to fulfill His mission. Paul was called to
carry out the mission of taking the message of salvation to the world. That was the purpose for which God arrested him on the road to Damascus and commissioned him to take the Gospel to the entire
Gentile world. So “in His name” is not just by His authority, but for His purposes.
In the Lord’s prayer, when Jesus said, “Hallowed be Thy name”, He did not mean the title of God, but that we recognize the holiness of His purposes and His very being. When Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in My name”, He meant, gathered to carry out His mission…His purposes. That is what “in His name” always means.
Then Paul says that he was preaching “the obedience that comes from faith”. The word “obedience” has been used by too many teachers to mean, following the rules. That was the Old Testament meaning of obedience. However, the “obedience that comes from faith” is not obeying a set of rules in the law. This obedience is not a few specific actions, it is a way of life. The walk of faith means that my daily life is directed by a consciousness of His presence and that I try to act as He would act in all circumstances. That is what “the obedience that comes from faith” means.
When I was a boy, I used to hear church members talk about a person “obeying the Gospel”. They meant simply being baptized. However, as I study my Bible more I find that the Gospel means God came to earth to walk with me. That means that if I believe that and place my faith in Him, I will do more than just obey a command. My whole way of life will be as He directs, and that is what obedience to the Gospel or “the obedience that comes from faith” really means.
In our next essay, we want to examine the tremendous meaning packed into the words “grace and peace”, which Paul uses in his introduction.