We begin Romans today… which is Paul’s longest and most detailed theological dissection of the gospel. The church in Rome was a mix of both Jewish and Gentile Christians – but the majority were Gentiles. This letter probably arose out of tensions between the Jewish and Gentile Christians to define the precise gospel – applicable to both salvation and daily living.
I think I could write a 2,000 page essay on Paul’s salutation alone. He packs so much theology into those few verses!! What stands out to me, however, is how Paul manages to validate both the Jew and the Gentile. Paul mentions that Jesus is the “Son of David” (vs.2) which satisfies the Jewish believer. And then Paul goes on to proclaim that the grace of God is for “all the nations” (vs. 5).
Paul gets right to the point and gives a clear definition of the gospel in vs. 16-17. These verses act as the foundation for the rest of Romans…
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” (Romans 1:16-17).
This gospel is simply this: Righteousness before God is not earned. It is granted to both the Jew and the Gentile by the same means: through faith.
This is how Old Testament believers attained salvation. They trusted in God. (Period). Observance of the law was the way in which they demonstrated their faith – it was not a means to earn their salvation.
We read of two kings in 2 Chronicles 17-19… Jehoshaphat was described as “seeking God” and not in idols. He had faith in God. Jehoshaphat wasn’t perfect, but his upright actions were evidence of his internal faith. Ahab, on the other hand, was one of the most evil kings in all of Israelite’s history. According to Romans 1:18-20, Ahab was without excuse. Even if he had no knowledge of God (which he did) he would still be held accountable for his disbelief because God had revealed his “eternal power and divine nature” through His creation.
Both kings were blood descendants of Abraham – but only one was accepted into God’s Kingdom. There is no distinction between salvation in the Old and New Testaments. Salvation is by grace, through faith, alone. Our outward actions only act as evidence of the internal state of our hearts… Do we have hearts that trust in God alone for our salvation and satisfaction? Jehoshaphat vs. Ahab = Faith vs. Unbelief. Where do you stand? There is no excuse for unbelief!