NOTE: The questions and devotional for this week’s study were written by Stan Schuermann.
1. Take a moment to pray. Praise God for His Word and ask Him to teach you its truth, just as the psalmist prayed in Psalm 119:12-16, “Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth. I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.”
2. Read Romans 1:15-17
3. STUDY NOTE: In Romans 1:16-17, Paul says “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” The two leading doctrines of this great letter to the Romans are stated in these verses. First: Salvation is by faith alone. Second: The free offer of salvation is to all without distinction – Jew and Gentile alike. The Gospel, which Paul will systematically explain in the rest of his letter, can be summarized as Good News offered to a people who hear and understand the Bad News about their condition. The Bad News is that in order to be loved by God, we must first become righteous, since God regards unrighteousness with hatred. The Good News is that the righteousness which God requires, He also provides. In His Son, God offers to all, without distinction, His own righteousness that we might be saved from the condemnation and the power of sin. The gospel of God’s righteousness is offered feely in His Son and that is why it can only be apprehended by faith.
4. Paul is also preparing the Romans for bearing the reproach of the cross of Christ. Calvin writes, “Lest they should esteem the gospel of less value by finding it exposed to the scoffs and reproaches of the ungodly; and, on the other hand, he shows how valuable it was to the faithful. If, in the first place, the power of God ought to be extolled by us, that power shines forth in the gospel; if, again, the goodness of God deserves to be sought and loved by us, the gospel is a display of his goodness. It ought then to be reverenced and honored, since veneration is due to God’s power; and as it avails to our salvation, it ought to be loved by us.”
- Since the gospel is such Good News, why would Paul, an Apostle, be tempted to be ashamed of it?
- Why are we tempted to be ashamed of the gospel, rather than extoll it and love it?
- How do we overcome this temptation?
- How can we increase our love for the gospel of Christ?
5. In 1:16, Paul says, “for it is the power of God for salvation – to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” – of this John Calvin writes, “The gospel invites all to partake of salvation without any difference.” He goes on to say, “Everywhere in Scripture the word salvation is simply set in opposition to the word destruction… Since the gospel delivers from ruin and the curse of endless death, the salvation which the gospel brings to us is eternal life.”
- What is required of us to receive the benefit of this power?
- According to John’s Gospel (John 1:12-13), how does someone become a child of God?
- Is this sufficient proof that everything pertaining to our salvation has already been done?
6. 1:17 references the “righteousness of God.” To the best of your understanding, what is the righteousness of God?
7. STUDY NOTE: John Stott summarizes the righteousness of God, as Paul has used it, in this way: “It is a righteous status which God requires if we are ever to stand before Him, which He achieves through the atoning sacrifice of the cross, which He reveals in the gospel, and which He bestows freely on all who trust in Jesus Christ… It seems legitimate to affirm, therefore, that ‘the righteousness of God’ is God’s righteous initiative in putting sinners right with Himself, by bestowing on them a righteousness which is not their own, but His.”
8. We have received the rich benefits of the Reformation of the 16th Century. The Reformation began when Martin Luther, a lawyer turned monk, for the first time understood the gospel as Paul declares it in Romans 1:16-17. R. C. Sproul describes from Luther’s writings his response to Romans 1:16-17 “Luther was looking now at the Greek word that was in the New Testament… the word which didn’t mean to make righteous, but rather to regard as righteous, to count as righteous, to declare as righteous. And this was the moment of awakening for Luther. He understood that here Paul was not talking about the righteousness by which God Himself is righteous, but a righteousness that God gives freely by His grace to people who don’t have righteousness of their own.” Luther then understood that the righteousness by which he must be saved, is not his! It’s what he called a justitia alienum, an alien righteousness; a righteousness that belongs properly to somebody else. It’s a righteousness that is extra nos, outside of us. Namely, the righteousness of Christ. And Luther said, “When I discovered that, I was born again of the Holy Ghost. And the doors of paradise swung open, and I walked through.”
- Have you experienced the gospel’s saving power in your life?
- How does the righteous man live by faith?
9. STUDY NOTE: John Stott is helpful in understanding this: “Righteousness and life are both by faith. Those who are righteous by faith also live by faith. Having begun in faith, they continue in the same path.”
To access the entire “Good News” study, click here.