With Dale Ratzlaff
This week we pick up our study in Romans 1:5:
…through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:5-6).
These two verses are loaded. “Through whom” refers to “Jesus Christ our Lord.” Now we come to what Christ has done. “We have received grace.” The verb is aorist—we received this grace at a point of time. Historically it happened at the cross; experientially, it happened the moment we believed and were born again by the Spirit. Paul takes it for granted that the readers of this letter are true Christians—they have received Christ’s grace.
The next word in this phrase, “we have received grace and apostleship”, is interesting. In the early church an apostle was a Christian leader who had seen the person of Christ and manifested some supernatural works. Paul met both of these criteria, but here he seems to include his readers in the apostolic mission. The word “apostle” means one sent with a mission, and there is reason to believe what Paul means by “we” is that the grace that made him an Apostle (capital A) is the same grace that his readers received who, in turn, are also apostles (small a) to proclaim the gospel to others in their community.
to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake.
We are saved by grace through faith in Christ without any works of the law. This is the consistent teaching of the New Testament. However, once a person is saved and truly born again, there will be some changes in the life. In fact, this will be a two-fold change. (1) There will be the “obedience of faith” and (2) there will be a desire and action to proclaim the good news of Christ to others. This proclamation is the very thing Paul has been commissioned to do, and he wants to include the Romans in this mission.
…among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:5-6)
Not only is Paul “a called apostle” as mentioned in verse one, but the recipients of the letter are also among “the called of Christ Jesus.” The understanding of divine “calling” has been hotly debated in theological circles for many years. One group holds that only the elect are called”—those who have been predestined by God’s sovereign choice—can and will be saved. The other group believes that anyone can be saved who hears the gospel and responds in faith believing in Christ’s death for the sins for the world and his resurrection for their justification. They hold that God’s predestination, which is taught in Scripture, is determined by His foreknowledge which is also taught in Scripture. God is sovereign in His call to salvation, and He calls those who hear the gospel and believe that Jesus died for the sins for the world and receive that good news with a response of saving faith.
In our Christian experience do we fully appreciate the fact that it is only though Christ that we have received grace? Grace is unmerited favor. We cannot earn grace, we can only receive it. Is the grace we have received active in obedience? It will be if we fully understand its cost. There is no inexpensive grace in the Christian’s life. It flows from the torture of the cross whereupon our Savior paid the infinite price for our sins. Sometime those of us who grew up with a measure of legalism want to distance ourselves from stressing obedience. We fear we will leave the joy and freedom of grace if we speak of the value of obedience. However, once the truth that obedience has nothing do to with our salvation is etched deeply in our thinking, then obedience takes on a life of its own. Explore the blessings of obedient living; there are many. Note how closely Paul linked obedience to the gospel going to the Gentiles. The good news of the gospel is worth sharing—anywhere, anytime. Be open to the Spirit’s prompting to speak a word here, to call someone over there, and to give a reason for the hope that is within you. If you do you will begin to experience the joy of true discipleship.
Yes, these blessings of grace are for you—“the called of Christ Jesus”.
Father, it is with a grateful heart we acknowledge that we have received the grace of God through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Thank you for calling us through the gospel. May we explore and experience the many blessings of obedience. Use our proclamation of the gospel of grace so that others may respond in faith to the good news of what your Son did on the cross. In Jesus name, Amen.
1. Acts 9:27; 1 Cor. 9:1.
2. 2 Cor. 12:12.
3. “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel” Act 9:15.
4. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure (1 Pet 1:1-2).