Sermon on Romans 1:1-7
Text: Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God — 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just about every Sunday, you hear the last words of our text as a greeting from the pulpit. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” What a wonderful wish to speak. May God’s grace and peace be yours. Few things are more important than God’s grace and peace in our lives. At this time of year, God’s grace and peace come into great prominence. In the birth of Jesus Christ, we see God’s grace in action. The angels sang that night: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14) This morning, we look at God’s grace and peace. ON EARTH PEACE — BY THE GRACE OF GOD. 1. God’s Grace Sent The World A Savior. 2. God’s Peace Comes Through That Savior.
God’s grace sent the world a Savior. First, we would do well to look at the word “grace.” Grace basically means God’s undeserved love for us. We did not deserve the outpouring of love God showed us in sending his Son into the world. Thank God that he does not give us what we deserve. Every day we rebel against our God. We sin in our thoughts, words, and actions. Every time we put ourselves before others, we sin. Every flash of anger is a sin. Every careless word that harms another is a sin. What we deserve is God’s punishment. God doesn’t look the other way and pretend it didn’t happen. God is serious about his law. What we deserve because of our rebellion is exile: exile in hell. This is what you and I deserve.
But, in undeserved love, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world for us. St. Paul tells us several unique things about this Savior. He says in verse 2, “The gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” This Savior was promised for generations. We know of the first promise of the Savior. It was made when Adam and Eve fell into sin. God spoke to the devil in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” The promise continued from generation to generation. Jacob said to his son Judah in Genesis 49:10, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come.” The prophets spoke many prophecies about the coming Savior. Isaiah said in Isaiah 7:14, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” The prophet Micah said in Micah 5:2, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” God gave his people many signs of the Savior’s coming.
The reason we make so many references to these Old Testament prophecies is that they show over and over again that Jesus was the promised Savior, whom God promised to sinful mankind. Again and again in the Gospels you read phrases like, “This happened that the scriptures might be fulfilled.” God wants us to see very clearly that Jesus is the fulfillment of all those Old Testament prophesies. He is the one God sent into the world to be the Savior of all. God’s grace fulfilled the promises he had made to the Old Testament believers.
God’s grace sent a Savior into the world. St. Paul reminds us of the unique character of Jesus. We learn from verses 3&4 that Jesus was both true God and true Man. First, we find in verse 3, “Who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David.” There it says that Jesus had a human nature. He was fully human. We can see this from the Gospels. We know that he was born. He grew. He ate and drank. He slept. He felt sorrow. He even died. Jesus did all the things that normal human beings do, with one important exception. He never sinned, not even once. He became human, placing himself under the demands of God’s laws. He was a human being.
Yet, we also learn from verse 4, “Who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead.” Jesus also was true God. How do we know this? One way is the names by which he is called. Earlier we quoted Isaiah 7:14, which said that he would be called “Immanuel.” The word “Immanuel” means “God with us.” After Jesus presented himself to Thomas after his resurrection, Thomas said of him, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) Again and again Jesus is called God. Jesus also showed that he was God by the miracles that he performed. He did things that only God can do. The greatest announcement of his divinity is his resurrection from the dead. Paul said, with that action, Jesus was “appointed the Son of God in power.” (Verse 4) Jesus is true God.
We cannot understand how Jesus can be 100% man and 100% God at the same time. To our limited way of thinking, a person must be one or the other. Yet, Jesus was both. Although we cannot understand it, we rejoice that Jesus was both true God and true man. He had to be man in order to be under the demands of God’s law, but he had to be true God in order to keep it. He had to be true man so that he could die, but he had to be true God so that his death would count for all people. Jesus was true God and true man. We cannot understand how this can be, but we praise God for his grace that sent a Savior into the world.
God’s grace sent a Savior so that there might be peace. There are many different areas in our life that have been affected by God’s peace. The first is our relationship with God himself. I, no longer, need to be terrified because of my sins. If I had to stand before God on my own merits, I would have every right to be terrified. But, because of the Savior, there is peace between God and us. We stand holy in God’s sight. Our sins have been completely taken away. My conscience can be at peace because of the Savior God sent us.
There is also peace in my heart because I know God as a loving God, who promised to take care of us. We have a peace of mind that very few people can feel. I know that God will provide for all my needs. So, it is useless, and even a lack of faith in God, to worry about the things of this world. God has promised it and I believe it. Not only has God promised it, but it does also happen. King David wrote in Psalm 37:25, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” God not only promises, but he carries through. He has promised to provide for us, and we can see how he has richly and daily provided for all our needs. We are at peace with God because of the Savior he sent into the world.
Because of the peace we have with God, we can now look at our relationship with one another in a different light. As God’s children, we can live at peace with one another. Normally, we think of living in peace with each other as being everyone agrees with us. But, if anyone should be so foolish as to disagree with us, we let them have it with both barrels. That is not living in the peace of God. Living as God wants us to, out of love for him means that we serve one another. We help one another out. It means not looking for offense in other people. So, often we are all too ready to see a slight, whether real or imagined. Rather, as we learn from the explanation to the Eighth Commandment, we are to take the words and actions of others in the kindest possible way. Living in peace with one another also means that we don’t always have to be right. It means letting others have their way, at times. Living in peace with others means that we defend others. It means that we speak well of others. If we do that, we can live in peace with those around us. We do so purely out of a thankful heart that is so grateful for the love shown to us by God. May the peace we receive from God also show itself as we live in peace with one another. That peace comes to us through God’s Son, Jesus.
The air is filled with greetings this time of year. We wish each other “Merry Christmas.” Those are wishes we have for those we are in contact with. Indeed, they are wonderful sentiments that someone have a “Merry Christmas.” We wish that the new year be a happy one. This morning, it is my wish that God’s grace and peace be yours. May the grace of God that sent his Son into the world for us, fill you with thanksgiving. May the peace that comes from God fill your hearts. As we read in verse 7, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.
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