“Romans Chapter-By Chapter” Series
“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.” – Romans 1:16
Have you ever heard of the “Romans Road”? It’s a method of using a series of verses from the book of Romans to communicate the gospel to an unbeliever. The Romans Road is a useful evangelism tool. I remember as a teenager having the trail of verses linked together in my Bible and teaching others how to use the tool. It’s a valid and valuable way to explain the basics of salvation. However, Paul did not write the book of Romans primarily to address and persuade unbelievers. Rather, he wrote it to encourage and strengthen those who already believed. Which brings up a powerful point: The gospel is for believers! Yes, it’s for unbelievers, but no one ever outgrows their need to hear the gospel. The good news of the gospel provides eternal life and it also powers godly living.
In the introduction of Romans, chapter 1:1-17, Paul writes, “to all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). The Bible teaches us that every person who has been born again is a “saint” and saints were Paul’s target audience. The verses continue on to commend the church in Rome for their godly testimony and express Paul’s heartfelt desire to be physically present with the saints and “be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:12). This love for the faithful, roman saints, combined with Paul’s lifetime passion to preach to people of all nations causes him to express, “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (Romans 1:15). Paul could not be clearer that even those who are already saved, and even faithfully walking with God, need to continue to hear the gospel.
Why? Why is the gospel so important beyond salvation? Why does someone who is already saved need to hear the gospel? Why would Paul write the greatest epistle on the gospel to saved people?
These are trick questions. Notice I used words like “salvation” and “saved” in the questions above. Nobody who is breathing is “beyond salvation.” Most of the time in Christianity when we say someone is “saved” we are looking backward to the moment when they initially trusted in Jesus and became a Christian. We see salvation as something in the past for Christians. However, in the Bible there are many uses of “saved” or “salvation.” There are three “tenses” of salvation from sin. Salvation has past, present, and future uses. Look at Ephesians 2:8, “For by grave you HAVE BEEN SAVED through faith.” This verse refers to what we commonly think of as “getting saved.” This salvation is associated with justification. It’s the salvation that takes a sinner who is an enemy of God and, in a moment, transforms him into a friend of God. Justification pardons a sinner and makes him righteous in God’s eyes. This is the past tense (for believers) of salvation.
In addition to the past, there is a present tense of salvation. “I would remind you,” Paul says to the Christian brothers in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, “of the gospel I preached to you, which you have received, in which you stand, and by which you ARE BEING SAVED.” I don’t know about you, but I am not perfect. God has saved me from my sin, but I still sin daily. However, God has provided salvation from that sin as well. Sanctification is the lifelong work of God making His saints more holy in their day-to-day lives. In fact, sanctification, saints, and holy are all related words in the Bible. So, we could restate the underlined sentence with a made-up word, Holy-fication is the lifelong work of God making His holy people more holy in their day-to-day lives. This sanctification happens by God’s power through His word. “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). This is the present tense of salvation.
There is yet one more tense, and that is the future tense of salvation. Observe Romans 5:9, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more SHALL WE BE SAVED by him from the wrath of God.” Believers in Christ will never face the wrath of God. They will be saved from it! Instead of wrath, they will enter eternal life with God (Romans 2:7). Heavenly salvation is yet to come and is often called glorification. Romans 8:30 guarantees that everyone who is justified is also glorified! When we are glorified in heaven (in the future), our behavior (our present sanctification) will match our righteous standing before God (past justification). This is the future tense of salvation. In these three ways, all saints are saved, being saved, and will be saved.
Back to Romans 1:16. Paul explains that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” The gospel does not simply punch our ticket to heaven and leave us to our own devices. Rather, the gospel is what powers the Christian life from the point of conversion all the way to glory!
We face eternity in our future. Eternity is often ignored, but it’s a BIG DEAL! Think about it: this life is short compared to eternity. Scripture calls it a vapor (James 4:14). We all know how long vapor lasts but eternity is forever. Eternity would be a frightening concept if it were unknown. But Scripture does not leave us blind to eternity. If you believe, you can be 100% confident that God’s power, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, will take you all the way to glory because the GOSPEL is the power of God unto salvation!
*Note: In case you’re curious about the Romans Road, the series is: Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9, 10:13, 5:1, 8:38-39. You might find it useful to use this tool by simply writing the next reference in the chain before each verse (i.e. Mark Romans 3:23 as “Romans Road” and then write “6:23” to begin the trail to the next verse.