A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!

A JOURNEY THROUGH ROMANS FOR NEW BELIEVERS IN JESUS CHRIST

Dearly beloved,

It is with great joy and delight that I invite you, a new believer in Jesus Christ on a journey through Paul’s letter to the Romans. It is God’s desire that you have a  deeper revelation and understanding of the new life in Jesus Christ. The book of Romans contains a collection of fundamental truths and principles of the Christian faith. In addition, it also offers practical guidance for living everyday as a follower of Christ.  Most importantly, in the book of Romans, God unveils the great mystery of His saving work through Jesus Christ for you, God’s continuing work in you and his divine plan and purpose for the new life you are now living in Christ.

According to 2 Corinthians 5:17;  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). The new life in Jesus Christ is a new life in all dimensions as well as being a miraculous and divine birth. This new life originates from God himself and carries with it His divine essence and nature. You are a new person, the old you is dead and gone. The bible verse of 2 Cor 5:17  is probably the second most well-known and quoted bible verse after John 3:16 but probably also ranks as the most poorly understood scripture verse in the bible in terms of its implications and ramifications for the Christian life.

My hope is that through this journey through Romans, you come to see by the revelation of the Spirit of God the high calling of your new life in Jesus Christ in clarity and its glory.  I encourage you to keep reading, studying and meditating on 2 Corinthians 5:17 as it is a verse that cannot be fully grasped well enough. This verse expresses the entire sum of the practical aspects of your new life in Jesus- a new life that is so unlike the old as far as the east is from the west. The main audience of this journey through Romans are new believers in Jesus Christ although all Christians are welcome to read through as well. God’s word is ever relevant and applicable to us notwithstanding our level of maturity in the Christian faith.

I will do my best to write as simply and clearly as I possibly can because I believe that there is nothing more important for a new believer than truly understanding what it means to be in Christ. I believe and can attest as countless great men and women of God over the ages have in the clarity, simplicity and openness of the word of God. The Bible, the God-breathed  word of God is open to all who come with reverence and open hearts to be enlightened by God’s spirit.

I wish to state unequivocally that no one ever truly begins to live until they have born of the Spirit of God. To be born only through natural birth is to be born to die but to be born by God is to have eternal life. So let me say that you are now truly alive for the first time since you were physically born to the earth. And the life of God in you is a life that God has intended and works in you to make grow powerfully and beyond measure. God has intended that the living water you have taken in from the everlasting fountain of God will not only quench your thirst but burst out into rivers of living waters from within you.  

It is my earnest prayer and desire that God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ grant you together with all those who read this words to come to the revelation of the hope to which He has called you. I pray that He grants you  deeper spiritual insight and revelation from Him through His word on living for that hope, what it means for you and how to live everyday in this knowledge.

I am excited beyond measure by the promises of God for you as a new creature in Christ and the spiritual blessings He has in store for you as you grow in faith. You will find this journey truly transforming for your understanding of God’s  divine purpose for calling you out of the world and his glorious plan for your Christian walk.

You are now part of God’s family, you have the promise of an eternal inheritance, you are loved eternally by God. You are a new person indeed and in every sense. The old you is dead and buried with Christ, forever. God has exchanged that old life taking you towards death with His own life- the God-life, eternal life; Zoe. So let’s begin this journey.

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CALLED TO BELONG TO JESUS CHRIST

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David  according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1-7 ESV)

You have been called by the gospel of God to belong to Jesus Christ. This is a very significant truth that you need to grasp and internalize as a new believer in Christ. A right understanding of this saying worthy of full acceptance would enable you grow in faith exponentially. Understanding this truth of our belonging wholly to Christ makes our obedience to His commands easier to perform. A lack of or poor understanding of this leads to a life of constant struggle in the Christian faith. How then is belonging to Christ demonstrated practically? It is most evident from how you live your life daily the moment you professed saving faith in Jesus Christ. It is reflected in your choices, your decision making process, your relationships, how you spend your time, what you value etc. From that moment you believed, you stopped belonging to yourself and you gave up the driver’s seat of your life. You no longer are the captain of your life and destiny. You also gave up every right to yourself and no longer have the final word or say in how you live your life. Jesus Christ is now the one who rules your life in EVERY aspect of your life through God’s word-the bible. There is no area or aspect of your life that is untouchable or out of the reach of God’s word.This aspect of the Christian life probably ranks as one of the most difficult to come to terms with, but it is what God demands and it is what you must completely give- your absolute surrender to God.

Furthermore,  the  gospel of God has been in the eternal plan of God through the ages before you were born. This gospel of God speaks concerning one person only- Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Through Him alone, grace has been given to you. And that grace from God as said in verse 5, is to bring you to the obedience of faith of the name of Jesus Christ. One of the  distinguishing mark of the new life that you can easily recognize is an obedience of faith to God’s word as the supreme authority in your life. If you still consistently live in opposition or rebellion to God’s word, then you have not truly experienced the new life in Jesus Christ. And the cure for this is the gospel of God.

This brings us to two important things. The first is that the the gospel of God is a gospel of salvation; that you be saved from sin. When you say Jesus Christ is your saviour, you are saying you recognize him as the one who saves you from sin. And that salvation from sin also comes with the power he gives you to live in victory over sin. It simply means when you are born again into the new life, you will no longer live a life of sinning.  The scriptures declare expressly that Jesus Christ, the son of man came to seek and save those who are lost.

The second part that many individuals who profess to be believers struggle with is the obedience of faith that comes with the new life in Christ. God has not called you, dear friend to live to yourself, for yourself and according to how you please. You are called to belong to Jesus Christ, to the obedience that comes from faith. Indeed you have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone, but this saving faith does not come alone or stand alone without any outward demonstration of a life of obedience to God’s word. This is the visible proof of the transformation that has happened on the inside.

You have not only been called to belong to Jesus Christ but you have been called to be a saint (verse 7). To be a saint is not  achieved by your own effort or works, but what God himself works in you by His divine power as you walk in obedience to Him  that then shows forth gloriously to the world to see. You have been called to belong to Jesus Christ, to be in Him and to have a taste of his divine nature. There is no greater or loftier calling than this; it surpasses comprehension.

I cannot overstate this, that the eternal and almighty God and King has called you to receive His grace and to have peace with Him. This is almost too good to be true, it is unbelievable and marvelous beyond words. How is this so? We will examine this as we go further in the books of Romans. 

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GRACE TO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1-7 ESV)

If the gospel were to be summarized in a short sentence it will be in this sentence: “Grace to you through Jesus Christ and peace from God”. This sentence packs in it so much that could not be unpacked in a single article. Within these words lie two of the fundamental truths of the gospel of God in its beauty and splendour- Grace and peace from God. These words encapsulate almost all other aspects of the realities of what the gospel is for us.

Now let’s dig deeper into these words:

Grace: Grace is simply that which God freely given to us by His own will, according to his own purpose for his own good pleasure. We neither deserved this free gift nor have we merited it in any way. In fact, what we have indeed deserved is retribution, wrath and punishment. And this makes grace all the more gracious. And this is where we start the journey into grasping the gospel. That we as sinner, individuals who have rebelled against God, who hate God and committed treason pushing Him out of our lives, our minds and have not regarded Him in any way have instead of receiving the just punishment for our sins, have instead received grace through Jesus Christ.  The grace that God has given to us is been given freely but it did not come free. A price had to be paid price for the grace we have received, but it was a price we did not have to pay. Jesus Christ paid it all, and this is why we owe Him everything,  To make this grace even  more outrageous, it had been given even before we acknowledged it or the giver of it who is God.

In a nutshell, you were given grace before you even knew you needed it, even though you were carrying on in a life that deserved punishment from God. And how does this grace contain all elements of the gospel? Because this grace was poured out of God’s infinite love, and in His mercy he has not paid to you the due penalty for sin, but has made you to escape that penalty and to be made in right standing with him. And not only does it enable you escape God’s wrath but it also provides you an inheritance, adoption into God’s family, to be a joint-heir with Jesus Christ, a brother to Jesus Christ who is the first born and to be a partaker of the limitless spiritual blessings in the world to come! What an overwhelming, amazing grace of God!

Peace from God: The gospel of God also brings us into peace with God. God’s word says that God is angry with the sinner and is wrath revealed against all form of ungodliness. It can be said that before we were in Christ,  God was as it were at war with us.  Saving faith in Jesus Christ through the gospel of God brings us to peace with God. God, who is in the right and has all the power to instantly judge us for our rebellion has been gracious enough to be the one to offer us His terms of peace. And this is Jesus Christ.

This grace and peace from God form the heart of the gospel. But the question then is, how have you received grace and peace from God? Well, I shall like to go over this once more. I already believe that since you are reading this, you have already heard the gospel of God and y have saving faith in Jesus Christ. But when it comes to the matter of the gospel and the issue of salvation, I will never wish to assume. The gospel is just too important not to share it anytime the opportunity presents itself.

The gospel is the only means God has provided through which any human being would be saved.

This is the gospel: That Jesus Christ has come to the world to save sinners from sin and its consequences. You and I have sinned against God, we are born rebels against God and we hate God. Yes, you read that right- we are born God-haters. We don’t want to live in obedience to His will so we lived and walked according to our own will. And for this rebellion and treason against the one who made and owns us and the entire world that is seen and that which is unseen, we deserved the punishment of death. But God who is rich in mercy, in love He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to take on this punishment for you and I. In his dying, we receive life in exchange. And faith in Jesus Christ is the means through which we receive this life and this life is transmitted to you and I. And that when we hear the message of this gospel, we exercise faith in Jesus Christ as saviour, repent of our life of sin which means to turn away, change our direction and begin to live a life of one who belongs to Jesus Christ.  And this is the gospel, the good news from God. Grace to you and peace from God.

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THE POWER OF GOD FOR SALVATION

1For 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. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,[a] as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17)

Undoubtedly, the most powerful message that exists is the gospel. The gospel is the power of God in action, a force for transformation and for imparting the life of God to those dead in sin who believe in Jesus Christ. Once again, we are back to the gospel and we will keep coming back to the gospel, throughout the book of Romans. More importantly, you will keep coming to the gospel throughout your walk with God in your lifetime, dwelling on it, examining it and grasping it more and more in its richness and fullness. Martin Luther, theologian and father of the church reformation declared: “The gospel cannot be preached and heard enough, for it cannot be grasped well enough”.

Why is this important for you as a new believer in Christ? Because a dangerous pitfall that many Christians fall into is that they quickly forget the means of grace and the channel of God’s power displayed to mankind- the gospel. It is easy to soon think that only sinners are in need of the gospel. This is a grave error, and one that has led many Christians astray and away from the faith. The gospel is and continues to be the power of God for salvation, today and your final salvation and the work of the gospel in your life will continue for as long as you live. As Martin Luther stated, you can only increase in your grasp of the gospel for it truly cannot be completely grasped for we can neither fully grasp the power of God in this plan of salvation nor the full picture of His righteousness.

The second part of this text mentions a very integral part of the gospel- it reveals to us the righteousness of God, that is, our right standing with God that comes from being justified by faith in Jesus Christ. And our right standing with God, this righteousness of God comes from faith, that is faith in Jesus Christ for faith, that is our continuing faith in Him.

This brings us to another important lesson. That the new life in Christ is birthed in faith and also kept and secured by continuing faith in Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ is not a one off thing that you have only at the point of conversion but an abiding faith that is daily exercised. And this is where the continuing work of the gospel is displayed; that by daily growing in our knowing the gospel, our faith is further grown and matures. This text ends by stating simply: The righteous shall live by faith, and this could be described as the motto of the Christian life. It is a life that is born by faith, abides and grows by faith and will be glorified through faith.

To summarize, the gospel of God is not just simply a message you know, but it is the power of God himself at work in bringing about your salvation. So never stop keeping the gospel in view no matter the number of years you live as a Christian. Let it be your north star, let it be your guide and your watchword. And the work the gospel does in you is birthed through faith and sustained by faith. Without faith, you cannot live the Christian life.

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