Summary: This morning we are continuing on with Paul’s introduction to the Romans. We’ve covered Paul as the Preacher of the Good News of God (1), the Promise of the Good News (2), and the Person of the Good News (3-4). This morning we will consider the Provi
The Provision of the Good News
This morning we are continuing on with Paul’s introduction to the Romans. We’ve covered Paul as the Preacher of the Good News of God (1), the Promise of the Good News (2), and the Person of the Good News (3-4). This morning we will consider the Provision of the Good News of God (5a).
The story is told of a very wealthy man who had many valuable art treasures. His only son was quite ordinary but was dearly loved. When the son died unexpectedly as a young man, the father was so deeply grieved that he died a few months later. The father’s will stipulated that, at his death, all his art works were to be publicly auctioned and that a painting of his son was to be auctioned first. On the day of the auction the specified painting was displayed and the bidding was opened. Because neither the boy nor the artist were well known, a long time passed without a bid being offered. Finally, a long-time servant of the father and friend of the boy timidly bid seventy-five cents, all the money he had. When there were no other bids, the painting was given to the servant. At that point the sale was stopped and an official read the remainder of the will, which specified that whoever cared enough for his son to buy the painting of him would receive all the rest of the estate.
That touching story illustrates God’s provision for fallen mankind. Anyone who loves and receives His Son, Jesus Christ, will inherit the heavenly Father’s estate, as it were. The good news of God is that everyone who receives His Son by faith is blessed "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). That is why Paul could exult, "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich" (2 Cor. 8:9). Quoting Isaiah, the apostle declared that the Christian’s riches include "things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9; cf. Isa. 64:4; 65:17).
I. The Provision of the Good News (5a)
Paul here mentions two very important provisions of the Good News of God: conversion, which is by God’s Grace, and vocation, which in Paul’s case was apostleship. In our case it is service.
A. Thank God for grace. (Eph. 2:8-9)
1. Human achievement has no place in the divine working of God’s saving grace. (Rom. 3:24, 27-28)
2. Not by baptism, confirmation, communion, church membership, church attendance keeping the Ten Commandments, by trying to live up to the Sermon on the Mount, by serving other people, or even by serving God. Nor does it come by simply believing that Jesus is His Son. Even the demons recognize this (Mk. 5:7; James 2:19). It comes only when a person repenting of sin receives by faith the gracious provision of forgiveness offered by God through the atoning work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The dying words of one ancient saint were, "Grace is the only thing that can make us like God. I might be dragged through heaven, earth, and hell and I would still be the same sinful, polluted wretch unless God Himself should cleanse me by His grace."
B. Another provision of the Good News of God is calling believers into His service, which is a form of apostleship.
1. apostolos - "one who is sent"
2. here general - not specific "we" - e.g.
a) Andronicus and Junias (Rom. 16:7)
b) Luke refers to Barnabas as an apostle (Acts 14:14)
c) the term apostolos is also applied to Epaphroditus ("messenger" Phil. 2:25)
3. These did not hold the office, but were called to serve.
4. Every one that is saved is also called to serve
Sometimes an athletically inept student will be put on a team out of sympathy or to fill a roster, but the coach will rarely, if ever, put him in a game. God does not work that way. Every person who comes to Him through His Son is put on the team and sent in to play the game, as it were. Everyone who is saved by God’s sovereign grace is also sovereignly called to apostleship. The Lord never provides conversion without commission. When by grace we "have been saved through faith," Paul explains, it is not ourselves but "is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." But as he goes on to explain, when God saves us we thereby become "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:8-10). Later in that same epistle Paul entreats believers "to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called" (4:1).