The Gospel Power (Romans 1:16-17) by Ptr. Xley Miguel

Good afternoon. Please turn your Bibles to Romans chapter 1. We will have a break from our series on Genesis this afternoon. We will look at Romans chapter 1; we will focus on verses 16 to 17 but we will read verse from verse 8. When I was working in a BPO company, we always have this company event Christmas parties and during that Christmas party, the CEO would want to you know, address all employees. And I remember this one Christmas party after hearing the speech of our big boss, I remember saying in Tagalog, walang dating sa akin ang mga sinabi niya. Parang hindi ako na-encourage. I was not encouraged by the message I remember, that was my thoughts during that time ‘cause he did not announce any bonuses. Other than that, other than that; that was years ago by the way. But I thought that it did not encourage me as an employee. It has no effect in me. I remember that thought. Now, looking at Romans chapter 1, we see here Apostle very confident in the message that he’s about to impart to the church. He’s so confident that he knows that this affects the hearts of the hearers. So if you’re in Romans chapter 1, please read with me verses 16, oh we’ll start from verse 8 rather. Verse 8 up to verse 17, okay. Romans chapter 1 verses 8 to 17. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 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.”

Obviously, Paul was quoting from Habakkuk chapter 2. Habakkuk, the prophet who is waiting for God to move and yet God assures him that he will be just over the enemies of Israel and that the righteous will continue to live by faith. Paul gives the same message to the church in Rome. He in fact addresses the saints and tells them that he wants to go there. In verses 11 to 12, you will see we’ve read, he said that he wants to go there that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you. Verse 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith both yours and mine. What is this spiritual gift that Paul wanted to impart to his brethren that would truly strengthen and encourage them? What is the substance of such spiritual gift? If Paul would personally share, let’s say if Paul would personally share his experiences. What if he tells the the church in Rome what he’s gone through, what has been through, how in God’s providence God has saved him and he was… that God was always with him in his missionary journeys, I’m sure the brethren or the saints in Rome would be truly encouraged. They would truly be strengthened by the testimony of Paul. Now if Paul would personally share to them all the fruits of his ministry. What if Paul tells them these are the numbers of the people baptised, these are the numbers of people who were saved by the gospel message. I’m sure too that the church in Rome would truly be strengthened and be assured of the work of the ministry. But see, he didn’t say that he was eager to share those things, those things may be included, but verse 15 tells us what he was eager to share. Verse 15 tells us he was eager to preach the gospel. Paul was eager to preach the gospel to you who are also in Rome. He’s talking about the gospel. Paul was talking about the gospel. But wait, didn’t they already know the gospel? Aren’t they already in a local body who according to Paul it says in the verses that we read that their faith was already proclaimed in the whole world. They’re already a local church and the world hears their faith. Maybe that their good works are so evident as produced by their faith and so the whole world notices the church in Rome. Oh there is a church, there’s a Christian Church in Rome. So what does Paul, why did Paul want to go there and what, share the gospel, if they already know the gospel. I mean verse 16 tells us… here’s Paul’s reason: because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. He says to everyone, this is for everyone; it was given to the Jew first as Christ came from the line of Israel and then extended to the Gentiles. He uses a different word which is Greeks but he meant non-jewish. And so Paul wants to go there to preach the same message that they have heard the first time— the Gospel. It is the gospel that brought them into the kingdom of God, it is the gospel that led them to plant a local church in Rome, it is also the gospel that sustains them in the kingdom of God. Hence, it was necessary for Paul to preach it again and again and Paul found it necessary for him to travel to Rome and just preach the same message to the people. Because what it reveals to us according to Paul is none other than the righteousness of God. You can’t see the righteousness of God from the great speakers of the world church in Rome. You see, you experience the righteousness of God by hearing the gospel, by seeing the gospel manifest in the lives of the church in Rome. Hence, Paul saw it as something necessary, he deemed it necessary for him to go again, to go rather, and preach the same message. This means also that you’re coming here and you are to come here for the same gospel message that you first heard. If you’re coming here and you expect something different, oh I want to.. I want to hear a different message this time around. I want something new; every…we must create something new every week. Well I have news for you— I hope you’ll hear the same message this afternoon. You heard the same message of the Gospel this morning and I hope that you will hear the same gospel message next week. The gospel has not changed. It is the same gospel and you know what, it is the same power of salvation by the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit that changed you and will continue to transform you. Hence, this is our message this afternoon: The Gospel Is Necessary To Be Preach, It Is Necessary To Be Heard Because It Is God’s Power Of Salvation. What is this power? And what is the effect of this power in our lives? These are my two points: Its Power and Its Effect.

Let us consider the first point Its Power. You see in verse 16, Paul did not say and I don’t think there’s something wrong if you say that the gospel has power.

Or if you say that there is power in the gospel. I don’t think that’s there’s something wrong with that. However, Paul said it differently. What he said was the Gospel is the power. There’s a difference there right. The gospel is the power of God. Of course it doesn’t mean that all people when they hear the gospel message, will immediately be redeemed. There are those who will hear and yet not receive the gift of salvation. Of course apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and the and the call of God the Father, the summoning of the of God they can’t be saved. But Paul nonetheless treats the gospel message as necessary for the salvation of everyone who believes. It is God’s power. Apart from the gospel which simply means there is no salvation. Romans chapter 10 tells us of course God can work extraordinary ways. But normatively, it is through the preaching of the gospel. And so Paul says, what Paul tells us what the gospel reveals. Verse 17 tells us it is because in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. Katuwiran, in tagalog, ng Diyos. Indeed we can say, we can definitely say that God’s righteous character is revealed in the gospel. If we identify the…. what the gospel means, if we, if you look at the gospel, define it, we can definitely say with confidence, oh this is the right.. we can see the righteous character of God. He judges sin, He’s just, He’s merciful, He’s grace, He is love. We can definitely see the righteous character of God by knowing the gospel. But Paul did not just mean that. Paul was actually referring to the righteousness that comes from God, righteousness that comes from God. Remember, remember, God absolutely hates sin. Remember God doesn’t just require a person to not sin or to not have sin. Rather God actually demands righteousness. And it is Jesus Christ alone who was able to live without sin. It is Jesus Christ alone who was able to live a righteous and perfectly obedient life. Therefore, Jesus Christ alone can be the perfect substitute for all of us, for His people. And because of His perfect life, because of His sacrificial death on the cross and resurrection, He has attained this demanded righteousness. God demands us righteousness, only Christ was able to attain it. Because He did not sin, because He was perfectly obedient to the Father, He attained it. He accomplished it! And this is the good news.. this is why it is good news. The thing that was demanded by God is freely given to you. This is why it is good news: you don’t need to attain it! It is Christ who attained it for His people. The righteousness that God demands is the righteousness that God gives to those who are in Christ. This is what Paul is saying. This is why God will not punish us for our sins because God credited our sin to Christ and He credited Christ’s righteousness to us. There is that exchange. You see there the righteousness of God because God didn’t just… didn’t just hide the sin, right. God did not just sweep sin under the rug. He in fact dealt with sin. The righteousness of God is seen in the gospel. He judged sin. He was just. He dealt with our sins already on the cross and He has already cost the penalty of our sin to fall on Christ instead of us, His people. So see the gospel declares to us that we are not just merely not guilty. When we are in the courtroom, the heavenly courtroom of God is not just saying you are not guilty anymore, you’re free. No. Rather we are declared righteous in the eyes of God.

That despite the remaining sins we have now, it is as if when God looks at us and see the righteousness of Christ, righteousness from God attained by Christ, demanded by God, given to us when God sees us. It’s as if He’s seeing the perfect obedience of His Son. Just imagine it and at the same time imagine our past sins, imagine our sins this past week and how it wearies our souls and how it puts us down, and how it gives us worries in life, anxieties, and yet at the same time look at how God sees us. What He sees is the perfect righteousness of Christ. The convict, the guilty, us, were pardoned but it doesn’t just end there.

We’re pardoned and we were released and as we were released, we are asked by God to stand here so that He can put a medal of honour on your neck, on the account of Christ. So if you think you can earn heaven with your own righteousness, you’re wrong. You’re sinning. And if you think you’re right, you will find out sooner or later that you’re wrong and it may be too late.

You are called by the scriptures to turn away from your sins and come to faith now in Christ. You can’t do it. That’s why God gives an alien righteousness, a foreign righteousness, a righteousness that is not from your own but from the One who is perfect; whose work is perfect. And all you can do is have faith in that person, Jesus Christ to be saved. That He is God’s provision for you, for your forgiveness of sins. Your sins are not just forgiven, but you are also declared righteous in the eyes of God. And if you are in Christ, have confidence in the gospel just like Paul. Do not be ashamed of the Gospel. I can’t imagine a true, a Christian being ashamed of the Gospel. The same message that saved him, the same message that is the power of God for salvation. I can’t imagine us being ashamed of it. But sometimes we are, because of our sins.

We have to go back to what the gospel is, to what the gospel can do, to what the gospel is capable of and not be ashamed. Not just in sharing it, but also in continuously receiving it, because you need it. Just like Paul understood that the church in Rome, still need the gospel. He even wants to go there to just share the same message to them. For the gospel is the reason Paul wanted to go there to Rome. He wanted to impart some spiritual gift to strengthen them, to encourage them. And it isn’t the material things of this world that would encourage them. Paul will not go there and bring with him riches to encourage them, oh you need this, you need this to build your church. No. In fact, I wonder if Paul would enter the door of the church in Rome, here I am! Let me share to you a message that in fact you have heard. Oh welcome Paul, we want to hear the same message. It is the same message that would transform us, Paul. Do we have that same heart? Do we have confidence that in fact the gospel is the power of God? Do we have confidence that while we are sinners, we understand that it is the gospel that God uses to transform us into Christ likeness.. to be conformed to the image of His Son. Of course the gospel must be preached. If it is not preached, there won’t be hearing. We learn that this afternoon. There won’t be believing, there won’t be calling on the Lord’s Name, that’s what Paul’s point in Romans chapter 10. The gospel must be communicated, the gospel must be heard, the gospel must be received. The power of God must be preached in the local church, the same power that raised Christ from the dead is preached to you in your pulpits. And the same power works in you, and you have that great opportunity here every Lord’s Day brethren. The question is are you taking advantage of it week by week? Are you taking advantage of being with one another and talking about the gospel?

You know when Martin Luther was reading the manuscript of Augustine saying that the righteousness mentioned here in Romans 1 by Paul is the righteousness from God that is given to His people that it is not our own righteousness but in fact Christ’s. For Martin Luther, it was a light bulb moment. It was a personal, spiritual revival for Luther. I hope we feel the same way every time we sit under the preaching of the Gospel, every time we are reminded of our standing before God. That in your past week, you have been accused by the enemy, that you are in fact against God. You’re not really a Christian. You did this again. Maybe you’re not really a child of God; and yet you sit down here invited by God and God assures you in the pulpit oh don’t believe the lies! Look to the cross. Christ is your surety.

So here’s my challenge brethren, Treasure, treasure The Gospel-Centred Preaching Of The Word, and let me add another challenge: Foster Christ- Centred Conversations With One Another. I think that’s something we lack as a church. I think when it comes to prizing the preaching of the word, I think and I hope that we indeed have reverence to the word of God. But in application, whenever ,you know, whenever we do our fellowship, it’s like we did not hear the word of God. Maybe we need to be better at that. We must firstly we must be so convinced that the preaching of the word is very important in our individual lives and in the life of this church; that this is God’s means to communicate to us His graces; that the primary discipleship happens in the pulpit preaching and then it extends in the building up of the body as the members. Ephesians chapter 4 as shepherds and teachers equipped the saints, the saints build up one another and you know what they used to build up one another? The one that they heard when they were equipped. It’s the same gospel message. Now the common problem here is that many times we don’t value it, we don’t even talk about. And sometimes we have critical hearts. ‘I know what this guy is going to say, I’ve heard this before. I’m actually better than this guy.’ But isn’t it humbling that the same message of the Gospel that changed you in fact is what you always need in life. It is your armour; it is your armour, it is your sword, it is your shield, it is the lamp unto your feet. Treasure the word preached to you every Lord’s day. You know we are in the series of Matthew every morning and we will be hearing the 55th sermon next week on Matthew chapter 12. So that’s what? 55 weeks of gospel preaching in Matthew, right. In the afternoon we will be listening to Genesis next week. It will be our 127th sermon. We will be in Genesis chapter 44. God has been gracious to this church in preserving us and hearing the gospel message seen in the Book of Genesis! Treasure it brethren. Do you appreciate the work of God in this church? Here’s the question: are we a church that wants to be fed always with a gospel or are we fed up with the gospel? We have good examples of churches who would want to hear the gospel fleshed out of the word preached. We have James Durham. If you’ve heard about him, he had 72 sermons on Isaiah chapter 53. Just imagine it.. Isaiah chapter 53, 73 sermons, and yet imagine the congregation still want to come in and just hear the same message, because they knew it will have an effect in their hearts. Matthew Henry had 40 sermons on Colossians chapter 3 verse 11. Thomas Brooks had 58 sermons on Hebrews chapter 12 verse 14. And imagine such congregations, imagine their desire to still hear the word fleshed out, gospel fleshed out of the preach from the preaching of the word. My question is how do you view the preaching of the Gospel in your church? Do you prize it highly? Do you value the work of God in the pulpit preaching? That after you after your spiritual bout with sin in the past week, you will come here and just sit on your chair and you’ll hear from Christ Himself that your sins are forgiven and you have been accepted by God on the account of Christ. And then you’ll go home, be accused many times by the enemy again. And I hope that you would desire to be back. Lord I want to sit under the preaching of the word again! Lord I want to be assured! I want to be assured! I want to see clearly Christ in the Book of Matthew, in the Book of Genesis. Lord assure me, give me eyes to see, ears to hear, to be reminded of who I am in Christ. Do you value such assurance in the form of the preaching of the word every Lord’s day? Let’s see. If you know Hugh Latimer, there’s this one quote that he said, he mentioned: “take away the preaching, you take away salvation.” I think Paul would echo that. I think Hugh Latimer is just echoing what Paul has said because the gospel is the power of salvation. Without the gospel, there is no salvation. Without the preaching of the Gospel, there is no hearing, there is no believing, there is no calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. But see in our challenge this afternoon, I did not just mention the preaching but it also must affect our conversations. That Christ-centred conversations must be fostered whenever we are together. It must be fostered in our, and I know that our church loves to do this, extended fellowships. There’s nothing wrong with that. I mean it’s a good thing that we extend fellowship. I mean it’s wrong if you’re doing it up until 1:00 a.m. and you have work tomorrow. But extended fellowships are great. But are your conversations edifying and encouraging? Oh we must make sure that sinful conversations, gossips, backbiting, that these things have no place in the fellowship of believers. They must be mortified if you hear a loving brother or sister lovingly rebuke. There must be Christ-centredness in our fellowship, in our conversations. Why? Because we just heard a Christ- centred… we hear Christ-centred preachings, right. And then we must extend such communication, such conversations with one another. We know that we are edified by the pulpit preaching. Then let us therefore edify one another with the same message. We must carry one another’s burden and bring to the conversation the one who carried all our burdens on the cross and that is Christ. These are Christ-centred conversations that truly. build up and it must be cultivated.

Let’s look at the last point, the effect, Its Effect. So Paul here debunks the idea that the righteousness of God can be attained by works. That it is not maintained by works. Rather, Paul says it is from faith for faith. The effect of the power of God that is preached to you is that you, the righteous, shall live by faith. That is the effect of the Gospel. The righteous, the one who has been declared righteous by God shall live continously by faith. You began by faith in the gospel. You are sustained by faith in the gospel. You end by faith in the gospel. You became a child of God by faith. In your time of conversion, when you first repented of your sins and come to faith in Christ, it began by faith. You have been transferred from the realm of sin to the realm of the spirit. You now have been adopted to the family of God. You have been regenerated, your heart of stone has become a heart of flesh. You have been awakened by the Holy Spirit from deadness. You were dead in trespasses and sins. You followed the prince of the power of the air, but now you have been made alive together with Christ.

There was that beginning and you responded by faith. And you continue to live a life of a redeemed child by faith. And then you die by faith. You responded firstly, understanding the work of Christ that Christ is sufficient for your salvation. Then you enter the realm of the spirit and you continue to live as a Christian in this world. However, tempted by the enemy many times. And you sometimes fall and you sometimes waver in your faith. And you sometimes feel hopeless because of your sin. And yet as a true believer, God preserves your faith and you will never ever finally fall away from the loving arms of Christ. And as you grow old, you continue to live by faith that as your outer self is wasting away, your inner self is being renewed day by day, Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 4. And in your last breath, it will be a death by faith. Because you know that as you leave this world, that death has been swallowed up in victory, that death has no sting for your death will be your entrance into glory. It is a life from faith for faith (in other translations, is from faith to faith). From the beginning to end. From the beginning it is faith up to the end it is a life, the whole life of faith. And as you live your life this way, Paul says the righteousness of God is actually seen in such life. In the righteous life of a genuine believer. Because as the righteous lives in this way by faith in the gospel, he manifests the gospel. Therefore, what is seen in the gospel? It is the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God then is revealed to the world. It is then revealed to your families. It is then revealed to your fellow brethren, to your children. On the other hand Paul says, verse 18 onwards, there’s another revelation. The wrath of God on the other hand is revealed in the ungodliness, in the unrighteousness of men. That is what is revealed when a person continues living in unbelief. But for those to continue living by faith, it is the righteousness of God that is revealed. It has its effect on the hearers that their lives would be changed, their minds would be renewed. From the time of conversion and all throughout your life, that you would not live… that you would live not depending on your own power. You’re depending not on your own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ given to you. Paul says Philippians chapter 3 verse 9 that we’d be found in Christ not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends, or that rests on faith. It means that your response of faith in the gospel must be lived out and it will be seen. You live by faith from beginning to end, and then the right of God will be revealed. That’s what Paul was saying. In fact, in Ephesians 1:5, it says for this reason, because I have what? heard of your faith. Paul was sending a letter from far away but yet he says I have heard it! I’ve heard your faith in the Lord Jesus! Colossians chapter 1:3 Paul says we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we pray for you, since we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus. And Paul says to to the Colossian church that the gospel in verse 6 is bearing fruit and increasing. So they preach the gospel. And because it is the power of God for salvation, it saves people not only that. As an effect of it, the righteous shall live by faith from beginning to end. It becomes maingay yung faith hanggang sa marinig na, hanggang makita na ang katuwiran ng Diyos.

Does it also feel the same way when you are strengthened by the gospel?

That you, that you are in fact living a life of faith? That you live a life always looking to the cross? That your good works in fact depends on your faith in the gospel. It is in fact produced by your faith in the gospel. Here’s my last challenge for everyone to continuously pursue such… Continuously Pursue A Life Of Faith In The Gospel. Maybe some of us think that our works can earn our way to God. That we sometimes, we think that we enter by faith and then maintain it by works. Now let me clarify: good works are necessary; in fact the author of Hebrews are saying without it, without holiness, you can’t see God. But good works are not the cause. In fact, it is God’s.. God has given us good works as prepared beforehand so that we can walk by it. But it is never the cause. You cannot maintain your justification by your works. You continue living by faith.

That is what Paul is saying. Enter by faith and even your works are done by faith.

Brethren, let us continuously pursue a life of faith in Christ; that we live every day! This is what it means: that we live every day yielding in the sanctifying work of God, looking to the cross of Christ, knowing that you have been made more than conquerors in Christ. That is what living by faith in the gospel means. That is what it means to begin by faith and end by faith. You live every day believing that you are not under the dominion of sin anymore because Christ defeated sin on the cross. You live every day and you commit sins. You have remaining sins, and yet believing that in Jesus Christ you are not condemned, that the sin that you did will never ever annul the death of Christ. It has been done. It is finished, Christ said. That death has no sting because Christ defeated even death. This means that you live everyday tempted, accused by the enemy, yet believing that Christ is your assurance, believing Christ instead of the enemy. That is what living by faith in the gospel means. You live every day and go through trials in life yet believing that such trials are in fact good for you. This is how you live by faith. You wake up, you wake up to the mercies of God. While there are temptations to be worried and to be anxious, you know you can cast them all on Christ. And you know that God’s wrath does not abide in you. Rather you wake up every day… I mean you wake up every day not having to think how can I make it right today with God. I mean that’s that’s a tiring life. I mean every day you think about how God, how God sees you? Whereas the gospel assures you that God sees the righteousness of Christ. Now that’s rest! And as the righteous live by faith from beginning to end, the gospel power is in effect and God’s righteousness is revealed. Do you appreciate that while the christian life is hard, the call of God is to have faith in the gospel and that’s it? Of course it may include do good works for the glory of God, but it is still done by faith. Do you appreciate this? Do you appreciate such true rest? Do you appreciate security in the righteousness of God given to you?

You know Martin Luther said that justification by faith is like the gateway of heaven. For him, he in fact, he has already entered heaven. And what it means is that as you enter, of course you have to live in faith; and so living by faith is like living in heaven. You have entered the gateway when you were justified by faith and as you live your life, you are already in heaven, that’s what Luther meant. In fact, Richard Sibbes echoed this. Richard Sibbes said that before one is in heaven, he was already in heaven. And what they meant… they’re not saying that it will be an easy life. Rather a life of faith is a life having access to the heavenlies by faith in Christ. So from beginning to end, the life of a believer is a life of faith in Christ. It is only in this redeemed life; those who are saved where God’s righteousness is revealed. May the word of God enrich our knowledge of Him and may it stir us to live in light of these truths.

Let us pray. Our great God and gracious Father, thank You for a great reminder of our salvation in Christ. Christ is truly our justification. He is our sanctification. Lord thank You that You have truly provided us rest. That we just respond by faith. Although Lord we know that this faith that justifies is never alone, that You have prepared for us good works. Lord we also understand that good works are done by faith. And so Lord, thank You. May we always gaze upon Christ. May we always look to Him, look to the cross and have faith in His person and in His life, death and resurrection. May the gospel continue to give us the hope that we need, the comfort that we need, the assurance that we need. Allow us Lord to be faithful members of the church. Allow us Lord to just sit under the preaching of the word expecting that power.. that there is power, that the gospel is the power of God for salvation expecting that the gospel’s power actually sanctifies. So Lord increase our desire. May we treasure, may we prize the preaching of the word. So Lord, we thank You. We also thank You Lord for the great opportunity to partake with brethren. Lord, as we have heard the gospel preached to us, and Lord we know that the gospel heard has its effect in our hearts Lord, we also expect that the same power that as we receive Your visible word, Lord, we know Lord that it would truly sanctify our hearts as well. So Lord, we praise You in the Name of Christ, amen.

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