As one studies the first eight chapters of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, we discover one of the most precise explanations of the gospel in all of Scripture. It is the basics of the Christian faith and worthy of being explored over-and-over again. All of us need to regularly get back to the basics. Any athlete knows the importance of returning to the basics. This is true of life. So-called advanced techniques are really just basic moves coupled with speed and accuracy. As Christians, we, too, need to regularly get back to the basics and understand the foundational truth of the gospel. Then, we are empowered to grow in the faith and advance it for God’s glory.
In Paul’s introduction, in Romans 1:1-18, he introduces himself as a servant of Christ and one of His apostles. He explains that the substance of the gospel is Jesus Christ, and the scope is everyone (all nations). In speaking of the gospel, Paul explains that the gospel is powerful in that it saves, and reveals the righteousness of God.
Paul then goes on in Romans 1:18-32 to present God as the plaintiff, as in a court case, bringing the charge against humanity of the crime of sin. He explains, in Romans 1:18-19, that God’s wrath is now revealed against sin. God’s wrath or anger is not to be thought of as an uncontrolled tantrum, but the reasonable reaction of a righteous God against unrighteousness.
Paul proceeds to explain in verse 20 that those who claim ignorance of God as an excuse are in error since God has revealed Himself through His creation. All one needs to do is look at nature to see the handiwork of God. The beauty and intricacy of nature do not introduce us to God’s character but does give testimony to His existence. There are two things God wants us to see in nature, His awesome power and His being God. The psalmist writes: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Psa 19:1-2).
We realize in verses 21-31 that people rejected God as creator and experienced spiritual devaluation; therefore, God consigned them to sin’s power. God expected humanity to respond to His creation by glorifying Him, acknowledging His greatness, and to give thanks, expressing gratitude towards Him. However, humanity responds negatively by their futile thinking allowing the darkening of their foolish hearts. Humanity has ignored God’s power so clearly revealed in creation. They even have resorted to worshiping idols. They reduced God to the form of a corruptible man and also creeping things.
Lastly, Paul, in verse 32, gives us a summary of sin. We read: “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Sin, downright rebellion, is the charge waged against humanity. In the end, nothing keeps people from entering into a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ more than denying their need for Him or their reluctance to admit it.
What makes all the difference is how we respond to the charges brought against us and the impact of sin on all our lives. We can deny the charge, but it does not mean we are not guilty. We can refuse to come to Christ for salvation, but then, we are left without hope. What makes all the difference is how we respond to the charges brought against us and the impact of sin on all our lives. The good news, as Paul shares later, “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). A person who places their faith in Christ, has been justified and declared righteous by God, once and for all. Now, that is good news. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!