Basing your answer on Romans 5 would you say Christianity is:
1) a religion
2) a creed—a form of belief
3) a relationship
4) an ethical system—morality, honesty,justice.
5) All of the above
If you saw the movie City Slickers you may remember Jack Palance, whose character was a tough old cowboy named Curly. Throughout the movie Curly would hold up his right index finger and say, “There is one thing.”
QUESTION: Taking this statement from the ranch to the classroom, and from secular to a Christian setting suppose I said to you, “There is one thing.”
So I’m asking you now, since you are now familiar with Romans 5, What is the one thing? Several questions might come to mind that you would like to ask me, but you can’t. When we meet next week I want to hear some of your answers.
Use the space below to jot down some of your thoughts.
In the context of the Christian faith there is one thing that sets us apart—a personal relationship with Yahweh, our Creator and Jesus Christ our LORD. So the correct answer above is number 3, Christianity is a relationship.
Note. Your answer may not agree with mine, because maybe you thought about a different area. That is OK! However, the answer must be found in Romans 5.
A NEW APPROACH
Paul has spent the first four chapters talking about the relationship with God and with Jesus Christ.
- His message has been aimed at people, Jews and Gentiles, who know the Scriptures, the Old Testament. Therefore, Paul has often cited Scripture (Passages from the Jewish Bible, from the manuscripts that we call the Old Testament. Cf. 2 Timothy 3:16.
- Now he will turn his attention to how he adapts his message to a particular audience, i.e., the Gentiles/Nations, meaning anyone or any group with no Jewish influence.
- Keep in mind that when Paul spoke of Jews he meant those who lived by Torah, not a nationality or ethnic group. These Gentiles are people who know nothing of the Bible (Old Testament) or the Jewish religion or Christianity.
- So far, Paul has supported his argument by quoting Scripture (i.e., The Old Testament/Jewish Bible).
- You may have noticed that beginning with chapter 5 and going through most of chapter 8 of Romans Paul does not quote Scripture. Nevertheless, he speaks with authority, as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. See 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.
QUESTION: What do you learn from this that is applicable 21st century evangelism?
Paul will show his readers/listeners how to tell pagans, who know nothing about the Jewish Bible, about the Gospel/good news of what God has done through Jesus Christ.
- We are justified by faith. But Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians if Jesus was not raised our faith is in vain. (See 1 Corinthians 15:17).
Romans 5:1 marks a transition from chapters 1-4 into chapters 5-8.
- Eirene – PEACE. This is not really talking about the absence of conflict, but carries, like the Hebrew word Shalom, the ideas of “well being,” “completeness.”
- This term is often used in reference to the Messianic Kingdom.(Jesus spoke of this as the Kingdom of God.)
- The best manuscripts support the reading as subjunctive, “let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Paul could be saying here, “let us experience this new life, this new relationship we have with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” and no longer living in a prison imposed by the Law (of Moses).
- However, I think most modern scholars have chosen the indicative because they think it fits better with the rest of the passages.
- So they translate it, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.“ This is not the same kind of peace that John records Jesus promising.
- The two verbs in verse 2, “we have gained” access by faith into this grace “in which we now stand,” are perfect tense which means they speak of a past action that has present results.
- The noun translated “access” was used by ancient authors to describe a person’s approach to a king.
- Keep in mind that this whole section is in a sense Paul’s gospel that he plans to present to the nations.,
- This is not only a story of development in God‘s revelation, as expressed by the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures,
- It is also a story of God’s people developing understanding and experience.
- This has been one of the most discussed and debated Passages in the book of Romans.
- But the focus has always been on Adam.
- It is actually about what God has brought about by his grace through the obedience of Jesus Christ which has resulted in the gift of God and eternal life being made available to everyone in every nation
- What is unique about Paul’s teaching here is that he makes universal truths that had previously applied to Israel. (He does not go back to Genesis 3 or to Genesis 12 as he did earlier, nor Israel’s exodus from Egypt.)
QUESTION: Why doesn’t Paul include things like Abraham and Israel fleeing from Egypt?
Exercise: make a chart of your spiritual journey and development over the past 20 or 30 years. I have given you an example below
|1986 Corporate world||Lifestyle = extramarital affair ended 20+ years preaching|
|1991 Divorce||God still sidelined but continued to attend church||SPIRITUAL LIFE AT ALL-TIME LOW|
|1993 Major Clinical Depression||Diagnosed bipolar disorder Crying out to God||SPIRITUAL REVIVAL BEGAN|
|1995 RIF (Reduction In Force) Moved to Colorado||Started new life. Teaching Bible class and preaching||SPIRITUAL LIFE = HOPE, JOY|
|1996 Baptized||Covenant with God||SPIRITUAL LIFE = CLOSE TO GOD AGAIN|
|1996 Met Becky||Began relationship that changed my life forever||CLOSER TO GOD THAN EVER PEACE, JOY, LOVE, GROWTH|